Friday, 01 November 2019 15:15

Thinking about Pioneer? Check out these deck ideas!

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Thinking about Pioneer?  Check out these deck ideas! WOTC/MAGIC UNTAPPED

Are you as buzzed as we are about Pioneer, the new Magic: The Gathering format that was recently announced by Wizards of the Coast?

Well, regardless if you're excited, curious, or even just mildly interested in it, odds are you're going to be building at least one deck to give the format a go.  To that end, we're supplying you with deck lists to three Pioneer decks that were inspired by once-powerful Standard decks of their time.  These decks, of course, have been tweaked to allow for the larger card pool that Pioneer allows.

Take a look:

Eldrazi Ramp ($288)

Creatures (20)

2 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

2 World Breaker

4 Eldrazi Mimic

4 Matter Reshaper

4 Oblivion Sower

4 Arboreal Grazer


Instants/Sorceries (10)

4 Sylvan Scrying

1 Abrupt Decay

2 Explosive Vegetation

Once Upon A Time

1 Kozilek’s Return


Planeswalkers (2)

2 Ugin, the Ineffable


Artifact (2)

2 Hedron Archive

Lands (24)

6 Forest

1 Swamp

1 Mountain

2 Llanowar Wastes

2 Cinder Glade

4 Shrine of the Forgotten Gods

1 Blighted Woodland

1 Blighted Fen

2 Sanctum of Ugin

2 Fabled Passage

2 Field of Ruin


Sideboard (15)

3 Abrupt Decay

2 Gaea’s Blessing

3 Return to Nature

2 Kozilek’s Return

3 Veil of Summer

2 Sorcerous Spyglass

One of the top decks during Oath of the Gatewatch standard was Eldrazi Ramp (though it was often overshadowed by Collective Company/Flip Jace decks). The concept was simple -- ramp up the mana and spot-remove small threats in the early game to allow for an early, hard-hitting Eldrazi titan in the mid-game. In Standard, Eldrazi Ramp typically ran a R/G shell. In Pioneer, we’re envisioning Jund (B/R/G).

Despite its three-color build, the deck is largely green with cards like Once Upon A Time, Sylvan Scrying, and Explosive Vegetation at one’s disposal to swiftly build up a good mana base. There’s also the green creatures Arboreal Grazer for the early game, as well as World Breaker for late.

Red and black are more like spash colors in the main deck with black showing up in Abrupt Decay and Blighted Fen and red being reserved for the Eldrazi Ramp’s maindeck board wipe, Kozilek’s Return.

The rest of the deck leans heavily colorless with cards like Eldrazi Mimic, Matter Reshaper, and the land-stealing Oblivion Sower. Oh, and the big, heavy-hitting Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger as the deck’s big bomb. For colorless support, the deck has Hedron Archive for mana and/or card draw, Sanctum of Ugin, and Shrine of the Forgotten Gods. Ugin, the Ineffable, also plays an important role by discounting the Eldrazi (which pairs super well with the deck’s natural ramp), allowing a secondary “go wide” strategy with his +1 ability, and providing additional spot removal with his -3.

While we expect Pioneer to be a very fast format in its early days, this updated version of Eldrazi Ramp should still be able to keep pace well enough. Once the format matures and WotC begins to curate a format-appropriate ban list, the deck should only grow stronger over time.

Cavalcade Aggro ($78)

Creatures (18)

4 Monastery Swiftspear

4 Soul-Scar Mage

2 Bomat Courier

4 Chandra’s Spitfire

4 Fanatical Firebrand


Instants/Sorceries (14)

4 Shock

4 Light Up The Stage

4 Fiery Temper

2 Collective Defiance


Enchantments (6)

4 Cavalcade of Calamity

2 The Flame of Keld

Lands (22)

16 Mountain

4 Ramunap Ruins

2 Dwarven Mine


Sideboard (15)

3 Tormod’s Crypt

2 Sorcerous Spyglass

4 Exquisite Firecraft

2 Seismic Shift

2 Chandra’s Defeat

2 Goblin Chainwhirler

 It’s one of the most popular decks in Standard right now that doesn’t have anything to do with Elks. Powered by the enchantment Cavalcade of Calamity, this mono-red deck is fast, low to the ground, and relies on damage per second as opposed to overall damage per hit.

