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Gobblin’ Guide – Where to eat during the Madison GP

Madison has a lot of incredible food, much of it concentrated in a few active neighborhoods.  That said, I expect the food situation at the Madison Grand Prix to be especially bad for one reason – the event venue (on the east side of section 7 of the map below, next to the tiny body of water that looks like a pair of brackets) is not really within walking distance of any decent restaurant.

This means you’ll likely have to make plans with your group *before* driving or getting a ride to your destination. The best way to make this process easier is to be informed about the areas you should be focusing on, and making choices that will leave you options should your plans fall through.

Madison Map

As seen on this map, the center of the city is smooshed between two major lakes. The strip of land between them (which locals will refer to as “the isthmus”) is the downtown area, with the enormous Capitol Building (map section 3) at its center. As you spread out from that center point, the area becomes less urban and dissolves into suburbs. Parking downtown is really cheap – usually $1 an hour in the garages. This makes it very convenient to visit some of the best restaurants in that area.

The West side of that strip is the UW campus (map sections 1, 2 and 9) and a lot of restaurants and attractions that thrive in a college-town setting. One major artery of this area is State Street (down the middle of sections 1, 2 and 3) – a pedestrian-only street littered with delicious, quick eats and a couple of truly solid sit-down restaurants. There is no home game this weekend, so I don’t expect the massive crowds that come with them – but be prepared for a bunch of drunk college kids after 10pm.

The East side is a bit gentrified – the restaurants tend to be kind of trendy, with a good selection of ethnic dining choices. I guess this would be the hipster neighborhood of town, though it has most of my personal favorite restaurants. The area nightclub and bars tend to have a bare-minimum number of “bros” if you’re looking to avoid such a thing. The major concentration in this area is called the Willy Street neighborhood(south side of map section 6), and just walking down the street there will present you with a ton of options. Note that I live and spend most of my time east of downtown, so I have an inherent bias.

All the areas listed above can be reached by car in about 10 minutes from the venue. Other neighborhoods have great choices as well, but they’re less concentrated. I’ve asked some other locals for their suggestions, and have split them into categories based on what kind of experience you’re looking for:

Just landed at the airport and want something to eat on your way to the venue?

  • Smoky Jon’s #1 BBQ
  • Ale Asylum
  • La Tagura
  • Burrito Drive

Want to eat as close to the venue as possible?

  • Taqueria Guadalajara
  • Noosh (i’ve received differing accounts as to whether this place is open or not)
  • Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry
  • Ian’s Pizza

Want to get the authentic Madison experience (cheese curds and/or beer!)?

  • The Old Fashioned
  • The Farmer’s Market
  • Ale Asylum
  • Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry
  • State Street, in general

Looking to eat a quick dinner for $10-15?

  • State Street, in general
  • Taqueria Guadalajara
  • Smoky Jon’s #1 BBQ
  • Ian’s Pizza
  • Paul’s Pel’Meni

Completely hammered and just want to stuff food in your face?

  • Burrito Drive
  • Paul’s Pel’Meni
  • State Street, in general
  • Ian’s Pizza

Great options for Vegetarians?

  • Taqueria Guadalajara
  • Ha Long Bay
  • Lao Laan Xang
  • Umami
  • Paul’s Pel’Meni
  • Ian’s Pizza
  • El Dorado
  • Monty’s Blue Plate Diner
  • Maharani Indian Restaurant
  • Himal Chuli

Need breakfast in order to function as a human?

  • The Farmer’s Market
  • Sophia’s Bakery and Cafe
  • Monty’s Blue Plate Diner
  • La Brioche True Food
  • El Dorado
  • Short Stack

By popular demand, here is a link to a recent article about Madison’s most popular breweries: http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/10/beer-guide-to-madison-wisconsin.html?a=1

FARMERS MARKET – this takes over the entire Capitol Square (map section 3) every saturday morning until two. This is both good and bad. Good because it’s full of farmer’s market-y food, and bad because it means there is a lot of extra traffic at restaurants downtown.

Taqueria Guadalajara (map section 7, close to the venue, Open until 11pm) – As the name suggests, this is a mexican restaurant. It is quite close to the venue, and their food is great. Like most Madison restaurants, there are some vegetarian options. I’ve yet to have anything bad on the menu. The horchata is well worth it, if you’re into things that are delicious.

Ha Long Bay (map section 6, Open until 9:30pm) – This place is my personal favorite spot in town, and I know that’s not an uncommon position. It’s a Thai / Vietnamese restaurant with a huge selection of curries and soups, all of which can be customized in a variety of ways – lots of vegetarian and vegan options. The food is simply unmatched, but the crowd can be a bit much. When they get reallllly busy, they just stop answering their phone, so call ahead and if they don’t answer, move on. PS: The Thai Iced Tea is worth the wait alone.

