In one of the most exciting turn of events in recent Magic history, the Pro Tour is making its long-awaited return and the format of the first Pro Tour back is going to be Pioneer. Pioneer is a format that has been in a weird space for the last couple of years. While players were initially excited about the format when it first released, the excitement died down over time due to the combination of the format rapidly changing after each set release, a series of polarizing bans and having an unclear future with suspended paper play and WOTC seemingly prioritizing Historic over Pioneer for Arena.
That being said, this Organized Play announcement is exactly the jumpstart that Pioneer needed and many players (myself included) are finding themselves eager to jump back into the format. Over the last weekend, I spent a lot of time dipping my toes into Pioneer. The format has several established decks that seem to define that backbone of the metagame, but as far as I can tell, there is tons of room for brewing, innovation and exploration. And most importantly, the format has been fun so far.
So if you’re asking yourself, “how should I get into Pioneer?” I recommend doing what I do for any format:
- Do some research: There are lots of cool decks in Pioneer and lots of great resources to explore them. Sites like MTGGoldfish are great for looking at recent deck lists, and when you find a deck that you like you can dive deeper by looking into content covering the archetype on sites like ChannelFireball, Twitch, Twitter and YouTube.
- Start playing: After you’ve done your research and found a deck that interests you, I generally recommend starting to play as quickly as you can. I’ve found that playtesting with your friends and family using proxies, using a MTGO rental service or all-access token (when they’re available) are the best ways to jam a bunch of games.
- Evaluate: When playtesting, you need to ask yourself the following questions: am I having fun playing this deck? Am I learning to pilot this deck proficiently? And most importantly, is there a different deck I’ve played against that’s more interesting?
- Repeat until you find the deck for you: If you feel that for whatever reason the first deck you picked up isn’t right for you, I recommend starting from the drawing board with your newfound knowledge and try playing different decks until you find the one that you feel is right for you.
Best of luck exploring Pioneer and best of luck to anyone with Pro Tour aspirations. Below are some Pioneer deck lists that I like that might catch your eye:
Pioneer UW Control by Lukas261997
Pioneer Rakdos Anvil by AspiringSpike
I’ve been working on this version, but there are lots of cool variants from other talented players.
Pioneer Mono-Blue Tempo
Pioneer Five-Color Niv by claudioh
Pioneer Esper Greasefang by Todd Anderson