The Highly-Played Pioneer Cards Missing From Explorer

Let's talk about which Pioneer decks we can and can't build using the existing cards available on Arena.

WHAT WASN’T WRITTEN

Again, this article was written in the past and is being released in its time capsule format. Everything below assumes that the new format that was released did not come with an immediate announcement of additional cards.

Let’s talk about what Pioneer decks we can and can’t build with existing cards available on Arena.

MISSING CARDS

While this is by no means a complete list, there are quite a few cards that are not yet available on Arena that see frequent play in Pioneer. Some of the exclusions shut off entire deck strategies.

Abrupt DecayRending VolleyKalitas, Traitor of GhetPore Over the Pages
DreadboreAll of the Pain LandsSpringleaf DrumSupreme Verdict
Shrapnel BlastMonastery SwiftspearBring to LightSylvan Scrying
Chained to the RocksMana ConfluenceFiery ImpulseThespian Stage
Consulate DreadnoughtBoros CharmStubborn DenialNahiri the Harbinger
Liliana, The Last HopeMausoleum WandererHidden StringsGeier Reach Sanitarium
Urborg, Tomb of YawgmothVoice of ResurgenceNykthos, Shrine to NyxAll of The Ascendancies
Treasure CruiseSpell QuellerEidolon of the Great RevelBloodsoaked Champion
Elvish MysticSylvan CaryatidPieces of the PuzzleEthereal Armor
MutavaultEnsoul ArtifactDig Through TimeEmrakul, the Promised End
Traverse the UlvenwaldNotion ThiefSelfless SpiritInvasive Surgery

UNPLAYABLE PIONEER DECK ARCHETYPES

With one look at these missing cards, you can see that Lotus Field Combo is strictly unplayable as things stand today. You’re missing Thespian Stage, Pore Over the Pages, Hidden Strings, Dig Through Time and Sylvan Scrying. It’s just not going to happen.

Ascendancy Combo doesn’t have access to Jeskai Ascendency.

Ensoul Artifact doesn’t have access to Ensoul Artifact or Springleaf Drum.

SUBOPTIMAL DECKS

Burn players are not going to have a ton of fun in the format without Battlefield Forge, Monastery Swiftspear, Eidolon of the Great Revel, Boros Charm or Shrapnel Blast. Burn is definitely still a playable archetype in this event, but not exactly in the configurations that we’re used to seeing and playing in Pioneer.

Azorius and Bant Spirits will have a hard time without Spell Queller, Mausoleum Wanderer and Selfless Spirit.

I play Pioneer-legal decks in Historic quite a bit (mostly with Rakdos and Jund), and Dreadbore and Abrupt Decay missing from the card pool is rough, but not devastating. Dreadbore is replaced by Bedevil rather frequently and Assassin’s Trophy is an available card. I definitely miss Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet.

Niv to Light is missing Bring To Light – which is obviously a pretty big hit – but I was hesitant to put Niv under “unplayable archetypes” because there can, of course, be Niv Mizzet decks without Bring to Light.

Orzhov Humans and Mono-Black Aggro will both struggle a bit without Bloodsoaked Champion as their recurring 2/1 one-drop.

Mono-Green Devotion, Mono-Green Ramp and even certain builds of Stompy will miss Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx as a devotion payoff.

UW Control not having access to Supreme Verdict means control mages will probably have to play Doomskar or another copy of Farewell.

DECKS THAT ARE LARGELY READY TO GO

You might have already noticed that Izzet Phoenix has nearly every card played in the Pioneer deck available on Arena, minus Invasive Surgery (which is in some sideboards). Izzet Phoenix is a tiered deck in Historic and it resembles the Pioneer build pretty closely (Faithless Looting being a big difference and a powerhouse for the Historic version).

Rakdos Anvil looks to be completely unaffected by the discrepancy between Arena cards and Pioneer cards.

Jund Food is a clear winner here as well, having access to everything they want to play except Abrupt Decay in the sideboard, which can be replaced by more copies of Assassin’s Trophy anyway.

DECKLISTS

You can find decklists built from the restrictions above on our deck page. Currently, these decklists are built based on the current cardpool available on Arena, hence (for example) no Lotus Field Combo and no hate cards for Lotus Field in the decks present. The decklists are mostly a hybrid of Pioneer ports and Historic ports with consideration for other decks that can be built with the existing cardpool. They will be updated as new information is made available.

  • Publisher

    rose-emoji started playing Magic: The Gathering during Battle for Zendikar, then took a break from the game until Throne of Eldraine. Pioneer got him back into Magic full-force, and the launch of Arena on mobile hooked him in forever. Now that his favorite format is working its way onto Arena, he can be found grinding the format to death, mostly in Grixis colors, mono-colors or tribal decks.

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