Possibly Adventuring Through Pioneer
Pioneer is in a strange spot right now. Support for the format has, for the greater portion of the pandemic, been lackluster largely due to the omnipresence of the three dreaded combo decks of Inverter, Lotus Field and Sun Gun Heliod. Since their banning, the format has been sort of struggling to keep pace with other popular formats such as Arena’s Historic and Modern on MTGO. Pioneer, when introduced, was considered by most to be a great way to use your old standard cards again, which meant that it was for the majority a paper-only format, and that mindset has carried through into the pandemic times. Well, I’m here today to try and breathe a little fresh air into the format by diving into my new favorite archetype - a deck I’m calling Possible Adventures. Come along as we Enter the Infinite, and take a look at all the things that this wacky deck brings with it.
Possible Adventures is a Midrange / Combo deck that focuses on playing out a grindy beatdown game while having access to a backdoor instant-win combo whose pieces can also act as disruption to an opponent’s gameplan. If you understand how the Possibility Storm Combo works already, feel free to skip the following paragraph.
To begin, first let me explain the combo. The main engine in this deck is the card Possibility Storm. This card allows us to turn a card with a particular card type into another card with the same card type when we cast it. So for example, you cast a Llanowar Elves for G, Possibility Storm triggers, and the next creature card in your deck happens to be a Glorybringer. You now cast Glorybringer for free, and put your Llanowar Elves back on the bottom of your library. You’ve now effectively paid 1 mana for a 5 mana spell. This deck looks to abuse this effect in similar fashion to the Modern Living End deck, wherein we only play 1 sorcery card (Enter the Infinite) in our entire deck, so we are sure to hit that card when we cast a sorcery. But wait, if there’s only 1 sorcery in the deck, how are we going to cascade into it with Possibility Storm? Well, that’s where the Adventure mechanic comes into play. Creature cards with the Adventure mechanic can be played from your hand as a creature or sorcery spell. This means that we can cast an Adventure sorcery and Possibility Storm won’t see any of our other adventure spells as sorceries because they only count as Creatures while they’re still in your deck. Since the deck is loaded with sorcery Adventure creatures, finding the pieces we need isn’t terribly difficult. So you’ve cast an Enter the Infinite and have your entire deck in your hand, now what? Well, to finish resolving Enter the Infinite, you need to put a card from your hand back on top of your library. You can choose to put back either Thassa's Oracle or Borborygmos Enraged. The next step is to cast a creature spell so that we can cascade into the spell we just put back on top. The deck plays a myriad of cheap creature spells if you have extra mana, but in the event that you’ve tapped out we can also cast an Ugin's Conjurant (or Endless One, Stonecoil Serpent, Hangarback Walker, any creature that has just an “X” in its mana cost, or otherwise be cast for 0 mana like Ornithopter). Casting that 0 cost creature will trigger the Possibility Storm again, and we cascade into the finisher we put back with Enter the Infinite. Thassa's Oracle will see that you have 0 cards in your library and 2 blue devotion, or Borborygmos Enraged will allow you to throw all the lands in your library at your opponent’s face for 3 damage each to close the game.
When we’re not on the combo plan, this deck operates as a very traditional Green Red Beatdown deck, looking to ramp into some cheap threats in the early turns via Llanowar Elves and Fertile Footsteps. Bonecrusher Giant, Lovestruck Beast, and Kazandu Mammoth provide some excellent pressure that opponents must answer. This pressure also serves to provide a bit of a distraction while we work to assemble the combo. Being a classic beatdown deck isn’t all that it used to be however, so we’re also taking advantage of the inherent synergies of Lucky Clover to really blast through with our Adventure package. Doubling or even tripling up on some early game effects such as Heart's Desire or Fertile Footsteps can put us very far ahead of a fair matchup, while Granted and Seasonal Ritual can help pull us back while we’re behind. Edgewall Innkeeper ties it all together to keep the value train rolling.
So now that we know how the deck works, let’s take a look at some it’s core strengths and weaknesses.
- The deck is consistent. We run a lot of redundant pieces, which means that it’s very easy to find the thing you’re looking for; whether that be an early game beater or an Adventure creature to get the combo rolling.
The deck plays on multiple axes. While we’re distracting a midrange opponent with our early aggression, we can set up the combo for the win. Likewise, early hand disruption might focus too hard on eliminating the combo, making room for us to crash in with the beaters.
- The deck mulligans very well. I will often utilize the power of the London Mulligan to put a combo piece back into the deck so we’re able to hit it off of Storm. Having so much redundancy, as well, makes it so that there’s a huge number of very solidly keepable hands.
- The deck isn’t widely played. There’s always been power in the element of surprise. If an opponent doesn’t understand how to play around the weird cards in your deck, or what makes your plan work in the first place, they’re going to have a much more difficult time answering it in a meaningful way.
- The deck doesn’t offer a lot of Card Advantage. Being a green based creature beatdown deck, we’re going to have times where we struggle to keep up if an opponent is able to easily dispatch our threats. Outside of Edgewall Innkeeper and the occasional double Granted, we don’t have a very reliable way to put more cards into our hand, leaving us at the mercy of our top deck.
- Counterspells are an issue if you don’t have a resolved Possibility Storm. We’re trying to win the game with a 5 mana Enchantment that on its own is fairly weak. Sure it disrupts things once it’s down, but it’s extremely easy to counter, as are the rest of the huge threats that we’re trying to play. We don’t have very much interaction of our own, which means that we’re much better off when the opponent doesn’t either.
- The deck is very difficult to just pick up and play. If you are brand new to the Pioneer format, this deck is not very intuitive. From remembering to actually cast the card you cascade into with Storm to deciding whether it’s more optimal to play the adventure half of a creature and set up for later or get the creature side down right now, there’s a lot of micro decisions to be made that can drastically alter the flow of the game when they’re all stacked up.
Tips for Piloting the deck:
- You can cast the spell side of an adventure creature that you cascade into. Say your Llanowar Elves cascades into a Beanstalk Giant and you’ve already got 2 Lucky Clovers in play. You can cast Fertile Footsteps from exile, get the 3 basics from your deck, and still cast Beanstalk later because it’ll be sent on an Adventure.
- The creature lands from Zendikar are lands first, creatures second in this deck. They’re meant to keep you from flooding out, so don’t be afraid to jam them out as lands turns 1-3.
- We aren’t playing Stonecoil Serpent or Hangarback Walker because they can also cascade into Lucky Clover. This is maybe a 0.05% chance of happening, but the chance exists and it feels really bad when it comes up. If you want to play one of the artifact creatures because they’re better cards in a vacuum, just be aware that this is an additional possibility.
- Possibility Storm is a disruption piece to a lot of decks. It locks Fires of Invention decks out of the game completely, makes Counterspell decks very unreliable (because they can always cascade into a removal spell or vice versa), and makes hate cards questionably good. However, opponents can also use it to their advantage if they’re lucky. You’re not the only person who can turn a Llanowar Elves into a Beanstalk Giant, or a Narset, Parter of Veils into an Ugin, the Spirit Dragon.
Overall, the deck is very fun to play. It can be as simple or as complex as you make it, and it provides a very fun and rewarding challenge. If you enjoy strategies from the “lower tiers”, off the wall strategies, or explaining very convoluted mechanisms to your opponent, this deck might definitely be worth a shot.
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now. Stay Safe, Be Smart, and Thanks for Reading.
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