On Monday we learned two things: that Oath of Nissa is unbanned in Pioneer...and consequently, that Pioneer still sucks.

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Dimir Inverter by Not__Close

'Dimir Inverter' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Not__Close

Event: MTGO Pioneer Showcase Challenge - 07/12/2020

Rank: 1

Pioneer

Market Price: $269.57

Cards

Ashiok, Nightmare Muse

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $3.19

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206007_200w.jpg

+1: Create a 2/3 blue and black Nightmare creature token with "Whenever this creature attacks or blocks, each opponent exiles the top two cards of their library."
−3: Return target nonland permanent to its owner's hand, then that player exiles a card from their hand.
−7: You may cast up to three spells from among face-up cards your opponents own from exile without paying their mana costs.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/theros-beyond-death/ashiok-nightmare-muse

Jace, Vryn's Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $17.49

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/100191_200w.jpg

{T}: Draw a card, then discard a card. If there are five or more cards in your graveyard, exile Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, then return him to the battlefield transformed under his owner's control.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/magic-origins/jace-vryns-prodigy-jace-telepath-unbound

Mystical Dispute

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $1.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198683_200w.jpg

This spell costs {2} less to cast if it targets a blue spell.
Counter target spell unless its controller pays {3}.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/throne-of-eldraine/mystical-dispute

Thassa's Oracle

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $4.59

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206926_200w.jpg

When Thassa's Oracle enters the battlefield, look at the top X cards of your library, where X is your devotion to blue. Put up to one of them on top of your library and the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order. If X is greater than or equal to the number of cards in your library, you win the game. (Each {U} in the mana costs of permanents you control counts toward your devotion to blue.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/theros-beyond-death/thassas-oracle

Censor

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.17

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/130042_200w.jpg

Counter target spell unless its controller pays {1}.
Cycling {U} ({U}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/amonkhet/censor

Hero's Downfall

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.79

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/71183_200w.jpg

Destroy target creature or planeswalker.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/theros/heros-downfall

Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222820_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/zendikar-rising/swamp

Damping Sphere

Market Price: $1.40

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/162250_200w.jpg

If a land is tapped for two or more mana, it produces {C} instead of any other type and amount.
Each spell a player casts costs {1} more to cast for each other spell that player has cast this turn.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/dominaria/damping-sphere

Opt

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215840_200w.jpg

Scry 1. (Look at the top card of your library. You may put that card on the bottom of your library.)
Draw a card.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/core-set-2021/opt

Dig Through Time

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $3.39

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/180836_200w.jpg

Delve (Each card you exile from your graveyard while casting this spell pays for {1}.)
Look at the top seven cards of your library. Put two of them into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/ultimate-masters/dig-through-time

Jace, Wielder of Mysteries

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $3.73

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/187141_200w.jpg

If you would draw a card while your library has no cards in it, you win the game instead.
+1: Target player mills two cards. Draw a card.
−8: Draw seven cards. Then if your library has no cards in it, you win the game.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/war-of-the-spark/jace-wielder-of-mysteries

Eliminate

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.56

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215516_200w.jpg

Destroy target creature or planeswalker with converted mana cost 3 or less.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/core-set-2021/eliminate

Cry of the Carnarium

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183061_200w.jpg

All creatures get -2/-2 until end of turn. Exile all creature cards in all graveyards that were put there from the battlefield this turn. If a creature would die this turn, exile it instead.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/ravnica-allegiance/cry-of-the-carnarium

Drowned Catacomb

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $5.73

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/142036_200w.jpg

Drowned Catacomb enters the battlefield tapped unless you control an Island or a Swamp.
{T}: Add {U} or {B}.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/ixalan/drowned-catacomb

Island

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.15

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222819_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/zendikar-rising/island

The Elderspell

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.55

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/188632_200w.jpg

Destroy any number of target planeswalkers. Choose a planeswalker you control. Put two loyalty counters on it for each planeswalker destroyed this way.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/war-of-the-spark/the-elderspell

Thoughtseize

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $12.44

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218934_200w.jpg

Target player reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card. You lose 2 life.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/double-masters/thoughtseize

