Welcome to the Explorer Power Rankings! Explorer doesn’t have quite as robust a tournament scene as some other formats, so for these Rankings, I leaned more heavily than usual on my own experiences and the chatter I hear from other players.
Honorable mention to Enigmatic Incarnation and Niv-Mizzet, which picked up a huge new weapon in Leyline Binding. These decks doesn’t have the numbers, either in tournaments or on the Arena ladder, to be included in the Rankings. However, I suspect they might have been the biggest winners from Dominaria United.
10. Azorius Control
Azorius Control is popular, but while it’s a good deck, my experience has been that control is rather poorly positioned right now. The black and red midrange decks have so many good weapons against you after sideboarding, including annoying threats like Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and Graveyard Trespasser, plus tons of planeswalkers, which Azorius has a difficult time answering.
Azorius Control has a 50.9 percent win rate from Bronze to Mythic on the MTG Arena ladder, which is okay, but is also the lowest of any deck on the Rankings this week.
Humans is a white-based, tribal creature deck that’s fast, disruptive and highly punishing. It can come in the form of a streamlined white weenie deck, or it can tap into green (possibly even a third color!) for the extra power of Collected Company.
In any form, Humans is a powerful deck that can deliver quick wins while throwing the opponent off with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Elite Spellbinder and the new Anointed Peacekeeper. It can make a good entry point into the format, and can succeed at any level of competition.
Sacrifice is a top strategy in Explorer, and I know that Martin Juza is a big fan of the Jund Food version in particular. In addition to all of the normal synergies, it gets to top off at Korvold, Fae-Cursed King, which is powerful enough to win any game where it goes unanswered. Jund Sacrifice is resilient to graveyard hate, and has excellent sideboard options.
I’m extremely impressed by the card quality within the color red. I feel that Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, Goblin Chainwhirler, Bonecrusher Giant, Chandra, Torch of Defiance and the new Jaya, Fiery Negotiator are among the strongest cards in the format in an objective sense. Mono-Red additionally taps into Kumano Faces Kakkazan, Burning-Tree Emissary and Embercleave, which are amazing in the aggro shell, and make for some of the most busted draws available in the format.
Mono-Red Aggro has a 56.6 percent win rate from Bronze to Mythic.
The goal is to use Greasefang, Okiba Boss to reanimate Parhelion II (sometimes other vehicles as well). Whether it comes in Abzan, Esper or Mardu colors, the rest of the deck is built to fill the graveyard and support this combo.
Greasefang improved from the #8 position up to #6 for this installment. The biggest reason: Liliana of the Veil. Lilly is a great card that allows the Greasefang combo deck to set up its graveyard, and also contributes to the midrange backup plan both before and after sideboarding.
Abzan Greasefang has a 58.8 percent win rate from Bronze to Mythic, which is the second highest of any archetype.
5. Combo – Indomitable Creativity, Transmogrify, & Fires of Invention
I’m casting a wide net here, but there are a number of quality combo decks that span the blue and red colors, and the lines between them can often blur.
Indomitable Creativity can deliver up multiple Agents of Treachery, or perhaps Torrential Gearhulk to pair with Sublime Epiphany and Magma Opus. Fires of Invention lets you get ahead on mana and cheat out big spells. Since the X spell won’t work with Fires, you might use Transmogrify or Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast if you want to have both combos at the same time!
These decks enjoy a good amount of flexibility in how it’s built. They have the right mix of powerful combo elements, but also the ability to play a normal game with card drawing and removal spells.
4. Rakdos Sacrifice
Rakdos Sacrifice is a deck I’ve personally liked a lot. It has all of the good qualities of Jund Food, but with a streamlined, consistent mana base. It maximizes strong curves into either Mayhem Devil or Ob Nixilis, the Adversary on the third turn of the game.
Rakdos Sacrifice has a 56.9 percent win rate on the ladder.
Mono-Green is a consistent and punishing aggro deck. With the recent Explorer Anthology set, it now gains access to the full eight mana Elves, and cards like Old-Growth Troll and Steel Leaf Champion are absolutely deadly when played on the second turn of the game.
Mono-Green Stompy has an impressive 56.7 percent win rate on the ladder.
2. Mono-Blue & Azorius Spirits
Spirits are cheap, evasive, and pair well with Curious Obsession and permission spells to back them up. This archetype even picked up Combat Research from Dominaria United. It’s not as good as Curious Obsession, but having more than four of this important effect allows you to have your best openings more often, and to run away with games.
Mono-Blue is the more popular and streamlined version, but I also saw one player winning with an Azorius version that added white for Empyrean Eagle and some other sweet tools across the main deck and the sideboard.
Mono-Blue Spirits has a 64.2 percent win rate from Bronze to Mythic, which is the highest of any deck by an absolutely massive margin. The sample size isn’t huge – just 17 decks and 1800 matches – but I think this number really says something.
In the #1 position again for this installment, we have plain, simple Rakdos Midrange. While Mono-Blue made a good run at the title with its high ladder win rate, Rakdos Midrange has been utterly dominant in the tournament scene. It’s no surprise, since it picked up Liliana of the Veil and is also one of the most successful decks in Pioneer.
It may lack the synergies of Rakdos and Jund Sacrifice, but this deck has the highest individual card quality in the format, with resilient threats, card advantage, removal and discard. It’s able to tailor itself perfectly for any matchup after sideboarding. I haven’t yet found a major weakness for this deck.
Rakdos Midrange has a 57.2 percent win rate on the ladder – a number which I believe is slightly dragged down by the deck’s high volume of play.