Lao Laan Xang (two locations in map section 6, Open until 10:00pm) – This is a Laotian restaurant that serves a huge variety of curries (the tech is their squash curry) but it often ends up acting as “the place we go when the line at Ha Long Bay is too long.” I know quite a few people who swear that it’s better, so don’t hesitate to check it out. Their two locations are only about a mile apart, so if one is busy, don’t lose hope.

The Old Fashioned (map section 3, Kitchen open until Midnight) – This is the big “classic Madison” restaurant. Amazing cheese curds (definitely don’t pass on them, and make sure to get the tiger sauce), dozens of beers, lots of high-end bar food. They have a bunch of fish-fry specials on Friday nights, as do a many other places in town.

Umami (map section 6, open until 11pm) – Expensive ($15ish), but high-quality ramen and small-plate asian dishes (try the pork buns and pot stickers) and really interesting drinks. There’s usually a wait and you almost always need a reservation. It is directly across the street from Plan B, the local dance club.

Burrito Drive (map sections 6, open until 3AM) is a few blocks down the road from Plan B . They have a bunch of messy, filling foods that are the perfect follow-up to a night of drinking. Their menu includes hits like Mid-Wexican Wontons and a dozen different burritos. I’m told that their chocolate bread pudding is amazing.

Smoky Jon’s #1 BBQ (map section 17, open until 9pm) – Very close to the airport, with takeout and dine-in BBQ. It’s very focused on the award winning sauce (the awards are plastered all over every wall in the place), which goes super well with their fries. I recommend either the ribs, the brisket, or the pork shoulder with fries and coleslaw.

That BBQ Joint (map section 6, open until 8pm) – A more southern BBQ place. Lots of smoked everything, jalapeno hush puppies, fried macaroni and cheese, great mustard sauces, etc. They recently moved closer to downtown and i’ve yet to visit their new location, so i can’t really speak to the atmosphere or expected wait. They do takeout and they’re pretty quick about it.

Ale Asylum (map section 17, Kitchen until 10pm, then only Pizza until midnight, bar till 2am) – Also close to the airport. They’re a decent brewery, but their stuff trends a little too hoppy for me. Food is decent bar food, the seating area is pretty large.

Dotty Dumplings Dowry (map section 2, open till Midnight) – Ignore the name: this is a burger joint. There are a bunch of creative options, their cheese curds are great, and they’ve got a well-stocked bar. There’s often a wait – but Ian’s Pizza is right next door, and they can get you slices pretty quickly as a backup plan.

Ian’s Pizza (map sections 2 and 3, open until 2:30am) – This is the ubiquitous college town pizza place: you’ve been here before – they serve macaroni and cheese pizza, BBQ pizza, chipotle sweet potato pizza, etc, etc, etc. Slices are a few dollars, and if you call ahead, you can even get a few vegan pizza options. Their october pizza specials are: Drunken Ravioli, Chili Cheese Frito, Chicken Mashed Potato, Chicken Cordon Blue, and Black Bean Feta Avocado Tomato.

Paul’s Pel’Meni (map section 2, on a side road right off state street, open until 3am) – Their menu has exactly three things – Potato Dumplings, Beef Dumplings, and Black Bread. I’ve never had the bread, but good lord are the dumplings amazing. They cook them up to order, and then serve them with a variety of spices, and with servings of sour cream. If you want to eat something basic and filling for $6.50, this is your ideal spot. It gets busy at times, but it’s often empty when the rest of State Street is packed. OPEN UNTIL 3am ON FRIDAY AND SATURDAY!

El Dorado (map section 6, open until 10pm) – Middle of the road quality tex-mex food, with a bunch of twists. Some Vegan options, a few asian-fusion dishes, etc. A solid brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Lots of drinks.

Monty’s Blue Plate Diner (map section 6, open 7am – 9pm) – A classic diner with a huge breakfast menu. Plenty of veggie / vegan options, including a full-separate menu for our meatless friends. This is one of the best values in breakfast – it’s reasonably priced and the food is excellent. They’re also very fast if you get there early enough. I’ve had my food ten minutes after ordering more than once.

La Taguara (far south side of map section 17, open until 10pm) – Venezuelan food. A lot of meat and rice and plantains – all delicious and hearty, with a lot of unique flavors.

Maharani Indian Restaurant (map section 3, open for lunch buffet at 11:30, close at 10pm) – Decent Indian restaurant with a great lunch buffet, not far from the venue. 

Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace (map section 6, open until 11pm) – Tex Tubb’s does interesting/unusual taco combinations, and make an insane vegan nachos. But really, they have blended crazy-flavor margaritas which is their claim to fame.

Restaurant Muramoto (map sections 3 and 5, open until 10pm) – Two locations. Tapas and sushi. Full bars. Not much to say – if you want sushi, you know what to do. Make sure you call ahead – neither place has an abundance of seating.

Red (map section 3, open until 10pm) – Another sushi place. This is the more stylish of the sushi restaurants, and their interior is very small. I’ve been quoted some absurd wait times. On the expensive side, but well worth it.

