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5 New Pioneer Decks Featuring The Lost Cavern of Ixalan

Lucas Giggs
20/11/2023 · 7 min read

Quick intro

Last week, I touched on some cards that, in my opinion, had the potential to shake things up in both Pioneer  and Standard . Now, as players start to put these concepts to the test, we're seeing some really intriguing options emerge in Pioneer that could definitely impact the meta.

Today, I want to discuss five decks that have posted strong performances recently and how their success might signal a much-needed breath of fresh air for a format that's been feeling pretty stagnant.

Deck #1: UG Merfolks (claudioh)

UG Merfolks. Builder: claudioh.MTGA - Magic Arena
Other in 16-Nov-2023
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [30]
4  Cenote Scout   $0.35
2  Tishana's Tidebinder   $15.99
3  Sentinel of the Nameless City   $0.69
4  Vodalian Hexcatcher   $6.99
4  Merfolk Trickster   $0.99
4  Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca   $2.49
4  Kumena's Speaker   $0.35
4  Silvergill Adept   $0.39
1  Glasspool Mimic   $5.99
Instant [4]
4  Collected Company   $9.49
Enchantment [4]
4  Deeproot Pilgrimage   $1.99
Land [22]
4  Barkchannel Pathway   // $4.99
4  Botanical Sanctum   $4.99
4  Breeding Pool   $21.99
4  Cavern of Souls   $39.99
2  Mutavault   $9.49
1  Otawara, Soaring City   $19.99
1  Boseiju, Who Endures   $47.99
2  Island   $0.01
Sideboard [15]
2  Tishana's Tidebinder   $15.99
1  Kopala, Warden of Waves   $0.49
3  Disdainful Stroke   $0.35
2  Mystical Dispute   $0.79
2  Shapers' Sanctuary   $1.49
1  Heroic Intervention   $9.99
2  Reclamation Sage   $0.59
2  Unlicensed Hearse   $4.99
Buy this deck:

$279.29 Tix @cardhoarder   $6.98 / Week @cardhoarder   $491.47 @tcgplayer   $566.25 @cardkingdom  

Deck Tools: Visual View Similar Decks Proxies Archetype Analysis
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Claudioh is a seasoned Brazilian grinder who's not only a master of midrange/control gameplay but also a top-notch deck builder, and this deck is solid proof of that prowess. UG Merfolks  is an archetype that folks have been trying to push into the competitive scene for a while, but it's always lacked a solid foundation. Now, with the release of Lost Caverns of Ixalan, it's possible we'll start seeing that shift towards viability.

Starting off, we've finally got a legit one-drop to team up with Kumena's Speaker. Cenote Scout might look like a straightforward card on the surface, but it plays a crucial role. Not only does it give the deck the potential to kick off with a 2/2 creature on the board, but it also aids in hitting those land drops and effectively filtering out unwanted lands during draw phases. And of course, being a tribal creature, it amplifies the "kindred" aspect of the deck significantly.

Deproot Pilgrimage is also a solid card for grindy matchups, creating an army of hexproof creatures and pairing up as an excellent combo with Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca.

Claudioh decided to pass on including Kiora's Follower, which can go infinite with another copy in play alongside the enchantment for endless tokens. I've got to admit, having that kind of combo in my arsenal is not something I'd easily dismiss, but I get that on its own, the card's power level is a bit lacking compared to other choices. However, it would still be on the table as an option, depending on how well the deck performs.

Deck #2: Abzan Amalia (Karatedom)

Abzan Amalia. Builder: karatedom.MTGO - Magic Online
(4 - 0)
in MTGO Pioneer Preliminary #12592563 15-Nov-2023
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [30]
4  Wildgrowth Walker   $0.79
4  Llanowar Elves   $0.59
1  Archon of Emeria   $2.79
4  Prosperous Innkeeper   $1.49
2  Knight of Autumn   $0.79
4  Extraction Specialist   $0.69
4  Elvish Mystic   $0.59
3  Mosswood Dreadknight   $2.49
4  Amalia Benavides Aguirre   $1.29
Instant [4]
4  Collected Company   $9.49
Sorcery [4]
4  Thoughtseize   $14.99
Land [22]
4  Temple Garden   $12.99
3  Blooming Marsh   $7.99
4  Overgrown Tomb   $14.99
3  Branchloft Pathway   // $2.49
3  Darkbore Pathway   // $7.49
1  Boseiju, Who Endures   $47.99
3  Razorverge Thicket   $1.99
1  Forest   $0.01
Sideboard [15]
2  Rest in Peace   $1.49
1  Eidolon of Rhetoric   $1.29
1  Jegantha, the Wellspring   $0.79
4  Fatal Push   $1.99
3  Archon of Emeria   $2.79
1  Duress   $0.35
2  Damping Sphere   $0.35
1  Pile On   $0.49
Buy this deck:

