Today Wizards announced a new competitive format called Pioneer. Much like Modern, the format is non rotating and tournament legal sets start with a previous Standard expansion and every previously Standard legal expansion after it is legal.
Pioneer begins with Return to Ravnica and every Standard legal set after it is legal. The format is also starting with a short banned list which only includes the fetch lands from Khans of Tarkir which are Flooded Strand, Polluted Delta, Bloodstained Mire, Wooded Foothills, and Windswept Heath. Aaron Forsythe has said they’ll be watching the metagame closely in case additional cards warp the format.
I’m personally excited for this format. There should be decent deck diversity at the start. Though I also do expect some combo decks to be bonkers until either the metagame shifts around them or a key piece gets banned. Saheeli Rai for example could easily end up banned from the format. 4C Saheeli was real good in standard.
In Pioneer, there are more options and tools. Opt for example will speed up a dedicated combo deck. But if I remember right there were some UW decks that jammed red just to make the combo a late game win condition. With Return to Ravnica legal in this format, that means we could not only see Sphinx’s Revelation control but a Sphinx’s Revelation control that plays Saheeli to win instead of Aetherling. Though that’s not too bad of a future. It would give inevitability to that mirror match unlike what we had during RTR/Theros Standard.
As for format diversity, there are a lot of deck lists to brew. RDW has probably 10 different variants by itself. Then there’s the base of basically every good Standard deck since 2013. UW control, several flavors of Esper, Black/Blue Devotion, Heroic, Siege Rhino Abzan, Delirium, Vehicles, Sidisi Whip, the list goes on. And then tons new brews because all these sets are legal at the same time. Imagine Whipping back an Emrakul, the Promised End.
There are some real powerful cards legal in this format too right now. And I mean they should’ve been preemptively banned.
Dig Through Time
Nexus of Fate
These absolutely should’ve been banned on day one. They’re all unfair and miserable to play against. Do we really want a format where Saheeli gets to play Dig Through Time, Treasure Cruise, and Nexus of Fate? That would actually make Saheeli UR instead of URx. Get the Nexus of Fate loop going and just ping with Saheeli for 20 turns. No more cats. Just Saheeli poking you to death.
I imagine these cards will be banned soon enough though. Basically anything that was good enough to get banned in Standard will be on the chopping block for Pioneer. There’s barely any reason to worry in my opinion.
How do you feel about the format? What decks are you going to brew? Let me know down in the comments below.