A brand new format (well sorta) is dropping on Arena tomorrow! Explorer is Arena‘s solution to the time needed to code Pioneer. Here is how it works: the format followers the same banned list as Pioneer (for now) and has all the legal cards for Pioneer that are already on Arena. As they work new anthologies and other products into the client, they will have all the new stuff ready to go. Meaning we will have a unique Pioneer light experience for a while. Also despite being an Arena only format for now, there will be NO card changes. Unlike Historic or Alchemy, your cards will never be pivoted to be different and will always mirror what they do in paper.
So what does that mean for you, the player? Well if you love Pioneer, you can play Pioneer light on Arena starting tomorrow as the format eventually works its way to full Pioneer. It also means we get a unique metagame. Explorer has decks that are almost completely untouched like Winota, which even has functional replacements.
It also means certain pressures and safeguards are not here, making Explorer an unique play experience. For example, Thing in the Ice is doing a lot of work in Pioneer to help keep decks like Winota in check. But that card isn’t on Arena yet. In lots of ways, we need to figure out new solutions to certain problems. This also opens the door for new innovation and decks to build. Thing in the Ice makes it really hard to play something like this in Pioneer–but might be great in Explorer!
So your interested in Explorer but you’re not sure what is legal in Pioneer but not in this format? Well do I have a list for you!
There are obviously many more cards missing (like the Pain Lands Cycle), but these are some of the biggest players currency not in the format. The format looks to be a little weak when answering lots of creatures at once, so that might be something worth exploring if you are a break-the-mold type of player.
If your looking for another deck similar to its Pioneer counterpart that is ready to go, then Jund Sacrifice will fill that role:
If your know the Historic format, this deck is also not much of a jump. Its very powerful and should help keep things like Winota or other creature decks down. You’re not really even loosing that much. While the Pioneer versions have often leaned on 8-mana elves and Bolas’s Citadel, the Explorer verison is a little more fair and grindy given the missing cards. It is totally possible that this deck ends up with Bolas’s Citadel again but Explorer is not Pioneer, so the big Citadel-powered finish just might not be needed in order to win.
That’s our brief run down of Explorer and what you can expect of the format. The format launches this Thursday (April 28) on Arena with the release of Streets of New Capenna. Make sure to check back for more Explorer content!
Mason Clark is a grinder in every corner of the game who has played at the pro level and on the SCG Tour with Team Nova. Whether he’s competing in Standard, Historic or Modern, Mason plays with one goal in mind: to be a better player than he was the day before. Check out his podcast, Constructed Criticism, and catch his streams on Twitch.