Playing Pioneer Special Edition: Pioneer Challenger Decks 2022 – Decklists Revealed

WOTC finally dropped the deck lists for us and Ruckman is hear to tell you our first thoughts on each.

In a surprise inclusion on yesterday’s Midweek Magic stream Pioneer players were treated to not only a preview of the upcoming Brother’s War, but also the full decklists of the recently delayed second wave of Pioneer Challenger Decks. Releasing November 4th, just in time for the U.S. Regional Championship for any modern players still needing a deck, these 75 card pre-constructed decks off players a cheap yet competitive entry level product into the format allowing players to easily jump in the fray at the local level. Long time Pioneer players might also find these useful in adding a new deck to their current arsenals or beefing up existing collections. Let’s take a look at what Wizards is bringing to the table this time around.

Dimir Control

Dimir Control
Pioneer
Buy on TCGplayer $258.53
2 mythic
21 rare
16 uncommon
21 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (2)
Creatures (4)
2
Murderous Rider
$5.98
Instants (25)
4
Fatal Push
$19.96
4
Consider
$7.96
2
Negate
$0.50
2
Heartless Act
$0.78
4
Censor
$3.16
Sorceries (2)
Enchantments (1)
1
Shark Typhoon
$13.99
Lands (26)
7
Island
$0.07
8
Swamp
$2.80
2
Drowned Catacomb
$17.98
4
Field of Ruin
$1.40
1
Watery Grave
$19.99
60 Cards
$129.26
Sideboard
2
Cling to Dust
$0.50
2
Test of Talents
$0.70
3
Duress
$0.75
2
Go Blank
$4.58
2
Languish
$1.98
15 Cards
$17.99

While not Pioneer’s current control deck of choice, committed Dimir control players have always been able to tweak their decks to whatever the meta brings and find some amount of success. One thing players will be quick to notice is the inclusion of one on-color shockland, something last year’s decks sorely lacked, and is a consistent theme across all decks this year. Alongside the Watery Grave the deck also includes a very competent spell suite of four Fatal Push, four Consider, and four Censor forming the baseline for the deck. These support other solid inclusions like the two copies of Extinction Event, three copies of Dig Through Time, and two Torrential Gearhulk to help end the game. One of the biggest downsides of this deck is the singleton Shark Typhoon which has me worried the deck is lacking on win conditions out of the box, but the deck will prove serviceable with some additional typhoons and a beefed up mana base featuring Hall of Storm Giants and Hive of the Eye Tyrant

Gruul Stompy

Gruul Stompy
Pioneer
Buy on TCGplayer $153.26
4 mythic
33 rare
0 uncommon
23 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (2)
Creatures (26)
4
Llanowar Elves
$1.56
4
Elvish Mystic
$3.96
4
Scavenging Ooze
$1.40
2
Questing Beast
$19.98
4
Glorybringer
$7.16
Instants (3)
3
Abrade
$0.75
Sorceries (4)
4
Mizzium Mortars
$1.40
Lands (25)
9
Forest
$0.09
7
Mountain
$0.07
4
Rockfall Vale
$11.16
1
Stomping Ground
$15.99
60 Cards
$98.82
Sideboard
3
Rending Volley
$13.47
1
Abrade
$0.25
4
Cindervines
$7.16
15 Cards
$22.93

Nothing too surprising in the Gruul Stompy deck this time, and is definitely competing with Orzhov Humans for being most complete out of the box. Just looking at the deck nothing really sticks out as missing that will set players back a large amount, aside from the Stomping Grounds of course. Out of the box it includes the eight requisite mana dorks, a playset each of Lovestruck Beast and Bonecrusher Giant, big creature payoffs in two Questing Beast and four Glorybringer, and it’s all wrapped up nicely with two copies of Chandra, Torch of Defiance. The included Rending Volleys are a nice reprint as this Dragons of Tarkir uncommon has been slowly creeping up in price, and seeing the inclusion of the recently reprinted Karplusan Forest is a nice touch. Initial upgrades to think about would be again the AFR man-lands, some Gruul Spellbreaker, a copy of two of Klothys, God of Destiny, and maybe an Embercleave or two to seal the deal. 

