The recent announcement of Pioneer has gotten a lot of Magic players excited. It’s a chance to rebuild beloved Standard decks that weren’t powerful enough for Modern, and to update them for a new non-rotating environment. Here are a couple of brews based on my favorite casual decks from past Standard formats.
The Locust God
The Locust God, which makes a flying token creature every time you draw a card, was a powerhouse in Hour of Devastation Limited. But it never quite got there in a Standard environment dominated by Ramunap Red and Temur Energy, or a Modern metagame centered around very fast decks. But with all the “draw a second card” payoffs in Throne of Eldraine, it’s time to give it another look.
The best thing about The Locust God is that it rewards players for something red/blue already wants to do: draw cards. Recent Standard environments have had a lot of red/blue card draw themes, but I think The Locust God combines best with Throne of Eldraine‘s Improbable Alliance, which also makes flying tokens when you draw cards. I’ve added creatures that will slow down the game to buy you time, like Irencrag Pyromancer and Erratic Visionary, and evasive creatures that draw cards, like Avaricious Dragon. The non-creature spells in the deck draw you even more cards, and Clear the Mind will get you back everything you have to discard along the way so you don’t mill yourself out.
Decklist: Our Tokens Will Darken the Sky
The Eldrazi titans from Battle for Zendikar block are legal in Pioneer, and a lot of people are eager to play them again, including me. My first Standard deck was a green/black Eldrazi ramp deck with the goal of casting Emrakul, the Promised End or transforming Westvale Abbey as early as possible, but Eldritch Moon Standard didn’t quite have as much ramp as the deck needed. Recent Standard seasons have added some ramp options that I’m excited to include, like The Mending of Dominaria and the reprint of Llanowar Elves. The Eldrazi-focused tutor spell From Beyond allows you to search for Ulamog or Emrakul while building up the mana to cast them, and all the scions this deck creates can help you either cast your titans or transform Westvale Abbey.
Decklist: Looming Death
Since Pioneer starts with Return to Ravnica, let’s wrap up with a new take on a popular deck from the earliest block in the format: Maze’s End. This deck intends to win by having ten Gates with different names in play. It’s kind of a chaotic strategy, and a difficult one to pull off, but since everyone who drafted Guilds of Ravnica and Ravnica Allegiance already has a collection of guildgates, it’s worth putting together to see how it works. If you like alternate win conditions, this is the Pioneer deck for you.
Recent Ravnica sets have built on RTR block’s Gates Matter theme to give us lots of exciting spells to win with even if you don’t find all ten gates every game. Standouts include Gatekeeper Gargoyle, an evasive creature which gets more powerful the more gates you have when you cast it, and Crackling Perimeter, an enchantment that lets your Gates deal damage to your opponent. Guilds of Ravnica and Ravnica Allegiance also added an eleventh gate, Gateway Plaza, which should make it easier to find ten Gates with different names.
Decklist: Implicit Maze
2 Azorius Guildgate
2 Boros Guildgate
2 Dimir Guildgate
2 Gateway Plaza
2 Golgari Guildgate
2 Gruul Guildgate
2 Izzet Guildgate
4 Maze’s End
2 Orzhov Guildgate
2 Rakdos Guildgate
2 Selesnya Guildgate
2 Simic Guildgate
The Pioneer format opens up a lot of new creative space for brewers, and bringing back old beloved Standard decks is only one small part of that space. Let us know what innovative or nostalgic decks you come up with!
Mara is an Azorius bureaucrat who dreams of joining the Selesnya Conclave. Her favorite color of mana is green, and she loves brewing for Commander variants.