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Much Abrew: Spinning to Win with Velomachus in Pioneer

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. This week, we're heading to Pioneer to play one of the jankiest-looking but fastest combos in the format: Neoform Velomachus! The goal is simple: fill the graveyard over the first couple turns, play Tasigur, the Golden Fang or Hooting Mandrills on Turn 3 for one mana, immediately upgrade our delve creature into a 6/6 Velomachus Lorehold, and hopefully spin to win into a few extra-turn spells to win with Velomachus Lorehold beats! Can the plan work? Are janky graveyard fillers like Taigam's Scheming and Contingency Plan actually good? Let's get to the video and find out on this week's Much Abrew About Nothing

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Much Abrew: Neo-Machus

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  • Record-wise, the deck felt great! We finished our league 4-1, although it was slightly awkward that we played against Mono-Red Aggro three times (although we did go 2-1 in the matchup). Heading into our league, I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from Neo-Machus, but the deck proved to be incredibly consistent. Most of our wins came on Turn 3, and thanks to our janky graveyard-filling and library-stacking cards like Otherworldly Gaze, Contingency Plan, and Taigam's Scheming, it felt like we could usually find the combo pieces that we needed without a problem.
  • The plan is pretty straightforward. On Turns 1 and 2, we need to resolve Otherworldly Gaze, Contingency Plan, or Taigam's Scheming and mill at least four cards (meaning we can stack one card on the top of our deck, which is helpful for finding Neoform or a delve creature), to let us play a delve creature plus Neoform on Turn 3 and start attacking with a 6/6 Velomachus Lorehold.
  • While it might not seem like a big deal, the +1/+1 counter from Neoform is actually essential to the deck. Since Velomachus Lorehold can cast instants or sorceries with mana value equal to or less than its power, the +1/+1 counter makes the Dragon a 6/6, which lets us cast Part the Waterveil or Karn's Temporal Sundering for free to take an extra turn. During the extra turn, we get to attack again with Velomachus, hopefully hit another extra-turn spell, and do this until we win the game, which normally takes a chain of three extra-turn spells.
  • We also have three copies of Invoke Calamity in the deck, which are usually additional extra-turn spells, assuming we mill an extra-turn spell with our various Otherworldly Gaze graveyard fillers. This usually gives us a total of 10 "hits" with Velomachus when we attack (11, but we technically need an extra-turn spell in our graveyard for Invoke Calamity to work, so we can't actually have 11 hits in our deck at the same time). Assuming we still have all of the extra-turn spells in our deck, this means we have an 81% chance to hit one with Velomachus on Turn 3 to keep the chain going.
  • Really, though, the odds are even better. While our first Velomachus Lorehold attack is mostly blind luck, we can use cards like Otherworldly Gaze, Contingency Plan, and Taigam's Scheming on future turns to set up the top of our deck and help make sure that we hit an extra-turn spell with Velomachus, which makes it much harder to fizzle before we get in lethal combat damage. Oddly, Contingency Plan and friends are actually super strong and synergistic in this deck. 
  • And that is quite literally all the deck does. I guess it's technically possible that we could win by attacking with Hooting Mandrills or Tasigur, the Golden Fang, but this didn't happen during our games. The deck is sort of a weird glass-cannon combo deck but one that lines up really well with the current Pioneer format, which is really light on graveyard hate and removal that can kill Velomachus Lorehold.
  • If you decide to pick up the deck, mulligan aggressively! Ideally, we'll start with Neoform and a delve creature in hand, although keeping a hand with one combo piece and a Contingency Plan card to dig for the other is usually fine. It's also important to use mulliganning to put cards we want in our deck back into our library. We only have two copies of Velomachus Lorehold, and we need one in our deck for our Neoform win to work, so that's usually the first card to put to the bottom of the library while mulliganning. After that, the next best options are extra-turn spells, which are basically dead in our hand but essential in our library once we start attacking with Velomachus Lorehold.
  • Last but not least, we have the sideboard, which is solely dedicated to forcing through our combo. Stern Dismissal and Abrupt Decay answer graveyard hate (although a surprising number of Pioneer decks don't really play much or even any graveyard hate in their sideboards). Leyline of Sanctity stops discard like Thoughtseize and Go Blank, which is pretty popular, and Swan Song, Malevolent Hermit, and Mystical Dispute help us fight through counters against control. Since our entire main deck is combo pieces or combo support, we usually have to do a bit of trimming (cutting one copy of a card here and there) to find room for our sideboard cards.
  • So, should you play Neo-Machus in Pioneer? I think the answer is yes, at least right now. The deck felt shockingly fast, consistent and powerful, and much of the Pioneer meta seems unprepared to deal with it. It seems like an easy way to win at the moment. On the other hand, considering the deck's weakness to graveyard hate and to hard instant-speed removal, I'm not sure this will last forever. If Neo-Machus becomes a legitimate deck, the meta will adjust by playing more Rest in Peaces and Leyline of the Voids, and it will probably get a lot worse. But for the time being, the plan of janking people out with graveyard fillers, delve creatures, Neoform, and Velomachus Lorehold felt surprisingly legitimate.


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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