As Magic: The Gathering's most recent constructed format, Pioneer offers one of the best spaces for new and inventive deck building. That being said, the best place to look for cards that will matter in a format is always in decks that are already at the top of the metagame.
While there are a few cards in Dominaria United that might allow a couple of new strategies to develop, the Pioneer metagame is pretty well established at this point. However, there's always room for improvements to be made. Let's take a look at the cards we can expect will be introducing some changes to the meta as well as a couple that might just bring some new strategies to the format.
8/8 Serra Paragon
Serra Paragon is an absolute house of a card. At four mana value, it's teetering on the edge of being too slow for Pioneer. However, the incremental value that this card supplies if you are able to protect it is simply too much to dismiss. Serra Paragon isn't seeing play much of anywhere at the moment, but it could be a great curve topper in some sort of Azorius (blue/white) flash deck.
Alternatively, it might fit into a tribal Angels deck down the line or see play in any Midrange deck containing white. The fact that this card not only provides card advantage turn after turn but also acts as an impressive flying threat all on its own makes it one to watch out for.
7/8 Llanowar Loamspeaker
This isn't anything to write home about in most formats, but Pioneer has the unique position of being the only format in which Jeskai Ascendancy already sees a decent amount of play. In case you haven't heard of the deck before, Ascendancy Combo works by putting a Jeskai Ascendancy into play and then casting Sylvan Awakening.
Since all of your lands become creatures and Ascendancy untaps your creatures every time you cast a noncreature spell, you end up with an infinite amount of mana with which to pump your creatures as large as you need them to be in order to finish out the game. Loamspeaker doesn't work directly with the combo, but it does provide the deck with some added consistency in the form of another land-animating outlet.
6/8 Temporary Lockdown
Seeing as Temporary Lockdown is one of the most important Dominaria United cards coming to Modern, it only makes sense that it will be quite relevant for Pioneer as well. This card serves as a sort of Anger of the Gods for white, which any control deck playing white will be happy to have.
More than anything, the existence of this card will reduce the effectiveness of aggressive strategies and token strategies in general. If you're interested in playing either, now might be a good time to do so before more players catch on to how impressive this enchantment is against both.
5/8 Leyline Binding
Leyline Binding is yet another card that's making big waves in Modern and will also be important for Pioneer. By using fetchlands to find triomes in your deck and playing a dual land on the following turn, you can reduce the cost of Leyline Binding to a single mana by turn two.
One mana to exile any nonland permanent is a price that's very hard to beat. This card won't be seeing play in every deck, but four or five color decks like Niv To Light will be very happy to have it handy.
4/8 Sheoldred, The Apocalypse
Some players believed that Sheoldred would have no place in a format that's already got access to a great four mana value creature in the form of Khalitas, Traitor of Ghet. However, initial testing is proving that Sheoldred's reliable triggers and higher toughness are more important than Khalitas' ability to continually churn out Zombie tokens and exile creatures.
There's likely to always be a place for Khalitas in Pioneer to some extent, especially with the popularity and power of Izzet Phoenix, but Sheoldred is looking like it might be the best mainboard black midrange creature choice. Leave it to Phyrexia to better complete a deck that's already incredibly powerful.
3/8 Founding The Third Path
The blue/red Izzet Pheonix deck is going to have a field day with this new saga, allowing them to play whatever instant or sorcery they need a second time from their graveyard. Notably, there is some graveyard hate such as Graveyard Trespasser in the mainboard of meta decks.
However, graveyard hate is generally something that's left to the sideboard. The strategy to beat Izzet Phoenix already revolves around graveyard hate to some extent and the deck still manages to perform, so nothing really changes with the addition of Founding the Third Path. It could be the case that this is a card you want to side out once your opponent brings in even more sideboard hate though. You may want to try and test it out for yourself if you're an Izzet Phoenix pilot.
2/8 Leaf-Crowned Visionary
Speaking of cards that might bring a new archetype to the meta, Leaf-Crowned Visionary is the card to keep your eyes on. There are already a high number of quite good Elf creatures in Pioneer including Elvish Clancaller, Elvish Warmaster, Steel Leaf Champion, and more.
Also, Collected Company and Shaman of the Pack both exist in the format, meaning a well-built Elf deck has access to instant speed creatures and the ability to cause a large amount of life loss thanks to Shaman of the Pack's trigger. Leaf-Crowned Visionary might just provide the extra steam this deck needs in order to make a statement, but only time will tell.
1/8 Liliana of the Veil
It seems like Liliana of the Veil is the main subject of discussion in all things constructed at the moment, and it's with good reason seeing as she still sees play in Modern. There's no question that a card that's good enough for Modern is going to make waves in every other constructed format she can get her fingers into.
Rakdos Midrange was already one of the best decks in the Pioneer format before Liliana of the Veil came along. With her introduction, it's likely that red/black Rakdos Midrange will cement itself as the best deck in the meta for at least some time. It's exciting to think of what other brews might arise from Liliana's introduction to Pioneer. Perhaps Pioneer Jund (black/red/green) isn't as far out as some might imagine. Whatever the case, get ready to play against this planeswalker a lot. Remember, if you find that you can't beat her, you might as well play her yourself.
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