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Pioneers in a Brave New World

We have just seen Mythic Championship V as well as the Banned and Restricted announcement on 10/21/19.

The results: Javier Dominguez is your MCV Champion with Gruul Aggro.

The bans: Field of the Dead is banned in Standard and Arcum's Astrolabe is banned in Pauper. Can you really argue with this though? I guess you can since we are now apparently living in Magic: the Okoing land.

That's not what I want to discuss this week, I want to focus on this HUGE announcement!

A brand new format ripe and ready for exploration! Why a new format and why now? The short answer is that Magic is many things to many different people. I have always believed that Magic the Gathering is a game that is played dozens of different ways, and this is a new way for us to enjoy the game we all love. In addition, I have not been this excited for a new format in my history of playing Magic. This includes Modern, which was unveiled in 2009. Modern was coined as being the place to play you favorite decks and cards that rotated out of Standard. Let's be real here, that was never the case nor was it ever going to be the reality of the format. Okay, I can't take it anymore! Let's get into it!

Bans?...We Don't Need No Stinking Bans.

Firstly I felt it was important to start here. This way I don't have anyone asking, "Why don't you have card A?" or "If you do this thing it will be better." Secondly...yes we do. We do need bans. I really like where WOTC has decided to start with this format. At Modern's inception it had a banlist 21 cards deep, many of which have since have been unbanned. I want to talk about the philosophy on bans that Aaron Forsythe has already touched on in his post on Twitter.

There is a very real possibility for Pioneer to come out of the gates as a degenerate format. I would like to applaud Wizards of the Coast for being upfront about this. This philosophy being out in the open and known let anyone interested in the format know what could happen with that cards and decks in the format.

A Whole New World

As you can see in the image above, the format begins in Return to Ravnica and continues to the present. This give access to a host of powerful combinations as well as individual cards. Some of these combos are much more powerful than others and that is where we're going to start. Keep in mind that the following decklists are only my first pass at the format and they have yet to be tested. The sideboards are constructed based on what I imagine will be in the format.

Everyone's favorite energy consuming machine! Let's start with a one of the two decks that I believe will be dominate in the early days of the format, Aetherworks Marvel. This is a combo deck that wants to land the namesake card, Aetherworks Marvel, and play six energy to spin the wheel. Primarily you want to hit one of your Eldrazi titans, Emrakul or Ulamog, or Ugin and wreak havoc. The deck is packed full of energy producing spells and artifacts.

Some powerhouse toys that this deck has a chance to play with that where not available in this particular standard format are Dig Through Time, Opt and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. All powerful inclusions to give this deck a robust game plan.

Here kitty, kitty, kitty. Here kitty, kitty, kitty.

The most recent iteration of a two-card combo in Standard was the planeswalker Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian during Kaladesh/Aether Revolt Standard. How it works is have both cards on the battlefield and use Saheeli's +1 ability targeting Feldidar Guardian; the copy of Guardian enters the battlefield and exiles Saheeli and returns it to the battlefield. This is known as "blinking" in Magic lingo. The game sees Saheeli as a new permanent and you are able to activate her again. Rinse and repeat until you have a army of haste-y cats.

This archetype, not this decklist specifically, is my front runner for the best deck in the format. A control deck with a combo finish, and we get to play with both Teferi's and Narset.

UPDATE: R.I.P. (see below update)

Combo or control not your thing? Look no further than this fine midrange deck!

Who doesn't like killing your opponents creatures and smash them with you own? No one that's who! Whether it's grinding out your opponent with the value from Courser of Kruphix and Tireless Tracker or creating walls of creatures with Ishkana, Grafwidow or Liliana, the Last Hope; this deck has an answer for anything. Of course, let's not forget such utility cards as Thoughtseize and Traverse the Ulvenwald. These cards allow you to tear apart your opponents game plan and let you find that missing piece for your own plan.

The aggro section of Pioneer also has much to offer the aggressive magician deep inside all of us. Bomat Courier may be one of the greatest 1-drops ever printed and it still shines in this list. This lists also get to take advantage of some fantastic spells in the 2-drop slot such as Smuggler's Copter, Atarka's Command and Burning-Tree Emissary...into Burning-Tree Emissary. Let's be honest, they always have at least two of them to chain together. The name of the game here is to get out as many creatures as possible and follow them up with a Reckless Bushwacker, or an activation of Castle Embereth, to push through the last bit of damage.

"This Is the Moment We've Waited For"

We are at the gateway of a new and exciting chapter in Magic's long history. As I type this the lists you have seen in this article have already went through many changes and innovations already. We have the first B&R announcement coming up for Pioneer; I would expect there to be no changes to the format at this point. If I had to choose something a card that has stood out to me as too good, it would would be Nythos, Shrine to Nyx. The rare land from the original Theros block has the ability to produce an enormous amount of mana, especially in Mono-Green decks featuring Leyline of Abundance and Burning-Tree Emissary. Regardless, I believe it is too early to make any judgement on the health of the format (which looks insanely healthy).

UPDATE: Well this didn't age well. The B&R announcement was just releases (11/4/19) and the results are the following. Felidar Guardian, Leyline of Abundance and Oath of Nissa are banned in Pioneer.

"Show Me What You Got!"

All of the endless possibilities (Possibility Storm?) in this format have given it so much hype and excitement for a player base that is in great need of it, given the state of standard. I'm excited, I know you're excited. Let me know in the comments below what cards or decks you are looking to try out first!

"It Really Tied the Room Together."

Is this the format that we've all been waiting for? Is Pioneer going to be what everyone believed Modern was suppose to be? It seems to be so, and I'm excited to find out if this opinion holds true in the coming months. While my focus is to do what I can to give myself the best chance of winning, I am looking forward to trying out different strategies in Pioneer.

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