R Koster's picture
By: R Koster, Rob Koster
Aug 31 2020 11:00am

 It's not often that the entire Tier 1 of a format gets banned. It was highly necessary. I do want to check in with the format and share my findings so far.

The first thing I came across was while I was playing was a lot of brews. And I mean a lot of them. I thought I threw together bad piles of cards, but I'm not the only one that does that. After the first few days of people still just jamming Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath everywhere, things started to become a lot more fun.

Things that happened to me that were never possible with all the combo decks around in no particular order:

- I had someone attack me with an Arboreal Grazer with an Assault Formation in play. The deck also ran Nyx-Fleece Ram and Huatli, the Sun's Heart. I don't know if this person was trying to win the game, but seeing them go for it was the first time in a long time that I cracked a wide smile while playing a game of Pioneer.

- I had someone cast a Torgaar, Famine Incarnate against me from Mono Black aggro, using their recurring guys to make him cheaper. They ended up targeting themselves because I was below ten life. But whoever you are, props for trying it.

- Someone was doing something that I hold very dearly. They were trying to get Alesha, Who Smiles At Death to bring back a Master of Cruelties. This is one of my favorite interactions of all time, and I can't wait to build my version of this idea.

Besides the hills being alive with the sound of jank, there are also some clear winners emerging, and today I want to talk about those.

The decks that are currently doing best are;
- Mono-Black Aggro
- Spirits
- Niv-Mizzet
- Sultai Delirium
- Mono-Green Devotion

Just look at that list, what a vast improvement over the Inverter/Breach/Heliod Metagame. And it shows, finding matches no longer takes 10-15 minutes. As far as I can tell, tournaments fire and people seem to be coming back into the format again!

First off, Sultai Delirium and Mono-Black Aggro are the two decks that had been the tier 1.5 before the bans and just took their rightful place at the top.

For the rest of the newcomers, welcome! Good to see you here.

Let's go through them to see what they are about.

First of; Spirits:

Spirits is a tribal deck based around the Creature type Spirits. Available in Azorius, Simic, and Bant flavors.

Bant Spirits by Ivan_Draw_Go (Pioneer Challenge 22nd Place)

Azorius Spirits by TbxGreenguy (Pioneer Challenge 24th Place)

First off, these lists are so cool! I love that they all look very similar but look like they very differently at the same time. The Simic version makes me think of Mono-Blue Devotion decks that try and ride a small Creature to victory while drawing a ton of cards with the Auras. The Bant version reminds me of the Modern version with just Collected Company, no Noble Hierarch in Pioneer after all. And the Azorius version just looks like a very sweet Tempo deck with all the funky stuff going on in there. That list just looks like you have a million options at all times, I can't wait to play it for myself!

After that, we get to 5 Color Tradebinder. I mean Niv To Light. I did not think there would be a day where 5 Color Tradebinder would be a serious Tier 1 option. But here we are. As long as the Mana supports it, why not just play the strongest cards?

These decks use Niv-Mizzet Reborn to draw a ton of value and just outvalue everything. I would give a list, but there are just so many options. You can go 60 cards; you can go 80 cards with Yorion, Sky Nomad. Because, well, why not? The kind of person to play this deck seems like the person to go for 80 cards. Every list I found has some number Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath and Teferi, Time Raveler in it. Sylvan Caryatid makes an appearance in every single one of them as well. After that, think about what your Metagame is full of. Take out your trade binder and mix and match until your heart is content, and your binder is empty.

The last of the three newcomers that I want to talk about today is Mono-Green Devotion. This deck has a very high likelihood of being the current deck to beat in the format. So let's see what's going on over there.

Mono-Green Devotion by D00mwake (Pioneer Challenge 1st Place)

D00mwake won the Pioneer Challenge with this list last week, and when I look at it, I can't say I'm surprised. This looks like a more Planeswalker based version of the Mono-Green Devotion deck that got multiple bans in the first few weeks of the format. That deck was busted beyond sin, and even coming close to it gets my attention. This deck has it all, card selection in Oath of Nissa, a way to find answers in Karn, The Great Creator, a ton of fast Mana in Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and Nissa, Who Shakes the World, a free spell in Burning-Tree Emissary and just a ludicrous amount of potent spells in all the Planeswalkers. All of those things have been broken before, Oath of Nissa just came off the Banlist, which usually means the card is inherently powerful. *Cries in Wild Nacatl and Bitterblossom

The basic premise of this deck is also easy to grasp. Make a ton of Mana, do something big before your opponent does it, and ride that advantage to victory. You are going something along the lines of Turn 1 Llanowar Elves, Turn 2 Burning-Tree Emissary, Wolfwillow Haven. Turn 3 play Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and play Nissa, Who Shakes the World a reasonable amount, and that is a potent line of opening plays that will flat-out beat a large part of your opponents.

If you are just about winning all of it, I would play this deck. It looks like a surefire way to get some good finishes wherever you are going to play.

These aren't the only decks that are doing well in the winner's circles. I've also seen some Azorius Control, Burn, Winota, and Wilderness Reclamation decks sneaking around. But the archetypes I talked about here seem to be the ones that have gotten the early post-ban lead.

Will the others catch up? I sure hope so, I love Winota way more than ever could be reasonable, so I would love to flip some tables with it again. But for now, it's hanging around but not there yet. But who knows what happens next?