The modern deck Pod gets its name from the card Birthing Pod. *Before I continue with this analysis I’m going to take a moment to inform any newer players that Birthing Pod is actually banned in modern, but as I’ve said before, these deck analyses are to provide historical information and inspiration to others. I am not saying this is something you can put together and take to FNM or any other sanctioned modern event. Once Birthing Pod was banned, Pod decks became a thing of the past.* Introduced in the Scars of Mirrodin block, more specifically New Phyrexia, Birthing Pod is an artifact that costs 3 generic and 1 green phyrexian mana. By paying 1 generic and 1 green phyrexian mana, tapping the card, and sacrificing a creature, you can search your library for a creature that costs 1 mana more than the sacrificed creature and put it into play. This kind of effect is essentially turning your 1 mana creatures into 2 mana creatures, 2 mana creatures into 3 mana creatures, and so on. While this card is the namesake of the deck, it wasn’t exactly a win condition. This card really isn’t that broken when you break it down, but this is a combo deck so let’s look at the combo pieces.
There were 2 kinds of Pod decks. First and most common, Melira Pod. Melira, Sylvok Outcast is a legendary 2/2 for 1 generic and 1 green that was also from New Phyrexia. Her abilities were meant to help balance the infect mechanic by preventing you from getting poison counters and your creatures from getting -1/-1 counters. She also took away infect from your opponents’ creatures, but that didn’t matter in this deck unless you found yourself up against Infect. Turns out preventing creatures from getting -1/-1 counters works great for creatures with persist, which were introduced way back in the Lorwyn/Shadowmoor block. Persist lets a creature return to the battlefield with a -1/-1 counter on it if it had no -1/-1 counters on it to begin with. Since Melira prevents the -1/-1 counter, the creature can keep coming back. Add a sacrifice outlet that requires no mana like Viscera Seer and you have an infinite loop. The two creatures with persist that this deck ran were Kitchen Finks and Murderous Redcap. Using the Kitchen Finks lets you gain infinite life while using the Murderous Redcap lets you deal infinite damage. This combo does not require Birthing Pod, but it helps the deck be more consistent. You need 3 creatures on the battlefield to pull this off after all, and even with the maximum 4 copies of each in your deck, that’s still a specific 12 cards out of 60 needed to combo off. Once your opponent sees what you’re up to, it’s very easy for them to play around your combo by killing the key creatures, namely Melira and Viscera Seer. Although quite mana intensive, Chord of Calling was also used to find a missing piece, but at instant speed. So playing with 6-8 other cards that help you tutor for the combo pieces is akin to running 18-20 copies of your combo cards. Theoretically, you could still use these cards without Birthing Pod and still combo off, but with less frequency and therefore a lower win rate.
The second type of Pod deck was Angel Pod. While this deck still had an infinite combo, it was completely different from the one found in Melira Pod. The namesake of the deck was Archangel of Thune, a 3/4 for 3 generic and 2 white that also has flying, lifelink, and whenever you gain life, creatures you control get a +1/+1 counter. Spike Feeder was the card used along side the angel. Spike Feeder is a 0/0 creature that enters the battlefield with two +1/+1 counters. You can remove a +1/+1 counter and gain 2 life which would trigger the angel replacing the +1/+1 counter that you just removed creating an infinite life combo. In the official rules, +1/+1 counters negate -1/-1 counters and vice-versa, so technically this version of the deck could still use Kitchen Finks with a sacrifice outlet like Viscera Seer. Sacrifice the Kitchen Finks to Viscera Seer, triggering persist which returns Kitchen Finks to the battlefield with a -1/-1 counter, which triggers it’s enter the battlefield ability and when that resolves it triggers Archangel of Thune putting a +1/+1 counter on Kitchen Finks which negates the -1/-1 counter from persist enabling the combo to be performed all over again. Murderous Redcap would be a bit harder to use, requiring something that has a lifelink anthem effect or something similar.
Getting the right pieces onto the board requires precise timing and sufficient available mana. As I said earlier, even if you could play Viscera Seer on turn 1 followed by Melira on turn 2 and then Kitchen Finks on turn 3, a veteran player would easily recognize what you are trying to do and put a stop to it. As with all combo decks, you need to protect your combo and this deck accomplished that by using cards that were threatening on their own and had to be dealt with, essentially making the opponent waste their efforts on cards that didn’t matter. These were not necessarily creatures with high power, but ones with oppressive abilities. Voice of Resurgence creates a token that has power and toughness equal to the number of creatures you control every time your opponent plays a spell during your turn and since most removal that sees play is instant speed for doing just that (killing a creature on its controller’s turn and costing them momentum) this card is very good. Even if they target the Voice of Resurgence with their removal on your turn, it will still leave behind a token. Linvala, Keeper of Silence is a card that must be dealt with if any of your opponents’ creatures have activated abilities and in modern there are a good bit that do, so she must be answered most of the time. If one of your combo pieces ends up in the graveyard, Eternal Witness can help get it back into your hand. There are countless other cards that can also be run in a deck like this to put pressure on the opponent and keep it off your combo pieces. Ranger of Eos can help tutor for Viscera Seer or another mana dork. Reveillark can pull any two creatures with power 2 or less from the graveyard to the battlefield. There is a wide range of cards that are playable in a deck like this so if you do want to put this deck together for a casual game, feel free to experiment.
This deck is quite intense on the mana which is why it needs mana dorks. Wall of Roots is probably the worst one, but at 5 toughness it can stand its own against any early aggro for awhile. The second best is Noble Hierarch, the most expensive mana dork that can produce either white, blue, or green mana, 2 of the 3 colors this deck uses. The best but also the most vulnerable is Birds of Paradise which is capable of producing mana of any color and that is all it was designed to do. If at any point you find that you no longer need these mana dorks, you can sacrifice them to Birthing Pod and pull out something more useful.
The basic shell of a Pod deck looks something like the following:
Viscera Seer x3-4
Melira, Sylvok Outcast / Archangel of Thune x2-4
Kitchen Finks x3-4
Murderous Redcap / Spike Feeder x2-4
Birthing Pod x3-4
Chord of Calling x3-4
Birds of Paradise x3-4
Noble Hierarch x3-4
Note that Birthing Pod can only be used at sorcery speed. While this combo can come out very fast, timing yourself is extremely important. You will want to play Chord of Calling, probably using convoke, to find the first piece on your opponent’s end step and once they are tapped out or nearly tapped out and cannot interrupt your combo. Then on your turn you can activate Birthing Pod for another piece and then hard cast the last piece and activate the combo from there.
This is a great example of how Wizards likes to handle bans; effective, but with minimal impact to the rest of the meta. The combo pieces aren’t that good in a vacuum, but together they make a pretty cool combo which is still perfectly legal in modern. Birthing Pod was just an enabler, one that made the deck too consistent and its phyrexian mana symbols didn’t help its case, so it was laid to rest and this deck became a thing of the past. It is possible that this deck could make a comeback in the future if we get another card with similar abilities, perhaps one like Chord of Calling.