Alchemy (map section 6, kitchen until 1am) – great burgers and veggie options (their brussels sprouts are unreal) and the serve food until 1am Friday and Saturday.

Essen Haus (border of map sections 3 and 6, food until 11) – German beer hall with those nice glass boots you can pass around the table while listening to live polka music. It tends to be a pretty high-energy place.

Sophia’s Bakery and Cafe (map section 6, open only Saturday and Sunday, 8am – 2pm) – Their omelettes are among my favorite breakfasts in town, but you’ve got to be up for the setting – it’s an open seating arrangement, so you end up sharing tables with whomever comes in. You can always get your food to go. They’re CASH ONLY, so don’t mess that up.

Manna Cafe and Bakery (south side of map section 17, open at 7am) – Another insane breakfast place. Good coffee, amazing eggs benedict, great pancakes, etc. It’s taking all my restraint to avoid making a Mana pun.

La Brioche True Food (map section 9, open 7am Saturday, 8am Sunday) – pretentious but delicious. Prepare to be served toxin-free, filtered water and all organic GMO free everything. The dining area is actually quite fancy – live piano music, etc. Don’t have anything bad to say about the food itself though – make sure to check out their bakery display case – bring me a cream puff if you go!

Himal Chuli (map section 2) Nepalese food right on state street. A lot of my vegetarian friends LOVE this place. I thought it was pretty good the one time i ate there, but felt it was a little overpriced. Infinite veggie options though, so click the link and check out the menu if you think it might be your thing.

Great Dane (north map section 8, south side of map section 12, map section 3, east side of map section 14) I don’t love this place. The atmosphere is cool, and they’re VERY large so you can seat huge groups, but the food is very very average. I’m including it because it’s by far the number one place people complained about not having on the list, but i’ve always seen it as a step up from the regional chains with a beer selection matched by, well, just about every other serious place that serves beer. I don’t think it’s anything special, but if you’ve got a group of 20 or something, it’s realistically probably your best option.

————–

I haven’t been to the rest of these, but they’ve all come recommended by friends:

Graze (map section 3, open until 11pm)   upscale locally sourced hipster food, but good. Full bar.

Noosh (map section 7) – It’s not on Google maps yet, but apparently it’s on South Park street. Very new and I haven’t been there yet, but a friend relayed this: “Persian comfort food. Saffron chicken in lamb fat, tasty dishes featuring tomatoes, eggs and eggplants.” Very close to the venue. (i’ve received differing accounts as to whether this place is open or not)

The Tornado Steakhouse / Tempest Oyster Bar (map section 3) These two restaurants are a few blocks from each other. I’ve never been to either, but they’re among the high end places downtown. Take me here when you win the GP. They’re both open very late (1am), with their own late-night menus.

Natt Spil (map section 3, food until 1am)   You know that tavern in Nepal at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark?  This is like that with less lighting. (thanks to a secret contributor for this review!) Crazy pizzas, dim sum, cantonese food, and other off-the-wall options

Samba (map section 2, open until 10pm) – All you can eat Brazilian steak house. You know the drill.

Weary Traveler (map section 6)  Pub but actually good.  Full bar.

Pig in a Fur Coat (map section 6, open until 11pm)   Tapas. This place was blowing up in the madison subreddit’s quest for underrated restaurants a few weeks ago. Expensive, high-end food.

Sardine (map section 6, open until 11pm) sat/sun brunch (9-2). Open till 11. French place with lake views. Slightly upscale, definitely recommend

Short Stack (map section 2/3 – right on the corner. Open 24 hours thursday – sunday) This place always has a line when I want breakfast, but they’re open 24/7 on weekends, and I’ve had people swear by their biscuits and gravy. If you’re a gambler, and i know you are, check out their blind special – pay $7 and they bring you out a meal that otherwise retails for $13.

Sa Bai Thong (map section 9, open until 10pm) – Thai food.

The rest of the Capitol Square (map section 3):

  • Cooper’s Tavern   Irish pub, full bar
  • Brocach Irish Pub   Full bar
  • The Argus   bar and grill, vegan options.
  • The Merchant   full bar

The rest of State Street (map sections 1 and 2):

  • Chipotle
  • Five Guys
  • The Parthenon – Quality gyros
  • A hundred other small restaurants and chains

ENTERTAINMENT VENUES:

There are a ton, way too many to list, but here are two that are frequented by many magic players i know:

Plan B *DANCE CLUB* (map section 6) A dance-centric nightclub with a very LGBT-friendly atmosphere. If you’re looking for a night out, you can’t go wrong with dinner at Umami, or one of the many nearby restaurants, followed by Plan B.

