Neoform is one of my favorite cards of all time. At first glance, Neoform is fun little uncommon that can enable your Simic +1/+1 counter strategies like Incubation Druid. Look a little deeper though and you see an incredibly powerful card that gives you a busted mana advantage. With the right deckbuilding, Neoform feels a lot like Tinker — and we know how busted Tinker can be! When new cards come out that could enable a Neoform strategy, I know it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get brewing. Today we are going to be updating the Neo-Delve Pioneer deck that I made in April of 2022.  Lets talk about what makes this deck tick, and what its major problems are. Then, I’ll share what’s got me excited from Phyrexia: All will be One with a new list for you to try!

Understanding the Neo-Delve Core

The power of Neoform comes from its ability to cheat on mana. If we spend one mana on Hooting Mandrills, then spend two mana to cast Neoform, you’re getting a powerful seven-cost creature as early as turn three! In order to do this on turn 3, we need to engage in a bit of setup:

Step 1: Fill The Yard
In your first two turns, its very important to cast spells that fill your graveyard. Taigam’s Scheming and Contingency Plan are fantastic enablers of this, as they can put four cards in the yard, a missing combo piece on top of your library, and then it itself hits the yard. This means that for just one card you can find your combo and get all the resources you need to cast your delve creature. Otherworldly Gaze also does a great job of filling the yard at instant speed, allowing you to hold up mana for other activities. If you cast Gaze on turn one, and then flash it back on turn two, you can put five cards in the yard and one on top. Just like with the two-drop enablers. Honorable mention to Consider, a spell that only puts two cards in the yard, but replaces itself. The fact that it replaces itself can be huge in low-resource games (E.G. you mulligan to four)

Step 2: Cast Your Delve Creature and BLAST OFF!
On your third turn, you should have at least three cards in your graveyard, and three lands in play. Pay one mana for that delve creature, and two mana for that Neoform! You might be thinking to yourself that this is easier said than done, but remember: we are playing eight delve creatures, and twelve enablers that not only fill the yard, but also find the missing pieces!

Step 3: Win The Game!!…
This is where the game gets fun for us, and nightmarish for the opponent. We now have a giant threat in play that is WAY ahead of schedule, and our opponent isn’t yet in a position to answer it! Nothing ever goes wrong here, not even once. Yep. GGs! 😁

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…Next Step: Back to The Drawing Board!

The problem with this deck was never the core, but always with that crucial third step. Velomachus Lorehold as a win con was very very cool, and even worked sometimes. The issue was that it sometimes didn’t work even when the opponent had nothing. Combine that with having to play extra turn spells (dead draws) and you have a very cool yet very frustrating deck to play. Occasionally, your opponent would have something. Something as simple as an Unsummon was enough to undo our first three turns of the game. And If they did have an answer to our threat, we were left with very few resources to rebuild. To summarize, the main issues we need to solve for our top end are:

  • Velomachus was not powerful enough to close a game without playing 8 extra-turn spells. We need more juice!
  • Our top end needs to protect itself in some way from removal.
  • Our deck needs a way to do things post-Neoform. Again — more juice!

Once the newness of this brew wore off, it was clear that something had to change. The meta had to regress into a hyper-aggro hellscape where no one could afford to run answers to our strategy, or a new more powerful payoff would need to come into play that could solve our three problems. With the direction of card design these days, I knew we wouldn’t have to wait long…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAM! Phyrexia: All Will Be One Comes right out of the gate with not just one, but TWO exciting seven-drops for us to explore. But do either of these pushed mythics help to fix our problem in step three? Let me explain how these powerful threats make Taigam’s Scheming look like the best card you can play on turn two.

Building Neo-Delve 2.0

Lets start with Tyrranax Rex. Does this card have the Juice? I would say that Tyranax has the Juice in that it solves two out of our three problems. Firstly, it’s more powerful — literally. a nine-powered trampler with haste can close the game out faster than Velomachus can on paper. Two hits with T-Rex is usually going to be a kill in Pioneer.
Second, it protects itself with ward 4. On turn three, that might as well be shroud. That said, Tyranax doesn’t fly, and can just get blocked by Sheoldred, the Apocalypse.
Sadly, Tyranax does not solve the third issue of the deck. If something goes wrong, we’re not just back to square one, we’re at square zero.

