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Tana and Tymna Blood Pod - Primer

Commander / EDH*

LabManiac_Luke Lerker


Blood Pod Primer: Beating face in cEDH

Deck Introduction

Blood pod is one of a kind in the cEDH world. It is one of, if not the only high level deck which wins by turning creatures sideways as its primary game plan. If you're interested in playing a deck which can hate out the most popular strategies, while applying pressure with 1/1 saprolings, look no further. Blood pod is built to play a stax game while threatening the life totals of our opponents. There is a kikki win con in the deck, but I do want to stress that racing to that combo is the incorrect play 99% of the time. Since this deck lacks blue, we will fold to one counterspell; and that just isn't the place we want to be. We want to establish a board, slow our opponents down, and play out our commanders to generate saprolings and card advantage. (Keep in mind, its often correct to play Tana the turn before Tymna, since you get Tymna activations even if she doesn't swing). Blood pod is one of the premier stax decks in the format; it runs some of the best hatebears in the format as well as huge game ending creatures.

Who We Are

Splitmouse (LabManiac_Luke)

Hi, I'm Splitmouse, also known as LabManiac_Luke on tappedout.

I've been playing Magic since around 1997, and I got into EDH in 2011. Currently, I play a handful of cEDH decks and I'm very active in the playEDH Discord. I picked up Blood Pod from Lerker (a cEDH mod), and he and I have been tweaking and testing the deck for a few months now. I think that Blood Pod is the premier hate bear deck in the format, and I hope that this primer can explain why we chose the cards we did, and how to pilot the deck.


I started magic around the year 2000 when my older brothers taught me how to play. After many years of casual play, with some standard and drafts sprinkled in I finally discovered EDH in 2009. While I strayed a bit at first, delving into modern and legacy, I grew more attached to EDH until 2011 when Ghave was released. I spent 6 years playing that deck, while brewing others on the side. One such brew was 5-color kiki pod stax, which had some legs but was abandoned until a little card called Felidar Guardian came out which alongside the new partner commander Tymna made dropping blue seem all the sweeter, and the blood pod list began.

Pros and Cons


  • Can begin to lock the board down early
  • Can play hard Stax if need be
  • Plays the long game much better than most decks in the format
  • Can be adjusted to a meta easily
  • Runs a lot of interaction, both proactive and reactive
  • High density of threats, so we run our opponents out of answers


  • Can be soft to wraths
  • The correct plays can be complicated, since you often have to know your opponents decks inside and out and plan multiple turns ahead

Why play this deck?

You might enjoy this deck if you:

  • Are frustrated that cEDH decks don't play a lot of creatures
  • Want to play cards like Sun Titan
  • Like to make your opponents life difficult
  • Like having a huge value engine in the command zone
  • Enjoy a deck that runs silver bullets for many of the most popular cEDH decks

You will not enjoy this deck if you::

  • Want counterspells
  • Don't like the idea of the combat step
  • Prefer decks that try to win with a combo as fast as possible
  • Prefer fast games
  • Prefer storm-based decks


The general gameplan of the deck is to play out hate pieces which will slow down the fastest decks first. For example, if you think the storm player at your pod is the fastest one there, prioritize a tax effect, or rule of law effect. If the fastest deck is an artifact deck, look for stony silence or null rod. Once we've slowed them down, we can play out our commanders and start to generate tokens and draw cards. Prioritize hitting ad naus players first, but hopefully you can hit every opponent every combat (for maximum Tymna draws).

Now, there are combo lines in this deck. Again, I want to stress that these should very rarely be plan A. Most of the time, you'll hold everyone down and then stumble into the combo once their resources have been exhausted.

Birthing Pod: If you have both of your commanders out, you pod Tymna (or a 3 drop) for Felidar Guardian and target Birthing Pod with Guardian's ETB effect. Once pod is flickered (and untapped) we pod Tana (or another 4 drop (not guardian)) into Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker who can make infinite Guardian tokens (copy guardian, flicker Kiki, repeat)

Otherwise, pod a 3 drop into felidar, flickering pod. Pod guardian into karmic guide bring back guardian and flicker pod. Pod guardian to get Kiki. Copy Karmic to bring back guardian and then make infinite cats.