Karaoke Kid (map section 2) – A popular Karaoke bar that’s reasonably close to the venue. UltraPro is sponsoring an open event there at 8pm on Sunday night, if you’re staying in town – just show a magic card or UltraPro product to get in the door. There will also be a raffle on-site at 10pm, sponsored by the following local stores: I’m Board, Misty Mountain Games, Mox Mania, Pegasus Games, and PowerNine.com

!!!!!BONUS – other places to play Magic in town!!!!!!

Did you get in early and are looking to FNM?

Netherworld (map section 3) – FNM: 7pm Draft

Downtown, just a few blocks west of the Capitol Building. The store tends to have a reputation for being cutthroat, and many of the most successful players in town game there, but i’ve always found it to be a friendly place.

Mox Mania (map section 20)- FNM: 6:30pm Modern, Standard, Draft

Probably the most popular place in town. It’s on the far west side, and I hear they get really big crowds for their events, but my personal experience there is lacking.

Misty Mountain (map section 15) – FNM: 6:30pm Draft

On the far Southeast Side. Their playspace is massive, as they used to host 200ish person PTQs back when those were a thing. They have a draft FNM at 6:30.

I’m Board (map section 18) – FNM: 6pm Casual Sealed and Modern

As the name suggests, they have a great selection of Board Games.

Pegasus (map section 20) – FNM: 6pm Draft

Just across the street from Mox Mania, this is a more relaxed and casual environment.

If you’re not looking to game, but want to find some elusive foil forgeign singles for your cube or whatever, PowerNine.com has their home base on State Street downtown. They’re among the most prolific eBay Magic dealers – period, and they will have a booth at the venue, so if you need something really rare, talk to them early in the weekend and they can almost assuredly hook you up by the time your trip, if not the day, is over.

3-0 RG Ferocious

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Draftos part trois

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Draftos part dos

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Draftos!

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Everything there is to know about Kiki-Pod

A few weeks ago, Frank Karsten wrote a great article about modern, going over specific tricks that you can be on the lookout for when playing the format. I want to do something similar here, but I’m going to run down the list of every card in my Kiki Pod list, outlining the things you can do with them that may not be the most obvious. I know the deck very well, as I’ve been playing various versions for the last two years, cashing all four Grands Prix I’ve played with it, including Minneapolis last month where I came in 11th.

My list at that event can be found here:
http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/eventcoverage/gpmin14/day2#1

Since that time, I’ve cut:
A chord from the maindeck for a second deceiver.
The kitchen finks, kataki, and eidelon of rhetoric in the sideboard for a third negate, a second fiery justice, and an aven mindcensor.

Very often, my opponents just have no idea what I’m doing until it’s too late, but that’s something that’s easily fixed by learning the kiki pod lists and knowing what we’re capable of.

I’m going to go over the six main combo chains really quick first just because it’s very important to know them if you want to play with or against the deck. Each of them requires a birthing pod, and each activation requirement means either two mana or one mana and two life.

One drop, Two drop, four activations.
Two drop pods into deceiver, trigger untaps pod.
One drop pods into phantasmal image, copies deceiver, untaps pod.
Phantasmal image (now a three drop) pods into restoration angel, which targets deceiver exarch, which untaps pod.
Restoration angel pods into Kiki-Jiki.

Two drop, two drop, four activations. This one requires that you have two deceiver exarchs in your list.
Two drop pods into deceiver, trigger untaps pod.
Two drop pods into deceiver, trigger untaps pod.
Deceiver exarch pods into restoration angel, which targets deceiver exarch, which untaps pod.
Restoration angel pods into Kiki-Jiki.

Two drop, three drop, three activations.
Two drop pods into deceiver, trigger untaps pod.
Three drop pods into restoration angel, which targets deceiver exarch, which untaps pod.
Restoration angel pods into Kiki-Jiki.

Three drop, four drop, three activations .
Four drop pods into conscripts, trigger untaps pod.
Three drop pods into restoration angel, trigger blinks conscripts. Conscripts trigger untaps pod.
Pod angel into Kiki-Jiki, combo off with kiki and conscripts.

Two drop, four drop, two activations.
Two drop pods into deceiver, trigger untaps pod.
Four drop pods into Kiki-Jiki.

Four drop, four drop (or a persist four drop), two activations.
Four drop pods into zealous conscripts, trigger untaps pod.
Four drop pods into Kiki-Jiki.

Now you know! Let’s get through the specific cards.
The Lands
With every nonblack shockland in the deck, you can get all your colors pretty easily. The only shocks you can’t get with each fetch are Sacred Foundry with Misty Rainforest, and Breeding Pool with Arid Mesa. Arid Mesa is actually the better land for the deck since you only need blue mana in about half your games, but you NEED green mana very early every single time, and you often don’t want to take three damage to get it. This is why I play four Misty and only three Mesa. I usually lead with my misty rainforests, saving my arid mesas until I figure out what kind of mana I’ll need late game.
Gavony Township
If we could play 3 copies of this card like Melira pod does, I’m confident that kiki pod would just be the better deck, but we simply can’t afford it.
• Removes counters from your persist creatures. Township plus Glen Elendra is phenomenal against many decks.
• Gives your wall of roots permanent power. The walls get -0/-1 with each activation, so it’s not uncommon to have a bunch of 4/2 walls at the end of the game.
• You often won’t activate this if you believe that your opponent is holding removal against your field of persisted guys. Often it’s better to just play chicken with them until they’re forced to pull the trigger.
• You can activate this with redcap’s trigger on the stack to get the counter first and deal additional damage.

