How To Build Your First Pioneer Deck In MTG

In 2019, Wizards of the Coast created the Pioneer format for Magic: The Gathering which gave players a chance to participate in a format where their Standard decks didn’t immediately rotate out. You don’t have to worry about the power of Legacy cards, and it’s great for players who joined the Standard scene after 2013.

Related: MTG Streets of Capenna – The Best Cards for Pioneer

There are many potential deck ideas for Pioneer, as well as competitive decks that are defining the Pioneer metagame. If you want to start building a Pioneer deck but have no idea how to start putting one together, this guide will take you through everything you need to know.


Bloodtithe Harvester

Any card that was legal in Standard since the Return to Ravnica set will be legal in the Pioneer format. This means that Almost any card released since 2012 will be acceptable in Pioneer decks. If you are playing competitively (or want to be fair for your friends playing casual Pioneer), there is a banlist of cards you should not use:

Balustrade Spy

Bloodstained Mire

Expressive Iteration

Felidar Guardian

Field of the Dead

flooded beach

Inverter of Truth

Kethis, the Hidden Hand

Leyline of Abundance

Lurrus of the Dream Den

Nexus of Fate

Ok, Thief of Crowns

Once Upon a Time

Polluted Delta

Smuggler’s Copter

Teferi, Time Raveler

Undercity Informer

Underworld Breach

Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath

Veil of Summer

Walking Ballista

Wilderness Complaint

Windswept Heath

Winota, Joiner of Forces

Wooded Foothills

This opens up several deck options, and it’s okay to use a previous standard deck as the base to get started. You can then tweak it as needed to fit the current Pioneer metagame.

What Colors Should Be In My Pioneer Deck?

Image of the Witherbloom Command card

Your Pioneer deck should include one to three colors, as you have various options to access different mana colors. Common Pioneer deck colors include black-red (Rakdos), blue-white, blue-red (Izzet), mono-green, mono-white, and mono-red. For three-color decks, you might encounter black-white-green, blue-white-green, black-white-blue, or black-green-blue.

If you are playing casual Pioneer, you are free to explore whatever color combinations you like. If you are trying to break into the competitive scene, adopting one of the color combinations above or building your own deck to combat popular trends is recommended. The color combination you choose will dictate what your deck strategy will be. Single/mono color decks will often be more aggressive at the start, while blue/white decks tend to take a control playstyle.

RELATED: Magic: The Gathering – The Best Removal Spells For Pioneer

What Should My Deck’s Mana Curve Be?

Image of the Galvanic Iteration card.

Your Pioneer deck’s mana curve gives you an idea of ​​what your typical mana costs will be per hand. Aggressive decks, such as Rakdos Midrange, will usually have a mana curve of approximately two. A control deck such as blue-white control will have a mana curve of approximately three. Pioneer can be a fast-paced format with many things happening early on, and you want to make sure the average mana cost of your deck isn’t too high.

Even if you have some high-cost cards that you want to cast, your average mana curve should be between two and three if you want to have an effective deck. If you are experimenting, the number can be higher or lower (especially for casual play), but staying within two to three is a great place to start.

What Land Cards Should Be In A Pioneer Deck?

Sokenzan Crucible of Defiance

When looking at Pioneer, you have a lot of color options thanks to the variety of country cards with multi-color access. Lands such as Haunted Ridge or Temple Garden allow you to access multiple colors with a single country. Don’t neglect to have regular versions of land cards as well (ie. Iceland, Mountains), since they still have utility.

You should also be looking to ensure that you can always have access to mana in other forms if possible. For example, a mono-green deck might consider bringing Llanowar Elves as they can be tapped for green mana. It’s not a land card, but it can still be used as if it were land (also known as mana ramp).

There are also lands that have the Channel ability, such as Takenuma, Abandoned Mire which you can utilize for your own strategy if the need arises. You should also be anticipating players having access to these lands as wellalong with other Legendary lands.

RELATED: Magic: The Gathering – The Best Mill Cards For Pioneer

What Are Common Cards To Watch Out For In Pioneer?

mtg bone crusher giant full card with art background

For casual play, the common cards would be whatever your friends use. For competitive play, you need to watch out for aggressive creatures such as Bonecrusher Giant or Graveyard Trespasser.

You should also look out for artifacts such as Reckoner Bankbusterand planeswalkers like Liliana of the Veil. You also want to have methods of dealing with creatures that have high hit points such as Cavalier of Thornsor weaker creatures like Llanowar Elves.

What Should My Sideboard Include?

The Meathook Massacre

Your sideboard should include cards that are able to deal with aggressive creatures and/or spells that can protect your creatures from opposing spells. Cards such as Tamiyo’s Safe Keeping can be brought in when you are up against a deck that casts lots of spells. Others such as The Meathook Massacre can help if you are struggling to keep up with smaller creatures.

You may have to play a few games with your Pioneer deck to get a feel for what cards threaten it the most, or what playstyles need a specific counter. That will help you get a feel for appropriate sideboard cards.

Time To Test Out Your Pioneer Deck!


There’s no better way to get experience with your deck ideas than putting them into practice against other decks. You can try your deck out in casual play to see how it would fare in terms of mana curve.

Playing competitively will help you see the threats that your deck can and can’t deal withas well as what cards could be in your sideboard. Once you have actual test data, you can configure your Pioneer deck and start adapting to the format, especially as newer cards come in.

Next: MTG Arena: Best Pioneer Decks For Explorer

Comments are closed.