Now, I’m no Saffron Olive, but Pioneer has gotten my inner brewing skills to come out in full force. Ever since they announced it this morning, I have worked all day on making as many different decks as possible. I have some ideas on how the format will turn out, and what may or may not be good. I also made some decks that are just simply fun to play and will be interesting archetypes in the format.
This is one of the contenders for best decks in the format, as it provides a powerful combo packed into a neat midrange shell. Whether the deck will be 3 colors or 4 colors remains to be seen, but you better have a plan for Saheeli or you’ll have to face down an army of hasty cats. And if the deck doesn’t combo off immediately, it can drown you in a pile of planeswalker value. Decklist inspired by /u/Ozdalva.
While Saheeli Copycat may be the deck that most people will want to play, there is no doubt in my mind that Mono-Red Aggro will be the best deck in Pioneer. Starting off any format, Red is always in a great spot, and Red has consistently been one of the most powerful decks in the past few years of Standard. This deck has it all, from super punishing cards like Eidolon of the Great Revel, card advantage in the form of Light up the Stage, and even Saheeli hate in the form of Rampaging Ferocidon. Don’t leave home without your Mono-Red hate.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have UW control. UW is in a great spot, thanks to a plethora of great sweepers, fantastic card draw, and good answers. The main thing holding back UW is white, as the color hasn’t gotten the greatest removal in the past few years. This might force some control builds to become UB or Esper to play cards like Dimir Charm or Drown in the Loch, but no matter what, there is a powerful control shell hidden in the past 5 years of Standard.
Energy rears its ugly head once again to bear down on us in this new format. Energy was extremely powerful in its heyday but wasn’t quite enough to break into Modern. With a format that doesn’t have anything as degenerate as Storm or Dredge, Energy might have a fighting chance. Aetherworks Marvel was one of the best Energy decks back in 2017, but the truth is that the Energy package of Attune with Aether, Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot, Aether Hub, and Rogue Refiner was more than strong enough to back up multiple different decks. Be wary of Eldrazi and Longtusk Cubs in your future.
Spirits is a very powerful deck in Modern, and the transition to Pioneer is relatively painless. We lose Aether Vial, Drogskol Captain, and a couple of good dorks and removal spells, but the core of the deck remains the same. Whether you want to go Bant and play Collected Company, or streamline the deck and focus on a more tempo gameplan, either approach is viable when you are casting Spell Queller. I have a UW Spirits list to share with you, and this is the list I’ll be pioneering in this new format.
Edit: I recently did a stream with this deck. If you’d like to watch the video, check it out over here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z2Iw3Ic2_g
Put Deathrite Shaman, Thoughtseize, and Liliana in the same deck and you are already on a path to victory. Black has the best removal, bar none, in this new format, and green provides a lot of great late-game engines and creatures. Add in a delirium package and you get access to powerful cards such as Grim Flayer and Traverse the Ulvenwald. And after you hit 8 lands, tutor up an Emrakul, the Promised End and finish the game. Decklist inspired by u/theRift289.
Just like Mono-Red will be a good deck to start the season with, White Weenie has a lot of power baked into it already. With Benalish Marshal and a plethora of 2/1’s for one, this deck can quickly overrun the opponent. It’s a simple deck, backed up by powerful cards, and is going to be a force to be reckoned with. Follow up the weenies with a Gideon, and you’re in for smooth sailing.
Pheonix is a deck that has been gutted in Modern but still has a chance to compete in Pioneer. With powerful mana reducers like Baral, Chief of Compliance and a bunch of draw and discard spells, you can easily pitch your birds to the yard and bring them back in time for combat. The UR shell can also transition into a more controlling deck in the sideboard games if they have the answers to your Phoenixes.
With Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, Cabal Stronghold, and Urborg Tomb of Yawgmoth in the same format, it is incredibly easy to generate a ludicrous amount of mana. Add a mono-black control shell to compliment the mana gameplan, and you can crush your opponent’s resolve as you Thoughtseize them to oblivion. When the time comes to end the game, play a Gary and drain them for a 20 point life swing, or cast a massive Torment of Hailfire and watch them struggle to choose their demise.
Golos Maze’s End
Are you sad that they banned Field of the Dead in Standard? Do you want to watch your opponent’s face turn red from embarrassment as you tell them you have 10 gates in play? Golos Maze’s End takes a robust ramp approach to the new format, ending the game with massive Hydroid Krasis’, an army of zombies from Field of the Dead, or an inevitable late game with Maze’s End. Pick the wincon of your choice with this branch of the recently banned Standard deck.
Rally the Ancestors is going to be a pivotal part of the upcoming metagame, and in Modern it is a powerful combo tool that can end the game the second it resolves. In Pioneer, we can repeat the success of our ancestors by merging the Rally combo with a zombies shell. Grind out the midgame with a pile of recursive threats and in the late game, Rally the Ancestors can bring back an entire army that can ping your opponent to death with Corpse Knight and Wayward Servant. Deck inspired by /u/Wannley.
Nicol Bolas demands a deck to be built around him, and what better place than a brand new format. Grixis Control is a powerful pile of removal and card draw and is topped off by none other than our Dragon-God. With access to format all-stars like Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy and Kolaghan’s Command, this deck is a pile of some of the best cards we have seen in years. As long as you can tune the deck for your meta, this is one deck that can’t be overlooked.
With Mardu Knights breakout performance at Mythic Championship V, we can see how the deck would perform with a wider pool of Knights to choose from. This gives the deck access to more aggressive and cheap creatures and even gives access to cards that work better with equipment such as Danitha Capashen, Paragon. The best part of this deck is the mana! With Tournament Grounds and Unclaimed Territory, it is very difficult to get mana screwed. If you’re itching to cast an Embercleave in Pioneer, look no further than knights.
Mono-Blue Tempo was a very powerful deck during its time in Standard, and was piloted by many pros to great success. Porting it to Pioneer is easier than ever, and it is just as powerful as it was in Standard. Brazen Borrower is a great pickup for the deck, and with some of the best counterspells in the format, it is going to be difficult to land anything meaningful once it gets going. Mono-Blue may struggle in the beginning, with the prevalence of aggro decks, but as time goes on I expect this to become one of the best decks of the format.
GB Hardened Scales
It wouldn’t be an eternal format without a dedicated artifact deck, and Pioneer is no exception. With cards like Hardened Scales and Winding Constrictor both being legal in the format, there is a powerful +1/+1 counter deck available in the format. Add in a little bit of construct tribal and you have a powerful and efficient artifact deck. Walking Ballista and Hangarback Walker are both powerful cards, that form the backbone of this deck, and cards like Steel Overseer are must answer threats that will take over the game. If you can’t get enough of affinity, give this deck a shot.
This is only the beginning of the format, and I for one am extremely excited for it. I’ve been wanting a format inbetween Standard and Modern and this serves the bill perfectly. The combination of powerful cards and reasonable mana bases makes this a brewer’s paradise, and I know I’ll be spending plenty of time theorycrafting decks for this brand new format.
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