Tireless Tracker Art by Eric Deschamps

Explorer Anthology 1 Review and New Decks for Day 1

Hello everyone! Explorer Anthology 1 is available on MTG Arena starting July 28, 2022 along with Historic Anthology 6, and with it, 20 new cards to use for Explorer and 40 in Historic! This is one of the many supplementary products that are going to help turn Explorer into Pioneer eventually so it’s exciting that we’re starting with some real bangers! As a note before I hop right into it, some of the associated decklists may be for Historic rather than Explorer if the card works better there. Be sure to check out our Historic Anthology 6 review if you are interested:

Let’s dive in to surmise what cards are going to have a big impact and which will fall flat, along with decklists for you to try on day 1! As always, here’s the scale I’ll be using to label the new cards that potentially have constructed applications.

  • 0/5 – Unplayable in every sense.
  • 1/5 – Extremely niche play or very unlikely to see play.
  • 2/5 – Niche to no play, maybe playable in certain conditions.
  • 3/5 – Reasonable playable. Not format breaking, but has the power level to see play in some strategy (or strategies).
  • 4/5 – Very strong card, but not the best the format has to offer. Has the power level to see a lot of play.
  • 5/5 – The very top of the format. This card will create a huge impact going forward on the format.

Alesha, Who Smiles at Death

Considering this never saw play in Standard, I don’t like Alesha’s odds in Explorer or Historic. Seems like this is a Historic Brawl card more than anything. It’s slow, doesn’t do that much, and is a rather small body for nonrotating formats.

Rating: 1/5


Back to Nature

While this won’t do anything in Explorer, you could use this to meme on Selesnya Enchantments and technically Auras if you’re into that. This isn’t particularly good, but it’s nice to finally have this option.

Rating: 1.5/5


Battlewise Hoplite

I love this card. This is probably my favorite card I ever played in Standard. Unfortunately, there is a big disconnect in the threats that you get access to in Explorer. You do have Favored Hoplite and Battlewise Hoplite for Heroic, but nothing for Prowess and only Magecraft threats.

Since there aren’t too many good offensive Blue and White spells, I don’t think UW Heroic is going to be possible at the moment. Maybe one day.

Rating: 2/5


Darksteel Citadel

While we are still missing a good amount of pieces for a bona fide artifacts deck in Explorer, Azorius Affinity in Historic should be happy to have this. Usually this wouldn’t really be better than Treasure Vault, but in conjunction with Ensoul Artifact, this is a pretty nice pick up.

Rating: 2.5/5


Elvish Mystic

Now we’re talking! Llanowar Elves is an obscenely powerful card, but having access to 8 of them is a huge deal. Doubling the consistency of any deck that wants to play Llanowar Elves is going to make Green decks substantially better when they’ve been struggling to gain a foothold for a little while now. This is easily the most impactful card of either Anthology.

(E) Mono Green Devotion
by DoggertQBones
buy from TCGplayer $94.25
Explorer
best of 1
7 mythic
21 rare
5 uncommon
27 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Sorceries (5)
4
Cultivate
$3.96
Lands (22)
15
Forest
$3.75
1
The World Tree
$3.49
1
Hashep Oasis
$0.25
60 Cards
$352.8
7 Cards
$94.25

Rating: 4.5-5/5


Ensoul Artifact

Unlike Darksteel Citadel itself, Ensoul Artifact has some pretty solid applications in artifact decks. Being able to buff up artifact creatures or to get a 5/5 out of nowhere, it is a great card in a deck that’s dedicated to making it work.

