Get in Loser, We’re going Boating
I honestly wanted to write more articles on Historic on Arena and talk about how I got up to Diamond in December and how I came so close to Mythic, but then I get slammed down over and over again by the same decks (Sultai) and the same cards (Uro and Shark Typhoon) and without the proper tools available in Pioneer I just couldn’t play anything. I tried the ladder, I tried the traditional Historic events, and I even tried free play with some fun decks, but everybody was playing the same damn thing.
I gave up. I could blame it on the lack of wildcards, the lack of dusting to get rid of multiple cards I don’t need, and the shallow card pool (Historic is still lacking about 3000 cards that are available in Pioneer), but that’s probably not the real reason.
I love Magic the Gathering but I want to have fun. I want to play decks that I can take to Friday Night Magic and have my friends smile as they sat across from me and watched me do wild stuff. I might not win the event, but I’d come close and enjoy doing it. I’ve never been one for playing the best deck. It’s both cost prohibitive and leads to burn out much more quickly from the grind. I like a challenge, and I like limiting myself so that I need to become creative. With Arena not offering a fun, casual experience, I have shifted my views back to Pioneer.
It started with watching more and more streams on Twitch, then led me to buying some MTGO tickets from friends to build some fun decks, and now I’m back on the Untap platform as well to play Pioneer as much as I can and test new cards before they come out. The Kaldheim pre-release is online next week but honestly I don’t care much about limited anymore. Without paper Magic and the gathering aspect I don’t want to play and explore the set. I just want to brew and play constructed, and oh boy Kaldheim has been an absolute goldmine for brewers so far.
Pioneer is a Brewer’s Paradise
I’ve heard countless people say this over the last few weeks as the Kaldheim cards were spoiled. I’ve always thought so too and believe the format is incredibly unexplored. You can say a format is solved and that there is a clear tier 1 and tier 2 ranking, but that doesn’t mean those are the only decks you can play in the format. We’ve only scratched the surface of the format. As a long time Frontier player before Pioneer was announced I can tell you there were an incredible amount of brews back then that never saw the light of day once the new format began. There are countless decks waiting to be built and games waiting to be won. All they need is a spark, and with each new set these decks have the chance to catch fire.
Kaldheim seems to be a boon for countless tribes: Giants, Elves, Warriors, and even Dwarves. People love to say that in order for a deck to work and be competitive it needs to have x and y, and while that sounds correct in theory sometimes you just need to play it and work the deck out. I don’t know how many times people have told me my deck wasn’t good because they didn’t understand it and it was missing ‘x and y’ and yet I consistently put up solid results with it. I think RW Dwarves is one of those decks.
Magda, Brazen Outlaw is just the card Dwarves have needed to become relevant again. Once upon a time Mardu Vehicles terrorized many a standard player and the deck even continued to see play in Frontier after all of the Kaldesh cards had rotated out. But it was deemed too fair, too slow, and not explosive enough for Pioneer. Magda breathes new life into this archetype, not only by making Depala, Pilot Exemplar and Veteran Motorist more relevant to crew vehicles like Heart of Kiran and Skysovereign, Consulate Flagship, but also because she makes the dwarves themselves more dangerous, especially in large numbers. The more you crew or attack with your dwarves, the more treasure tokens you get, and the more treasure you get the more dangerous you become.
Magda knows the hustle and isn’t afraid to spend money when it comes to ordering quality support. Aside from giving all dwarves +1/+0 and making a treasure token whenever you tap a dwarf, she also lets you search your deck for any artifact or dragon and put it directly into play. This gives you an incredible toolbox function on top of an aggro deck which should put the strategy on the competitive map. Depending on the metagame you can play whatever you need, but for my first draft I’m focusing on being aggressive in the main deck and then getting technical with my sideboard.
Obelisk of Urd is a very straightforward buff for all of your Dwarves and even has convoke which is a built in money maker for Magda if you play enough of them before casting this. It’s also a good combat trick but probably not as crazy as dropping a Terror of Mount Velus onto the battlefield while attacking to give all of your creatures double strike. If you need the trample or the extra damage by all means choose Embercleave with Magda’s ability, but if your opponent thinks they can make smart blocks they’re going to be in for a rude awakening. Glorybringer also makes an appearance by helping you clear the board of a troublesome blocker if you play it before attacks. With the deck’s lack of interaction with opponents you’ll probably come to rely a lot on this hasty dragon, especially if Skysovereign’s 3 points of damage won’t get the job done.
