2, Mar, 22

Pioneer on MTG Arena Could Happen Sooner Than Expected - Here's How

Article at a Glance

With the recent “Eternal Format Support” testing that Wizards of the Coast has been doing on Magic Arena, it’s seeming that we’re creeping ever closer to Pioneer as a supported format in the game. We know what the current slate of tests are, and hopefully the next step would be something closer to a true Pioneer format. But how could something like this be possible? Well we think we have a solution.

The Pioneer Test Progression

These tests take place during the Midweek Magic events. The first test was all Standard sets from Ixalan forward were legal. This excluded any rebalanced or digital only cards, as well as any supplemental sets. The second test, which is happening in March, is any card that was legal in Standard that is on Magic Arena from Return to Ravnica forward. This expands the card pool to include cards from remastered and supplemental products that fit the legality.

We don’t know exactly what the April test will hold, but the next logical step would be to introduce a new subset of cards to the game to more closely reflect a true Pioneer format, at least from a competitive standpoint.

To be honest, a majority of the Pioneer metagame are cards that already exist on Magic Arena. We went through the top 15 decks on MTGGoldfish’s Metagame page, as well as the recent Pioneer Prelims and Challenge on MTGO and found all the cards that aren’t on Arena.

The Results

Here are the decks that we found that held a greater that 2% metagame share or placed well in one of the MTGO events.

  • Artifact Aggro
  • Izzet Phoenix
  • Jund Sacrifice
  • Hidden Strings Combo
  • Azorius Control
  • Boros Aggro
  • Orzhov Auras
  • Naya Winota
  • Rakdos Aggro
  • Orzhov Vampires
  • Jeskai Ascendancy
  • Niv to Light
  • Mono Green Stompy
  • Rakdos Blood
  • Esper Greasefang
  • Bant Spirits
  • Abzan Greasefang
  • Mono White Death and Taxes
  • Golgari Delirium
  • Mono Green Walkers

That’s a very expansive list! By our count, we have a total of 81 different cards in these meta decks that are NOT in the game. This seems like a VERY solid base for reviving a Pioneer Masters set. While it’s a bit small for a whole set’s worth, it’s a good starting point.

Bringing Pioneer to Arena

Effectively, the goal is to incorporate cards into the game that are showing up in decks that people are playing, at least to start. This will get the format in a state of playable with various meta decks. Then, Wizards can gather meaningful data around player sentiments around the format. What’d happen is, April’s test would be a Midweek Magic, and players can choose from among the meta decks to play with.

Then, in June or July, Wizards releases Pioneer Masters, with the cards that were in April’s test, as well as other fan favorite cards. With a working format in place, Wizards can start to back fill the lesser played or less popular cards that more than likely people aren’t going to play with.

Frankly, hardly any of these cards need animations, maybe only a handful of boss mythics. There’s assuredly more data that WotC has that we’re not privy to which can help further inform decisions around which cards to add to the game up front.

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While this is only our speculation, it makes a ton of sense to us given that these tests are happening so quickly. Our guess is that with the stellar financial year that Wizards had last year, the Arena team is getting some much needed resources to help further invest in and develop the game.

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