Grove of the Burnwillows
• Very early in each game, you need to make a decision as to whether or not your life total matters. If not, your deck is able to go into high gear, tossing aside life points for land and pod activations. Against decks where it does matter, it’s usually better to spend your first few turns using your groves to give your opponents 2-3 life instead of taking 6ish points yourself.
• Decks where your life almost never matters:
• Storm, UWR control, Tron, living end, infect
• Decks where your life is extremely important:
• Burn, zoo, scapeshift, faeries, hexproof, delver decks, affinity
• Everything else is extremely variable, but in the dark I prefer to give my opponents life instead of shocking myself.

Birds of Paradise / Noble Hierarch
Which do you lead with if you have both in your opening hand? Here are some scenarios:
• If you’re going to play a two drop on turn two, you can also attack with noble, and thus should lead with that.
• If you’re going to play a three drop on turn two and don’t know what your turns will look like after that, you should also be leading with noble. This will make it so that any random attacks will have additional power if you don’t get a chance to cast another one drop for a while.
• If you play a one-drop on turn one, and are planning on playing the other on turn two (say, you’re going to make a wall of roots on turn two and then follow that up with a one-drop), you can lead with a birds, and then play noble and attack in the air. It’s usually guaranteed damage instead of potentially getting blocked on the ground.
• Of course, the big benefit of birds is that they can make red mana. If you have a kiki in your opening hand, and aren’t playing against a deck where you’re afraid of losing an early creature, it’s often best to start with birds so that you can combo as quickly as possible.

Wall of Roots
• Often, you’ll want to use wall to cast spells on your own turn, even if you can get mana elsewhere. Why? Because it lets you also use the mana on your opponent’s turn. If you only have six mana and are holding both a finks and an angel, you can use the wall mana to make your finks, then on your opponent’s turn it will make mana for your angel. This also helps you power out huge chords of calling, since you can make some one-drops with your walls and use all your bodies for the chord.
• If you have multiple walls it’s usually better to focus on exhausting one rather than ticking them down evenly. In the late game, it’s often better to have an 0/5 and an 0/1 than a pair of 0/3s, especially when you’re staring down big tarmogoyfs, oozes, and wild nacatls. Also, it makes it so that an angel blink gives you the most value.
• Don’t forget that you can use your walls right away. If you lead with a one drop, your turn two will often consist of making a wall, then using its mana to make another two drop. Note that the deck’s turn three kill requires this lead off. You make a one drop, then on turn two you make a wall and either another wall and a one drop, or two one drops. Then you play your third land, take 10 damage playing and activating pod four times, and they should be dead.

Deceiver Exarch
• The man that makes all your pod chains possible also can help you hold of some of the scariest threats. Here are my favorite tapdown targets:
• Tron opponent’s lands on their upkeep, especially the turn they’re going to hit full tron
• Opposing birthing pods in the upkeep
• Emrakuls, the turn they’re going to attack
• Creatures with cranial plating on them
• Creatures that have splinter twin being cast on them
• Phantasmal images
• Oblivion stones that you want to get off the board NOW. They almost always have to blow them on the spot
• You can also untap your own lands. The most useful time to do this is when you have seven lands and a Kiki, letting you play and activate both, or when you need a second mana of a color that your lands can only make one of.
• Your exarch trigger can’t be spellskited if you’re untapping one of your own permanents.
• You can always untap your pod even when it’s not part of a long chain. This is especially useful if someone tapped down your pod during your upkeep with their own deceiver / pestermite.
• Sometimes you can keep your opponent off mana multiple turns in a row with deceiver and angel. Starting with a mana creature, and playing deceiver, angel, and kiki on turns two, three, and four is especially brutal, and they’ll likely be far behind even if they’re able to stop your combo.
• Have a path but don’t want to telegraph it? Tap your white land during your turn and then use your deceiver to untap it later.
• Have the ability to make a kiki on your turn, and just drew your deceiver? You have the option to stay in your draw step and cast the exarch, allowing you to tap down your opponent’s land and avoid ever exposing your Kiki to the open mana.
• If you’re trying to combo off with kiki and your opponent tries to kill it, you can flash in exarch and restart the combo with their spell on the stack.

