SNC Pioneer Update

Mason ClarkPioneer

Since the release of Streets of New Capenna we have seen one card break out in the metagame in a huge way. Ledger Shredder (covered last week for Modern with Michael’s article) has helped redefine Pioneer. But there is more to this format than just the new bird!

Bant Angels

Angels is a deck that had a brief moment in the Pioneer sun about a year ago. Angels disregards the creatures on the ground in a multitude of ways, from flying to the large amount of life gain the deck can present. You’re a Collected Company deck that really uses the card the best in Pioneer so far. Your creatures are strong if they can get on the board quickly and work extremely well together.

Along those same lines of getting multiple creatures onto the board quickly, we have the newest card added to this deck that helped propel it up the metagame ladder: Giada, Font of Hope. The most important part of this card is that it’s a mana dork. Being able to cast two spells a turn quickly is incredibly powerful in a shell like this. In the past, we’ve even seen people try to work  cards like Caryatid or Elvish Mystic into these decks in order to try and do what Giada does. If that was all Giada was, then we wouldn’t really be talking about this deck. But her ability to grow your angels for each angel you control allows you to quickly present not only a fast clock, but a hard to answer one. The best decks in Pioneer, for the most part, play damage-based removal. So an unchecked Giada often turns all your angels into threats that can not be cleanly answered one-for-one.

This deck also has a sneaky backdoor win with Book of Exalted Deeds and Mutavault. Mutavault helps turn Giada’s ability on and is an angel you can put your book counter on. Now you’re unable to lose unless the land is answered; a thing most decks are unable to do.

I know Angels seems like it might just be a meme deck – it has all the trappings of one – but when played it’s actually incredibly impressive.


Our first Ledger Shredder deck. Prowess is a former staple of Modern. The deck looks to deploy some quick threats and cast spells to buff them up. This version of the deck looks to do exactly that and pair it with Shredder. Shredder and prowess creatures share a lot of the same incentives, so having these two together is a natural fit. This version of the deck much more resembles a fair aggressive midrange deck compared to its Modern counterpart.

The prowess deck looks to have not only a great range of removal with cards like Strangle and Reckless Rage, which answer most of the premier threats in the format, but it also has the best draw spells in Expressive Iteration and Treasure Cruise. This allows you to quickly deploy all your threats and answers and not be at the mercy of the top of your deck for the rest of the game.

This really changes the dynamic of how games can play out and the type of sideboard cards you have access to playing. One might even think of this deck more as Abzan Midrange from Khans-era Standard than anything. This deck is my pick for the newest king of Pioneer. When picking a deck consider this in the same level as Winota, Phoenix, Lotus etc.

Ledger Shredder Parhelion

This is a deck that a lot of people loved in Pioneer for a while that I had thought just wasn’t good enough. The deck had too weak of a fair game plan and it wasn’t good enough at getting its combo going. But reaching the end game of bringing back a Parhelion II with Greasefang is often enough to beat most board states and is absolutely unbeatable for most decks if it comes down on turn three. So, how have we balanced it out where the payoff is now worth the squeeze?

Ledger Shredder. Thanks to Shredder we have another way to set up the combo, while also being able to play more interactive cards. Making us able to have a game plan that’s much closer to Inverter than Winota.  Along those same lines another card added from Streets was Tainted Indulgence. This acts as another Faithful Mending that sometimes is just a draw-two. Having another card that allows us to turbo through our deck finding Parhelion is incredibly powerful. It can’t be understated how much having drastically more fair cards that double as combo enablers has done to elevate this deck to the next level.

This build of Greasefang looks to max out on cheap interaction. Playing four-of Spell Pierce, Thoughtseize, and Fatal Push gives us plenty of coverage against a wide swath of decks. This might normally look like a rushed deck list, but in reality all the looting in the deck between Tainted Indulgence, Ledger, and Faithful Mending means we are able to just throw away the cards that line up poorly.

All of these changes also work well with Dig Through Time, allowing this to be the best Dig deck in the format. Dig is one of the most broken cards in Pioneer and finding a way to maximize it like this deck does is an incredibly appealing draw to any deck. 

Post board you also have a strong pivot plan in Monastery Mentor. He is one of the cards we have seen excel in formats like Vintage and Legacy where the plethora of cheap spells and protection allows him to flourish. This Pioneer deck actually makes similar use of all the cheap spells while being in a format with worse removal. Due to this, your Mentor can actually often outgrow the removal your opponent is presenting, all while completely sidestepping the graveyard hate that people shove into their deck. The Mentor technology really helps flesh out the innovation that Shredder and Tainted Indulgence bring to this deck, lifting it up to the top tiers of Pioneer.

Pioneer is evolving rapidly. With new sets and Pro Tour pressure on this format, expect it to be one that is full of change and innovation.