The Best Decks in Pioneer

Thassa’s Oracle is played in many of the Best Decks in Pioneer

Dimir Inverter is One of the Best Decks in Pioneer

There is no surprise there!

If you can believe it, Inverter of Truth is the worst card in the Dimir Inverter seventy-five! Normally overpowered two-card combo decks at least do the metagame the courtesy of playing a ton of bad cards… But not in this case.

Dimir Inverter can do a passable job of playing a Control deck, though Patrick is quick to point out that a well-placed Unmoored Ego or Slaughter Games for the aforementioned Inverter can knock it down a peg.

But don’t be overconfident if you draw your sideboard cards! Dimir Inverter will often be bringing in multiple Pack Rats or Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet as alternate ways to win.

More impressive than simply winning the Players Tour? Phoenix Champin Corey Burkhart had to rattle off thirteen straight wins to take the title after a slow start.

Lotus Breach is one of the Best Decks in Pioneer

Not to be outdone at Players Tour Phoenix, William “Baby Huey” Jensen put up the umpteenth amazing finish of his Hall of Fame career with Lotus Breach.

Huey is the first person to make Top 8 of a Pro Tour (or Players Tour) in four different decades… And he did it with the mighty Lotus Breach.

Can plausibly viable archetype Azorius Control ever beat Lotus Breach in Game One? Think about that before you next sleeve up an Absorb in Pioneer.

Patrick Explains Bonecrusher Giant to MichaelJ

So here’s the card Bonecrusher Giant:

Bonecrusher Giant

Or, I guess, here’s the “fun” version of Bonecrusher Giant:

“Fun!”

Michael apologizes for ever doubting the power of this card, which not only made Top 8 of Players Tour Phoenix… But helped to win Grand Prix Phoenix in a very different Red Deck.

Patrick compares this card to one that is a well-known MichaelJ favorite in that is simply ingenious. We won’t spoil it here because it’s super worth it and you should definitely check out this week’s podcast right now to find out more:

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The Elephant in the Room: Inverter of Truth in Pioneer

Inverter of Truth

Should we Make That Five Elephants in the Room?

The Top 8 of Players Tour Nagoya featured five — count ‘em five — Inverter of Truth decks! Four of them were of a more “traditional” bent (though they featured a ton of individualized choices), and one sweet hybrid brew.

How does the combo work?

It’s not actually a strict two-card combo, even though it often feels like it. If you have a small number of cards in your graveyard (say, conveniently, only two) you can cast Inverter of Truth. All of a sudden you have a call-it two-card library, and you’re one Thassa’s Oracle away from straight wining the game.

A Great Reason to Play Inverter of Truth? They’re Going to Ban Dig Through Time!

… Probably

Dig Through Time is pretty good at setting up Control decks (it’s a Staple in Pioneer Azorius for instance) but it’s great in this deck.

Basically it turns a small graveyard into a one-card graveyard pretty efficiently. And one card in graveyard is a great place to be if you’re trying to win with Inverter of Truth + Thassa’s Oracle.

Omen of the Sea is an interesting choice — not yet wholly Staple — in Dimir Inverter. It’s a source of devotion to blue (one pip). In tight games where your’e forced to tap out, that one pip might be really important. If you are relying on the UU on Thassa’s Oracle’s top-right, you might not-win if the opponent removes it with an instant speed removal spell like Lighting Strike. Having a single blue pip on the battlefield means that if Thassa’s Oracle goes away, you can still-win immediately (instead of not-winning).

(Of course if you have spare mana you can Opt or Censor your way to zero cards in your library, which will be good enough regardless of how much devotion to blue you have… Or had!)

Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver is a one card plan, man

All the Ashioks got played in Nagoya!

But Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver in particular is not only good against people who are fighting your combo, but great in the mirror.

Especially against other Dimir decks, Planeswalkers are more durable than other creature types.

Inverter of Truth in… Blue Beatdown?

Basically we’re looking at a Leyline of Anticipation deck (that might already have wanted Thassa’s Oracle) splashing double black for Inverter of Truth.

This deck is worse at setting up the combo, has only two copies of Wizard’s Retort to defend itself, but basically adds an instant win to an already viable strategy.

