GWB Birthing Pod Deck

May 12, 2011 | Posted by Dee

Update July 9, 2011: This deck is no longer legal in Standard. But here’s a new Birthing Pod deck that is legal for post-M12 Standard. So far, I am 12-3 with the deck.

Added May 31, 2011: Here’s an updated decklist.

When New Phyrexia was leaked early, I thought it was a good time to start brewing. I’ve never had success with my homebrews but New Phyrexia gave me motivation to try building a competitive rogue deck again.

See this new set has so many powerful new cards. I thought there was a good chance of building a new deck that could win.

Birthing Pod was one of the first cards to catch my eye. If there were enough creatures with good triggered abilities when entering the battlefield, Birthing Pod could easily be the foundation of a strong deck.

The Deckbuilding Process

If you just want the decklist, scroll down past this section.

I started off with green and white as my colors. Birthing Pod could be in any non-green deck as long as you’re willing to pay life but I wanted the option of not paying life. Also, I felt like the deck wanted mana ramp since Titans are excellent with Pod. Green is the best color for accelerating your mana.

Birds of Paradise and Lotus Cobra seemed like good fits. Not only would they ramp up my mana, but they would fix it too and they could be sacrificed to Pod.

White looked like a good second color because of Stoneforge Mystic. I wanted to play Sword of War and Peace to punish Caw Blade and we all know how powerful Sword of Feast and Famine is.

Squadron Hawk also seemed like a no-brainer. It gave you a lot of Pod fodder and of course, it wields equipment very well.

Then, I evaluated the other colors to see which one would work well with green and white. I was pretty much set on having a third color from the beginning. Maybe white and green by themselves could be okay but there was enough fixing with lands and the green mana creatures to try another color.

Red seemed solid with Inferno Titan and Lightning Bolt so the first deck I built was Naya. It was basically a Vengevine deck but with Birthing Pod instead of Fauna Shaman. It worked out okay but something was missing.

The Vengevines were not that great. I had to play less cheap creatures than the normal Vengevine deck so I could have a Pod chain all the way up to Inferno Titan. This made it hard to bring back Vengevine from the graveyard even with Squadron Hawk.

Also, I didn’t feel like I was taking full advantage of Pod. I had a full set of Vengevines but in some instances, I wanted another card like Hero of Oxid Ridge or Hero of Bladehold. So, I went down to just one Vengevine and added some bullets, or one-of cards that are good in certain game situations.

This move improved the deck by giving it more flexibility. I won more matches until I ran up against Blue/Red (UR) Splinter Twin. That deck just absolutely destroyed me. I couldn’t find anything in Naya to beat it so I scrapped the deck and looked for a different third color.

Black came to mind since it has great discard spells to fight UR Twin. Also, the discard spells can take away mass removal, which was one of the deck’s weaknesses. However, I was hesistant to go with GWB.

GWB had not done well at all in Standard in a while. I thought to myself, what are the chances that this color combination could be a contender again?

I was about to try blue instead of black when I saw this card from New Phyrexia:

If GWB was to succeed, it needed not only good discard spells but also a strong creature for Pod. Entomber Exarch looked like the man for the job. This guy is great against combo and control. He’s a Duress on a stick that can also hit lands or he’s Gravedigger in the late game to return your bombs.

With the discard spells and Entomber Exarch, I thought I could turn around the UR Twin matchup as well as gain an edge versus Caw Blade.

Black also had Skinrender in the four-drop slot to fight aggro. The Skinrender and Entomber Exarch combo seemed better than any two four-drops from Naya.

I built GWB Pod and started battling. The initial results with GWB Pod were good and Skinrender and Entomber Exarch proved their worth. However, I reached another plateau with my results.

I wanted more bullets to increase the flexibility of the deck but I wasn’t sure how to make room for them. It took a while but I finally realized that I could skimp on the number of two-drops. I had 3 Cobras, 4 Mystics, 4 Hawks, and 1 Sylvan Ranger. Along 4 cheap discard spells and 3 Birds of Paradise, I had more than enough early plays.

Something had to go to make room for more bullets. Squadron Hawk was easily the worst card of my early plays. I cut it and Vengevine, added more bullets, and the deck felt like it improved a lot.

Well, enough about the deck building process. You guys want a list :)

Here’s the current decklist I recommend.

GWB Pod Blade
Creatures (23)
Spells (11)
Lands (26)
Sideboard (15)

Look at all those singletons lol. The deck looks like a highlander deck.

