Pioneer Banlist: New Bans Revealed in December 2023

Here you’ll find all currently banned in Pioneer. Furthermore, you’ll discover information about the newest bans, which happened on December 4th, 2023. The format is about to be shaken up! Finally, there’s information about history and reasoning for the current Pioneer banlist.

Pioneer Banlist Update

Today was a great banlist update, with the following cards banned:

Karn the Great Creator

Karn the Great Creator Pioneer Bans 4 December 2023

First one is Karn, the Great Creator. This planeswalker was around for too long, disabling all sorts of artifacts and providing decks with all sorts of answers. It was mostly played in mono Green devotion decks, which were able to produce a ton of mana. The sideboard of that deck wasn’t a sideboard at all. It was a toolbox full of cards that one could fetch with Karn.

Need graveyard hate? Here’s . Missed a land drop? Go ahead and grab . Want to slow down an opponent? God-Pharaoh’s Statue can do the job, or you can make some board presence with Esika’s Chariot. With Karn you could find an answer for any situation.

In some scenarios, (typically involving Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner and some mana) Karn could just end the game. You grabbed The Chain Veil and Pestilent Cauldron and started a long a convoluted combo. Thus, Karn went to the chopping block.

Geological Appraiser

Geological Appraiser MTG Discover Rules MTG Pioneer Banlist December 2023

The second ban is Geological Appraiser, which flooded the Pioneer combo with turn 4 wins. The idea is that your only hits with discover are clone effects and Eldritch Evolution, which grabs a Trumpeting Carnosaur, which continues the process. Once you have enough creatures in play, you tutor for Doomskar Titan and swing for the win.

Who would’ve thought that new version of one of the most broken mechanics in the game (cascade) would be broken? Such combos really aren’t fun, when you’re on the receiving end, so it’s almost certain this four drop had to go.

Copter Unban

Smuggler's Copter Pioneer Unbans December 2023

Wizards also teased a single unban. Many players are speculating that a powerful colorless two drop, Smuggler’s Copter might return, and they were right! This is a great boost to aggressive decks, as it provides both cards selection and a good attacker, provided you have way to crew it.

Pioneer Banlist

Currently, there are 25 cards on the Pioneer banlist. You can find them in the following table, sorted from the newest to the oldest bans.

CardBan Date
Expressive Iteration2022-06-07
Winota, Joiner of Forces2022-06-07
Lurrus of the Dream-Den2022-03-07
Balustrade Spy2021-02-15
Teferi, Time Raveler2021-02-15
Undercity Informer2021-02-15
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath2021-02-15
Wilderness Reclamation2021-02-15
Inverter of Truth2020-08-03
Kethis, the Hidden Hand2020-08-03
Underworld Breach2020-08-03
Walking Ballista2020-08-03
Nexus of Fate2019-12-16
Oko, Thief of Crowns2019-12-16
Field of the Dead2019-12-02
Once Upon a Time2019-12-02
Smuggler’s Copter2019-12-02
Veil of Summer2019-11-11
Felidar Guardian2019-11-04
Leyline of Abundance2019-11-04
Bloodstained Mire2019-10-21
Flooded Strand2019-10-21
Polluted Delta2019-10-21
Windswept Heath2019-10-21
Wooded Foothills2019-10-21

Pioneer Banlist History & Reasons

In this section, you’ll find the history of all Pioneer bans, starting from the newest and moving to the oldest. Furthermore, reasons for each card being ban are also included.

December 4, 2023

With this B&R announcement Wizards banned 2 cards:

They also unbanned Smuggler’s Copter.

June 7, 2022


With this B&R announcement Wizards banned 2 cards:

When Expressive Iteration was first previewed, not many players realized it was so strong. However, it ended being heavily played in practically every format it was legal in. For two mana, you essentially drew two from the top three cards of your deck. This kind of efficiency was just to good for Pioneer.

The problem with Winota, Joiner of Forces was that it could create enormous board states as early as turn 3, with the help of Llanowar Elves and Elvish Mythic. If an opponent didn’t remove Winota on the turn it was played, it easily took over the game by providing free Tovolar’s Huntmaster and similar expensive Humans.

March 7, 2022

Lurrus of the Dream-Den

In March 2022 B&R announcement Wizards removed 1 card from Pioneer:

Lurrus was an incredibly strong card even after the companion nerf. While it wasn’t as prevalent in Pioneer than in some other formats, it was still powerful. It would become even more so, with the Pioneer’s card pool growing. Thus, Wizards decided to rip off the band aid, and remove it from the format.

February 15, 2021

Uro MTG Pioneer Banlist

With this B&R announcement Wizards banned 5 cards:

This ban announcement banned the most cards at once, after the initial ban announcement.

Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath was a card that simply did everything. Mana ramp, card draw, life gain, and a big creature, all packed into one. It wasn’t a big surprise when it final got hit by a ban hammer.

