Just recently, WotC announced bans that Winota, Joiner of Forces and Tibalt’s Trickery are both banned in Explorer, MTG Arena’s new Pioneer-style format. However, one of Explorer’s best decks was left untouched and is now poised to take over the metagame. Say hello to Greasefang Combo!
Explorer Greasefang Combo by Martin Juza
- Turn 1: Stitcher’s Supplier
- Turn 2: Deadly Dispute, sacrificing the Supplier, milling Parhelion in the process and making a Treasure
- Turn 3: Thoughtseize the opponent to make sure they don’t have an answer and play Greasefang, using the Treasure for the extra mana. Bring back Parhelion, crew it with Greasefang, attack for 13 and pass the turn with two 4/4 Angels.
- Turn 1: Thoughtseize the opponent
- Turn 2: Thrilling Discovery, discarding Parhelion
- Turn 3: Greasefang
I believe that Greasefang Combo is the best deck in Explorer at this time. Here’s why:
- Thoughtseize is the best card in the format. It protects your own combo by taking answers from your opponent’s hand. It disrupts their own game plan for only one mana, which you will appreciate mostly in the mirror. Lastly, you can also use it to target yourself in case you need to get Parhelion from your hand to your graveyard!
- Lightning Axe is the perfect removal spell for this deck. It kills opposing Greasefangs for one-mana at instant speed and helps you get Parhelion into your graveyard. I have seen a lot of lists with Fatal Push instead, but don’t make the same mistake. This deck isn’t that great at activating revolt and you really don’t want to die with a removal spell in hand that you couldn’t cast.
- Your combo is very fast and resilient. You can easily go off on turn three with Thoughtseize protection and thanks to all the card filtering, you do a good job fighting through disruption from your opponent. If you mill both Greasefang and Parhelion with your turn one Supplier’s trigger, you can actually already go off on turn two with Can’t Stay Away on the Greasefang!
In my opinion, these are the uncuttable cards for now – the two combo pieces, best disruption spell and best removal. Don’t cut any of those.
I don’t think this deck necessarily needs these, but there just doesn’t seem to be anything obviously better. In Historic, you have access to Faithless Looting and Goblin Engineer, which make it a lot easier to get Parhelion in your graveyard, but unfortunately neither are legal in Explorer. Stitcher’s Supplier and Voldaren Epicure are less reliable, but at least they only cost one mana and both work well with Deadly Dispute.
I just added the third copy and I feel like this card can easily be a four-of because I am always happy to draw it in my opening hand. The only issue I have is once I start adding too many cards like that, I have to start cutting from the Supplier, Epicure, Dispute pile. But the less “enablers” you have for Dispute, the worse it gets and so on, so I feel like at that point you might have to cut all three cards just so you wouldn’t run into problems of not having anything to sacrifice to your Dispute too often. It’s a tough balance to make, but for now I am happy with three copies.
I’ve been really liking a couple of these in the main deck. Sometimes you just mill a Greasefang with Supplier’s trigger and it allows you to bring it back for two mana. It also allows you to grind through a lot of removal. Make sure you board it out against decks with a lot of graveyard hate though.
Pretty much every list I see of this deck is running one Skysovereign, but I don’t think this card is actually all that great. I’ve been running it for a while myself just to see if it really deserves a spot, but my personal takeaway is a clear no. The difference between bringing back and attacking with a Parhelion for 13 and making two Angels and attacking for six with Skysovereign and then getting nothing out of it when it leaves play is like night and day. There are more impactful cards you can play instead.
This card has quietly been the biggest banger from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. The token from the first chapter lets you get a bit ahead on mana so you can double spell more easily. The second chapter lets you find Parhelion and put it into the graveyard. I cut the Bloodtithe Harvesters from this deck because I don’t think you want to make it too midrangey, but they would be good in combination with the Reflection if the format becomes more about midrange creature decks.
Don’t run less than eight “fastlands.” They’re the perfect lands for this deck. They don’t cost you any life to put it into play untapped and you need exactly three to go off. If one of your combo pieces cost four mana, then the fourth land coming into play tapped too often could cause a lot of trouble, but that’s not the case here.
Kroxa is the perfect card against grindy control decks that are going to go after your combo with excessive removal or counters. You do a good job of filling your graveyard quickly, and combined with Thoughtseize, it can quickly take their hand apart.
The only issue I have with Kroxa moving forward is that it’s another card that relies on your graveyard. With the format settling down a bit with more decks like Phoenix and Winota gone, you’ll probably start seeing more graveyard hate cards like Rest in Peace or Unlicensed Hearse. For now, I haven’t really been playing against any, but when that happens, you will need to find a plan that either gets rid of those cards (Feed the Swarm for RIP, Abrade for Hearse, more Duress) or perhaps find a transformational sideboard which cuts Greasefang and Parhelion and boards into something like planeswalkers instead.
I like Ray as a sideboard removal spell because it kills Greasefang for just one mana, but it also killed the mana creatures from Winota like Llanowar Elves if you wanted to stop them from developing too quickly when the deck was legal.