Ok, so first things first. Let’s talk about the main card, Birthing Pod.

First, it’s an artifact instead of a creature. In game one, most decks have only a few ways to deal with it. Creature removal is much more common than artifact removal.

Second, Pod has haste. Compare it to Fauna Shaman, which can die before you get to use it. You can use Pod right away as long as you have a creature on the battlefield.

Third, you can cast and activate Pod in different ways. If you’re short on mana, pay life. If you have a lot of mana, then pay green mana instead of life. This flexibility in the payment of costs allows you to use some strategy.

If you’re up against a burn deck, you might want to play other cards until you can use Pod without paying life. On the other hand, I’ve found against the majority of decks, your life total doesn’t really matter and you want to use Pod right away. So I spend life instead of mana to get Pod on the battlefield quickly and start activating it.

Of course, late in the game, you may have a ton of mana so paying green mana instead of life is the correct play.

Fourth, Pod is tough to play well. You can’t activate it and get any creature you want. You can only get a creature with the casting cost of the creature you sacrificed + 1. Also, you can only activate Pod once a turn.

This means you need to be careful with the creatures you cast. Sometimes you have to cast the worse creature in your hand because it allows you to get the creature you need with Pod.

For example, you can cast Birds of Paradise or Obstinate Baloth. In some game situations, you want to cast Birds of Paradise and turn it into a Mystic to get a Sword.

I recommend memorizing all the creatures at each casting cost so you know all your options. During the game, keep track of the creatures that have already been killed or sacrificed. You only have one copy of most of your creatures.

Fifth, Pod is fun to play. With all your one-ofs, there’s a lot of variety in your games. This keeps your opponent off guard and adds unpredictability to each match. With tight play, you have a good shot against most decks.

[Buy Birthing Pod on eBay at a low price]

The Pod Chain

An overview of a toolbox Pod deck would not be complete unless you went over the Pod chain so I’ll go over the creatures at each casting cost of the chain.

1 CC (Casting Cost)

2 Birds of Paradise

Lotus Cobra is the better mana creature but you want a few one-drops to go up to Stoneforge Mystic.

There are rare occasions where you need a one-drop to start the chain again. You have several 0 CC targets: Stirring Wildwood, a Zombie token from Grave Titan, the Golem from Blade Splicer, a Wurm token from Wurmcoil Engine, and an Ooze token from Mitotic Slime.

Also, Birds of Paradise gives you the ability to play a turn two Pod, which is impossible with Cobra.

Check out the latest eBay auctions for Birds of Paradise:

2 CC

3 Lotus Cobra

There’s not much needed to say about this explosive creature. It’s one of the best creatures in Standard and it fits the deck perfectly. This deck is mana intensive (both in mana cost and color) so Cobra works overtime to make sure you can cast your spells.

With eight fetchlands, 26 lands, one Sylvan Ranger, and one Pilgrim’s Eye, you usually have enough lands for Cobra. I don’t play a full set because I already have two Birds of Paradise.

4 Stoneforge Mystic

Like Cobra, Mystic is one of the best creatures in Standard (probably number #1). She gives you a great plan B if you don’t draw Pod.

Sword of War and Peace has tested well against white and red decks including Caw Blade and Mono Red Control. Sword of Feast and Famine has been solid as always. And Batterskull has been great against decks without much removal.

Sometimes I want a Mortarpod but I don’t think it’s worth it without Hawks.

1 Sylvan Ranger

This card may seem unimportant but it’s actually a key card. Like I said, the deck is mana intensive but you don’t want to play too many lands or else you won’t have enough creatures for Pod.

Sylvan Ranger is like an Terramorphic Expanse that you can sacrifice to Pod. It’s one of the cards I never cut when sideboarding.

Buy these cards on eBay at a low price:

3 CC

1 Pilgrim’s Eye

Yes, GWB Pod is so mana intensive that I need another Sylvan Ranger at the 3 CC. I tried cutting Pilgrim’s Eye but I kept wanting to Pod for it so I brought it back. Besides, against control decks, you often want to out-mana them.

Also, this artifact flyer is good at chump blocking flying Hawks with Swords.

1 Blade Splicer

This guy is great against Vampires because he matches up favorably with Gatekeeper of Malakir. You can sac the 1/1 to Gatekeeper. The 3/3 Golem sticks around and is great at holding off small Vampires and dodging Go for the Throat. Also, three mana for four power is just good value.

Don’t forget that the Golem has first strike if the 1/1 is on the battlefield. You can surprise unsuspecting opponents who don’t read the card fully and try to trade with their Vengevine.

