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Pioneer's Peak: Decklist Drop!

Welcome to Pioneer's Peek if you're looking for Pioneer content from yours truly! I'll be doing gameplay content along with just random deck dumps and articles in the coming weeks as we try to figure out what to play in this new format. So far, we've got a disgusting amount of power from cards and interactions like Aetherworks Marvel, Treasure Cruise, and Felidar Guardian + Saheeli Rai so let's dig in!

What is Pioneer?

When I saw what sets were available and the starting point for this format I was worried there wouldn't be that many sets to play with as it starts at Return to Ravnica. It then dawned upon me that Return to Ravnica came out seven years ago. In my head, it felt like it was just last year! The only thing currently banned are the fetchlands from Khans of Tarkir. We already know there will be more bans coming to help fix the format, but here's a decklist dump to help people find a starting point. Another pointer is that sideboards will be a mixed bag right now as there is no 'meta'.  All these lists are theory crafts so expect numbers to change!


This is a deck is for all the Monastery Mentor lovers out there! With access to cards like Thoughtseize and Thought Erasure, we should have a ton of disruption to pick apart a ton of people's gameplan. Back that up with a bunch of cheap counterspells and Teferi, Time Raveler + Spell Queller, this should give us enough time to run wild with our Mentor. Spell Queller will probably be an important card due to the amount of Supreme Verdict and Veil of Summer that could be running around. I do worry if our deck might be too threat light as I imagine our games without Mentor will be too anemic. One of the cuts from the deck can be Smuggler's Copter, but I want to try this build first. I just thought it'd be fun to have the looter scooter in here as it helps us go through our deck and can also trigger Mentor!

Not a fan of Esper Mentor? Looking to get some bigger bodies? How about a blast from standard's past in Esper Dragons!

I would love to see the return of Dragons as I already tried to force Dragonlord Ojutai in Modern. Silumgar's Scorn can be a Counterspell but sometimes a Force Spike can be good enough. The difference from when Dragons was in standard is that we now have access to Thoughtseize and even better ways to disrupt our opponents. The format may move at a speed where tapping out for a dragon could kill us but if it were to work, I'd start somewhere with this list.

How about just pure Esper Control?

This will be the hardest list to build at the launch of the format as we don't really know what we're controlling. I am assuming there will be some amount of Cat Combo, Collected Company, Burn, and Aetherworks Marvel but the nice thing about this deck is that we have Jace, Architect of Thought to help delay the cat combo and Teferi, Time Raveler to shut off Aetherworks Marvel.  Just like Modern, I have to respect that there will be some kind of graveyard based deck so maybe Kaya, Orzhov Usurper can help but if the format ends up requiring more, we can play something like my Mentor list and add more Leyline of the Void. Another thing about my sideboard is that I am using Blind Obedience as I am not sure how important it is but having Artifacts enter tapped could be big and being able to extort is cool. If that artifact clause isn't relevant, I would just move to Authority of Consuls.

Lets move out of the realm of Esper and onto Grixis!

It wouldn't be me if I didn't make a few Grixis decks. I can't help but feel like Fires of Invention has what it takes to make it into Pioneer. This shell leans closer to its standard variant but to keep up with the format, I've made the deck entirely loaded with answers and our win conditions will mostly be out of the sideboard. I'm a fan of Grixis as we get access to a versatile answer like Bedevil which could matter as we don't have many ways to interact with Aetherworks Marvel. If this is too slow, then we do have another Grixis List!

If Young Pyromancer were to work in this format, I definitely like Grixis as the ability to play it with Jace, Vryn's Prodigy is too appealing. I feel like these two are a match made in heaven with Grixis combined with all the wonderful cheap spells we have in Thoughtseize, Thought Erasure, Opt, and Stubborn Denial. Wait a minute, Stubborn Denial!? That's right! I plan on trying the delve package by including Tasigur, the Golden Fang. Though we don't have Thought Scour, we can try to fill our yard up with cards like Discovery // Dispersal. Chart a Course is a card that feels amazing here since Chart gives us the flexibility to discard or be a spell that just draws two. A drawback for this deck is that we are running a ton of Delve spells and maybe we're taxing our own graveyard too much as we don't have fetch lands outside of Fabled Passage and Evolving Wilds, so maybe we can cut part of the delve package at some point. Witch's Vengeance out of the sideboard here seems important as we want to board wipe without ever hitting our own creatures but that could change depending on how the meta shapes up. Lastly, I had to throw Rakdos Charm in here for all the potential artifacts and as a way to potentially kill the unaware Felidar Guardian player.

But Crim, what about decks that are less Dimir based?

Naturally, I would have to see what Aetherworks Marvel can do. This is a deck that will have a target on its head going into week one but if I were to try this list, I would love to add Karn, the Great Creator. In this format, we don't get to Mycosynth Lattice lock people but there are still applications as it can shut down opposing Aetherworks Marvel while also helping to provide us with a main deck way to find graveyard hate in Tormod's Crypt or maybe protect our face from burn with Orbs of Warding. I'm not entirely sure if having an Aetherworks Marvel in the sideboard is the way to go but I like being able to have a way to tutor for one and Karn does that if we put it in the sideboard. Even better, Karn can pull a Marvel out of exile in the event anything were to happen to us like an Unmoored Ego. I also really like cards like Fabled Passage here as it helps us get more energy for our Marvels! I don't really know what else we can do to play around hate but we'll just have to adapt as the format moves forward or Marvel gets banned!

A deck that you can almost port over from Modern is Hardened Scales!

Yes, I'm aware we don't have Arcbound Ravager but there are a ton of things we can still do. I understand that a chunk of the power came from being able to kill opponents out of nowhere with some combination of Ravager + Inkmoth Nexus. Ancient Stirrings will be the thing the deck misses most but I'm trying Once Upon a Time in its place. I know that's not the same but free spells can be sweet. I think we're definitely being a bit cute with our singletons in Simic Ascendancy and Evolution Sage but I'd like to see if they can help push the deck's ability to produce more +1/+1 counters. I guess Simic Ascendancy can give us a random way to win out of nowhere (this is sort of sarcasm). Lastly, with all the +1/+1 counters we'll be firing off, opposing Oko, Thief of Crownss will have a lot on their hands. Speaking of Oko, Thief of Crowns, we would also play a few copies ourselves! The card is absolutely bonkers so naturally, we'd try it here.

The last list I worked on is a bit more spooky. It's spirits!

Yeah, I know that we don't have Aether Vial and Noble Hierarch but I think the inclusion of Gilded Goose and Oko, Thief of Crowns can make some moves. Collected Company seems like a powerhouse in this format especially when you can hit cards like Spell Queller, Reflector Mage, and Thalia, Heretic Cathar post board. Maybe there are better shells for Collected Company but I really like spirits so I'm going to start here.  


It's a bummer that we won't get to see any of this happen on MTG Arena but I am excited to play the format especially when there's so much support for it. There are so many decks we can build and so many things that will probably slip under all of our radars. Just remember, right now is the best time to brew as nothing is banned outside of a few lands!

Thanks for reading!

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-Your Friendly Neighborhood AsianAvenger

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