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $14.31

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/110836_200w.jpg

Lifelink
If a nontoken creature an opponent controls would die, instead exile that card and create a 2/2 black Zombie creature token.
{2}{B}, Sacrifice another Vampire or Zombie: Put two +1/+1 counters on Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/oath-of-the-gatewatch/kalitas-traitor-of-ghet

Narset, Parter of Veils

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.88

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/188705_200w.jpg

Each opponent can't draw more than one card each turn.
−2: Look at the top four cards of your library. You may reveal a noncreature, nonland card from among them and put it into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/war-of-the-spark/narset-parter-of-veils

Watery Grave

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $9.39

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/175205_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U} or {B}.)
As Watery Grave enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, it enters the battlefield tapped.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/guilds-of-ravnica/watery-grave

Fatal Push

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218830_200w.jpg

Destroy target creature if it has converted mana cost 2 or less.
Revolt — Destroy that creature if it has converted mana cost 4 or less instead if a permanent you controlled left the battlefield this turn.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/double-masters/fatal-push

Cling to Dust

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.44

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206655_200w.jpg

Exile target card from a graveyard. If it was a creature card, you gain 3 life. Otherwise, you draw a card.
Escape—{3}{B}, Exile five other cards from your graveyard. (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its escape cost.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/theros-beyond-death/cling-to-dust

Inverter of Truth

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/110992_200w.jpg

Devoid (This card has no color.)
Flying
When Inverter of Truth enters the battlefield, exile all cards from your library face down, then shuffle all cards from your graveyard into your library.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/oath-of-the-gatewatch/inverter-of-truth

Collective Brutality

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $4.59

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/120116_200w.jpg

Escalate—Discard a card. (Pay this cost for each mode chosen beyond the first.)
Choose one or more —
• Target opponent reveals their hand. You choose an instant or sorcery card from it. That player discards that card.
• Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.
• Target opponent loses 2 life and you gain 2 life.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/eldritch-moon/collective-brutality

Choked Estuary

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $2.69

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/115920_200w.jpg

As Choked Estuary enters the battlefield, you may reveal an Island or Swamp card from your hand. If you don't, Choked Estuary enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {U} or {B}.

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Fabled Passage

Market Price: $6.30

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215556_200w.jpg

{T}, Sacrifice Fabled Passage: Search your library for a basic land card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library. Then if you control four or more lands, untap that land.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/core-set-2021/fabled-passage

Fetid Pools

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $3.03

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/129682_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U} or {B}.)
Fetid Pools enters the battlefield tapped.
Cycling {2} ({2}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/amonkhet/fetid-pools

Negate

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222130_200w.jpg

Counter target noncreature spell.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/zendikar-rising/negate

When it was announced last week that a change would be coming to Pioneer, the vast majority of players rightfully assumed that Magic R&D would finally address the Dimir Inverter deck, which has been ruling the format since January's Theros Beyond Death brought Thassa's Oracle—and elevated Inverter of Truth from the bulk box to the format's scariest Mythic Rare. The deck subsequently crushed all three Players Tour events around the globe, taking over one-third of the total Top 8 slots, including a win and a second place finish, and emerged as the format's deck to beat.

It seemed then that the writing was on the wall, but now almost six months later the deck is still completely intact, having survived even Ikoria's companions without being knocked from the top spot. 

The Rise and Fall of Pioneer 

Heading into the spring season Pioneer was very popular on Magic Online, riding the wave of increased event support while people were locked down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It surged into the program's most popular format, surpassing even Modern, but with the relaxing of stay-at-home restrictions and Super Qualifier events coming to an end, Pioneer has waned almost into oblivion. 

Things reached the point that two weekends ago both Saturday's and Sunday's Pioneer Challenge events failed to get the 64 players required to even start. This left many players (well, apparently not that many) with a bitter taste in their mouths, and their complaining on social media brought wider attention to the fact that the format is on life support. At the time I am writing this, Magic Online's Pioneer League has only 227 active players—barely a quarter of the 842 playing Modern, which has more players than in March. Pioneer needs major surgery if it's to survive and thrive again, and unbanning Oath of Nissa was not that—more like getting a haircut when you're having a heart attack.

It's obvious that Pioneer should be less popular now that there are fewer players online playing fewer events, but logic would dictate that other formats would have undergone similar declines, which they haven't. There must be something else that explains the rapid fall of Pioneer relative to other formats. Some reason it's less healthy and fun to play.

