24, May, 23

Top 11 MTG Best Pioneer Decks! (May 2023)

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There is definitely a wide array of varying opinions from the MTG community about the Pioneer format. Players’ feelings range from disdain towards the linearity of Pioneer’s top decks to excitement regarding the flow of innovation within the format, and anything in between. While it is true that many high-performing decks in Pioneer currently have a linear gameplan, that doesn’t take away from it still being a skill-intensive format with a diverse group of decks to choose from. Whether you are curious about what deck to start building in Pioneer or mulling over options for the upcoming Regional Championships, look no further! Here are the top 11 best MTG Pioneer decks!

#11 Five-Color Variants

Fable of the Mirror-Breaker
Leyline Binding

Playing five colors provides a few different directions you can take your deck. Your first option is to play Yorion, Sky Nomad as your Companion and play a high-value deck centered around Fires of Invention and Enigmatic Incarnation. Playing Yorion allows you to generate additional value from cheap enchantments like Omen of the Sea and Nylea’s Presence that pair nicely with Incarnation. While playing 80 cards may seem like a big downside, it allows you to play a wider range of Creatures to grab with Incarnation, all which can be “Blinked” by Yorion to re-utilize their enters-the-battlefield abilities.

The second option is to play Keruga instead of Yorion, focusing less on value and more on consistency. Playing 60 cards instead of 80 makes finding Fires or Incarnation early much more likely. While Keruga is restrictive in deckbuilding, it pairs really well with Fires. Additionally, Bonecrusher Giant and Leyline Binding help provide the deck with early plays, and Temporary Lockdown is used as a great “catchup” mechanism.

The other options make use of either Bring to Light or Transmogrify as their high-impact cards of choice. Every variant of five-color, regardless of which option you choose, focuses on maximizing Leyline Binding and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. Each choice has its positives and negatives, and each choice is a perfectly valid option depending on which decks you are trying to beat.

#10 Rakdos Sacrifice

Witch's Oven

This deck is built around a powerful combination of cards many Magic players find frustrating to play against. Witch’s Oven pairs exceptionally well with Cauldron Familiar. Together, you can sacrifice Familiar to the Oven, which generates a Food token. You can then use that Food token to bring back the Familiar, draining your opponent for one. You can repeat this process every turn cycle. The life drain of Familiar is bad enough for Creature-based aggressive decks to beat, but the fact that Familiar can block every turn, get sacrificed to the Oven before damage, and come right back ready to block again next turn makes connecting in combat on the ground a nightmare.

If that wasn’t bad enough, this combination alongside Mayhem Devil can remove a lot of small creatures or simply cut down the opponent’s life total in short order. It is no secret this deck thrives against most aggressive decks, but the resiliency of the Familiar+Oven combo can be quite effective against Midrange decks with lots of removal too. This deck’s one major weakness is that it does not typically close games quickly, so be weary in a field of combo decks.

A new addition in the form of Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin may be what the Sacrifice deck needs to push it to the next level. Ending the game quickly was the biggest issue this deck had, and having a new card that offers an aggressive way to not only close the game, but refill, is a big boon for this archetype.

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#9 Boros Convoke

Venerated Loxodon

Boros Convoke, the breakout deck of the weekend, is capable of blazing-fast starts. By pairing either Venerated Loxodon or Knight-Errant of Eos with cards that help you go wide with tokens, such as Gleeful Demolition, you can cast one of these Convoke Creatures as early as turn one (but generally, your fast starts will happen on turn two). By going wide with creatures, you also get to maximize Reckless Bushwhacker, which is quite effective at putting your opponent on the backfoot quickly, even if you weren’t able to cast one of the Convoke Creatures. While I have the deck currently at number nine on this list, it wouldn’t surprise me if more and more people start picking up the deck in the coming weeks, and I have to move it up in rank. The sheer efficiency of this deck should definitely put it on everyone’s radar.

#8 Azorius Spirits

Spell Queller

Spirits is an archetype that has existed for a long time. While many people are focusing on Boros Convoke, the breakout deck of the weekend that got first place in Sunday’s Magic Online Pioneer Challenge, few people are mentioning Azorius Spirits, which won Saturday’s Magic Online Pioneer Challenge. Azorius Spirits takes the premier core of tempo-oriented Creatures alongside Curious Obsession featured in Mono Blue Spirits and adds some useful upgrades.

The most notable inclusion available for Azorius is Spell Queller. Mono U Spirits provided an effective gameplan, to begin with, by making use of efficient creatures, some of which have Flash, and pairing them with cheap Counterspells. Spell Queller fills both roles nicely. It acts similar to a Counterspell for as long as you can protect it, while providing pressure at the same time. The main weakness for Azorius Spirits compared to Mono Blue historically was the manabase, but the printing of Seachrome Coast in Phyrexia: All Will Be One helped shore up this issue. The addition of Spell Queller, in conjunction with better sideboard options in white, gives Spirits a big boost moving forward.

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#7 Indomitable Creativity

Indomitable Creativity

Similar to the five color variants at number 11, this deck has a lot of directions it can be taken. The core of playing Indomitable Creativity, a major payoff to search for, and token makers such as Fable of the Mirror-Breaker exists in every version of the deck. What changes are the payoffs and interactive cards surrounding them. One version of the deck plays Torrential Gearhulk alongside Magma Opus, which can both generate a treasure and help win the game when cast off Gearhulk. Gearhulk being easily castable without Creativity is a major appeal to this build of the deck.

