Recent Pioneer events have been full of new archetypes and breakout decks with cool card interactions. The Regional Championships brought forth interesting surprises, such as Storm Herald Combo and Archfiend of the Dross Combo. Last weekend’s Pioneer Challenges had some surprises as well, most notably Mono-Black Waste Not breaking into top 8 of Sunday’s Challenge. Mono-Black Waste Not is not necessarily a new archetype but has had a relatively small level of success for a while. What helped it to break out this weekend? Is it a strong choice in the format moving forward?
The goal of this deck is to run the opponent out of resources while getting value out of Waste Not in the process. With a copy of Waste Not in play, any spell you cast that causes the opponent to discard a card will generate value for you, so long as your opponent has cards to discard. Waste Not is an extremely powerful card, but part of what has been holding the deck back has been its lack of an ability to close out the game. While running your opponent out of resources can be an effective strategy, if you were unable to draw and stick Waste Not, your opponent could draw out of it. After all, your discard spells can’t hit the top of the deck!
Luckily, one of the benefits of running your opponent out of resources is that you are more likely to stick game-ending threats and keep them around. As a result, the printing of Sheoldred, the Apocolypse was a huge boon for the deck. Sheoldred is the perfect finisher for this type of deck. It ends the game quickly, punishes the opponent for drawing cards, and your discard spells can pave the way for this game-breaking Creature.
In order to make this gameplan work and maximize the power of Waste Not, this deck makes use of some of the best discard effects in the format. The best of these is certainly Thoughtseize, a format staple that efficiently strips the opponent of their most important nonland card in hand.
Liliana of the Veil is an excellent piece of interaction this deck makes use of as well. Because of how many slots the deck needs to be dedicated to cards that make the opponent discard, you don’t have as much room for interaction for cards that slip through the crack and make it onto the board. Liliana fills both roles nicely, as it can be utilized as a removal spell or a discard effect in one card.
This deck also plays multiple ways to make the opponent discard multiple cards at once. Cards like Go Blank are not only great with Waste Not but are also decent at keeping you ahead on resources. The name of the game is resource advantage, and this deck delivers.
Sometimes though, the opponent will run out of cards in hand, which makes your discard spells and Waste Not less effective. Luckily, this deck also gets to make use of Geier Reach Sanitarium. Not only can this turn your dead discard spells into fresh cards and dig for Sheoldred, but it also forces your opponent even with no cards in hand to draw and then discard a card, which continues to fuel Waste Not. This deck is all about card synergy that supports its main gameplan.
Another benefit this deck has is that, by staying Mono-Black, it allows you to make use of a bunch of utility lands. We already mentioned Geier Reach Sanitarium to continue to fuel Waste Not, but perhaps the most important utility land this deck makes use of is Castle Locthwain, and this deck plays a full four copies. This deck trades resources with the opponent a lot, which not only lowers your opponent’s total resources, but yours as well. This makes Castle Locthwain’s life loss less severe. Castle Locthwain is also unbelievable with Sheoldred, and can actually result in you gaining life in the process.
Another important land this deck gets is Field of Ruin. One of the ways this deck’s gameplan can get punished is by your opponent playing their own utility lands off the top and winning with them. Without Field of Ruin, beating a card like Castle Ardenvale without drawing Sheoldred is surprisingly difficult, so having a low-cost answer to opposing utility lands is a big deal.
Beyond that, this deck plays lands that can become Creatures, such as Hive of the Eye Tyrant, to try to end the game faster after running the opponent out of cards. That helps make sure this deck never runs out of things to do with excess mana, which is a big deal for a deck like this that doesn’t play a ton of spells that add to your side of the board.
Did This Strategy Get Better?
As mentioned, this strategy isn’t new to Pioneer. However, it certainly is in a better place than it was. Part of the appeal to this deck is that, by stripping the opponent of resources, it is quite strong against decks that need a lot of resources to operate smoothly. Over the past few weeks, Pioneer has become even more combo centric. Decks like Lotus Field and Greasefang were joined by Archfiend Combo, Storm Herald Combo, and Rona Combo.
Combo decks, by nature, often require taking turns to set up. Waste Not decks play so many discard spells that can break up these combos and make it difficult for them to set up at all. Pair that with a card like Sheoldred that can end the game quickly, and you have a good shot at beating any of the combo decks.
The main area this deck struggles in is beating decks that can easily draw their way out of your resource denial. Even if you strip your opponent of their resources, all it takes is them drawing Treasure Cruise and they are right back in the game. The good news is that Sheoldred is excellent at denying your opponent the luxury of drawing lots of cards. As such, this strategy is relatively cohesive and covers a lot of its bases. As long as people continue to play multi-card combo decks, expect this deck to pop up more.
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