MTG: Pioneer...what's that?
October 21, 2019 - Wizards of The Coast announced a new format - Pioneer. This format starts with Return to Ravnica and includes every set thereafter. The initial banned list is just the five fetchlands appearing in those sets.
In their announcement WotC references Modern and how that format was initially conceived as a way for players to keep using their cards after they rotated out of Standard without having to make the large financial investment required for Legacy. However, since the oldest Modern set is 16 years old it is no longer fulfilling that goal. Thus - a new format!
If you are in to brewing decks now is the time! It isn’t often that a new format comes around; especially one that will be played at competitive levels. It will be used for:
- Players Tour Series 2020 - Feb 1-2, Feb 8-9
- Players Tour Finals - Weekend of April 25
- some tabletop qualifying events for Players Tour starting March 21
With a new format this deep there are bound to be decks / combos that are ripe for an appearance. Though they have been Modern legal the whole time there may have been other things in Modern that kept them in check but are not present in Pioneer.
The Level 0 place to start is the old hits from Standard. Energy decks from Kaledesh, Mardu Vehicles (Smuggler’s Copter!), Saheeli Rai / Felidar Guardian Combo, etc. There are likely great brews with cards that cross over Standard formats but I think this is the spot to jump-off from.
So dust off those old decks and ideas and see if they are a go in this new format.
Tabletop vs Arena
Since Arena’s inception there has been speculation / fear that Magic was moving to a digital platform and that tabletop play would gradually go away. Pioneer, along with the ample prize support for tabletop play in 2020, should help put these fears to rest.
I’m guessing that we will see product down the road similar to the Masters sets that provided reprints for Pioneer staples.
Just five cards on the Banned List?
This likely won’t last long and WotC did state they will be watching the format closely. Standard offenders, Aetherworks Marvel and Saheeli Rai come to mind. It could be that there is enough depth in Pioneer that they can be kept in check.
Good time to be a speculator?
Just go out and buy card X and you will profit! I am not sure what card X is but that shouldn’t stop you. It isn’t stopping anyone else; since the announcement:
- Aetherworks Marvel: $1.30 to $10.00
- Saheeli Rai: $8.50 to $15.00
- Deathrite Shaman: $2.80 to $11.70
Is Deathrite Shaman good enough without fetchlands? Someone thinks so.
These things move fast and you might have to dig deep to find some worthy specs. One idea might be to identify some likely staples that haven’t spiked and that might need to ‘season’ a bit. Maybe they won’t be good initially but might pan out after a round or two of bans.
Pascal Maynard tweeted out a google doc with some ideas. It is a good place to start.
Speaking of specs….
Michael Caffrey at TCG Player tweeted the following screenshot:
Note the date - 10/14/19. One week prior to the announcement. 35 Aetherworks Marvel and 87 Smuggler’s Copter. Seem a little fishy?
In the thread Ben Bleiweiss, General Manager at StarCityGames, notes he received two similar orders around the same time.
Magic cards aren’t regulated like stocks so this is not illegal but likely goes against WotC policy. It does make it hard for those without a connection to compete - either as a speculator or just a player trying to obtain staples on a level playing field.
What do you think? Are you excited for the new format? Any new deck ideas or thoughts on any of the above? Please comment below!