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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Apr 09 2013 9:51am
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Kiki Jiki, Mirror Breaker Final Art

Hello!

Welcome to another edition of Becoming A Modern Man!  In this article I will be looking at a Kiki-Pod deck, that is a deck that uses Birthing Pod alongside Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and a number of different creatures that combo with it.  The deck is quite combo focused and can combo in many different ways thanks to the power ofBirthing Pod) and the ability to untap it using cards like Deceiver Exarch and Zealous Conscripts.  Although the combo element of the deck is very powerful it is also capable of winning through attacking thanks to a large number of high quality creatures.

The deck is lacking in a few respects.  Most notably I've substituted Grove of the Burnwillows for Karplusan Forest.  The difference here isn't massive but Grove would be the preferred choice.  Also, I'm missing a Glen Elendra Archmage which should be featuring in the main deck somewhere.  Otherwise I'm pretty happy with this list and those are the minor changes I would make.

DECK TECH

Combo Pieces

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
The combo centrepiece here is Kiki-Jiki.  I imagine most people know what the combo is but just to make sure - the combo involves using Kiki-Jiki's ability to make a token of either a Deceiver ExarchRestoration Angel or Zealous Conscripts.  The token comes into play and using the effect of either of the creatures I just mentioned you can untap Kiki-Jiki and repeat the process ad infinitum.  Once you've made enough tokens you can then attack with your Hasty tokens and kill your opponent.

Restoration Angel
Restoration Angel
Restoration Angel is an amazing creature and one that works fantastically well in Birthing Pod decks.  Birthing Pod decks use a lot of creatures with ETB effects and Persist creatures, all of which love to be blinked by the Angel.  Angel also combos with Kiki-Jiki and is a mean attacker in the air too.  Restoration Angel is pretty much everything you want in one package.

Deceiver Exarch
Deceiver Exarch
Deceiver Exarch is the primary reason for splashing blue in this deck.  It may seem strange considering there are other combo options available with Kiki-Jiki, including Village Bell-Ringer which is in our colours.  The reason Exarch is so important is that it, unlike Bell-Ringer, can untap your Birthing Pod.  This allows for a lot more ways to combo.

Zealous Conscripts
Zealous Conscripts
Zealous Conscripts is your third combo creature with Kiki-Jiki.  Although the obvious use for Conscripts ability is to steal your opponent's permanents here it is generally used to untap your own permanents.  You can use the ability to target your own Birthing Pod to untap it and with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker you can untap your Kiki-Jiki and go infinite again.

Birthing Pod
Birthing Pod
Birthing Pod is the engine that makes this combo tick.  It's not essential to the combo but it helps a whole lot.  This deck harnesses the power of Birthing Pod even more than the Melira Pod decks in that it uses various untap effects to reuse the same Pod multiple times per turn.  This can lead to some very sudden combo wins.

Here's a table I've unashamedly appropriated from Sean McKeown's article Pod People on StarCityGames.com.

Starting Point Pod Activations Method
1 Drop + 2 Drop  4 Two-Drop pods into Deceiver Exarch. Untap Pod.
One-Drop pods into Phantasmal Image, copies Exarch. Untap Pod.
Phantasmal Image copy pods into Restoration Angel. Blink Exarch. Untap Pod.
Restoration Angel pods into Kiki-Jiki.
 2-Drop + 2-Drop  4 Two-Drop (1) pods into Deceiver Exarch. Untap Pod.
Two-Drop (2) pods into Exarch. Untap Pod.
Deceiver Exarch (1) pods into Restoration Angel. Blink Exarch. Untap Pod.
Restoration Angel pods in Kiki-Jiki.
 2-Drop + 3-Drop 3 Two-Drop becomes Deceiver Exarch. Untap Pod.
Three-Drop pods into Restoration Angel. Blink Exarch. Untap Pod.
Restoration Angel pods into Kiki-Jiki.
2-Drop + 4-Drop 2 Two-Drop becomes Deceiver Exarch. Untap Pod.
Four-Drop becomes Kiki-Jiki.
Murderous Redcap or Glen Elendra Archmage  2 Redcap pods into Zealous Conscripts.  Redcap persists.
Redcap with -1/-1 counter pods into Kiki-Jiki.
3-Drop + 4-Drop 3 4-Drop pods into Zealous Conscripts. Untap Pod.
3-Drop pods into Restoration Angel. Blink Conscripts. Untap Pod.
Restoration Angel pods into Kiki-Jiki.
2-Drop + Zealous Conscripts  3 2-Drop pods into Deceiver Exarch. Untap Pod.
Exarch pods into Restoration Angel. Blink Conscripts. Untap Pod.
Restoration Angel pods into Kiki-Jiki.
3-Drop + Zealous Conscripts 2 3-Drop pods into Restoration Angel. Blink Conscripts. Untap Pod.
Restoration Angel pods into Kiki-Jiki.