The Dimir “Devotion” deck splashes fourteen sweet Dimir dual lands to get there… And can even lean on Thassa’s Oracle to find double black.

This deck clearly wins the “style points” award for the Players Tour… Because it’s not even clear what is cooler between Gadwick + Nykthos… or instant speed Inverter of Truth!

Additional advantage: This version will probably still be legal after they ban Dig Through Time.

Also…

  • Orzhov Enchantments
  • Satyr Wayfinder’s big weekend
  • All the reasons combo beats up beatdown

Download the Elephant in the Room now!

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Three More Cards Join the Pioneer Ban List

If someone asked you to pick three cards to ban in Pioneer this week, would you have picked the right ones?

Mike says he could have picked Smuggler’s Copter and Once Upon a Time.

Patrick is sure he would have picked Field of the Dead.

So what do we think about the bans… And more importantly what’s next for Pioneer?

At Least Smuggler’s Copter was Fun

Smuggler's Copter
Smuggler’s Copter used to be the best card in Pioneer

Was Smuggler’s Copter the best card in Pioneer? Strong, very strong, maybe.

But there has to be a best card, right?

Patrick empathizes with the choice because the Mono-Black deck was too good. Smuggler’s Copter was so good it made Night Market Lookout playable!

The problem is that — at least around the Mono-Black deck — Smuggler’s Copter will be replaced with Pack Rat. Or…

Guess which card is really fun, and guess which card is really not fun?

Simic StOmPy Might Have Been Too Repetitive

With Llanowar Elves, Elvish Mystic, and Gilded Goose all at the one, Simic StOmPy could play a hyper-reliable first couple of turns.

If it wasn’t Steel Leaf Champion it was Lovestruck Beast. If it wasn’t a five power beater on the second turn, it was Oko, Thief of Crowns.

This deck — which won last weekend’s Pioneer PTQ on MTGO — was arguably the most beat up archetype by this week’s bans. Not only did it lose the Copter… It lost Once Upon a Time!

Speaking of which… 10 one mana accelerators, 12 or more insane three mana plays, and Once Upon a Time? Yeah… Probably a bit too repetitive.

Is the Big Winner Mutavault?

Mutavault was already a good card in the best deck (Mono-Black).

With a projected move from Smuggler’s Copter to Pack Rat… What does that say about Mutavault?

Hint: It’s also a Rat.

But on top of that? Field of the Dead being banned in Pioneer is also great for Mutavault.

Because: There will be far fewer 2/2 Zombie tokens holding off Mutavaults!

Or What About Castle Garenbrig?

This card is going to have some good setup from Hour of Promise.

Hour of Promise will, in turn, get lift from Nissa’s Pilgrimage and especially — new tech alert — Natural Connection.

What does one do with a “free” six-on-five (or even six-on-four)? I’m thinking… More Ramp?

Oblivion Sower
The Sower is on-brand for Ramp, both ways

… And loads more!

Three more cards join the Pioneer ban list. Long live Pioneer!

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Fallout from the First Pioneer PTQ

Felidar Guardian
Felidar Guardian is one of three cards banned after the first Pioneer PTQ

First Up… The Pioneer Banned List

In light of the first Pioneer PTQ (and other events) our overlords in Renton, WA started taking the ban-hammer to the available cards in this new format. They plan to update us every Monday. The first one was a riot!

  • Felidar Guardian – There are lots of good reasons to ban the Copy Cat. It is a key card in one of the two most prevalent (and successful) Pioneer archetypes to date. But maybe more than that, with four toughness, Felidar Guardian is really tough for some decks to deal with (for example a Red Deck where Shock-plus Wild Slash is the default burn spell)
  • Oath of Nissa – Oath of Nissa was a key early spell in a number of archetypes. This card was a four-of in both of the most popular Pioneer decks (Copy Cat and Mono-Green Devotion). It made the Devotion deck really — really — consistent (especially because of its ability to help hunt up Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx.
  • Leyline of Abundance – Maybe not the most offensive card to anyone’s sensibilities, Leyline of Abundance just contributed to extraordinary explosiveness from the green mana acceleration decks and provided two essentially unearned green pips for Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Patrick notes that there is a long and storied tradition of banning (or just restricting) weird cards so that the card R&D wants to be good can remain in the format. This time it was Leyline of Abundance that bit the bullet.

