Pioneer Waste Not: The Deck that is Taking the Meta by Storm!

Explore the 'Waste Not' deck in MTG's Pioneer format. Get strategies and insights that have propelled this deck to competitive prominence.

Currently, there is much debate over what is the best Pioneer deck, and what is the top list to play for the Pioneer RCQ Season. In some recent large events, we have seen Rakdos Vampires win a Pro Tour, and we have seen Izzet Phoenix win the Arena Championship. It's interesting to note that these decks are becoming increasingly less popular in the Pioneer Meta as other archetypes begin to sideboard accordingly for them. For Izzet, you have a lot of graveyard hate, and for Vampires, you have edict effects that make you exile your biggest creature - effectively nullifying, or at least slowing down, the win conditions of both archetypes. Oddly enough, there is one deck making it's uprising right now in Pioneer that is winning tournaments and other large events. I watched it go to the finals of a recent RCQ that I went to, I've seen it win Pioneer Challenges on MTGO, and have much success elsewhere. Many people can't believe that a discard deck is actually good in the format, but to understand why it is good, you have to understand that it is much more than just discard. Today we are going to look at Mono Black Waste Not!

Total Cards:

Relevant Cards

Magic the Gathering Card - Waste Not - MTG Circle

This is the engine that helps the deck run. We are seeking to gain incremental value and resource advantages over our opponent by being rewarded for making them discard cards. It feels good to Thoughtseize your opponent in eternal formats and take their big spell, or their combo piece; now, we are going to not only do that, but we will also be rewarded for it. This card triggers very well with other cards like Sheoldred, The apocalyps, and Aclazotz, Deepest Betrayal to gain even more value!

Magic the Gathering Card - Geier Reach Sanitarium - MTG Circle

I'll be honest with you, I had never heard of this land until I saw the deck in action with a Sheoldred on the board. It is pretty awesome even with just Shelly, but it gets even better when you add a Waste Not to the party. You gain life, make the opponent lose life, and get incremental value from your cost-effective enchantment. 

Magic the Gathering Card - Go Blank - MTG Circle

This card used to be a terror in Standard a couple of years ago, and now with all of the graveyard interaction we have, and general grinding for any possible advantage, this three-for-one checks off all the boxes for what our deck wants to do. It goes in and out of being well-positioned in the format based on the current meta. It just so happens that right now, this card is an absolute unit.

Magic the Gathering Card - Hostile Investigator - MTG Circle

This is one of the new additions to the deck, as it is not only from the new set, but it also just recently started to find it's way into lists for this archetype in the past two weeks or so. People are starting to see the value of forcing an opponent to discard a card upon entering the battlefied, especially with all of the removal in the format. It allows you to play a four mana creature that could be walking right into removal and still gain some value from it entering the battlefield.

Magic the Gathering Card - Kaervek, the Punisher - MTG Circle

Kaervek is in what some people are calling the "Flex Slot" of the deck. Some lists run the creature, and some say that they don't want to have too many creatures in the deck. In my experiences, he has provided outstanding value with the way that he can allow us to cast cards from our graveyard, and by just being an overall threat on the board. It seems like people often want to remove him, and he can eat up some of the removal that people might have rather used on Sheoldred. Since we are targeting our opponents so much with the majority of our spells, this deck has zero issues committing crimes at a high rate.

Sideboard Cards and Philosophy

Magic the Gathering Card - Blot Out - MTG Circle

As mentioned before, Vampires seem to be getting a bit weaker currently, but we still have to be able to deal with a Vein Ripper when we see one. This card can really help swing the chances in our favor by effectively nullifying their combo.

Magic the Gathering Card - Path of Peril - MTG Circle

The aggro and prowess decks, much like in Standard, continue to get more and more powerful with every set. We have to be prepared for a go-wide board state presented to us, and Path of Peril allows us to deal with it very efficiently. It is also nice because we do not have any creature spells in the deck that are two mana value or less.

Magic the Gathering Card - Feed the Swarm - MTG Circle

This is a newer adaptation due to the fact that people are catching on to how popular this deck is becoming. They are beginning to play Leyline of Sanctity on turn zero and effectively shutting down our deck. We have to be able to deal with it, otherwise we effectively have to change our game plan to beating the opponent with the eight creatures that are in our deck. It doesn't seem like a good gameplan, so we have dedicated two sideboard slots to this spell.

Magic the Gathering Card - Ashiok, Dream Render - MTG Circle

Ashiok is incredibly effective in our deck. It allows us to shut down the Amalia Combo, and also allows us to deal with Niv-to-Light decks that seek spells in their library, and combo off when we are tapped out. Ashiok shuts down all of that, and even exiles graveyards - thus making her awesome against Phoenix as well.

Magic the Gathering Card - Invoke Despair - MTG Circle

Everyone knows what is going on by now. I will put Invoke Despair in any deck where it might be good. It just so happens that most lists are calling for at least two to three of them in sideboards currently because the edict effects are too good and it falls in line with the types of resource advantages that the deck seeks to gain. 

Should You Play this Deck?

Let's get it out of the way. You ABSOLUTELY should give this a shot. I have been having all types of fun playing this deck both digitally, and in paper. It is winning tournaments, it has tailor-made removal spells that are prepared to deal with almost anything. Even if you don't need much removal, you have access to a plethora of discard spells. The creatures that are in the deck are very powerful all on their own. One of the best things about it is, if you already own two to three Sheoldred, The Apocalypse, the deck is very easy to buy into - at least financially. There aren't many spells outside of Sheoldred that cost more than ten dollars. Most of the cards are a dollar or less. This is very reassuring that a cost-effective archetype is doing well in an eternal format, as there has always been that looming issue of cost of entry. The cost of entry to Waste Not will see to it that you get your money's worth!

I am a Magic The Gathering competitive player, and streamer. I specialize in homebrew decks. My favorite formats are: Standard, Pioneer (Explorer on Arena), and EDH. I first started playing MTG in 2001, and have played on and off since then.