Much of this can be traced directly back to the errata nerfing the companions, which had risen to define the Pioneer metagame. Companions made a major impact in every format back to Vintage, but found a sweet spot in Pioneer. Relative to the cardpool they were very powerful, but they couldn't abuse some of the more Lion's Eye Diamond Black Lotus found in older formats. Pioneer's larger cardpool compared to Standard led to more diversity in how companions were used. Many companions found their way into multiple decks, elevating those that already existed and creating brand new ones, forming legitimate pillars of the metagame that together brought balance and helped combat Dimir Inverter. 

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Jeskai Cycling by flabbergasted

'Jeskai Cycling' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: flabbergasted

Event: MTGO Pioneer Challenge - 05/03/2020

Rank: 3

Pioneer

Market Price: $142.19

Cards

Flourishing Fox

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.26

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212112_200w.jpg

Whenever you cycle another card, put a +1/+1 counter on Flourishing Fox.
Cycling {1} ({1}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/ikoria-lair-of-behemoths/flourishing-fox

Zenith Flare

Color Identity:R,W

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212538_200w.jpg

Zenith Flare deals X damage to any target and you gain X life, where X is the number of cards with a cycling ability in your graveyard.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/ikoria-lair-of-behemoths/zenith-flare

Raugrin Triome

Color Identity:R,U,W

Market Price: $6.74

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212695_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}, {R}, or {W}.)
Raugrin Triome enters the battlefield tapped.
Cycling {3} ({3}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/ikoria-lair-of-behemoths/raugrin-triome

Blessed Alliance

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.31

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/119685_200w.jpg

Escalate {2} (Pay this cost for each mode chosen beyond the first.)
Choose one or more —
• Target player gains 4 life.
• Untap up to two target creatures.
• Target opponent sacrifices an attacking creature.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/eldritch-moon/blessed-alliance

Supreme Verdict

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $5.01

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/145308_200w.jpg

This spell can't be countered.
Destroy all creatures.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/iconic-masters/supreme-verdict

Mystical Dispute

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $1.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198683_200w.jpg

This spell costs {2} less to cast if it targets a blue spell.
Counter target spell unless its controller pays {3}.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/throne-of-eldraine/mystical-dispute

Plains

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222818_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W}.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/zendikar-rising/plains

Dovin's Veto

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $1.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/187186_200w.jpg

This spell can't be countered.
Counter target noncreature spell.

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Neutralize

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.32

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212117_200w.jpg

Counter target spell.
Cycling {2} ({2}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/ikoria-lair-of-behemoths/neutralize

Zirda, the Dawnwaker

Color Identity:R,W

Market Price: $0.85

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212601_200w.jpg

Companion — Each permanent card in your starting deck has an activated ability. (If this card is your chosen companion, you may put it into your hand from outside the game for {3} any time you could cast a sorcery.)
Abilities you activate that aren't mana abilities cost {2} less to activate. This effect can't reduce the mana in that cost to less than one mana.
{1}, {T}: Target creature can't block this turn.

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Clifftop Retreat

Color Identity:R,W

Market Price: $5.19

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/162119_200w.jpg

Clifftop Retreat enters the battlefield tapped unless you control a Mountain or a Plains.
{T}: Add {R} or {W}.

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Island

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.15

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222819_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}.)

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Hieroglyphic Illumination

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.09

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212396_200w.jpg

Draw two cards.
Cycling {U} ({U}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Dream Trawler

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $0.59

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/207050_200w.jpg

Flying, lifelink
Whenever you draw a card, Dream Trawler gets +1/+0 until end of turn.
Whenever Dream Trawler attacks, draw a card.
Discard a card: Dream Trawler gains hexproof until end of turn. Tap it.

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Shark Typhoon

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $11.75

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212133_200w.jpg

Whenever you cast a noncreature spell, create an X/X blue Shark creature token with flying, where X is that spell's converted mana cost.
Cycling {X}{1}{U} ({X}{1}{U}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)
When you cycle Shark Typhoon, create an X/X blue Shark creature token with flying.

