In a world with Field of the Dead and Smuggler’s Copter, Simic was poised to take over. Not only did it have the necessary tools to fight Mono-Black Aggro, but it also had evasion, disruption, and a fast clock for fighting Field of the Dead. With Field of the Dead and Smuggler’s Copter banned, Simic decks will have to adapt to the new format, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up being the strongest deck when the dust settled.
There are two versions of Simic. The first was trying to use one-mana accelerants to play a five-power three-drop on Turn 2 and back that up with Stubborn Denial. The second version (which happens to be the one I like the most) is the deck that won the First God of Pioneer Final.
- 2 Llanowar Elves
- 2 Elvish Mystic
- 2 Tireless Tracker
- 4 Hydroid Krasis
- 4 Gilded Goose
- 4 Wicked Wolf
- 4 Brazen Borrower
Yup, this is basically a Standard deck.
Magic Online iterated on this decklist by removing Brazen Borrower and swapping Mutavault for Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, hybridizing the Standard deck with the Devotion deck. Because devotion was something the deck cared about, Tireless Tracker was axed in favor of Jadelight Ranger. Brazen Borrower was cut for similar reasons, although once you’re focusing less on tempo, Brazen Borrower doesn’t have much of a place in the deck either.
I’ve built seemingly endless green midrange decks in Pioneer. Some, like Temur, have slanted on the aggressive side, while others, like Sultai, have been more controlling. The Devotion decks were more like combo decks but have had to since play more of a fair game.
Food is a stronger mechanic to build around than Energy. Even splashing for removal isn’t required. Simic basically has it all. Wicked Wolf, Oko, and Walking Ballista provide removal and Food plus Hydroid Krasis put your life total out of reach. The suite of planeswalkers, Vehicles, and things like Wicked Wolf makes things difficult for decks with removal.
Despite being one of the decks hit by the bannings, Devotion is likely the best deck left standing. Losing Once Upon a Time, while integral for maintaining the consistency of curving one-drop into three-drop, isn’t a death sentence. Replacing Once Upon a Time is not doable. Instead, we have to go back to building decks the old-fashioned way and hope we can reclaim some semblance of consistency.
In an ideal world, I’d like to see Once Upon a Time being replaced by two lands, one mana creature, and one threat, but since so much of the power of the deck is tied up in the mana creatures, it has to be two land and two mana creatures instead.
- 3 Llanowar Elves
- 2 Scavenging Ooze
- 3 Elvish Mystic
- 3 Walking Ballista
- 4 Jadelight Ranger
- 4 Hydroid Krasis
- 4 Gilded Goose
- 4 Wicked Wolf
Scavenging Ooze is probably the card that sticks out. This deck needs a two-drop in case your Elf gets killed or *gasp* you don’t draw one and it’s the best of the bunch. There aren’t obvious popular decks in the format that Scavenging Ooze is great against but it’s solid against a number of decks. Occasionally you’ll run into some Prized Amalgam deck and feel like a genius.
Shaving Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx is something I’ve done in Devotion decks in the past, although I’m still not convinced it’s right. There are obvious downsides to being legendary, especially for a deck that isn’t playing Burning-Tree Emissary in order to maximize devotion. Rather than try to use Nykthos as a Turn 3 mana boost, this deck uses it fairly as a way to power through on Turns 4, 5, and 6. Cutting one seems completely reasonable when it’s not a focal point of the deck, even if it’s decidedly stronger than Mutavault.
Another great aspect of this deck is how customizable it is. You wouldn’t think that a deck full of green creatures would work that way and that’s sort of correct. Most of that comes with the sideboarding options and I really like where my sideboard is currently.
There’s basically no necessity for Questing Beast anymore. Simic Nexus is certainly a consideration but it’s not something you absolutely need access to instead of playing countermagic. Lifecrafter’s Bestiary hasn’t been necessary because of the lack of control decks but I fully expect things like Supreme Verdict and slower midrange decks to tick up in popularity.
Negate is my current counterspell of choice, although that could change. Disdainful Stroke and Mystical Dispute are both reasonable but Negate hits most of the things I care about at the moment. For fighting aggro, I prefer Lovestruck Beast to something like Nylea’s Disciple. The aggro decks typically beat you by miles, not by inches, so having the giant blocker means more than gaining a few life. You need to stabilize, not prevent the inevitable.
