The 32 Explorer decklists submitted for Magic World Championship XXVIII feature many archetypes that everyone was expecting, such as Abzan Greasefang, Rakdos Sacrifice, Mono-Blue Spirits, Rakdos Midrange, and Azorius Control. Yet others were quite surprising—either because they use innovative combinations of cards or because they were not a major part of the recent competitive metagame previously.
Explorer is comprised of all Pioneer-legal cards on MTG Arena, and it's the format for the six World Championship rounds on Saturday October 29. In this article, I'll take a closer look at the seven spiciest Explorer decks submitted for the event.
Pro Tour champion and longtime commentator Simon Görtzen, who qualified for the World Championship by finishing in the Top 6 at the Innistrad Championship, brought a spicy brew with powerful synergies. Imagine the following start:
- Turn 2:
Cleansing Wildfireyour own Darksteel Citadelor Cascading Cataracts. As the lands are indestructible, Cleansing Wildfireeffectively becomes a red Rampant Growththat draws a card.
- Turn 3:
Fires of Invention, then Anger of the Godsto sweep the board.
- Turn 4: Using
Fires of Invention, cast Terror of the Peaksand Cavalier of Flames. Ping your opponent for six damage, activate Cavalier of Flames twice, and attack for lethal.
The deck also features
Although I had seen similar-looking Mono-Red Ramp decks before in the similar Pioneer format, Görtzen's embrace of
Drew Baker, who qualified for the World Championship via the Challenger leaderboard, also brought a Karn deck. He and Görtzen are the only players to bring the planeswalker, and this may prove to be a good metagame choice. Abzan Greasefang is the most-played Explorer deck at the World Championship, and preventing
Baker's list is more of a midrange deck with cheap interaction and a lot of grinding potential. Nearly every creature has an enters-the-battlefield ability, and the only creature that doesn't—
The various enters-the-battlefield abilities can also be reused via
Although similar-looking Boros Mirange or Azorius Mirange decks lists have seen fringe play in Pioneer recently, Baker's card choices in Explorer and his preference for Orzhov are relatively novel. I like his inclusion of
The team of Simon Nielsen, Matti Kuisma, Karl Sarap, and Julian Wellman all brought Temur
The game plan can be described via a simple five-step process:
- Create a creature token via
Careful Cultivation, Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, Shark Typhoon, or Esika's Chariot. Stealing a creature with The Akroan Waralso works.
- Target this creature with
Transmogrifyor Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast's -2 ability.
- Since the only creature card in this deck is
Titan of Industry, you're guaranteed to put one onto the battlefield.
- If your opponent hasn't succumbed to the first 7/7 Elemental, then just make more! For the best results, copy your Titan with
Reflection of Kiki-Jikior blink it with your companion Yorion, Sky Nomad.
Theoretically, step 3 could go wrong if you drew all three copies of
The sideboard has some spice as well. For example, if
Hisamichi Yoshigoe, who qualified for the World Championship by finishing in the Top 6 at the New Capenna Championship, also plans for a turn-four
The upside is that you can cast it for values of X larger than 1, thereby putting multiple Titans onto the battlefield in one go. To enable this, you need cards that create multiple tokens.
Yoshigoe's deck splashes black for
Yimin Zhi, who qualified for the World Championship via his Top 6 at the New Capenna Championship, brought an
Zhi's build innovates on the more commonly seen builds in four ways:
- Only four colors: Whereas stock builds would use
Trial of Ambitionas cheap interaction along with a handful of black creatures, the mana requirements to run all five colors were enormous. Zhi cut all the black spells from the main deck and instead uses Omen of the Forgeas his two-mana interactive enchantment.
- Additional ramp: Zhi uses
Wolfwillow Havenand Jukai Naturalistto cast key enchantments, such as Fires of Inventionand Engimatic Incarnation, as early as turn three. Both two-mana ramp cards are enchantments, so they can be sacrificed to Enigmatic Incarnationas well.
- Omnath and fetch lands:
Omnath, Locus of Creationis an extremely powerful card, especially when Fabled Passageenables multiple triggers per turn. Since the deck already has at least 22 sources of each color, counting Fabled Passageand Urban Utopiaas full sources for expositional ease, it should be easy to cast Omnath consistently on curve. Omnath is also an excellent follow-up to Fires of Inventionand can be blinked with the companion Yorion, Sky Nomad.
- More Pathways than shock lands: I could spend an entire day on the mana base of this deck, but Zhi deviates from stock lists by playing a large number of Pathways and a small number of shock lands. This means that he'll take fewer damage from his lands than five-color builds, which improves his matchup against aggro decks.
Judai Miyano qualified for the World Championship by taking
I have faced Selesnya Angels a few times before in Explorer, so Miyano's deck is arguably the least “spicy” deck in this article. Still, as the only tribal player in the field, he deserves some recognition.
The game plan of Selesnya Angels is to use various life gain creatures to enable
Hall of Famer Shota Yasooka, who qualified for the World Championship via the League leaderboard, is one of the most renowned players and deck builders of all time. When I was playing Pro Tours, the first question on many players' minds as decklists were unveiled was: "What is Shota playing?” So when he effectively tells everyone that the stock build of the most-played archetype in Explorer is all wrong and that it doesn't even get the colors right, then we ought to pay attention.
Yasooka's tweak to Rakdos Midrange is to splash green for
Yasooka's sideboard has additional green cards in
The green splash comes at the cost of a slightly more painful mana base with slightly fewer untapped black sources for a turn-one
Magic World Championship XXVIII takes place October 28–30 and features Dominaria United Draft, Standard, and Explorer. The Explorer rounds are all played on Saturday October 29, and you can watch the impressive field duel it out beginning at 9 a.m. PT (6 p.m. CEST // 1 a.m. JST 10/29) live on twitch.tv/magic!