$104.56 Tix @cardhoarder   $2.61 / Week @cardhoarder   $303.35 @tcgplayer   $373.85 @cardkingdom  

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Grinder Karatedom pulled off an undefeated run in a preliminary event piloting an Abzan Company variant, featuring the Amalia Benevides Aguirre + Wildgrowth Walker combo, which I mentioned in my latest article .

However, contrary to my initial recommendation, instead of adapting an existing GW Company deck by integrating the combo, he chose to heavily tailor his main deck around it. He included cards like Extraction Specialist to recover combo pieces if they're disrupted or discarded, and Thoughtseize to glean insights from the opponent's hand, ensuring a more protected combo execution.

The concept here is quite compelling, and if we take a look at Abzan Greasefang, which essentially operates on the same principle of comboing off in Game 1 and then shifting into a midrange role in certain matchups, it could be a really solid strategy.

Deck #3: Quintorius Combo (Atsushi Ito)

Quintorius Combo. Builder: Atsushi Ito.MTGA - Magic Arena
Other in 17-Nov-2023
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [16]
4  Spark Double   $5.99
2  Clever Impersonator   $2.49
4  Torrential Gearhulk   $0.99
2  Trumpeting Carnosaur   $5.99
4  Greater Tanuki   $0.35
Instant [16]
4  Magma Opus   $7.99
4  Creative Outburst   $0.35
4  Consign/Oblivion   $0.49
4  Depose/Deploy   $0.35
Planeswalker [4]
4  Quintorius Kand   $4.99
Land [24]
4  Breeding Pool   $21.99
2  Cragcrown Pathway   // $4.49
4  Dreamroot Cascade   $3.49
3  Stomping Ground   $12.99
2  Rockfall Vale   $1.49
1  Boseiju, Who Endures   $47.99
1  Otawara, Soaring City   $19.99
2  Island   $0.01
2  Forest   $0.01
2  Mountain   $0.01
1  Plains   $0.01
Sideboard [15]
4  Shark Typhoon   $7.99
4  Mirrorshell Crab   $0.35
4  Thrun, Breaker of Silence   $0.49
3  Dragonlord Dromoka   $13.99
Buy this deck:

$115.99 Tix @cardhoarder   $2.90 / Week @cardhoarder   $333.61 @tcgplayer   $401.15 @cardkingdom  

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Another innovative deck that's been making waves is a combo build entirely centered around Quintorius Kand, the new planeswalker from Ixalan.

Just to break it down for those who might not be familiar, the strategy is quite straightforward: you construct the deck with spells that all cost 4 mana or more. The key point to note here is that fuse spells don't fall under the category of a discovery, for instance. With the inclusion of ramp mechanics and high-cost interactions that can be played early on, all you need to do is resolve a planeswalker and activate its second ability, Discovery 4. This allows you to reveal cards from the top of your library until you hit something that costs 4 or less.

In this deck list, we're running just Spark Double and Clever Impersonator as our clone effects, which can enter the battlefield as a copy of our main man, Quintorius.

The cool tech here is if you drop a Spark Double first, any subsequent clones can mimic it, creating an army of Quintorius Kand tokens. And thanks to the planeswalker static ability, each time you cast something from exile, every single Quintorius token is going to ping for 2 damage. This synergy can quickly close out the game by initiating a chain reaction where a swarm of Quintorius tokens are dishing out loads of damage.

