Pioneer Update

Mason ClarkPioneer

This past weekend was a huge weekend for Pioneer. We had a PTQ on Magic Online, the big SCG, the 5ks at the SCG, and the normal Magic Online results. As you might expect the format had a lot of results to look over. While a fair amount of the decks are things we actually talked about a few weeks ago with the Lurrus ban, we have a few that have popped up in the following weeks. So today we are going over some of the decks that we didn’t last time and the big innovations in those  decks over the last two weeks. 


This is one of the decks that was around in the Lurrus world but wasn’t quite good enough to stay near the top of the metagame that Lurrus produced. Since the cat’s demise we have seen Winota stock in the format skyrocket, with multiple people calling it the best deck in the format.

Which isn’t too shocking when you watch how strong the deck is when it gets going. You’re a proactive deck that can seriously grind and at any point draw Winota and completely swing the game. As is often the case when someone wins with a deck a lot, they like it and preach about it. When you win with this deck you really win.

That’s not to trash on the deck, I think it’s one of the best in the field and the new addition of Fable of the Mirror-Breaker does so much to help that. Fable does a lot to fix Winota’s problems. Having one card that can be multiple bodies that all trigger Winota is great, but also the ability to turn your dead cards into more action or find the Winota that’s eluding you. Very often with this deck you don’t really need more than four mana so turning your lands into bodies is great, but your deck does play a lot of bigger humans that you’re trying to hit off Winota. This all combines to a card that not only works perfectly for the deck but leveled it up to “creature deck to beat” in the format.

A little fun tip for those playing with Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. If you have two on the back side in play at the end of your opponent’s turn you can have them target each other, allowing you to make four copies of a card on your turn. With things like Voice of Resurgence in this deck, you’re now forcing your opponents into near unwinnable spots. 

Fires of Invention

We have seen this deck pop up from time to time in Pioneer, abusing the incredibly powerful Fires of Invention while also looking to leverage the power that Agent of Treachery has against slower midrange decks. This is the best combo-control deck in the format. Decks like Blue-White and Lotus Field do one or the other much better than this deck, but ultimately this is looking to toe that line.

This deck benefits in a lot of ways that Winota did with Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, but it also got another large upgrade in The Wandering Emperor. This card has burst onto the scene, and has seen a huge adoption into control for fairly obvious reasons. The card forces players into these very hard to escape squeezes with cards like Memory Deluge. This deck doesn’t offer such a squeeze, but still she is an all-star. Often a problem for this archetype is keeping a token around to transform into an Agent of Treachery. The Emperor being a flash threat that will answer a problem and then be cashed in for an Agent is a huge buff to the power level of this deck. Another smaller thing to remember is that with this deck you can flicker your Emperor, meaning you can use her again at the end of the turn when she comes back. The Emperor provides a nice mix of removal and utility that this deck is looking for.

The Yorion aspect of the deck is also one to not under appreciate. Your deck has plenty of things to flicker for value, If you have Fires in play you can very easily pick up Yorion, cast your free spell off Fires, then cast Yorion, and flicker everything (including Fires) to allow you to cast even more spells in the turn. That raw burst is often enough to swing a slower-on-average format like Pioneer.

This deck probably will expand and grow as players get their hands on it. The overall game plan is very appealing and when your matchups are favorable, it’s very hard for them to stop you from overtaking the game. The biggest problem this deck has is not dying to aggro, which is why it’s so flush on removal – even going as far as using Chained to the Rocks as an answer. The Yorion end game should be enough to overtake most situations

Black-Red Anvil

This was the deck to beat just a few short weeks ago when Lurrus was ruling the roost. Now with the banning, the deck is struggling to figure out how to adapt and what cards they can now play that were before off-limits thanks to the Lurrus limit. Pioneer has a rich pool of powerful three-drops to draw from.

Jaberwoki came to the conclusion that Standard and Historic all-star Mayhem Devil was that addition, and was rewarded with a Challenge win this past Sunday. This addition leveled the deck up to actually be able to handle the early threats that decks like Winota provide, and gives you a chance to race combo decks like Field. Which, in the pre-ban times, were very hard matchups pre-board, as you had no real way to turn a corner. Now with a couple Devils and an Anvil you can start doming the opponent very quickly. It’s also a mirror breaker that the Jund decks had adopted, but the worse mana and clunkier cards have sadly forced Jund to the edge of the format.

This deck is the Magic player’s dream of a midrange deck. You play long grindy games with lots of choices. You have cards for every situation and just how you leverage them matters so much. Combine that with how customizable this deck is and you’re looking at a great shell for midrange players all over.

We have seen some Bigger Rakdos decks pop up over the last week. Playing things like Graveyard Trespasser, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, and Kalitas. These decks are also very appealing and have their own advantages, the biggest being that pound for pound your cards are stronger than theirs. I am personally leaning on the Oni-Cult side for now, as I think being more mana efficient and having the ability to clog up and handle a board is more important right now. 

This is all to point out that Rakdos is one of the most under-explored parts of Pioneer. So if you’re a midrange lover, this is the format for you and the colors for you as well!

That’s all for Pioneer this week. What deck are you loving in the format? Tweet @masoneclark and let me know!