March of the Machine Updated Decks for Pioneer

March of the Machine: Updated Decks for Pioneer

Mason ClarkPioneer

The invasion of the multiverse has come to Pioneer and it has brought tools for decks old and new! We already touched on some of these cards in our highlight post from last week, but now we’re going to dive a bit deeper into the details with upgraded decks for Pioneer from March of the Machine.


Prowess is an archetype we have seen do great in Modern at various points throughout history. This deck looks fairly similar to its old, Modern counterpart. You have eight one drop creatures to start your curve and then a powerful two drop. But after that is where we differ from Modern. 

Where they have a card like Kiln Fiend, we have a new card in Khenra Spellspear. This card from MOM actually fixes a problem Prowess decks sometimes encounter: simply getting chumped blocked on the big turns, preventing the extra damage your spells brought with them. This card also doubles as a mana sink, so drawing your extra lands won’t be nearly as punishing as it has in the past. 

Looking at another difference, Modern has access to cards like Manamorphose, which generate a free spell and a redraw. Pioneer has no such luck, but that’s why the new card, Wrenn’s Resolve, is such a huge get for this deck. 

Resolve allows you to not only get access to more cards as the game drags on, but it also unlocks the ability to have a constant source of prowess triggers. Reckless Impulse was already in the format, and this functional reprint gives us the magical eight copies of an effect, which we’ve seen repeatedly is much more potent than just four copies. This is the point where you can build your deck around the card!

It’s also worth noting that this deck is much more burn heavy than its Modern counterpart, which is mostly due to the fact that you can’t chain nearly as many spells together. The other factor is you’re forced to be mono red due to the mana being weaker than it is in Modern. 

We adjusted for that by simply having a bit more reach in the main deck, like a powerful Reckless Rage to help keep the opponent’s creatures in check. The real test will be figuring out if this list can keep up with Rakdos Midrange, as that has been the main culprit keeping mono red from being playable. 

Rock Ponza

This might be the wildest deck I have ever put into one of these articles. The idea behind this brew is you will overwhelm the number of basics most players can afford to play in their decks and eventually start Strip Mining them. 

We get to do this thanks to the new card Deeproot Wayfinder — something I mentioned in last week’s article. The long story short is given the printing of the Demolition Field in The Brothers’ War, we now have eight Field of Ruin type effects, meaning you can realistically run someone out of basic lands if you try. 

This list takes that idea to its logical extreme. So not only are we playing the full eight Field effects, we are also playing four Assassin’s Trophy and three Boseiju to go after the opponent’s lands. 

While these cards typically have the downside of giving the opponent a land, our deck will quickly run them out of their basics (except mono green, since they are just never going to have a Nykthos stick around).

So now that we laid out what the deck’s angle of attack looks like, what are we doing to support it? I have chosen a “Rock” style approach where we run opponents out of resources all together with cards like Lilliana of the Veil, Thoughtseize and removal. 

These cards are also important to enabling our build around Deeproot Wayfinder by eliminating blockers, along with the other cast of two drops. This deck has a bit of motley crew in this department. 

The first two drop we have, and in small numbers, is Merfolk Branchwalker. This card is just a way to help smooth out our draw a bit. And given our high land count, this card will be getting us a land a fair portion of the time. 

Glint-Sleeve Siphoner is a bit more divisive of a two drop in this case. This card basically needs to live for multiple turns to really start gaining advantage. I promise it’s not lost on me just how much time it takes to get this card snowballing. 

However, if there was ever a deck that can buy you that time, this is the one. The whole list works to make games last 10 to 15 turns, on the low end. There are other two drops you can try playing in this slot, though, and I highly suggest you explore them! You can even move into other powerful three drops like Glissa Sunslayer. I just opted to have a lower curve to enable the Field effects. 

If you wanted to try taking this deck another direction, Serra’s Paragon is a great way to have a Ramunap Excavator type card with a bit more kick. It also opens you up to being a white/green deck.

Chonky Red 

A classic in Pioneer. Chonky Red was a deck when the format first started, and players loved it. Just running a good, big, red deck was something unique to the Pioneer format since it often only really only succeeded in formats like Standard in the past. 

Fortunately for us, that hasn’t stopped players who love red but hate Aggro from trying to make these decks work. And for once, we got a new tool in the Invasion of Tarkir

This removal spell can help stabilize early before transforming into a threat that quickly clocks the opponent. That is an underappreciated aspect about battles right now. You are giving the opponent some extra life in order to flip them, so the cards you get for doing so need to help make up for that fact. 

Defiant Thundermaw does exactly that. Being a 4/4 with flying means it’s going to win almost every combat it gets into — and that’s not counting the attack trigger all your dragons get. Meaning that when this creature attacks on its own, the next turn it has made up for the damage you lost in order to flip this card.

The deck isn’t all about the Invasion of Tarkir, though. While we do have cards like Glorybringer, Atsushi and Moonveil Regent to help enable it, they are also just solid midrange cards in their own right. We also have Sarkhan Fireblood as a way to both get a bit of card selection and help ramp out these dragons. 

The rest of the deck is just solid, red cards. Format staple Bonecrusher Giant is going to help bridge you in the early turns against creature decks. Goblin Chainwhirler does more of the same and allows this deck to beat down when needed. 

Bankbuster is here to help in the long, grindier games — and same for Chandra, Torch of Defiance

Overall, this deck is just full of standard staples of the past that were all trying to enable a deck just like this. The biggest problem this deck has is playing against combo, where it sort of lacks the tools to stop them. But every deck in Pioneer has some big flaw, so if you love Chonky Red, now is your time to return to it! 

End Step

Pioneer is a format with upper tiers that have been incredibly explored. At the same time, there is still so much room to experiment elsewhere. 

March of the Machine helps give even more tools while opening new doors, as well. If you’re a brewer, now is the time to step into Pioneer and really see what the format has to offer.