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Glare of Heresy

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/71090_200w.jpg

Exile target white permanent.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/theros/glare-of-heresy

Castle Vantress

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.74

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199284_200w.jpg

Castle Vantress enters the battlefield tapped unless you control an Island.
{T}: Add {U}.
{2}{U}{U}, {T}: Scry 2.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/throne-of-eldraine/castle-vantress

Sulfur Falls

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $3.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/162122_200w.jpg

Sulfur Falls enters the battlefield tapped unless you control an Island or a Mountain.
{T}: Add {U} or {R}.

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Nimble Obstructionist

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.30

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212373_200w.jpg

Flash
Flying
Cycling {2}{U} ({2}{U}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)
When you cycle Nimble Obstructionist, counter target activated or triggered ability you don't control.

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Censor

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.17

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/130042_200w.jpg

Counter target spell unless its controller pays {1}.
Cycling {U} ({U}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/amonkhet/censor

Cast Out

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212338_200w.jpg

Flash
When Cast Out enters the battlefield, exile target nonland permanent an opponent controls until Cast Out leaves the battlefield.
Cycling {W} ({W}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/commander-2020/cast-out

Irrigated Farmland

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $0.43

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212418_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W} or {U}.)
Irrigated Farmland enters the battlefield tapped.
Cycling {2} ({2}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Narset, Parter of Veils

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.88

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/188705_200w.jpg

Each opponent can't draw more than one card each turn.
−2: Look at the top four cards of your library. You may reveal a noncreature, nonland card from among them and put it into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/war-of-the-spark/narset-parter-of-veils

Azorius Charm

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $0.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/145459_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Creatures you control gain lifelink until end of turn.
• Draw a card.
• Put target attacking or blocking creature on top of its owner's library.

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Hallowed Fountain

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $7.27

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182831_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W} or {U}.)
As Hallowed Fountain enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, it enters the battlefield tapped.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/ravnica-allegiance/hallowed-fountain

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Azorius Yorion by WhiTe TsaR

'Azorius Yorion' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: WhiTe TsaR

Event: MTGO Pioneer Challenge - 05/03/2020

Rank: 4

Pioneer

Market Price: $262.93

Cards

Silkwrap

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/96598_200w.jpg

When Silkwrap enters the battlefield, exile target creature with converted mana cost 3 or less an opponent controls until Silkwrap leaves the battlefield. (That creature returns under its owner's control.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/dragons-of-tarkir/silkwrap

Mystical Dispute

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $1.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198683_200w.jpg

This spell costs {2} less to cast if it targets a blue spell.
Counter target spell unless its controller pays {3}.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/throne-of-eldraine/mystical-dispute

Damping Sphere

Market Price: $1.40

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/162250_200w.jpg

If a land is tapped for two or more mana, it produces {C} instead of any other type and amount.
Each spell a player casts costs {1} more to cast for each other spell that player has cast this turn.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/dominaria/damping-sphere

Baffling End

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.18

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/155676_200w.jpg

When Baffling End enters the battlefield, exile target creature an opponent controls with converted mana cost 3 or less.
When Baffling End leaves the battlefield, target opponent creates a 3/3 green Dinosaur creature token with trample.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/rivals-of-ixalan/baffling-end

Yorion, Sky Nomad

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $1.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212715_200w.jpg

Companion — Your starting deck contains at least twenty cards more than the minimum deck size. (If this card is your chosen companion, you may put it into your hand from outside the game for {3} any time you could cast a sorcery.)
Flying
When Yorion enters the battlefield, exile any number of other nonland permanents you own and control. Return those cards to the battlefield at the beginning of the next end step.

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Thraben Inspector

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.16

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When Thraben Inspector enters the battlefield, investigate. (Create a colorless Clue artifact token with "{2}, Sacrifice this artifact: Draw a card.")

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The Immortal Sun

Market Price: $21.70

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/155586_200w.jpg

Players can't activate planeswalkers' loyalty abilities.
At the beginning of your draw step, draw an additional card.
Spells you cast cost {1} less to cast.
Creatures you control get +1/+1.

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Glass Casket

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199004_200w.jpg

When Glass Casket enters the battlefield, exile target creature an opponent controls with converted mana cost 3 or less until Glass Casket leaves the battlefield.

