Home  >  News  >  The Modern Bible (part 2 of 8) By Nick Rennard

The Modern Bible (part 2 of 8) By Nick Rennard

The Modern Bible: the 31-Deck Gauntlet of Modern

Author: Nick Rennard


RG Tron (my list):

Manabase (20):

  • 4x Grove of the Burnwillows
  • 2x Forest
  • 1x Eye of Ugin
  • 1x Ghost Quarter
  • 4x Urza’s Mine
  • 4x Urza’s Tower
  • 4x Urza’s Power Plant



  • 4x Chromatic Star
  • 4x Chromatic Sphere
  • 4x Expedition Map
  • 4x Relic of Progenitus
  • 4x Ancient Stirrings
  • 4x Pyroclasm
  • 4x Sylvan Scrying
  • 3x Oblivion Stone
  • 3x Wurmcoil Engine
  • 4x Karn Liberated
  • 1x Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
  • 1x Emrakul, the Aeons Torn


Sideboard (15):

  • 2x Batterskull
  • 2x Defense Grid
  • 2x Grafdigger’s Cage
  • 4x Leyline of Sanctity
  • 2x Nature’s Claim
  • 1x Spellskite
  • 2x Torpor Orb

RG Tron is the best ramp deck in the Modern format. There are other forms of Tron, like U tron, UW tron, Izzetron (what an adorable deck name). RG tron is by far the most consistent at playing blowout threats before your opponent gets a chance to set themselves up. Very few cards battle with Karn Liberated and/or Wurmcoil Engine when they’re played (relatively consistently) on turn 3. Speed is important in Modern, and that’s one of the primary reasons that RG Tron has always remained the best version over the others. Very few decks can go extremely late-game against this deck, as eventually they will dig up their Emrakul, hard cast it, and smash you for 15 and -6 permanents. It’s almost impossible to come back from a hard casted Emrakul, but I wish you the best of luck in trying.

One of my favorite strengths of RG Tron is the 4 mainboard Relic of Progenitus. There are a lot of individual cards and specific strategies that that are shut down by Relic of Progenitus. Some examples of cards that Relic of Progenitus is good against are Tarmogoyf, Snapcaster Mage, Lingering Souls, Deathrite Shaman, Life from the Loam, Scavenging Ooze, and persist creatures like Kitchen Finks and Murderous Redcap. Some examples of strategies that get blown out by mainboard Relic of Progenitus are Goryo’s Reanimator, Living End, and BUG Gifts. Relic of Progenitus plays a key role in many Modern sideboards, and having 4 of them mainboard is very awkward for a lot of decks to fight against. The 4x Ancient Stirrings also makes them very easy to find in the match-ups that you need it.

As good of a deck as RG Tron is, it also has a lot of weaknesses. This deck can have some extremely slow draws. Sometimes the deck slips up on assembling Tron on turn 3, and the faster decks in Modern (like Affinity) will kill you before you get a chance to set up. There are also some sideboard cards that most people run in their decks (namely Stony Silence and Sowing Salt) that make it extremely difficult for Tron to win the game after those spells have resolved.

This particular list includes Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre. I’ll admit that I haven’t picked up Tron anytime recently (since this list hasn’t changed much in a long time), but each time I have worked with Tron, I’ve always felt that Ulamog was a nice stepping stone to hard casting your Emrakul. It also gives you another Eldrazi threat in case they have some way of exiling the Emrakul (via Thoughtseize/Liliana + Deathrite Shaman, for example). I also really like Batterskull in the sideboard for Tron. It’s the best card that Tron can sideboard against Jund. It’s also nice that it only costs 5 mana and not 6 like Wurmcoil Engine (or even 7 like Karn). Many people make the argument that there’s no difference between 5, 6, and 7 mana since you have at least 7 mana once tron is assembled, but those players have obviously never been Sowing Salted or Blood Mooned. Most people avoid playing 2-4 Batterskulls in their RG Tron sideboards to fight against Jund and other midrange decks because they are costly, but I highly recommend that you throw down the money for them because they are great in that match-up.