I like this table as it shows you how powerful an active Birthing Pod is and shows you how aware you need to be of the combo.  Players who are really skilled with the deck will know all these different iterations and be able to see these situations as soon as they arise.  This takes practice but I'm sure it's very rewarding once you've got it down.

Chord of Calling
Chord of Calling
Chord is another way to search up your combo pieces or one of your various toolbox creatures.  It's not quite as good here as it is in the Melira Pod deck as your combo pieces are much more expensive and therefore more difficult to search out.  The triple green cost isn't always easy to achieve in a four-colour deck either.  I wouldn't mind cutting one from the main deck for something, not quite sure what though, as it is quite a slow card and is quite awkward with our manabase.  Chord is a card I often find myself siding out when making cuts from the deck.

Accelerants
The deck uses a lot of accelerants.  These are useful as a way of ramping up, fixing your slightly awkward four-colour manabase and they also serve as fodder for your Birthing Pod.

Birds of Paradise
Birds of Paradise
A 1-mana creature which gives you access to all your colours, what more could you want?

Noble Hierarch
Noble Hierarch
Hierarch is another excellent 1-mana accelerant which gives you access to three of your four colours, most importantly blue.  Exalted is also a significant ability when going for the beatdown root.  I once beat a deck through a Ensnaring Bridge thanks to attacking with a 0/1 with Exalted triggers.

Wall of Roots
Wall of Roots
Wall of Roots is a great defender and a mana accelerator.  Wall can help defend against the early onslaught of the aggro decks while also helping you progress your board state.  Wall is also fantastic with Chord of Calling as it doesn't tap to generate mana.  This means you can add two green mana for your Chord off one creature, which is a handy discount.

The Persist Creatures

Kitchen Finks
Kitchen Finks
Finks is a powerful creature and also excellent with Birthing Pod as it comes back after you sacrifice it.

Murderous Redcap
Murderous Redcap
This should probably be a Glen Elendra Archmage as Redcap isn't particularly easy to cast in this deck.  However, as the table in the Birthing Pod section shows a 4-drop persist creature can be turned into a game winning combo with just two Pod activations.  That's why it's important to have Redcap here even if an Archmage would be preferable.

The Toolbox

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Thalia isn't an absolute hate card but given that the majority of your cards are creatures and it is a problematic card for Control decks.  It can also be a problem for decks like RG Tron as it makes their cantrips much more expensive and means that Karn Liberated usually comes down at least one turn later than usual.

Spellskite
Spellskite
Spellskite is a good way to protect your combo, happily eating a removal spell.  It's also a good blocker and a decent way to protect yourself against Lightning Bolt and Lightning Helix, you will usually be taking two damage still but that's better than taking three. 

One thing I'd like to comment on that doesn't specifically related to this deck is that I've seen a lot of players target Spellskite directly because that's the inevitable effect of targeting the creature they really want to remove.  For example, targeting Spellskite with a Path to Exile when you really want to target my Restoration Angel because you know I'll redirect it.  Although this may seem like cutting out the middleman, unless you don't care about damage you should always target the creature you want to remove.  It costs 2 life, or at least on tapped mana, to redirect with Spellskite and so you should force your opponent to make the play.  It's easy to make that shorcut in your head but I think it's pretty much always the wrong thing to do.

Qasali Pridemage
Qasali Pridemage
Artifact and enchantment destruction can be very valuable, particularly in main deck.  Pridemage fills out that description nicely and is also a very solid creature if your opponent doesn't happen to be running artifacts or enchantments.

Phantasmal Image
Phantasmal Image
Phantasmal Image is a great clone effect capable of copying any creature on the board.  Image is particularly good in combination with Birthing Pod as Image's converted mana cost becomes whatever creature it copies.  Therefore, Image can jump up the chain by copying something with a bigger mana cost.

Izzet Staticaster
Izzet Staticaster
Izzet Staticaster is a nice recent addition to the deck.  The deck doesn't run a lot of removal and Staticaster is a nice way to deal with Lingering Souls tokens, Dark Confidant and various other creatures.  It's also important to note that as Staticaster has haste you can deal two damage to a creature by using Staticaster's ability and then blinking it with a Restoration Angel.

Eternal Witness
Eternal Witness
Witness is worth a slot in any Birthing Pod deck as the ability to get a card back from your graveyard can be very powerful.

Manabase
This is one of the more complex manabases in Modern.  There are a lot of different ways to build the manabase and honestly I just looked at what other people were doing and then tweaked it according to how I felt I liked it.  My manabase could probably use a little more tweaking but otherwise I'm reasonably happy with it.