Orzhov Humans

Orzhov Humans
Pioneer
Buy on TCGplayer $84.74
0 mythic
33 rare
20 uncommon
3 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (2)
2
Dire Tactics
$0.50
Sorceries (2)
Enchantments (4)
4
Rally the Ranks
$3.16
Lands (22)
3
Plains
$0.03
2
Mutavault
$17.98
4
Caves of Koilos
$2.36
1
Godless Shrine
$16.99
60 Cards
$102.06
Sideboard
1
Giant Killer
$0.35
3
Duress
$0.75
4
Sunset Revelry
$1.00
3
Portable Hole
$11.97
15 Cards
$15.27

Speaking of Orzhov Humans, let’s talk about Pioneer’s second most successful creature type. The immediate thing that sticks out to me in regards to this deck list is it certainly feels like the most outdated, aside from the four copies of Thalia. While most of the other included archetypes have remained relatively stable since the design date for these decks, Humans has moved well past mainboarding a playset of Rally the Ranks and Kitesail Freebooters. It’s very disappointing to not see any included copies of Adeline, Resplendent Cathar, or even General Kudro of Drannith for that matter. Another card that would have made for a nice reprint, and also make more use of the double-sided sheet for the Izzet Deck, is Kytheon, Hero of Akros. The two included Mutavault are a nice touch, but nothing is really screaming value to me when looking at this decklist like I see with the other boxes. Like last year’s Mono-Red and Lotus Field Challenger decks, players might just want to build this deck by buying singles. While you’re at it, be sure to pick up some Extraction Specialists and Charming Princes.

Izzet Phoenix

Izzet Phoenix
Buy on TCGplayer $135.97
2 mythic
17 rare
13 uncommon
28 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (8)
2
Thing in the Ice
$31.98
4
Crackling Drake
$1.00
2
Arclight Phoenix
$16.98
Instants (18)
2
Fiery Impulse
$1.38
3
Lightning Axe
$0.75
4
Opt
$1.00
4
Consider
$7.96
3
Izzet Charm
$0.75
Sorceries (13)
4
Chart a Course
$2.36
4
Treasure Cruise
$1.00
Lands (21)
6
Island
$0.06
4
Mountain
$0.04
2
Sulfur Falls
$11.98
4
Shivan Reef
$5.96
1
Steam Vents
$19.99
60 Cards
$117.08
Sideboard
3
Abrade
$0.75
4
Mystical Dispute
$17.96
2
Lava Coil
$0.50
2
Sweltering Suns
$0.98
15 Cards
$26.41

Hey wait a minute, Expressive Iteration is banned! In another sign of when these were designed, the Izzet Phoenix deck features two copies of Expressive Iteration that are playable as long as players maintain this exact 75. A lot of players will be disappointed by the inclusion of only TWO copies of Arclight Phoenix this deck is pretty competent for what I’m expecting to be a $50 price tag again. And hey, the two included Thing in the Ice are nothing to scoff at, although would a singleton copy of Ledger Shredder be too much to ask for? Probably, but actually not at all. Regardless, Phoenix has proven to be an ever present main-stay of the Pioneer meta, and that shouldn’t be changing any time soon. Which makes this deck an excellent pick up even if it requires a little extra investing into.

All-in-all, players should find these decks to be a slight incremental improvement over last year’s Challenger Decks. The inclusion of a shock land in each is a nice touch sorely lacking from last year’s offerings, and while the total deck value as of writing these ranges from $100-120 they do feel rather complete already. Just remember that these are meant to be an entry point into the format, and not a must buy for long time players. Be sure to check back in the coming weeks as I can assure you we’ll be providing budget upgrade paths for these decks very soon!

  • Editor-In-Chief

    Having started playing Magic shortly before the release of Return to Ravnica, Ruckman’s Magic lifespan covers the breadth of the Pioneer format. Despite not being a stranger to the Top 8 tables of the old IQ and PTQ systems, most of his competitive experience comes from the other side of the event space, where he served more than five years as a level-two judge, only hanging up the black shirt for good at the beginning of 2022. Currently, you can find him making Pioneer content for Crew3 on your favorite podcasting platform or on Twitch/YouTube.

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