(H) Azorius Affinity
by DoggertQBones
Historic
Artifacts
best of 1
0 mythic
27 rare
21 uncommon
12 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (16)
4
Ornithopter
$0.00
4
Esper Sentinel
$0.00
4
Ingenious Smith
$0.00
4
Thought Monitor
$0.00
Instants (4)
4
Metallic Rebuke
$0.00
Artifacts (20)
4
Portable Hole
$0.00
1
Shadowspear
$0.00
4
Nettlecyst
$0.00
Enchantments (4)
4
Ensoul Artifact
$0.00
60 Cards
$0

Rating: 2.5/5


Favored Hoplite

I’ve already written my thoughts on this card and the deck it belongs to, in the below article:

(E) Boros Feather
by DoggertQBones
Explorer
best of 3
0 mythic
26 rare
21 uncommon
13 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (18)
4
Favored Hoplite
$0.00
2
Soul-Scar Mage
$0.00
Instants (17)
4
Gods Willing
$0.00
4
Defiant Strike
$0.00
4
Reckless Rage
$0.00
1
Fight as One
$0.00
4
Play with Fire
$0.00
Sorceries (6)
4
Ancestral Anger
$0.00
60 Cards
$0
Sideboard
4
Adanto Vanguard
$0.00
3
Fight as One
$0.00
2
Abrade
$0.00
15 Cards
$0

Rating: 3.5/5


Hangarback Walker

While substantially less powerful than Walking Ballista, Hangarback Walker is a solid card that could see play in a variety of decks. Whether you’re using it as a midrange option, in an artifact deck, or in conjunction with +1/+1 counter doublers, Hangarback will always be solid. It isn’t super powerful, but considering there’s a lot of places it could go increases its stock for me.

(E) Abzan Scales
by DoggertQBones
Explorer
best of 1
0 mythic
54 rare
4 uncommon
2 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (31)
4
Pelt Collector
$0.00
4
Ochre Jelly
$0.00
4
Conclave Mentor
$0.00
3
Voracious Hydra
$0.00
Instants (1)
Artifacts (2)
2
The Ozolith
$0.00
Enchantments (4)
4
Hardened Scales
$0.00
Lands (22)
1
Forest
$0.00
1
Plains
$0.00
4
Sunpetal Grove
$0.00
4
Temple Garden
$0.00
4
Overgrown Tomb
$0.00
60 Cards
$0

Rating: 3/5


Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

I’ve already written my thoughts on this card and the deck it belongs to, in the below article:

(E) Rakdos Midrange
by DoggertQBones
Explorer
best of 3
7 mythic
42 rare
8 uncommon
3 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (3)
Instants (7)
4
Fatal Push
$0.00
2
Heartless Act
$0.00
Sorceries (6)
4
Thoughtseize
$0.00
Enchantments (4)
60 Cards
$0
15 Cards
$0

Rating: 4.5/5


Mausoleum Wanderer

This is an easy one. Spirits is already a great deck and this is by far the best one drop for the deck. Being able to attack for a bunch and then have a nice Spell Pierce on a stick is very strong.

(E) Mono Blue Spirits
by DoggertQBones
Explorer
best of 1
1 mythic
24 rare
13 uncommon
22 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (25)
4
Spectral Sailor
$0.00
4
Rattlechains
$0.00
4
Supreme Phantom
$0.00
4
Shacklegeist
$0.00
1
Brazen Borrower
$0.00
Instants (9)
4
Lofty Denial
$0.00
Enchantments (4)
Lands (22)
3
Faceless Haven
$0.00
60 Cards
$0

Rating: 3.5/5


Rally the Ancestors

While Rally the Ancestors is a super cool card, we are missing a lot of pieces that would really make it shine. Without access to an overabundance of self mill and Blood Artist effects, there unfortunately isn’t much reason to play this over a card like Return to the Ranks. That may not always be the case, but right now, I can’t imagine this seeing play.

Rating: 2/5


Searing Blood

While a powerful sideboard card, Searing Blood is pretty narrow overall. First you need a matchup that has enough x/2s to justify wanting this on top of needing to be functionally Mono Red to consistently cast it. This is excellent when it’s good, but the times that it’s good is pretty narrow.

Rating: 2.5/5


Shadowborn Apostle

Obviously this isn’t meant for Constructed play, but it is a sweet card!

Rating: 0/5


Siege Rhino

What a throwback! Siege Rhino was the absolute GOAT back in Khans of Tarkir Standard, but unfortunately it hasn’t aged particularly well since then. While I haven’t seen Abzan Midrange in Pioneer, Explorer may be weak enough to let this Rhino do some stuff. It’s not going to be the best thing you can do, but I’ve also seen worse.