The Buried Alive combo requires buried alive and a reanimate spell. Cast buried alive, putting Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Karmic Guide, and Village Bell-Ringer into the bin. (Guardian can replace bell ringer, but its easier to pod out guardian than bell ringer, so I like to prioritize binning bell ringer). Reanimate Karmic guide, which reanimates Kiki. Kiki copies Karmic guide. The copy reanimates Bell ringer, who untaps Kiki and you're off to the races.

Survival of the Fittest works similarly to the Buried alive combo. Tutor up Kiki by ditching a random creature. Then bin Kiki, getting Bell Ringer. Then discard Bell ringer to get Karmic guide. Cast karmic guide and proceed with the buried alive loop.

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard is pretty simple. Get a one drop (I like Serra Ascendant), then a 2 drop (usually Bloom Tender) at the end of the turn before yours. Then you untap, tap bloom tender (hopefully for 3 or 4 mana), use that mana to activate Yisan, go get bell ringer, who untaps Yisan and Tender. Use tender to activate Yisan to 4, getting Guardian who bounces Bell Ringer. This will untap Yisan and Tender, and you can activate to 5 to get Kiki and make infinite humans or cats.

three different factors:

  1. Opening Hand
  2. Other Decks at The Table
  3. Position at the Table.

Opening Hand

Before we talk about how to start each game, here's a short bit on mulligan decisions. Generally speaking, our ideal hand will look similar to this: 2-3 lands, 1-2 piece of ramp, 2-3 pieces of interaction/stax. While Mulligan decisions definitely go hand in hand with our gameplan, there are certain hand configurations that we really don't want to see:

  1. Too many lands: This one applies to pretty much every cEDH deck out there. Even when going for a long game, you don't want to keep a hand that is too heavy on lands and too light on gas.
  2. 0-1 lands: There are very, very few situations where keeping a no-lander is worth it, so this should almost always be shipped back. One land is keepable if your hand has a decent balance of ramp and draw.
  3. Very slow hands: If our hand is several pieces of interaction, a tiny bit of ramp, and no real way to slow down the board, it should go back. Especially in games against combo decks, we want to have the ability to live past turn 4, so just keeping ramp and a 6 drop isn't gonna work most of the time.
  4. All ramp hands: If we've got a hand where we can have like 6-7 mana by turn 3, but without any real payoff, we should mulligan. Although this deck plays a lot of mana dorks, it will quickly look weak when there's no payoff for that Mana.
  5. All-in hands: These can be kept against the certain decks, but most times, you should expect early interaction from your opponents. If our hand relies on one key piece too much, we can fall very far behind if that particular piece gets interacted with.

After we've decided to keep our opening hand, the main criterion of evaluation should be the hand's stax suite.We don't need a way to prevent everyone from playing spells, just enough to slow down the fast decks until we can get our card advantage engine online. The main questions you should try to answer when looking at your hand is:

  1. How quickly can we establish a strong board presence?
  2. How do we get our engine/stax pieces online?

A strong board presence can mean a lot of things in this deck, but it basically boils down to having access to more Mana than our opponents. This can be achieved in a variety of ways: Having a lot of cheap Mana dorks, getting down an early hate piece, or even shutting off our opponents' access to Mana through cards like Contamination, Magus of the Moon, or Choke

After establishing our board, we basically just want to get out our two generals, and start getting tokens and drawing cards. This will allow us to see more hate pieces, and more creatures to add to our board. Eventually this snowball will get too big for our opponents to handle.

Unlike many other cEDH decks, as long as we can provide an early lock we're pretty much set. Our commanders will generate both fodder to throw at people, and card draw. So we will easily be able to break parity and run away with the game.

To simplify everything, all you really need to have a good opening hand is relevant stax cards, and some sort of mana acceleration. Beyond those things, our commanders fill in the gaps.


