7, Aug, 23

Rat-Producing Bulk Rare Sparks Creativity in Stale Format!

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Article at a Glance

Today’s ban announcement, or should I say “unban” announcement, certainly left some players surprised, including myself. No cards got banned, and Modern and Legacy each saw an interesting unban that could impact each format. Notably, however, there were no changes to Pioneer.

Pioneer overall has generated a lot of mixed opinions. Some players think the format is well-balanced and a lot of fun. Others think it’s too dependent on the die roll. Further, some players think the format is a bit stale, especially given mono-green Devotion’s dominance for a while.

All that being said, it appears the format is stable regarding bans, at least for the time being. While it may not look like it, there is still room for innovation too. In fact, just yesterday, a unique deck won the Magic Online Pioneer Challenge.

This deck is focused on resolving Transmogrify on a Creature token, then putting a copy of Atraxa, Grand Unifier into play, thanks to Atraxa being the only Creature card in the deck. While this is certainly reminiscent of the Indomitable Creativity decks that have been in Pioneer for a long time, this deck is super interesting in how it’s constructed, and is worth looking further into.

Creature Token Generation

Tribute to Horobi

Unlike with Indomitable Creativity, Transmogrify requires you to target only a Creature. This means that cards that create Artifact tokens are off the board. Obviously, Fable of the Mirror-Breaker is a fantastic staple for Transmogrify and Creativity decks alike, but there are some interesting options this Rakdos Transmogrify deck runs to generate Creature tokens. In the past, we’ve seen Transmogrify decks in Pioneer utilize green cards like Careful Cultivation and Courier’s Briefcase to fill out additional Transmogrify targets. This deck takes a fairly unique approach though.

Besides Fable, this deck utilizes Tribute to Horobi. This is a strange card, because it initially gives your opponent the benefits of gaining a Rat Creature token for the first two chapters. However, once you get to chapter three, you receive a three-power Hasty Creature that steal your opponent’s Rats. You even get the bonus of converting those Rat tokens into additional cards if you so choose. Assuming your opponent has minimal Enchantment removal, this card can be quite strong. Beyond that, this deck also utilizes four copies of Mirrex and a playset of Mutavault, which are capable of providing additional Transmogrify targets as needed.

A huge part of the appeal of these cards is that they are decent cards on their own, even without Transmogrify. Rather than warping your deck around Transmogrify and playing mediocre cards like Careful Cultivation that only reward you if you can resolve Transmogrify, this deck can play a control role until the coast is clear. Both Tribute and Fable generate lots of value, and Mirrex and Mutavault have very small opportunity costs to put in your deck because they are Lands. Beyond these token creators, the deck maxes out on interaction.

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Interactive Elements

Warping Wail

By not overloading the deck with weak token makers, there’s a lot more room for interaction. First and foremost, the deck makes use of Thoughtseize, which can also help pave the way for Transmogrify later in the game. For removal, this deck plays Fatal Push as well as a full playset of Dreadbore. Likely the most interesting inclusions, however, are the full four copies of Warping Wail in the maindeck. Warping Wail plays a few roles in this deck, each of which is important.

First of all, Warping Wail can play a similar role to Careful Cultivation by making a Creature token on the opponent’s end step after they tap out, allowing you to then resolve Transmogrify on your turn. The difference is that Warping Wail has two other useful modes. First, it can act as a removal spell for small Creatures. Sometimes removing Creatures like Llanowar Evles is important, and other times you will have more important targets like Strict Proctor to get rid of.

More importantly though, this card can counter Sorceries that your opponent casts and likely assumes will resolve. From opposing copies of Creativity, to Storm the Festival out of mono-green, all the way to Pore over the Pages out of Lotus Field combo, this card provides necessary interaction for opposing combo decks while having the ability to help your own. The existence of Mirrex and Mutavault makes casting Warping Wail a lot easier. Staying Rakdos helps maintain a consistent manabase and maximize colorless Lands, but there are some cards that you miss while not playing Jund.

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Giving Up Some Power

Esika's Chariot

Consistency is obviously very important, but it is worth mentioning that this deck does lose out on a few elements by not utilizing green cards. First, while Careful Cultivation and Courier’s Briefcase are weak cards overall, they do lead to potential turn three Atraxas, while the Rakdos version has to wait until turn four at the earliest. Second, you lose out on an extremely powerful card: Esika’s Chariot. Chariot, much like Tribute, could theoretically win games all by itself.

While Tribute has its upside, it is much weaker than Chariot against cards like Boseiju, Who Endures because it doesn’t provide you with immediate value. Similarly, Chariot produces tokens immediately for Transmogrify, putting your opponent in a bind to answer both the Chariot and the Cat tokens in short order. That being said, this deck fills the gaps well with extra removal and Warping Wail, which solves other problems the deck might have.

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Consistency as a Strength


The nice thing about this version is the ability to utilize all of these utility Lands. Mirrex makes it extremely difficult for your opponent to ever tap out, and provides a steady Stream of tokens that, in conjunction with tokens from Fable and Tribute, can win the game without an Atraxa ever hitting the board. In addition to getting access to colorless Lands, this deck has an easier time casting its spells by staying two colors. Likewise, this deck doesn’t have to worry about obtaining triple red like Creativity decks do, so running more colorless Lands and non-red interaction in the early turns like Fatal Push is not a problem. Mirrex in particular can still make colored mana the turn it enters, making cards like Dreadbore more reliably castable.

Another benefit this deck gets compared to Creativity decks is the ability to play Jegantha, the Wellspring. This Creature is not in your starting deck, so it doesn’t mess with Transmogrify, yet it provides you with an additional big threat to close the game with, and even a Transmogrify target if needed. This deck provides the threat of an Atraxa at all times turn four or later but can still play a control gameplan and win at its leisure. This makes it difficult to gameplan against.

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Preparation for Weaker Matchups

Sire of Insanity

The deck is a bit removal-heavy, so it can be weak to other combo decks without a well-timed Thoughtseize and a quick clock. Also, decks like Azorius Spirits that can both interact and provide pressure at Instant speed can be a bit of a pain, though the excess removal certainly helps. What makes the deck super appealing, though, is that Warping Wail, Thoughtseize, and removal help buy you time to stick an Atraxa, which can end the game very quickly.

The deck even plays Sire of Insanity in the sideboard, which can act as a more reliable Transmogrify target against combo decks that require a lot of resources to function. With a strong gameplan utilizing both Mirrex and Mutavault, the opponent has to play scared or risk simply getting blown out by Transmogrify if they tap out. It’s nice to see unique and successful innovation in Pioneer, which is certainly encouraging for the format moving forward.

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