Temple GardenSteam VentsHallowed FountainStomping Ground
Ravnica Duals
When running four colours you're going to need a lot of different duals.

Copperline GorgeRazorverge ThicketKarplusan ForestRootbound Crag
Other Duals
More duals to fix your mana.  Duals that produce red are particularly important as sometimes you will be looking to hardcast Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and without triple red mana you won't be able to do it.  Karplusan Forest should really be Grove of the Burnwillows ideally but isn't for budget reasons.  Grove is better as generally you are not concerned too much about their life total when your combo deals infinite damage.  Regardless, protecting your own life total is much more important than boosting your opponents.

Fire-Lit Thicket
Fire-Lit Thicket
Fire-Lit Thicket is another land that helps filter your mana and can help you get the triple green required for Chord of Calling or the triple red you need for Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker.

Arid MesaMisty Rainforest
Fetchlands
Fetches find your Ravnica duals and help make sure you can access all your colours.

Gavony Township
Gavony Township
A colourless land in a four-colour deck is a bit greedy but Township is a very powerful card if your combo falls through.  Few decks can battle through an army of ever increasingly large creatures.

Sideboard

Melira, Sylvok OutcastAvalanche RidersObstinate BalothNature's ClaimHarmonic SliverAncient GrudgeSowing SaltEthersworn CanonistCombustThrun, the Last TrollAven MindcensorMagus of the Moon

  • Melira, Sylvok Outcast is great with out Persist creatures and is also a perfect answer to Infect decks.
  • Avalanche Riders isn't the most impressive but it gives you Pod-able land destruction against Tron.
  • Obstinate Baloth is for use against aggro and burn decks.  The life gain and the big body are both desirable against these types of deck and you can occasionally recur the lifegain with a Restoration Angel.
  • Nature's Claim and Harmonic Sliver are additional ways to destroy artifacts and enchantments to supplement your main deck Qasali Pridemage.
  • Ancient Grudge is the ideal card when you want to destroy artifacts, particularly devastating against Affinity.
  • Sowing Salt is brutal against Tron decks and Valakut if they are foolish enough to drop a Valakut pre-Scapeshift, at the very least you should be able to take some Mountain duals out of their deck which might be enough.
  • Ethersworn Canonist isn't quite as important now that Storm isn't really part of the metagame but it's still a good card against Eggs, Living End etc.
  • Combust is a good hate card against opposing Restoration Angels, Celestial Colonnades etc which are prominent cards in the popular UWR Control decks.
  • Thrun, the Last Troll is a big body that Control decks have a hard time with.  Regeneration also means that although he may be the Last Troll he will probably be sticking around for a long time.
  • Aven Mindcensor is used against decks that like to search their libraries.  This is useful against decks such as Scapeshift, Birthing Pod and Tron.
  • Magus of the Moon is a Blood Moon on legs which is good here as we can search it up.  Blood Moon effects can be very powerful against some decks, such as Tron and greedy decks that are dual heavy.  Our deck is also pretty dual heavy but we can cope better than most, particularly if we have an active Birthing Pod.  Magus can also help us achieve the triple red we need to cast Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker.

COST
Kiki-Pod is a very expensive deck.  When you consider I cut some cards for being expensive and this list still comes close to 300 tix shows you that this is far from a budget deck.  Restoration Angel and Kiki-Jiki are the real big spends but there are also various expensive 1-ofs which make the deck quite difficult to put together.  Throughout Becoming A Modern Man I've been picking up various pieces to this deck which means that it doesn't feel quite so expensive but it was certainly a slow build.

Main Deck

3 x Restoration Angel= 72.12
3 x Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker= 40.35
4 x Chord of Calling= 20.36
2 x Noble Hierarch= 18.68
2 x Misty Rainforest= 16.78
2 x Arid Mesa= 15.72
3 x Kitchen Finks= 15.12
4 x Fire-Lit Thicket= 14.16
4 x Birthing Pod= 14.08
1 x Spellskite= 6.87
1 x Eternal Witness= 6.78
1 x Stomping Ground= 6.68
1 x Thalia, Guardian of Thraben= 6.30
1 x Temple Garden= 6.27
1 x Hallowed Fountain= 4.80
1 x Steam Vents= 3.70
1 x Clifftop Retreat= 3.05
1 x Rootbound Crag= 1.81
4 x Wall of Roots= 1.80
1 x Zealous Conscripts= 1.71
4 x Birds of Paradise= 1.56
3 x Razorverge Thicket= 1.50
2 x Karplusan Forest= 1.50
1 x Phantasmal Image= 1.23
1 x Copperline Gorge= 0.98
1 x Gavony Township= 0.63
2 x Deceiver Exarch= 0.36
1 x Murderous Redcap= 0.19
1 x Qasali Pridemage= 0.11
1 x Izzet Staticaster= 0.07
Total: 285.27 tix