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Heliod, Sun-Crowned

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $11.49

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206666_200w.jpg

Indestructible
As long as your devotion to white is less than five, Heliod isn't a creature.
Whenever you gain life, put a +1/+1 counter on target creature or enchantment you control.
{1}{W}: Another target creature gains lifelink until end of turn.

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Fabled Passage

Market Price: $6.30

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{T}, Sacrifice Fabled Passage: Search your library for a basic land card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library. Then if you control four or more lands, untap that land.

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Archon of Sun's Grace

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.98

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Flying, lifelink
Pegasus creatures you control have lifelink.
Constellation — Whenever an enchantment enters the battlefield under your control, create a 2/2 white Pegasus creature token with flying.

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Charming Prince

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $1.63

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198860_200w.jpg

When Charming Prince enters the battlefield, choose one —
• Scry 2.
• You gain 3 life.
• Exile another target creature you own. Return it to the battlefield under your control at the beginning of the next end step.

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Grafdigger's Cage

Market Price: $1.62

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Creature cards in graveyards and libraries can't enter the battlefield.
Players can't cast spells from graveyards or libraries.

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Plains

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222818_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W}.)

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Tormod's Crypt

Market Price: $0.20

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{T}, Sacrifice Tormod's Crypt: Exile all cards from target player's graveyard.

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Skysovereign, Consul Flagship

Market Price: $0.65

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Flying
Whenever Skysovereign, Consul Flagship enters the battlefield or attacks, it deals 3 damage to target creature or planeswalker an opponent controls.
Crew 3 (Tap any number of creatures you control with total power 3 or more: This Vehicle becomes an artifact creature until end of turn.)

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The Birth of Meletis

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.43

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(As this Saga enters and after your draw step, add a lore counter. Sacrifice after III.)
I — Search your library for a basic Plains card, reveal it, put it into your hand, then shuffle your library.
II — Create a 0/4 colorless Wall artifact creature token with defender.
III — You gain 2 life.

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Stasis Snare

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.17

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Flash (You may cast this spell any time you could cast an instant.)
When Stasis Snare enters the battlefield, exile target creature an opponent controls until Stasis Snare leaves the battlefield. (That creature returns under its owner's control.)

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Hallowed Fountain

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $7.27

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({T}: Add {W} or {U}.)
As Hallowed Fountain enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, it enters the battlefield tapped.

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Pithing Needle

Market Price: $1.65

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As Pithing Needle enters the battlefield, choose a card name.
Activated abilities of sources with the chosen name can't be activated unless they're mana abilities.

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Cataclysmic Gearhulk

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.53

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Vigilance
When Cataclysmic Gearhulk enters the battlefield, each player chooses an artifact, a creature, an enchantment, and a planeswalker from among the nonland permanents they control, then sacrifices the rest.

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Walking Ballista

Market Price: $9.48

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Walking Ballista enters the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters on it.
{4}: Put a +1/+1 counter on Walking Ballista.
Remove a +1/+1 counter from Walking Ballista: It deals 1 damage to any target.

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Irrigated Farmland

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $0.43

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212418_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W} or {U}.)
Irrigated Farmland enters the battlefield tapped.
Cycling {2} ({2}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Temple of Enlightenment

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $0.85

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206634_200w.jpg

Temple of Enlightenment enters the battlefield tapped.
When Temple of Enlightenment enters the battlefield, scry 1. (Look at the top card of your library. You may put that card on the bottom of your library.)
{T}: Add {W} or {U}.

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Glacial Fortress

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $4.86

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Glacial Fortress enters the battlefield tapped unless you control a Plains or an Island.
{T}: Add {W} or {U}.

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Reflector Mage

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $0.82

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When Reflector Mage enters the battlefield, return target creature an opponent controls to its owner's hand. That creature's owner can't cast spells with the same name as that creature until your next turn.

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God-Pharaoh's Statue

Market Price: $0.24

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Spells your opponents cast cost {2} more to cast.
At the beginning of your end step, each opponent loses 1 life.

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Island

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.15

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222819_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}.)

