The current meta in pioneer format is quite versatile and includes some amazing combo, control, midrange, and aggro decks. But this doesn't mean that there isn't room for new cards from Core Set 2021, the latest Magic: The Gathering expansion.
Pioneer players now have access to some very valuable reprints that have been legal only in modern and legacy. It's a great time for brewing very strong decks in pioneer. This list of the 13 best MtG cards from Core Set 2021 can get you started.
Conclave Mentor is a great new addition to the Hardened Scales deck, which has been making serious waves in the pioneer format.
Conclave Mentor essentially functions as an additional counter-producer and thus, makes all your tokens and small creatures bigger.
A Walking Ballista and Heliod, Sun-Crowned combo can also be added to the deck for an additional win condition if your opponent has a group of effective blockers.
Liliana, Waker of the Dead
Unfortunately, one of the best Liliana planeswalkers — Liliana of the Veil — is not legal in pioneer. But Wizards of the Coast has circumvented that by giving players Liliana, Waker of the Dead.
The difference between the cards is that the new Liliana costs 1 mana more than Liliana of the Veil. That's okay, though, because the card also has an extra loyalty counter. This can play a big role in your strategy if you're aiming to use the card's powerful ultimate ability.
Liliana will be terrific in Sultai Delirium and Dimir Control decks in pioneer.
Players in modern have access to one of the most broken combos in MtG, which includes Phyrexian Unlife and Solemnity enchantments. This combo makes players completely immune to any damage.
However, in pioneer, Phyrexian Unlife is not legal, so players never had the chance to test the combo. That changes with Nine Lives in Core Set 2021.
Nine Lives also has the advantage of Hexproof, which protects it from removal spells.
Sacrifice decks have done well in both standard and pioneer, and Basri's Lieutenant looks like a great addition to those types of black and white decks.
Cruel Celebrant and Cartel Aristocrat can sacrifice creatures with counters on them, and Basri's Lieutenant will put more tokens on board for them to eat up. This simple trick will easily double up the overall damage of the deck.
The protection from multicolored cards also saves Basri's Lieutenant from certain types of removal in the format, such as Abrupt Decay and Assassin's Trophy.
Ghostly Pilferer can bring value to two types of decks: spirit decks and discard decks. For a small price, Ghostly Pilferer offers a lot of value.
In spirit tribal decks, the card's first and second abilities will let players draw a massive amount of cards. The last ability is a great fit for decks that value discard mechanics, such as Sultai Delirium.
This elemental likes spells and prowess, which makes it a perfect candidate for blue-red decks that run a ton of spells, especially those that can make Stormwing Entity cheaper to cast and increase its prowess ability.
Stormwing Entity is an excellent partner card for Sprite Dragon and Monastery Swiftspear. Since Boros Burn decks have been doing really well in pioneer, it looks like Izzet Burn will have a chance, too.
Thieves' Guild Enforcer
Mill decks have always been very potent, but they could never break into the top-tier shelf of the format.
Thieves' Guild Enforcer gives all mill decks another chance to prove themselves. But it is also a great candidate for the Mono Black Aggro archetype, where mill is used more like a pump mechanic for Thieves' Guild Enforcer than anything else.
In either case, a 1-mana creature with flash can always bring interesting twists to almost any game.
Goblin tribal decks can be extremely aggressive, and with the abundance of goblin cards in pioneer format, Conspicuous Snoop should be instantly included in all goblin lists.
Even if you don't care much about the card's activated ability effect, you will absolutely love the card advantage part, which allows you to cast any goblin creature that is on top of your library.
If those cards are Goblin Rabblemaster or Reckless Bushwhacker, then it's a done deal for your opponent.
Terror of the Peaks
Terror of the Peaks is by far one of the best dragon cards that Wizards of the Coast has ever printed. It will go straight into all Gruul Midrange and dragon tribal decks with Sarkhan, Foreblood and Dragon Tempest.
The card's last ability also shows potential for combo kills using huge creatures, such as Emrakul, the Promised End or Ghalta, Primal Hunger.
Lastly, you can combine it with phoenix creatures from the graveyard for repeatable damage.
Big, green beasts are typically designed for Mono Green Stompy decks, which is where Elder Gargaroth will end up in this meta, though it can also be included in Naya Midrange lists that run Angrath's Marauders.
Other archetypes like Gyruda Combo, Gruul Midrange, and lots of control decks that run green mana could potentially take at least a copy or two of Elder Gargaroth into their main decks.
Since the release of Ikoria, Kaheera, the Orphanguard has been used in many cat and beast tribal decks. Since Core Set 2021 also focuses on the cat tribe, there are tons of new cats pioneer players should consider for their decks.
Feline Sovereign is a brand-new cat lord that has protection from dogs, which may not be that significant now, but may be in the future when dogs get some recognition.
However, its second ability is useful against Ensoul Artifact decks, so it's worth looking to in the meantime.
Burn players have been wanting for Chandra's Incinerator since the moment it was officially revealed. And it's totally understandable; for Burn players, this is basically a 1-mana 6/6 trampler.
Though many consider the card to be completely broken, it looks like Chandra's Incinerator will either get banned entirely or restricted in certain formats. So let's enjoy it while we still can.
To the surprise of many players, this legacy format staple has been reprinted in Core Set 2021. Such a powerful effect can be used in plenty of decks, but it will mostly find a home in combo decks that look for specific cards, such as Dimir Inverter.
The best part about Grim Tutor is that there are no restrictions regarding the type of card(s) to look for, whether it's a land, a creature, or a spell card. The only drawback to Grim Tutor is that it deals 3 points of damage to you.
- 15 Best Core Set 2021 Cards for Commander
- 15 Best Core Set 2021 Cards for Standard
- 15 Best Core Set 2021 Cards for Limited
For more Magic: The Gathering content, card lists, and guides, check out the links above or our MtG hub page.