A primer is a loose-leaf guide to a MTG deck archetype. After reading, potential pilots should know all they need about the deck, how it works, matchup analysis, and mainboard and sideboard selection. It is up to the reader to take knowledge from this and piece together their own winning deck.
Last week, I talked about Attrition decks that don’t really have a win-con, per se. If you read that two-part series, then you know that those decks were all very nasty in their own, unique ways.
This week, we’re going to discuss a different type of deck that’s also unique in what it does. Melira
Pod Company is a creature combo/toolbox deck. It naturally has strong matchups against a large percent of the field and postboard it can morph into a more disruptive deck, if need be. Melira CoCo also has a Plan A and a Plan B to win games, so games are rarely the same.
The Birthing Pod Era
Pretty much from the inception of modern, ‘Pod,’ AKA ‘Birthing Pod,’ or ‘Melira Pod,’ decks continually took up a dominant share of the Modern metagame. Throughout the entirety of 2014, Melira Pod decks took up 11% of the meta and Pod was definitely, the ‘Bad Guy’ of modern.
These decks were built in such a way that they could sacrifice a creature and search up a toolbox creature such as Qasali Pridemage to destroy your artifact that you just played, or whatever other thing you did to threaten the Pod pilot. They always had an answer for everything and Birthing Pod decks were truly overpowered with virtually no bad matchups.
Wizards, of course, sought to balance the Format, and thus, they dropped the Banhammer on the pod decks and banned Birthing Pod from Modern on January 19, 2015.
The Collected Company Era
Pod players felt burned by Wizards, as all victims of the Banhammer do, and they reluctantly put away their Birthing Pod decks, sold them, or traded away all the expensive cards. Many players moved to Legacy or quit Magic altogether. They lamented that no other deck in Modern offered the mix of control, aggro, and combo that they desired.
Collected Company wasn’t as good as Birthing Pod, but it allowed Pod pilots to take the shattered remains of their old deck and form a new deck that could take up the mantle of competitive creature toolbox deck in Modern without being overly oppressive.
The Birthing Pod decks were reborn as Melira Company, also known as Melira Coco, Abzan Company, or Abzan CoCo.
Seen below is what a typical Melira Company deck looks like in 2016:*
This is a cookie cutter build for reference and not all cards discussed in the primer will be in this list.
I feel like the mana generating creatures (Henceforth referred to as Dorks, Mana Dorks) are the building blocks of this deck. Without them, some of the biggest power-plays in the deck would just be too slow. 7-9 total Mana Dorks are recommended.
Birds of Paradise - The premiere Mana Dork of modern. It’s able to produce any color and can act as a flying blocker in a pinch. Run 2-4.
Wall of Roots - Only produces green, but with a convoke spell like Chord of Calling, you can tap him, then give him a -0/-1 counter to generate a second green mana. Also the best blocker of the bunch. Run 3-4, depending on your number of Chords.
The Supporting Spells
Melira Company decks run a number of spells that help them out-value the opponent and a few removal spells. However, keep in mind that having more than ten noncreature spells maindeck tends to reduce gains from Collected Company.
Collected Company - The namesake of the deck and the card that brought Melira Combo decks back from the grave. Instant speed, and 4 mana is easily obtained with so many Mana Dorks. Great to use on opponent’s end step after they have tapped out. It’s also very hard for midrange and control opponents to keep up with the sheer amount of value pouring out of this card. Run 4.
Chord of Calling - Similar to CoCo, except this one has convoke, can fetch more expensive creatures, and can search your entire deck. Depending on your number of cards with a CMC greater than 3, run 3-4.
Path to Exile - Sometimes it’s necessary to exile an opposing creature to keep the opponent from pulling ahead on the board. Run 2-3 in the 75.
Abrupt Decay - Best removal spell in modern. Extremely versatile and relevant in a large amount of matchups. Run 2-3 in the 75.
Plan A - The Combo Finish
This ‘aggro’ deck also has a few combos up it’s sleeve that help secure the win. Like any combo, they can come out of nowhere under the right conditions. The combo pieces are as follows:
Melira, Sylvok Outcast - The core enabler of the main combos. Creatures with persist don’t get -1/-1 counters, thus they can persist infinitely if you have a way to kill them. Run 2-3.
Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit - Usually acts as a second copy of Melira, for redundancy. Plus counters and minus counters cancel each other out. Also, slightly better than Melira because she can enable Combo 3, to be discussed below. Run 2-3, for a total of 5 ‘Meliras.’
Kitchen Finks - One of the persist creatures used in the combos. Great value play, taking multiple removals usually, unless exiled, and gains life. Run 4.
Viscera Seer - The sacrifice outlet which allows your persisters to die infinitely. Run 3-4.
Archangel of Thune - Used in a different combo that can also win the game. Run 0-2.
Combo 1 - Infinite Life
Basically, what happens here is you sacrifice Finks to Viscera Seer and you put the scry trigger on the stack and when Finks persists and you gain 2 life, Melira, Sylvok Outcast’s ability (Or Anafenza’s) doesn’t let it gain a minus counter. So now you can infinitely do this and gain as much life as you want and scry your entire deck to literally to put whatever you need currently at the top. It’s best to do this at your opponent’s end step so you can draw the scryed card during your next draw step.
This combo nets you infinite life and infinite counters for all your creatures. You get Spike Feeder and Archangel of Thune in play at the same time, and remove a counter from Spike Feeder, which will gain you 2 life. Then, this triggers Archangel of Thune to put a counter on every creature you control. Which allows you to remove another counter from Spike Feeder to gain 2 more life and repeat the loop as many times as you like.
Both of these combos can be done at instant speed, and Archangel of Thune, specifically, is an evasive, flying attacker, which means you can do the Angel-Feeder combo when the Angel connects with your opponent to instantly win the game. That being said, Archangel of Thune doesn’t play well with Collected Company, so most players play 0-1 of the Archangel to maximize gains off of CoCo.
Keep in mind that no number can be truly infinite, according the rules of Magic. You must specify an actual number, no matter how large it may be.
Combo 2 - Infinite Damage
This combo is identical to the Kitchen Finks infinite life combo as seen above, except Murderous Redcap allows for infinite damage. Many players will do enough damage to clear the opponent’s board, then finally, ping the opponent to death. You can also scry through your entire deck this way, but generally, this combo wins the game.
The same rules about infinite numbers apply here as well, of course.
Combo 3 - Infinite Plus Counters
This combo is different than the others and less well known.
When Redcap enters the field, his own Enter the Battlefield (ETB) trigger and the Bolster trigger from Anafenza go on the stack at the same time. Choose to let Redcap’s ETB trigger resolve first, targeting himself.
When this happens, he dies, and persists, you get another Bolster trigger and another Murderous Redcap ETB trigger on the stack. Except, Melira tells Murderous Redcap that he can’t have minus counters. So now you target Redcap again with his own ETB trigger.
Repeat this as many times as you want. To break the cycle, target another creature with Redcap’s ETB Trigger. Now you have ‘infinite’ bolster triggers on the stack. Resolve them and distribute them as you see fit to have an infinitely large team.
Plan B - The Beatdown
Against Control or Midrange decks, the combos aren’t always feasible. In those situations, it’s best to resort to beating your opponent to death. The most common cards that attribute to this plan are seen below:
Gavony Township - This is the main offender of beating opponent’s faces. Giving a +1/+1 counter across the board adds up to a lot of damage. Even more threatening when used multiple turns in a row. Run 2-3.
Birds of Paradise - This unassuming creature becomes a large flying threat after a few township activations. Run 2-4 as mentioned above.
Voice of Resurgence - Just so happens to hate on Control and Midrange. When he dies, he usually gets bigger. Pretty good for beating down. Run 0-2.
Scavenging Ooze - Gets large and gains life. Incidentally hates on graveyard decks as well. Run 1-2.
Loxodon Smiter - Undercosted beater that hates on control and midrange decks. Great choice, gets out of hand quickly. Run 0-3.
Qasali Pridemage - Contributes to the beatdown with exalted. Can also be used as artifact or enchantment hate. Run 1-2 in the 75.
