May 18, 2022

4 Best Pioneer Decks to Play in the MTG Arena Explorer Format

The explorer is Magic: The Gathering‘s new format and is the first step towards magic arena support Pioneer. The format is supported on Magicdigital client from and includes all Pioneer legal maps on magic arena. The explorer pulls out the Arena April 28. It follows the Pioneer ban list. History was Arenabut since Alchemy’s introduction in late 2021, it’s been affected by rebalancing and digital-only cards.

The players asked for a format on Arena this is true to paper and is unaffected by digital maps or rebalancing. Pioneer is a format that Wizards of the Coast planned to include in Arenabut never took active steps to support the format.

It is now confirmed that Pioneer will come to Arena and should be fully supported in the next few years. During Summer 2022, the next release of Historic Anthology will primarily include maps for Explorer that will flesh out the format and support many established Pioneer archetypes.

Some pioneer lists do not work in Explorer with the current map pool. Lotus Field Combo does not have access to Hidden Strings or Pore Over The Pages. Spirits lacks Spell Queller and Rattlechains. The explosive newcomer Mono-Green Devotion does not have access to Nykthos, Sanctuary of Nyx.

Although some decks are missing cards, there are many established Pioneer archetypes that are playable in Explorer with little to no changes. Here are four decks from the recent Pioneer Challenge on April 17 that can be used in Explorer.

Sacrifice Jund

Anyone who has played Historic or Pioneer knows the Cat Oven combo intimately. Using Cauldron’s Familiar and Witch’s Oven is the bread and butter loop of this deck which is further supported by powerful creatures like Korvold, Fae-Cursed King, and Mayhem Devil.

Jund Sacrifice has the potential to end a game quickly by transforming into a Mayhem Demon and stacking damaging effects with Cauldron’s Familiar and The Meathook Massacre. However, these pieces are also incredible cards in a long and grindy match. This is an archetype set up to be at the top of the Explorer meta.

This Jund Sacrifice deck was raced by NightKnight131 for a 12th place finish. The list has been adjusted in the sideboard to make it legal for the explorer. The sideboard had two copies of Stormbreath Dragon as technology against checklists. He’s been replaced by two Priests of the Forgotten Gods to fulfill a similar late-game combat role.

U/W control

Pioneer’s top two consensus decks barely drop coins in Explorer. Leveraging a devastating suppression package that includes Farewell and March of Otherworldly Light with a robust counterspell suite, U/W Control can handle anything the opponent throws at it.

Once the battlefield is locked, the Shark Typhoon, The Wandering Emperor and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria tokens end the game. It’s a tough deck to defeat and is only controlled by Winota Midrange’s aggressive lists.

This is the version of U/W Control Tunaktunak flown to victory in the Pioneer Challenge. The list is intact with only one change. The two Supreme Verdict from the original list have been replaced by two Depopulate. Once Supreme Verdict is finally added to Magic Arena, it can be replaced, but for now, Depopulate is a solid choice. Shatter the Sky is another option. It really comes down to a metagame decision. You want your opponent to rarely draw a card.

If the meta is filled with multicolored creatures, run Shatter the Sky. If beefy four-powered creatures are present in most decks, Depopulate might be the best option.

U/W Control is a top archetype in Pioneer and should be on a similar level in Explorer.

Sacrifice of Rakdos

Rakdos Sacrifice is another grumpy deck that uses the Cat Oven combo to consistently hit the opponent’s life total. What sets Rakdos Sacrifice apart from other variants is its reliance on Oni-Cult Anvil. The powerful artifact of Kamigawa: The Neon Dynasty combos with Experimental Synthesizer to form a powerful card advantage engine that keeps the deck from running out of gas.

The deck gains a lot from Streets of New Capenna, more than most archetypes. With Casualty being such a key mechanic in New CapennaRakdos has access to many new sacrifice tools and gains.

Ob Nixilis, the Adversary is the biggest piece won by this deck. It’s a three-mana planeswalker that enters with a copy when you sacrifice a creature to its loss ability. During early access events, Ob Nixilis proved to be a breakthrough card. It generates tokens and attacks the opponent’s resources by forcing them to discard a card or lose life points.

Experimenting with Ob Nixilis is Rakdos Sacrifice shells. It could become the best spell of the archetype.

This Rakdos Sacrifice deck was led by Maladie_boy138 for a 7th place in the Pioneer Challenge. The only adjustment to this list to make it legal for explorers is to replace an Urborg, Tomb of Yaugzebul with a Takenume, Abandoned Mire.

Mardu Greasefang

The new Pioneer landscape deck is a vehicle-based mid-range roster centered around Greasefang, Okiba Boss of neon dynasty. It works as a revival strategy to loop Parhelion II and other expensive graveyard vehicles using Greasefang’s ability.

Once the combo is launched, the deck is hard to beat. It struggles against decks that can consistently remove Greasefang or disrupt the graveyard. As the archetype evolved, the lists began to feature good late game creatures like Kroxa, TItan of Death’s Hunger to give themselves another win condition.

Damping the sphere in the sideboard may not be the best option. This is pure metagame reading. In the Pioneer list, Damping Sphere is there to counter Lotus Field Combo and Izzet Phoneix hard. Izzet Phoneix will be strong in Explorer, but it’s likely that Lotus Field Combo won’t exist in the format outside of fringe beers. This means that the buffet’s two damping spheres can be considered flexible locations that can be changed within days of Explorer’s release.

This list Mardu Greasefang was led by SanPop to a 31st place finish in the Pioneer Challenge. Mardu Greasefang uses almost entirely the maps available on Arena, which means that the core of the strategy does not require any adjustment. To make the Explorer decklist legal, an Urborg, Tomb of Yaugzebul was replaced with an additional copy of Takenuma, Abandoned Mire.


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