Now lets look at Atraxa, Grand Unifier, a card that undoubtedly has the Juice. Atraxa is more powerful than Velmochus. It looks at ten cards instead of seven, it has four keyword abilities instead of three, and it has eight power instead of six (don’t forget about that +1/+1 counter from Neoform)
Does Atraxa protect itself? No, not exactly. It doesn’t have ward, but we’ll talk more about how we can protect Atraxa later on.
Lastly, Atraxa solves one of the biggest issues Pioneer Neoform has: card disadvantage! Now when you resolve a Neoform, you get 10 looks at your next one. This is a huge deal for the deck that auto-loses to an Unsummon.

So how does the landscape change when we add these threats to the deck? Well, first things first we get to cut the 8 extra-turn spells; now that our threats are super-charged in their ability to close the game, we don’t need them. Next, we can afford to cut Consider from our deck because Atraxa lets us catch up on cards. and we can’t forget about the two slots afforded to us by cutting Velomachus!

Out:

So what do we do with these 14 slots? Let me show you the cards that are going to be living in your opponent’s head rent free:

In:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughtseize is a powerful, proactive play we can make in our early turns to ensure that our plan will execute smoothly. Essence Flux is so good with Atraxa it should be Illegal. Being able to protect it from removal AND get another ETB trigger will surely be lights-out for the opponent. Lastly, Stubborn Denial can act as another piece of protection once our threat is in play, as well as enabling us to resolve Neoform in a pinch. What makes these cards so exciting is that Atraxa digs for them on ETB. For example, If you make an Atraxa on turn four, you can have one mana available to protect it. Also honorable mention to the two channel lands that we can find off Atraxa as well.
I just can’t wait to see the look on my opponent’s face when I reveal Essence Flux off of Atraxa!

NeoDelve 2.0 : TurboTrax!

Wow! What a great list. One thing that I’ll always love about this deck is how affordable it is. Make sure to check out Fusion Gaming — Amazing customer service, competitive buylist, and great deals on Magic singles.

What I’ll Be Paying Attention to as I Test and Tune

The first thing on the hot seat (and possibly the spiciest) is the sideboard. I’ve never been great at building sideboards for Pioneer, but Atraxa gives us a ton of utility post-board in finding silver bullets. Some of the bullets make sense at first glance but give me a chance to talk about the red and white spells. I am concerned about my Green and Lotus matchup now that our deck doesn’t have an OTK, and I’m hoping that these spells can shore up the weaknesses. How do we cast them? Atraxa finds our Mana Confluence of course! I’ll be looking to see if these cards are castable, but I have a feeling they won’t be.

I’m also including one copy of Tyrranax Rex. I think this card will be good in certain scenarios where I know the opponent can’t handle the speed. There are going to be scenarios where I know the opponent has no answers in their range if I kill them quickly, whereas with Atraxa there could be a chance for them to crawl back if I give them that extra turn to live. For example, Leyline Binding out of Enchanties, or Supreme Verdict from Blue White Control. I’ll be thinking about this quite a bit and I imagine that the top end could shift throughout testing.

Lastly, I’ll be looking to see how good Stubborn Denial is in this deck. Sacrificing your creature is part of the cost for casting Neoform, so the card can fall a little flat in that key moment. I imagine some lines where you cast a second delve creature before resolving Neoform is possible in some scenarios, but that doesn’t really seem reliable.  I’ll be checking to make sure that stubs is pulling its weight in all stages of the game, and potentially replacing it with one of the many other cheap interaction pieces available in the format (E.G. Spell Pierce)

That’s All for Now!

Thanks so much for reading my thoughts on Neoform in Pioneer! If you made it this far, you must be just as excited as I am! Please feel free to show your support + leave a comment down below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this archetype and I look forward to seeing where it can go. I hope you enjoy the rest of spoiler season and don’t forget — you can find all the singles you need for this sweet brew at FusionGamingOnline.com

Until next time,

Ryan “GR_DONKIN”

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