An Energy Sub-Theme from the Pioneer PTQ?

One curious jumping-off point might be BARONVONFONZ’s four-color Copy Cat deck from the PTQ.

Yes, Felidar Guardian is no longer going to bother anyone (at least not in Pioneer) but it is interesting to think about BARONVONFONZ’s approach and technology.

Our speculation is that the Energy sub-theme was there largely to power up Harnessed Lightning; which can deal four damage to an opposing Felidar Guardian. The deck already had Oath of Chandra to go along with the typical Oath of Nissa set.

Losing Oath of Nissa makes casting Planeswalkers in up to four different colors more challenging. To what degree does Attune with Aether keep a “Temur Planeswalkers” deck alive? Might Traverse the Ulvenwald make a reasonable replacement for Oath of Nissa here?

Mike is skeptical, especially given what’s left in Pioneer…

Not a Single Card was Banned from Wilderness Reclamation

The big winner from the first winner-take-all PTQ event was obviously TROLLINGSARUMAN with Wilderness Reclamation.

This deck is highly reminiscent of the recent Standard deck… But upgraded with Dig Through Time as an additional awesome card to play on your own end step. Not for nothing, this particular awesome card is helpful in finding the “real” signature big blue instant of the deck: Nexus of Fate.

Given the shakeups elsewhere, Wilderness Reclamation combo might be the right place to start. After all, it did rip through a room full of Mono-Green Devotion packing Leyline of Abundance and Felidar Guardian with… um… actual Felidar Guardians. How might it fare against theoretically weaker opponents?

Check it all out in this week’s episode:

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It’s the Pioneer Decklists Podcast!

What is Pioneer?

Magic was born in 1993.

Modern, one of the game’s most beloved formats, takes cards that were legal from 2003 on… So chops off Magic’s first ten years.

Now Pioneer does the same, but starting in 2013. It eliminates Magic’s first twenty years.

It’s the Wild, Wild West.

Pioneer is great, or at least exciting for now because it’s such a wide open universe. There have been lots and lots of bans in Standard over the last six years… But none of those bans have hit Pioneer (yet). It’s like Sam Black said… If you’re not trying to get a card banned, you’re not trying hard enough.

Is Goblin Chainwhirler Good Enough for Pioneer Red Decks?

Goblin Chainwhirler
Goblin Chainwhirler

There have been a number of viable Red Decks over the last six years. Multiple won Pro Tours, even! (Back when we had such a thing.)

Tiny creature decks with Atarka’s Command were great.

There were lean and flexible decks with Eidolon of the Great Revel and Abbot of Keral Keep.

There were fast threats like Earthshaker Khenra. Big and busted ones like Hazoret the Fervent.

We know the Pioneer Red Deck will be less uniform and efficient than the Modern Red Deck. It has to be, right? There will be no Lighting Bolt, for one thing. Will the ever-impressive (in Standard) threat Goblin Chainwhirler make the cut?

Spoiler: Might that creature be great if people are playing 8-12 one drop mana accelerators a la Llanowar Elves?

What Will be the Role of Dig Through Time in Pioneer?

Dig Through Time
Dig Through Time

Patrick loves the idea of Dig Through Time being powered up by Wilderness Reclamation.

Wilderness Reclamation

If all you do is resolve a Wilderness Reclamation, you can start casting Dig Through Time the next turn, even if you haven’t put a lot of cards in your graveyard.

But of course you can set up to put cards in your graveyard! Growth Spiral is going to be in a class by itself. But Opt will be great… and so will cycling cards like Hieroglyphic Illumination an Censor.

Censor, in particular, is interesting: There are so many busted things to do in Pioneer… But none of them are permission spells! Censor does double duty here. It’s not much worse than Quench (even if it feels worse, when it happens to you). Its Plan B is so good to help find Wilderness Reclamation and resolve Dig Though Time.

It’s Probably Going to be a Treasure Cruise Deck…

At least until they ban Treasure Cruise.

Format is wild

New ideas are flowing.

All our takes on the first couple of Pioneer tournament results here:

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