In Good Company

Michael Majors believes in life after death. In other words, he feels like “Birthing Pod” decks are still incredibly powerful in Modern! See his multitude of Collected Company builds before #SCGDFW’s $5,000 Modern Premier IQ!

Now that Grand Prix Atlantic City is in the books, Dragons have feasted upon my belly in this Limited format for the final time. In a pleasant change of pace, I’ll be focusing for the next few weeks on Modern for back to back events: the Season Two Invitational and Grand Prix Charlotte. I haven’t been consistently playing much Modern, but the other week when Gerry Thompson featured an Elf deck in his Daily Digest column that was doing well on Magic Online using Collected Company, it looked too sweet for me not to try.

As has been mentioned before, this Elf deck is far more interested in attacking than previous iterations. I had some minor success with it online, but it
felt rather vulnerable to any type of sweepers. What was incredibly impressive, however, was how easily it could translate a few resources into a lethal
board presence. Collected Company finding any number of Lords or more mana to power up Ezuri was super powerful.

After looking at some MTGO decklists, I was surprised by how so many new cards are making a splash (Kolaghan’s Command and even Outpost Siege), but after
playing with Elves, I’m convinced there’s a much higher ceiling on Collected Company in Modern than any other recently printed card.

Podless Pod decks have been running around with some degree of success ever since the bannings, but Collected Company is going to be the card to put the
strategy over the top.

Brad’s list is the foundation for a powerful new archetype that is going to be explored heavily by every player that loved Birthing Pod. Make no mistake,
this deck is good. It is also incredibly difficult to build, with a ton of decisions going into the construction process. For anyone that isn’t aware,
Anafenza Kin-Tree Spirit is a proxy for Melira, Sylvok Outcast from the old combination. A persist creature + Anafenza + a sacrifice outlet creates a loop.
Collected Company being put into the mix with Chord of Calling gives the deck a great deal of grinding power and ability to find a combo.

I like a lot of what Brad did, and it doesn’t surprise me that he was able to win the tournament, especially considering this strategy wasn’t on the map.
However, I do think that there is quite a bit of room for improvement. It feels to some degree that this deck tried to be ported from Pod completely, when
in reality we are working with a completely different card advantage engine that just so happens to want to play several of the same cards Pod did. For
example, Tarmogoyf looks to just be a replacement for Voice of Resurgence, when in reality I think it could either be a completely different card
altogether or that even Voice would just be better.

Even though you don’t have the natural synergy with Birthing Pod, Voice still feels much stronger suited at dealing with these aggressive Delver decks or
to make Splinter Twin’s life difficult. Tarmogoyf, on the other hand, is pretty weak in a shell that has no discard, and its small amount of removal is
going to have to be rationed for only the most important targets.

I’m also not a fan of the Archangel of Thune + Spike Feeder combo being put in the deck. It was not even a consensus amongst Pod players whether it was
correct to play both cards, and with Collected Company, we basically have to incidentally find one piece then Chord for the other, which isn’t particularly

I wouldn’t even be surprised if the best way to build the deck was just to overload on combo pieces. Between Anafenza and Gavony Township, it doesn’t take
much more help for even your random 2/2s and mana accelerants to become actual threats.

Perhaps something along these lines is a good place to start:

Sin Collector and Voice of Resurgence both do their parts for improving your ability to just Collected Company into more protection that makes it harder
for your opponent to deal with Plan A. Maybe you don’t want or need a Reveillark, but it’s a nice insurance policy for being able to rebuy your combo with
Chord of Calling.

Other lists have also incorporated Congregation at Dawn, which is another option for taking an “all-in” approach. If your opponent taps out and you have
five mana, Collected Company, and Congregation at Dawn, you can full combo them by Congregating for all three pieces and leaving Seer on top, untap and
play Seer, then Company for the top two. It has the potential to give this deck a very “Splinter Twin”-esque feel instead of being a straight up value

Further, Congregation can let you overload on powerful sideboard pieces of hate like Spellskite and Kor Firewalker.

