All Will Be One is fully spoiled and Elesh Norn is out to take over the multiverse — but how will the newest cards fare in Pioneer? I’m not anticipating a major shakeup, but there are a few cards from this latest trip to New Phyrexia that I wanted to highlight.
Skrelv, Defector Mite
Skrelv, Defector Mite is no Mother of Runes, but squint a little and you will see a one drop that offers protection for another creature that will play very well. This card is my pick for what will be the most impactful in Pioneer.
The humans deck and the angel deck have both been top decks in the format for a while now, and Skrelv is a great main deck or sideboard card for both those strategies. I particularly like this one in the angels deck, as that deck had no decent one drop options until now.
Angels is like a house of cards that needs all its pieces to be fully functional. Skrelv allows players to protect important cards like Bishop of Wings and Righteous Valkyrie.
If you have played with or against this deck, you know just how powerful it is when these cards are in play and just how underwhelming they are when they don’t have these cards. And despite being outside the relevant creature type, it can up the number of games where those threats stick around.
Blue players who love control strategies are going to need to wait until more, cheap interaction is introduced to the format, as All Will Be One doesn’t have a whole lot in this regard. Many are looking at Minor Misstep and thinking otherwise, but this card is a bit of a trap for newer players.
Plain and simple, it won’t counter many high impact cards in Pioneer. In Modern, there is a density of powerful one and zero mana spells. However, while there are good one drops in Pioneer, you often want to fight over the top end of the decks and the payoffs instead.
Black Sun’s Twilight
Meanwhile, Black is one of the strongest colors in Pioneer — on the back of the card Thoughtseize. It got a few, cute cards to consider, but nothing that’s incredibly out of line. Cards like Black Sun’s Twilight is a fringe option players can look at, but it won’t redefine the format.
Cacophony Scamp is a card that you could have easily missed during preview season. It looks unappealing, but this card may help breathe life into Pioneer hammer decks.
The Modern hammer deck has been continually impressive since the release of Modern Horizons 2 in 2021. However, in Pioneer, the deck needs a lot of warriors to function since Resolute Strike is the best way (other than Sigarda’s Aid) to actually equip Colossus Hammer — and the numbers weren’t there before.
Fireblade Charger was the old, good one drop that wore a hammer well, but now Scamp can be your second copy of a similar card. With two creatures that, once equipped, basically always deal at least 11 damage, it’s close to a functional deck.
While not at the same level as its Modern counterparts in terms of playing an efficient game, the deck does present an incredibly fast clock that does what you’d want an Aggro deck to do.
There are a lot of cards for a Hardened Scales type deck in Pioneer — a beloved archetype from Modern that just hasn’t quite come together in this format. And while Bloated Contaminator doesn’t make this archetype viable in Pioneer, its large body for a good mana value does work well with the cards that would otherwise fit into Hardened Scales.
One of the problems with decks like Hardened Scales is they often don’t have cards that work without the other pieces. Fortunately, a card like this, which can play well on its own, goes a long way toward making a deck playable. It will need more pieces to fully come together, but this is a great addition when the time does come.
Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler
Tyvar is one of the most exciting cards from Phyrexia: All Will Be One. First it effectively gives all your mana creatures Haste, which means cards like Llanowar Elves are mana neutral and allow you get the most out of Leaf-Crowned Visionary by dumping your hand at only one mana per card.
That may be too cute to be consistent, but Tyvar also lets you get another activation out of a tapped creature. Think of cards like Circle of Dreams Druid immediately letting you do things like that are fairly impactful.
Alternatively, Tyvar works well for Vannifar combo players. Not only does Tyvar help you find a creature to start the chain, it also lets you immediately go for the combo on the turn you drop Vannifar.
Soulless Jailer is a big pickup for Modern, but also Pioneer. While there are many cards that could go in this slot, a colorless, creature version of a fixed Grafdigger’s Cage is high on the list.
No longer will weird rules interactions mess up players who are trying to lock players out of their graveyard or playing from exile. You have a card that can solve all these weird combo decks. Have a problem with Storm the Festival? Not anymore! That and many other cards are answered by this little friend.
All Will Be One is one of the most exciting sets in the last five years, even if it may not bring big changes to Pioneer. And while there are other cards we could talk about, I’ll save it for when we look at some fully formed decks. Otherwise, there are plenty of other format highlights worth checking out!
Mason Clark is a grinder in every corner of the game who has played at the pro level and on the SCG Tour with Team Nova. Whether he’s competing in Standard, Historic or Modern, Mason plays with one goal in mind: to be a better player than he was the day before. Check out his podcast, Constructed Criticism, and catch his streams on Twitch.