Pioneer Dance of the Manse (or can I jam Calix in everything)
So, my last few articles have been mostly combo-focused and I wanted to branch out just a little. I thought over the past few years of standard decks and decided on attempting to play my Esper Dance deck. I found some lists online but none of them really sparked anything that would be fun. So instead, I started off with just 2 cards Dance of the Manse and Doom Foretold.
First, let's talk about Dance of the Manse. It is a clearly designed "build-around-me" card that works with artifacts and enchantments in your graveyard with an added bonus if you pay enough mana into it. Artifacts that sacrifice themselves with ETB triggers are definitely what you'd like to include with this as well as "Smokestack" like effects. That is where the second card on my list comes up: Doom Foretold. I went back and looked at the standard lists from the "Oko days".
I like both of these cards for their ability to filter mana and in Golden Eggs case the ability to sacrifice it for 3 life is not to be overlooked.
Now it was time for the fun part: Sifting through the entire pioneer card list for enchantments that provided an effect I wanted in my deck. The key effects that I looked for were the removal of both permanents and creatures, as well as card draw.
Banishing Light and Detention Sphere do just about the same thing but I wanted redundancy with this powerful effect. I made sure there were more copies of Detention Sphere clearly because of its high power level.
Trial of Ambition, Cast Out and Oath of Kaya are the last few pieces of enchantment removal I settled on. Cast Out's instant speed option is such a game-changer as well cycling both draws a card and puts another target into the yard for that game-winning Dance of the Manse. Oath of Kaya was probably the best card in the standard version. It kills a wide variety of creatures, planeswalkers, occasionally players in long drawn-out games. In aggressive matches, gaining 3 life can be the difference between winning and losing.
The new Theros Beyond Death set has provided a variety of enchantments, but while looking for card advantage there was really only one option that stood out - Omen of the Sea. It has flash, it Preordain's, and you can put it in the graveyard while scrying two cards. This card is likely to see a variety of play in a variety of formats. After some testing, I realized how much fun this deck was and started digging through my collection to put it together in paper. That's when I came across my pre-release pool and my promo Treacherous Blessing. I felt like putting my head through my desk when I realized I had overlooked this card. It draws cards with its ETB trigger, and its detrimental trigger was fine to work around with some life gain from Oath of Kaya, Doom Foretold and Golden Egg. But most importantly, I could just sacrifice it to Doom Foretold.
Filling Things Out
At this point, I started filling in general removal and ways to enable actually win the game. Fatal Push and Supreme Verdict are both extremely powerful cards in the current pioneer meta with a variety of aggressive strategy decks plowing around the format. There was one major card missing from the original standard deck - Teferi, Time Raveler. This deck has some problems with control decks. With Niv-to-Light now being tier one, Teferi serves another purpose by shutting off Bring to Light. Because the spell you tutor is cast as part of the resolution of Bring to Light it is not at sorcery speed so it can't be cast. Doomwake Giant also found a spot in the deck. After a few run-ins with green ramp decks and some aggro strategies, I felt that its constellation ability made it into a "mini" wrath.
This is the point where my deck building turned funny nearly for the fact that I love enchantment based decks. In the most recent set Theros Beyond Death there is a new white green enchantment themed planeswalker, Calix, Destiny's Hand. At the time that I was brewing this deck, I had purchased one of the alternate art foil versions of this card. It was inexpensive, that art was g0rgeous, and I play a lot of commander. But when I was building this deck I realized its abilities were relevant in this deck. So the first question I asked was "How far was I going to warp my deck to play it?". I decided not very. But with the Fabled Passages and the "eggs", it was surprisingly castable with technically only one Forest in the deck. After some testing, I found when it hit the table it survived with an uptick to five loyalty, and that it's -3 ability to turn one of your already existing enchantments into an oblivion ring-like effect was a boon to my deck. Its ultimate -7 ability is a throwback to the Urza's Destiny commander staple Replenish. So far in testing, I have ultimated this planeswalker twice and dang does it end things quickly with flair.
Here is my current list right now. I have changed it multiple times as I was writing this article. It has really surprised me how flexible this deck is and how many enchantments there are to help challenge the biggest threats in the meta.
Sideboarding Guide and Descriptions
Consulate Crackdown - In my testing, this deck had some issues with Scrapheap Scrounger decks. This quite deftly eats the ensoul decks. I thought the first time that I boarded this in that it would flop. But it has provided a nice way to exile a few permanents and I think it has earned its spot in the board.
Deafening Silence - As my readers might now I enjoy storm style decks especially the Lotus Field decks. So having a cheap and easy way to provide a huge hurdle for these decks is what you want. If your opponent's plan is to do something broken, this is probably what you would like to board in.
Fall of the Thran - This is in the sideboard to combo with Leyline of the Void. After banging this deck against the wall of a few other grindy combo matches and the mono-green ramp deck, I wanted a one-two punch and this solves those problems quickly.
Gideon's Intervention - This was a suggestion of a friend of mine who was playing this in their UW control list to help beat nexus and other combo decks. I have enjoyed boarding this in for a variety of matches to solve problems that my deck might have while also being able to "meddling mage" a card.
Leyline of the Void - This seems like the most self-explanatory card in the board. Any graveyard based deck is unlikely to prosper with this in your opening hand, and with the variety of removal in this deck turning Supreme Verdict and Doom Foretold into removal that exiles is amazing. As well I've been running into more and more copies of Voice of Resurgence, and this turns off its triggered ability when it dies.
Teferi, Time Raveler - The original list I was playing had the full playset in the main, but I found that the meta has shifted more than I originally had imagined. Control is a large part of the meta but not at the level I had planned around. But with the rise of Niv-to-Light right now, I wanted another answer to that deck. Teferi's static stops your opponents from casting spells tutored with Bring to Light. This card has great flexibility and continues to be one of my favorite cards printed recently.
Thoughtseize - This might be one of the most powerful cards right now in this format. It helps to solve problems in almost any deck you might come across. As well this is one of the most challenging cards to play with. Thoughtseizing can be the hardest decision you will have to make in a game. It will affect the current turn and all the turns that follow. I've played Magic for many years, but I still have a lot to learn especially about thoughtseizing properly.
Now do I think this is the best deck currently in the pioneer format? No, but I do think with some more tuning that this will be a great deck to fight an established meta. With the bans in the pioneer format becoming less frequent the format is likely to become more and more stable. With the upcoming two weeks of PT's in Brussels, Nagoya, and Phoenix I am very excited to see what decks rise to the top.