Fun and Underappreciated Decks to Play in Pioneer

Fun and Underappreciated Decks to Play in Pioneer

Mason ClarkPioneer

Pioneer is one of Magic’s most diverse formats. The threat pool is large while the answers are fewer in number, meaning many decks can execute a diverse array of game plans and succeed. And while the meta has produced a handful of “best decks,” it’s still possible to have fun with a Pioneer deck your opponent rarely runs into. 

Today, we are going to go over three underappreciated decks that are incredibly cool in this wide format. 


Pioneer players have been messing with Soulflayer since the dawn of the format. But with the release of March of the Machine: The Aftermath, the deck got a new tool. 

Urborg Scavengers is redundant in the deck, but playing a lot like Soulflayer is a good thing. While not as explosive, the Scavengers provide the ability to scale as the game goes on while also being graveyard hate to impede what your opponent is up to. 

We have seen time and time again that once you have eight copies of a card in a format, you are able to build around it properly. Now is that time for Soulflayer decks, so we can really explore what the archetype has to offer.

The biggest strength of this deck is that it’s complete “battlecruiser” Magic. Putting all your eggs in one basket, historically, is very dubious. However, this deck looks to exploit that by giving your creature either indestructible or hexproof. 

Both keywords are great ways to dodge almost all the answers in the Pioneer format. The biggest challenge then becomes figuring out exactly what large, keyword-rich creatures the deck wants to play to enable its marquee cards.

This build of the deck is looking more on the Midrange side of things. That means it will focus on playing a fair game while exploiting an unfair element. Kaito Suzuki plays a big role in this, allowing you to set up your unfair draws by easily discarding your payoffs early in the game.

Glissa Sunslayer is another powerful card that hasn’t found a home in Pioneer, but she excels in this deck! She’s the perfect Midrange tool for when your opponent is packing graveyard hate, which would otherwise sink this kind of list.

With this list, while your opponents may be digging for combo pieces or trying to pick apart your board, you can use Soulflayer and Urborg Scavengers to ignore all that and beat them down. When it works, the result is very satisfying.


Tempo strategies are one of Magic’s most popular archetypes. Tricky players who enjoy low to the ground decks love the narrow margins that Rogues often wins with.

This deck was a top player in Standard during the COVID-19 era, and players have since brought it back in Pioneer for a couple key reasons. First, the format is in the sort of combo heavy state Tempo decks prey on. Rouges can break up what an opponent is working toward with cards like Thoughtseize and Drown in the Loch, making it incredibly hard for synergy decks to function. 

The deck also got a new tool and Faerie Mastermind. This is not only a powerful flash threat with the rogue creature type, but it’s also another two drop. Playing more cards at that mana cost means it can curve out more consistently, which is the crux of any Tempo strategy. 

One problem the deck had before was a lack of playable rogues. Now you have a card that can stand on its own that happens to fit into the archetype. And while mastermind isn’t at its best in Pioneer, opponents will still find plenty of ways to draw two cards a turn, triggering your creature. 

This build of Rogues is one I made to lean into more of a Tempo game plan. Rogues has been flirting with being a Tempo deck before while ultimately playing out more like a Midrange deck. But I think currently the metagame has a hole for Tempo decks, and this list naturally lends itself to that style of play. 

Niv to Light

Bring to Light is another card Players have enjoyed since the dawn of Pioneer. While being around from day one, it hasn’t ever been the top dog (despite being a serious player). 

However, this deck got some extra toppings from Aftermath. Niv-Mizzet Supreme is a card that didn’t get a ton of buzz for competitive formats when first previewed, but it plays a little like your extra copy of Niv-Mizzet Reborn

However instead of drawing you additional cards, it doubles up your top decks by letting you flash them back if the spells are exactly two colors. In low numbers, that’s much better than drawing two or three cards like Niv-Mizzet Reborn did. 

Ultimately, this deck still has a lot of the same problems as before, but thanks to the new Niv, you can actually win the game when you manage to get control of it.

End step

The next Regional Championship Qualifier season is in full swing for the Pioneer format, but it’s important to look beyond the mono greens of the world and explore other decks. You never know what kind of an edge you can find.

That being said, let me know about your favorite underappreciated decks on Twitter!