Azorius Tempo in Pioneer

Parker Ackerman
November 19, 2019

Another week, another round of bannings. Shockingly though, those bannings were for just about every format except Pioneer. With no bans this week, and an expectation of none next week, we can play whatever we want. I could use all of the “watchlist” cards people are talking about non-stop, the cards people are hoping will get banned in the next wave. Given this opportunity to play with busted cards, I decided my best move would be to play UW Tempo, this list coming from Martin Muller. And while it might not be the “top deck” in the format, it definitely has a lot of strong pieces, and it’s a lot of fun to play.



The deck is overall very low-to-the-ground. It has some higher-cost finishers, but for the most part tries to play cheap, interactive creatures. Thraben Inspector has long been a staple in these kinds of decks, and for good reason. It blocks, it replaces itself, and it crews a copter. And for a one mana creature, that’s a lot of things to do. Selfless Spirit is a nice, aggressively-statted flier that also saves us from board wipes and combos with Avacyn, and Brazen Borrower works overtime to buy us tempo and give us an aggressive attacker. Reflector Mage can massively disrupt an opponent’s game plan to let us chip in, and Spell Queller can hit a ton of important cards, like Oko, Teferi, and opposing copies of Settle the Wreckage. Our most expensive creature is Archangel Avacyn, who can swing aggressively, protect us, and protect our board. And if our opponent does decide to take out another one of our creatures, she makes sure to punish them for it. Avacyn is a tricky card to avoid getting blown out by, so it seems like a great card to play in a raw format like Pioneer. 


Smuggler’s Copter is huge here, acting as a great early threat in the air, while also making sure we always have the right tool for the job. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is a very versatile card, letting us make tokens, an Anthem, or just generally being a 5/5 indestructible attacker. Finally, there’s Teferi. His static ability makes sure our opponent can’t interact with us on the stack, and while the +1 doesn’t do anything for us (we don’t have any sorceries), his -3 is great for giving us more room to swing in and finding more tempo cards. He also combos with Spell Queller to deny them their captive spell if Spell Queller leaves play. Settle the Wreckage makes sure we can turn the tables on other aggressive decks, and Disdainful Stroke is here to take care of everything Spell Queller can’t handle.

For lands, we have 13 basics, 4 Hallowed Fountain, 4 Glacial Fortress, and 2 Irrigated Farmland, which will help in the event that we start flooding out. For pure utility, we also have Castle Ardenvale, which gives us something to use our mana on if we start running low on cards in hand.

In the sideboard, we have Solemnity to help with Walking Ballista, Hardened Scales and Aetherworks Marvel, extra copies of Disdainful Stroke to help against the big mana strategies in the format, and Surge of Righteousness to help against Mono-Black Aggro. Deputy of Detention is an all-around solid card that can deal with a wide variety of problematic permanents, Supreme Verdict can shut down opposing forces if we’re being overwhelmed, and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria makes sure we’re constantly drawing cards, and gives us a nice source of removal for any nonland permanent our opponent might throw at us while being an absurd draw engine. Finally, we have Aether Gust, which in the right matchup can be similar to a counterspell but can still deal with a threat that snuck through, and Dovin’s Veto, which takes care of a lot of our opponent’s interaction while also being almost impossible for our opponent to stop.


  • Selfless Spirit can protect you not just from your opponent’s board wipes, but from yours as well. If you have one on board and cast Supreme Verdict (or flip Avacyn), you can sacrifice it to save the rest of your creatures.
  • If an opponent tries to cast Settle the Wreckage on you, you can use Spell Queller to stop it. Then, if they attack, you can block with Queller to make their Settle hit nothing. It might not always be your best bet, but it’s always there as an option.
  • This deck has a variety of instant-speed blockers if needed, including Brazen Borrower, Spell Queller, Avacyn, and the tokens from Castle Ardenvale. Don’t forget about these, as they can help you catch your opponent off-guard.

Extra Spice

  • Oketra’s Monument is a very fun card, and one that holds a special place in my heart. This reduces the cost of Selfless Spirit, Reflector Mage, Spell Queller, and Avacyn, and gets us tokens to boot. Monument would definitely benefit from a slightly more creature-focused build, but still has the opportunity to slot in here as-is.
  • Disallow in the sideboard could definitely prove useful, stopping big spells, Planeswalker ultimates, Emrakul and Ulamog triggers and more.
  • Bygone Bishop is another favorite of mine, giving us an attacker to swing in with and a source of card advantage.
  • God-Eternal Oketra is quite expensive at 5 mana, but the value she provides is undeniable. When every creature spell you cast gives you a free 4/4, you can build an army up very quickly.

Overall, this deck plays a lot of very fun cards, and has the potential for mixing things up if you want to make it more suited to your own playstyle. The core of the deck is very strong, and Spell Queller is a card that I’ll never get tired of casting.

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