MTG’s Murders at Karlov Manor has its prerelease this upcoming weekend. For all intents and purposes, thanks to recent changes to prerelease legality, this means that Murders at Karlov Manor is tournament legal this coming Friday.
While Murders at Karlov Manor is sure to stir up the Standard format, and offers some powerful alternatives for Commander players, even Pioneer looks to get some serious shake-ups thanks to Magic’s unique murder mystery. If you’re looking to play some Pioneer, or even want to keep up with the likely developments that Murders at Karlov Manor will cause for its Pioneer Pro Tour, here are the cards most likely to shake up the Pioneer format!
Honorable Mention: Leyline of the Guildpact
Leyline of the Guildpact is really difficult to assess because this card is either going to do absolutely nothing, or warp the format in a big way. Leyline of the Guildpact is an incredibly powerful way to start the game in a focused strategy, but quickly turns into one of the worst draws in your deck if you do not start with it. Frankly, this is the case for most of the MTG Leylines.
Leyline of the Guildpact could be good enough to kickstart a deck that we aren’t aware of yet. It could also be good enough to but Mono-Green Nykthos back on the map by plopping four Devotion into your lap at the beginning of the game. Leyline of the Guildpact could also do absolutely nothing. Hence, it’s an honorable mention.
If you want my opinion, this card isn’t going to do anything, but I’m perfectly happy to be proven wrong.
#5 Break Out
Is Break Out going to break out in the Pioneer format? It certainly has the potential to do so! Like another card on our list, Break Out is theoretically the perfect card for an existing Pioneer archetype. The only problem lies in its mana value.
If someone can make it work, Break Out is absolutely absurd, at least in theory, in Amalia Combo. Getting to dig six cards deep for a combo piece and give your Amalia Haste to end the game on the spot is huge. The issue? That deck is already Abzan in its colors, and Break Out has red in it. You can use cards like Mana Confluence to try and smooth this over, but Break Out’s benefits may not be worth the problematic mana base.
Another potential question mark regarding break Out in Amalia Combo is if this ups the density of noncreature spells to unhealthy amounts. That deck already runs Collected Company and Chord of Calling. Another noncreature inclusion could make the hit rates of Break Out and Collected Company dubious.
Otherwise, Break Out could see play in a deck like Rona Combo – theoretically. Rona Combo may have to up the number of targets for Break Out to do its best work, but it certainly seems like a snugger inclusion in that strategy.
#4 Lightning Helix
One of Magic’s oldest memes is back in Murders at Karlov Manor. Lightning Helix is not only Standard legal, but is coming to Pioneer for the first time!
Burn has always been a borderline viable archetype in Pioneer. In fact, the deck has breakout performances at larger online tournaments somewhat frequently, taking players by surprise. Burn is generally mono-red at this point, but Lightning Helix is a huge incentive to turn the archetype into its Boros Modern cousin.
Another Boros payoff already available in the Modern format is Boros Charm. This is a very popular card in Modern Burn, able to deal four damage straight to the face. The Charm’s other modes are sometimes strong as well, but more often than not, you’re playing Boros Charm to throw four damage straight to the face.
Lightning Helix could make Boros Burn a heck of a lot more viable, and could otherwise be an interesting card in some other existing strategies like Boros Convoke.
#3 Thraben Inspector 2.0
Novice Inspector is yet another card that will definitely make an impact on Pioneer. The question is whether or not that impact will be significant enough to cause a shift in the format.
Boros Convoke has dropped off in results lately, and that is the deck that benefits from Novice Inspector the most. This makes your blazingly fast starts even more consistent by giving more targets for your Gleeful Demolition to create Convoke minions off. Sadly, even though this is the case, Amalia Combo may remain the stronger option for players who want to take this approach. Either way, Novice Inspector does promise a meaningful upgrade to an existing archetype, so ignoring it is probably a mistake.
#2 Archdruid’s Charm
I should state when talking about this card that I am stupidly high on it. Archdruid’s Charm, as it stands, is the perfect card to bring Lotus Field Combo to the next level. It gets rid of hate pieces that stop your combo, finds you key lands and ramps them out, and can repurpose itself as a threat in the late game. I talk about it in more detail here.
The one thing holding back Archdruid’s Charm is the awkward mana value it possesses. Three green mana is not easy for Lotus Field Combo to produce in its current form without establishing a Lotus Field (which is when you want to be casting this). Add in the fact that the new card Krenko’s Buzzcrusher further incentivizes Lotus Field Combo players to play Bant, and it’s tough to know whether this card is legit or not for the deck.
If Mono Green Devotion ends up returning as a result of the new Leyline of the Guildpact, Archdruid’s Charm is a more natural upgrade to that strategy.
I think that Archdruid’s Charm is good enough to cause a shift in Lotus Field Combo decks, but it’s not entirely certain. As a result, it only takes the second spot on our list.
#1 No More Lies
No More Lies fits like a glove into existing Azorius Control strategies. This is already considered a top tier deck in the Pioneer format, and the introduction of Mana Leak into Pioneer is a bigger deal than it may seem.
No More Lies immediately offers to replace the lackluster Make Disappear comparatively. Paying three is a lot more difficult than paying two in tempo situations, allowing No More Lies to reliably shut down spells in the opening turns. Exiling them is an additional treat, incredibly relevant in the Amalia combo matchup. You can also catch some unaware Arclight Phoenix and Chandra, Hope’s Beacon to swing a game in your favor.
Like it or not, No More Lies is likely to have the biggest impact on the Pioneer format. Other cards all have their conditions and ‘what if’s’ that may make them unplayable, but No More Lies is just a strict upgrade to the existing format.