Knight of the Reliquary - Gets large very quickly with fetch lands. Run 0-2.
Mirror Entity - This one doesn’t look like much, but a nice mana sink like this can win the game. Run 0-1.
Plan C - Value Town
This goes hand in hand with Plan B, it helps to create an insurmountable advantage for you that your opponent is unable to recover from, in addition to their life total being under constant pressure.
Kitchen Finks - This one gets a second mention here, because it’s just so much value stapled on one card. It takes multiple combat steps and/or removal to stop him for good…unless you have Gavony Township or Melira/Anafenza in play, then it takes more. If your opponent doesn’t have a way to exile him, it’s a huge pain for them to deal with. As mentioned above, you want 4.
Eternal Witness - Allows you to get whatever you need from the graveyard. Kitchen Finks, Collected Company, Chord of Calling, whatever you like. Sometimes, if you have spare mana at your opponent’s end step, it can be correct to cast Chord for witness, then grab the Chord from the graveyard, just to give yourself more Convoke creatures and/or blockers. Run 2-3.
Voice of Resurgence - Part of the beatdown plan, but also a huge value play. You can Chord/Company him into play in response to an opponent’s instant spell for immediate value. Takes two removal spells to kill, usually, and the second half is generally bigger. Run 0-2.
Chord of Calling allows Melira Company to search for any creature in the deck, even if they don’t have mana open, thanks to convoke, all at instant speed. For this reason, pilots like to include ‘toolbox’ creatures that perform various hateful roles against other decks.
Qasali Pridemage - Mentioned as part of Plan B, but the real reason for his inclusion is that he hates on artifacts and enchantments. Run 0-2 in the 75.
Spellskite - This card stops so many things that would be bad for your gameplan. It serves as maindeck hate for the Hexproof auras matchup, Infect, Burn, and it keeps an opponent from killing a combo piece. Run 2-3 in the 75.
Fiend Hunter - Removal on a stick pretty much. Good to use when your opponent plays something large or annoying that you just don’t want to deal with. Run 0-1.
Orzhov Pontiff - This one has two uses. It can either give your team +1/+1 and your opponent’s -1/-1, or it can give your opponent’s team -2/-2. To give them minus two, you sacrifice him to Viscera Seer in response to his ETB trigger. So now you haunt a creature with one toughness to destroy it and then give his team -1/-1 and then put his ETB trigger on the stack, giving a second -1/1. Run 1-2 in the 75.
Melira Company’s sideboard is typically filled with more toolbox creatures that are more narrow than the ones in the mainboard and some other spells that can morph the deck into a more disruptive, interactive deck when the pilot needs it to.
Burrenton Forge-Tender - Useful against burn and also stops Anger of the Gods. Anger is a common card to bring in from sideboard against Melira Company because the exile stops all the unfair things you’re trying to do. Run 1-2 in the side.
Fulminator Mage - Because sometimes it’s necessary to play dirty and blow up your opponent’s lands. Slows down Tron, Scapeshift, Jeskai Control, Jund, and many more. Run 2-3 in the side.
Thoughtseize - Helps to stop opposing Combo and Control decks. Run 2-3 in the side.
Build your sideboard with the recommended numbers of these depending on your meta, along with the recommended 2-3 of Path to Exile and Abrupt Decay in the 75. Most pilots use slots main and sideboard for these spells.
Competitive Matchup Analysis
In this section I will be explaining how to best beat numerous popular matchups. In each section, there will be a list of maindeck cards to side out (If you run them) and sideboard cards to bring in (If you run them).
|-1 Spellskite||+2 Fulminator Mage|
|-2 Melira, Sylvok Outcast||+2 Burrenton Forge-Tender|
|-1 Chord of Calling||+1 Path to Exile|
|-1 Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit|
Against a disruptive deck like Jund, the combos are tough. The best plan is to out-value them and eventually overwhelm and beatdown. Spellskite is also bad with so much removal in their deck.
