4 Decks for Post-B&R Pioneer

Anthony LowryPioneer

Well then…

Last time we were here, we talked about just how impactful an unban like Oath of Nissa would be in Pioneer. I generally felt that it would give decks like Inverter a reason to push into Green, where they could also benefit from cards like Grisly Salvage and Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath. Green ramp decks would welcome the change, and decks that couldn’t benefit from it would likely have to speed up to maximize consistency. Decks like Kethis would love the inclusion, as it made Mox Amber that much more powerful, especially early.

Then…this happened:

This was not what I expected. At all.

It seemed like a new Pioneer metagame was set in stone two weeks ago. The midrange-combo centric format was here to stay until the release of Zendikar Rising at least. Now, it’s almost an entirely new format. 

We have to start from scratch again.

New Potential Combos

The first thing that I know people are going to try and do is find the next busted combo deck. Not much comes to my mind, but there are surely busted interactions in the format. Fires of Invention and Wilderness Reclamation are still very much legal, and the carnage they’ve left in Standard are not outside the realm of possibility in Pioneer. Fires in particular is looking very promising now.

One of the few things holding decks like Fires and Reclamation back is the very nature of the Pioneer format. You either had to be very fast and go under as much as possible, such as with Mono-Red or Izzet Ensoul. You could go over the top with a rock-solid win condition that can’t be interacted with, like the tried and true Inverter of Truth, or grind opponents into the dirt with decks such as Sultai Delirium or Niv to Light. Fires of Invention can be the enabler, while also not being the focal point of a “combo.”

The decks themselves would look mostly the same as their Standard counterparts: Lukka, Planeswalkers, other permanents worth blinking with Yorion, and ways to use your lands when Fires is out. Gideon of the Trials isn’t very effective anymore because Inverter is gone, so we have a lot more room to work with. You have a multitude of three-mana sweepers — as well as Supreme Verdict — to weather the aggro storm. Your main nemesis in Spirits, which will likely see less play now that it no longer has any combo decks to prey on. 

Jeskai Fires, by Anthony Lowry

Companion: Yorion, Sky Nomad

4 Agent of Treachery

4 Teferi, Time Raveler
4 Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast
4 Teferi, Master of Time
3 Narset, Parter of Veils
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis

4 Fires of Invention
4 Oath of Nissa
4 Shark Typhoon
4 Supreme Verdict
2 The Birth of Meletis
4 Omen of the Sea
1 Elspeth Conquers Death
2 Oath of Chandra

4 Raugrin Triome
2 Plains
4 Fabled Passage
1 Forest
2 Mountain
2 Island
2 Castle Vantress
2 Castle Ardenvale
1 Blast Zone
1 Temple Garden
2 Breeding Pool
3 Ketria Triome
4 Hallowed Fountain
3 Sacred Foundry
3 Steam Vents
1 Temple of Mystery
1 Temple of Plenty
1 Geier Reach Sanitarium

But Wilderness Reclamation might just be the scariest card in Pioneer now. In every format it’s been legal in, some component of the deck — including Reclamation itself — has been banned. It’s seen a little bit of play here and there in Pioneer, but hasn’t truly made a splash since Nexus of Fate’s banning. 

Now, things may just line up wonderfully for the four-mana enchantment. All of the tools are there to make it powerful. Teferi, Time Raveler to slow things down from control and potential combo decks. The Scarab God for the ultimate endgame. Expansion // Explosion, if you truly wanted to go over the top. All of the cycle lands and Castles in the world.

This would be a good place to start, but feel free to splash accordingly:

Temur Reclamation, by cftsoc3

5-0, MTGO Pioneer League, 7/9/20

2 Bonecrusher Giant
3 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath

3 Sweltering Suns
1 Censor
4 Expansion // Explosion
4 Growth Spiral
1 Mystical Dispute
1 Negate
4 Pull from Tomorrow
4 Shark Typhoon
4 Wilderness Reclamation

2 Blast Zone
4 Breeding Pool
3 Castle Vantress
4 Fabled Passage
2 Forest
2 Island
4 Ketria Triome
1 Mountain
4 Steam Vents
3 Stomping Ground

3 Mystical Dispute
2 Negate
2 Aether Gust
3 Anger of the Gods
2 Fry
2 Magma Spray
1 Nightpack Ambusher

The Best of the Rest

The next big thing to touch on is existing decks that are forced to adjust. 

What does Mono-White Devotion look like without Walking Ballista? The deck loses most of its checkmating power when falling behind or when in a stall, so it likely becomes a more aggressive deck. Alternatively, it may need to invest in more Planeswalkers in order to keep up the pressure. Basri Ket is a decent start, but I’m a lot colder on it now than I was before the bannings. Maybe Heliod, Sun-Crowned isn’t good enough anymore, but at that point, maybe it’s time to drop the entire devotion mechanic and build something else? I’m unsure what it would look like, but Winota may be where I’d start.

Naya Winota, by scalo94

5-0, MTGO Pioneer League, 8/3/20

4 Angrath’s Marauders
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Garruk’s Harbinger
4 Legion Warboss
4 Llanowar Elves
2 Pia and Kiran Nalaar
4 Tithe Taker
4 Voice of Resurgence
4 Winota, Joiner of Forces

4 Eldritch Evolution

2 Battlefield Forge
2 Forest
1 Fortified Village
4 Mana Confluence
2 Rootbound Crag
3 Sacred Foundry
4 Stomping Ground
4 Temple Garden

1 Baneslayer Angel
2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
3 Devout Decree
3 Rest in Peace
4 Skylasher
2 Wear // Tear

Lastly, I firmly believe that Niv to Light may be the premier midrange deck once again. It has access to all the best multicolored spells in the game and one of the best blockers and ramp spells against aggro decks in Sylvan Caryatid. It can very easily slot in Oath of Nissa. And, last time I checked, not many decks can handle a 6/6 flyer on turn four. 

Triomes help this deck immensely when it comes to hitting its colors and flooding, so cards like Gilded Goose are no longer needed. And if you’re really feeling it, you can jam Yorion to maximize your hits and possibly even play Growth Spiral.

Niv to Light, by Anthony Lowry

Companion: Yorion, Sky Nomad

4 Niv-Mizzet Reborn
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
2 Siege Rhino

4 Teferi, Time Raveler
2 Nahiri, the Harbinger

4 Growth Spiral
4 Oath of Nissa
3 Abrupt Decay
2 Dreadbore
3 Thought Erasure
4 Bring to Light
1 Enter the God-Eternals
1 Utter End
2 Oath of Kaya

2 Breeding Pool
3 Drowned Catacomb
4 Fabled Passage
1 Forest
2 Hallowed Fountain
4 Indatha Triome
1 Island
2 Ketria Triome
1 Mountain
3 Overgrown Tomb
1 Plains
1 Raugrin Triome
1 Savai Triome
2 Steam Vents
2 Stomping Ground
2 Sunpetal Grove
1 Swamp
1 Temple Garden
2 Zagoth Triome

These are just a few things to consider in light of yet another massive shift in Pioneer. Things are moving so quickly that it’s very difficult to keep up at times, but I have a strong feeling that the format is going to develop quite nicely from here on out. Time will tell if the ghosts of Standard’s past will make an even bigger impact in Pioneer, but my hopes are high that things will be very competitive and healthy going forward.