The pioneer format has come a long way since its creation towards the tail end of last year. Through a steady series of B&R announcements, it has been cultivated into probably one of my favourite eternal formats. Rarely a week goes by without me jumping onto MTGO in order to test my wits and skill against other pioneer players, either in league competition or in one vs one queues. It has even managed to pull me out of my regular visits to Magic Arena’s ladder, as I try to figure out new and interesting lists to test.
I’ve even been trying to get in some real-world gameplay in, either through FNM or weekend tournaments whenever I have the chance (which is sadly not as often as I would like). This means I’ve been building my fair share of real-world decks, from Red Deck Wins to Atarka Goblins. However, recently I’ve gone back to my old school roots and decided to sleeve up something new. Something that doesn’t rely on burn spells, doesn’t use goblins, and most importantly doesn’t include a single Mountain!
Mono-White Humans is an aggressive tribal deck that is designed to fill the board with lots of small creatures, then pump them up with multiple anthem effects in order to force through enough damage for lethal. And when I say lots of small creatures, I mean it. All together the deck runs nineteen one drop humans of all different shape and sizes. We start off the list with four copies of Soldier of the Pantheon, which, as well as being a solid 2/1 one drop, also avoids many of the premium removal spells of the format like Abrupt Decay and Assassins Trophy.
Next, we have four copies of Boros Elite, which works very well in a deck designed around combat with many cheap creatures. While it is unlikely that the Elite will attack before turn three, when it does get in with two or more friends it will be a quite a threat thanks to its battalion trigger. A playset of Thraben Inspector gives us some card draw thanks to the clues it creates, and it’s always handy to have a 1/2 as a blocker on turn one with the number of one power creatures running around. Speaking of 1/2’s, we are also running two copies of Giant Killer, not only as another one drop but also for its adventure that can be used to get rid of any larger creatures our opponents could play.
We also run a single copy of Kytheon, Hero of Akros to fill out our one drops. If we are able to flip him, then all the better. Our final one drop is Dauntless Bodyguard, which we’re running a full playset of. The Bodyguard is great early or late, able to put on pressure in the first few turns and then protect our more valuable pieces if it comes down later.
Next, we move onto our two drops in the form of Knight of the White Orchid and Thalia’s Lieutenant. Knight of the White Orchid is a solid creature being a 2/2 with first strike, and it has the added ability of ramping us/thinning our deck if our opponent has more lands than us. Thalia’s Lieutenant is one of our many anthem effects, putting a +1/+1 counter on all of our other humans when it enters the battlefield. It also pulls double duty as a larger threat as it gets bigger whenever we play any additional humans onto the board.
Our other (more traditional) anthem effect is Benalish Marshal, which gives a blanket +1/+1 to all our other creatures. The last creature spell we have in the deck is two copies of Venerated Loxodon, which may not be a human but still pumps up our team when we are able to convoke it. When it comes to noncreature spells, we run a playset of Declaration in Stone for some removal and Brave the Elements as a way to protect our team as well as push through a lethal attack when the time is right. For lands, we run sixteen Plains as well as two Shefet Dunes as another way to pump the team. One copy of Castle Ardenvale rounds of our landbase and can spit out human tokens if the game goes long.
4 Soldier of the Pantheon
2 Giant Killer
1 Kytheon, Hero of Akros
4 Boros Elite
4 Dauntless Bodyguard
4 Thraben Inspector
4 Knight of the White Orchid
4 Thalia's Lieutenant
4 Benalish Marshal
2 Venerated Loxodon
4 Brave the Elements
4 Declaration in Stone
2 Shefet Dunes
1 Castle Ardenvale
2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
2 Rest in Peace
2 Selfless Spirit
3 Blessed Alliance
4 Conclave Tribunal
When it comes to a sideboard, I like to keep my options open as the format is still very much the wild west of Magic the Gathering. Two copies of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar gives us a way to create more bodies and pump the team, as well as being a decent threat on its own. Rest in Peace works to shut down graveyard-centric decks, while Selfless Spirit provides some insurance against mass removal. Blessed Alliance gives us life gain and anti-hexproof removal in one nice neat package, and Conclave Tribunal works as removal for anything else we might be struggling with. Finally, Disenchant handles any pesky Enchantments and Artifacts that might come our way.
And that is Mono-White Humans for Pioneer. The deck has proven to be quite strong in testing and is quickly becoming my favourite deck in the format. I still think the deck could be fine-tuned a little bit more, but I don’t want to change it too much as the list seems very tight. I am curious though. Is this the kind of deck you want to play in pioneer? What would you change if you did? Why not let us know about it in the comments below. While you’re there, you could like and subscribe to keep up to date with all we do here at Master of Magics.
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