Pioneer 5 Color Atraxa: Primer & Sideboard Guide
09/05/2023 · 16 min read
Hello, my name is DreamsOfAshiok and today I want to go over the decklist that I've been playing recently: five-color Atraxa.
Some background about myself as a player: I used to play a lot of Pioneer during the COVID days, which involved numerous online metas that never saw the light of day in paper form. Some of the decks I played during the online meta included an Esper Control deck with Yorion, a Genesis Ultimatum landfall deck, and lastly, a Jeskai Transmogrify deck where you put Agent of Treachery into play. I have a lot of strength with these decks, as I've understood the decision patterns that come with them. Therefore, I often try out new cards that get printed in these decks to see if any changes can be made to make one of these old decks playable again.
The Jeskai Transmogrify deck, towards the end of its career, added green for Esika's Chariot. With the current state of the Pioneer format , you need to do something absurdly broken to be able to compete; most matchups are ships passing through the night, and that's what the Transmogrify deck did. However, after rebuilding it with the release of March of the Machine, I noticed a lot more consistent cards being pushed to be able to change the target that we use with Transmogrify, so I warped the deck around Atraxa.
My Current Version
|4 Fable of the Mirror-Breaker||$29.99|
|3 Atraxa, Grand Unifier||$29.99|
|4 Esika's Chariot||$11.99|
|2 Deafening Clarion||$0.49|
|1 Invasion of Alara||$1.79|
|4 Chained to the Rocks||$1.49|
|4 Fires of Invention||$0.49|
|4 Bitter Reunion||$0.79|
|4 Leyline Binding||$12.99|
|4 Shark Typhoon||$15.99|
|4 The Birth of Meletis||$0.35|
|2 Invasion of Tolvada||$0.59|
|2 Narset, Parter of Veils||$1.49|
|2 Hinterland Harbor||$3.49|
|3 Ketria Triome||$19.99|
|1 Ziatora's Proving Ground||$9.49|
|4 Glacial Fortress||$3.99|
|3 Raugrin Triome||$16.99|
|4 Sacred Foundry||$22.99|
|1 Zagoth Triome||$21.99|
|4 Fabled Passage||$6.49|
|1 Sunpetal Grove||$5.99|
|2 Steam Vents||$20.99|
|1 Savai Triome||$17.99|
|1 Raffine's Tower||$14.99|
|3 Rest in Peace||$9.49|
|3 Mystical Dispute||$0.69|
|2 Supreme Verdict||$5.99|
|3 Rending Volley||$4.49|
|1 Yorion, Sky Nomad||$0.49|
|2 Sire of Insanity||$0.79|
|1 Worldspine Wurm||$18.99|
The two main removal spells within the deck are Chained and Leyline Binding. Chained to the Rocks is necessary, as it is the only way we have to deal with a T1 Elf on the draw (assuming we have a Sacred Foundry).
Binding looks really awkward in this deck with the amount of check lands we have in the deck however the check lands are needed and we don't always need binding to have max value, we would rather save the life points on our mana base.
What the broken thing this deck does is put an Atraxa into play as quickly as possible. This is the main gameplan of the deck, put a token into play, Transmogrify it into a big scary Atraxa, refuel the hand, and repeat.
Atraxa in this deck will nearly always get you land plus an enchantment however there are a plethora of other types for Atraxa to also hit for more value
The Secondary plan
The card I think added a lot to this deck from MOM was the Invasion of Tolvada. A flickerable way to reanimate any of the powerful tools this deck has access to.
Over my career playing this deck I often just reanimate a Shark Typhoon with a Fires of Invention in play, another Atraxa (which is discarded to bitter reunion or fable of the mirror breaker.), or a Yorion you used earlier in the game to flicker all the permanents you have then also reanimate another permanent. The backside of this battle helps stabilize your life total against aggro or just puts RB in the dirt.
The Token Producers
Looking at the current metagame in pioneer we can see that RB is the king of the format and a card that other decks end up using the help beat RB is chariot. With this deck it's also able to create more tokens and help with a fair game plan. Another trick with this card is to play around push, we animate the cat wagon assuming they don't have a way to gather revolt.
Shark typhoon is another way to be able to go over top of the op in the late game by hard casting it with fires but it also allows us to make an end step-+ creature to be able to surprise the op with a transmogrify when they may not expect it. Another neat interaction is being able to cycle to make a shark while casting two spells off fires to go even more over the top of the OP.
Fable is one of the best cards in Pioneer, its ability to provide a token for this deck which can also provide a mana advantage, filter your hand going into the most important turn of this deck (turn 4), and creates a creature again which helps with the fatal push problem.
