Monday, 21 October 2019 10:21

New official 'Magic: The Gathering' format, Pioneer, unveiled

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New official 'Magic: The Gathering' format, Pioneer, unveiled WOTC/MAGIC UNTAPPED

Wizards of the Coast is introducing a new official format to Magic: The Gathering.

That format, which picks up with the 2012 set Return to Ravnica and runs through the current Standard sets, is being dubbed Pioneer by WotC.  The company says the new format, which they stress is not replacing Modern, is in response to Modern no longer being what it was designed to be: a non-rotating format that would serve as a bridge between Standard and Legacy (which dates back to Magic's day one).

When Modern began in 2003, it had been about a decade since Magic: The Gathering's debut in August of 1993.  It's been 16 years since the formation of Modern, which WotC now sees as an issue.

"Now that Modern's card pool is so large, it no longer serves the needed role of 'format where you can use your Standard cards after rotation'," says WotC's Blake Rasmussen.  "For players who have started more recently and still want to play with their favorite cards after rotation, Pioneer, like Modern before it, bridges that gap while providing a fun experience for both tabletop and Magic Online."

Pioneer sets and ban list.
Pioneer's allowed sets and ban list. / WOTC

Magic players will be able to give the format a test run beginning Oct. 23 on Magic Online with digital events starting soon thereafter.  As for players of paper Magic (which is the mass majority of players), WotC only says the format will be available for high-level play "soon."

The format will also be at the first Players Tour Series of 2020 in early February, as well as some tabletop qualifying events for Players Tours as soon as Mar. 21.  The Players Tour Finals, which take place on the weekend of Apr. 25, 2020, will also utilize the format.

At launch, Pioneer will feature a very short ban list.  Only five cards, to be exact.  And all five are the fetch lands found in the Tarkir block: Bloodstained Mire, Flooded Strand, Polluted Delta, Windswept Heath, and Wooded Foothills.  WotC says they're proactively banning the Tarkir/Onslaught fetch lands because they feel that adding more constraints on mana bases will allow for added deck diversity within the format.  The company said that they're also willing to ban additional cards if they prove to be problematic to the format.

WotC says the company has no current plans to add Pioneer to Magic Arena.

You can read more about Pioneer on the Wizards of the Coast website.