Howdy, folks! Welcome back to Pioneer with Poncelet. This week we've got a black-green deck that abuses a powerful delve creature and has an interactive backup plan. Soulflayer packs a serious combo punch and can also do a pretty good midrange impression. All hail Questing Beast, winner of games, haver of tons of rules text.


Powerful Delve Creature



This card gets stronger with every keyword on the creatures it delves. In this deck we can easily fill up the graveyard with creatures using Gather the Pack, Grisly Salvage and Lotleth Troll. Once the graveyard is stacked we can cast Soulflayer for two mana and hopefully delve away some good ones.

The best creatures to delve away are Zetalpa, Primal Dawn (flying, double strike, vigilance, trample, and indestructible) and Sylvan Caryatid (hexproof). Maybe throw a haste creature and a lifelink creature into that delve for good measure and you've got one hell of a beater on your hands that's very hard to deal with. Many opponents will just concede as soon as it resolves!


Interactive Backup Plan

So we won't always find the Soulflayer even though we can dig pretty deep with the likes of Once Upon a Time, Gather the Pack and Grisly Salvage. What happens when we don't find it? Well, we happen to have four Murderous Rider in the main deck to cure what ails us and some really decent beaters in Lotleth Troll, Questing Beast and Rankle, Master of Pranks. The only card that's very difficult to cast is Zetalpa, Primal Dawn, but with four Sylvan Caryatids and a Mana Confluence it is possible.

The bulk of the interaction comes up in post sideboard games where we can bring in four Thoughtseize and two each of Fatal Push, Abrupt Decay and Collective Brutality. Generally we'll be boarding out "combo" pieces like Zetalpa, Primal Dawn and Gather the Pack to make room for our hand disruption and removal. It's a potent package that can swing almost any match up in our favor.






Spoilers beyond this point.

Okay, so we went 2-1. Not bad at all, especially if you consider we would have won at least one and maybe both of our games against Mono-Red had we played it differently and picked our spots a bit better. I'm sure I could have waited a bit longer on that Soulflayer in game one at least.

Super happy we took down Jaberwocki on Grixis Control and the Rakdos Midrange deck in round three. The deck felt powerful and robust and I hope you got to see some of the potential there.

Here are some sideboarding notes:

Vs. Mono-Green: Bring in Blightbeetle, Fatal Push, Thoughtseize and Abrupt Decay. Trim on some of the combo pieces. We need to keep them off the board or at least slow them down while we dig for Questing Beast and Soulflayer.

Vs. Mono-Black: Bring in Fatal Push, Abrupt Decay and Collective Brutality. Trim on Rankle, Gather the Pack and some Zetalpa. Try to keep their aggression at bay while fueling an unbeatable, indestructible, lifelink Soulflayer.

Vs. Ramp: Bring in all the hand disruption and lose the lifelink creatures. The name of the game here is take their payoffs and kill them with Questing Beast and Soulflayer.

Vs. Izzet Phoenix: Bring in Leyline of the Void and Fatal Push. Keep that Thing in the Ice // Awoken Horror from flipping and it should be smooth sailing.

Vs. Control: Pretty much the same plan as ramp, but here we need to prioritize giving our Soulflayer indestructible.

All in all, Soulflayer is a powerful combo deck that can play well even without the combo. It's certainly a contender in this Pioneer metagame and pretty easy to pick up and play. Give it a shot at your next FNM or MTGO Challenge if you want to catch some folks off guard. My biggest takeaway is that Lotleth Troll has some serious game. Don't sleep on that little Troll!

Thanks for hangin' with me again this week. I'll be back next week with some more hot Pioneer action!


Kevin Poncelet