Pioneer – Sultai Midrange Decklist

Sultai Midrange was one of the best performing decks in the first Pioneer Challenge on MTGO, taking down the title and putting several more variants into the top 32. It combines efficient disruption with powerful planeswalkers to present a strategy that is going to be solid against any opponent.

Pioneer – Sultai Midrange Decklist

3 Liliana, the Last Hope
3 Oko, Thief of Crowns
2 Vraska, Golgari Queen
2 Courser of Kruphix
4 Gilded Goose
4 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy/Jace, Telepath Unbound
1 Tireless Tracker
4 Thoughtseize
4 Abrupt Decay
1 Assassin's Trophy
2 Dig Through Time
2 Drown in the Loch
4 Fatal Push
4 Blooming Marsh
2 Botanical Sanctum
2 Breeding Pool
4 Fabled Passage
2 Forest (347)
2 Island (335)
4 Overgrown Tomb
2 Swamp (339)
2 Watery Grave
3 Disdainful Stroke
2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1 Mystical Dispute
2 Noxious Grasp
2 Pithing Needle
2 Scavenging Ooze
3 Veil of Summer
ThoughtseizeFatal PushAbrupt Decay

The starting point for a deck list this is the cheap disruption. Thoughtseize is by far the most heavily played card among all winning decklists for a good reason. Fatal Push is not as good in Pioneer as it is in formats with fetchlands, but it is still great removal against many of the creatures that are being played, and revolt can be turned on more often in a deck like this that contains other pieces of removal. Abrupt Decay is looking like another all-star in this format, as it is already one of the most efficient removal options available and is the best answer to the numerous overpowered three-mana planeswalkers that have been printed in the last several sets.

Oko, Thief of CrownsLiliana, the Last HopeVraska, Golgari Queen

This deck packs a whopping eight planeswalkers that can both provide disruption and be cast very early in the game. Hopefully you Standard players aren't too sick of Oko, Thief of Crowns yet, because it also seems to be amazing in Pioneer. Liliana, the Last Hope is amazing against some decks, but it will always be at least a passable value card. Vraska, Golgari Queen looks to be another of the breakout cards of the format, giving us extra copies of Abrupt Decay on a planeswalker that can likely stick around to generate additional value.

Gilded Goose

Gilded Goose is a natural pairing with Oko and is actually the reason we are able to run so many powerful 3-drops. The other 1-mana ramp creatures in the format (Elvish Mystic and Llanowar Elves) only produce green mana, so for a 3-color "goodstuff" deck like this we need to rely on the food engine. Even if we only get to use one mana off of the Goose to cast an early planeswalker, it is likely to recoup its value, and can chump block to protect a planeswalker or gain life against an aggro deck.

Dig Through Time

One of the added benefits of playing so many cheap 1-for-1 answers such as Thoughtseize and Abrupt Decay is that we are able to fuel our graveyard for the overpowered delve spells. This list opts for a conservative approach of two copies of Dig Through Time. Several of the deck's cards are permanents that might not be quick to leave the battlefield in every matchup, so a cautious approach like this may be a reasonable take.

Drown in the Loch

Drown in the Loch is another card that benefits from us playing so many interactive 1-for-1 cards. It doesn't take much for this to be a useful card early in the game, and it's nice that we can gain access to effectively a hard counterspell in the later game. One potential trap to keep in mind is not to get blown out if your opponent has the ability to play their own delve spell to fizzle your Drown in the Loch.

Jace, Vryn's Prodigy // Jace, Telepath UnboundCourser of KruphixTireless Tracker

The remainder of the deck consists of creatures that very much resemble planeswalkers in the sense that they can provide additional value every single turn that they remain on the battlefield. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy is a great card that helps us smooth out our draw and fuel delve early and provides a ton of value for a 2-drop when it is able to flip into an actual planeswalker. Courser of Kruphix and Tireless Tracker are somewhat similar in the sense that they produce additional value when we find our lands. Tireless Tracker is perhaps a more powerful card overall but Courser of Kruphix is more useful against aggressive decks where we might need something relevant to cast in the early turns. Having access to these additional powerful 3-drops ensures that we always have a powerful opening whenever we manage to draw Gilded Goose.

A strategy like this is likely to be a solid choice throughout the life of the format. As a "goodstuff" deck that isn't overly reliant on cards that are likely to eventually get banned (looking at you, Dig Through Time), it presents a solid core that can be adapted to any given metagame.

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Michael Schuller