Mulligan liberally with this deck. If you don’t have a one-drop in your opening hand, send it back. You can be a little looser on six cards, but Turn 2 Oko or Turn 3 Nissa still beats people, regardless of how many cards you have.
Most of the sideboard strategy with this deck involves taking out cards that are strong against aggro (Wicked Wolf) for things that are good against control or ramp (Negate).
Aether Gust is back to having a ton of applications now that Mono-Black Aggro won’t be the premier deck in the format, so I could see increasing the number of copies. It certainly helps that the combo decks and ramp decks both have green cards, so Aether Gust can function as a removal spell against aggro and disruption against creatureless decks.
VS Mono-Green Ramp
Adding Lovestruck Beast as another clock is completely reasonable. Hydroid Krasis may be on the slow end of things, but I like having something to do with Nissa mana and it’s another way to find additional disruption.
Sideboarding against Lotus Field Combo is the same.
VS Simic Nexus
The sideboard plan is similar to the one above, except you also have Reclamation Sage targets and Hydroid Krasis is much worse than Scavenging Ooze because they put you away quicker. Games against the ramp decks will typically go on for a while and although the Nexus matchup will take a long time, it’s your opponent who will be taking the majority of game actions.
VS Mono-Red Aggro / Gruul Aggro
Against any deck that’s attacking you, Nissa, Who Shakes the World is pretty easy to cut. Gruul can mostly punch through it if they care, although Mono-Red might struggle against it in some game states. If they sideboard into a bigger configuration, you may want to consider keeping some Nissas in your deck in order to have more staying power.
VS Simic Aggro
This is mostly the same anti-aggro plan, except Heart of Kiran is useful for trading with Steel Leaf Champion and opposing Heart of Kirans. Depending on how many Vehicles they have, you may want to consider Reclamation Sage.
The true mirror would require a slightly different setup as you wouldn’t want to cut Nissa in a million years and Lovestruck Beast isn’t necessary. Steel Leaf Champion and friends seems like it will be far more popular, at least initially.
VS Mono-Black Aggro
Mono-Black Aggro is still quite good and might be targeting green creature decks more heavily. It wouldn’t surprise me if they morph into a pseudo-control deck in post-sideboard games, in which case you’ll want to consider your positioning.
VS Izzet Ensoul
If the Ensoul deck can’t get you to five life, you will eventually overwhelm them. Do your best to chump block when necessary and stay out of Shrapnel Blast range.
Trying to play around Metallic Rebuke is mostly foolish, even if your opponent doesn’t have any pressure. It only takes a topdecked Ensoul Artifact to make their Metallic Rebuke potentially deadly, so just trade for it at some point.
VS Green Devotion
This matchup can be difficult. An early Walking Ballista with Hardened Scales or Winding Constrictor will set back your mana development and allow them to get very far ahead. For the most part, I like to keep the curve as low as possible. If you can’t contain Hardened Scales or Winding Constrictor, you’ll have to match them on size, so both of those things lead to me keeping Scavenging Ooze in the deck.
Heart of Kiran is potentially great at attacking planeswalkers but I’ve found that they do a great job as keeping you resource-light in the early game.
VS Izzet Phoenix
Aether Gust is medium here but could potentially be huge against their sideboard cards. The biggest factor in this matchup is going to be what their sideboard plan is. Both planeswalkers and Brazen Borrower want you to keep in Walking Ballistas, but if they shift into a more controlling role with removal and card drawing, Walking Ballista is the weakest card in the matchup.
VS Azorius Control
Mitigating the impact from Supreme Verdict is the most important thing in this matchup. In theory, Wicked Wolf is good at that but Aethersphere Harvester is like a three-mana Wicked Wolf. Shaving mana creatures is kind of dangerous because you can’t really afford to get off to a slow start but you also don’t want to lose a bunch of creatures to a sweeper.
If you’re looking for a great deck to play in Pioneer, look no further. You get to play a proactive gameplan with explosive starts and also get to interact with your opponent, so it’s some of the best Magic you could possibly be playing.