1 Kor Hookmaster

I wish this card was the blue card, Æther Adept, but I don’t think a four-color deck is viable. Still, Kor Hookmaster slows down aggro decks and locks down mana creatures like Overgrown Battlement for a turn.

Also, you can use it to setup an alpha strike.

1 Viridian Corrupter

This one is a no-brainer. There are so many good artifacts in Standard now that we’ve reached the third set of an artifact block. Common targets for Corrupter include equipment, Tumble Magnet, Everflowing Chalice, Sphere of the Suns, and Spellskite.

It can even hit big creatures like Moltensteel Dragon, Myr Superion, and Wurmcoil Engine. Just don’t forget to side it out against decks without artifacts.

Buy these cards on eBay:

4 CC

1 Entomber Exarch

Early in the game, this Exarch is great at hitting planeswalkers, Splinter Twin, creature removal, counterspells, and equipment. Late in the game, your opponent may not have cards in hand or he’s bluffing with a land. In these situations, you can return one of the creatures that you sacrificed with Pod.

1 Skinrender

Skinrender is a solid removal creature. Even if you don’t kill a creature outright, you can still gain value. For example, putting three -1/-1 counters on Phyrexian Obliterator is pretty sweet.

1 Bala Ged Scorpion

This card may seem too narrow for the deck. It’s worse the Skinrender, but it can still kill Birds of Paradise, Squadron Hawk, Stoneforge Mystic, and Joraga Treespeaker.

I play it because it can kill some good targets that Skinrender can’t kill. For example, sometimes you just need to kill Overgrown Battlement or Deceiver Exarch.

I remember my last match against UR Twin. He had Deceiver Exarch on the board and played Halimar Depths. He rearranged the top of his library and passed the turn. I drew Scorpion and killed Exarch. He scooped since I had lethal on my next turn. Then, he showed me the Splinter Twin on top of his library.

1 Obstinate Baloth

Baloth is great against aggro red decks. Also, the 4/4 body is useful to bash past 0/4 walls and 1/4 Exarchs.

In some game situations, you can tutor up Baloth to recoup the life lost from Pod.

1 Molten-Tail Masticore

Masticore gives the deck some reach during the mid or late game. The deck was having some problems dealing the last few points of damage so I looked for a creature that could deal direct damage.

Masticore was just what I was looking for. Late in the game when you have a bunch of lands lying around and a couple creatures in the graveyard, Masticore can deal a lot of damage quickly to finish your opponent off.

Also, it can regenerate if your opponent tries to destroy it and it dodges Go for the Throat.

Buy these cards on eBay:

5 CC

1 Acidic Slime

Acidic Slime is like the second Corrupter at a different casting cost. Occasionally, you might want to hit manlands or enchantments like Pyromancer Ascension.

1 Mitotic Slime

This deck can struggle versus aggro and mass removal so I looked for a card to fight those strategies. Mitotic Slime buys you a lot of time against aggro so you can setup Pod and win the game. And obviously it is good against mass removal.

Buy these cards on eBay:

6 CC

1 Grave Titan

Grave Titan is one of the best finishers in Standard. It provides both excellent offense and defense.

1 Wurmcoil Engine

If you need life gain or fear mass removal, Wurmcoil Engine is better than Grave Titan. Also, it’s another artifact creature to fight against Go for the Throat.

Find a deal on eBay for these cards:

Cards That Didn’t Make the Cut

With a toolbox card like Birthing Pod, there are a lot of cards that could’ve made the cut but didn’t due to limited space. I won’t go over all of them but here are five cards that just weren’t good enough.

0 Phyrexian Rager

Drawing cards is good and all but you want your 3 CC creatures to have more impact. Much of the time you want to be drawing a land so Pilgrim’s Eye is better. I’ve been happy with the two anti-aggro 3 CC creatures since aggro can be a tough matchup. And Viridian Corrupter is just awesome against decks with artifacts and there are a lot of those decks.

0 Thrun, the Last Troll

Thrun doesn’t really play well with Pod. He doesn’t add any value when he enters or leaves the battlefield. He’s only really good with equipment but you don’t draw Mystic every game.

0 Baneslayer Angel

This one boiled down to Baneslayer versus Mitotic Slime. First, Baneslayer is like Thrun. She doesn’t really combo with Pod.

Second, she dies to everything and gives you nothing in return. On the other hand, Slime gives you creatures when it dies. Therefore, Slime combos better with Pod and fights removal better.

