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Much Abrew: Esper Parhelion II (Pioneer)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. This week, we're heading back to Pioneer to check out a really sweet new Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty deck: Esper Parhelion! The deck is basically a cross between reanimator and control, with the primary plan being to get Parhelion II into the graveyard so we can reanimate it with Greasefang, Okiba Boss and smash our opponent with a bunch of hasty, flying damage, potentially winning the game by Turn 4. How good in the combo of Parhelion II and Greasefang in Pioneer? What other new Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty cards can make an impact on the format? Let's get to the video and find out on this week's Much Abrew About Nothing

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Much Abrew: Esper Parhelion

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  • Record-wise, we came oh so close to finishing our league with the perfect 5-0 record, starting off 4-0 before dropping an absurd (and incredibly long) match 5 to Rogues in one of the wilder matches we've played in a long time. The deck felt surprisingly competitive, having the ability to play the control role while also having the Turn 4 combo kill of Greasefang, Okiba Boss and Parhelion II
  • If you look at the matchups we played, it felt like Esper Parhelion had a chance against most archetypes. We beat Ensoul Artifact Aggro, another controlling Parhelion deck, and combo-y midrange Winota twice before losing in the epic match against Rogues. 
  • Apart from the Greasefang, Okiba Boss / Parhelion II combo, the other big Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty additions to the deck are Thirst for Knowledge (which is great for setting up the combo and also just solid card draw in a deck with a bunch of artifacts), March of Otherworldly Light (basically Pioneer's Prismatic Ending with the upside of being instant speed, which was huge against Winota specifically), and Disruption Protocol (basically just Counterspell in our deck since we can tap things like Portable Hole to reduce the cost)—oh yeah, and Tezzeret, Betrayer of Flesh, which is another solid source of card advantage and a way to turn on Parhelion II if we happen to hard-cast it. While the Greasefang / Parhelion combo gets the spotlight, in reality, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty had a huge impact on our deck as a whole.
  • I mentioned earlier that we played another Parhelion II deck in our league. The most interesting part of our opponent's build is that it had Karn, the Great Creator, which might be worth considering. Not only is it another way to turn on Parhelion II (similar to Tezzeret, Betrayer of Flesh), but it can also tutor a copy from our sideboard, potentially adding some consistency. It also shuts down opposing Vehicles (and other artifacts), which was super relevant in our match, where we had our combo set up but couldn't crew Parhelion II because of Karn, the Great Creator's static ability. Could Karn be better than Tezzeret in our deck? It seems possible, although at the same time, we won the match fairly easily, even though our opponent's Karns.
  • While I liked the deck in general, there is one card I'm not fully sold on: Mech Hangar. Across our five matches, we used it to turn on Parhelion II once (against Rogues), and it snarled up our mana several times (or made us mulligan because we didn't have the proper colors of mana). The problem with Mech Hangar is that we don't often have a Vehicle on the battlefield since Greasefang, Okiba Boss makes us return the Vehicle it reanimates to hand at the end of turn, and at eight mana, hard-casting Parhelion II is unlikely (although it does happen on occasion). While a copy or two of Mech Hangar is probably fine, the cost of mostly being a colorless land was higher than I expected. Three copies might be too many considering how infrequently we actually use it to crew a Vehicle.
  • So, should you play Esper Parhelion II in Pioneer? I think the answer is clearly yes. You get the consistency and good removal of a control deck but with the fast finish of a combo deck. In some ways, I think you can compare the deck to Modern Splinter Twin, in that it's a control deck that has a Turn 4 combo finish. Combo–control has traditionally been a powerful archetype across formats, including Pioneer (see Inverter before it was banned). I wouldn't be surprised to see Esper Parhelion be a legitimate deck in the format, although it is worth keeping in mind that powerful hate cards exist that stop the combo, including things like Karn, the Great Creator (which we discussed before) and various form of graveyard hate. If the deck becomes too popular, the meta can probably adjust to shut it down, although in the meantime, the deck seems really, really strong.


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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