R Koster's picture
By: R Koster, Rob Koster
Feb 20 2020 1:00pm

Man, am I glad that I hadn't fully bought in yet. So, I went on vacation for two-and-a-half weeks, and Pioneer did a full 180 and decided to be a different format in that little window of my vacation.

Just a little aside, I went to Hong Kong to visit my girlfriend's family and celebrate the New Years' festivities there. Those, however, got canceled this year, which is about the same as someone canceling Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year's Eve. But despite that, the people were amazing. It was a life-changing experience, and all I can say without getting to off-topic is that I wish everyone there the best with everything that's going on.

Anyway, back to the Magic! So, all the testing I did felt almost irrelevant straight from the moment I got back home. Because right now, I feel like there is only one deck you should be playing in Pioneer.

Yes, we all know what I'm talking about. You should be playing Dimir Inverter. I can't think of any good reason not to be playing it. The deck is a ton of fun, powerful, consistent, and probably should be banned. Because well, have you played the deck? I have outraced Mono-Red and outgrinded UW Control with the same 75. I'll post my current 75 later in the article, but this is what I started with. Because I expect a Player's Tour winning list to be more refined than mine.

I'm assuming most of you have seen this list before, so I won't be talking about it for too long. The basic idea is to combo off with Thassa's Oracle and Inverter of Truth. Which sounds complicated and hard, but usually isn't. The rest of the deck is pretty hard to play, though, but once you get there, you're just done. Winning the game, like with Twin, a deck, a ton of people, are comparing this to, for very good reason, it feels almost the exact same but better. Let me say that again. This feels a lot better than Splinter Twin ever did. And it's for one simple reason; this deck is pro-active instead of reactive. I have spent so many matches just praying for a Remand target that didn't just get recast straight away or just had Cavern of Souls protection.

Thoughtseize Protection, however, is a lot harder to come by. The most common way to be protected from Thoughtseize is to be Hellbent. And well, if you are empty-handed against a UB control deck running Opt, Dig Through Time, Omen of the Sea (also known as SeaOrdain) and a combo that instantly wins the game in Inverter of Truth and Jace, Wielder of Mysteries or Thassa's Oracle, which by the way also helps you find all those other cards, you are in big trouble.

I know I'm hyping this deck up hard, but it's everywhere now for a reason. The very, very fast, aggressive decks can be a problem if you have a bit of a slow draw. Especially in game 1, but as of this moment, I've played 6 leagues with the deck, and I just don't have a losing record against anything. Now I know it's a small sample size, but still. No losing records with a deck you are just starting to learn is absolutely bonkers and should raise every red flag you can find about format health and degeneracy. But as per my new years' resolutions, I don't want to worry about stuff like that anymore, I just want to win more. So yeah, I'm on Dimir Inverter, just like everyone else.

I did try UG Merfolk for a while before this, figuring that the combination of a fast clock and counterspells might stop the Inverter deck, it didn't get any better than 50/50, and all the other matchups were a bit worse, nothing horrible and I will definitely sleeve that deck up in the future. But my winrate with Inverter is just undeniably better. And that is while I'm still learning the deck. I'm not kidding. I consistently fumble all sorts of stuff, just in the last week I forgot about my opponent being able to mill me twice, I forgot about Rest in Peace once when I cast Invoker. I've picked the wrong card with Thoughtseize a ton of times and am still making a ton of sequence mistakes. But even despite that, I'm not having losing records. Which is absurd.

I did change a few cards from the list. Here is what I'm currently at:

These are mostly just preference changes. I feel like you could easily just sleeve up Corey Burkhart's list and be fine. But I just noticed some things that weren't working for me, so I changed them.

The only problem I still find with this list is that sometimes you just flood out and don't do anything, and even though my record is even against them, I would like one or two more cards against Mono-Red and the Walking Ballista combo decks. Just to shore it up a bit more.

The core of this deck is:
4 Inverter of Truth
4 Thassa's Oracle
4 Watery Grave
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Opt
4 Fatal Push
3 Jace, Wielder of Mysteries
4 Thoughtseize
4 Dig Through Time

Which leaves us with 25 slots to fool around with. Sixteen or seventeen of those should be lands. So we have eight or nine slots to work with. Which isn't much, but definitely enough to have some fun with it. Basically, you just decide what you want to beat more than the rest out of tier 1 and tweak to that. Then add lands accordingly. The mana base is, of course, entirely dependant on what you are doing with those other slots. Although I have seen a lot of different mana bases and I definitely want to try some more stuff with mine. I feel that we run to few black sources to cast Thoughtseize on turn 1 and would like to go up some untapped on turn 1 black sources. So maybe some more Choked Estuary, I don't know yet, but I'll figure it out.

So for now, my quest to find a deck to play in Pioneer has ended, although I don't think it will have ended for a long time. I'm surprised it didn't get banned on Monday, but I'll take it. When it gets banned, I'll deep-dive back into a bunch of decks, like the UG Merfolk deck I talked about earlier. But for now, I'm just on Inverter of Truth. I could see myself trying splashes, the Sultai lists that are floating around looked sweet. And how could I not try Grixis? I mean, Grixis is love. Esper could be a thing as well, you never know.