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Playing Pioneer: Cat Food Marvel

Written by Joshua Claytor on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Pioneer

Playing Pioneer:  Cat Food Marvel

Joshua Claytor

Joshua is the current content manager of Legitmtg.com and Puremtgo.com.

When Pioneer was first announced last year, Aetherworks Marvel felt like one of those cards that was sure to be banned, much like Treasure Cruise and Dig through Time.  It turns out that cards were not nearly as good as stuff like Once Upon a Time, Oko, Thief of Crowns, or Veil of Summer. Five of the fourteen cards banned in the format were printed in 2019. 

It was clearly a wild year in Magic. 

With things in the format seemingly coming to a rest, bannings have slowed down and we might get one today, but going through data of the format, I can’t really see any obvious candidates for removal.  Of course, WotC sees more than what is presented, but stuff like Lotus Field or Jeskai Ascendancy, two of the best combo options in the format have struggled to gain any real foothold in the format, and seem almost safe.  The delve cards, Treasure Cruise and Dig through Time feel really fair in a format with fetchlands.  It really does feel like Pioneer has grown into a nice format with the quick bannings and such. 

It also feels like Modern has suffered because of the attention paid to Pioneer, but that’s for another article. 

I decided to rededicate myself to Magic this year.  I didn’t 5-0 a single league last year, though I probably played thirty or so.  I set a goal to 5-0 100 leagues in 2020, which seems reasonable actually. 

With the one exception of me being awful at Magic. 

I wasn’t actually able to start league play until the 4th, I had my son for ten days over his winter break which was really dope, and I didn’t want to spend the time that I had with him in front of the computer playing Magic.  I instead spent that time playing video games and watching cartoons with him.  I did however make sure to take time to look at decklists from leagues, prelims and challenges.  A lot of them caught my eye.  An unreasonable number of them actually. 

I want to play with Aetherworks Marvel in the format.  Cheating out huge Eldrazi seems like the kind of thing that is exactly my jam.  One of the first lists I saw while researching was this one: 

Here is a video of me taking the deck through it’s paces in a league.  It didn’t end up well for me.  I took a quick 0-3 and stopped streaming because I was frustrated and not having fun. 



The Cat Food engine, that of Cauldron Familiar and Witch’s Oven, worked out pretty well.  It allowed me to stay in games a little bit longer thanks to providing a small bit of life and a blocker.  It also did great work in regards to giving me energy for Aetherworks Marvel.  Each time the food engine did a thing you would get two energy counters.  It was slow, but it was a nice bit of extra energy.

That was maybe the highlight of the deck for me. 

Trail of Crumbs seems to make sense, but it was sideboarded out in every match.  It never got a chance to do what I wanted it to do, be it because I never drew it, or because it was to slow.  I often times wanted to find a copy of Marvel and never could.  For an enchantment that does a ton, it didn’t really seem to do enough for me.   I think maybe that Vessel of Nascency would be better in this slot.  That way you at least have a fighting chance to find the Marvel. 

Another card that annoyed me to no end when I drew it was Nissa, Who Shakes the Earth.  I like the idea of ramping up and getting the Planeswalker in to play to power out the Eldrazi, but there is a problem with that.  There is only four Eldrazi in the deck, and the mana base doesn’t allow us to take full advantage of her static ability.  If I were to play the deck again, Nissa would get cut and replaced with either more Eldrazi (I did want at least a second copy of Ulamog a few times) or with copies of Whisperwood Elemental, which was wonderful out of the board, or Ishkanah, Grafwidow.  The change to Vessel would have to happen if I were to run Ishkanah, because you really want to take advantage of the Delirium that the spider offers. 

The sideboard was pretty okay for the most part.  Summary Dismissal was an all-star for me, helping out a ton against Jeskai Ascendancy in the post board games. Despise needs to be ThoughtseizeFatal Push did a lot of heavy lifting for me out of the board, as did Whisperwood ElementalPelakka Wurm might not be the worst castable Marvel thing we could add to the deck as well. 

Overall, despite my poor play, the deck didn’t feel awful.  The games were competitive and because of the nature of Marvel decks, I felt like I could easily claw my way back in to the game.  It’s just at this point, felt rougher than I was anticipating, which means my search for a Pioneer deck is not quite over yet. 

I’ll be back next week, please don’t take that as a threat, with another Pioneer deck, or maybe a series of them with my thoughts on them.

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