Eternal Witness
• This card is way better in the chord version than it was in the Domri version. If you have six lands and a chord of calling, you can win with just those tools. On your opponent’s end step, chord for witness and get back chord. On the next turn, chord for angel, blink witness, and get back chord. Finally, tap all your creatures to chord for kiki jiki and combo off with it and your angel.
• With so many silver bullet creatures in your deck, it’s not uncommon to exhaust a lot of resources getting one in play only to lose it a few turns later. Witness gives you a second shot with important cards like Archmage or Linvala.

Glen Elendra Archmage
• Chording for archmage to negate something is often a huge blowout.
• Archmage combos especially well with angel or kiki. The ability to get an additional activation at instant speed is invaluable.
• Against the decks where archmage shines, make sure to focus on having multiple blue mana early so that you can play and activate archmage on the same turn, if possible.
• Archmage and pod allow you to pod into conscripts and then kiki jiki.

Kiki-Jiki
• Combos with deceiver, restoration angel, and zealous conscripts. Of these, only conscripts can be stopped by Spellskite, but conscripts also dodges combust. Consider this when you have options.
• If you activate Kiki on an end step, the copy dies at the end of the next turn. This is very useful if you’re going to be blocking, or want to set up a single large attack. If you play kiki while your opponent is tapped out and you can’t combo off, make your copy on your own end step and block with the copy.
• Copies with persist don’t come back to life since they’re tokens, but voice of resurgence copies leave their tokens behind when they fade away on the end step. If you’re grinding your opponent out with kiki, making a voice token every turn is rarely incorrect.
• Kiki’s ability can’t be stopped with Spellskite.
• Don’t forget that you can tap kiki to copy your mana creatures. This is useful with things like glen elendra archmage that have specific mana requirements.

Kitchen Finks
• The most common combo is to pod away finks, resolve the persists, then blink finks with angel. This basically gives you back your finks, but leaves you up an angel, and you can even be up on life once it’s all finished.
• Against skullcrack decks, you want to set up opportune times to blink your finks. Wait until your opponent has cracked their fetchlands or cast other spells.

Linvala
• If you pod away your three drop and your opponent doesn’t respond to the activation, they no longer have an opportunity to activate their abilities. Once Linvala is revealed, they’re locked out. People often fail to float mana or activate things like scavenging ooze in response and get blown out.
• In addition to stopping kiki and splinter twin combos, Linvala also stops mana creatures, scavenging ooze, Spellskite, arcbound ravager, tapping Inkmoth and Blinkmoth for mana once they’re activated, and many more.
• Linvala does not stop you from tapping your creatures for chord of calling.

Murderous Redcap
• Redcap and pod allow you to pod into conscripts and then kiki jiki.
• You can pump redcap’s power with it’s trigger on the stack to deal more damage.
• The persist resolves before pod’s ability does when you activate it. This allows you to kill one-toughness hate bears like mindcensor before searching.

Phantasmal Image
• This is one of the hardest cards to board out of your deck. You want it against decks where you want to copy your opponent’s strong creatures, and also against decks where you need to combo as fast as possible. There are very few times where it’s right to cut, except against the most aggressive decks where your life total does matter.
• If you copy a persist creature, it does persist when it dies and can copy a new creature.
• Copying a harmonic sliver gives you two triggers, since it has two instances of the triggered ability.
• If your only creature in play is a phantasmal image, you have to target it with a restoration angel, even if you choose not to blink it. This kills the image. The only exception is if the image is already an angel, since resto can’t target those.

Qasali Pridemage
• Having a harmonic sliver in your 75 is optional. Having a pridemage is not. You need to be able to kill torpor orb.

Restoration Angel
• Note that angel doesn’t say that it returns the creature to its owner’s control – it always returns it to your control. In 2+ years I’ve had this come up maybe twice.
• Like deceiver, you can hold this back to protect your combo, blinking either piece in response to removal. Also, if you’re playing around Rakdos charm, this is usually your best combo option since it requires the fewest copies to get in for lethal.
• If you blink a wall of roots, you can activate the wall again after it comes back in.
• Often, the best time to make an angel is during combat, either to ambush a creature or to block with someone you intend to blink before damage.
• You can change the target of a spell to Spellskite, and then after pponent e’s ability resolves, blink it and nothing will die.

Scavenging Ooze
• This is often the last creature you want to play, since you want time to fill up the graveyard before playing it.
• If you play it while your opponent is tapped out, you usually want to get it up to 4+ toughness as soon as possible instead of being very conservative with it.
• When given the opportunity to play this against mono red, always activate it on your opponent’s turn. They’ll often skullcrack you then, freeing you to play finkses on your own turn.
• Don’t forget that you can stop Snapcasters, and also stop persist combos out of Melira pod.

Spellskite
• Karsten’s article (http://www.channelfireball.com/articles/frank-analysis-tips-and-tricks-for-modern/ ) already went over this card.
• You can steal arcbound ravager triggers, but those are a “may” effect, so you won’t actually steal the counters from smart players. You’ll just stop the ability.
• You can also block etched champions, and this is likely the only creature you’ll be able to do so with.
• If you have a lot of time, start by setting up with this card to protect your other bullets.

