It did not take players very long to break Birthing Pod on a Planeswalker. In Streets of New Capenna Vivien on the Hunt can replicate the previously banned card Birthing Pod with her +2. For a six mana Planeswalker and only being able to activate her once per turn it is fair to assume that she wouldn’t see any Modern play. But thanks to Modern Horizons Vivien can potentially kill the opponent as early as turn 3. @Kesswylie explains how in this TikTok video.
In case you can’t watch the video the combo works as follows. Get a Planebound Accomplice into play. Pay a red mana to put Vivien on the Hunt on the battlefield. Sacrifice Planebound Accomplice to Vivien’s +2 and search for Felidar Guardian. Flicker Vivien on the Hunt with Felidar Guardian. Vivien can then activate her +2 again which you can use to sacrifice Felidar Guardian and find Karmic Guide. Karmic Guide will bring Felidar Guardian back to the battlefield which can then flicker Vivien again. Activate her +2 targeting Felidar Guardian again searching up Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. Tap Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and make a copy of Karmic Guide returning Felidar Guardian once more which can now flicker Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. Kiki-Jiki can now target Felidar Guardian creating a token copy of it with haste. This establishes a loop with which you can create infinite Felidar Guardian’s with haste that can now swing in and kill the opponent.
This isn’t the first time Modern has seen a Birthing Pod clone. Three years ago in Ravnica Allegiance we were introduced to Prime Speaker Vannifar, a creature version of Birthing Pod. I created a deck that paired the traditional Prime Speaker Vannifar combo lines with Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian, the accidental infinite combo that broke Standard for a few months. The deck did some really cool things such as using Saheeli to create a token copy of Vannifar with haste. If you’d like you can read more about it here: https://onlyontuesdays27.com/2019/01/04/4c-vannifar/.
But three years might as well be an eternity in Modern. After F.I.R.E. design, companions, and two Modern Horizons sets this deck should be far outclassed by everything else in the format. And it probably is. But I thought it would be funny to create a convoluted Kiki-Jiki deck that at the very least has a decent chance of winning Friday Night Magic. So for all you Johnny’s out there, this deck is for you.
The win condition for this deck is simple. Create a two card combo that creates infinite somethings with haste and kill the opponent. Whether that be cats, angels, or phyrexian clerics it doesn’t matter as long as your opponents life total is somewhere in the negative seven millions. This can be achieved usually by getting either a Saheeli Rai or a Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker on the battlefield. There are dozens of ways to do this, but I’ll try to go over the most common lines.
To start it is important to talk about the Vannifar combo lines. Starting with any one drop creature Prime Speaker Vannifar can sacrifice it to search for a Scryb Ranger. Return a forest to your hand and untap Vannifar. Sacrifice Scryb Ranger and search for Renegade Rallier. It can then return Scryb Ranger allowing you to untap Vannifar again provided you have another Forest in play. Sacrifice Scryb Ranger again to find Deceiver Exarch which can untap Vannifar. Sacrifice the Renegade Rallier to find a Felidar Guardian which can flicker the Deceiver Exarch untapping Vannifar. Sacrifice Felidar Guardian and get Karmic Guide. Reanimate Felidar Guardian and sacrifice it to find Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. Copy the angel, bring back the cat, kill them with 1,000’s of felines.
With a Saheeli Rai on the battlefield the combo becomes much simpler and can let you activate Vannifar the turn you play her. Begin the combo by targeting Prime Speaker Vannifar with Saheeli Rai’s -2. Keep the artifact token creature with haste. Sacrifice a one drop to find Scryb Ranger. Untap Vannifar and tutor for Deceiver Exarch. Untap Vannifar and sacrifice Deceiver Exarch to find Felidar Guardian. Flicker Saheeli Rai and establish a loop. Without either of the pod effects the deck can still win the game if it can get Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and any one of the following: Felidar Guardian, Deceiver Exarch, or Restoration Angel.
With this many combos what is holding all of it together? Fortunately, Modern Horizons provides the deck with another tool that many of the combo lines share in common. Imperial Recruiter has the ability to tutor almost every creature in the deck to the player’s hand and Eldritch Evolution can put the necessary creature onto the battlefield. Oath of Nissa is an incredible cantrip that can help to find either half of all the different combos in the deck. And if all else fails there are a few cards in the deck that can enable a beatdown strategy such as Blade Splicer and Biogenic Ooze. With how dense the deck is, it is only reasonable to add Yorion, Sky Nomad in the sideboard. Companions, love em or hate em, it at least helps to make this volatile combo pile a little less fragile.
With another Pod combo coming into the format now is the best time to play a deck that has no business having all of these different cards in it. Fortunately, there is just barely enough overlap between these different combos to justify cramming them all in the same deck. Truthfully, if you’re going to shell out the money for a 4 color manabase you’d likely win a lot more games by putting Omnath, Locus of Creation in your deck and forgoing all of these convoluted combos that each require a paragraph to explain and are hell to click through on MTGO. However, from my experience playing Prime Speaker Vannifar three years ago, finding the perfect line that turns your pathetic board into a beyond lethal attack step is one of the best feelings in Magic: the Gathering.