There has been so much hype around Collected Company in Standard that it has been flying a bit under the radar in terms of its recent results in Modern. It has been a little while since I have written a Modern article but the Collected Company decks seem like the hottest kids on the block right now, and I wanted to see what they are all about. To start off here is perhaps the most well-known list which recently won the SCG Open in Portland, played by Brad Rutherford:
Just looking at the list it seems pretty crazy, and also pretty impressive that people were able to find this deck. It is certainly similar to what the old Melira Pod decks look like, but we now have Collected Company to replace Birthing Pod. Is there a world in which Collected Company is actually a better card for the deck than Birthing Pod was? Personally I'm not willing to go that far, but in this version of the deck Collected Company just may be better.
Cards like Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit or Tarmogoyf have no place in a straight up combo version of this sort of deck. This deck will win by attacking more often than not, but having access to the combo is super important in certain matchups. Since the deck isn't playing Birthing Pod there is no way to continuously search for combo pieces, which means you do need to be playing more searchers. Chord of Calling had actually been getting cut from the Abzan Pod decks, but now four copies are being played in this deck. There will be pretty sick turns involving casting Collected Company, and following it up with a Chord of Calling.
Eternal Witness is super important in the deck, because it can rebuy the Chord of Callings and Collected Company. There will be some games where you can just continuously cast Collected Company and go through most of the deck. The deck tries to play as many creatures that cost less than four as possible, but there are exceptions. It is still necessary to play a copy of Murderous Redcap and Archangel of Thune, in order to support the combos which those cards represent. The deck is primarily creatures of course, which is why Collected Company makes sense in this type of deck. There are 26 creatures which you can hit off Collected Company in the deck.
When building a Collected Company deck keeping the density of creatures high is super important. While it is true that fetchlands do make your deck a bit denser since taking lands out of your deck makes the likelihood of hitting off Collected Company greater, it is also important to think about Collected Company when building a sideboard. Rutherford has chosen to include a number of creatures in the board, such as three copies of Kor Firewalker, as any creature that costs three or less is more likely to be found in a given game. You don't want to side out the Collected Company but once you start cutting a bunch of low cost creatures, they do get significantly worse. Outside of the Chord of Callings and Collected Company there are just two Abrupt Decays for noncreature spells. There are some Thoughtseizes and additional removal spells in the board, but in general it is clear that Rutherford has built the entire deck around Collected Company.
Here is another Abzan Collected Company list played by Bobby Colegrove: DECKID=1236687
This list has a lot of similarities to that of Rutherfords, but there are certainly some different choices as well. When considering to play a deck like Abzan Collected Company it is necessary to realize that the deck hasn't been around for very long, and it is likely that the optimal build hasn't been found yet. This makes the fact that the deck has been so successful even scarier, because the players doing well with it are likely playing a suboptimal version of it. Let's start with the cards which Rutherford and Colegrove agree on, as they are likely the cards that definitely should be in the deck.
The four Bird of Paradise are a must, having a turn one mana accelerator which can produce all of your colors is the best possible start the deck can have. Birds of Paradise can be found off a Collected Company but isn't usually what you are looking for. As far as Noble Hierarch goes Rutherford isn't playing it at all while Colegrove has two. Noble Hierarch has the same problem as Birds of Paradise in that it isn't what you really want to find off Collected Company, though it also can't produce black mana. With that said when compared to the old Birthing Pod decks those decks generally played six or seven turn one mana producers, and deviating from that may be a mistake. I would recommend playing three copies of Gavony Township because you are actually more likely to have the mana dorks later in the game, because of Collected Company, and turning Birds of Paradise into a threat is a real thing.
As mentioned earlier Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit does seem like where this deck wants to be as far as two-drops are concerned. The reason why Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit is so good in the deck is that it allows you to combo off by simply continuously bolstering onto a Kitchen Finks or Murderous Redcap and, along with a sac outlet, the persist creatures just won't die. I doubt Wizards was thinking about this interaction when printing Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit, and I think Colegrove should be playing four copies, as the card is completely busted in the deck. Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit might actually just be strictly better than Melira, Sylvok Outcast.
