Last Week In Pioneer: May 20
May 20, 2024
By darthjacen

Welcome back to another week looking at the Pioneer Metagame on Magic Online! Last week, we had another 1200 data points as players joined leagues, prelims, challenges, and a Super RPTQ. With this many results, including high level events, what kinds of trends are present? What are the decks to beat heading into your next RCQs this weekend? What are the spiciest decks hiding out throughout all the data? Well, let’s dive right in and find out!

Looking at the Data

Starting with the overall metagame, we can see some stark changes from the previous period. Vampires remain at the top with a nearly identical week of fourteen percent and 162 overall finishes. However, Niv to Light, which broke out with thirteen percent of the metagame previously, now sits with only eight percent this week. A full five percent drop-off in one week is a massive swing, especially in the overall metagame portion.

After Vampires, we see Phoenix return to second place with a strong twelve percent, up from eleven percent previously. Amalia and Discard each picked up some ground overall moving to nine percent and eight percent respectively, up from seven percent each previously. Gruul continues to lead the aggro decks with seven percent, up from six percent previously. Finally, there’s a stark drop-off to Red Aggro and Azorius Control, each with four percent of the overall metagame.

Looking at this last week and the previous period, there are more decks with at least one percent and the top five decks make up fifty-one percent of the metagame, down slightly from fifty-two percent previously. We’ve been seeing a slight flattening out of the top decks recently as people continue to experiment and find success outside of just the top decks.

Does this thought of seeing more decks succeed continue over to the premier metagame?

Moving into the premier metagame, we see that the top of the list looks pretty similar, with a few percentage points moved around. Vampires, Phoenix, Amalia, Discard, Niv, and Gruul continue to lead the field with similar meta shares to their overall performance. Azorius Control falls back into the three-percent pack along with Spirits rising up alongside it.

Overall, there are more decks able to earn at least one percent of the overall premier metagame than previously and even the decks at the top are slightly represented than they had been in previous weeks. But, even if these decks aren’t getting quite the same play rate as previously, will we see them expand their dominance heading into the winner’s metagame?

Here, we see that Vampires maintains its place at the top with fifteen percent, the same as previous weeks. Phoenix also maintains its spot with thirteen percent, down one percent while Niv goes from thirteen percent previously all the way down to ten percent. Rather than Niv in third, this week we see Amalia jump to twelve percent up from nine percent previously. This large jump from overall to winner’s metagame isn’t unheard of, but it does indicate that Amalia likely had a very strong week and may be trending up towards a higher tier.

Rounding out the top of the Winner’s metagame, we have Gruul Aggro and Discard, each with eight percent of the winner’s metagame. Discard maintains its percentage from the previous week while Gruul moves up from six percent. With Red Aggro rounding out the decks at or above five percent, it seems like once we reach the winner’s metagame, there is a much tighter consolidation of decks able to translate their overall play rate into strong finishes.

Even so, there are still a few more decks able to grab one or more percent of the winner’s metagame than previously, showing that while there’s a gap between the top decks and the rest of the field, there are plenty of options that are capable of putting up strong results. This week, twenty-four decks earned at least one percent of the winner’s metagame and thirty-seven decks earned at least a 3-1 in prelims or a top 32 in a challenge or the Super RPTQ. This level of deck diversity among decks that can compete is great for the health of Pioneer, even if the top few decks make up around sixty percent of the metagame’s peak.

When we focus in from the Winner’s Metagame to just looking at the challenge, showcase challenge, and RPTQ top 8s, we see a very interesting picture this week. Previously, we had seen Vampires start to struggle with converting their meta share into top 8s and that somewhat continues here. With only seven top 8s compared to fifteen percent of the winner’s metagame, Vampires still looks like the top decks for a strong finish, but it isn’t getting across the finish line quite enough for my liking.

On the other hand, Amalia had a monster week with fifteen top 8s earning twenty-one percent of the total top 8s measured. From only six top 8s previously, the deck nearly doubled its top finishes in a week!

Phoenix holds strong with twelve top 8s compared to thirteen previously, but given the rise of Amalia this week, it isn’t surprising to see other top decks lose a little ground for this week. Niv is in a similar boat with six top 8s, down from nine last week as the deck seems to be taking a brunt of the damage from Amalia rising up.