The Birth of Meletis may be one of the most unassuming cards in this deck, but it's the best card to have in your opening hand. It acquires another land that is needed since this deck is very mana-hungry, creates a 0/4 blocker that evades all the damage-based removal within the deck (except Lava Axe, but who in their right mind plays Phoenix), and gains life to help you stabilize in the later turns. You just have to survive with this deck, as your late-game plays are better than those of any other decks in the format.
Narset is just a good walker for this deck, its draw card ability comes up as you can play it in response to your ops turn 3 fable and stop them from fixing their hand but it's mainly just there as it's the best walker for this deck.
Bitter is the nuts in this deck, its ability to help with the Tolvada plan and gives you the ability to haste an Atraxa or a Chariot to swing in to either gain a lot of life or stabilize the board, and yes it's better than Omen of the sea quit being a boomer.
Other supporting cards
Fires are what makes the deck broken, the ability to cheat on mana with it allows for powerful turns. You're able to push the Mana Advantage into slamming an Atraxa into play to refuel and then continue to spam the board with your newly filled hand.
Deafening Clarion is just a good board clear, we're playing this card over some of the other board clears due to it being easier to cast than other cards.
We are playing one copy of Invasion of Alara due to its ability to find a Fires of Invention, find a token producer, or find the Transmogrify. I know what you're thinking: this card is already awkward with Fires in play. However, we need cards that are good without Fires in play, as our deck is already broken when we put a Fires of Invention into play.
The Mana Base
The mana base includes a variety of Triomes, shock lands, and check lands, along with eight basic lands and four Fabled Passages. I included the Fabled Passages with the basic lands due to the fact that we're already running a lot of basic plains because of The Birth of Meletis, so it seemed fitting to include them for a less painful mana base. The high number of triomes works really well in the deck, as we want to play a turn-one Triome and then eventually use Fires of Invention's ability to cycle away these Triomes while still casting two spells per turn.
We also want shock lands because we desire the ability to have lands come into play untapped on pivotal turns. These lands also help enable the reduced cost of Leyline Binding and allow for a turn-one Chain to the Rocks to handle an Elf on the play. These check lines enable a less painful mana base. I understand the non-combo with Leyline Binding; however, we just want to make sure that we are alive to cast our spells, and at times, we would prefer a slightly discounted Leyline Binding.
Sideboard & Matchup Guide
I don't plan to go into detail about each sideboard card individually, as I will discuss them generally when it comes to preparing for matchups and the approach we have. If you have questions about an approach to a certain matchup feel free to DM me on Twitter, and I will update it with the matchup.
This match-up is a great one for you, as you have the ability to put into play a high-pressure creature that also accrues value for you with its enter-the-battlefield trigger. You're also playing Fires of Invention, a card that Red-Black cannot interact with, so pressuring their resources by cheating on mana allows this magic to be really good.
This matchup is also one where the secondary game plan of invading Tolvada and reanimating a permanent is relevant, due to a high density of intense removal spells. In this matchup, you should never mulligan if you have the ability to keep the hand. You should keep every hand that has around four lands, as your opponent's best card in this matchup is Thoughtseize, so the more cards you have, the better.
The sideboard changes come as your deck is already heavily favored against red-black. However, Deafening Clarion can't answer a Sheoldred, so you make the swap. If you see the card Necromentia from your opponent, you can also board in a wurm and cut an Atraxa. This goes for any other matchup where you see either Stone Rain or Necromentia. Since decks don't consistently include either card, I'm not going to bring it up again for every time.
Mono Green Devotion
Mono Green Devotion is not a favored matchup because they can pressure your life total, utilize Karn, and interact with all the key pieces of your combo. Karn grabbing the Stone Brain and naming Atraxa or Transmogrify spells disaster for you in game one. However, you still have the ability to win since your Atraxa can be a quick clock, and you need to find numerous removal spells to interact with their board. Their deck has seven main deck reachers that effectively block your Atraxa, which is why we have this sideboard plan.
The sideboard plan is to get Worldspine Wurm into play and give it haste, as it is a bigger clock and harder for mono-green to try and chump block. We are bringing in Supreme Verdict to help clean up the board when your opponent spams creatures. Now, the more interesting and experimental boarding I've tried with this deck involves bringing in Rest in Peace. Rest in Peace stops the Cavalier death trigger and the flashback of Storm the Festival, which slows down your opponent and allows you to try to out-grind them in resources. This also stops a part of the combo, as they are no longer able to use Pestilence Cauldron to grab back two of their cards.