Teferi, Time Raveler was another card that overstayed its welcome. For three mana this planeswalker just did too much. Most of its power came from its bounce ability, while the static one also messed up plenty of decks.

One of such decks was one built around Wilderness Reclamation. If you were able to spend the mana on the turn you played it, it was essentially a zero-mana enchantment, that doubled all of your mana on the following turns. Without Teferi to keep it at least somewhat in check, that green enchantment had to go.

Finally, Balustrade Spy and Undercity Informer were both part of the same deck called Ooops! All Spells. Name comes from the fact that the deck didn’t play any cards with a front-faced lands, but only stuff like Tangled Florahedron. Thus, a single Spy or Informer would put your whole deck in the graveyard, which would trigger a bunch of other cards, like Narcomoeba and Prized Amalgam.

The deck had a concerning metagame share, relatively high win rate, and unfun play patters. Therefore, Wizard removed both enablers from the equation.

August 3, 2020

Walking Ballista

With the only B&R announcement in 2020 Wizards banned 4 cards:

Inverter of Truth could combo off with either Jace, Wielder of Mysteries or Thassa’s Oracle. So, instead of going for two cards. Wizards decided to just remove the one. In general, efficient two-card combos are typically a no-go in Pioneer.

Thus, Walking Ballista also got banned, as a part of a two-card combo with Heliod, Sun-Crowned.

Kethis, the Hidden Hand was a part of a complex combo deck, that could go off as early as turn 4. The turn it went off there were a lot of actions, and quite unfun to play against.

The final nail in the coffin for the combo decks was a Underworld Breach ban. Various convoluted combo decks were built around the card. Given that with this announcement Wizards really wanted Pioneer to move away from so many combo decks, it made sense to get rid of it.

December 16, 2019

Oko, Thief of Crowns MTG Pioneer Banlist 2023 2024

At the end of 2018, Wizards banned 2 cards:

Oko, Thief of Crowns is most likely the strongest planeswalker ever printed. It costs just three mana, comes with an absurdly high loyalty, as well as two plus abilities. You can use its ultimate on the following turn. It’s second ability can deal with opponent’s stuff. No one was surprised when it was hit by a ban hammer.

While less powerful, Nexus of Fate was also problematic. It was an instant speed extra turn spell, which is rarely seen. Plus, the shuffle clause was actually an upside. The longer the game went, the better chances there were of drawing another one, and start to chain them together. At this time, Wilderness Reclamation was still legal, which further boosted this card’s power. A big reason for this ban were the unfun play patterns.

This was the final of the initial Pioneer bans. Two months after the format’s creation, Pioneer banlist was finally stable.

December 2, 2019

Heart of Kiran Kaladesh Remastered Spoilers

With this B&R announcement Wizards banned 3 cards:

Smuggler’s Copter was a powerful two mana card that fit into any aggressive archetype. It was mostly banned in order to allow more distinctions among different aggro decks.

Once Upon a Time was played in every green deck. The fact that you could cast it for free allowed you to keep a wider range of hands, and made green decks more consistent. Even paying two mana wasn’t that bad.

Field of the Dead was a low opportunity cost for ramp decks to completely dominate any control or reactive strategies. All you needed to do was play a tap land, and use a varied mana base.

November 11, 2019

Veil of Summer MTG Pioneer Banlist 2023 2024

Only 1 card was banned this time around:

In 2019, summer lasted until the mid November. This one mana card was played in practically every green deck. While it really hosed anyone playing blue and black, it wasn’t a dead card in other matchups, as hexproof is useful. At just one mana, the rate was too good.

November 4, 2019

Felidar Guardian Pioneer Banlist

This was the first B&R announcement after the creation of the format, and Wizards banned 2 cards:

Felidar Guardian was a two card combo, with the other piece being Saheeli Rai. Infinite hasty cats were too good for Pioneer, so the cat had to go. Saheeli is still legal, as there was no need to ban both pieces of the combo.

Mono green took advantage of Leyline of Abundance for some explosive starts. Llanowar Elves and Elvish Mystic tapped for two mana, while Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx got two additional devotion. The free enchantment was inherently broken so it had to go.

October 21, 2019

Wooded Foothills MTG Fetch Lands Pioneer Banlist

With this announcement Wizards announced the Pioneer format and banned 5 cards:

As you can see, Wizards banned fetch lands on the day they announced Pioneer. Therefore, they were never legal in the format. The reason was to avoid to good mana bases that these provide in the combination with shock lands. This was a big difference between Pioneer and Modern.

While Wizards realized that the format will need further bans, they stated that they’ll make them a bit later, in the first few months. This way, they got more internal data, that allowed for better decisions.


What are your opinions about the Pioneer banlist? Is there something that should be unbanned? Perhaps, there’s a card that you’d like to see added to the list? Whichever the case, let us know in the comments below.

If you’re looking for more Magic content, here are some articles that might be interesting to you:

Until next time, have fun, and enjoy playing Magic!

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