Personally, I’m shocked.
When Oath of Nissa was initially nixed, it was deemed “the Green Ponder.” It was too powerful for Pioneer — the only card in the format that gave you that much selection for such a low rate. It powered up decks like Kethis Combo and even some midrange decks, but it really pushed Green Devotion decks to the next level. Granted, that format also had ultra powerhouses like Oko, Thief of Crowns, Leyline of Abundance, Veil of Summer and Once Upon a Time — but even then, Oath of Nissa was considered way too much in a format where Opt was the closest parallel.
In spite of the Companion rules change, Pioneer hasn’t changed much since February. Dimir Inverter was the best deck. Lotus Breach had the most potential, and would steal tournaments if players decided to skimp on combo hate. Mono-Red had to speed up to keep up, and midrange decks like Niv to Light, Delirium and Spirits, floated around to keep everything else in check. Mono-White Devotion was also emerging, but wasn’t quite figured out yet. The format was defined by combos, and you either had to be fast enough to beat the combo decks or disrupt them just enough to cross the finish line.
Oath of Nissa messes all of that up, and it should see play in a number of decks going forward.
With Oath of Nissa back in action, why play Sultai Delirium when you can consistently plug in the combo and see just as many cards with the same supporting cast? Traverse the Ulvenwald is still a powerful card, but my eyes are on Oath of Nissa to power through the early game and late game, without the hassle or incidental weakness to graveyard hate. It would completely solidify its place as the best deck in the format, as it only stands to benefit from this unban.
Sultai Inverter, by Anthony Lowry
Editor’s Note: Inverter of Truth has been banned in Pioneer effective August 3, 2020.
Any deck that wants to build a proverbial house of cards will likely jam Oath of Nissa. The first deck that comes to mind is Hardened Scales. Oath will not only allow you to find much-needed creatures for your early game, but it’ll let you be slightly more aggressive with your mana. With Oath, you can play an extra Karn’s Bastion and lean on the rest of your mana base to cast Vivien, Arkbow Ranger or Nissa, Voice of Zendikar. It could be a solid answer to aggressive decks that are more flimsy, while also providing resilience against Supreme Verdict decks.
Hardened Scales, by Anthony Lowry
Editor’s Note: Walking Ballista has been banned in Pioneer effective August 3, 2020.
This last deck is one that was already very close to making it, and it just might be worth it with the addition of Oath of Nissa.
Bant Yorion, by Anthony Lowry
Companion: Yorion, Sky Nomad
Playing Oath allows you to play a wider variety of Planeswalkers without taxing your mana base. Going heavier on green sources would naturally make it hard to follow up Gideon of the Trials with Teferi, Master of Time. Oath of Nissa lets you bypass that, while also giving you headroom to play Growth Spiral by simply having more green mana available early on. If you want to lean more heavily on Oath of Nissa, then Gilded Goose may be a better choice than Growth Spiral, even if you don’t have reliable sources of food tokens. Frilled Mystic can come in for a counterspell if you’re really feeling up for it, as can a flash threat like Nightpack Ambusher for a Shark Typhoon.
Take the Oath
Oath of Nissa is simply that powerful, and these are just a handful of ways you can utilize the best card selection tool in Pioneer. It will single-handedly bring more consistency to decks on the fringes, while also pushing the tier one decks over the top. This may not have been the B&R announcement we were expecting, but it should certainly shake up the format.
Anthony Lowry is a high level competitor in several games, and Magic is no exception. His newfound passion for deckbuilding has reignited his drive to compete and test his skill against the best.