SCG Con Winter is right around the corner (This weekend, in fact), which can only mean one thing: snow.
It’s been snowing heavily for the last 12 hours as I write this, and it’s supposed to continue for another 12. For those of you that aren’t in the know, the last SCG Con Winter yielded an epic snowpocalypse the likes of which lands as far south as Virginia seldom see. All events outside of the main event top 8 on Sunday were canceled for safety reasons, which allowed me to make it back to work in time for my shift the next day. The drive home took an extra 5 hours longer than normal, thanks to the Corolla I purchased when I lived 700 miles south of where I live now.
My favorite memory was having to scale a massive hill that was littered with cars and semi-trailer trucks that had failed the test. On our first attempt, we got halfway up the hill and eventually had to stop due to one of the trucks being trapped in the middle of the lane. We hadn’t maintained enough speed to handbrake hero our way around him. So we did the sensible thing and reversed all the way back down this half-mile hill, and made another attempt. On the second try, a helpful cop got out of his cruiser to push us after we slowed down to pass the truck. We made it, which means we got to continue the joy of driving 5-10 MPH for the next couple hours, stopping every 30 minutes to chop snow off my tires, until we hit a state that had salt trucks.
Despite the snow nonsense, the weekend was awesome. I got top 64 in the main event, which was a big accomplishment for me as I’d never day 2’d an Invitational before. I’m trying to brand inclement weather as my good luck charm, and I’ve been preparing like crazy to back it up. Modern is an easy lock; I’m just going to play Amulet Titan and pray. People will be prepared for it, but the deck is good enough that I should be able to salvage wins against the field and maybe get a little lucky to beat the better-prepared players. Pioneer… well if any of us already have this format figured out, then we have the tools to make a lot of money!
That’s the beauty of mixing tournament preparation with MTG Finance. Those who are paying close attention to the metagame and noticed that Wild Slash is one of the premier removal spells of the format were able to pick up tons of copies for pennies and flip them for $4+ per. I write this article before the Pioneer ban announcement on 11/11/19, so hopefully Aaron doesn’t make me out to be a fool, but I’m hoping for no bans. The StarCityGames Invitational is just a few scant days away, and I can’t wait until 6PM EST to start writing an article!
What Does Pioneer Look Like Now?
So, as of today, the most recent spikes were visible from a mile away, and we’re nowhere near done with this phenomenon. Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Hardened Scales were cheap, low-risk, high-reward plays. What’s next though? Well, as always, the PTQ Decklists are very useful. Todd Anderson has somehow top 8’d the only two pioneer PTQs to have occurred to date, so that’s nuts. We also have the Pioneer Challenge decklists for information.
Green devotion strategies are very clearly too powerful, taking 5 of the top 8 slots in the Challenge. Guess it was unreasonable for me to hope for no bans earlier. I guess some combination of Once Upon a Time and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx will be gone by the publication of this article. If I’m lucky, it’ll just be those two, and I can continue to prepare against a relatively-known metagame. Other decks performing well, and some obvious future gainers respectively:
There are a lot of other good strategies seeing play right now, but these are the ones I want to touch on for now. Smuggler's Copter feels a little too good and is basically an auto-include in any aggressive creature strategy. It’s a great pick if you want to play the format, but it is very likely to get banned at some point over the next month. As someone who has been attacked on Turn 3 by a Ghalta, Primal Hunger with haste, I can say that the card is very scary.
Bloodsoaked Champion, Ghalta, Primal Hunger, and Hour of Promise are certainly under-priced currently, along with all the staples mentioned from UR Emerge and UW Flash. I imagine that you'll be pretty satisfied if you just buy all of these cards in the next couple days for current retail.
These green devotion ramp decks do not lose to Thoughtseize or a single counterspell. Veil of Summer is not the source of their power. It's probably the 4th most important card in the deck, behind Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, Once Upon a Time, and Nissa, Who Shakes the World. This may very well mean that Mono-Green Devotion will dominate SCG Con Winter's Pioneer portion, but without Veil, it is possible that the deck's weaknesses are more exploitable. Thoughtseize/Counterspell for the planeswalker/threat, sweep away the dorks, and maybe we're playing some Magic.
It will likely be several days before we know just how lopsided the metagame will be. That said, the close proximity of the event, coupled with card availability issues from this brand-new format, will likely prevent Mono-Green Devotion from being too greatly represented, even if it's the best deck in the room by far. I paid top dollar for expedited shipping for a playset of Vivien, Arkbow Ranger today, and I'm hoping they make it in time. I expect these bad boys to move steadily at $20-25 at the Con if this deck is the best, although I don't recommend buying your own for fear of a ban.
What I'm On
If the Invitational started tomorrow, I'd play Dylan Hovey's UW Flash:
The Invitational Awaits
Wish me luck; I have a lot of Pioneer testing ahead before I brave the snow to do battle this weekend. My findings over the next few days will be posted to my Twitter, as I'll likely already have plenty to cover in my post-Invitational article without bogging it down with more testing and pre-Invi thoughts. Keep paying attention to Pioneer, as it's going to continue to drive MTGFinance in a big way for the foreseeable future.
Many of my peers have mentioned that the window to sell may be smaller for Pioneer than other formats due to deep pockets of supply for RTR and beyond sets. I'm inclined to agree with them, so be sure to sell fast into those spikes unless you're holding out for a deeper one!