It’s been a while since my last article, and now that I have some free time until the next competition I wanted to share a very cool Pioneer deck. This is probably one of the most benefited with the release of Kaldheim because it plays 《The Raven’s Warning》, a card that didn’t see much play elsewhere and it’s very cool. And also plays 《Esika’s Chariot》 which also didn’t see much play beyond Standard.
Decklist: 4C 《Transmogrify》
For this article I’m going to take D00mwake’s list who made top4 of the last Showcase Challenge recently:
McWinSauce and Fastfake also were very close to the top 8 in this very same tournament with a similar list.
It’s important to think the deck as a control deck that has some crazy synergies, and not a combo deck. The deck’s most powerful combination is to find an 《Agent of Treachery》 with 《Transmogrify》 in the early turns, but that alone probably won’t win the game.
What usually closes games is 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》, after we have already deployed some permanents with ETB effects (at least one 《Agent of Treachery》 if possible), the value in 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 can be tremendous.
The Pieces of This Deck
Now let’s break through the pieces of this deck to understand its mechanics better.
The deck is built around these cards, you need a lot of enablers, but those are cards that are already decent on their own, so there’s no big downside for not drawing the 《Transmogrify》. What could be terrible is to draw both 《Agent of Treachery》, but in an 80 card deck that shouldn’t be very usual. Also remember if that were to happen you can also target an opponent’s creature and pray that they don’t get something better.
These are very good because they create a token while also giving you a card. So even if you don’t have the 《Transmogrify》 it’s not like you are paying the full cost of a card to get tokens. They also work very well in defense duty.
This is the reason why the deck plays green, so imagine how good it is. Very good both in defense and offense. Versus the aggro decks you are first going to try to trade the vehicle itself while leaving tokens for 《Transmogrify》 or further blocks, and when you need to be the aggressor it puts a lot of pressure. Also, it’s a very good permanent to blink with 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》. In some scenarios, you might even want to make a large 《Shark Typhoon》 token to copy it.
This card is a bit weak on its own but it covers a lot of functionalities. If you can trigger the second chapter it’s great, because you get the card and knowing if your opponent can kill your token in response to 《Transmogrify》 or not is super valuable to not take unnecessary risks.
And the second big functionality is giving you this “wish” effect, where you take something from your sideboard. No restriction is also great. If you have 《Transmogrify》 in hand you can put 《Void Winnower》 or 《Resolute Archangel》 if those are better than the 《Agent of Treachery》 in that spot. If you don’t have 《Transmogrify》 going for Lukka can be the way to go. As well as having access to a 2nd 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 and some silver bullets.
These are pretty obvious, there’s a lot of aggro decks in the meta and we need to make sure that we survive the early turns. Notice that you can blink 《Chained to the Rocks》 with 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 if there’s a better creature to steal.
《Narset, Parter of Veils》 is already a house against a lot of decks that pretend to draw cards. Other than that both will help you to find your missing pieces while staying on the board waiting for a 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 trigger. Activating 《Omen of the Sea》 is also a good use of your mana when you have 《Fires of Invention》 in the battlefield. Not much to add, simple good cards that synergize well with 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》.
The singleton 《Nahiri, the Harbinger》 is a sweet one, a good card by itself that can ultimate into an 《Agent of Treachery》 if we weren’t able to cheat one in earlier. It can also prevent mana flood with the [+2] ability or get rid of extra copies of our last card to talk about: 《Fires of Invention》.
This is the most potent card in the deck, it gives us the possibility to double up our action, sometimes even more than that. Ideally, you play it on turn 4 while also doing something else. Other good interactions to make your turns even more spectaculars are spending all your mana to cycle a 《Shark Typhoon》 while also casting 2 free spells.
And the better of all is to first cast a free spell, then cast a free 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 as our 2nd, then exile the 《Fires of Invention》 with 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》, and still have all our mana and no restrictions to keep playing spells.
Not much to point out, the deck needs some 《Plains》 for the 《The Birth of Meletis》 and has 8 triomes that will help with the Mountain count for 《Chained to the Rocks》 while also fixing the color and providing some flood insurance.
When you have 《Fires of Invention》 in play, cycling triomes is basically free since you don’t really need the mana. 《Fabled Passage》 will also help you get that Mountain for 《Chained to the Rocks》 if you don’t have one, keep that in mind when you are going to fetch.
Most of the Sideboard is Functional to 《The Raven’s Warning》, with that and also the fact that you are an 80 cards deck don’t expect to improve your win rate after sideboarding too much. Usually, you want to switch an 《Agent of Treachery》 for one of the other Creatures in matchups that you think that they are better.
Then you have 4 《Dovin’s Veto》, these are tricky, because if you have 《Fires of Invention》 out, then you can’t cast counterspells. So even though trimming some of the 《Fires of Invention》 when you add 《Dovin’s Veto》 would seem to be the way to go, I don’t think it’s going to be correct most of the times.
