Everything You Need to Know About Explorer – Deep Dive

The Arena Championship Qualifier is just around the corner so I thought it would be a good idea to write a bit of a summary about the Explorer format and show you how all the top deck lists look like and what are their strengths and weaknesses. 




Header - The Expressive Iteration Ban

Expressive Iteration

How did the Expressive Iteration ban change the format? Honestly, not much. It was maybe the 100th most played card, so all it did was make Izzet Phoenix a lot worse, which was just a perfectly fine deck in the format. Jeskai Control wasn’t much of a player because Lightning Helix is not in the format. I haven’t really seen much Grixis either and when I have, they usually ran Tainted Indulgence instead. 


Header - Best-of-One vs Best-of-Three

Let me start with addressing both formats. At this time, the metagame in both formats is extremely diverse. There are 15 to 20 decent decks I can easily imagine queuing into on any given day. The format is still very much unexplored, so you can have good results with almost anything if you tune your lists well. 

There are some decks which are better in Best-of-Three, usually those that have strong sideboard options. Rakdos Midrange is the perfect example of a deck that can have some bad Game 1 matchups like Azorius Control where all their removal is dead, but can always fix it after sideboard by bringing in cards like Duress or more planeswalkers. 

On the other hand, there are some decks that don’t improve much after sideboard, mostly because they are either relying on a lot of tribal synergies or they just don’t have a great sideboard to begin with. Selesnya Angels is the perfect example of a deck that I would much rather queue in Best-of-One than Best-of-Three. 

At this moment, my top five Power Rankings for each format would be something like this, though keep in mind that most decks are very close in power level, so the difference is very small and everything can change overnight if one deck crushes a tournament. 


  1. Mardu Greasefang
  2. Rakdos Midrange 
  3. Four-Color Elementals 
  4. Selesnya Angels
  5. Mono-Red Aggro
  6. Mono-Blue Tempo


  1. Mardu Greasefang
  2. Rakdos Midrange
  3. Monored Aggro
  4. Azorius Control
  5. Jund Food
  6. Four-Color Elementals

Now let’s take a look at what the most played and most successful decks at the moment look like. 


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5 thoughts on “Everything You Need to Know About Explorer – Deep Dive”

  1. Nicholas Morano

    Maybe its my place on the ladder but I run into a lot of big green with nissa and cavalier of thorns. Any thoughts on a deck with that core?

  2. Yea I sometimes queue into these Green Devotion decks as well, but in my opinion if you are going to run a deck with no instant speed interaction for greasefang, it is better to run 4c Elementals. it does basically the same thing as monogreen deviotion, but better.

  3. Nicholas Morano

    Ya I only mention it bc I play your build of rakdos a lot and the removal matches up pretty poorly vs planeswalkers and creatures with toughness greater than 4. I always think “gah why are you playing this deck” but its enough for me to consider a few copies of noxious grasp in the sb lol.

  4. Nicholas Morano

    Nissa is particularly troublesome bc it makes its own blockers and is especially troublesome when the lands are indestructible.

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