(Editor’s Note: this article was written before the statement was announced.)
With the release of Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, Companions have taken over Pioneer especially with 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 and 《Lurrus of the Dream Den》 as their restrictions are easy to build around. Most of the top decks in Pioneer are seen with Companion as it provides an additional card and their effects are powerful if you correctly build around it.
Today, I will be talking about Pioneer Gyruda Combo Deck which is starting to put up multiple results in Super Qualifiers. I first saw the deck from a 5-0 Magic Online league and decided to try it. I was impressed with the deck especially with the London Mulligan as the plan was just to mulligan into mana accelerator and cast a turn 4 《Gyruda, Doom of Depths》, which you will hope to mill into 《Wispweaver Angel》 or 《Spark Double》 to create multiple copies of Gyruda and finish them with 《Dragonlord Kolaghan》 by giving all your creatures haste.
The deck is resilient to 《Thoughtseize》 effect as Companion can’t be discarded. There are also not many decks in Pioneer have answer to Gyruda which makes 《cloning》 it much easier. We can always 《Thought-Knot Seer》 away their removal if we think they have it before we cast Gyruda.
This is the decklist I have been playing on Magic Online.
4 《Temple of Mystery》
4 《Yavimaya Coast》
2 《Aether Hub》
4 《Blast Zone》
4 《Radiant Fountain》
2 《Zhalfirin Void》
-Land (24)- 4 《Paradise Druid》
4 《Sylvan Caryatid》
4 《Altered Ego》
4 《Clever Impersonator》
4 《Spark Double》
4 《Thought-Knot Seer》
1 《Vizier of Many Faces》
4 《Wispweaver Angel》
3 《Gyruda, Doom of Depths》
2 《Dragonlord Kolaghan》
As you can see, the main deck is pretty much the same as the current stock version of Gyruda and I believe the main deck is pretty well tuned except changes can be made for the lands. I tried 《Growth Spiral》 and more 《Wolfwillow Haven》 instead of mana creatures as there were an increase of 《Trial of Ambition》 and 《Deafening Clarion》 decks but 《Growth Spiral》 requires us to increase our land count which will require us to cut some of our clone effects and it will most likely cause the deck to fizzle more often when we cast Gyruda. 《Sylvan Caryatid》 and 《Paradise Druid》 also work better with all our clone effects as we can just copy it to enable turn 4 Gyruda.
At first, the decklist I copied from Magic Online does not include 《Wispweaver Angel》 which I believe was incorrect. It acts as more copies of 《Spark Double》 which is needed as sometime we just drew too many copies of it or it was at the bottom part of our deck. We also need enough copies of Gyruda on the battlefield in order to kill our opponent before we mill away our 《Dragonlord Kolaghan》.
Card Choices and Other Candidates
I would like to explain some of the card choices which I think can be tuned for the current version of Gyruda.
The only changes I make mainboard was to include 《Blast Zone》. It gives us an additional answer to problematic permanents like 《Grafdigger’s Cage》, 《Hushbringer》 and 《Drannith Magistrate》 which stop our combo. The cost of playing 《Blast Zone》 in this deck is basically free.
I found this to be best against Boros burn which is one of the top tier deck in Pioneer. It acts as a ramp while also gives us 3 life to survive and cast Gyruda. We can also copy or blink it with 《Wispweaver Angel》 if needed.
I prefer playing 《Destiny Spinner》 over 《Agonizing Remorse》. Normally spot removals that can’t kill Gyruda are boarded out which makes it more likely to survive and 《Destiny Spinner》 is better at stopping multiple counterspells from opponent hand.
If Heroic or Aura decks start to occupy a large percent of the metagame instead of Boros Burn, this is the best answer against them. It buys us enough time to cast our Gyruda and is usually a blowout when it resolves.
There are 2 version of Dimir Inverter, I found the version with Yorion to be slightly harder as they have access to 《Trial of Ambition》 to interact with our mana creatures. If you think they have removal for Gyruda, it is always correct to not cast your Gyruda into it unless you have another copy of Gyruda in your hand. 《Thought-Knot Seer》 also does a good job at disrupting their combo while also helping us to set up Gyruda. Always cast the Gyruda from your hand if you have multiple copies as they can just 《Thoughtseize》 it away.
This is the matchup why we have 4 《Centaur Nurturer》 in our sideboard. It acts as a ramp while also gives us 3 life. 《Sylvan Caryatid》 is the best card against them as it just blocks all their non-prowess creatures. Be careful that they can use 《Boros Charm》 to give their creature double strike when we block with 《Sylvan Caryatid》 in order to slow us down from casting Gyruda. Usually I only board in 《Blink of an Eye》 if I see that they have hate-bear creatures like 《Hushbringer》. I also board out 《Dragonlord Kolaghan》 as I felt that it was not needed once we are able to cast Gyruda since there are only few situations that we need the haste from 《Dragonlord Kolaghan》 to kill them.
The plan against control deck game 1 is just to use 《Thought-Knot Seer》 to remove their counterspell for Gyruda. Unless they drew multiple counterspell, I believe the preboard game to be favor for us. After sideboard, they have access to 4 《Mystical Dispute》 which is very good against Gyruda but 《Destiny Spinner》 is very good at stopping the counterspell plan from them. Just be careful not to overextend your creatures into their 《Supreme Verdict》. Remember 《Clever Impersonator》 can also be used to copy their 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 which blanks all their counterspell.
One of the worst matchup for Gyruda, that why we have 4 《Damping Sphere》 for the matchup. We can only hope that they are not able to combo us before we cast Gyruda. We can also try to disrupt them by using our clone to copy our 《Thought-Knot Seer》.
Gyruda Combo Mirror
Whoever is on the play is guarantee to win the game. It is highly unlikely to miss when you combo off as we have double the clone effect from both sides. After sideboard, the game is trickier as we have to play around 《Blink of an Eye》.
This is one of the situations I encounter which is interesting. Opponent has 3 cards in hand, played a 《Temple of Mystery》 and 《Wolfwillow Haven》 last turn and pass. I have the chance to cast Gyruda on my turn but if they have 《Blink of an Eye》, I might lose if I fail to mill them out as they can just bounce my 《Dragonlord Kolaghan》 before combat. I choose to pass the turn and if my opponent has 《Agonizing Remorse》 and cast Gyruda, I might lose. My opponent only manages to cast Gyruda and I have a window when they try to blink their Gyruda with 《Wispweaver Angel》 to break off their combo and manage to mill them out on my turn.
I find this matchup very hard as we can’t really block their creatures with our mana creature since they can just pump their creatures and kill it. Their deck also provides a really fast clock which is very good against us. If this deck gets popular, I can see playing back 《Aetherize》 against them.
This is similar to Azorius Control but they have 《Deafening Clarion》 which I believe is better against us. They are also able to steal our land with 《Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast》 and 《Agent of Treachery》 combo which denies us mana to cast Gyruda. After sideboard, they have 《Void Winnower》 which basically stops our whole deck. I do not sideboard 《Destiny Spinner》 in this matchup as I feel that it just walks into their sweeper plan. A good way to play around 《Deafening Clarion》 is to copy your 《Sylvan Caryatid》 with 《Spark Double》 which makes it a 1/4.
That marks the end of my article! I hope this helps you understand Gyruda Combo in Pioneer. The deck is very consistent and mulligan very well. I believe Companions to define Pioneer now as it is just too powerful unless anything changes. If you have any questions regarding the deck, I will be happy to answer them via Twitter. Thanks!
Kelvin Chew (Twitter)