The second big factor when it comes to deciding on our initial gameplan is matchups. After taking a good look around the table, we should try to identify our opponents' decks and consider their possible gameplans. When doing this, most cEDH decks can usually be classified by two categories: speed and interactivity. Speed, in this case, means how early in the game a deck can usually threaten to win. Interactivity not only correlates with the amount of interaction a deck runs, but also it's willingness to use this interaction to prolong the game. As a guideline for how to evaluate some of the more popular decks in the format by these two attributes, Sigi (Lobster) from the Lab Maniacs has prepared a graph.

cEDH Decks By Speed and Interaction

Cedh Decks By Speed and Interaction

What's quite apparent from looking at this graph is that there's usually an inverse relation between a deck's speed and its Interactivity. Another conspicuity is that most decks in the format tend to gravitate towards one end of the spectrum. They're either trying to be fast without interacting much, or they're trying to interact a lot, which makes them slower in nature. We basically just have to worry about the fast decks in the pod. We don't really get hurt too badly by someone removing our mana dorks or a random hate piece, since there is so much redundancy in the deck. It is important to know what cards are good against which decks, and using that knowledge to sequence our spells in the first few turns of the game.

Turn Order

Sigi and Neosloth wrote a very helpful breakdown on turn order, and how to think about that in their primer for Chain Veil Teferi:

"Apart from the innate advantage of going first in a game, which you can read about here (Note that this advantage naturally isn't as big in Multiplayer games. However, there is a significant disadvantage to going last that is unique to multiplayer formats), there are some other things to consider about Turn order. A lot of this ties into our previous segment: We should look at how the different types of decks are positioned towards each other. Does the fast Combo deck untap before or after the slow, interactive deck? Who will usually have untapped Mana when it's our turn? Do we maybe need to stop ramping and start interacting a turn earlier because of how the turn order is set up? Could it be the other way round, so we have more time to build up our board, and can we abuse that somehow? These are all questions we should ask ourselves before the game starts. The main way in which they shape our gameplan can be summed up by evaluating how greedy we can allow ourselves to be, or how conservatively we have to play.

The big thing to keep in mind about all of these factors is that they don't just stand by themselves. They all interweave and play off each other, and our final overall gameplan should take all of them into consideration."

Even though their deck is a combo deck, these ideas are important to consider when sitting down to play a game.

Every deck should be tuned to its metagame, especially stax decks (blood moon is garbage if you regularly play against 1-2 color decks, but a card like Choke might be an all-star) and because of that this SCD section is not matched to a specific Blood Pod list. The following cards are the cards that we think are the core of every good Blood pod deck, but these do not collectively form a specific list. If you want an example of a Blood Pod list, please scroll down to the bottom of the primer.

High concentrations of Mana dorks provide us with both color fixing to handle our own blood moon and contamination effects as well as accelerate out our hate pieces and commanders. We can also swing our dorks into people once we no longer need the mana (generating cards and chip damage).

Ramp Card List:

I count stax and hate pieces as interaction, so we play loads of this. We do also play spot removal for the random blowouts and to get around people's cards which shut us down. The interaction we run usually boils down to one of three categories:

  1. Protection: We don't have a lot of protection, since we're not running blue. But we do have 2 cards worth mentioning here.

  2. Removal: These spells should be used to clear out any blockers we can't get over/around or anything that is shutting us down.

  3. Stax/Hate: The cards that make it possible for us to play (and win) the long game. Even when up against other Stax decks, controlling what affects the board is a strong position to be in.

  • Vexing Shusher Lets us ignore the blue players and just combo like we have a grand abolisher. It can also make other people's spells uncounterable.

  • Pyroblast Is our one counterspell. Blows people out. Can kill blue things too. Its good.

  • Abrupt Decay Uncounterable kill some relevant card. Seems good.

  • Caustic Caterpillar Gets around torpor orb, and kills artifacts and enchantments.

  • Fire Covenant Basically a one sided wrath.

  • Nature's Claim Kills artifacts and enchants without a high cost

  • Phyrexian Revoker Can name someone's commander or win condition. So we can proactively 'remove' their gameplan

  • Swords to Plowshares Sometimes you just have to exile a creature. I have also swords one of my own guys to turn on a bigger Fire covenant, or re-enable Serra Ascendant.

