Locking with Narset in Pioneer

Now that we’re two months into the Pioneer format, things have settled down just enough to sort through the debris left from its numerous initial bans. With all the Oko, Nexus, and Mono G devotion decks knocked out of the meta, Control is in a better position now than ever before. And what better way to play Control than locking your opponent out of the game? There are few decks in Pioneer that have the ability to do this, but my list which includes Narset, Parter of Veils and Day’s Undoing can do it naturally as early as turn five. Lets start by taking a look at our lock piece.

Now, at first glance this doesn’t seem like anything revolutionary.  We’ve seen the interaction before, but wait…it gets better. The text is very key. If you cast Day’s Undoing on your turn, it automatically ends the turn. However, if its cast on your opponent’s turn, the turn doesn’t end and Day’s Undoing resolves and enters the graveyard rather than going to exile. This allows it to be shuffled back into your deck. With Teferi, Time Raveler in the format, you can cast this spell at instant speed…most effectively, at the end of your opponent’s draw step.  Narset’s static ability will prevent your opponent from drawing any cards leaving them with nothing.

With this combo, you can lock them as early as turn five which pretty much just seals the game. Being able to refill your hand while taking theirs away is brutal and can lead to early concessions.  While this isn’t a “hard lock” per say, the consistency of the deck’s draw spells verses your opponent’s top decks (after the initial Day’s Undoing) makes it very likely that you’ll be able to repeat this plan before your opponent can mount any sort of reasonable comeback.

My reps with this deck have yielded a very high win rate and I recently took down a 25-man charity event with it. Many of my match-ups were won by emptying my opponent’s hand through the Day’s Undoing combo and then either attacking with Gideon or Elspeth tokens or resolving Approach of the Second Sun. With so many different tools in the deck, it is prepared to challenge the variety of decks in the format and attack on just as many levels. So let’s take a look at the list, shall we?

Narset Days [John “Skyz” Woodrum 1/2020]

Spells (24)
Blessed Alliance
Supreme Verdict
Tragic Lesson
Spell Pierce
Settle the Wreckage
Day's Undoing
Approach of the Second Sun
Sphinx's Revelation

Planeswalkers (10)
Teferi, Time Raveler
Narset, Parter of Veils
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Gideon of the Trials
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Lands (26)
Hallowed Fountain
Temple of Enlightenment
Prairie Stream
Glacial fortress
Mystic Sanctuary
Castle Vantress
Castle Ardenvale
Mobilized District

Sideboard (15)
Nyx-Fleece Ram
Gideon of the Trials
Mystical Dispute
Dovin's Veto
Leyline of Sanctity
Lyra Dawnbringer
Planar Outburst
Cleansing Nova
Detention Sphere

For me, the two biggest draws of this deck are its consistency and the number of its favorable match-ups across the board. You have enough Supreme Verdicts and the Blessed Alliances to fend off the creature and burn decks, the counter spells to fight off the midrange decks, and the early lock pieces to hose the control decks. Currently I am toting a 47-10-3 record with this deck since the ban of Nexus and Oko. That’s a whopping 78% win percentage!

My sideboard has been designed specifically for the red deck and creature-dense match-ups that I often find myself pitted against. I pack a toolbox that includes Cast Out, Search for Azcanta, Solemnity, Dragonlord Ojutai but I’d say that detailing the board for your meta would be a good first step with this list.

Including win-cons in the form of lands, planeswalkers, lock out, and Approach of the Second Sun gives this deck a multi-axis plan of attack that your opponents are often overwhelmed by. This paired with the card advantage engine of Tragic Lesson plus Mystic Sanctuary is a way that I am able to dig for my answers or return them to the top of my library from my graveyard (most often things like Day’s Undoing and Supreme Verdict).

Some of the most difficult matches you will face are the Aetherworks Marvel decks and hyper aggressive decks. These decks go over you and under you. The marvel decks can cast Ulamog rather quickly which is often too disruptive to recover from.  The red decks just cut right through you if they are not adequately answered.

To sum all of this up, this may be one of the most efficient control and lock decks I have designed. This decks ability to play the long game while in control is insane as I continuously loop my lock spells. Overall, this deck is solid and is where i think i want to be for the foreseeable future in pioneer.