Voice of Resurgence
• When this is in play, your game changes a lot – you’ll want to be playing most of your flash spells on your own turn for value instead of trying to get tricky on their turns.

Zealous Conscripts
• This card alone gives you outs to dozens of situations:
• Steal your opponent’s Linvala, then pod that Linvala into a kiki for the win
• Make a lot of conscripts, and then instead of untapping kiki with the last trigger, steal whatever hate card is holding you back from the win – Platinum angel, ghostly prison, ensnaring bridge, etc.
• Steal your pponent’t pod and get some value
• Steal sacrifice permanents while your opponent can’t use them – viscera seers, expedition maps while they’re tapped out, fetches they tapped for urborg, tectonic edges etc.

Birthing Pod
• We’ve already gone over the chain combos, but the big question is about when to play your pod and when to wait.
• Whether you lead with kitchen finks / other creature instead of pod with every matchup:
• Against control decks you’ll take any opportunity to get down a pod. Try and play around counters as much as possible, but it’s almost always worth the loss in combat damage to play it on turn two over a finks. It also avoids exposing you to sweepers as much as possible.
• Against Thoughtseize decks you can’t usually afford to lose your pod from your hand. It also helps that most of those decks don’t really run many pulses, and they often have to spend their entire turn killing your pod if they can.
• Against most other decks you want to play your finks / other creatures first, waiting to play pod until you can use it.
• The big exception is the pod mirror, because if you lead with yours and they play their own with enough mana to kill yours, you’re in big trouble. The tension comes from the fact that those decks often also run Thoughtseize, so there’s a big risk in holding it back as well. The best option is usually to just hold pod until you can activate it for real value, either killing one of their creatures or making a threat that’s important in the matchup like Linvala.
• Don’t forget that if you play a creature with an ETB effect, you opponent has an opportunity to respond to that before you can activate pod. Keep that in mind when you’re figuring out your sequencing.

Chord of Calling
• Most of the tricks have been covered earlier, but don’t forget that your opponent doesn’t get a chance to respond to things like Linvala once you’ve revealed them.
• Also don’t forget that you get a creature with mana cost X or less. It’s sometimes correct to chord for four or five even if you’re going for something less if you think your opponent is not aware of this. I’ve definitely chorded for five in order to get a Linvala in play, and my opponent has been unable to do anything about it.

Ancient Grudge
• I like bringing this in against pod in addition to the other mana creatures. It’s only a single slot, and it will usually shut down all their pods for the whole game if you draw it.
• I also like this against RG tron. Being able to spike an oblivion stone or take out a torpor orb is a big deal.

Avalanche Riders
• Blink this guy with your angel with its upkeep trigger on the stack
• If you’re dedicating two slots to LD, I think Sowing Salt is better, but with only a single slot for it, the ability to search it up is too important.
• In addition to bringing this in against tron and scapeshift, I also like it against control, since taking out a colonnade can be a huge hit. Bursting it out on turn three is also a huge setback.

Combust
• This can’t be stolen by Spellskite.
• I like bringing it in against kiki pod because it takes out Linvala and 2/3s of the combos. It’s important to have a lot of reactive cards for the mirror because the deck often has to commit a lot to the combo, and spiking them while they’re tapped out makes it easy for you to drive out a win.

Fiery Justice
• I was hesitant to replace my deck’s pinger slot with this card early on, but it over performed in a big way at GP Minneapolis. Against hate bears I was able to take out a Thalia, an Aven Mindcensor, and a Leonin Arbiter in one shot. Against David Ochoa I killed a wall of roots, an eternal witness, an orzhov pontiff, and a token from voice of resurgence. I won those games.
• I think we want one copy of this against jund because it can kill a Liliana in addition to another small threat. We want it against pod, affinity, tokens, hate bears, delver decks, and anything else where you can reliably kill 2-3 guys. It’s a big blowout.

Harmonic Sliver
• Copying a harmonic sliver gives you two triggers, since it has two instances of the triggered ability. This is relevant with both kiki and phantasmal image. If you want a REALLY big blowout, wait until your opponent’s end step to make a copy and kill two things. Then, when you untap, you can make another copy and get THREE more triggers.
• Note that this also applies to your opponent’s slivers. If your pod opponent has a sliver, you get two disenchants. If you have your own pod, you want to target your opponent’s card with both triggers.

Negate
• When you have a negate in your hand, you’re basically keeping it up for the rest of the game. This is much easier to do when you have a wall of roots since it’s available to make mana for both your turn and theirs. When I have negate in my deck, and I’ve got an angel in my hand, I’m more inclined to play my sorcery speed threats early so that when I do have a negate, I’m able to keep up both negate and my threats.

Path to Exile
• I like this against twin, pod, and tarmogoyf decks.

