I had a great time going to Pro Tour Minneapolis despite not being qualified. I focused my energy on Limited, only to end up opening two bottom-tier sealed pools that left me feeling frustrated and hungering for more.
I booked a flight to Dallas when I got home, as I’ve decided to finally attend a Regional Championships. Dallas is closer to home and a lot more conducive to my schedule than San Diego. While the goal would be to qualify for the Pro Tour, I'm just enjoying preparing for events. There’s something fun about solving complex problems with friends. These days I'm enjoying it less when the camaraderie ends and the tournament begins. However, I’m going full tilt until the tournament’s over, as I want to give myself a chance to qualify for the Pro Tour again.
I’m a bit lost in Pioneer, but I’ve been paying attention and know that Rakdos and Mono Green are back on top of the metagame. The Pro Tour metagame has slowly shifted to where we left things a year ago, as almost every deck in the format has a problem with one or both of these decks. Logic would dictate playing one of these decks, but historically neither has done well in big events. Merely, these decks are very good at punishing greedy, unpolished decks.
I will not play Mono Green despite it being the deck that's winning the most at the RCQ level. It will pick up in popularity in the RC and potentially have a bigger share of the metagame than previously. I'm predicting about 23% Mono Green. Mono Green is my deck to beat, not my deck to play.
The deck looks to be near impossible to get a mirror edge. You can’t adjust your sideboard or main deck very much at this point, and there are guides everywhere to teach everyone how to play somewhat optimally. I consider myself a strong player, and if this deck was unbeatable I’d roll with it, but that’s never been the case in the past. The deck consistently finishes with an overall losing record. It merely warps the metagame around it and is strong enough to keep people playing it, but when push comes to shove, it’s always just falling short.
My ultimate fallback currently is Rakdos Midrange. Rakdos will give me room to play and adjust my deck to my liking. Don’t be fooled though, I’ll consider it somewhat of a failure if I end up playing Rakdos. It's a solid deck but still not quite what I’d want since everyone will have tons of reps against it and a solidified plan.
So what else should I play? Well, Siggy’s been cooking a bit. I got to test pilot a brew of mine in a league, and this is what I’m currently working on.
4 Strategic Planning
4 Big Score
1 Volcanic Spite
3 Spikefield Hazard
4 Fiery Impulse
1 Galvanic Iteration
1 Unexpected Windfall
3 Temporal Trespass
4 Steam Vents
2 Divide by Zero
4 Chandra, Hope's Beacon
2 Hall of Storm Giants
1 Make Disappear
4 Fable of the Mirror-Breaker
1 Otawara, Soaring City
1 Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance
4 Riverglide Pathway
3 Stormcarved Coast
4 Spirebluff Canal
2 Shivan Reef
2 Chrome Host Seedshark
2 Hullbreaker Horror
3 Rending Volley
1 Disdainful Stroke
2 Mystical Dispute
1 Aether Gust
1 Environmental Sciences
1 Mascot Exhibition
This is a rough draft, and I wanted to see if the deck had legs. Ever since Chandra, Hope’s Beacon was printed I’ve been fascinated with its high power level, and we got to see how powerful it was in Standard at Pro Tour Minneapolis.
Pioneer has some cooler tools to work with in the form of Delve Spells that you can play immediately upon casting if sequenced right, the most powerful of which is time walk effects. Initially, I was impressed with a deck Marcio Carvalho posted on Twitter featuring Baraal and Kari Zev in traditional Izzet Phoenix.
You’re able to cast a Pieces of the Puzzle on three, then follow up with a Baraal, Cruise and Alrund’s Epiphany in the same turn, which should nearly end the game on the spot if it lines up well. I plan to try that deck since it sounds quite powerful. The deck I designed has an equally explosive finish but plays much more like Izzet Creativity, a deck I’m incredibly comfortable playing.
Chandra being an answer for Sheoldred on its own or combined with any removal is the big draw to me here. Rakdos was always a struggle for Creativity, and I’m hoping that since this deck plays less “dead cards” and all the combo pieces are individually useful on their own, that it can play a fair game with Rakdos and keep the battlefield clean and clean up with the planeswalker they’re not equipped to defeat. With Creativity, you could be left rotting with combo pieces in hand or stranded.
Ideally, you’re able to play Chandra with 7 total mana in play and immediately plus it to copy a Temporal Trespass. This is easy after a turn-four Big Score if your yard is filled. Strategic Planning was great other than the fact it’s a sorcery. Moment of Truth is another option I’m considering and potentially even cutting Stormcarved Coasts for Fabled Passages to get volume in the graveyard. You want to aggressively put cards in your graveyard with cheap interaction and cantrips and then ultimately untap with Chandra. Chandra does a great job digging deeper for more Timewalks, and its static effect copying Big Scores and more cantrips can make it easy to keep the ball rolling.
My first league went okay with a 3-2 record, but the deck felt like it had potential though it needed a lot of tuning.
Divide by Zero was too clunky and was a last-second addition to the deck as a way to get a win con that was also a versatile answer card. I’d like to fit an Abrade or two into the mix to answer Pithing Needles, so Chandra can do its thing. Chandra is so good at winning that you don’t need other win cons as long as you have something. You can dig for more Timewalks, and copy all your draw spells to find them. It becomes trivial once you untap with Chandra.
The deck’s plan against blue decks is to board into the same configuration I was with Creativity. Horrors and Sharks, except this time, it's Chrome Host Seedshark over Shark Typhoon. It’s not to say that Shark Typhoon shouldn’t be here in some numbers, but I was impressed with the Seedshark post-board everywhere. It’s a good blocker and generates tons of value as the game goes on, and I often found myself winning, yet never casting Chandra and only sequencing Seedshark into Trespass on the same turn and untapping with 13 power in play ready to attack.
While I think it's low probability that this deck is better than Izzet Creativity, Chandra has proven to me over one league that it's strong enough in current Pioneer to see play. I will keep iterating and improving on this archetype in the short term. Pioneer does require intimate knowledge of your deck, so I plan to choose a deck no less than a week before the event and jam about 50 matches with my chosen deck to tweak and learn. Even if the deck does show promise, I may need to cut it short for this event and continue later because I need to focus on what's best for the tournament, not a pet project that may not work out.
I’m almost interested in exploring Rona decks, but the hive mind has failed to find a good version of Rona combo, as it’s virtually nowhere to be seen. I will keep an eye out, but I find it unlikely that I end up registering Rona. I’ll let Matt Nass cook on that one and see if he can break it open.
My last hope? Maybe I just learn Lotus Field well and get tons of reps in with the deck. I’m still a bit skeptical of Lotus and I think a lot could go wrong. It seems to be strong and better positioned now than it has been in a while. If hate picks back up at the RC itself, it’s the kind of deck I’d rather not be wrong about since you lose to prepared opponents, tons of mulligans, and nearly un-winnable match-ups rather than losing close games you can control. I want some agency, and while RC players are good, not all of them are the world’s best that I’ve been playing in Rivals league. I want to find something that fits into my skillset of reading a metagame and taking advantage rather than settling on the best goldfish deck and hoping my opponents mess up in deck registration or in playing their games.
I was ready to trash this deck after one league, but it showed enough promise that I figured I’d put it out there and continue to work on it. Ultimately, I’m excited to get a chance to play a worthwhile tournament and spend another weekend with great friends.
See you in Dallas.