Howdy folks! It has been a while since I had time to put some words onto paper, but I am back today to give a rundown of one of my favorite decks in Magic's newest Constructed format - Eldrazi in Pioneer. Let's start by looking at my current deck list:
U/R Eldrazi | Pioneer | Jeff Hoogland
- Creatures (22)
- 2 Glorybringer
- 4 Bonecrusher Giant
- 4 Brazen Borrower
- 4 Elder Deep-Fiend
- 4 Flamewake Phoenix
- 4 Rekindling Phoenix
- Planeswalkers (2)
- 2 The Royal Scions
- Lands (25)
- 2 Island
- 4 Mountain
- 1 Shivan Reef
- 2 Fabled Passage
- 2 Sulfur Falls
- 2 Wandering Fumarole
- 4 Mutavault
- 4 Spirebluff Canal
- 4 Steam Vents
The reason why I really enjoy this deck is because it is a fantastic mix of both proactive and interactive elements. One of its biggest strengths is the fact that many of our threats are evasive:
Glorybringer is my current pick for the best 5-drop in Pioneer. A 4/4 flying, haste threat closes games out quickly and allows us to pressure planeswalkers off of the table. In the event that our flying threats are not enough to win a race on their own, Glorybringer's exert ability can often swing it into our favor.
Then we have some of my favorite utility cards:
These adventure creatures have easily become my favorite cards from Eldraine. They both serve as early interaction on the second turn, while also providing reasonable bodies for applying pressure afterward. Brazen Borrower's bounce in conjunction with its 3/1 evasive stat line combines well with our other threats to win most races.
The last threat in our main deck is the one our deck is named after:
While Elder Deep-Fiend is not evasive like many of our other threats, it's cast trigger often gives it a form of pseudo evasion the turn it is cast by tapping blockers or tapping our opponent off of advancing their board. Deep-Fiend works especially well with our recursive Phoenix threats. A not uncommon line of play is turn three Flamewake Phoenix, turn four emerge off of the Phoenix during their upkeep to tap most of their lands for the turn. Then Deep-Fiend's five power allows the Phoenix to come right back on our fifth turn.
We also play a variety of interaction in our deck to supplement our threats:
Kozilek's Return is easily our most powerful non-creature spell. Being able to play a pseudo sweeper in our threat dense deck tends to give us a leg up in other creature matchups because it allows us to just reset the board when we are losing a race. Wiping a board by dealing five damage to everything, tapping our opponent off of four of their lands and putting a 5 / 6 into play gets us out of a lot of bad situations.
Lightning Axe is probably the most efficient removal spell in Pioneer. While having to discard a card is often a sizable downside, the fact that we have Flamewake Phoenix and Kozilek's Return we don't mind discarding mitigates this fairly often. Izzet Charm is not the best at anything it does, but it is flexible enough to be worth its slots. Killing mana dorks, countering Okos, drawing us into lands - it really does it all.
The last spell in our main deck to mention is our two copies of The Royal Scions. This card is similar to Izzet Charm in that while it isn't powerful on its own, it is fairly flexible. Smoothing out clunky draws and helping us push damage through blockers, while threatening a fairly quick ultimate. The +2 attack pairs well with our 2 power creatures as well to help bring back Flamewake Phoenix.
Speaking of 2 power creatures - one other card worth mentioning in our main deck is our four copies of Mutavault. This is easily the best utility land in Pioneer - especially in aggressively slanted decks like this one. Mutavault pushes critical points of damage that are often the difference between winning and losing close races.
Playing the deck and Matchup Notes
How the games with this deck play out can be fairly dynamic depending on what your draw is and what you are playing against. Learning to assess when you are in a position to race and when you are supposed to be taking a more defensive role is important.
While the Pioneer metagame is still shaping up after several bannings, the following is how I approach some of the matchups I have found common online so far.
Game 1 I think we are a bit behind in this matchup. We have some interaction in the form of Izzet Charm, but for the most part we are just racing. One thing to keep in mind is that the Stomp half of Bonecrusher Giant counters Fog since it stops damage prevention. Post board I think we come out ahead when we get to trade out our otherwise dead removal for a variety of cheap interaction.
Control matchups tend to be decent for this deck. Our mix of recursive threats and creature lands are often difficult for them to keep up with. If they are a Black base control deck you likely want a bit less counter Magic so you can leave in Glorybringer for killing Kalitas. In the longer games that tend to happen against Control do not forget that you can just cast Elder Deep-Fiend for eight mana without emerging off of anything.
This matchup tends to revolve around Oko, Thief of Crowns. If we can keep Oko off of the table our Phoenixes and Dragons can generally control the board long enough for a Kozilek's Return to clear things out. Lightning Axe is also incredibly efficient at removing their threats while we race them.
This match tends to largely revolve around Thing in the Ice. If we can keep Thing from flipping we can generally win the race. Thankfully our mix of Lightning Axes, Brazen Borrowers and Glorybringers do a good job of this.
VS Red Aggro
Our mix of cheap interaction and a relatively fast clock make this matchup fairly reasonable. The best piece of advice I can give is prioritize trying to kill their prowess creatures any time they are tapped out so you do not get blown out by an instant.
If you are someone who enjoys Tempo decks and role assessment then I would highly recommend giving this Eldrazi deck a try. It feels like it has a reasonable shot in almost every matchup I have played thanks to its mix of flexible interaction and evasive threats. If you would like to see some videos of this archetype in action you can find some on my website here.
Have a question about the archetype I didn't cover above? Let me know in a comment below!