Hello, and welcome back to Metagame Mentor, your weekly guide to the top decks and latest Constructed developments on the path to the Pro Tour. As Pro Tour Murders at Karlov Manor kicks off in two weeks at MagicCon: Chicago, today is a good time to dive into its Constructed format: Pioneer. In this article, I will cover the latest state of the format, as well as the most promising new cards from Murders at Karlov Manor.
The Pioneer Metagame in January 2024
Pioneer is the nonrotating format based on expansion and core sets from Return to Ravnica forward, with the most notable cards on the ban list being the fetch lands. With over 10,000 cards to choose from, Pioneer features a variety of powerful strategies.
To grasp the latest state of the format, I analyzed over 2,000 available decklists from all events held on Magic Online and Melee from January 6, 2024 through February 5, 2024. I awarded points to each deck equal to its rectified number of net wins (i.e., its number of match wins minus losses if positive and zero otherwise). So, a deck that went 6-1 gets 5 points, and a deck that went 1-3-drop gets 0 points. Each archetype's share of total rectified net wins can then be interpreted as its share of the winner's metagame that you can expect to see at the top tables.
|Winner's Metagame Share
|1. Rakdos Midrange
|2. Izzet Phoenix
|3. Azorius Control
|4. Amalia Combo
|5. Lotus Field Combo
|6. Quintorius Combo
|7. Mono-Black Midrange
|8. Niv to Light
|9. Izzet Ensoul
|10. Boros Convoke
|11. Enigmatic Fires
|12. Abzan Greasefang
|13. Rakdos Sacrifice
|14. Mono-Red Aggro
|15. Atarka Red
|16. Waste Not
|17. Omnath to Light
|18. Boros Heroic
|19. Gruul Vehicles
In this table, each archetype name hyperlinks to a well-performing, representative decklist. The "Other" category included Enigmatic Control, Azorius Spirits, Bant Spirits, Grixis Phoenix, Izzet Creativity, Dimir Rogues, Spelunking Scapeshift, Azorius Whir, Rona Lukka Combo, Azorius Lotus Field, Selesnya Angels, Merfolk, Elementals, Izzet Transmogrify, and various other decks.
The Pioneer format has been through considerable changes recently, including the release of The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, the ban of
The Top 10 Pioneer Deck Archetypes
To take a closer look at the 10 archetypes with the highest winner's metagame share over the past month, I've used a decklist aggregation algorithm that takes into account the popularity, performance, and synergy of individual card choices. This should give us an idea of what to expect at the upcoming Pro Tour, and I'll add my first impressions on potential additions from Murders at Karlov Manor.
Throughout Pro Tour Phyrexia and two Regional Championship cycles, Rakdos Midrange has been the most popular Pioneer deck in 2023. It doesn't look like 2024 will be any different, as the deck retains its high individual card quality, and it was 15.8% of the winner's metagame in my data set.
After the unban of
Izzet Phoenix aims to recur
Murders at Karlov Manor introduce the new surveil lands; and if they are to find a home in Pioneer, graveyard-based decks could be a natural choice. It would be sweet to surveil
With a solid suite of spot removal, countermagic, card draw, sweepers, and planeswalkers, Azorius Control has remained the premier control deck in Pioneer, and its abundance of early-game sweepers means that aggro decks can be kept under wraps. Versions using
Amalia combo is a two-card creature combo deck that burst onto the scene after The Lost Caverns of Ixalan introduced
The most successful versions in January 2024 have shaved
From Murders at Karlov Manor,
The game plan of this combo deck is to find
For Lotus Field Combo, Murders at Karlov Manor could be both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is
This combo deck uses
Quintorius Combo cannot run any non-combo cards with mana value 4 or less, but it still wants to affect the game early on to stay alive. Hence, cost reduction spells and split cards always deserve consideration. Murders at Karlov Manor introduces
Mono-Black Midrange is a novel addition to the Pioneer metagame in January 2024. It can be described as a Rakdos Midrange deck without the red, allowing the mana base to exploit
From Murders at Karlov Manor,
Niv to Light is a five-color midrange deck that uses a collection of gold cards from different color pairs to maximize
Since Murders at Karlov Manor takes place on the plane of Ravnica, it contains numerous gold cards. This makes the set a potential gold mine for
Izzet Ensoul is named after
From Murders at Karlov Manor,
Boros Convoke can overwhelm opponents with enormous battlefields as early as turn two. With
Boros Convoke has been on the downswing due to a poor matchup against Amalia Combo, but it could benefit from
Additional Ideas with Murders at Karlov Manor
Although I've covered various Murders at Karlov Manor cards that could be added to existing top-tier archetypes, the new set also introduces several cards that might enable brand-new archetypes or revitalize forgotten ones. Brewing new strategies is always fun, so let me highlight a few exiting ideas that I had while looking through the new cards, illustrated via a series of opening hands. Many of these ideas might not pan out in competitive Pioneer, but there is a lot of potential, and I can't wait to see what the Pro Tour competitors come up with after several weeks of testing.
As I showed, Magic's latest set offers a lot to Pioneer, and I am excited to see it all play out at Pro Tour Murders at Karlov Manor in two weeks from now. Follow our magic.gg content in the coming weeks to learn more about the competitors, the live stream, and the decks, then tune in to see a new champion hoist the trophy!
But first, this coming weekend features the Modern Regional Championships in United States, Canada, and Japan, which award dozens of invites to Pro Tour Thunder Junction in April. Between different premier events and multiple formats, it will be an exciting month for competitive Magic.