Spoiler season is always a really fun time in Magic, and as of yesterday, we got one of our more interesting cards to show up in Prime Speaker Vannifar, aka Birthing Pod on a stick. Birthing Pod is an effect that Modern has not seen in 4 years (rip). Now, when I first saw Prime Speaker Vannifar I wrote her off as being too slow for Modern. She can’t be activated the turn she comes down, is much easier to kill, and is 2 colors as opposed to one or less. I figured she would make a good commander until I remembered a deck that has largely been forgotten from the Modern Metagame: 4c Saheeli.
Almost 2 years ago, Standard accidentally created Splinter Twin. Using the planeswalker Saheeli Rai and her trusty cat Felidar Guardian, you can create a million cats with haste and decimate the opponent. While this combo did end up getting banned in Standard, it lives on in Modern in a deck called 4c Saheeli. This explosive and powerful deck has the capability of killing opponents as early as turn 2, a title that not many Modern decks can claim to have. As powerful as this combo is, it does require a lot of the right cards in hand in order to be pulled off. Turn 3 combos are much more consistent with this deck as all you need is a Birds of Paradise, Saheeli Rai, and Felidar Guardian.
One reason why I am so excited for Prime Speaker Vannifar in Modern is that it can enable yet another turn 3 combo in this deck. Birds of Paradise, Saheeli Rai, and Vannifar are all you need.
Turn 1 play Birds of Paradise.
Turn 2 Play Saheeli Rai.
Turn 3 play Vannifar. Copy it with Saheeli Rai and keep the token copy with haste. Sacrifice Birds of Paradise to find Scryb Ranger. Untap Vannifar with Scryb Ranger and sacrifice it to find Deceiver Exarch. Untap Vannifar to find Felidar Guardian. Flicker Saheeli Rai and proceed to make a million cats.
This added redundancy to the deck in terms of tutors and value make Vannifar a very welcome addition to the deck. And in the case that you don’t have Saheeli, Vannifar can still enable combos of her own by moving up the pod chain until you can assemble Kiki-Jiki plus Felidar Guardian, Deceiver Exarch, or Restoration Angel. 4c Saheeli is the perfect home for Vannifar and can lead to some very quick games in Modern.
This deck has lost a lot of equity over the past year, however. With the rise of Spirts and Humans, combo has become much more difficult to pull off. Getting your Eldritch Evolution Spell Quellered is a massive tempo blow that can make you lose the game, and losing your Saheeli Rai to a Kitesail Freebooter is pretty bad as well. The 4c manabase is also not perfect, and you often have to ship reasonable hands because you can’t cast your spells. And finally, the biggest thing holding the deck back is its reliance upon Saheeli Rai to assemble most of its combos. If you don’t find Saheeli, you are very often a 4c valuetown deck, with many of your valuetown cards not doing a good job of overwhelming your opponent. But the ability to combo at any moment, and having the ability to kill your opponent before they go to turn 2 is incredibly powerful, and is worth considering in this Modern metagame.
Prime Speaker Vannifar is not quite Birthing Pod, but she is pretty close as it turns out. She enables a lot of combos thanks to the power of tutoring to the battlefield and fortunately even passes the bolt test. She is going to enable a lot of cool decks in Modern, and maybe even create brand new archetypes. Hopefully, her inclusion in 4c Saheeli is powerful enough to justify the return of the archetype, as I would love to see Birthing Pod at the forefront of the meta again. Prime Speaker Vannifar looks like she will be a player in the Modern metagame, and will be the engine behind some really sweet decks. Thank you all for reading, I hope you have a great week and an amazing Tuesday!
Link to Decklist: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/1554425#paper