Deck #4: Rhinos at Home (LewisFoz)

Rhinos at Home. Builder: LewisFoz.MTGA - Magic Arena
Other in 17-Nov-2023
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [30]
4  Glasspool Mimic   $5.99
4  Mirror Image   $0.99
4  Grabby Giant   $0.35
4  Geological Appraiser   $0.35
3  Twinshot Sniper   $0.35
3  Beanstalk Wurm   $0.35
3  Horned Loch-Whale   $0.49
2  Trumpeting Carnosaur   $5.99
3  Colossal Skyturtle   $0.79
Instant [3]
3  Magma Opus   $7.99
Land [27]
4  Ketria Triome   $12.99
4  Stomping Ground   $12.99
2  Restless Ridgeline   $0.59
4  Steam Vents   $14.99
2  Den of the Bugbear   $5.99
1  Boseiju, Who Endures   $47.99
1  Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance   $3.99
1  Otawara, Soaring City   $19.99
2  Island   $0.01
3  Mountain   $0.01
2  Forest   $0.01
1  Hall of Storm Giants   $2.79
Sideboard [15]
3  Chandra, Torch of Defiance   $2.79
3  Chandra, Awakened Inferno   $2.79
2  Leyline of the Void   $2.79
3  Virtue of Courage   $3.49
3  Mirrorshell Crab   $0.35
1  Keruga, the Macrosage   $0.49
Buy this deck:

$103.54 Tix @cardhoarder   $2.59 / Week @cardhoarder   $294.28 @tcgplayer   $358.81 @cardkingdom  

Deck Tools: Visual View Similar Decks Proxies Archetype Analysis
Export & Save: Magic online format Apprentice and MWS .dec

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Another deck that's popped up on the radar due to the Discovery ability really showcases some strategic depth. It's got a vibe that's reminiscent of the Quintorius Combo, but it pivots towards a slightly different angle of play. If you manage to get a Geological Appraiser on the board by turn 3 or 4, you're setting up a loop with 8 clones from the deck, wrapping up the turn with a squad of nine 3/2 creatures ready to rumble.

This deck pays homage to the Modern Temur Rhinos, renowned for their capacity to slam down a significant amount of power right out of the gates—of course, keeping things in proportion. From my perspective, this build feels a touch more vulnerable than Quintorius, but it has the potential to catch opponents off guard. After all, not every deck is equipped to handle that level of firepower so early in the game.

Player Hauterho seems to be running a similar decklist, but they've taken it a step further.

I'm having a hard time seeing how to slot Imodane's Recruiter into this lineup without the risk of tipping our hand with the first discovery play, but if you're feeling lucky, you might take that shot. He hasn't dropped his list yet, but I'm pretty confident it's going to be close to what we've seen above.

Deck #5: Boros Convoke (strong_sad)

Alright, so we're not talking about a fresh deck here, but I've got to mention it because it really showcases how the deck's power level spiked with the introduction of Lost Caverns of Ixalan. I even highlighted Warden of the Inner Sky as one of the top-notch cards in my last piece, but I've got to admit, I didn't expect it to hit the tables this quickly. And it's slotted in super smoothly into the build.

The fact that it's a one-drop, in white, that synergizes with other creatures and artifacts, offering up some sweet card selection and quickly turning into a board threat, has solidified its spot in the main deck. It's a force to be reckoned with, and it's proving its worth in the current meta.

Strong_sad just clinched a trophy in a Pioneer league, piloting a tight list with a full playset in the main deck, and he's also slinging Sunshot Militia. In a deck that's cranking out permanents left and right, Sunshot Militia can consistently dish out some serious damage, slotting in seamlessly to the two-drop curve. You don't want to overload on copies, but it's a solid creature for the mid to late game. Plus, it's a sweet find off of Knight-Errant of Eos.

On the topic of the sideboard, Dusk Rose Reliquary seems to be a solid pick, despite the inherent downside of having to sacrifice a creature or artifact. However, I must admit, I'd really like to see Get Lost make the cut in this list. I truly believe it's one of the top white spells we've seen released in recent times, especially due to its versatility in handling three different card types.

Final words

The Lost Caverns of Ixalan has just arrived and has already brought plenty of fresh elements to the Pioneer scene, introducing new decks as well as bolstering some that already existed. I must admit, I'm surprised, particularly by the sheer number of new options it has introduced to the format. Both the Pioneer community and we, the players, are thankful!

Until next time!

If you liked this article maybe you will also find interesting on of the following ones 7 New Standard Decks Featuring The Lost Caverns of Ixalan by Mogged, What is New in Standard with March of the Machine?, Pro Tour Barcelona Metagame Breakdown: The One Ring Meta

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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: 2023-11-20 00:00:00