Who are the Winners and Losers of the Pioneer Bans?

This week, Pioneer got a big shake up in the form of some Pioneer bans – Winota, Joiner of Forces and Expressive Iteration have been kicked out of the format. These were two of the big pillars of the format and their departure is going to open up a massive power vacuum for creature based aggro decks and spell-based decks. 



Header - Winota

Winota, Joiner of Forces

Ever since Midnight Hunt introduced Tovolar’s Huntmaster, this has been one of the top decks of the format. Huntmaster gave you a big card to hit off Winota that was solid to hardcast as well. Previously, you were forced to double splash Agent of Treachery, or play Angrath’s Marauders. Marauder’s didn’t really stabilize you the same way Huntmaster does. Huntmaster being a Human and making two non-Humans made it an okay enabler as well as a good payoff.

Winota placed a lot of constraints on the format. In order to prevent Winota from triggering, you have to leave up mana to remove it before they can go to attackers. Right out of the gate, all sorcery speed removal isn’t doing anything. Because Winota has four toughness, most burn spells aren’t going to work either. Because revolt is so difficult to enable in Pioneer due to the lack of fetchlands, Fatal Push also takes some setup to remove the Joiner of Forces. Even if you are a deck that can answer Winota, your opponent might have a Voice of Resurgence to punish you for casting a spell on their turn, or a Selfless Spirit to protect Winota. It’s a real cost to leave up mana every turn to respect the possibility of them trying to “go for it.” If you keep up removal spells the whole game, you might just lose to them getting value off of Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and Esika’s Chariot. If you slow the game down, you give them time to just hardcast their Kenrith, the Returned King and Huntmasters. The cards that people sideboarded in, like Rending Volley and Redcap Melee don’t answer these big Humans.

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