Fulminator Mage can cut them off of some spells easily, as the Jund deck is very color intensive. Forge-Tender helps stop Anger of the Gods blowouts and Path helps to deal with their larger than average creatures.
|-1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast||+2 Burrenton Forge-Tender|
|-1 Murderous Redcap||+1 Sin Collector|
|-1 Eternal Witness|
Stick a Kitchen Finks or two and you should be able to generate enough life to beat them easily.
|-1 Scavenging Ooze||+1 Sin Collector|
|-2 Voice of Resurgence||+2 Abrupt Decay|
|-1 Collected Company||+3 Thoughtseize|
|-2 Eternal Witness|
This match can end quickly and they can beat infinite life, so the combo is a no go. Sin Collector can help pick apart the hand they’re building, as can Thoughtseize. Abrupt Decays are also very useful to kill their creature if they try and go for the kill.
|-1 Collected Company||+2 Qasali Pridemage|
|-1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast||+2 Abrupt Decay|
|-2 Path to Exile||+1 Orzhov Pontiff|
|-1 Fiend Hunter|
Another deck that can have blistering fast startups. Targeted removal gets blanked in this matchup, but bring in your enchantment hate for their numerous auras. Your Orzhov Pontiffs can kill their small creatures after you keep them from being enchanted.
|-1 Scavenging Ooze||+2 Abrupt Decay|
|-1 Spellskite||+1 Path to Exile|
|-1 Eternal Witness||+1 Orzhov Pontiff|
|-1 Collected Company|
Very grindy matchup, try and stick as many Kitchen Finks as you can to stay alive and go for infinite life if you get the chance for a guaranteed win.
|-1 Collected Company||+2 Burrenton Forge-Tender|
|-1 Scavenging Ooze|
This matchup is fairly easy. The worst thing you’ll see is a lot of burn, which your persist creatures are good against. They have trouble keeping up with the life gained from Kitchen Finks, he’s your MVP here. Zoo also can’t beat infinite life, so there’s that. Forge-Tender is mainly there to stop Anger of the Gods blowouts.
|-1 Orzhov Pontiff||+3 Thoughtseize|
|-1 Spellskite||+2 Burrenton Forge-Tender|
|-1 Fiend Hunter||+2 Fulminator Mage|
|-1 Scavenging Ooze||+1 Sin Collector|
|-2 Path to Exile|
|-1 Viscera Seer|
|-1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast|
This matchup is actually fairly easy because Scapeshift is another that can’t beat infinite life. That being said, Kitchen Finks is very good against a lightning bolt deck like this one, and so is Voice of Resurgence. Use these threats liberally and blow up their lands with Fulminator Mages, focusing on keeping them off two green for Scapeshift and three blue for Cryptic Command. Use your hand disruption from the sideboard to tear their hand apart.
|-2 Voice of Resurgence||+2 Abrupt Decay|
|-1 Scavenging Ooze||+1 Path to Exile|
|-1 Eternal Witness||+2 Qasali Pridemage|
|-1 Chord of Calling||+1 Orzhov Pontiff|
|-1 Collected Company|
This is the fastest deck in modern, so try to bring your curve down by removing higher cost cards and slower creatures that give no immediate value. Bring in your artifact hate and all your removal in the side is live here. An extra Orzhov Pontiff works wonders here as well. Keep a spellskite ready to redirect Arcbound Ravager activations.
|-2 Voice of Resurgence||+2 Fulminator Mage|
|-1 Scavenging Ooze||+3 Thoughtseize|
|-1 Chord of Calling||+2 Burrenton Forge-Tender|
|-1 Collected Company||+1 Sin Collector|
|-1 Orzhov Pontiff|
|-1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast|
Tron has great removal in the form of Pyroclasm and Oblivion Stone, so try not to overextend yourself. Burrenton Forge-Tender tries to combat the Pyroclasm, but other than that, you need to blow up their lands and strip their hand as fast and aggressively as possible.
Personally, I enjoyed this walk down Melira’s neck of the woods and I hope you did as well. I feel like Melira Company is a deck that’s very well positioned at this time and doesn’t get talked about as much as it should.
Hopefully you learned enough to effectively combat this deck or maybe I convinced you to pick it up.
Either way, thanks for reading and I hope to see you back next week where I’ll start a whole new series of articles.