Playing four copies of Kitchen Finks and a Murderous Redcap should be self-explanatory, as with Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit those cards might be even better than they were in the old Birthing Pod decks. You do need to play more sac outlets though with Birthing Pod no longer in the deck. Two Viscera Seers may be enough but the Varolz, the Scar-Striped in Rutherford's deck seems pretty sweet. Besides Anzafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit, Rutherford and Colegrove seem to be disagreeing about the other two-drop in the deck. The choice is between Voice of Resurgence and Tarmogoyf. Voice of Resurgence was of course a mainstay in the old Abzan Pod decks, but it does seem like it might not fit as well in the Collected Company deck. Personally I like having the option to just go on the beatdown plan with a cheap and large creature, and Tarmogoyf is exactly that.
Both versions have opted to go with different one-ofs which carry over from the Birthing Pod decks. Colegrove has Orzhov Pontiff, Restoration Angel, Scavenging Ooze, Spellskite, and a single Wall of Roots. It is hard to say exactly which one-ofs should make the cut but since Colegrove also has two copies of Flickerwisp, he might be overdoing it a bit on blink effects with the Restoration Angel. With that said in both versions there are two Eternal Witness which is a great card to blink. Rutherford has gone up to three Wall of Roots as he seems to think they are better than the Noble Hierarchs. Rutherford has also opted to include the Archangel of Thune combo where Colegrove hasn't. It is unclear to me if that combo is necessary since, as noted earlier, playing a five mana creature has Diminishing Returns. Still Spike Feeder in this deck is likely better on its own than it was in Birthing Pod.
The core of the deck is clear but there are still some card choices which need to be worked out. I'm planning on playing a bunch with this deck in preparation for Grand Prix Charlotte, as this is the perfect evolution to Birthing Pod. With that said Collected Company could be the new Bloodbraid Elf without the red mana. Collected Company in the right deck is a straight up two-for-one, and some of the two and three mana creatures in Modern have an extremely high power level. There are other color combinations which can take advantage of Collected Company as well. Here is a look at MisterT1980's version of Naya Collected Company from Magic Online: DECKID=1237371
This goes to show that Collected Company can be good in a straight up beatdown deck. This is similar to the Naya Zoo decks that had been falling out of favor before the printing of Collected Company. Perhaps this is the deck which will allow Wild Nacatl to make a comeback. Wild Nacatl is the best conceivable one mana creature you can hit off a Collected Company, and along with a playset of Noble Hierarchs this deck is going to be coming out of the gates early. The exalted trigger from the Noble Hierarch is super relevant in this type of deck, and ramping into the three-drops is also great. There is a host of three mana creatures in this deck that have been neglected a bit.
Knight of the Reliquary, Loxodon Smiter, and Mirran Crusader are creatures that are generally just not quite good enough, or there is no deck to support them. Naya Collected Company can happily play all three. Mirran Crusader is absurd against Abzan Midrange, and that deck will also be surprised when ticking up a Liliana of the Veil, only to have you discard a Loxodon Smiter. The Big Zoo decks which were popular in Modern did make use of Knight of the Reliquary, which is a card that is perfect here. The silver bullets of choice are Horizon Canopy, and the gamebreaking Kessig Wolf Run. Since your creatures are so large Kessig Wolf Run really can provide the perfect finishing punch.
Rounding out the deck there are of course some two-drops. Tarmogoyf needs no explanation, and the same can be said for Scavenging Ooze. These are creatures that are just value guys, and will be good in just about any green deck in the format. The three copies of Qasali Pridemage however may raise some eyebrows. With Birthing Pod out of the format there are less artifacts and enchantments. However some of the more difficult matchups like Bogles, Affinity, and Splinter Twin all have juicy targets for Qasali Pridemage, not to mention the random copies of Batterskull you may run into. Beyond the fact that you can sacrifice Qasali Pridemage, a lot of the time you just want to be attacking with one large creature along with exalted from Noble Hierarch. It is a bit surprising there are only three copies of Collected Company, but perhaps the goal is to have as many inexpensive cards as possible. The Lightning Bolts and Path to Exiles shouldn't need much explanation.
Overall I expect to see more and more Collected Company decks pop up. Personally I'm working on a Bant Collected Company deck with Geist of Saint Traft and other goodies, so stay tuned for that one! Collected Company is such a powerful card in the decks it is in, but it is also true that it's a card you need to build around, which sometimes means there aren't as many noncreature spells as you would like. It does seem like it is at the right power level to be effective in Modern.
Thanks for reading,