Pioneer Tier List: June 2022

Mason ClarkPioneer

Pioneer got a bit of a shakeup recently with some bans, so Mason pauses to take a look at the metagame ahead of RCQ Season.

It’s been a couple of weeks since the Pioneer banning of both Winota and Expressive Iteration. We have had some results and the players have rushed to figure out the format with the RCQ season starting up in just a couple of weeks. So what has come out on top of the Pioneer metagame? Well today we are going over just that with the Pioneer tier list.

Before we dive into the list, I want to lay out my grading criteria to help contextualize my recommendations:

S-Tier: Decks that are above the rest. This is normally the default “best deck in the format” and the deck(s) you should have in mind when building or picking your deck.

A-Tier: Decks that are great. These decks are knocking on the door of S Tier, but they may have a small weakness that keeps them out of the upper echelon.

B-Tier: Good, solid decks. You wouldn’t be surprised if a B Tier deck takes down an event, but they have bigger weaknesses or liabilities than the decks in A Tier.

C-Tier: Decks that are totally fine, but not notable. These decks aren’t exactly tearing up the tournament or ladder scene, but you should expect to face them every now and then.

D-Tier: Decks with strong elements, but that generally aren’t great choices compared to the rest of the format. 

Mono Green Devotion

This deck is level-zero and the current top of the meta. This deck presents a quick and overwhelming game plan. Leaning on the always potent 8 elves in Pioneer, this deck often wins thanks to unchecked elves giving you the mana advantage and just being a turn ahead the whole game. That’s before we get to the powerful Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, which in this deck produces a huge burst of mana and allows this deck to start pumping out 6-drops as early as turn four. Even with that in mind, your deck also has a resilient and weird amount of card advantage for a mono-green deck. Storm the Festival, Karn, the Great Creator, Cavalier of Thorns and Kiora present a strong mix of advantage and threats. Storm being a way to pay off the huge amounts of mana this deck can produce makes incredibly powerful board states for relatively little mana. It’s also very easy to find a copy thanks to Cavalier milling it, as it still lets us cast the more expensive flashback cost of the card. 

Karn is another huge part of this deck. The artifacts in Pioneer are rather clunky compared to formats like Modern, meaning that using Karn is a much more difficult task in this format. Mono-Green does not have that problem. Threats like Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, God-Pharaoh’s Statue, and Meteor Golem are all cards you get access to and can start slamming on your opponent. That’s before we even get to the part where the deck has an infinite combo that wins the game thanks to Karn and Kiora. You can use Karn to grab Pestilent Cauldron and cast the back half. This will allow you to get a Kiora and Karn back to your hand. If your devotion is at 13 and you have a Nykthos, you will be able to use the new Kiora to make more mana with that Nykthos and repeat the process until you can use Cauldron’s front half to mill the opponents deck out.

All in all this, makes green the deck to beat in current Pioneer.

Before going forward I think I have to make a weird disclaimer that I normally wouldn’t put out a tier list article. Things are relatively young in this Pioneer’s life span and while mono-green is for sure good right now, it’s also a deck that is much easier to optimize and build than many other decks. As such it wouldn’t shock me that this deck would go slightly lower in time as other decks figure out their optimal configurations in the face of the mono-green menace, but the deck will always present this powerful consistent plan. So if you’re looking to buy a deck for RCQ season this is my recommendation.

Red Black Midrange

This deck keeps crushing the MTGO Pioneer Challenges. We have seen Misplacedginger win one finals and top 8 another of the last four Pioneer Challenges he has played with this deck. Misplacedginger is a very good player but when a deck puts up these consistent results and we see others emulating that success, I am willing to put it very high despite not having a great Green match up.

However, Green is the only top deck in the format that Black-Red has a terrible time against. Every other deck is susceptible to various degrees of the disruption-plus-clock plan this deck can present. A real strength of this deck is that ability to get on the board quickly, but also play long grindy games of Magic. This deck looks to play a Jund-style of role in the format.

This deck just has game versus everything, and plays lots of good cards. You don’t have broken mana, you don’t have a broken combo. Just good, efficient cards. Honestly, that’s more than enough a lot of the time in a format like Pioneer, where every deck is short just a few cards from being completely berserk.

Boros Heroic 

This is more of a fringe pick. Heroic is a deck that many are championing to beat the Mono-Green menace. While many players have adopted and championed the Mono-Blue Spirits deck, which does have a great Green match up, so does this deck. So it comes down to what are you trying to have a better game against in different parts of the metagame. The Spirits deck really struggles with decks like Arclight Phoenix and general piles of removal. While it seems a little counterintuitive, the Heroic deck is a bit better versus these sorts of cards. Your threats can grow outside the removal range much more easily and force your opponent into a holding pattern. So when picking this or Mono-Blue, you’re really looking at what exactly others are doing to try and take down Green and positioning yourself best there.

As for the deck, it is a classic heroic deck. Cheap early threats that take over the game and put your opponent in awkward positions. Leaning on cheap spells to make up for the lack of power in the deck, the deck did get a huge upgrade in Illuminator Virtuoso. This card makes it so you’re far less likely to flood out, and being a double striker makes it so it’s not so far off-plan that you can get away with that filtration. You also have many ways to benefit off cards in the graveyard. From Homestead Courage to Dreadhorde Arcanist, or the very overt Ancestral Anger, this all gives your deck some real hitting power.

Your deck is not without flaws, as piles of non-conditional removal early out of decks like Red-Black can be problems, and you are a pump-spell deck, meaning you’re often going to be exposing yourself to lots of blow outs. These sort of flaws are something decks like these always have to face. When picking this deck up, try to find a time or place where decks like Red-Black are less good in the metagame. When you find those spots, this deck is back breaking for the opponent..

Pioneer is a deep format with lots of decks, and lots of them are really close to being great and having weekends of dominance.The format is also one that rewards mastery, so when looking over this list if your deck isn’t at the top, that doesn’t mean you can’t win the tournament. Pioneer is quickly becoming one of my favorite formats and I hope this tier list helped you feel the same.

What are you wanting to play in RCQ’s? Tweet @masoneclark_ and let me know!