If you read my last article, here, about winning the Collector Legion 5K Invitational, you’ll know I’m a big fan of Pioneer. I’m an even bigger fan of casting Elvish Mystic into a three drop on turn two. So naturally, at Grand Prix Phoenix over the weekend, I played Green Black Stompy. My list for the Grand Prix was the one from the article. I went 5-3 with byes, losing the last round in a heart breaker to White Black Sram Auras. Turns out, when you have a bunch of 5/5’s and 7/6’s, a 12/12 with First Strike and Vigilance wins combat.
After the defeat in the final round to miss the cut, I was a little resistant to playing in the Pioneer PTQ the next morning. I just wanted to escape Phoenix and drive home. My better judgement, and a trip to the hotel gym, changed my mind. It’s a wonder what a pump can do to make you feel like crushing people in Magic. So I paid my $55 and signed up for the Player’s Tour Qualifier the next morning. I was wavering about changing anything, but I wanted a bit of a lower curve for this tournament for whatever reason. So here’s what I registered.
Spoiler Alert: I Won The Tournament
Instead of going through each match, I’ll just tell you what went down. First round, played against mono-black aggro, 2-0. Second round, played against UG Ramp, 2-0. Third round, played against Lotus Breach, 2-0. Fourth round, played against Bant Spirits, close one, but 2-1. Fifth round, played against Pro Tour Champion Ari Lax on Lotus Breach, 2-0. I was paired down for the sixth round against Lotus Breach, so I couldn’t intentionally draw into the top 8. I lost the first game, which put my nerves on. Then I won the next two, 2-1. I went 6-0 in the swiss, and lost two games. It was pretty awesome. My top 8 opponent?
None other than Ari Lax again. I was a little worried, but being 6-0 and the number one seed in the top 8 meant I was going to be on the play for the first game of every match I played. So I had two great starts, including in game 2 starting with a Leyline of the Void and a Rotting Regisaur on turn 2. I won my match very quickly and went on to the semifinals. It would either be against Mono-Red or Blue/Green Eldrazi. I was hoping it wouldn’t be the Mono-Red deck. Too many removal spells for my Llanowar Elves.
It went my way again and I got Blue/Green pairing. I knew this one would be good for me, at least in the first game. My creatures are equally as big as his, and mine come down a turn earlier. I won game 1 in quick fashion, but then ran into a brick wall for game 2. The board state bogged down, and he was able to get a Scavenging Ooze on basically an empty board. He won that one, setting up for a game 3.
Semi-Finals and Finals of the Pioneer PTQ
Game 3 went my way as I curved out and he stumbled. My own Scavenging Ooze led me to victory. It was a close match and my opponent had a sweet deck that I’m likely to try to build because it looked super fun. The finals would be another matchup sweat though. It was either Blue/Black Inverter, the deck that won the Player’s Tour, or Blue/White Control, which is not a great matchup for the Black/Green deck. Luckily for me, Blue/Black Inverter prevailed. It’s not a slam dunk matchup by any means, but it’s much better than control.
It would be a fight against an SCG Invitational Winner and Player’s Championship top 4 competitor, Dylan Donegan. He was a tough opponent, but I was on the play in game 1. He didn’t have the removal spell for my Llanowar Elves on turn 1, so I was able to get a 3 drop down to pressure him. I rode that to victory and he couldn’t find his Inverter of Truth/Thassa’s Oracle combo. Game 2 would be a different story though, he was on the play. He fired off a discard spell, my hand was good though, so it was a tough decision. I got some creatures down and applied enough pressure to him to force a combo or die. He didn’t draw the combo, and extended the hand. I finally won my ticket to play on the Player’s Tour. Pioneer is one of my favorite formats right now. So let’s get to what you all have been waiting for. A sideboard guide.
The Obligatory Sideboard Guide
There are a million different matchups in Pioneer to worry about right now. Luckily for Green/Black Stompy, you have a fast gameplan that applies lots of pressure on your opponents. We’ll start off with the big one. But first, let’s update the deck. There are very minimal changes I’d make right now.
I cut a Forest for another Hashep Oasis, and in the sideboard, I cut the Reclamation Sage for another Scavenging Ooze. Hashep Oasis allows you to kill on turn 4 if you have a strong start, and it’s also a good way to just force through damage. The Reclamation Sage was there for UR Ensoul, but I don’t feel like I need that much for that matchup. Another Ooze works well against the creature matchups, Lotus Breach, and Sultai Delirium. Finally, your sideboard guide.
+1 Scavenging Ooze, +3 Leyline of the Void, +4 Thoughtseize
-3 Great Henge, -3 Heart of Kiran, -2 Scrapheap Scrounger
They’re not killing your mana dorks in this matchup, so you don’t need the 2 drops as much. Heart of Kiran got in the way more than anything in this matchup. You want to disrupt them as much as possible while also applying pressure. Yes, this board plan is weaker to Ugin, but you’re not beating that card a lot of the time anyway. Just kill them to death.
