Wizards recently announced on July 7th, 2020: “On Monday 7/13 there will be an update to the Banned & Restricted list impacting the following formats: Historic, Pioneer, Modern, and Pauper.” So in light of a possible banning, the mind begins to speculate “what if” scenarios. What comes to mind at this current point in time? Mystic Sanctuary banned in Modern and Pauper. Arcum’s Astrolabe banned in Modern. Nexus of Fate banned in Historic. However, I want to think of the opposite of “what if” scenarios. I want to talk about unbannings. Could there be an unbanning? Possibly.

There are a few cards that I feel are surfacing speculation coming back into the Modern format such as, Splinter Twin, Faithless Looting and lastly, Birthing Pod. Of all three, I feel Birthing Pod is the safest and most practical card to be unbanned. So how would Birthing Pod being unbanned look in the Modern Format of today?

First, where did Birthing Pod come from and why was it banned? Well here is WoTC’s explanation straight from the B&R announcement:

“Over the past year, Birthing Pod decks have won significantly more Grand Prix than any other Modern decks and compose the largest percentage of the field. Each year, new powerful options are printed, most recently Siege Rhino. Over time, this creates a growing gap between the strength of the Pod deck and other creature decks. Pod won five of the twelve Grand Prix over the past year, including winning the last two. The high percentage of the field playing Pod suppresses decks, especially other creature decks, that have an unfavorable matchup. In the interest of supporting a diverse format, Birthing Pod is banned.”

Here’s what one of those GP Winning Deck List looked like:

Birthing Pod | Modern

Creatures: (29)
Reveillark
Scavenging Ooze
Reclamation Sage
Murderous Redcap
Eternal Witness
Orzhov Pontiff
Linvala, Keeper of Silence
Shriekmaw
Sin Collector
Noble Hierarch
Restoration Angel
Voice of Resurgence
Wall of Roots
Kitchen Finks
Siege Rhino
Birds of Paradise

Artifacts: (4)
Birthing Pod

Instant and Sorceries: (4)
Murderous Cut
Darkblast
Abrupt Decay

Lands: (23)
Godless Shrine
Plains
Swamp
Temple Garden
Overgrown Tomb
Razorverge Thicket
Gavony Township
Forest
Windswept Heath
Verdant Catacombs
Sideboard: (15)
Spellskite
Eidolon of Rhetoric
Orzhov Pontiff
Choke
Creeping Corrosion
Dismember
Entomber Exarch
Fracturing Gust
Slaughter Pact
Chalice of the Void
Thoughtseize

Birthing Pod allows for a value engine that, at the time, was very difficult to attack and once it started going, it was very hard to stop. Siege Rhino having a Lightning Helix effect attached to a 4 / 5 that could be summoned from the library was very hard to overcome. Not only could this deck just out value you in the long game, it had an aggro approach where dwindling your life total down to dying from multiple Siege Rhino’s was a real possibility. The fact that this deck could also comfortably play cards like Chalice of the Void and Thoughsieze from the sideboard made it difficult to disrupt. All in all, for the time Birthing Pod being banned seemed like the right call.

However, it’s now five years later and value decks have really seemed to have fallen out of favor in the competitive Modern Metagame. When Theros Beyond Death was released, Heliod, Sun-Crowned helped revitalize some of the value engine archetype, but the variants of those decks were more combo-based rather than sweet value engines. It appears that value engines really just can’t keep up with how fast and consistent the Modern of today is. I think it is fair to say that Birthing Pod would not have the overwhelming impact that it did five years ago and would help revitalize an archetype that has long since been out of favor.

So what would Birthing Pod Decks look like if it were unbanned Monday? For the sake of argument, I am going to assume no other cards are banned moving forward. Like the Stoneforge Mystic unbanning, I am sure there will be a flourish of decks similar to what they looked like back in their prime. Why not? Play them for nostalgia, the Stoneforge Mystic Decks today still have the similar shells they did years ago. However, I am going to take a different approach… sort of. I suggest putting Birthing Pod with one of the most abusable cards Modern has seen over the last year, Urza, Lord High Artificer.

Birthing Pod | Post-Unban Modern

Creatures: (28)
Gilded Goose
Emry, Lurker of the Loch
Urza, Lord High Artificer
Birthing Pod
Corridor Monitor
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Scrap Trawler
Myr Retriever
Noble Hierarch

Artifacts: (10)
Mishra’s Bauble
Arcum’s Astrolabe
Sword of the Meek
Thopter Foundry

Instant and Sorceries: (2)
Whir of Invention

Lands: (20)
Scalding Tarn
Misty Rainforest
Breeding Pool
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Forest
Mystic Sanctuary
Hallowed Fountain
Sideboard: (15)
Ethersworn Canonist
Phyrexian Revoker
Lodestone Golem
Spellskite
Veil of Summer
Metallic Rebuke
Reclamation Sage
Engineered Explosives

Taking from the shell of when UG Urza was at the top of Modern with Oko, Gilded Goose and Noble Hierarch are both great turn 1 mana accelerants that help for Pod hitting the board early. Emry, Lurker of the Loch is perfect for this deck as it can be sacrificed to Pod to get your Urza into play quickly. Once Urza is put into play there are two ways this deck can take to close out the game. Kiki-Jiki + Corridor Monitor = infinite Corridor Monitor. At first, Corridor Monitor seems a little clunky or cute, but honestly the card is solid. Due to it being an artifact, it still gets to tap for mana with Urza in play and can also come into play to untap an Emry, Gilded Goose or Pod. Not to mention, four toughness can be a bit to overcome for the red decks still running around in the format.

The other way to win is one you typically see when it comes to Urza Decks, Sword of the Meek + Thopter Foundry + Urza, Lord High Artificer = Infinite Life and Infinite Tokens. Although this deck may not be the most efficient at assembling this combo, it certainly does have plenty of ways to put it together. Which leads us to the value engine aspect of this deck, the inclusion of Myr Retriever and Scrap Trawler. If anyone played during Krark-Clan Ironworks (KCI), they can tell you how powerful these two cards can be once put together. Although this deck is far from the KCI Combo Deck that dominated modern in 2018, it will have some familiarity to it. Retrieving either a sacrificed Corridor Monitor or a destroyed Birthing Pod from the graveyard will be important to the success of this deck. Myr Retriever and Scrap Trawler allow for a value game to be played when faced against more interactive strategies.

As far as the Sideboard is concerned, I included cards like Spellskite, Phyrexian Revoker, Ethersworn Canonist and Lodestone Golem to disrupt and slow down strategies that would interfere with Urza-Pod’s combos. These cards are all very potent and useful to slow down an opponent when it matters most. Reclamation Sage is to get rid of cards like Grafdigger’s Cage and Stony Silence. Metallic Rebuke and Veil of Summer are for the Midrange and Control Decks and Engineered Explosives for the Aggro and Titan Strategies.

I hope you enjoyed the read! Let me know in the comments what you think of the deck, what changes you would make and what you think of Birthing Pod being unbanned in Modern!