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Mastering Pioneer: 10 Sideboard Cards to Beat the Metagame

Lucas Giggs
29/03/2024 · 7 min read

Quick intro

Continuing the series of articles about sideboarding, today I'm going to talk about the best sideboard cards for Pioneer that you probably should include in your next 75 cards.

For those seeking the best way to fine-tune their sideboard cards for their local metagame or the next major tournament, this top-ten list can provide an idea of what to include in your sideboard plan for the grindy matchups.

The Top 10 Pioneer Sideboard Cards

10. Rending Volley

Good against: Izzet Phoenix, Boros Convoke, Boros Prowess, Abzan Greasefang, Abzan Amalia, Azorius Spirits

Rending Volley has long been one of the best red cards to have in the sideboard. Good in multiple matches, its versatility in fitting against various decks at instant speed and not being able to be nullified by counters or ward means I almost always want to have it in my decks with the color red, since there are many valid targets in the format.

9. Brotherhood’s End

Good match-up against: Boros Convoke, Rakdos Sacrifice, Abzan Amalia, Izzet Ensoul, Azorius Spirits, RG Vehicles

Before its arrival, Anger of the Gods was one of the most played red "sweeper" cards in the format. It still has some good applications, such as exiling creatures from Abzan Amalia so that they don't return with Return to the Ranks or Extraction Specialist. But overall, Brotherhood's End is just better and more versatile. Izzet Phoenix, for example, can make a comeback in matches facing Unlicensed Hearse as graveyard hate, or it can destroy the artifacts of Rakdos Sacrifice and Izzet Ensoul, tipping the game in its favor.

8. Pick Your Poison

Good against: Rakdos Vampires, Niv to Light, Izzet Ensoul

Pick Your Poison is already one of the best sideboard cards in Modern, and I believe it also has significant potential in Pioneer. For just one mana, we can destroy various types of permanents across different matchups. Of course, in some cases where many cards of the same type are in play, such as with Rakdos Sacrifice and Azorius Spirits, it may not be as effective. However, against the three aforementioned matchups, it proves to be very useful.

Now that Rakdos is also using Archfiend of the Dross, we have even more relevant targets. Against Niv, being able to destroy Leyline Binding or even Niv Mizzet cannot be ignored. The downside is that decks with green usually have better cards in other colors, such as black and white, but still, I believe it will be a card that is widely used in future tournaments.

7. Unlicensed Hearse

Good against: Izzet Phoenix, Lotus Field, Abzan Amalia, Abzan Greasefang

Graveyard hate was once more important in the format, but it remains quite relevant, especially when discussing hate that also becomes a threat in the late game. It is one of the best cards released in this respect in recent times, precisely because it is relevant at all stages of the game.

It disrupts Treasure Cruise, Bala Ged Recovery, Lier, prevents taking a Parhelion II and makes Return to the Ranks, Extraction Specialist, and Lunarch Veteran worse. Sometimes it has even been used in the main deck of some decks, such as Rakdos and RG Vehicles, mainly with the predominance of Izzet Phoenix in the format, being very important against that deck.

6. Mystical Dispute

Good against: Izzet Phoenix, UW Control, Niv to Light, UB Control, Lotus Field, UR Creativity

One of the best counters in the format, it can be cast for just one mana, which makes it difficult to play around it, and it has very relevant targets across multiple decks. It also provides an advantage post-sideboard during a counter war, or for decks that have access to blue and need to defend against threats and cards that generate significant card advantage in the same color.

5. Ashiok, Dream Render

Good against:  Izzet Phoenix, Abzan Amalia,  Lotus FieldNiv to Light

Some Pioneer players attempted to break the format by including Ashiok in the main deck of Izzet Phoenix at the last Pro Tour. Having a graveyard hate card that also feeds your own graveyard provides a significant advantage in the mirror match for those who resolve it first.

The card also incidentally hits another matchup, Lotus Field, because the deck has many cards that search the library, and with Ashiok's static ability, this plan becomes much worse. It also has relevance in other matches, like rendering Bring to Light to Niv Mizzet and Chord of Calling in Abzan Company useless. It's a card that has been in the format for a while, but only now have players discovered its utility, and it has become one of the most used cards in the format.

4. Path of Peril

Good against: Boros Convoke, Boros Prowess, Abzan Amalia, Azorius Spirits

Just like in Standard, Path of Peril is one of the best sweepers because it kills basically everything that needs to be killed for a low mana cost. The format is quite aggressive, and this card is especially good against Boros Prowess, although now the deck is using fewer protection cards like Gods Willing and more cards against this specific plan of destroying everything, like Loran’s Escape. But it's still one of the best cards available.

3. Go Blank

Good against: Izzet Phoenix, Abzan Greasefang, Lotus Field, UW Control, UB Control

Some players prefer to use Leyline of the Void in that slot, which even makes some sense against specific matches like Izzet Phoenix, but I personally hate that type of card. In Modern, it makes more sense to have it in the sideboard, as it's a format fairly oriented towards graveyard strategies, but I believe that in Pioneer, Go Blank is better. Leyline is very bad if you don't open with it in your hand, and even if you do, it's not a guarantee of winning the game, since the sideboard plans of the decks it targets also change post sideboard. Go Blank is much more versatile, it's good at all stages of the game and also has extra utility in matches like UW and UB, making Memory Deluge and Dig Through Time worse.

2. Temporary Lockdown

Good against: Boros Convoke,  Boros Prowess, Izzet Ensoul, Abzan Amalia, Azorius Spirits, Rakdos Sacrifice

Lockdown is as relevant in Standard as it is in Pioneer, with some decks still using it in the main deck. It has the same importance as Path of Peril for white decks, but with the advantage of taking more than just creatures in the process, like blood tokens, treasure, clue, and small permanents like Witch’s Oven, Reckoner Bankbuster, and Smuggler’s Copter.

1. Get Lost

Good against:UW Control, Quintorius Combo, Rakdos Sacrifice, Monoblack Midrange, Niv to Light

As mentioned in the previous article, just like in Standard, Get Lost is also one of the best white removals released recently. The fact that it deals with practically any permanent that is really concerning, especially planeswalkers, which historically are types of cards that are hard to answer. It has multiple applications, both for aggro, responding to large creatures and Temporary Lockdown, as well as for midrange and control, responding to whatever is necessary.

Final words

Pioneer has an even more diverse metagame than Standard, and it ends up being difficult to attack from all angles and all possible strategies, but the diversity of available cards also means that the responses are getting better and better. These are some of the best that I believe are more versatile for each type of deck, just choose the one that best fits your game plan. Until next time!

If you liked this article maybe you will also find interesting on of the following ones 4 Powerful and Fun Standard Decks without Black, 3 Best Dominaria Standard Decks You Should Know, The 10 Most Impactful Phyrexia: All will be one MTG Cards in Standard

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Lucas Giggs
MTG Streamer
Hi, my name is Lucas de Almeida Hervás. I'm 31 years old, married, and I live in Indaiatuba/SP, Brazil. I've been playing Magic the Gathering since 2009, but I've been making a living off of it since 2019 through leagues and tournaments on Magic Online. For those who don't know me, I'm 2.17 meters tall, hence the nickname "the tallest Magic player in Brazil."


Published: 2024-03-29 00:00:00