17, Nov, 21

10 Best MTG Pioneer Cards From Innistrad: Crimson Vow

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Crimson Vow offers a swath of reprintes which will look to shake up the Pioneer format.
Article at a Glance

Innistrad: Crimson Vow previews are done and it’s going to offer a lot for the Pioneer format. With reprints and tribes heavily supported, there’s a lot to like about the Vampire-focused set.

If you missed out on the recent previews, we have a dedicated spoiler gallery to get you up to speed! With that, let’s look at some of the best cards from Innistrad: Crimson Vow for Pioneer.

Deathcap Glade, Sundown Pass, Stormcarved Coast, Shattered Sanctum, and Dreamroot Cascade

Continuing from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, these will see play in Pioneer for any strategy that can afford to have lands come in tapped early on. Expect Control and Midrange archetypes to run a few of these in their lists but it creates tension with the Triomes, since these can be cycled away.

However, the Pioneer mana base is currently unbalanced. You have more enemy-colored lands available compared to allied ones, so these may see less play compared to the others. However, it’s nice to see the complete cycle of lands available for Pioneer usage, as this is a common criticism of the format at present.

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Hullbreaker Horror

Indomitable Creativity is seeing frequent play in Modern for its combo potential. The reason we haven’t seen similar in Pioneer is the payoffs aren’t as good, however, Hullbreaker Horror could change that upon release. The Kraken comes with an ability that converts spells into Unsubstantiate, which is an incredible tempo swing in your favor. Even outside of combo, the card is an impressive Control finisher that can break parity in the mirrors.

Even without the sorcery, Hullbreaker Horror can win games independently especially as Pioneer has plenty of low mana value cantrips on offer. If you want to get spicy with your Lotus Combo lists, running a copy of this in the sideboard could be fun but isn’t required.

Read More: 10 Best Standard MTG Cards from Innistrad: Crimson Vow

Stormchaser Drake

Stormchaser Drake could bolster fringe strategies in Pioneer. For two mana, you get a Drake that can draw cards if you target the creature with a spell. Mono-Blue Tempo sees some play in Pioneer and Stormchaser Drake could slot right in with ease. By using cards such as Dive Down and Curious Obsession, you have a bunch of ways to draw cards as you are rewarded for protecting the creature.

Even then, you could see a riff on Auras falling into Azorius colors for Stormchaser Drake. With cards such as Staggering Insight and other auras you see in Orzhov Auras, you could create a fun tempo take on the archetype. Not to mention, the Drake immediately falls into Izzet prowess strategies as you have so many spells.

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Dread Fugue

Perhaps a little cumbersome, but Dread Fugue could be Pioneer’s version of Inquisition of Kozilek. The card does a lot for one mana, it allows you to remove tricky Burn creatures and spells as Thoughtseize isn’t good in the matchup. Even with the Cleave cost, you never lose the usefulness of Dread Fugue as you can remove any non-land card from your opponents’ hand.

Expect to see the sorcery in sideboards especially in Mono-Black Aggro, Mono-Black Vampires, and Dimir Control. It’s not a gamechanger by any means, but will give you an option for efficient discard if required. The fact the card doesn’t exile the discarded card upon resolution is a big deal here, and would much more play otherwise.

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Avabruck Caretaker / Hollowhenge Huntmaster

When any Mythic Human is printed in a new set, Winota players often ask if the creature is good to slide into the strategy. With Avabruck Caretaker, the answer is yes.

A creature with Hexproof that if transformed, puts two +1/+1 counters on all your creatures while offering Hexproof is a powerful way to win a game of MTG. However, you’ll probably want to run a one-off in Winota since you have so many good Humans already – with Tovolar’s Huntmaster being a recent addition. Either way, it’s a good headache to have and allows you to diversify your lists depending on your local metagame.

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Headless Rider

Crimson Vow brought plenty of tribes outside of Vampires with Zombies receiving some attention. Out of the bunch, but Headless Rider offers the most potential for Pioneer.

Rally Zombies is on the fringe of the Pioneer metagame which is able to take down Challenges. With Headless Rider, it gives the strategy a powerful angle of attack since you’ll have more death triggers. Alternatively, you can create a huge board of Zombies along with Rally the Ancestors, and a sacrifice outlet. Otherwise, the card could see play in dedicated tribal Zombie lists as it replaces your threats with token creatures of the same typing.

Read More: MTG Innistrad Crimson Vow: Pre-Orders, Where to Buy, Commander Decks & More

Geistlight Snare

Similar to Mana Leak, Geistlight Snare can counter any spell unless your opponent pays three mana to cast the spell. Expect to see the card crop up in Azorius and Bant Spirits since the discount is easy to achieve. Also, this is the closest Pioneer will likely get to having Mana Leak in the format, so expect Spirits to take full advantage of this.

It won’t be an immediate four of in these lists, but a couple to leverage against troublesome match-ups. At worst, Geistlight Snare will offer an excellent tool in the Spirits arsenal which is always needed.

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Cemetery Illuminator

With the continued support of Spirits, Cemetery Illuminator looks to offer a lot for the Pioneer archetype. For three mana, you get a Spirit that can exile cards from the graveyard on attack or when entering play. Then, you can cast cards from the top of your library that shares the same card type. It offers the ability to look at the top of your library too, which allows you to prepare for future turns. It’s a lot of text for three mana, which also makes for an excellent Collected Company target in Bant Spirits.

The only issue is that it creates tension with staples such as Empyrean Eagle, Spell Queller, and Skyclave Apparition for the three mana slot.Tailoring the list for the mythic Spirit may be difficult, but a one-off may be enough to get things going.

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Flame-Blessed Bolt

Magma Spray sees heavy play in the format because it handles cards such as Arclight Phoenix with ease. Also, it can be used against Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger since you can cast the instant when the creature enters play, when sacrificed, the Elder Giant will go into exile.

Then, Magma Spray offers an answer to Lurrus of the Dream-Den which sees regular play in the format. Flame-Blessed Bolt is an upgrade on Magma Spray since it can target Planeswalkers too, so expect this card to be an immediate replacement on Magma Spray. If you’re cracking Crimson Vow packs on release day, keep a playset of these aside as they will become a Pioneer staple upon release.

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Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is a Modern and Legacy staple as it’s one of the best taxing effects ever printed. Simply because it punishes strategies that are heavy on spells which is common in Pioneer. Strategies such as Izzet Phoenix, Control, Burn, Lotus Combo, and Rakdos Pyromancer abuse noncreature spells in a big way, and they’ll have to figure out a way to deal with Thalia soon.

Orzhov Humans, Winota, Mono-White Humans, and Bant Spirits are all interested in accommodating the card. Both Mono-White and Orzhov Humans are fringe decks that win the odd Pioneer challenge on occasion, however, that could become regular with the introduction of Thalia into Pioneer. Admittedly, there are various and cheap ways to deal with the Human Soldier but expect to see Thalia make waves in Pioneer upon release.

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