Pioneer Wish List: 5 Cards to Add to the Format

Anthony Lowry Pioneer

Pioneer has been defined by companions, Inverter, and midrange amalgamations since the release of Ikoria. While things have mostly settled, I’m always up for shaking things up a bit. 

Here are five cards from the Modern format that I believe would be great additions to Pioneer. A lot of these cards would change the format for the better and allow for new avenues of gameplay and deck construction.

1. Engineered Explosives

This powerful artifact has gone from crucial role-player to format staple in Modern, mostly due to the popularity of Urza, Lord High Artificer and Emry, Lurker of the Loch. In Pioneer, however, it would fill a niche in fringe control and midrange decks — which is something I feel Pioneer needs more of. Decks like Sultai Delirium could use a quick way to catch one drops, as the deck is rather slow. Inverter and U/W Control decks were already sort of in the market for cycling lands, and adding triomes can give the marginal upside of being able to Explosives for three, while also allowing those decks to up their land count to stick their otherwise inconsistent colors (something they can’t do currently due to need for answer density) Thopter/Sword combo and Urza may not exist in Pioneer, which greatly suppresses the card’s power, but it could help decks like Ensoul Artifact get back on stable footing.

2. Path to Exile

This one has been discussed at length, and for clear reasons. Clean removal is a hot commodity in the format, and Fatal Push is the best at one mana. After that, there’s…Shock…? Path to Exile will fill a strong role in a format that incentivizes making land drops every turn, and it’ll also push ramp decks back up in the metagame (something the format desperately needs). With Path to Exile in the format, existing decks could also get a little more ambitious by splashing white. Sultai Delirium can already play Yorion; a few Triomes and basics later, you may have the mana base to support it! 5-Color Niv already gets to have white, so this is a shoe-in. Path to Exile would be a format-defining card in Pioneer, and we could use it right now.

3. Serum Visions

Blue decks are quite powerful in Pioneer, but Opt isn’t quite cutting it. While it gets the job done, it’s often not enough raw cards for the mana. Serum Visions would be more than good enough for the format without breaking it, and it may give fringe decks like U/W Control some much-needed consistency. It’s elegant, a little bit slow, and sometimes a strain on the transition from your early- to mid-game, but the rate is just so good. I would love to see control decks get a boost, especially if we aren’t going to get better mana anytime soon.

4. Arcbound Ravager

This one is a bit ambitious, considering that it ravaged the Modern metagame for years. But Hardened Scales could use a bit of a boost, and I don’t think anyone would mind if that deck had some more front end power. The deck would lose some consistency, but you gain so much more explosiveness and resiliency that it would be an easy inclusion, especially when combined with Lurrus of the Dream-Den. Pioneer generally lacks explosive early-game starts, and Arcbound Ravager would open up faster decks in the longer run.

5. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

When Pioneer was announced, I made so many decks with Thalia before realizing that she wasn’t legal in the format. It broke my heart to see one of my favorite white cards excluded from my favorite format. She would single-handedly stymie combo decks and slower control decks while building momentum in the early game. Thalia would also fill out the sideboards of, say, Bant Spirits, very effectively. There’s a chance that the combination of Thalia, Path to Exile, and Lurrus is too much for the format, but I think it would work out in the long run.

All of these cards have been mainstays in multiple formats, and I think Pioneer could be yet another wonderful home for them. I’m excited to see if any of these cards can actually become legal and cause a huge shift in the format!