The Pioneer version of this deck is a blend of Amonkhet-era Red Deck Wins and the current Cavalcade builds that are prevalent on Magic Arena and at LGSs. While staying true to the one-power creatures paired with the enchantment to get as many one-damage attack triggers as possible, Cavalcade Aggro includes the likes of the creature-weakening Soul-Scar Mage, the hand-refilling Bomat Courier, and the ultra-aggressive prowess card Monastery Swiftspear. Throw in the RDW staple Ramunap Ruins, and you have a pretty good core to a very fast and aggressive deck.

Spell-wise, you’re looking at the ultra-versatile Collective Defiance along with Shock (in the Pioneer absence of Lightning Bolt) and Fiery Temper, a card that has great synergy with The Flame of Keld. Not to mention that The Flame of Keld also bumps one’s Cavalcade triggers from one to three damage a pop. Not too shabby. 

Boros Benalia ($149)

Creatures (14)

2 Knight of Grace

2 Dauntless Bodyguard

2 Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice

1 Tajic, Legion’s Edge

2 Swiftblade Vindicator

1 Firesong and Sunspeaker

4 Benalish Marshal


Instants/Sorceries (15)

3 Shock

1 Lava Coil

1 Response // Resurgence

2 Deafening Clarion

1 Chance for Glory

1 Heroic Reinforcements

2 Conclave Tribunal

4 Boros Charm

Planeswalkers (2)

2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar


Enchantments (4)

4 History of Benalia


Lands (25)

10 Plains

6 Mountain

4 Clifftop Retreat

4 Sacred Foundry

1 Needle Spires


Sideboard (15)

2 Knight of Grace

2 Shalai, Voice of Plenty

2 Hushbringer

2 Remorseful Cleric

2 Settle the Wreckage

3 Lava Coil

2 Sorcerous Spyglass


White and Boros Weeny decks were rather popular during Dominaria-era Standard.  We took what we felt were the best parts of those rather popular and powerful decks and paired them with cards that were absent in Standard at the time to create what we feel to be a Pioneer worthy product.

With this deck, it’s all about getting bodies on the board and going as wide as possible for the win, using a handful of tricks and buffs to get the job done.  The boots on the ground here are highlighted by the anti-black Knight of Grace, the double-striking Swiftblade Vindicator, and the creature-saving Dauntless Bodyguard.  The next step up (the field generals, if you will) feature Tajic, Legion’s Edge, Benalish Marshal, and Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice.  These creatures buff and offer additional support to the grunts.  And, finally, there’s Firesong and Sunspeaker as the wildcard, offering extra oomph to the deck’s spells and keeping the player alive if things get tough.

Looking non-creature (but creature-focused), the deck gets a major boost by the saga card History of Benalia by pumping out, then pumping up knights.  The planeswalker Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, also provides a great deal of assistance by providing players with additional knight tokens, as well as being an indestructible 5/5 beater and providing a nice buff board-wise for the player.  There’s also the spell Heroic Reinforcements to provide both additional creatures and a temporary creature buff to boot.

For additional support and aggression, the deck runs some direct damage with the likes of Shock, Lava Coil, and Boros Charm.  There’s also Deafening Clarion if things get out of hand.  Conclave Tribunal also provides spot permanent removal (bye-bye, Oko) and Chance of Glory lets you get that one final knockout swing in against your opponent’s glass jaw.

So, are you excited about Pioneer?  Are you considering building one of the above decks?  Perhaps you're looking to brew up your own original build?  Let us know your plans and your thoughts on the format in the comments below!