Mono-Red Aggro in Explorer – Deck Guide

Mono-Red Aggro is one of the top-tier decks in Pioneer. In fact, in the last tabletop premier event that I played in, back in 2020, I made a deep finish with Mono-Red in Pioneer and wrote a Deck Guide on my version at that time. Since then, I’ve found success with the archetype in various formats. Today, I’ll explore the archetype in Explorer – essentially Pioneer lite on MTG Arena.

Over the past two years, several new cards have been released, including Den of the Bugbear, Kumano Faces Kakkazan, Play with Fire, Spikefield Hazard and Chandra, Dressed to Kill. The typical Pioneer version has become more burn-heavy as a result, which makes sense. It’s also possible to build a burn-heavy Mono-Red Aggro deck in Explorer – Martin Juza already wrote a Deck Guide on a Wizard’s Lightning build a few days ago – but it doesn’t feel as coherent to me without Monastery Swiftspear and Eidolon of the Great Revel. These red creatures are cornerstones of the Pioneer build, but they’re not legal in Explorer. Without them, a burn-heavy version does not feel as powerful to me. Instead, I believe that an Embercleave version is currently superior in Explorer.

Here’s my latest build.




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6 thoughts on “Mono-Red Aggro in Explorer – Deck Guide”

  1. Great article, a lot of solid information! I could see how it might get little confusing for some, though: In the meat of the article there are several times that you reference Pioneer, when I believe the intent was to reference Explorer. Small potatoes, but I thought it might help!

    Thank you for this well written article.

  2. György Szabolcs

    How bad is the Angels matchup? Going by our ladder match ~2 days ago I would say very, but that’s a single result so statistically it’s not relevant.

  3. Thanks for reading! I believe that every time I reference Pioneer, I actually do mean Pioneer, with the aim of comparing it to the very similar Explorer format. Sorry if that got a bit confusing.

  4. The Angels matchup is probably unfavorable, but not terrible: I’m currently 2-2 against Selesnya Angels. You can’t beat them if they assemble all their synergies in the late game, but they don’t have good answers to Embercleave or Torbran in the mid-game, and you can delay them with removal post-board. As we’re not a burn deck, their lifegain is largely irrelevant cause we’re dealing damage in massive increments with Anax/Cleave/Torbran.

  5. Hey I loved this! Was wondering where you felt Bomat Courier ranked on the list of one drops you mentioned.

  6. I would peg Bomat Courier as the worst option for this deck. In a list without Anax or Torbran and with a bunch of red burn spells to clear the way, it would be different, but Bomat Courier doesn’t look synergistic for this build.

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