Sideboard

1 x Thrun, the Last Troll= 7.97
1 x Magus of the Moon= 3.96
1 x Aven Mindcensor= 2.57
1 x Melira, Sylvok Outcast= 1.75
2 x Sowing Salt= 1.10
1 x Avalanche Riders= 0.78
1 x Ethersworn Canonist= 0.50
1 x Obstinate Baloth= 0.27
1 x Harmonic Sliver= 0.25
1 x Nature's Claim= 0.08
2 x Ancient Grudge= 0.06
2 x Combust= 0.06
Total: 19.35 tix

Grand Total: 304.62 tix

GAMEPLAY


Our first matchup is a battle of the Pod decks as my Kiki-Pod deck takes on an opposing Melira Pod deck.  This isn't an easy matchup and will sometimes come down to who can put their combo together first.  As the more combo-focused deck perhaps Kiki-Pod is at an advantage in that regard though it has the disadvantage of not being able to put together it's combo as quickly.  The lack of removal in both decks means that handling each other's combo is difficult.  I think the sideboard strategy is probably to bring in the artifact hate and Aven Mindcensor while taking out less impactful cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and maybe cutting a Chord of Calling or two.


This matchup is against a UW Tron deck.  I apologise for the slighty choppy audio on this recording I think my laptop must have been struggling.  This is an interesting matchup as we don't have a lot of ways to interact with Gifts Ungiven, however, you have quite a bit of time before that happens in which you can get aggressive, see Game 3, or put your combo together, see Game 1.  Looking back I could have also won Game 2 if I had played my second Chord of Calling for 5 and fetched up a Zealous Conscripts to steal his Elesh Norn and attack for the win (provided my opponent didn't have a 1 mana counter for Chord).


The third matchup I have for you is against Living End.  This is quite a difficult matchup and probably not as good a matchup as it is for Melira Pod that can use Viscera Seer to ensure that none of its creatures actually die to Living End.  As we are lacking a cheap sacrifice outlet this matchup is quite tough if they have the quick combo.  Game 1 shows you how quick and devastating Living End can be as my opponent blew up my lands with Fulminator Mage and left me with no chance.  I think I should have lost Game 2 as well but my opponent's failure to play around my outs allowed me to get a last minute combo win.  Game 3 was pretty short as I open with Ethersworn Canonist in my hand to which my opponent has no answer, while also struggling to hit land drops.  My opponent concedes in fairly short order.


Our final matchup is against a UW Control deck.  This match is tough and grindy but you can certainly cause your opponent a lot of trouble.  We have a lot of good creatures that can put pressure on our opponent while they also have to be wary of the combo.  Not being wary of the combo led to my opponent's downfall in Game 1.  In Game 2, I came quite close to having the combo win but didn't find enough lands and ended up taking a beating from a number of Restoration Angels.  In Game 3, things are looking pretty bad as my opponent takes a pretty firm grasp of the game and is just playing draw-go with us.  Fortunately, we draw a Deceiver Exarch to go with my Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and my opponent doesn't have an answer available which allows to sneak out a win from a game we had very little business winning (a big upside to this deck).

CONCLUSION
It requires a certain amount of practice but once you start to understand the various routes to combo this deck becomes a lot of fun.  Being able to recognise combo opportunities when they arise is probably the hardest part of playing the deck and takes a bit of time to get to grips with.  Overall, the deck is very powerful and there's something very satisfying about putting together a combo win when your opponent never saw it coming.

This was one of my longer articles thanks to the many 1-ofs in the deck so thanks to those who have made it this far.  I hope this article was interesting and informative.

That's all for this article!  Next time I plan to bring a look at a Gruul Zoo deck, until then feel free to check out the previous articles in this series.
Thanks for reading,

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)

2 Comments

Great article. It's a good by romellos at Tue, 04/09/2013 - 12:13
romellos's picture
5

Great article. It's a good thing that you include that table as it clearly slows the variations and how dangerous this deck can become. I still didn't play with any Pod deck but this table gave me some ideas about the game play.

And its really interesting chance to read two great Pod articles on the same day (Kuma's and yours).

Yeah, it's nice to have both by olaw at Tue, 04/09/2013 - 12:30
olaw's picture

Yeah, it's nice to have both our articles come out together. I thought my article was detailed until I saw Kuma's.

I really like the table as it helped me a lot in learning how to play the deck. As I mentioned, being able to see the routes to combo is one of the big learning curves when playing the deck.

Birthing Pod decks are a lot of fun and if you get a chance to play the deck I definitely would. Regardless, it's always useful to know about decks you might be facing down as it helps you to understand their strategy.