A Wacky New World: Having Fun with Pioneer
- Samuel Šulovský
The new Pioneer format is the ideal setting for wild experiments. While the metagame shifts and the ban list grows, brews will usually stay out of harm's way. Look here for decks that are perfect to bring to FNM and to have some fun with, even if they may not prove competitive at the highest level.
I love brewing janky decks. Whenever I see an oddly specific card, I always wonder what R&D was thinking when designing the card. I love creating decks that make people laugh, or shake their head, something you can bring to FNM for a fun evening. I have been making silly decks in every format under the sun, but so far, Pioneer has been the most inviting for these endeavors. Since the format is so new, the chances of you playing a specific matchups is quite low, especially when playing online. So please join me as I show you some decks that I've brewed up for Pioneer.
Swimming Against the Current
Playing jank invariably means fighting a losing battle. The metagame is always defined by the decks that are the best and most consistent at doing what they do, whether that be a combo, or just very efficient aggro or control. Fun brews don't fit this description, of course. The decks I'll be going over in this article all fall short in one regard or another. They may lose to a well timed counterspell, removal, or an enemy simply too fast for us to pull off what we're trying to do.
The decklists I provide are not optimal by far. I usually build decks with respect to cards I myself own, or can get my hands on easily. If you want to take any of these decks for a spin, make as many changes as you want! There are likely better ways of achieving any given goal. I will also not include sideboards here, because, at this level, they should be tailored to your expected metagame.
I tried to keep most of these decks on the cheap end. They usually come out to only about €20 excluding lands. Mana bases make up much of the cost of a few of these decks, because I use the most optimal lands — mostly shocks and pain lands. If you want to try these decks out, feel free to substitute with cheaper dual lands. Now, let's have some fun!
Deck Idea #1: Monogreen Jodah
Alright, I know this sounds ridiculous, but let me explain. This deck revolves heavily around its namesake card Jodah, Archmage Eternal who allows us to pay one mana of each color instead of paying the mana costs of our spells. We rely on green's cheap ramp in Llanowar Elves and Elvish Mystic in conjunction with Chromatic Lantern and Cascading Cataracts to filter our mana. Then we cast our powerful finisher cards for 5, instead of their true costs.
The most important of our finisher cards is Apex of Power, a completely forgotten card from Core Set 2019 that lets us dig deeper into our deck. However, it has one clause in particular that interests us; "If this spell was cast from your hand, add ten mana of any one color. " This mana we will be using to dig, or filter with our Cataracts to cast our real finishers – fatties and Goblin Bushwhacker. Anti-climactic? Maybe. Fun? Very.
Deck Idea #2: Red-White Auras
I have to admit, I have a soft spot for Equipment and Auras. I really like the mental image of a creature carrying three swords and wearing two helmets at once. I based this deck on a very interesting budget build I saw online and I have to credit the author, 5dollarMTG, for the idea. This deck revolves around two cards from Dominaria, Champion of the Flame and Valduk, Keeper of the Flame. Our goal is to get a creature to stick, put all of our Equipment and Auras on it and swing for lethal damage in one go. We accomplish this by playing a lot of cheap equipment, such as Bone Saw and Auras to boot.
Traditionally, Aura-based decks would opt to put their enchantments on a creature that is hard to interact with, such as a creature with hexproof. Since we have no such opportunity with our creatures, we go for the next best thing — giving our creatures protection through instants. These effects are found in white, with the cards like Gods Willing and Center Soul, and since the splash is quite minor, a few dual lands suffice to make it possible.
Probably one of my favorite cards in the deck and one that certainly makes the white splash valuable too is All That Glitters, which pumps our creature to incredible heights while playing into our game plan. An alternate way of closing out the game is Fling, which can even be fired off in response to a removal spell. If you're a fan of aggressive decks, this one is a lot of fun to play and if you already have the dual lands, most of the cards don't cost more than a few cents, so you can give it a shot at almost no cost at all.
Deck Idea #3: Stockpile/Response
So far, the decks I have listed are funny in an explosive way. The following is more the type of deck that shows a pretty nice interaction between a couple of cards. The main goal is to keep churning out tokens and sacrificing them for value and eventually draining our opponent out with Cruel Celebrant. We go about doing this by exploiting First Response and Hidden Stockpile. These two cards create tokens at the beginning and end of our turn respectively.
Hidden Stockpile is the most easily abusable, since it has this built-in mechanism that lets us benefit from it. First Response is a bit more difficult to get going; however, Dreadhorde Invasion is the perfect tool for the job. It creates a token to sacrifice with Hidden Stockpile to get that engine online, as well as guaranteeing us a token on our opponent's turn via First Response. During said turn, we can tap Cryptolith Fragment / Aurora of Emrakul for mana to cast one of our instants and then First Response creates a token on our turn too. We can also tap it just for the life loss, since we will be gaining the life back from our payoff cards anyway. Once we get the ball rolling with this deck, it is very hard to stop!
Deck Idea #4: Monobrown Traxos Vehicles
This one is far from optimal; I'll admit that it's mostly a proof of concept that colorless decks can exist in Pioneer. A common theme of the decks I've shown here is the focus on one card or a few cards. This deck revolves heavily around Traxos, Scourge of Kroog. A 7/7 for 4 is very much above average and all our Vehicles will untap it before coming down, meaning it can tap to crew them right away and allow Steel Overseer to place a +1/+1 counter on them. Our deck runs a lot of cheap Vehicles with relatively high crew costs intended to balance out their low costs. However, Traxos gives us a cheap way of crewing them. What's more, crewing multiple vehicles a turn is also possible by untapping Traxos when we cast historic spells or through the use of Manifold Key. With these Vehicles, we can easily attack for a lot of damage quickly.
I have had a lot of fun with the mana base, as you can see. Since we don't need to meet any color requirements, we can play a lot of utility lands that don't normally see play. Nephalia Academy is my personal favorite — turn 1 Thoughtseize? I think not! The biggest problem with this deck lies in the overreliance on Traxis. Adding a color might improve it drastically. For example, blue could smooth out our draws and allows Ensoul Artifact to turn some of our non-Vehicles into artifact creatures. Casting Ensoul Artifact on Darksteel Citadel is a very enjoyable thing to do.
|Monobrown Traxos Vehicles|
Pioneer is still very fresh on many people's minds and is also a very nice way of introducing new players to Magic. If you want to get someone acquainted with the joy of Magic, why not show them one of these decks? Their power and difficulty levels are relatively low and they can serve as nice entry point at a cheap cost. Pioneer is also a nonrotating format, meaning you can always pick these decks up and will never have to worry about legality. If you have any janky ideas you think are worth sharing, please do share them! I love crafting up these kinds of decks and they account for a lot of the fun I have playing Magic.
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