Melira Pod (my list):

Manabase (23):
  • 3x Razorverge Thicket
  • 1x Temple Garden
  • 1x Godless Shrine
  • 2x Overgrown Tomb
  • 4x Verdant Catacombs
  • 4x Misty Rainforest
  • 1x Swamp
  • 3x Forest
  • 2x Gavony Township
Mainboard (37):
  • 2x Thoughtseize
  • 4x Birds of Paradise
  • 3x Deathrite Shaman
  • 1x Viscera Seer
  • 2x Abrupt Decay
  • 1x Cartel Aristocrat
  • 2x Melira, Sylvok Outcast
  • 1x Scavenging Ooze
  • 3x Voice of Resurgence
  • 1x Eternal Witness
  • 4x Kitchen Finks
  • 1x Ozhov Pontiff
  • 4x Birthing Pod
  • 1x Phyrexian Metamorph
  • 2x Murderous Redcap
  • 1x Ranger of Eos
  • 1x Reveillark
  • 3x Chord of Calling
Sideboard (15):
  • 1x Aven Mindcensor
  • 1x Ethersworn Canonist
  • 2x Harmonic Sliver
  • 1x Kataki, War’s Wage
  • 2x Lingering Souls
  • 1x Linvala, Keeper of Silence
  • 1x Obstinate Baloth
  • 1x Phyrexian Revoker
  • 2x Leyline of the Void
  • 1x Sin Collector
  • 1x Spellskite
  • 1x Thoughtseize

Melira Pod has been one of the Tier 1 decks-to-beat since it took down Grand Prix Portland 2013. Voice of Resurgence truly is the stepping stone 2-drop that Birthing Pod decks needed to become Tier 1 in Modern. I vividly remember playing against Matt Nass in the 6th or 7th round of Grand Prix Portland, seeing him pod for Voice of Resurgence, and then thinking to myself, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Cards like Strangleroot Geist, Wall of Omens, and Wall of Roots weren’t quite cutting it in 2-slot, but Voice of Resurgence really puts an awkward threat on the field that forces your opponent to play spells during their own turn and usually gets bigger when your opponent tries to kill it or you pod it away. You’ll even see many people mainboarding Pillar of Flame and sideboard Magma Spray to deal with cards in Melira Pod like Voice of Resurgence and Kitchen Finks. My favorite aspect of this deck is its ability to play a fair game and an unfair game against their opponent. What I mean by this (for those who are unaware of the definition of fair vs. unfair in magic) is that the deck is capable of beating you to death with their creatures and Gavony Townships (this is the ‘fair’ strategy), but it can also resolve their three card combo and do infinite damage to your face or gain infinite life (this is the ‘unfair’ strategy).

One of the weaknesses of stock Melira Pod decks is that many of them are running too many reactive cards in the mainboard such as Spellskite, Qasali Pridemage, and Harmonic Sliver. Orzhov Pontif is an exception to these reactive cards because it’s extremely versatile against almost every deck in Modern. Many of the reactive cards can be put to the sideboard for the match-ups that they are good in, and you can just focus on resolving your generically good threats in game one (and hopefully assemble the combo).

For a while I tried removing these reactive threats and shoving 4x Liliana of the Veil in the deck. I actually liked this quite a bit, but I always felt like I became way less focused around the combo, and was always playing a fair game against my opponent (even post-sideboard). I’m still not sure whether playing the Liliana of the Veil or the more reactive cards is better, but it’s important to understand that depending on the metagame you’re expecting, you can always mainboard Liliana of the Veil and consistently play her on turn 2. I also tested out Realm Razer as a 6-drop to pod your Reveillark into. This deck can struggle a lot with Tron decks because of their extreme inevitability and mainboard Relic of Progenitus, and I felt that Realm Razer is a reasonable tool to seal the deal against Tron. Scavenging Ooze is another great addition to the mainboard of this deck. This deck has access to a ton of green sources, and being able to Chord of Calling/Birthing Pod for your Scavenging Ooze to exile something relevant in their graveyard is an extremely useful tool.

Unfortunately, this deck can be vulnerable to graveyard hate. This is especially true now that Scavenging Ooze is starting to become more popular, but Deathrite Shaman has always existed and it is still very good against this deck. Both Deathrite Shaman and Scavenging Ooze are great at shutting down cards like Kitchen Finks, Eternal Witness, Murderous Redcap, Reveillark, and even opposing Deathrite Shamans.

