Charting a Course – Go Wide or Outgrind?

Arinceo breaks down the week of Pioneer data to provide a glimpse into the future of the format.

Welcome to the latest edition of Charting a Course! 

The Banned & Restricted announcement has come and gone with no changes to Pioneer. Let’s take a look at what’s been happening since!


‘Most Dominant’ Decks of the Week

WeekMost Top 32sMost Top 16sMost Top 8s
Sept 3-4Rakdos Midrange (9)Rakdos Midrange (6)Rakdos Midrange (3)
Sept 10-11Rakdos Midrange (11)Rakdos Midrange (7)Rakdos Midrange (5)
Sept 17-18Rakdos Midrange, Green Devotion (13)Rakdos Midrange, Green Devotion (7)Green Devotion (5)
Sept 24-25Rakdos Midrange (22)Rakdos Midrange (10)Rakdos Midrange (7)
Oct 1-2*Rakdos Midrange (15)Rakdos Midrange (11)Green Devotion (6)
Oct 8-9Rakdos Midrange (10)Green Devotion, Mono White Humans (5)Green Devotion (4)
Oct 15-16Green Devotion (16)Rakdos Midrange, Green Devotion (7)Rakdos Midrange, Izzet Phoenix (3)

*Three events

Go Stronger or Go Longer

While we’ve seen some fluctuations in the meta, Mono-Green Devotion and Rakdos Midrange are still the premier decks of the format. There appears to be a prevailing method to choosing a deck that isn’t Rakdos Midrange or Mono-Green Devotion – you either have to go stronger or go longer. Invariably this gives you a good matchup against one of these strategies, but not the other.

Recently we’ve seen two new Gruul-based decks emerge – Atarka Red (also known as Gruul Bushwhacker) and Gruul Stompy (sometimes referred to as Gruul Vehicles). Atarka Red is all in on the “go stronger” strategy, going for an early kill with some explosive turns powered by Goblin Bushwhacker, Burning-Tree Emissary and Atarka’s Command.

The Stompy decks have not settled on a preferred build at this stage… with the more aggressive builds using a playset of Embercleave to punch through a Mono-Green Devotion board stall; whereas others load up on vehicles such as Eskia’s Chariot and Skysovereign, Consul Flagship in order to go longer than Rakdos Midrange on resources. If you’re feeling very spicy you can use the Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and Combat Celebrant combo in the same shell!

Mono-White Midrange

Buy on TCGplayer $312.28
4 mythic
49 rare
0 uncommon
7 common
Creatures (24)
Llanowar Elves
Elvish Mystic
Scavenging Ooze
Sorceries (4)
Artifacts (8)
Esika's Chariot
60 Cards
15 Cards

The other new  “go longer” decks that have emerged of late are heavily White-based Midrange lists, utilizing cards like Serra Paragon, Charming Prince and Extraction Specialist to out “grind” the Rakdos Midrange decks. The latest builds have gone into a Black splash for early interaction like Fatal Push and Vanishing Verse in order to combat Mono-Green Devotion and other early aggro decks.

Gruul Stompy

Buy on TCGplayer $271.7
6 mythic
45 rare
10 uncommon
19 common
Planeswalkers (4)
Instants (4)
Fatal Push
Artifacts (6)
Portable Hole
Enchantments (2)
Lands (33)
Fabled Passage
Field of Ruin
Savai Triome
Raffine's Tower
Godless Shrine
Indatha Triome
80 Cards
15 Cards

Gruul Stompy seems to be faring the best of the new decks, though we have also seen a resurgence of Izzet Phoenix and Mono-White Humans. As we approach the release of Brothers War it will be interesting to see if any of these decks can rise to the level of our current S Tier decks, or at least bring them back to the rest of the field. Keep an eye on our Meta Data page for ongoing stats about the latest event results.

Until Next Time

This weekend is the conclusion of the Manatraders October Pioneer event, featuring a large Swiss on the Saturday followed by finals on Sunday. These events attract a large section of MTGO’s best players, check out their Twitch channel for coverage!

If there’s anything you’d like to see me examine further in these articles, you can reach me on Twitter and Reddit, or on our PlayingPioneer Discord if you are signed up to our Patreon.

  • Arinceo

    Author/Data Coordinator

    Arinceo has been in an on/off relationship with Magic since cracking his first packs in 2004. After watching his beloved Hardened Scales deck suffer the loss of Walking Ballista he jumped back into Pioneer following the release of the 2021 challenger decks and is active in the community on the PioneerMTG subreddit and Twitter. Arinceo compiles most of the competitive data used on our meta data page and elsewhere.

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