I actually had 3 Obelisk of Urd in the first build of this deck, but in longer games I tended to run out of steam if I didn’t have a Depala to tap and look for dwarves and vehicles with, so I figured losing a little power was worth it if I could draw a card with something like Vanquisher’s Banner. Including this artifact, the deck has 9 total buffs for Dwarves, and the sideboard includes even more. The other notable includes in the main deck are 3 Conclave Tribunal as removal for just about anything (as well as having synergy with Magda), and 2 Mutavault that act as dwarves and get around pesky board wipes and keep the pressure on your opponent. One caveat though. I’m not sure if 22 land is correct, but the ability to create mana through treasure tokens and with a whopping 34 cards at 2 cmc or less I think we’ll be fine.
If you thought the mainboard was wild just wait until you see this sideboard. It’s highly experimental and will test the ability of Magda, Brazen Outlaw to the max, but if it works it could be genius.
- Soul-Guide Lantern – I think it’s hard to argue that this shouldn’t be in every deck to deal with opponent’s graveyards. The fact that it’s an artifact that can be tutored for in a pinch is perfect.
- Damping Sphere – A tip of the hat to Lotus Breach. The moment you don’t respect it the deck will get you. Searching for it in response to them sacrificing land for their first Lotus Field is *chef’s kiss*.
- Grafdigger’s Cage – While it would stop you from putting any of your dragons into play with Magda’s ability, it wouldn’t stop the artifacts. Being able to stop Collected Companies, Oops All Spells, or any other creature card coming from a library or graveyard at instant speed with Magda is impressive.
- Heliod’s Intervention – Seems overall better than any other artifact/enchantment hate in the format right now, especially against decks like Esper Yorion that have multiple enchantments you’d want to get rid of. The life gain option is just icing on the cake.
- Fairground Warden – This is where the sideboard starts to go off the rails. The warden is both removal and a dwarf which is good, but honestly I’d rather have something like Chained to the Rocks but I don’t think 6 mountains is enough to take advantage of it.
- Return to the Ranks – Seemed like a really clever way to get your creatures back from the graveyard against control while also making treasure tokens with Magda due to the convoke function.
- The Immortal Sun – A good card to stop your opponent from doing anything with their Nissa, Teferi or whatever other planeswalkers they might play. Much better than something like Sorcerous Spyglass you can agree, and it can be searched for with Magda or cast with treasure tokens quickly.
- God-Pharaoh’s Gift – Okay, you probably think I’m stretching it now. Gift? Well, I considered just playing 2 Return to the Ranks against control, but I wanted to be greedy. This makes a 4/4 dwarf with haste and finishes a game much more quickly against control and it can be tutored while Return to the Ranks can not. Just imagine your opponent tapping out to use a Supreme Verdict then you sacrificing 5 treasure tokens to put this into play just as your creatures are obliterated.
- God-Pharaoh’s Statue – While we’re throwing shade at control and slower midrange decks, lets add insult to injury. Making all of your opponent’s spells 2 mana more to cost while also pinging them for one damage each turn can be just the tempo you need to stop a combo from going off or to save your board from a deadly fate.
- Dragonlord Atarka – Can you honestly think of any other dragon you’d rather slam onto the battlefield for free? Definite meme card until I can find something better to replace it with (Combustible Gearhulk maybe?).
- Meteor Golem – It was a limited all-star, but can it prove its worth in Pioneer? Being able to tutor up a kill anything Spine of Ish Sah type card might sound like something you’d do in EDH but why not try it out?
- Throne of the God-Pharaoh – I mean how could I not complete the God-Pharaoh trifecta? It just so happens to be a great way to deal damage to an opponent when you can’t attack but can crew something, or if you need to sneak in a few extra points of damage for the kill against control.
I know that not all of these cards will end up making the final cut once all is said and done, but you gotta admit this archetype enables you to be incredibly creative with your card choices. Better artifacts will continue to be printed, and no matter how much they cost Magda will be there to steal them and throw onto your battlefield. I also expect Dwarves to get more playable cards in the Dungeons and Dragon’s tie-in set this summer so this archetype will only get more interesting. I’d also be interested in exploring a possible control version of this that just puts in tons of treasures and wins with cards like Hellkite Tyrant. Not sure that’s where I want to be, but I wouldn’t count it out.
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