Yes, yes, yes! Did we forget to say yes?
On October 21st, shortly on the heels of Field of the Dead being banned from the Standard format, Wizards of the Coast dropped another piece of bombshell news on players of the game, announcing an all new format for players of the game to enjoy.
This new format is called Pioneer and as can be determined from our opening statement of this article, we are incredibly excited to explore this brand new way of playing Magic: The Gathering!
What is the Pioneer Format?
The Pioneer format consists of cards from the Return to Ravnica set, until present day, the latest set of which is Throne of Eldraine and will be a “non-rotating” format, meaning that the cards you have today, will be legal to play forever, barring a ban.
Return to Ravnica was released in the Fall of 2011 and thus, we have eight years of sets in this format to enjoy, totaling 29 sets at the present time of writing.
Just like as in the Modern format, any new set released from this point on will be legal in the Pioneer format moving forward, meaning that the card pool will increase over time, leading to interesting and diverse gameplay.
The decision to create this new format is being heralded by the vast majority of players as a massive success, especially given the fact that Wizards of the Coast plans on supporting this format from day one on the competitive scene, with the first major Pioneer tournament taking play in February 2020.
Additionally, Pioneer has been added to the software that local game stores use, meaning that it is also supported on the FNM level.
Pioneer has already been added to Magic the Gathering Online, however, Wizards of the Coast have announced that they have no intentions of adding it to Arena, clearly indicating to fans of MTGO that their beloved software will still be supported for years to come.
What is Banned in Pioneer?
Wizards of the Coast made a bold move in their initial announcement, indicating that the ONLY cards that are no legal from day one in the Pioneer format are the five fetch lands that were printed since the Return to Ravnica release date.
These are as follows;
This was an excellent decision, as banning these fetch lands means that there is going to be a wide, diverse amount of deck brewing from day one in the Pioneer format and that it is not simply going to descend into “modern lite”.
The fetch lands for starters are outrageously expensive already and making them legal in the Pioneer format would of only made them even more so.
Additionally, the fetch lands led to numerous broken combos when made legal, as they make four color mana deck combinations incredibly easy to achieve, especially given the fact that both shock lands and check lands are already printed in the Pioneer format.
However, players must purchase new cards with caution for the next coming months, as Wizards have stated that they are going to be watching this format incredibly closely and will be issuing future bans on problematic cards.
The above video by Saffron Olive of MTG Goldfish does a great job of highlighting a few of the previously banned in standard cards that could be problematic in the Pioneer format moving forward and teaches you best how to deal with them.
Why Was the Pioneer Format Needed?
Introducing this new format was desperately needed, as many players believe that the Modern format, although still fun in its own right, has simply grown to be too big of a card pool for what it was originally designed to facilitate.
Broken combos and fast clocks are all the rage in Modern and have led to some insane turn 2-3 kills, that simply leave your opponents scratching their heads, wondering what just happened.
Additionally, the Modern format includes incredibly old cards, that have no real sentimental value to newer players of the game, while being insanely expensive at times.
Just take a look at those average prices, remembering that they are in USD while doing so.
Clearly modern is not easily accessible for anyone new to the game, or for anyone with a reasonable gaming budget.
Alternatively, the Pioneer format only includes much newer sets, starting from the Return to Ravnica set moving forward and thus will allow a much larger majority of players to dip into their current card collection, creating and crafting new fun decks with cards that they are familiar with.
Although the card pool in Pioneer is still vast, as it includes 29 sets in total, it is still only a fraction of those included in the Modern format, meaning that gameplay will be much more fair and thus to many people more fun, as many of the broken combinations simply won’t exist in the Pioneer format.
We are very excited to see how the Pioneer format does moving forward, as we believe that it is going to be a breath of fresh air for the “non-rotating” formats.
It appears, at least for now, to be a much more affordable option to play, as the sets included in the Pioneer format are from the era when Wizards of the Coast truly began printing sets in massive quantities, thus leading to overall lower cards prices, due to the increased inventory on the open market.
Finally, the gameplay for the Pioneer format simply looks incredibly fun and enjoyable, with the ability to brew new decks seemingly endless.
This is an unsolved format and we can’t wait to see what whacky decks rise to the top of the metagame, however, we’d love to hear what you think of the Pioneer format, are you excited?
Let us know in the comment section below and as always, thanks for reading!