The first Regional Championship tied to the upcoming Pro Tour in Chicago in February 2024 is underway in Lille, France. Players who managed to win a Regional Championship Qualifier event were eligible to play. This Regional Championship in particular features 675 players prepared for battle, all playing for glory and their chances at Pro Tour or even 2024 World Championship invites. Players brought their best Pioneer decks to the table, with Rakdos Midrange and mono-green devotion as the most popular decks in the event.
Interestingly, some players decided to stray from the beaten path and bring decks that were relatively underrepresented. For example, one player brought none other than Gruul Bard Class combo to the event, utilizing a handful of new cards. Not only that, but they also began the tournament undefeated after round four! Does this deck have more going for it than it’s given credit for?
Maximizing Bard Class
Bard Class acts as an engine that this whole deck is built around. It’s an Enchantment that you can “Level up” by investing mana into it in order to gain additional effects. At the start, Bard Class is a two-mana Enchantment that allows your other Legendary Creatures to enter the battlefield with additional +1/+1 counters on them. This is a decent effect, but the real payoff lies with Level two. If you pay an additional two mana to get Bard Class to Level two, every legendary spell you cast costs a green and red mana less to cast, though this only reduces specifically colored mana you pay.
This may not sound like a big deal, but when a large percentage of the legendary Creatures in the deck cost exactly one red and one green mana, you can play a lot of your cards for free. In some games, if your hand is chock-full of legends and you don’t have more Lands in hand, it can be correct to simply dump all those legends into play, especially if they have Haste. A lot of the time, though, it will be stronger to wait until you can get Bard Class to Level three and really go off.
Level three lets you exile the top two cards of your library and play them that turn every time you cast a legendary spell. When combined with Level two, if you have even a couple legends in hand, you can keep chaining spells together, since presumably some of the cards you exile with Bard Class will be legends you can play for free. If you have Birgi, God of Storytelling in play, you even net mana every time you cast a spell. At some point, you will find a way to give your entire team Haste, such as with Goro-Goro, Disciple of Ryusei, and can attack the opponent for a ton of damage.
The Supporting Cast
Now that we’ve gone over what makes Bard Class so powerful in this shell, it’s time to go over the cast of legends that this deck makes use of. The two best legendary Creatures that can be played for free off of Bard Class at Level two are definitely Hajar, Loyal Bodyguard and Ruby, Daring Tracker. Hajar is a two-mana 3/3, which is already decent on rate, but it also helps protect your entire team of legends from board wipes. Ruby, Daring Tracker is a fantastic addition to this deck from Wilds of Eldraine, acting as a Hasty mana dork that gets a decent buff if you control a Creature with power four or greater.
Thanks to Level one of Bard Class, it’s easy to play Hajar or Birgi and have them enter the battlefield as four-power Creatures to make Ruby an even bigger threat. Beyond Hajar and Ruby, this deck plays some other legends that work well with Bard Class, such as Gallia of the Endless Dance and Targ Nar, Demon-Fang Gnoll, to round out the Creature portion of the deck. Importantly, none of the cards in the deck have more than one of the same mana symbol in their casting costs, which lets this deck utilize Jegantha, the Wellspring, a nice tool to have in attrition matchups.
Interestingly, though, Bard Class doesn’t just work well with legendary Creatures. Rather, it works well with all legendary spells, allowing you to play Oath of Nissa for free off of Level two as well. Additionally, the high density of legendary Creatures this deck plays allows the deck to make use of Mox Amber. Mox Amber is a very strong mana accelerant, helping you cast multiple spells in one turn as well as get to Level three of Bard Class ahead of schedule. The whole goal of the deck is to make winning with Bard Class as consistent and trivial as possible.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Of course, some games you will not have access to Bard Class. If you don’t draw the powerful Enchantment or someone gets rid of it from your hand via Thoughtseize or from the battlefield via Enchantment removal, things get a lot trickier. This deck is fully capable of winning by simply casting efficient Creatures and beating down. Still, thanks to the deck’s all-in focus on Bard Class, the deck lacks interaction of its own. Fighting through roadblocks like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse without Bard Class can be quite difficult.
The nice thing is that some decks like Rakdos have a difficult time removing Bard Class once it hits the board, so outside of Thoughtseize, the gameplan of getting to Level three of Bard Class can still be effective. Also, even playing a pile of efficient, Hasty Creatures can be enough to win against some of the slower decks in the format. Cards like Hajar and Ruby hit hard and getting to use Mox Amber to cast multiple spells in a turn can help win a race.
Ultimately, this deck can absolutely run hot, and the addition of Ruby to the archetype gives it a better shot at playing a fair game without Bard Class. Still, the games where you stick a copy of Bard Class and the games where you don’t are night and day. If you aren’t afraid of playing some polarizing games, this deck can still be an effective choice.