Sigarda
• The main reason I like this card is that the deck is short on 5 drops that are good on their own. Neither conscripts or kiki is going to help you beat grindy, removal-heavy matchups on their own, and this is basically the best possible thing you can get.
• It’s also good against living end, since they can’t kill it and it makes living end half as good.

Thrun
• HOLD HIM until you can regenerate him and it’s tough to lose against control. He’s also decent against jund, but not spectacular. He’s mostly just great at playing defense against them.

Aven Mindcensor
• If you’re going to play this against pod in response to them podding away a redcap, wait until after the persist trigger resolves! People flash it in too early all the time and it just dies right away.

Some cards I’m not currently playing, either because I’ve recently cut them, or I don’t have room, or because I think they’re bad:
Eidelon of Rhetoric
• I’m not 100% sold that he’s better than canonist. Against storm I think he is, but being able to chord for this effect against other combo decks in the middle of their key turn is huge blowout. Playing it against ad nauseam, living end, or another combo deck means a huge loss of resources for them.
• I also like this against burn and infect because it can slow them down quite a bit.
• I’m currently not playing this card because storm isn’t very popular in paper magic. On MTGO the deck is quite popular, and it’s probably necessary. I have replaced it with a negate to gain some ground against scapeshift.

Kataki
• You usually want to wait so that your opponent is not able to just shock your kataki before they have to pay. A lot of people are playing gut shot these days, which makes it a little tougher, but he’s still a big deal.
• I replaced this card with a second fiery justice after the GP because kataki was both narrow and fragile. It’s really good when you have it very early, but it often just kills one permanent and then dies.

Domri Rade
• I played this card over chord of calling for a long time. Against fair decks like jund, UWR control, or animal decks, he’s wayyyyyy better, but he’s worse in basically every combo matchup. If your metagame is heavy on control, I’d make the switch, but the other fair decks are usually good enough matchups that I’d rather hedge with chord.

Shatterstorm / Creeping Corrosion / Fracturing Gust
• I try to avoid cards that are only good in one matchup unless I can tutor them up. These are huge blowouts, but I’d only consider them if affinity is 15% or more of your metagame.

Sowing Salt
• Incredible against tron, fine against scapeshift. If I wanted to dedicate two slots to this effect, I’d for sure play two sowing salt, but since I’m only playing one I’m sticking with avalanche riders. Being able to find it and blink it with angels or copy it with phantasmal image goes a long way.

Izzet Staticaster
• I have honestly never liked this card. BW tokens decks play more creatures that aren’t tokens these days, Melira pod is aready a good matchup, and you often can’t kill a birds of paradise without losing your own. I make the switch to fiery justice and I haven’t looked back.
Magus of the Moon
• I think this card is garbage. Most of the decks that it seems conceptually decent against can kill it with red mana. The pod decks can redcap it (and they have a ton of mana creatures to get around the effect, AND can play and activate pod through it), tron can pyroclasm it, scapeshift has a ton of ways to kill it, jund can bolt, dismember, or slaughter pact it, most of the control decks play bolt, etc. etc. etc. I think you’ll very occasionally just “get” someone with it, but I’d rather play as few cards as possible that don’t give me any value before they die.
Sideboarding:
Here’s my current sideboard:
1 Ancient Grudge – Affinity, RG Tron, Blue Tron, Mono Green Infect
1 Avalanche Riders – Control, Tron, Scapeshift
1 Combust – Kiki pod, twin, delver, UW aggro, merfolk, hate bears / soul sisters
2 Fiery Justice – Hate bears, soul sisters, merfolk, delver, affinity, infect, Melira pod, kiki pod, zoo, and I like one against jund
1 Harmonic Sliver – Affinity, tron, pod, storm, burn (they always have a hate artifact, but sadly it’s usually torpor orb), twin, boggles
3 Negate – Control, storm, scapeshift, burn, tron, living end, basically every spell-based combo
3 Path to Exile – Pod, infect, twin, jund, zoo, merfolk, affinity, hate bears, soul sisters
1 Sigarda, Host of Herons – Jund, junk, control, living end
1 Thrun, the Last Troll – Jund, control
1 Aven Mindcensor – Pod, tron, scapeshift, gifts
General boarding-out strategy:
Against decks where your life total isn’t super relevant, you can often cut down to one finks. I usually like leaving at least one of those and one voice, just because they’re solid value slots.
Against decks where I’m grinding them out and unlikely to combo, like control or jund, I cut down on chords, usually shave a wall of roots, and reduce the combo guys – usually cutting one deceiver and one kiki, along with Spellskite.
Against combo decks I often leave out redcap, finks, and other value guys.
Be aware of your mana curve. You want to make sure you’re leaving a few guys in at each mana cost so that you can be sure to have something to pod into. When I’m boarding in thrun and Sigarda, I’m more likely to cut a four drop like Linvala, and either redcap in the control matchups and archmage in the grindy creature matchups.