It’s possible that the premium interaction spell of choice should just be Thoughtseize with this type of list, with the assumption that resolving
Congregation should win you the game most of the time, and your goldfish against most midrange strategies is quite fast; you just need to survive or
disrupt your opponent long enough to resolve a few key spells. Congregation gives us quite a few more virtual copies of all our pieces so we have even more
freedom to play disruptive value creatures.

It wouldn’t surprise me if these Abzan shells were tuned heavily and eventually became the best deck in Modern, but for now, Collected Company has me the
most interested in another particular tribe of creature.

I have a confession: I love Merfolk. A lot. It’s hard not to be a little inspired by the minor resurgence in blue devotion with Collected Company in
Standard, too.

Anyone who is familiar with stock versions of the archetype may be shaking their head at a few of my choices. Noticeably absent are both Aether Vial and
Spreading Seas from the maindeck. I think the former is quite poor, and the latter perhaps has a place in the sideboard. Merfolk is barely an aggro control
deck. It doesn’t have a ton of countermagic or disruptive elements, rather it just leverages the bare minimum it needs to push through damage. In Legacy,
Merfolk utilizes Daze and Wasteland, but we don’t have those mana denial cards to eat up our available mana. Not to mention when you don’t have Vial on the
first turn you would typically just rather have more lands. More lands also means we get to play more Cavern of Souls, which is an excellent tool against
blue decks.

Since Merfolk is a rather fringe deck that mostly sees play online due to its cost, most people might not be aware how fast it can kill. The printing of
Master of Waves certainly put the deck back on the map a bit, and I’m completely convinced that Collected Company is just a better version of Master of
Waves in nearly every way. If we already have a board presence, Collected Company probably equates to two more Lords, which is plenty of power and
toughness to punch through. If we don’t, then it’s a great way to reload. On an empty board with nothing in play but a Mutavault, it is not a difficult
feat to cast Collected Company and untap, attacking for ten with two Lords.

In addition, some of Merfolk’s filthiest draws are facilitated by multiple copies of Merrow Reejerey. This particular Lord can give the deck a bit of a
combo feel, where your spells start becoming free or even turning a profit before eventually you simply tap all your opponent’s creatures down and kill
them, no Spreading Seas assembly required. Collected Company’s ability to dig deep and find several copies and Phantasmal Images will make this aspect
surface much more often than before.

I like where the creature count is for right now, but some small concerns I have are with the third Phantasmal Image and second Thassa, the former of which
is a little weak against Splinter Twin, and the latter being potentially clunky despite how powerful it is with Company. That being said, the second Thassa
is probably where we want to be due to the deck’s ability to flood.

The sideboard is something I’m very unsure of right now, but Collected Company gives the deck much more of an opportunity to utilize a “hate bear” style,
which it never has been able to do until now. In the past, Merfolk has been Mono-Blue or with tiny splashes, and it used Hurkyl’s Recall to combat
Affinity, but Reclamation Sage + Phantasmal Image is potentially a very potent tool against them that can finally start giving the deck a fighting chance
in what is often a very poor matchup. Chalice of the Void on one is also extremely well-positioned against the various flavors of U/R/x decks that utilize
tons of cheap removal and permission.

As a bonus: Here’s a deck I’m very interested in that doesn’t play Collected Company.

In the past, these dedicated Jeskai Control decks used Sphinx’s Revelation to grind their opponents out, but just as we can see in Standard now, sometimes
it might just be more effective to jam a Dragon. Other than Liliana of the Veil being a clear problem, I don’t see much issue with Ojutai on power level
for Modern. It has a key four toughness, and in conjunction with counterspells and Minamo, School at Water’s Edge, it seems very difficult to remove. This
deck also utilizes his huge body much better than a Standard deck due to the huge amount of burn you’re already incentivized to play, making finishing the
job with his Anticipate ability academic.

Speaking of Anticipate, that’s another card that I feel nobody is really talking about for Modern. In fact, I believe it is a much better card in the
format. Card selection at instant speed plays very well with all the deck’s two drops and countermagic, and it gives you a much better defensive card
advantage plan with Snapcaster Mage than tapping out to Flashback Serum Visions does. Obviously this deck is a bit rough, but I’m excited to play with
Ojutai in another format that hasn’t adjusted quite so well for him.