There are a few format-defining characteristics of Pioneer that are important to commit to memory when you’re learning the format. While the most commonly played cards are an important part of what defines what kind of format Pioneer is, elements that are common in other formats but absent in Pioneer are an equally important factor in shaping Pioneer. Pioneer is a format without fetchlands, two-mana ramp spells that tutor a land into play, cheap efficient counterspells and zero-mana interactive spells. In this environment, the pillars of Pioneer have become powerful delve spells, Thoughtseize, difficult to interact with combos and the ability to play eight one-mana Elves.
It’s been quite a while since playing a turn one mana dork was a good play in Modern and a while since a turn one mana dork was a legal play in Standard, but it’s the strongest turn one play available in Pioneer. The deck that is the best at maximizing the power of these turn one-mana elves is Mono-Green Devotion, which uses the early mana acceleration from these Elves to achieve absurd amounts of mana with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx.
Mono-Green Devotion is a deck that’s near and dear to my heart. I won an MTGO PTQ with it in 2020 and have spent a lot of time testing and exploring the archetype. Recently, the archetype has gone through a major evolution, getting access to a wild infinite combo and incredibly powerful card advantage engine.
Here’s the 75 that I’d currently recommend. Keep in mind that there’s a ton of flexibility in the way the deck can be built with different sideboard plans, main deck threats and utility lands. A lot of these choices boil down to metagame considerations and personal preference. Remember that the purpose of this guide is to introduce you to the archetype and underscore the deck’s game plans.