Along with Niv, Discard and Gruul Aggro sit with six top 8s, up for both decks from previous weeks. We also see Rakdos Midrange and Golgari Roots putting up surprisingly strong showings this week with four and three top 8s respectively. These decks have started showing up in leagues and prelims, so it is good to see them pick up more players and to see those players rewarded with strong finishes, including a challenge win for Roots.

Lastly, we see Dimir Control, Ensoul, and Azorius Spirits as our last decks with multiple top 8s, marking a total of eleven decks with multiple top 8s and eighteen decks with at least one top 8. Both numbers are up one each from the previous week, but most of the increase in finishes appear consolidated towards the top of the metagame.

Deck Highlights


This deck has been showing up more and more each week and now, it has won a challenge alongside top 8ing the Super RCQ. The deck continues to evolve with new cards becoming stock and the deck is taking its place as a real contender after weeks of being more of a fringe deck. While it is still a little while away from being a top performer overall, it continues to impress, and I would certainly start to consider it a great option to attack your local RCQ metagame – especially while it may still be an unknown quantity for most paper only players.  

Angelic Resurgence

It’s been a while since we’ve seen our angelic friends put together strong results. With the increase of Slickshot Show-Off decks, it isn’t surprising to see another life-gain deck other than Amalia putting up results. Angels is also one of the decks that can take over a board state even against Phoenix, Niv, or Vampires with Kayla’s Reconstruction and Collected Company.

Once you get your engines going with this deck, it becomes very hard for decks to outsize your board or handle your life total. While the deck still struggles with combo, there is less combo floating around this week than in weeks past, thanks in part to the decks Angels wants to target, like Ensoul, Gruul Aggro, Mono Red Aggro, and more.

Ported from Modern

People who have been enjoying Freestrider Lookout in Modern shouldn’t be surprised that the deck has found its way to Pioneer. With Magda and Lookout serving as your crime payoffs, you can quickly ramp through treasures or extra lands into play before taking over the game with Wish, Escape to the Wilds, and Trumpeting Carnosaur. The power level of this deck is very high, with a variety of removal to handle different creatures and a full Wish board to ensure you have answers against any specific situation, there’s a lot to like about this list.

However, based on the numbers in this deck, I suspect this was a rough draft that overperformed and we might see it refined in coming weeks. So, if you plan to take this deck out for a spin, be sure to tune up the numbers and consider updating your wish-board as well.  

Much like with Freestrider Lookout, here we see another Modern deck ported over to the Pioneer version in Cabal Coffers, now downgraded to Cabal Stronghold. While the effect of Cabal Stronghold is much weaker than Coffers, the same principles are in play here: control the board with removal and discard, play hand to answer threats, and leverage a mana advantage to play multiple spells in a turn, despite your spells costing more mana on average than your opponent.

Getting to leverage multiple powerful spells in a turn like Invoke Despair or Insatiable Avarice can quickly allow you to take over the game. While this version is clearly weaker than the Modern counterpart, it’s very interesting to see more Modern decks ported successfully to Pioneer and I’d love to see this archetype further refined over time.

We really saw a lot of Modern staples, though some discontinued, make their way to Pioneer. While the other two decks are current Modern decks, Hardened Scales once upon a time was one of the best decks in Modern. While that hasn’t been the case for some time, it is nice to see Bristly Bill, Spine Sower bring this archetype back to life in Pioneer.

With the power of Bill adding another two-drop that can add counters for free, the deck hits a critical mass of efficient threats and ways to distribute free counters. While the deck doesn’t retain its artifact subtheme from Arcbound Ravager, it instead becomes a more straightforward green-white counters deck that can easily take over the board. While I suspect this deck will struggle quite a bit against wrath effects and potentially removal heavy decks, it should easily handle other creature decks.

I’d love to see the deck add in more threats in the mana base that could threaten to kill opponents post wrath, but this is an exciting shell to work off of in the future weeks for those that were missing this classic Modern archetypes and wanted to see if it could survive in the smaller environment of Pioneer.


Wrapping Up

There you have it, the last week in Pioneer. With Amalia jumping up towards the top of the metagame, we will continue to see further adaptations regarding what decks will spike next week. In addition, there were lots of exciting and strong decks hidden within the data, so be sure to take out some of these decks like Roots and Crimes out for a spin before heading to your local RCQs this next weekend! 

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