  • Rakdos Charm Kills graveyards, and artifact, or kills the player going for a kiki combo

  • Reclamation Sage Kills artifacts and enchants on a stick

  • Shriekmaw Terror

  • Vandalblast Sometimes you want even more artifact hate

  • Ulvenwald Tracker Yes, my sun titan or other big dude is gonna kill your Rashmi/other value creature

  • Anafenza, the Foremost Is a large creature that can get around most blockers, pumps our commanders or mana dorks, and just happens to hose a bunch of graveyard strategies. Seems good.

  • Aven Mindcensor Preventing tutors at instant speed

  • Contamination This with our saprolings can just lock people out of the game

  • Eidolon of Rhetoric Slows down and completely stops many combo decks/storm decks

  • Rule of Law See Eidolon

  • Ethersworn Canonist See Eidolon

  • Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite Makes our clock of dudes way faster, and prevents many cards played by cEDH decks unplayable (lab man has 2 toughness baby)

  • Leyline of the Void Everyone likes having a graveyard. So we take theirs away and keep ours

  • Linvala, Keeper of Silence Shuts down dorks and many random value creatures

  • Magus of the Moon Shuts off a lot of people's mana

  • Blood Moon See above

  • Manglehorn Kills artifacts, and makes artifacts enter tapped. The second part is often relevant

  • Null Rod Just shuts down many decks entirely. This plus something like contamination and oftentimes you're going to be the only person in your pod playing Magic.

  • Stony Silence See Null Rod

  • Root Maze Makes fetchlands terrible, and slows down many explosive starts as well as making many combo finishes extremely difficult

  • Scavenging Ooze Hates out graveyards, while becoming bigger and gaining life

  • Sire Of Insanity Resolving this against most combo decks will lock up a game

  • Sphere of Resistance People don't like being taxed

  • Thalia, Guardian of Thraben More tax effects

  • Trinisphere Arguably the king of stax cards

  • Blood Moon Works like Magus play if you see more 3-4 cmc decks

  • Choke If you see a lot of 1-2 color decks running blue. This easily baits out a counterspell or wrecks their day

  • Containment Priest Shuts down Hulk and Meren decks, as well as some other strategies

  • Faerie Macabre Sometimes you need more grave hate

  • Grand Abolisher If you need more vexing shusher (I play shusher over abolisher because shusher cant be countered)

  • Ob Nixilis, Unshackled Punishes tutoring, and is a flying beater

  • Stranglehold Sometimes you just need to shut off all tutoring and randomly gets that one edric player in your meta

These are cards that just have a lot of value in this deck.

  • Dark Confidant Draws us more cards. I like cards.

  • Serra Ascendant Applies insane pressure, and gives us a ton of life to eat with our spells/drawing cards

  • Sylvan Library A quality card selection/advantage engine

  • Sun Titan Huge beater that brings back most of our deck

Sometimes you just need that one hate piece, pod, or the other half of a combo.

As I outlined earlier, these are the cards that enable us to make infinite duders and turn them sideways.

These are the cards that we think either do not belong in every build of Blood Pod, but I encourage you to test them if you're interested. (Except Static Orb, do not try that card).

Usually, we have things locked down enough that this effect is just unneccesary. Can be good in some metas I suppose, but I haven't liked it in testing

This card is amazing early, but is extremely lackluster in the mid-late game.

We like to untap and hit people. This just shuts us down. Literally one of the strongest cards against our deck.

It enables Yisan lines to be better, but can easily be replaced by cards that are good in more situations

All in all, Blood Pod is exceptionally fun to play. There aren't really any other cEDH decks that win by beating down with creatures, and you'll learn to love listening to your opponents complaining about how difficult their life is. It also has a fair amount of depth and can be challenging both in terms of sequencing of spells and deckbuilding choices.

Sample Lists

  • Splitmouse (ST_Foxtrot's) List

    -This list focuses on cards that are good during all phases of a game, as well as some large creatures to get through blockers and close out a game.