+2 Assassin’s Trophy, +4 Thoughtseize
-3 Great Henge, -1 Vivien, Arkbow Ranger, -2 Heart of Kiran
This matchup is very similar to Lotus Breach, but you don’t have a hammer like Leyline of the Void. I don’t think you want Leyline against them because it just stops Dig Through Time, which you can take with Thoughtseize. They’re going to discard you into oblivion, but they have a hard time killing 3+ drops because they can’t turn on revolt with Fatal Push reliably. So just play out your cards, attack them, and make them have the combo. It’s that easy.
+3 Fatal Push, +2 Kraul Harpooner
-1 Great Henge, -2 Rhonas, the Indomitable, -1 Vivien, Arkbow Ranger, -1 Heart of Kiran
This matchup is not great for you. Other than a pile of red removal spells, it might be the worst in all of Pioneer. This is where Kraul Harpooner shines. If you can kill a Supreme Phantom or a Mausoleum Wanderer with it, you’re pretty set. But don’t be afraid to just trade off with it. You want Great Henge because it’s your way to leverage against them just annihilating you. It also gets around Spell Queller. You have to race them and hope they don’t hit two of their eight “lords” in their deck. This is one matchup I wouldn’t like to see, but you’ve got game. They don’t kill your elves which is nice.
+3 Leyline of the Void, +1 Scavenging Ooze, +2 Assassin’s Trophy
-3 Heart of Kiran, -1 Great Henge, -2 Rotting Regisaur
This matchup is pretty close as well. They have a bunch of removal that actually kill your three drops and some discard spells that can pick you apart. Luckily they fold pretty hard to a Leyline of the Void, so if you can get that in play, you’ll have a pretty good chance. You take out part of the Henge/Regisaur combo because Regisaur is pretty bad when they kill it after the trigger in your upkeep. You want the Trophy’s to clear out Uro or anything else. Scavenging Ooze is also a great card here keeping them off Delirium or Uro. Heart of Kiran is a liability because they have too much removal for it.
+2 Kraul Harpooner, +3 Fatal Push, +1 Scavenging Ooze
-1 Great Henge, -2 Rotting Regisaur, -1 Surrak, the Hunt Caller, -1 Heart of Kiran, -1 Vivien, Arkbow Ranger
This matchup is closer than you think, but you do have creatures that are just bigger than theirs. If they swarm you into a Rankle, that’s a surefire way to lose. I cut down on some of the bigger end of the deck because you want to be lean against them. Hope they don’t kill your elf and the game is much easier. Kraul Harpooner pulls double duty because it attacks and blocks well and then also kills Rankle and Spawn of Mayhem, which are two of the bigger problem cards. If you can ever get a Great Henge or Rhonas out, your life is much easier.
+3 Fatal Push, +2 Assassin’s Trophy, +2 Thoughtseize
-3 Great Henge, -2 Rotting Regisaur, -1 Vivien, Arkbow Ranger, -1 Heart of Kiran
This matchup is one of the only in all of pioneer where they can make a bigger creature than you faster. If they go turn two Ensoul on something, you need to have the Fatal Push the next turn or risk dying. So the pressure is on you. You don’t want all of the Thoughtseize here, but you can bring in two to try to tag Ensoul or Shrapnel Blast. Other than that, it’s a race to kill their stuff. Once you stave off their assault, their deck folds pretty hard.
Mono-Red Aggro/Big Red
+3 Fatal Push, +1 Scavenging Ooze
-2 Great Henge, -2 Surrak, the Hunt Caller
These are two different decks, but the Big Red variation has been pushed out by Lotus Breach and Blue/Black Inverter. I didn’t face the Mono-Red Aggro version that won the Grand Prix at all, but I’d assume to sideboard like this. You want to be the “control” deck postboard, but they should be killing your elves at all costs. Your creatures are bigger than theirs, if they can’t get down Torbran, then you should win.
+4 Thoughtseize, +2 Assassin’s Trophy
-4 Rotting Regisaur, -2 Great Henge,
We’ll finish up with the worst matchup I can think of in Pioneer. Blue/White control plays so many cards that are good against your strategy, that you might have to steal a game 1 to win the match. Scrapheap Scrounger and Heart of Kiran go a long way, but they do have ways to stop those cards. Regisaur is a liability, no matter how huge it is. Great Henge is good if you can sneak it under counter magic or before they can Supreme Verdict you. That’s why I keep one in, but you want to be lean, and try to tag their best cards with Thoughtseize. Assassin’s Trophy is for post-board when they bring in cards like Lyra Dawnbringer or Dream Trawler.
So that’s it! Your comprehensive guide to Green/Black Stompy in Pioneer. I’ve long loved casting mana elves and three drops ahead of the curve in Magic. This deck allows me to do that and more. Just remember when you’re mulliganing with the deck that you never want to keep a hand without a one drop, unless it’s some crazy hand against Blue/White control with tons of good cards for the matchup. So aggressively mulligan because you only need one mana elf, two lands, and some stuff to do with it.
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