Like most of us that are trying to qualify for the Regional Championship Tournament in Magic: the Gathering, we have to play Pioneer. The Pioneer format has undergone some major changes in the almost four years it’s existed, including the banning of Winota, Joiner of Forces. The past weekend saw multiple large-scale Pioneer tournaments in paper and on Magic Online. The format at the moment is pretty diverse but is definitely filled with some pretty known quantities that you can take advantage of. Decks like Mono-Green Ramp, Mono-Blue Spirits, Rakdos Midrange, and Izzet Phoenix are well represented. But what about those decks that want to play beefy creatures and get into the red zone? Well, after the past weekend, here are three decks for those that love creatures.

1. Orzhov Humans By Oderus Urungus Pioneer Challenge 4th Place

This decklist (thanks to our friends at MTGGoldfish) has one goal, beat down your opponent with the creature type ‘human’. It turns out that’s a pretty decent game-plan, especially in Pioneer with a couple of the top decks being fairly susceptible to aggressive starts. When you combine that aggressive game plan with some disruption like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and a couple of removal spells, you have a pretty tight aggro deck. Humans have been just on the precipice of Tier 1 in Pioneer, but it might be the inclusion (or exclusion of a third color) of Mutavault that pushes this one over the top. There are some cute interactions in this list as well, like Extraction Specialist getting back an Archfiend’s Vessel to make a 5/5 Flying Demon.

This deck isn’t just some one-dimensional aggro deck though, after sideboarding you have access to bigger creatures, removal spells, and cards like Thoughtseize to disrupt your opponent even more. After playing this weekend, I might swap out the Thraben Inspectors for something like Hopeful Initiate to give the deck that added power from the one-drop slot.

2. Mono-Green Stompy By AndyBurden Pioneer Challenge 2nd Place

So you’ve surely seen Mono-Green Ramp with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, but what about a more aggressively slanted version? This deck plays Burning-Tree Emissary with the one drop mana elves like Elvish Mystic and Llanowar Elves to power out huge X-spell creatures ahead of the curve. It might not be as explosive in the mid-game as its bigger brother in ramp, but this one can apply major pressure to your opponent starting on turn 2. A group of Burning-Tree Emissary combined with Nykthos means lots of mana on the second turn. Add to that the mid-game power in Vivien, Arkbow Ranger and The Great Henge, and you’ve got a recipe for success.

After sideboarding, this one doesn’t have as many options as something with two or three colors, but you’ve still got game against the top decks. After all, smacking your opponent with a 15/15 Hydra still gets the job done no matter what they’re playing.

3. Bant Company By AlbertoSD Pioneer Challenge 7th Place

Collected Company has long been a staple of formats like Modern and Pioneer because the deckbuilding “restriction” of having only 1-3 drop creatures fits perfectly for a fast format. You already want aggressive creatures, so why not play this card that puts you far ahead on board or catches you back up!? This deck fits in some interesting choices like Archon of Emeria, and a package of “removal” creatures like Reflector Mage, Skyclave Apparition, and Brutal Cathar.

Here’s a tip if you want to dominate creature matchups in Pioneer, play Thalia, Heretic Cathar. The card absolutely savages the greedy manabases and makes life hell for your opponent. This deck is pretty modal and can play aggressive or controlling like a midrange strategy. After sideboard you get access to plenty of cards that disrupt the various combo decks of the format. If I was playing in a Pioneer tournament this weekend, I’d gravitate toward something like this.

Pioneer might feel daunting for those that just want to attack, but these three decks and more show that it’s not just all about Mono-Green Ramp, Izzet Phoenix, and Mono-Blue Spirits!

So, what are you playing in Pioneer? Let us know in the comments!

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