  • Lerker's List

    -This list has many cards that are exceptionally strong in the early parts of the game. You'll lock people out of the first few turns more often, but not have as big of threats late into the game.

  • Dan's Budget Article

    -This is an article that describes how to make this deck at different price points, and I'd highly recommend reading it if you're looking to make this deck without some of the more expensive pieces.


Updates Add

Comments View Archive

December 13, 2017 8:32 p.m.

Nice list! Appreciated the detailed primer.

One question: Why Luminarch Ascension?

December 17, 2017 3:25 a.m.

artichoker, if your meta is somewhat creature heavy then Luminarch Ascension can be bonkers. I've been piloting Blood Pod for a couple months now and I've noticed that often times I find myself needing Serra Ascendant and Linvala to be able to get draws for Tymna. Usually a turn 1 or 2 Luminarch will guarantee you free angel tokens by turn 3 and they're also really good for keeping the Ad Nauseum decks' life totals in check.

December 17, 2017 11:40 p.m.

I have been debating building this deck for a while now as my second competitive deck and I have a few inquiries.

First being; I have found Kiki combos to be somewhat fragile and despite being incredibly powerful, my meta sees an abnormal amount of Praetor's Grasp, Sadistic Sacrament, and even weirdly Gonti, Lord of Luxury's to the point that this combo seems to be a bit of a detriment for those that play it in my meta unless they can race into it before it gets stolen by one of the aforementioned cards. As this is not the deck to race to the combo, I am inclined to not want to play this combo.

With this in mind, have you ever experimented with the idea of a Living Plane combo for the deck? As a stax deck, you intend to play the long game anyway so a 4cmc stax piece shouldn't be too big of a deal to run. Living Plane can function as a stax piece to give lands summoning sickness and even a deterrent for opponents to cast a Wrath of God effect considering it will also result in an Armageddon. And in case it somehow wasn't obvious, Living Plane combined with either Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite or Linvala, Keeper of Silence (of which you already run both) is more or less impossible to come back from if you have succeeded in resolving stax pieces prior to the combo.

I am also a huge fan of Yisan, the Wanderer Bard lines in decks that are not mono green and would love to see this expanded upon. Although Seedborn Muse would not give you the full value you could get from a deck that has access to blue in allowing you to perpetually leave up mana for counterspells, I feel that there is potential for something involving it if the Yisan lines were expanded upon.

Purely hypothetically speaking as I doubt you would want to rebuild your entire strategy for a combo that is likely to be weaker, but other than the pieces of the Kiki combo, what would you consider swapping out if you were to convert this list to a more Yisan oriented build with Elesh/Linvala+Living Plane as the intended combo? And would you even consider this to be a worthwhile endeavor to explore? Honestly, I just want to play the Living Plane combo and this deck seems like a decent shell for it while also allowing me to play my favorite strategy (stax).

December 23, 2017 11:16 p.m.

Hey what are your thoughts on Harsh Mentor?

December 25, 2017 10:25 p.m.

Decrepit_Angel I dont agree with focusing the deck on adding more Yisan pieces just because that is not the primary objective of the deck. If you do that, your stax strength will go down, Yisan may also be their next target which is way easier to remove.

You still have Splinter Twin in case Kiki gets exiled. If it goes to exile also, you can go full-on aggro by tutoring Elesh Norn. I strongly think that is enough to pull off a win. But then again, going for an early win isnt this decks main strength. You usually win turn 5-7 the earliest.

December 27, 2017 12:58 a.m.

Ooops sorry, theres no splinter twin in the deck. I got confused with another one.

Anyway, instead of going for a Kiki combo, try to aim a contamination and go full agrro with Elesh.

December 27, 2017 12:59 a.m.

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Date added 8 months
Last updated 1 hour

This deck is not Commander / EDH legal.

Highlight illegal cards
Illegal cards Tendershoot Dryad
Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.25
Tokens 4/4 Angel, 1/1 Saproling
Folders Competitive EDH, EDH, EDH Ideas, EDH, edh, Commander Decks, Blueless, Competitive, cEDH Spice, Favorite Decks, See all 77
Top rank #9 on 2017-09-13
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