Explorer: About Bans and What to Expect
Winota, Joiner of Forces and Tibalt's Trickery were banned from Explorer. What does this mean for the future of the format and its correlation with Pioneer?Edit Article
Explorer, which removed the following cards from the format:
About the Bans
temporary until Explorer fully becomes Pioneer in Magic Arena.
Pioneeris or isn't healthy for the Metagame. I think Explorer will be a healthier place without the former best deck in the format today because the clock imposed by it was simply too complicated to counter-interact playing Aggro or to hold efficiently when looking to play fair against your opponents. There simply wasn't a world where a fair deck in Explorer could easily compete against Naya Winota, and it was impossible to play under it when Prosperous Innkeeper and several efficient blockers prevented the player from attacking and setting a swift clock. You can check out my Deck Guide if you want to understand better how the list operated (and get an idea of how to pilot it on Pioneer, where it is still legal), but we need to emphasize the emerging and recurring problem of recent years and how this strategy fits into that question.
Hybrid Combo decks will always break formats.When we think of Combo lists, we usually consider the following possibilities: A) A list that has a sequence of pieces to fit the combo and requires many maindeck slots to do so, as in the case of Jeskai Ascendancy and Lotus Combo in Pioneer (both still absent in Explorer due to the lack of certain key-pieces).
ifbecause she is, fundamentally, a broken card. This spectrum becomes even more problematic in the other category,
Combo-Control, which allows the player to manipulate the course of the match through efficient disruptions and a strong card selection, covering the weakness that Control lists often have - needing too much time to finish the opponent off, exactly where faster archetypes can prey on it. A combo wincondition can easily end the game as early as turn 5, as was the case with Dimir Inverter, establishing a very adaptable archetype to the Metagame which forces the rest of the format to play around it in more ways than it should. The thing is, in the current scenario and as we've seen in the past with archetypes like Splinter Twin, any combo that finds a consistent base that supports it while being able to play a fair game and where some combo piece isn't horrible on their own and/or don't take a millennium to work, which is why a combo like Crackling Drake with Kazuul's Fury isn't exactly a Tier 1, it will break a competitive format if there are no counterweights to balance things out.
The Post-Ban Explorer
Mardu/Esper Greasefang is the most absurd thing you can do nowGreasefang, Okiba Boss and Parhelion II combo are your best bet. Greasefang lists work similarly to Winota lists (although less explosive and being forced to use a bad card to create a good combo), but operate in the disruptive Midrange or Combo-Control category rather than having a more proactive plan, allowing for greater interactions and less focus on needing to respond to individual cards or combo more confidently than when pressured by an aggressive backup. That said, since it's the next absurd thing to do in Explorer, I recommend respecting this combo with answers like Rest in Peace or Unlicensed Hearse, and maybe even some useful artifact hate on the maindeck like Kolaghan's Command. I've been playing Mardu Greasefang since the Metagame Challenge, so you can expect a Deck Guide soon.
Fair Aggro looks better but still lacks good Pioneer cardsMonastery Swiftspear, Mausoleum Wanderer, some humans, Elvish Mystic, among others, and this could hinder the development of this category until the next Historic Anthology comes out.
Control can now focus less on early game
Winota's absence favors Midrange
Izzet Phoenix will have more space to shineThing in the Ice becomes less essential and Izzet Phoenix can prevail even without this piece, in particular due to the inclusion of the Streets of New Capenna sleeper, Ledger Shredder.