Melira Pod is still one of the best decks in Modern, and if Birthing Pod is your (chord of) calling, then I highly recommend picking up either this deck or the Kiki-Pod deck listed here:


Kiki-Pod (AKMiD 6-2 Modern MOCS 8-18-2013):

Manabase (23):
  • 4x Arid Mesa
  • 4x Grove of the Burnwillows
  • 4x Razorverge Thicket
  • 3x Fire-Lit Thicket
  • 2x Copperline Gorge
  • 1x Mountain
  • 1x Plains
  • 1x Hallowed Fountain
  • 1x Steam Vents
  • 1x Stomping Ground
  • 1x Temple Garden
Mainboard (37):
  • 4x Birds of Paradise
  • 3x Noble Hierarch
  • 4x Wall of Roots
  • 1x Scavenging Ooze
  • 1x Spellskite
  • 1x Voice of Resurgence
  • 2x Kitchen Finks
  • 1x Izzet Staticaster
  • 1x Eternal Witness
  • 1x Deceiver Exarch
  • 1x Blade Splicer
  • 4x Restoration Angel
  • 1x Linvala, Keeper of Silence
  • 1x Glen Elendra Archmage
  • 1x Murderous Redcap
  • 1x Zealous Conscripts
  • 2x Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
  • 4x Birthing Pod
  • 3x Chord of Calling


Sideboard (15):

  • 2x Voice of Resurgence
  • 2x Dismember
  • 1x Lone Missionary
  • 1x Ethersworn Canonist
  • 1x Harmonic Sliver
  • 1x Kataki, War’s Wage
  • 1x Aven Mindcensor
  • 1x Obstinate Baloth
  • 1x Phantasmal Image
  • 1x Qasali Pridemage
  • 1x Sigarda, Host of Herons
  • 1x Thrun, the Last Troll
  • 1x Avalanche Riders

This deck is similar to the Melira Pod list posted above. There are only a few differences that differentiate the two. First of all, this deck has a small advantage over Melira Pod because it only needs two key cards on the field for its infinite combo, whereas Melira Pod needs three (with the exception of the new Archangel of Thune + Spike Feeder infinite life combo). Secondly, this deck also has access to Restoration Angel which acts as a solid removal spell against attacking creatures. Melira Pod can sometimes struggle at removing creatures that are already on the battlefield which is why you see the presence of Abrupt Decay in the mainboard of most Melira Pod decks. The biggest advantage that this deck has over Melira Pod is that it doesn’t get hated out by graveyard hate like Scavenging Ooze, Deathrite Shaman, and Relic of Progenitus. Because of this, Kiki-Pod is going to rise in popularity as Scavenging Ooze starts to rise in popularity. Lastly, one of my favorite aspects of this deck is its ability to Birthing Pod the same Kitchen Finks into every Restoration Angel in your deck. This will certainly seal a win against any midrangey fair deck trying to keep up in a race of life totals or card advantage. On a side note, I like the idea of adding Domri Rade to the deck. I’ve seen him in a few deck lists, but I haven’t yet tested him out myself. I’ve always thought that Domri was a powerful planeswalker (especially when you can play him on turn 2), but I’d be interested to hear anyone’s results if they have tried playing him in their list.

As for disadvantages that this deck has compared to Melira Pod, the first one is the lack of access to Deathrite Shaman. Deathrite Shaman is definitely a better 1-drop accelerant than Noble Hierarch. Noble Hierarch is still fine, but the Deathrite Shaman is significantly better at playing a more versatile role in the deck that it’s in. Kiki-Pod also doesn’t have access to Gavony Township due to the awkward casting cost of Kiki-Jiki and the fact that it has to play 4 colors. I would say that Melira Pod is overall a better deck than Kiki-Pod, but the decks are close enough in power level that I would recommend playing whichever one you feel more comfortable playing with.

Both of these decks are very good. If you’re trying to decide what to play, then I would recommend looking into the match-ups you are expecting to face. If you plan on playing against a bunch of Jund and Tron, then I would recommend playing Kiki-Pod to dodge mainboard graveyard hate. If you expect your opponents to not have graveyard hate, then I would recommend playing Melira Pod because it is generically more powerful and versatile. Either way, both of these Birthing Pod decks are good deck choices for competitive decks in Modern.