For example in the mirror, having 《Fires of Invention》 is so good that if you have it you are fine with a dead 《Dovin’s Veto》 in hand. However, having 《Dovin’s Veto》 can stop your opponent from having their own 《Fires of Invention》 or 《Transmogrify》 something early, which can be game breaker.
Same against Lotus combo, you rather take out some sweepers that are going to be dead, than 《Fires of Invention》, which can be good if you don’t have the 《Dovin’s Veto》 or even play it after you already used 《Dovin’s Veto》. What I’m basically saying is that against decks where you want 《Dovin’s Veto》 you already have other dead cards like 《Deafening Clarion》, so you rather take those out.
Mono Black Aggro
This matchup seems very close to me, the most dangerous creature from their side is probably an early 《Spawn of Mayhem》 since it dodges 《Deafening Clarion》. Try to play around 《Fatal Push》 in response to 《Transmogrify》, but sometimes you might not even be able to and you just have to risk it. Don’t lose to a bluffed 《Fatal Push》!
Mono Black Vampires
This one is better for us than the normal Mono Black, because it’s less aggressive, and our card advantage is way better. Even 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 that it’s not very good versus normal Mono Black is going to be relevant here against the 《Champion of Dusk》.
Niv to Light
This is a very close match, games tend to go long and the addition of 《Valki, God of Lies》 for them is very big. This is because the way 《Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor》 works if you steal it, you are not going to be able to cast spells with it because you don’t have the emblem.
Other than that you just have to do your game and try to present as many threats as possible while stealing their best permanents or maybe attacking their mana.
I think this matchup is slightly better for Burn. Them having access to 《Roiling Vortex》 in the sb is big (no life gain and also virtually dealing with 《Fires of Invention》). Other than that the most common way for us to win is bringing an 《Resolute Archangel》 and going back to 20 life.
We want to make sure that if we resolve a 《Transmogrify》 we are getting the 《Resolute Archangel》 here. Drawing it can be fatal but we have to risk it. Hopefully, If you draw it you can cast it before dying, but not very likely.
This matchup seems slightly favored for us. Our removal and sweepers are effective and they don’t interact very easily with 《Transmogrify》. The way I see it the most likely way they beat us is with a 《Bolas’s Citadel》 and a big setup, but if we disrupt their board, then the 《Bolas’s Citadel》 could not be lethal and then we can steal it.
This matchup I think it’s slightly favored. Some of their best draws we are not going to be able to beat, but we have a lot of good cards against them. 《Chained to the Rocks》 and 《Supreme Verdict》 among them. 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 also very strong. We also have good flying chump blockers, and eventually, 《Agent of Treachery》 can be big (even though they might be able to have protection against it by that time).
This matchup is not very good, mostly because there’s not much that we want to steal with 《Transmogrify》, and we are a bit weak to counterspells as well. Our best tools are 《Esika’s Chariot》 and 《Shark Typhoon》.
This is another bad matchup. They always pass with open mana and it’s very hard to punish their board effectively. I think the most effective strategy in this kind of matchup that is bad is to always try to make the best play assuming they don’t have the card that punishes that play. Don’t play around with everything because you will find yourself always behind. If you have to play 《Supreme Verdict》 to win unless they have 《Spell Queller》 just go for it, some times they won’t have it.
Another bad matchup, We don’t interact too much with them other than 《Narset, Parter of Veils》. So mulligan aggressively for a 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 and try to have the best clock possible. 《Esika’s Chariot》 is going to be your most potent tool in this regard. Post Sb you do have more tools. 《Void Winnower》 is very good and you also add some counters.
This is a good matchup I think, 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 is very hard for them to beat and we have 《Chained to the Rocks》 for the 《Arclight Phoenix》 and 《Agent of Treachery》/《Supreme Verdict》/Chump blockers for 《Crackling Drake》.
I think I don’t want to sideboard much, the only good target for 《Dovin’s Veto》 are only 《Treasure Cruise》, but here we don’t have bad cards to take out. I say we keep it as it is, and make the best use of 《The Raven’s Warning》.
Update on Strixhaven: School of Mages
Pioneer does have a lot of other decks, but with this you have most covered! The deck is really fun to play and I strongly recommend it. It’s also capable of some crazy draws when you blink 《Agent of Treachery》 with 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 while having 《Fires of Invention》 in the battlefield.
I think the deck is well positioned, we’ll see what Strixheaven has to offer in Pioneer. Maybe 《Rip Apart》 can replace the 《Wear/Tear》 from the sideboard. It can’t kill both artifact and enchantment at the same time but having the 3 damage to creature or Planeswalker available is quite an upside.
Good luck and have fun!
Sebastian Pozzo (Twitter)