Pioneer Affinity. Blue-Red 5/5s. Izzet Ensoul. Whatever you want to call it, this deck is quietly putting up big results lately.
Our own Emma Partlow just wrote an article about it last week and I figured I should see what all the fuss is about. My version is a bit lower to the ground with Ornithopter, but very much the same idea. Today we'll be getting our opponents dead with 5/5 robots coupled with reach and disruption.
5/5 Robots: Cheap artifact creatures like Ornithopter, Bomat Courier and Gingerbrute become giant threats when you enchant them with Ensoul Artifact or animate them with Skilled Animator. 5/5s are no joke, and this deck provides some serious pressure starting as early as turn two. It's important to note that you can also make Darksteel Citadel a 5/5 and it stays indestructible, which is really important in some matchups.
Reach and Disruption: So we're dealing damage in chunks of 5, ideally. And there's an artifact-centric burn spell that deals 5, too.
It's called Shrapnel Blast and, oh boy, does it do the job. We'll generally have a few extra artifacts lying around that would love to become Lava Axes. You can also aim those Blasts at meddlesome creatures in case things are getting out of hand, but usually we'll be tossing our old toys at our opponents' faces. Metallic Rebuke is our disruptive element and it plays great with all these cheap artifacts as well. Often we'll only need one blue mana up to counter anything our enemies could want to resolve.
Spoilers beyond this point.
Oof. Not proud of that major punt at the end of the last match against Spirits, but there's not much you can do when your Dimir Inverter opponent draws that well. And the Orzhov Midrange deck seems like kind of a nightmare for our strategy. We did manage to win some interactive games against Mono-Red, though!
Vs. Control and Sultai: Bring in The Antiquities War and Emry, Lurker of the Loch and take out Shadowspear, Metallic Rebuke and a Ghostfire Blade. Try to prioritize making Darksteel Citadel a 5/5 so they can't Supreme Verdict / Fatal Push profitably and burn them out with Shrapnel Blast when they get low.
Vs. Inverter: Bring in the Metallic Rebuke and take out Shadowspear and one Hope of Ghirapur. We're built to go fast, and here's our time to shine. Get underneath them and push as much damage as you can before Inverter of Truth arrives.
Vs. Lotus Breach: Bring in Damping Sphere and Metallic Rebuke and cut Shadowspear and Ghostfire Blade. Also try and make room for an Emry or two so you can rebuy Hope of Ghirapur to lock them out. Just go fast in game one and try to land a Damping Sphere or timely Metallic Rebuke in games two and three.
Vs. Mono-Red and Mono-Black: Bring in Wild Slash and Aethersphere Harvester and take out Metallic Rebuke and Bomat Courier. Bomat just doesn't do very well when your opponent has 1/2s and a lot of cheap removal. Prioritize killing their more impactful creatures like Soul-Scar Mage and Knight of the Ebon Legion while clocking them with flying 5/5s whenever possible.
Vs. Mono-White: Bring in Wild Slash and cut Bomat Courier. This matchup is tough because their removal is all exile-based and they have a lot of blockers and a combo kill. Try to keep Heliod, Sun-Crowned from becoming a creature and leave up mana to disrupt their combo whenever possible.
Some general thoughts about the deck after a few leagues: I'm not quite sold on the Ornithopters yet. Always try to have either Ensoul Artifact, Steel Overseer or Skilled Animator in your opening hand. Leverage Darksteel Citadel's indestructibility whenever it's at all relevant, and don't be afraid to make bad attacks to push a few extra damage in. Shrapnel Blast is just so much reach.
Overall, this deck seems pretty strong in the current metagame. It's got a proactive game plan that makes your opponent find the answer or die, and it's fast enough to outrace the combo decks that are running rampant right now. If you're looking to jam some Pioneer this week, you could do a lot worse than Izzet Ensoul. As always, thanks for stopping by, and I'll see ya next week for more spicy Pioneer action!