Pioneer is a Magic: The Gathering format that allows all cards printed from 2012's Return to Ravnica to present. Pioneer was to bridge the gap between Modern and Standard, allowing players not to worry about the rotating cards of Standard while also not having to worry about the very pricey cards that dominate Modern.
Thanks to the backlog of cards available in Pioneer, some cards are more viable in this format than in formats such as Standard, and Zendikar Rising introduced numerous cards that allowed the ever-growing library of Pioneer cards to grow even stronger.
10 Feed The Swarm
On the surface, Feed the Swarm looks like an ordinary removal spell for mono-black players. However, it is the first time in Magic that a mono-black sorcery card has the ability to destroy a target enchantment outright. A huge step in removal for black, and an almost instant inclusion in any sideboard moving forward for a mono-black deck.
Not only does the card target enchantments, but also doubles as a creature removal as well if no enchantments are in play. While, of course, there are much better creature removal cards out there for black, there's not one other card that can do what Feed The Swarm can, making it quite the game-changer.
9 Roiling Vortex
Nothing can be more annoying in Magic than when your opponent manages to cheat spells out without paying their mana costs. Roiling Vortex is the answer to that. Each time your opponent casts a spell without paying its mana cost, they take five damage.
Since Fires of Invention is still legal in Pioneer even after having been banned while in rotation in Standard, Roiling Vortex is a good card to consider as a member of your sideboard just in case.
Roiling Vortex also comes with the ability to stop opponents from gaining life for a turn at the cost of just one mana as well. This is a great way to knock down life-gain decks that can quickly get out of control.
8 Bloodchief's Thirst
When it comes to mono-black, Fatal Push is one of the go-to and best early removal spells in Pioneer. Not only that, but it is actually one of the most-played cards in all of Pioneer. There's an argument to be made, however, that Bloodchief's Thirst could give it a run for its money thanks to its ability to target planeswalkers.
Functioning almost identically to Fatal Push, Bloodchief's Thirst is a one mana spell that will destroy a target creature of mana value two or less. Fatal Push is playable as an instant, however, while Bloodchief's Thirst is sorcery. A small but giant difference in the functionality of the cards.
With the added Kicker cost in Bloodchief's Thirst, there is no converted mana cost limit on the creature or planeswalker you can destroy, something Fatal Push cannot do. Each card has its ups and downs over the other, but if there ever was a viable replacement for Fatal Push, Bloodchief's Thirst is it.
7 Lotus Cobra
Lotus Cobra is one of the strongest mana ramp cards available in Pioneer and for good reason. Thanks to its landfall ability, with every land that enters the battlefield under your control, you add one mana of your choice to your mana pool. With cards like Fabled Passage and Cultivate, you are able to ramp into bigger spells extremely fast.
On the opposite side of the table, if your opponent plays a Lotus Cobra it is an absolute must-kill creature. This goes to show just how strong the creature is and the effect that it can have on the game if it is left uncontrolled.
6 Pathway Lands
Dual Lands are a staple in any format for players who are playing more than one color. For players that want to play three, four or even all colors, sometimes the land that they need isn't there when they need it. The Pathway Lands that were introduced in Zendikar Rising are a new double-faced land that allows you to pick which mana color of two you want to use when you play it.
Mana is the single most important thing in Magic, as without it, you cannot do anything. Having the ability to choose what mana your land can tap for is always a benefit. While it may not be as strong as your typical dual lands, the Pathway Lands are an easy substitution for some basic lands in any multicolored deck.
5 Scute Swarm
Yet another card featuring the landfall mechanic, Scute Swarm allows players to make a 1/1 insect with each land played by them, or a token copy of the creature if they control more than six lands. While six lands may sound steep, with the ways players are able to mana ramp it can come a lot faster than some opponents can deal with.
Scute Swarm was such a problem in Magic Arena that it was actually causing games to crash with how many token copies players were able to create in a single game. With a deck that is heavy on ramp and playing lands, Scute Swarm is a pest that will take the game over quickly.
4 Nighthawk Scavenger
Printed back in the first Zendikar set, Vampire Nighthawk is a card that has seen its fair share of play over the years in formats like Modern and Commander. Thanks to Nighthawk Scavenger, it is essentially playable in Pioneer, but even better.
The more cards types in your opponent's graveyard, the stronger Nighthawk Scavenger becomes. Which means in late game play, Nighthawk Scavenger can come out and end the game in an instant at a low cost. The combo of flying, deathtouch and lifelink can be quite hard to deal with without some form of removal, so it can be quite the bully with the benefit of stalling your opponents attacks with the threat of deathtouch.
3 Ruin Crab
For those that like to run mill decks, Ruin Crab is a great addition in both defense and functionality. At the cost of a single mana, you have a 0/3 blocker as well as a means of milling your opponent with each land played under your control thanks to its landfall ability.
The more, the merrier too, as with multiple copies on the field your opponent will be losing more cards, and you'll have a bigger wall. Again, thanks to the numerous ways players can ramp into land drops, landfall has been stronger than ever.
2 Omnath, Locus of Creation
Banned in Standard, Brawl, Historic and Alchemy, Omnath, Locus of Creation is somehow still legal in Pioneer.
This card certainly earned those bans, as it is one of the strongest cards to be printed lately, especially with the amount of land ramp that is currently available. Its landfall ability is the strongest in the set, and adds so much value to the card it's unreal. Again, cards like Fabled Passage and Cultivate allow Omnath to go off more than anything else and his abilities can turn the game on its head.
1 Mythic Double Faced Lands
It might be a cheat to include five cards in the top spot, but really, these five cards have such ridiculous value that it's impossible not to group them together.
Functioning as either land cards or very powerful sorcery cards, this set of mythic cards is an auto-include in almost any deck. Taking the place of basic land cards in your deck, these cards also come with the added ability to throw down some nasty, game-changing spells if needed.
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