The other two versions are more reliant on Creativity to execute their gameplan, but in turn, get threats more likely to end the game themselves. One of these versions plays Atraxa, Grand Unifier, and plans to cast Creativity for X equals one. The other plays Worldspine Wurm and Xenagos, God of Revels, and plans to cast Creativity for X equals two. While harder to pull off, Xenagos’ ability to turn Worldspine Wurm into a Hasty 30-power Creature with Trample usually wins the game the same turn. Each version has their appeals and drawbacks, but Creativity is a powerful choice no matter what.

#6 Mono White Humans

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Humans is another classic Creature-Tribal archetype that has gotten some excellent improvements in the last few sets. Despite being Mono White, the deck makes use of disruptive elements such as Thalia to keep the opponent on the backfoot. Now the deck gets to add Invasion of Gobakhan to the mix, helping to improve its matchup against combo decks and decks with board wipes. The deck is super fast, playing 12 or more one-drop creatures alongside Thalia’s Lieutenant and the new Coppercoat Vanguard which grow your whole army. With a good mix of disruption, pressure, and resiliency provided by cards like Wedding Announcement, this deck has game against almost any deck in the format, making it a good choice.

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#5 Lotus Field

Lotus Field

Lotus Field is a deck that revolves almost entirely around the namesake card. The goal of the deck is to get a copy of Lotus Field into play, copy it with Thespian’s Stage, then use a multitude of ways to generate mana via floating mana with each Lotus Field activation and then untapping them. Lotus Field conveniently has Hexproof, so there is no need to worry about it getting destroyed in the process. From there, you can dig for [Emergent Ultimatum] and assemble a combination of cards that will lead to a win. Eventually, after casting a sequence of spells, you are able to resolve Mastermind’s Acquisition, search your sideboard for Approach of the Second Sun, cast it twice, and win. Winning with this deck may sound a bit convoluted, but with some practice reps, it begins to make more sense.

The card that really serves as the glue that holds the deck together is Pore over the Pages. Not only does it draw three cards, digging for your win conditions, but it also untaps both Lotus Fields just like Hidden Strings does, netting you mana in the process. Pair that with ways to get back Pore from the graveyard, and it is quite easy to chain them together until you find a way to win the game. This deck is very effective as long as you take the time to learn the ins and outs.

#4 Azorius Control

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

Azorius Control is the premier control deck of the format. Playing blue provides the necessary card draw and Counterspells necessary to gain an advantage over the opponent, and playing white provides the necessary interaction for any creatures the opponent plays, including The Wandering Emporer, which can act both as removal and a value engine. Playing both blue and white together also gives you access to two of the best cards any control deck could ask for.

First, you get to play Supreme Verdict, an uncounterable way to reset the board and buy you tons of time against Creature decks. Second, you can follow up your Supreme Verdict by slamming Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, which provides a stream of card advantage for the rest of the game. Not only that, but Teferi’s plus one ability untaps two lands, giving you the mana to interact on your opponent’s turn and make sure your Teferi sticks around. Its final ability will shut down any hopes your opponent has of coming back into the game. Teferi does everything a control deck could want, and even in a format with plenty of linear strategies, it helps keep this control deck afloat.

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#3 Abzan Greasefang

Greasefang, Okiba Boss

Abzan Greasefang is another combo option available in Pioneer, and the speed and resiliency of the combo make it top-tier. The best draws of the deck involve getting a copy of Parhelion II into the graveyard, typically on turn two by either milling it or discarding it to Raffine’s Informant. Then, playing Greasefang on Turn three lets you return Parhelion, crew it with Greasefang, and attack with 13 Flying power!

What makes this deck so powerful is its ability to both maximize Esika’s Chariot, which is a great card on its own and paired with Greasefang, as well as dig for additional copies of Greasefang with cards like Grisly Salvage. As a combo deck using black, this deck gets the added bonus of being able to use Thoughtseize, one of the best cards available in the format. All this makes the deck more resilient than it might seem on the surface, and, thus, an excellent choice in Pioneer.

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#2 Mono Green Devotion

Karn, the Great Creator

Mono Green Devotion remains one of the best decks in Pioneer for a good reason. Its fast draws utilizing a turn one Elvish Mystic or Llanowar Elves can put a lot of pressure quickly on the opponent. Cards like Old-Growth Troll and Cavalier of Thorns are huge threats that provide value even if the opponent manages to remove them. These threats not only provide the ability to win in combat, but they also allow Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to generate absurd amounts of mana, which you can sink into Karn or Storm the Festival.

If that wasn’t enough to get you on board, with Nykthos, enough devotion, and copies of Karn and Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner, you can even combo and win the same turn thanks to copies of The Chain Veil and Pestilent Cauldron! This added kill condition helps put an already excellent strategy over the top.

#1 Rakdos Midrange

Fable of the Mirror-Breaker

For those tired of playing against Fable and Sheoldred, the Apocolypse in Standard, unfortunately, you will have to endure this play experience in Pioneer too. This deck plays a lot of the most powerful and efficient cards available in the format. Just like in Standard, Rakdos Midrange makes use of the elite curve of Bloodtithe Harvester into Fable into Sheoldred. However, this deck also gets to add two premier turn one plays in the form of Thoughtseize and Fatal Push that help this deck get the number one spot on this list. Having two absurdly efficient pieces of interaction to pair with a proven, powerful gameplan gives you a fighter’s chance no matter what matchup you happen to play against.

What is nice about Pioneer is that, even if some of these decks don’t excite you, there is a wide range of powerful decks to choose from. All of these decks on my list are effective, skill-intensive strategies that reward knowledge of the format and how to navigate games against the other top decks. Despite some polarizing opinion regarding the format, there is still good gameplay to be had, and picking up one of these decks is a great place to start.

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