Pioneer Artisan: Cutting the Rares from the Equation
With the recent price increase on Pioneer's most varied staples, is the possibility of removing the rares from the equation the opportunity to create a new competitive environment for local stores?Edit Article
product meant to be sold, the natural flow of community decisions or Wizards of the Coast itself to give greater or lesser relevance to one format or another.
Pioneerprices grew significantly after the Organized Play announcement, which put it in the spotlight, being the main format of the Qualifiers and the Pro Tour itself, and causing the values of short and long-term Staples to increase to skyrocket. It's important to note that this event is by no means exclusive to this moment, and Modern had the same effect on the price of Shocklands, Tarmogoyf, Vendilion Clique and other cards when it was announced.
Prices have increased, now what?
this player to try out Pauper, especially since it is a world-renowned format, with an extremely solid community and a loyal player base. No matter where you are, there will always be somewhere you can play Pauper. But there is always the possibility that player
is tired of playing Pauper, or it simply
doesn't appeal them as a format.
About Alternative FormatsWhich consequently leads us to alternative formats: in Magic, there are dozens of formats created by the community. Some become popular, others fail miserably in whatever their purpose may be. Some examples of alternative formats are
Premodern, which allow players to try formats only with older releases, while here in Brazil we have the example of
Commander 500, which seeks to limit the maximum value that a Commander deck can have to play with, with a conglomeration of rules to make that format a viable option. Recently, I've seen moves by a part of the Pioneer community to popularize an alternative to the format that makes it significantly more accessible,
Pioneer Artisan— A variant where only common and uncommon cards are legal, similar to the events that usually take place on Magic Arena's Midweek Magic. After playing some games in the format, it seemed interesting enough to be a suitable alternative to implement in communities and local stores, especially for players who want to build decks in an eternal format without the same difficulty existing to obtain some Pauper staples, while also providing a unique game development opportunity from an alternative format. Today, I intend to go deeper into this format, presenting its main points, banlist, its pros and cons and how we can also use it as a basis for the new MTG Arena format, Explorer.
What is Pioneer Artisan
Artisanformat is occasionally practiced at
Magic Arena's Midweek events, and encompasses the exclusive use of
common and uncommoncards, excluding any rare or mythic rare cards from the sum. Pioneer Artisan is an adaptation of this format for the tabletop, where instead of using the confusing rules that Historic Artisan would have, the rules established in
Pioneerare used to define the card pool limitation to make the format affordable and highly available for most of your cards in local stores or large marketplaces. As with Pauper,
rare cards that have been reprinted as common or uncommon in a tabletop set (such as Ultimate Masters or similar) are legal in Pioneer Artisan, meaning the following originally rare cards are legal in the format: Hero of Iroas Wayfaring Temple Zada, Hedron Grinder Aven Mindcensor Bogbrew Witch Clone Corpsejack Menace Daring Saboteur Gilt-Leaf Winnower Heroes' Bane Hero of Leina Tower Hoarding Dragon Indulgent Tormentor Ire Shaman Jalira, Master Polymorphist Living Lore Mahamoti Djinn Narcomoeba Pelakka Wurm Pyrewild Shaman Sanguine Bond Soul Ransom Assault Formation Burning Anger Dragon Tempest Mystic Genesis Slaughter the Strong Any other later reprints that fall into this category will also be legal in the format.
Is there a banlist for Pioneer Artisan?
Watchlist, that is, a list of cards that are being monitored at local events and in the committee worksheet to evaluate their performance in improving the winrate of their respective archetypes:
Decklists by Pioneer Artisan
Rakdos SacrificeCauldron Familiar, Witch's Oven, Oni-Cult Anvil and Mayhem Devil.
Selesnya AurasGladecover Scout or through effects that make them indestructible, like Adanto Vanguard, to establish a "voltron" plan, where you stack a series of enchantments under a creature, making it significantly larger than the rest of the battlefield.
Selesnya LifegainProsperous Innkeeper and Lunarch Veteran significantly increasing the power of Ajani's Pridemate and Trelasarra, Moon Dancer, while also taking advantage of Clarion Spirit to significantly increase the board position each turn, while Lead the Stampede allows the player to keep the gas running
Dimir RoguesSoaring Thought-Thief, Into the Story and Drown in the Loch while holding the game with removals and counterspells, allowing you to play both proactively and reactively and, in most cases, operating entirely on your opponent's turn.
Azorius FlyersEmpyrean Eagle, and a powerful and efficient surprise factor with Rally of Wings.
Mono-Black AggroEyetwitch, Shambling Ghast and Archfiend's Vessel serving as the perfect sac outlets, while Malakir Rebirth and Call of the Death-Dweller reanimate them for even more value, while removals like Fatal Push collaborate to keep the board clean long enough to end the game.
Pros and Cons
ProsOne of the questions I had when I was introduced to Pioneer Artisan was
“why play this format instead of Pauper?”, and one of the current members of the committee gave me a convincing enough answer: not only is Pioneer Artisan a format (mostly) more accessible regarding card availability and prices than Pauper, the uncommon cards bring a game dynamic that differs from Pauper's nature in many situations, with strategies and characteristics that are typical of the format and with a lot of room for exploration and innovation, and new releases will always bring cards that can significantly impact its Metagame, a task that not every Standard-oriented set can achieve in Pauper. In addition, from the point of view of retailers and event organizers, Pioneer Artisan offers a good opportunity to provide an affordable gateway to tournaments in your local community, with the potential for significantly increased singles sales on commons and uncommons of recent releases and players joining tournaments.
ConsOn the other hand, the biggest issue with Pioneer Artisan (apart from the lack of unified consensus on points such as legality, banlist and even the format's name) is that it tries to emulate the strategy of two different formats (Pioneer and, to some extent, Pauper) without having an attractive factor of its own, as is the case with the other two formats: The reason for its existence is,
basically, the financial factor. If you remove that price tag from the equation, there's simply no reason to really draw a player into the format because it lacks the charm or competitive appeals that move it forward and establish any interest from larger communities. Because it is a format focused and managed by the financial issue, Pioneer Artisan has its potential (and reach) limited for players who don't have concerns about this restriction, or even prefer the presence of Pauper as a “budget” format, being known worldwide and which is officially supported by Wizards of the Coast. Thus, the greatest challenge for its community and management is establishing these other points of interest for players from outside communities. Create an environment that makes the Pauper player interested in playing it as a more fun option, create challenges that make the Pioneer player wonder if they shouldn't try to play a more “static” version of their favorite format. Failing that, the format will be forever tied to financial need and, consequently, its success will only be represented in small local communities of players who are not interested in investing large amounts of money in Magic: The Gathering, making it a casual format. And as a casual format, Pioneer Artisan
definitelydoesn't have what it takes to compete with
Commanderwhich, despite covering a proposal that differs from a 1v1 game, establishes itself as the main attraction for players who they want to relax and play in an environment where it is possible to create a sense of equity among everyone present at the table, according to the conversation between the players before the match. That is, to succeed, the organizers will eventually need to consider
where the format can differ from the sanctioned budget format (Pauper) and from the most known casual format in the world (Commander), and effectively handling these points so that Pioneer Artisan has its own attractive charm to players from different communities.
Pioneer Artisan and Explorer
Explorerformat for Magic Arena, which will essentially become Pioneer as new bundles and releases bring cards that aren't already on the digital platform, and you can check out all about this new format on my last article.