Magic: The Gathering has been adding new formats and variants within those formats ever since it was initially established. At the time of writing, the newest format introduced to the game is Explorer. Explorer is a MTG Arena-only, non-rotating 60+-card Constructed format. Explorer uses a seven-card sideboard in Best-of-One and a full 15 card sideboard in Best-of-Three matches. It is designed to bridge the gap between the current card pool and the eventual full release of Pioneer on the digital client. Pioneer features all cards that have been released from Return to Ravnica up to the newest set, and Explorer features the same cards with a simple caveat: it contains only cards released on Arena itself.
Eventually, Explorer should perfectly mirror the paper Pioneer, but that will be done through a slow drip of supplemental set releases. Right now, Explorer contains cards from Ixalan to current Standard, as well as assorted cards from previous supplemental anthology releases. Digital-only cards are not legal in Explorer, giving it the distinction of being one of the only formats in Arena that most closely mirrors the experience of playing paper Magic.
While some players worry that Explorer is an incomplete format, it has a wide range of advantages that make it a recommendable format to get into. First and foremost, it’s a non-rotating format, so anything you spend wildcards on in the format will always be playable (excepting bans, which should result in wildcard refunds anyway). You can invest in the format with relative safety, and once you have a playable deck, that deck will always be available to play.
Similarly, the format is designed to be true-to-paper, so you don’t have to fret over the digital-only nerfs and errata that have plagued the Alchemy and Historic formats. The ban hammer may be a threat, but you don’t have to worry about your deck suddenly becoming unplayable with a swift smack of the nerf bat. For many, that’s more than enough to warrant consideration.
Since many of the key cards of Pioneer are still missing from the Arena client, now is the time to start experimenting with fresh brews and unique builds of your own. Many competitive decks are already flourishing, but with the format being entirely new there are all kinds of opportunities for variance and testing. We recommend you load up your Arena today and start exploring your collection for the right deck in this fantastic, new format.
Want to learn more about Explorer? Check out CFB’s Pioneer/Explorer content!