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Teferi, Time Raveler

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $9.22

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Each opponent can cast spells only any time they could cast a sorcery.
+1: Until your next turn, you may cast sorcery spells as though they had flash.
−3: Return up to one target artifact, creature, or enchantment to its owner's hand. Draw a card.

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Omen of the Sea

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.09

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206769_200w.jpg

Flash
When Omen of the Sea enters the battlefield, scry 2, then draw a card.
{2}{U}, Sacrifice Omen of the Sea: Scry 2.

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Karn, the Great Creator

Market Price: $6.57

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Activated abilities of artifacts your opponents control can't be activated.
+1: Until your next turn, up to one target noncreature artifact becomes an artifact creature with power and toughness each equal to its converted mana cost.
−2: You may reveal an artifact card you own from outside the game or choose a face-up artifact card you own in exile. Put that card into your hand.

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Lacking a companion itself, Dimir Inverter was knocked down and fell back into the field, and a sense of a new normalcy returned to the metagame. Dimir Inverter eventually adopted Yorion, Sky Nomad and rose up again, before eventually ditching it in favor of a retooled 60-card version that reemerged as the format's best deck, but was far from its previous level of dominance. 

Changing companions ripped off the bandaid, and left a hollow shell of a metagame with nothing to stop Dimir Inverter from running roughshod. It also disenfranchised a huge swath of players, as the vast majority of the field was playing with them. Players left the format in droves, and brought us to where we are today. 

The takeaway is that Pioneer was healthier with companions. While it would be interesting to see what the format would be like with them as-printed and without Dimir Inverter, the clear fix now is to remove the Dimir Inverter deck, which should have left along with the companion change and maybe could have prevented much of the format's decline. 

The Problem with Inverter of Truth

There are many issues with Dimir Inverter. One is the ease of assembling what's effectively a two-card combo. In a world where the Felidar Guardian and Saheeli Rai combo was squashed within two weeks of the format's inception, during its first round of bans, it just doesn't make any sense to keep another two-card combo around. One can argue that the banned combo is faster, capable of a turn-four kill compared to Dimir Inverter's turn-five, and has the advantage of its individual pieces being generally stronger cards with more utility. On the other hand, Saheeli Rai/Felidar Guardian is relatively easier to disrupt, requiring just a removal or burn spell to stop, much like the Splinter Twin combo. 

The beauty of Dimir Inverter's combo, and what makes it such a problem, is that it's difficult if not impossible to meaningfully interact with. Both Inverter of Truth and Thassa's Oracle have enters-the-battlefield effects that simply happen if the card resolves, offering no recourse for the opponent. Yes, traditional countermagic and discard, or specialty effects like the Gideon of the Trials emblem, Hushwing Gryff or Ipnu Rivulet can sometimes get the job done. But many decks simply can't do anything but cross their fingers and hope to race. Against a deck like Splinter Twin or CopyCat combo, an opponent can leave up a removal spell, or at least represent it, and play an interesting and interactive game of Magic that leads to meaningful decisions on both sides. If Felidar Guardian is banned in Pioneer, and Splinter Twin was deemed broken in Modern, there's no good reason Dimir Inverter should remain in Pioneer. 

That's ignoring the fact that Dimir Inverter also brings the redundancy of Jace, Wielder of Mysteries as a secondary combo piece. It adds not just consistency, but incredible utility that outshines anything Felidar Guardian, Saheeli Rai, Pestermite or Splinter Twin can do on their own. Its card advantage helps Dimir Inverter play as a legitimate control deck. It gets to run Thoughtseize and Fatal Push (the two best disruption spells in the format), the new staple Eliminate, and Dig Through Time, Pioneer's best card selection tool—one too good for Modern and Legacy. 

With the redundancy of two win conditions to join enabler Inverter of Truth, it's clear that the Eldrazi is the piece that must go. Any conversation about banning support cards like Dig Through Time misses the mark—it could play Treasure Cruise instead, and even with that gone would dip into other delve spells like Murderous Cut or Set Adrift to help control the size of its graveyard. There's no shortage of other quality card selection spells to fill that role. Banning one of the win conditions, like Thassa's Oracle, would be no more effective. 

Yes, any of these changes would make the deck worse, but none eliminate the fact that as long as Inverter Truth and at least one win condition remains, in some large percentage of games Dimir Inverter will kill you on turn five with nothing you can do to stop it—and at the very least, will always threaten to do so. It's that broken play pattern that must be removed entirely. 