This matchup can be pretty favorable for you if you know how to play it correctly. Your deck has a high density of threats and cards that are must-counters for the opponent. You also play a playset of Shark Typhoon, which is a card that Blue-White Control cannot interact with directly. They must use a card to be able to destroy the shark you create, so you already gain an advantage in resources during that exchange. However, you need to make sure you're not playing into as many counterspells as possible.
Your opponent is likely running some amount of Censors and Disappears. With experience using the deck, you'll be able to read what your opponent has in hand. You just need to ensure that you can play around their cards as much as possible while still burning through their resources. If you give your opponent enough time, they will be able to have answers for everything you do.
The sideboard changes are meant to help you resolve your cards. This matchup simply requires experience in order for it to be favorable for you.
With the way the deck is currently built, you actually have a really good game plan against Greasefang in Game 1. If you have a Leyline Binding to interact with Greasefang, you can still transmogrify into Atraxa, which can race the Parheelian quite well. You should remove a lot of your slower card draw spells against Greasefang, and then your matchup becomes much easier due to the fact that you now have many more cards that interact with your opponent. Your broken strategy is typically better than their broken strategy; however, it is slower, so you just need more cards that slow them down, and then you become unstoppable. You are also better when both decks are playing fairly, without doing the broken thing.
This is one of the other matchups that is really difficult for your game one, as they are doing a more broken thing more consistently that's harder for you to interact with. In game one, you can draw all the cards you want with Atraxa, Bitter Reunion, and Fable, but you can rarely put on a clock that's fast enough to beat them, especially with Arborial Grazer in their deck. Games two and three are the most important games against Lotus with this deck. You should take out the Deafening Clarions and sub in Supreme Verdicts because your opponent will likely board in Sphinx of the Final Word or some other big creature that your other removal is not effective against. In that case, you just need to play a Supreme Verdict if the game gets to that point.
This is where Sire of Insanity comes in. Before, I was playing Ruric Thar, and the play pattern that would happen is they would use Sylvan's Crying to just find an Ottawara and return the Ruric Thar, leaving me stuck with a six-drop in my hand and my opponent still going to kill me. Sire of Insanity avoids this problem by leaving nobody with a hand. If you play a turn four Sire of Insanity, your opponent on the play will, at most, have a Lotus Field and a Thespian Stage in play, and they will need lots of setup time to be able to combo off. They only get around three turns before you end up killing them with Sire attacking them.
In this matchup, you should also board in Mystical Dispute. With this card, all I want to do is counter literally anything I can, even something as small as an Impulse or a Shimmer. You just need to buy time, and any sort of cantrip or card draw that they can amass can be slowed down by just throwing a Mystical Dispute at it. However, the card loses value quickly due to Lier and the Sphinx.
This matchup is the same as the red block, where your Atraxa can easily win the game by drowning your opponent in card value. However, there is a card you need to worry about, which is The Akroan War. Your opponent stealing your Atraxa is quite scary, so you have to manage your Leyline Bindings a bit differently. The must-answer card of the matchup is Reckless Storm Seeker. Your opponent beating you down quickly is what makes this matchup a bit harder. However, if you manage your Chain to the Rocks well, the matchup becomes significantly easier.
There are many different flavors of creativity running around, and I don't really know which one is the best, so I'm going to pretend that it's the Wurm version. There is also the Gearhulk version, and if you're against the Gearhulk board, you can add three more Rest in Peace, cut Fires of Invention, and add back the Chariot. This matchup is pretty favored, as you are a Leyline Binding deck against the Wurm combo. Regardless of whether you have the Leyline Binding or not, you must pretend as though you do, in order to make your opponent play around it; this usually buys you more time to actually find the Leyline Binding. Additionally, you have the ability to go past a lethal life total with attracts, which can help you gain life.
Mono white Humans
I don't expect much from this match-up, as mono white humans has decreased in favorability due to the lack of mono green in the format. In this match-up, you just have to ensure that you maintain a high life total and remove Thalia whenever it is played because that card hinders your game plan more than any other card they could have.
Another really scary card is Adeline, so you need to suppress their pressure with board clears and single removal spells. If your opponent is smart, they'll never overcome it, so you have to play this tricky game of forcing them to commit. In the sideboard, they will likely have Containment Priest, and a trick you can use against it is to flicker their humans under your temporary exile effects with Yorion, which will permanently exile all their creatures and then re-exile any other creatures they currently have in play.
In conclusion, I believe that this deck has potential, although I am unsure if I possess the optimal version. Nevertheless, I would like to share all the information I currently have about my deck with all of you lovely folks, in the hope that it can be further developed and become a pillar of the format. If you took the time to read this today, please know that I appreciate you infinitely more than you may ever realize; you are helping make the Magic: The Gathering content creation dream come true.
I hope you all have a lovely day.