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Mono Black, the dark side of Pioneer

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Mono Black, the dark side of Pioneer

Mono Black decks could be an option for those who want to try this format

By Arinaldo, 11/02/19, with help from our readers

Hey, guys o/ Ari here - this is my first article about Magic's newest format: Pioneer. Today I will talk about Mono Black decks that could be an option for those who want to try this format for the first time. I must confess that the announcement of the Pioneer format took me by surprise, I wasn't expecting to see any new tabletop format other than maybe an adaptation of Historic - another newly-added format that's exclusive to MTG Arena. By contrast, Pioneer will not be available in Arena. This is very relevant for those who play Magic Online (which is

not

the same as MTG Arena). Although the company had previously stated that it would continue to invest in Magic Online (MOL), I was still not convinced that they could keep both digital platforms running. My guess is that most Standard players will be interested in Pionner, and that will keep the gears turning.

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We're in a great moment for speculations, there's just so much questions unanswered. What is the future for Modern? Which format will see changes in their Grands Prix? Will Historic be just a for fun format? And is Standard moving towards a 100% digital future? I don't know what you think of it all, but the fact is that things are happening really fast. Pioneer is now available on both tabletop and MOL - it even has several GPs on the 2020 calendar. Among all these questions, one that's already answered is whether the format will succeed. In my opinion, this mode is already part of our reality, it is not being "forced" by Wizards as some say, on the contrary, there is indeed a demand for Pioneer and the format presented looks good. Sure, I wasn't active at the time Modern was created, so I can't really compare both, but I remember Frontier very well and I can safely say that we're in a completely different situation.

Pioneer is happening!

So what now? Let's cut to the chase and start venturing into the jungle that is the metagame of a newly created format. Starting with one of the best, the most highlighted Mono Black to date is Vampires. Player "CLYDE THE GLIDE DREXLERO" managed to get at least two good results at MOL during this first week of the format. With the deck below, he went 5-0 in a Constructed League and an excellent 7-1 in the October 27 Challenge.
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For Standard players, you can use some cards from the newly-rotated Orzhov Vampires. However, we are not using the white color in our deck (you don't say?). Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and Gray Merchant of Asphodel justify this option since Pioneer has great vampires that benefit from your devotion to black, there's no need for a splash strategy. (Unless you choose to build an Orzhov Aristocrats, a totally different strategy :p).
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Image content of the Website
Mono-colored decks are often well-suited for players who want to start in some of the formats, because of the low investment required to buy land cards. But, despite not using dual lands, Mono Black Vampires does not have a very cheap mana base. Besides Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx that accelerates our strategy, we have Mutavault to be aggressive, Castle Locthwain to guarantee us some draws in the midgame and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to maintain the corrected mana base and ensure that we always have black mana despite the use of these other lands. Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord and Champion of Dusk still work very well together and although the deck is a bit slower than its Standard counterpart, it is still possible to have a really aggressive third turn. Gray Merchant of Asphodel is a great finisher, and to complete the list we have Thoughtseize and Fatal Push that are already staples of this new format.
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To wrap up my considerations, I think it's worth mentioning that some content creators are guessing that Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx will be banned. A safe approach would be to look for options like card rental for Magic Online or some kind of insurance for banned cards IRL. I don't think it's that drastic of a situation, but I'll leave it up to you ;p. Vampires aren't the only Mono Black option in Pioneer, though.

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It looks like Gray Merchant of Asphodel is inspiring some players. Another Devotion-oriented list (that's not using Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, look at that!) also went 5-0 in a Construct League at MOL. The deck features Underworld Connections, a main deck enchantment that helps with our black devotion and the management of our hands, so we can create more copies of Pack Rat. It is also worth highlighting these two cards from Throne of Eldraine - Murderous Rider and Rankle, Master of Pranks. We've been seeing both being played lately.
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Another black-oriented type that is gaining exposure in Pioneer are the zombies. The undead have two lords that make any zombie token a problem to deal with. This list below also went 5-0. Despite using 4 copies of Smuggler's Copter, I'm surprised by the absence of Diregraf Colossus, which in my opinion is one of the strongest zombies in this format.
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At last, we have a list that, although not really

Mono

Black, has Eldrazi, which are very dark creatures and so could not be left out! Honorable mentions to Liliana, the Last Hope and Collective Brutality which are staples of Modern and had not yet been cited.
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So, what are your thoughts on the options offered so far? Is the dark side an interesting option after all? What would you choose at this format's beginnings? Thanks so much for reading and until next time o/
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Arinaldo

Systems Analyst. MTG Player and content creator. Creator and presenter of the Youtube and Podcast Mana Delver. Despite being in love with Pauper, he also plays and enjoys all other formats.

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