Inverter of Truth is the broken card. Just read it. The Morality Shift on a stick is the problem, and with it in the format its namesake deck will remain. Even if both other combo pieces were banned, it could enable some graveyard-abusing deck down the road—it's simply never going to be used fairly. Consider that the most recent breakout deck in Legacy is Merfolk, a great tribal home for Thassa's Oracle, with Paradigm Shift.

Say Inverter of Truth Is Banned... Then What?

Banning Inverter of Truth would completely eliminate the Dimir Inverter archetype and open the approximately 16% of the field that it holds. In terms of metagame share that doesn't sound huge, not compared to numbers like the 30% Temur Energy held in its Standard, but it's concerning compared to the numbers in other formats. The most popular deck in Modern is Eldrazi Tron with around 7%, evidence of a diverse format that's unsurprisingly now Magic's most popular. The biggest deck in current Standard is Bant Ramp with around 17%. That's even larger than Dimir's Pioneer share, but in practice it's actually a healthy number for a smaller cardpool where there is less diversity by design. Dimir Inverter compares to Legacy's Izzet-based Delver of Secrets decks, which also hold around 16%—likely a sign of problems in that format, which should theoretically be very diverse. 

Beyond opening up a meaningful percentage of the metagame, banning Inverter of Truth would have an outsized effect by adding diversity to the rest of the field. The top portion of the other 84% of the field like #2 Mono-Black (including Aggro and Vampires, 14%), #4 White Devotion and #5 Spirits (each with 6.5%), are in their positions specifically because they can sometimes beat Dimir Inverter. Removing it from the metagame would alleviate that pressure and allow a greater diversity of strategies to thrive. 

One of the biggest winners would be green decks, which tend to lack disruption and are easy prey for Dimir Inverter, and as such are almost absent from the metagame. Various flavors of Stompy, a former pillar, are now only around 2.5% of the field, and ramp decks are effectively nonexistent. The most important green deck in Pioneer's history was Green Devotion, which fell away completely after multiple bans and Dimir's rise. The deck directly led directly to the ban of Oath of Nissa, and is one of the biggest beneficiaries of its unbanning, but that alone will not bring it back into the competitive picture if Dimir Inverter remains. 

Should Anything Else Be Banned?

There's an argument that if the Dimir Inverter deck is removed, then something else broken would just take its place. The biggest threat comes from Lotus Breach, the format's #3 deck, holding a 8.5% metagame share. It's a broken combo deck in its own right, but one that history shows is more reasonable. One thing to consider is that it's partially held down by Dimir Inverter, which fights back with disruption and a combo. During the companion era Lotus Breach thrived in the face of less Dimir and more fair decks, so it's possible that it would rise up again and become a serious problem without Dimir containing it. 

 

To be safe, banning Underworld Breach or Lotus Field along with Inverter of Truth would knock Lotus Breach down, but I expect the metagame might be able to adjust to it without the pressure of Dimir Inverter demanding attention. Given the conservative approach R&D has taken recently, it makes more sense to go one deck and one card at a time rather than completely nuking the metagame, but with the caveat of making changes quickly if it does become a real problem. Like Inverter of Truth, Underworld Breach will never be used fairly, so I'd start there. Lotus Field, which with hexproof is difficult to interact with, and has its own combo with Thespian's Stage, could remain an issue. But I'm curious to see if it could be used for more semi-fair means. 

The Future of Pioneer

Following the B&R update on Monday, on Wednesday Wizards of the Coast announced that Pioneer would be coming to MTG Arena by the end of 2020 with the help of Pioneer Masters, a Modern Masters-style set that would include the best and most important cards in Pioneer. It's a major step that shows that Wizards has serious plans for Pioneer as a future competitive format. MTG Arena will expose Pioneer to a whole order of magnitude more players and could do incredible things for its popularity.

That makes it more urgent than ever that Pioneer be fixed and brought to a healthy place if it's to have a successful debut on MTG Arena.With that just a few months away, it's imperative that action be taken quickly and the metagame given time to heal and reestablish itself.

It's time to ban Inverter of Truth.