Explorer is a format that is growing and has a lot of space for any types of decks right now. However, Arena is a platform that doesn't make it easy to access these many decks, making it necessary to be careful when choosing what to build. In case you want to know more details about Arena's formats, check out this guide!
Here in this article I intend to show 5 decks which are competitive and have a reasonable wild cards cost. Besides that, between these two criteria, I will try to diversify the decks' archetypes.
It's important to highlight that the focus here is best of 3. I consider the sideboard a very essential aspect of the game, so I know very little of the best-of-1 formats.
Mono Green Devotion - Ramp/Combo
Mono Green Devotion is a deck that uses the land Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to do what green likes doing best: playing gigantic spells.
The use of this land alongside Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner or Nissa, Who Shakes the World provides access to a significant amount of mana, after playing high-power cards with a low mana cost, but a lot of green in their cost, in the first few turns of the match. Even if you can't use this combination, this deck is very resilient, as it counts with efficient cards both to play aggressively, such as Old-Growth Troll, and cards meant for a longer match, such as Karn, the Great Creator.
Thanks to Karn and its second activated ability, it is possible to have a varied sideboard to deal with a not so homogeneous metagame.
Haywire Mite deals with more aggressive decks by gaining health, but it mostly exiles problematic artifacts and enchantments. Pithing Needle is to deal with planeswalkers, mostly. The Great Henge is to play against midrange. Well, you can be creative with artifacts.
Finally, there is a discussion regarding archetype. There are those who consider it Ramp/Big mana combo, and those who do not. Particularly, I'm in the group that does consider it, but I understand the argument to say it is its own archetype. The important thing is that this deck creates mana before the "expected" turn.
Mono Blue Spirits - Aggro/Tempo
Mono Blue Tempo is, without a question, the cheaper list of the format, using less than 30 rares, and being extremely easy to build. Besides that, it has a simple strategy to start, though it is hard to master, as it is common with the tempo archetype.
The deck is a spirit tribal. The idea is simple: playing your creatures in the first and second round and delaying your opponent or protecting yourself in the following turns.
Curious Obsession is an excellent aura, so you can keep a good number of cards in hand without losing your aggressiveness.
Keep in mind, you're not obligated to use Rattlechains defensively. Just that fact that it gives flash to your other creatures makes it very valuable.
That being said, it is a deck that varies game posture a lot depending on the opponent and the game state, so knowing the exact moment to use the creatures in your turn or in the opponent's turn is extremely important.
Rakdos Aristocrat - Midrange
This deck is quite synergistic and, in theory, has a very simple game plan. However, I would say this is the hardest deck to start piloting — but after you get the hang of it, it is completely worth it.
The idea is to use your creatures' sacrifice to create value while you deal small amounts of damage in every enemy turn with Mayhem Devil and Cauldron Familiar. Village Rites and Deadly Dispute are great sources of sacrifice and card draw, allowing your deck to not run out of breath.
Besides that, Rakdos colors allow a very flexible sideboard with plenty of tools to deal with the main threats of the game. Armed with global removal, artifact destruction, creature destruction, cards that deal with the enemy graveyard and a Companion, it is a deck that can face any opponent without being at a large disadvantage.
The mana base is extremely similar to Rakdos Midrange, one of the strongest decks in the format, but one of the most expensive ones too. For those who are just starting out, the intersection of cards in these decks can help a lot in the long run.
Mono White Humans – Aggro
With the arrival of Brave the Elements and Mutavault, the human tribal of the format is no longer a three-color deck and can get closer to the Pioneer version. It is a very simple list, really. Play many low-cost creatures, make everyone bigger with Thalia's Lieutenant and hit your opponent a lot.
This deck can be one of the strongest in the format because it is very fast and can even deal with the enemy tools. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is the best card to delay enemies that like to use non-creatures.
Brutal Cathar deals with problematic enemy creatures, whereas Hopeful Initiate frequently removes an inconvenient artifact or enchantment. Mutavault and Castle Ardenvale don't let this deck run out of breath after a global removal, taking care of the remaining health points.
And, of course, Brave the Elements is useful both for attack and defense, allowing you to ignore the enemy creatures or preventing some inconvenient spot removal (and once or twice deals with Anger of the Gods, though I don't find many of those).
Well, as the last deck of this article, I brought Azorius Control. I was hesitating if I should put this deck or another combo. The question arose because control decks tend to be terrible for those just starting out in a format, both for being hard to play and for being expensive.
However, I was missing a control deck and unarguably Mono Green Devotion is a combo, as it cheats out very expensive cards very early on. So, I opted to add in this list.
It is a versatile deck, as it has cards to deal with almost all matchups efficiently, having trouble only against Rakdos Midrange and Mono Red Aggro. The second one ends up not being a problem as it is very rare; however, the first one is very popular in the meta.
That being said, it is still a deck that is worth it only if you are prepared to dedicate yourself to it. Ever since this format existed, it is present in the metagame and I doubt it will leave it any time soon. This list has excellent spot removals such as March of Otherworldly Light and Portable Hole, global removals for all tastes such as Supreme Verdict, Farewell and Settle the Wreckage. And it even has great finishers with Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Shark Typhoon.
Explorer is a format with growth potential in Arena, but as it arrived "late", it is still not as popular as Historic. However, it has decks for all tastes and a metagame with many viable strategies. Versions of Greasefang, other aggro and control versions, many tribals.
Well, I hope this article encourages some people to start out in this format, as these are not expensive lists and are very efficient.
See you next time!
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