Ask Shaun McLaren where he'd be without Path to Exile and chances are the answer would be on the wrong side of a Tarmogoyf or Restoration Angel. Many players identified the triumvirate of Snapcaster Mage, Lightning Bolt, and Path to Exile as the most powerful reactive thing you could do in the format, and the proliferation of Lightning Bolt plus the adoption of Anger of the Gods (more on that in a moment) meant that many teams identified four toughness as the new threshold. That meant a switch from Pestermite to Village Bell-Ringer for some and an uptick in Tarmogoyfs and Restoration Angels for others.
McLaren utilized Path to Exile like a precision weapon in the finals, using it here to blunt an attack and there to push through damage. Lightning Bolt might be more versatile, but there's no removal spell that gets everything quite like Path to Exile does.
- 4. Birthing Pod
Coming into the weekend, Birthing Pod had the biggest target on its back. The best deck to survive the bannings virtually unscathed, Melira-Pod and its cousin Kiki-Pod both came to play. In the end, Melira-Pod came out on top, pushing a number of players into the Top 32 and pacing Jacob Wilson all the way to the Final. Time and time again, Birthing Pod the card kicked Birthing Pod the deck into overdrive, granting them flexible tutoring and incremental mana advantage turn after turn. In one case, Wilson faced down a second turn 10/10 in Hexproof Auras and managed to grind his way to a win in large part based on the power of this phyrexian artifact. If the deck can survive and thrive even in a metagame that was aiming for it, there seems to be little doubt the deck will continue to be a player.
At least until everyone adopts the third card on our list...
According to No. 22 Ranked Player Brian Kibler, the tournament seemed to break out into two camps: those who knew about Anger of the Gods and those who didn't. Destined to be a defining card going forward, not everyone caught on that the red sweeper that exiles would be big game against both the flood of Zoo decks that cropped up this weekend and the Melira-Pod decks that found success despite the Theros sorcery. In fact, Kibler said it led to an odd sort of paradigm where people played Zoo because they didn't know about the card, which in turn let Birthing Pod decks feast on all the Zoo in the room, which ironically led to a good tournament for Birthing Pod despite the existence of Anger of the Gods.
Anger of the Gods even reared its head in the finals, as McLaren used it to keep the board clear and Wilson on the back end of the battlefield battle.
Anger was a secret to some, but the secret is clearly out.
- 2. Steam Vents
There's just so much to talk about here that it's hard to know where to start. There were a bevy of blue and red cards we could have talked about in this spot, such asSnapcaster Mage, Lightning Bolt, Splinter Twin, Serum Visions, but we all know the true power behind each and every one of these cards. Steam Vents and the decks it enables simply by existing dominated this Top 8, as only two decks didn't sport blue and red in conjunction.
And it's not like it was one deck style or one set of red and blue cards. Storm played nothing like W/U/R Control, which in turn looked an awful lot like but played a lot differently from W/U/R Twin, which was in turn a semi-cousin to Tarmo-Twin, which was an evolution of U/R Twin, which looked absolutely nothing like Blue Moon. But Izzet Mages everywhere are rejoicing that their signature land headlined Modern this weekend, and would have been the number one card were it not for the blowouts that the following enchantment created.
At least Izzet mages will still enjoy it...
Time and again throughout the weekend, blue mages, and Shaun McLaren specifically, flipped the script on their opponents, typically leading to some kind of blowout.
Nowhere was that more evident than in the last turns of the finals where McLaren's Threads of Disloyalty stole a Scavenging Ooze that otherwise might have led Wilson to claim his first trophy. Slipping the Ooze to his side of the battlefield, McLaren merely had to turn the traitorous Ooze sideways.
And if you need any better reason to consider Threads of Disloyalty the number one card of Pro Tour Born of the Gods, just ask the tournament's champion.
"That card just won me a Pro Tour," McLaren said. "I'm going to have that card framed."