Splinter Twin (youhavenogame 6-2 MOCS 8-18-2013):

Manabase (23):
  • 4x Scalding Tarn
  • 4x Island
  • 4x Sulfur Falls
  • 4x Misty Rainforest
  • 3x Steam Vents
  • 1x Desolate Lighthouse
  • 1x Stomping Ground
  • 1x Mountain
  • 1x Tectonic Edge


Mainboard (37):

4x Deceiver Exarch

  • 4x Snapcaster Mage
  • 3x Pestermite
  • 2x Kiki-Jiki Mirror Breaker
  • 2x Vendilion Clique
  • 1x Spellskite
  • 4x Splinter Twin
  • 4x Serum Visions
  • 3x Lightning Bolt
  • 3x Remand
  • 2x Dispel
  • 2x Flame Slash
  • 2x Peek
  • 1x Cryptic Command


Sideboard (15):
  • 2x Ancient Grudge
  • 2x Batterskull
  • 2x Blood Moon
  • 2x Pyroclasm
  • 1x Dismember
  • 1x Cryptic Command
  • 1x Dispel
  • 1x Flame Slash
  • 1x Negate
  • 1x Combust
  • 1x Spellskite

This deck has been pretty much the same since the beginning of Modern. This deck is very focused on winning the game. There’s a lot to be said for decks that have a proactive and linear strategy for winning the game (versus reactive control decks that play cards like Cryptic Command that don’t actually win you the game by themselves). There are many decks that can sometimes lack win conditions, and this deck is definitely not one of them. Once you resolve the combo the game is over.

Unfortunately, this deck can be a little fragile. If for any reason you can’t resolve the combo, then it doesn’t have a good back-up plan for winning the game (unlike Kiki-pod who will kill you with Restoration Angels and Birthing Pod value). Also, every opponent is prepared to face Splinter Twin. It’s not hard to properly sideboard against Splinter Twin. It’s very easy to determine what cards in your sideboard are good against Splinter Twin and what cards in your mainboard are bad against Splinter Twin. This is not the case when you are playing against a deck like, say Jund or UWR, where it’s more difficult to determine what cards are going to be consistently good against them. Take the card Abrupt Decay for example. I like keeping my Abrupt Decays in against Jund and UWR because it hits a lot of their threats like Dark Confidant, Tarmogoyf, Vendilion Clique, and Isochron Scepter. However, there are plenty of cards in those match-ups that Abrupt Decay doesn’t do much against such as Garruk Relentless, Huntmaster of the Fells, Geist of Saint Traft, and Restoration Angel. However, if you have an Abrupt Decay in your sideboard and you side it in against Splinter Twin, then it is ALWAYS going to be good because it hits every one of their threats (Spellskite, Pestermite, Defense Grid, Deceiver Exarch, Village Bell-Ringer, etc). Sideboarding against a linear UR Splinter Twin deck such as this is not difficult to do, even if you are an inexperienced Modern player.

One of the biggest strengths of Splinter Twin is the Blood Moon in the sideboard. This is one of the few decks that utilizes Blood Moon to its full potential. Blood Moon being in play barely hurts this deck at all, whereas Blood Moon can be a blowout against certain decks that get greedy with their non-basic lands. I would personally be playing 3-4 Blood Moons in the sideboard. Blood Moon is such a blowout in the match-ups that it’s good against that you always want to see it in those sideboarded games. Blood Moon is a popular card that is played in Splinter Twin sideboards. When you’re playing against Splinter Twin, make sure that you are aware that almost all of them are going to bring in Blood Moon if it’s good against you (since most lists contain at least two in the sideboard). I like sideboarding cards like Celestial Purge against Splinter Twin because they hit the Blood Moon, Kiki-Jiki, Splinter Twin, and it’s also one of the most efficient ways of disposing of the Modern monster: Liliana of the Veil.

Join me next time for when I go over BG variants, Bogles, Merfolk, and my personal version of Esper. Thanks for reading! Feel free to message me anytime with questions and comments.

-Nick Rennard

Facebook: Nick Rennard – Oregon State University

MTGO: nrjets99

e-mail: nickrennard@yahoo.com