The Pioneer metagame has begun to shift away from the cards that were banned at the beginning of the week. Decks among the early winners include artifact-based decks with Ensoul Artifact, and Hardened Scales plus Winding Constrictor decks.

But a different Pioneer deck caught my eye this week. I think we can go bigger. Green Ramp aka “Tron” in Pioneer has access to many of the payoffs of the Modern Tron deck. The lands don’t make as much mana, but you still ramp into nonsense fast enough.

Here’s an example from Mason Clark, which started from a PTQ Top 8 list from TiltMonsterMtg.

Pioneer Tron, by Mason Clark

Creatures (16)
Arboreal Grazer
Elvish Rejuvenator
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
Emrakul, the Promised End
Walking Ballista

Planeswalkers (4)
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

Spells (12)
Once Upon a Time
Nissa’s Pilgrimage
Hour of Promise
Lands (28)
Blast Zone
Desert of the Indomitable
Castle Garenbrig
Cascading Cataracts
Field of the Dead
Sanctum of Ugin
Shrine of the Forsaken Gods
Radiant Fountain
Hashep Oasis
Geier Reach Sanitarium
Scavenger Grounds

SideBoard (15)
Jaddi Offshoot
World Breaker
Return to Nature
Thought-Knot Seer
Veil of Summer
Karn, Scion of Urza

Wow! What a breath of fresh air, with no three-mana planeswalkers in sight! This deck has picked up some clout on Twitter, and you can imagine why. It gives dedicated Modern Tron players some hope for a dedicated ramp strategy in Pioneer.

The biggest payoff cards are Ugin, The Spirit Dragon and Walking Ballista. The sheer consistency of the deck impresses me the most. As my friend Zane, better known as Zedmagic, learned recently while 4-1-ing a Pioneer league: turned four Ugin’d back to back games. That is a compelling gameplan that I want to learn more about.

Let’s take a look what comes along with Ugin.


The creatures fall into two categories: ramp and payoff. Not much surprise there. Aboreal Grazer and Elvish Rejuvenator get the mana flowing early. Other options include Elvish Mystic, which can die easily, but doesn’t require an extra land from your hand to make mana if it survives. The 0/3 body on Grazer provides a helpful blocker at least.

On the other end we have the payoffs, mostly Eldrazi titans but also featuring the ever-powerful Walking Ballista and everyone’s former favorite Standard card, Golos, Tireless Pilgrim. You know what the Eldrazi can do. Emrakul, the Promised End steals your opponent’s next turn, in which you waste as many of their resources as you can before you start attacking for the win. Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger can’t be destroyed and exiles two things on the way in. Golos brings along everyone’s favorite land party, Field of the Dead.


Besides Ugin and the creatures, the deck runs three spells in the main deck. Each of them digs for lands or puts them on the board.

Let’s start with the big one: Hour of Promise. This five-mana ramp spell ensures you hit seven lands to turn on Field of the Dead. On top of that, it fetches any lands you want. That means utility like Blast Zone against an early creature attack. You can also get some Deserts to make extra zombie tokens from time to time.

Below that at three mana, Nissa’s Pilgrimage takes the slot. I was talking to Tron aficionado Anderson Leclair, who also plays this deck. He explained to me the importance of Nissa’s Pilgrimage in comparison to the other ramp spells at three mana: consistency. Making sure you have the fifth mana to be able to cast your five-mana spells like Hour of Promise and Golos, Tireless Pilgrim is more important than any other upside you can get from less consistent ramp spells. With Arboreal Grazers hungering for extra lands to play from hand, you can always use an extra forest or two in hand.

While I agree with Leclair about it, I would love to try Beanstalk Giant as a hybrid ramp-plus-threat.

And finally we have Once Upon a Time. You know what it does: either you find the land you need early or the big threat you need late. Decks like these always want to smooth the consistency of their draws so that you find enough ramp and enough payoff. Turn four Ugin every time doesn’t happen by accident!

What are some decks you’ve enjoyed playing in the newly evolving Pioneer format? If you are tired the stereotypical Oko, Thief of Crowns or Teferi, Time Raveler, I recommend trying this green ramp deck.

Zack is a SCG grinder with one ultimate goal: getting to the Players Championship. Based out of NYC, you can find him in other cities every weekend trying to hit that goal. When he isn’t traveling he streams. Follow his journey on Twitter!

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