Updated: Nov 27, 2019
This is my fifth article for goblintraders.net, I must say it has been a blast and something I never knew I would enjoy this much. I want to thank all of you who have frequented the website and read my articles. All of us here have a lot of exciting things coming very soon. Currently I am working on video content of Arena matches and drafts so stay tuned! Until then, don’t forget to check out the Destroy Target Permanent podcast found on iTunes, Google, Spotify and the posted weekly article right here.
This coming Friday is the Goblin Traders first Pioneer tournament. What could be more exciting? Nothing I tell you, nothing!
The love and enthusiasm for this format has only increased since the inception. The recent bannings have only widened the format as well.
Let's just go ahead and get this out of the way.
This Is Ourselves…Under Pressure
While there currently isn’t an undisputed “best deck” at the moment, there is a deck that is believed to be the best deck this week.
One of the most potent combos in any format is a deck that has pressure backed up by disruption. This deck does exactly that by playing the best discard spell in Magic the Gathering; Thoughtseize. Veil of Summer being gone is a huge boon for Thoughtseize and I believe that that is a good place for a format to be. If four main deck Thoughtseize are not enough for you then you have the copies of Duress or Ravnica Allegiance’s Drill Bit in your sideboard.
This deck has one hell of a fast clock as well. Clocking in with thirteen 1-drops, including my choice for the best one in the format; Knight of the Ebon Legion. Rankle, Master of Pranks and Smuggler’s Copter provide plenty of evasive threats coupled with Copter being very resilient. Mono Black Aggro also provides you with some very “sticky” threats. Bloodsoaked Champion and Scrapheap Scrounger are able to be returned to the battlefield from the graveyard through paying a specific cost.
I don’t want to paint a picture of this deck being one that will pitter out once you make it to the late game. Trust me, that is not the case. This deck’s mana base plays one of the most underplayed cards in the format, Mutavault. The power level of this creature land should be well known by now. Castle Locthwain provides you with a form of card advatange to keep up with the more late game focused decks of the format. We also have a removal spell and threat split-card in Murderous Rider and the best removal spell in the format in Aether Revolt’s Fatal Push.
The final perk for this deck that I want to touch on is this deck’s mana base. I mean just look at it. There are no tapped lands in this deck; fifteen Swamps and an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth ensure that your Castle’s come into play untapped.
Living Tissue Over Metal Endoskeleton
So Mono-Black’s not your thing? Look no further than our robot overlords. Here we have another Smuggler’s Copter deck. What? The card is really good. There are two different paths you can take when it comes to the Ensoul Artifact decks.
First is the classic take on the deck with our old, dear friend Steam Vents.
This deck is similar to the version that existed in it’s own Standard format. A lot of the usual suspects are still the pillars of this deck such as Darksteel Citadel, Shrapnel Blast and the namesake card Ensoul Artifact.
This deck has also received some nice new toys from the sets that were not available with it in Standard. The most exciting of these is definitely Gingerbrute. This Throne of Eldraine all-star is a powerhouse in this deck. Whether your Brute is enchanted with an Ensoul Artifact or it’s picking up a Ghostfire Blade, it really packs a punch. This deck also has a lot in common with the game plan philosophies I highlighted above when discussing Mono-Black; pressure plus disruption plus card advantage. Metallic Rebuke is a fantastic and hyper efficient counter spell that you get access to in this deck and you have Stubborn Denial in the sideboard. Skilled Animator serves as Ensoul Artifact copies five through eight, ensuring that you consistently have a 5/5 to smash with. Hope of Ghirapur serves a dual roll here, providing you with a flying body that can become a 5/5 threat and is also a was to prevent your opponent from interacting on key turns. Our form of card advantage is in the form of Bomat Courier. In most games with this deck you are going to empty your hand fairly quickly so the “downside” of the cost to drawing the cards that are exiled with Bomat Courier is negligible. One thing that this version has over the later is that it has removal and "reach" through Shrapnel Blast and a variety of burn spells in your sideboard.
The Antiquities War is a very interesting card in this list. It allows you to dig for artifacts and will eventually just kill your opponent if they fail to interact with it or your artifacts.
The other path you may take with this deck is by dropping red for green and our old (new?) friends, Oko, Thief of Crowns and Gilded Goose. While I am aware of how most of you feel about his formally Standard dominating combo, Food tokens are artifacts. That’s right, that means we have free targets for our Ensoul Artifacts here.
There are the main draws to being in this version of the deck, but that’s not the only toys we have here. Once Upon A Time helps us find our creatures reliably and the much needed lands to cast our spells, plus it’s free. Shaper’s Sanctuary and Scavenging Ooze are fantastic cards for different ways your opponents may be trying to interact with you. Sanctuary keeps the cards flowing in attrition based match-ups and Ooze let’s you interacted with your opponent's graveyard and also provides a large body that can be difficult to deal with.
I honestly can’t fault anyone for going either way with this archetype. Both versions have more powerful and lasting game plans than it looks on paper. They also meet my criteria for an aggressive deck in this format, pressure plus disruption.
This Aggression Will Not Stand, Man
So why am I focusing on aggressive, proactive decks when it comes to Pioneer? The metagame for Pioneer is, and will remain, in a constant state of flux. We are currently still in the beginning of this beautiful format; this means it is extremely difficult to play a control deck or a deck that is trying to do something very specific that requires you to reach the late game.
These decks provide a quick clock backed up by disruption. I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but the logic is sound as Spock would say.
It is much better to be the one providing the threats and requiring your opponents to have the correct answers to deal with what you’re doing than to be the one that is trying to answer your opponents threats.
Believe me, there are plenty of things that I want to try out in this format; I’m looking at you Dragonlord Ojutai and Sarkhan, Fireblood. I do have faith that the metagame will settle before too much longer. Once that occurs we will be able to try out more of the late-game plans available in the format.
Join me next week as I go over some of those things that have caught my eye. Yes, you read that correctly. James is going to have some brews next week.
Enjoy the Holidays this week, stay safe, and good luck, I hope you lose.
Bonus Brawling Bonanza!
For those of you who don’t know, Brawl is a Commander variant played with only Standard legal cards. Wednesday’s are Brawl days on Magic Arena and I have to say this format is a blast to play. This is the deck that I have been playing with lately on Arena. Let me know what you guys have been playing with in Brawl. Who’s your Brawlin’ Commander?