Video Deck Tech - Bant Pod

Feature Article from Frank Lepore
Frank Lepore
11/2/2011 9:55:00 AM
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And we're back! You know, with, like...videos. I apologize for the extended hiatus, but there were a ton of things preventing videos: Magic Online not having Innistrad, then Innistrad cards being expensive during the Release Weeks, then Standard not having very established archetypes yet aside from Solar Flare, Township Tokens, etc.

Well, that last part still seems true; there are a lot of decks, but they seem to all fall under about eight different headings. Specifically Haunted Humans, Township Tokens, Red Deck Wins, Wolf Run variants, UB Control, Mage-Blade variants, UW Tokens and Monoblack Infect. That's the format right now.

What I wanted to make sure I did, at least for the very first Deck Tech back, was take a deck that is still very fringe right now, and play that. I had several options, like a UG Delver list or a Monoblue Blade list (both of which I posted at various points on our Facebook page, MTGatTCGplayer). Both of those seemed like interesting options to me, and really innovative, but I didn't know if they were good decks, or merely cool decks.

That being the case, I decided to go with something tried and true, yet also something that's under the radar (who saw that coming?). The list I went with was the same Bant Pod list that Kouichi Tanaka used to Top 8 Grand Prix Hiroshima and is as follows:

Bant Pod by Kouichi Tanaka
Finished 5th - 8th Place at 2011 GP Hiroshima - 10/29
Main Deck
3 Acidic Slime
1 Archon of Justice
4 Avacyn's Pilgrim
3 Birds of Paradise
2 Blade Splicer
1 Brindle Boar
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
1 Fiend Hunter
1 Frost Titan
3 Phantasmal Image
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Skaab Ruinator
2 Solemn Simulacrum
2 Sun Titan
3 Viridian Emissary
1 Wing Splicer
1 Wurmcoil Engine
Creatures [31]
4 Birthing Pod
2 Mimic Vat
Spells [6]
7 Forest (262)
4 Hinterland Harbor
1 Island (253)
2 Plains (250)
4 Razorverge Thicket
3 Seachrome Coast
2 Sunpetal Grove
Lands [23]
Deck Total [60]

2 Brindle Boar
2 Day of Judgment
1 Fiend Hunter
2 Flashfreeze
2 Garruk Relentless
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Stonehorn Dignitary
1 Sunblast Angel
1 Sylvok Replica
2 Thrun, the Last Troll
Sideboard [15]

Click for full deck stats & notes!

Now for the videos I didn't make any changes.

Bant Pod vs. Haunted Humans, Match 1, Game 1

Bant Pod vs. Haunted Humans, Match 1, Game 2

Bant Pod vs. Haunted Humans, Match 1, Game 3

Bant Pod vs. Haunted Humans, Match 2, Game 1

Bant Pod vs. Haunted Humans, Match 2, Game 2

Bant Pod vs. Haunted Humans, Match 2, Game 3

Bant Pod vs. UR Delver, Match 1, Game 1

Bant Pod vs. UR Delver, Match 1, Game 2

Bant Pod vs. UR Delver, Match 1, Game 3

Now typically I'm more of a fan of the GBx Birthing Pod lists, and let me explain to you the differences I see.

From the videos you can pretty clearly see how well the deck does against Haunted Humans, which is good. What you can't see, is how poorly the deck does with its own mana. I don't mean colors, however, since in that area I have yet to encounter any issue. What I mean is quantity. Of course I'm speaking from a rather small sample size, but running seven one-mana accelerators alongside 23 lands is a lot; that's 30 mana sources, not even including the three Viridian Emissary! This means that I was often stuck needing gas in the late game and drawing none of it. This isn't as much of a problem when you have a Birthing Pod, but often times you don't, or you're left needing to block with one of your only creatures. Even so, not being able to get something like a Skinrender or an Obstinate Baloth is huge. Now we're stuck with Brindle Boar and Fiend Hunter, both of which do not fill the same roles. Brindle Boar can't be sacced to Pod if you want the life, and Fiend Hunter can't be sacced to Pod if you want the creature to remain gone.

I don't think that's the deck's worst problem, however. I think the deck simply lacks removal, mass or otherwise. There a ton of decks in this format right now that are simply too aggressive for this deck. There were games I would lose because I couldn't deal with a Hero of Bladehold, or an Elspeth, or heck, even a Delver of Secrets...and all of those are everywhere. I think this might be the reason why Birthing Pod fell out of favor: while Birthing Pod was busy searching up cool, powerful things to do, other decks were simply casting those things. In GB at least you have access to Skinrender, into Morkrut Banshee, into Reaper from the Abyss. That's a pretty sweet removal chain.

Another problem that might have solved this whole thing was the deck's lack of Venser, the Sojourner and Stonehorn Dignitary. Everyone else is slamming down Planeswalkers, why aren't we? Let alone the fact that everyone is also winning by attacking with a million tokens. Stonehorn Dignitary stops this cold! And against those deck your single worry should be finding an answer to Oblivion Ring; they have very little other removal that can stop a Venser and a Rhino. That two card combo gives the deck a ton of inevitably, in addition to favorably interacting with all of your other cards, and I'm not sure why Tanaka opted not to run it.

Even after all that though I have a problem telling you the deck is bad; I mean it made the Top 8 of a Japanese Grand Prix, and there had to be a ton of Token and Human decks. I do concede that my testing might be extremely skewed, but Tanaka did lose to Juza in the quarterfinals, and Juza's only out to a Venser / Stonehorn Dignitary lock is his three Oblivion RIngs. And even then, he'll still has to skip an attack step, allowing you to find an answer!

 Birthing Pod
Store QTY Price  
Recycled Games 1 $7.62
Treasure Coast Magic 1 $7.75
The Gaming Cantina 2 $7.75
Big Daddy Games LLC 2 $7.82
Arcadian Marketplace 3 $7.82
FiveColorGreen 1 $7.83
Fast Lane Games 1 $7.83
Tonys Stars 2 $7.96
ChannelFireball 5 $7.99
Western Ohio Gaming 1 $7.99
Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Birthing Pod Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

I absolutely hate to showcase a deck in my Deck Techs that doesn't present a winning record, but tonight I didn't have one with Bant Pod. I went about 50-50 against Haunted Humans, and I lost twice to Township Tokens, once to Goblins and once to UR Delver. Township Tokens simply outclasses us at every turn. Their haymaker spells all do ridiculous things. At one point my opponent swung with a Hero of Bladehold once, and I was dead on board next turn when all he had to do was pump his creatures once with Gavony Township. That's right: I lost in two attacks to the combination of a single creature and a land. I'm not complaining that this is broken - though it is ridiculously powerful - I'm just saying that decks need to be able to stop things like that.

The solace I take in that is that I still think the information is relevant. I think there's something to take away from the fact that Bant Pod in general isn't putting up amazing numbers against the field right now, and I think there are some things to learn from that. I think it's proof positive that the field is doing something that Bant Pod cannot deal with in an efficient manner; most notably it's casting big creatures, and making a lot of tokens of different species!

I'm not sure what I'll be presenting to you next week. I'd like to try and find a diamond in the rough that is Standard right now or maybe I'll just brew something up and give that a shot. I have the burning desire - based primarily on my last match against Delver - to play UB Control with four Delver of Secrets and four Snapcaster Mage as the finishers, and one Army of the Damned. Of course that deck would definitely be running a near full suite (maybe three?) of Sever the Bloodline. How good is that card now? So long soldier tokens!

Either way, thanks for reading and watching and I'll see you next week!

Frank Lepore
@FrankLepore on Twitter

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