If your opponent has any of these cards in hand…

Gatekeeper
Dismember
Doom Blade
Go for the Throat

…and you’re facing his aggro deck, would you rather have Slime or Baneslayer?

Third, control decks tend to play mass removal. Which creature would you rather have against a Day of Judgment or Black Sun’s Zenith?

0 Precursor Golem

Precursor combos better with Pod than Baneslayer. However, it dies just as easily. Sure it dodges Go for the Throat but Lightning Bolt takes it out for one mana. Also, Into the Roil is just sick against Precursor.

Mass removal is still a problem with Precursor so I’d rather have Mitotic Slime.

0 Sun Titan

Grave Titan is more reliable than Sun Titan. You don’t have enough good permanents with a casting cost of three or less.

Wurmcoil Engine meets the mass removal test and Sun Titan doesn’t. Also, Wurmcoil’s lifegain and deathtouch are more useful in this deck than Sun Titan’s abilities.

Sideboarding

Sideboarding can be tricky since you have so many one-ofs. The main thing to keep in mind is to cut creatures that are mediocre in your matchup. Here are a couple examples.

Entomber Exarch is not that good against aggro. Against aggro decks without artifacts, you can cut Acidic Slime. Of course, versus any deck without artifacts, cut Viridian Corrupter.

Skinrender is pretty bad against UR Twin because it can’t kill Deceiver Exarch. Some decks don’t have any small creatures so you can cut Skinrender and Bala Ged Scorpion. Obstinate Baloth is not that great against control. Kor Hookmaster is an easy cut versus creatureless decks.

Also, discard is poor against aggro so you can swap discard for removal against those decks. Sword of War and Peace is an easy cut against non red or white decks. I still like Sword of Feast and Famine though against some non black or green decks like Caw Blade.

If you have a lot of Mirran Crusader in your meta, you should change some of the removal in the sideboard to Journey to Nowhere. I haven’t played against Mirran Crusader in a long time so the black removal spells have been fine for me.

Finally, don’t cut any of your mana creatures (Birds of Paradise, Cobra, Sylvan Ranger, and Pilgrim’s Eye).

Here are some sample sideboard plans:

UR Twin

+3 Go for the Throat
+2 Duress
+1 Inquisition of Kozilek
+4 Memoricide

-4 Mystic
-1 Sword of Feast and Famine
-1 Sword of War and Peace
-1 Batterskull
-1 Viridian Corrupter
-1 Skinrender
-1 Wurmcoil Engine

UW Caw Blade

+2 Duress
+1 Inquisition of Kozilek

-1 Bala Ged Scorpion
-1 Obstinate Baloth
-1 Kor Hookmaster

GW Vengevine

+3 Go for the Throat
+3 Doom Blade

-2 Duress
-2 Inquisition of Kozilek
-1 Obstinate Baloth
-1 Entomber Exarch

Red/Black Vampires

+3 Go for the Throat
+3 Doom Blade
+2 Obstinate Baloth

-2 Duress
-2 Inquisition of Kozilek
-1 Viridian Corrupter
-1 Entomber Exarch
-1 Acidic Slime
-1 Sword of War and Peace

My Record Playing the Deck

I’ve played 73 matches with GWB Pod Blade. I’ve gone 49-24 for winning percentage of 67%. These matches include all the matches I played with suboptimal lists.

With this winning percentage, I definitely recommend this deck for FNM. It may even be good enough to take down a bigger, more high profile tournament.

Here are the match results of decks I played against more than once:

Infect 4-0
Tempered Steel 4-1
GWx Vengevine 4-1
UR Twin 4-1
Tezzeret 2-0
Soul Sisters 2-0
Mono Black Control 2-0
Mono Green Eldrazi Ramp 1-1
Quest 1-1
RUG 1-1
BR Control 1-1
BR Vampires 2-2
Mono Red Goblins 0-2
Valakut 1-3
UW Caw Blade 1-4

The UW Caw Blade match up looks bad but the matches were competitive and close. All the losses were 2-1 in games. Also, I was playing suboptimal lists.

With the latest list, I think the matchup is closer to 50/50. Discard is pretty good against Caw Blade and I recently added the three discard spells to the sideboard. Wurmcoil Engine and Mitotic Slime are also recent additions to help fight against removal especially Day of Judgment.

I started a forum post about this deck on MTG Salvation. If you have any comments or questions, you can reply to the post at:
http://forums.mtgsalvation.com/showthread.php?t=323465