(E) Abzan Midrange
by DoggertQBones
Explorer
best of 1
2 mythic
55 rare
2 uncommon
1 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (10)
4
Fatal Push
$17.96
2
Cast Down
$0.50
4
Vanishing Verse
$13.96
Sorceries (4)
4
Thoughtseize
$79.96
Lands (25)
1
Swamp
$0.25
4
Darkbore Pathway
$35.96
4
Temple Garden
$63.96
4
Godless Shrine
$67.96
4
Indatha Triome
$47.96
4
Overgrown Tomb
$71.96
60 Cards
$556.9

Rating: 2.5/5


Slaughter Games

To be honest, I’m not really sure why this was included. We already have plenty of Memoricide effects on Arena, and while being uncounterable is nice, there are currently no real combo decks in Explorer. This could get better as Explorer becomes more fleshed out, but I’d be surprised if anyone ever tried more than one copy of this in their sideboard.

Rating: 1.5/5


Supreme Verdict

I’ve already written my thoughts on this card and the deck it belongs to, in the below article:

(E) Azorius Yorion
by DoggertQBones
Explorer
best of 3
8 mythic
51 rare
13 uncommon
8 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Companion
Planeswalkers (10)
Instants (18)
2
Dovin’s Veto
$0.00
1
Fateful Absence
$0.00
4
Absorb
$0.00
4
Memory Deluge
$0.00
Sorceries (6)
4
Supreme Verdict
$0.00
2
Farewell
$0.00
Artifacts (4)
4
Portable Hole
$0.00
Enchantments (8)
4
Omen of the Sea
$0.00
4
Shark Typhoon
$0.00
80 Cards
$0
15 Cards
$0

Rating: 4.5/5


Tainted Remedy

Here’s yet another head scratcher. I like life gain hate cards like Roiling Vortex or Rampaging Ferocidon, but this isn’t one that really ever sees play. Maybe there will be a need for it in the future or it’ll be part of some cute combo deck, but this isn’t exactly a Constructed playable rate.

Rating: 1.5/5


Tireless Tracker

One of the best midrange threats printed in recent memory, Tireless Tracker is a sweet inclusion that can let Green midrange decks have more of an opportunity to shine. While not having access to fetchlands (beyond Fabled Passage) is a real bummer, just naturally playing your land drops will give you a good amount of value as well.

My main issue with Tireless Tracker is that, like many other older cards, it’s not nearly as strong as it used to be, but definitely strong enough to see a good amount of play.

(E) Golgari Midrange
by DoggertQBones
Explorer
best of 1
10 mythic
42 rare
4 uncommon
4 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (5)
1
Vivien Reid
$0.00
Instants (7)
4
Fatal Push
$0.00
3
Cast Down
$0.00
Sorceries (4)
4
Thoughtseize
$0.00
Lands (24)
2
Forest
$0.00
2
Swamp
$0.00
4
Blooming Marsh
$0.00
1
Field of Ruin
$0.00
1
Deathcap Glade
$0.00
4
Overgrown Tomb
$0.00
60 Cards
$0

Rating: 3.5/5


Titan’s Strength

Out of all the cards I felt we were missing from Arena, Titan's Strength was not one of them. We already have Infuriate, I can’t see why we would need this too.

Rating: 1/5


Temur Battle Rage

Bob irl

Temur Battle Rage is a fun one as I clearly state, it is kind of like an Embercleave. You don’t want to play it in decks that could play Embercleave as that would defeat the purpose, but it performs really well in decks that goes tall rather than wide such as Prowess or Heroic. While I don’t envision this seeing play in a lot of decks, it’s going to be really good in the decks that want it.

(E) Boros Prowess
by DoggertQBones
Explorer
best of 1
0 mythic
24 rare
20 uncommon
16 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (16)
4
Favored Hoplite
$0.00
4
Soul-Scar Mage
$0.00
Instants (18)
4
Gods Willing
$0.00
4
Defiant Strike
$0.00
4
Reckless Rage
$0.00
4
Play with Fire
$0.00
Sorceries (7)
4
Ancestral Anger
$0.00
60 Cards
$0

Rating: 2.5-3/5


Conclusion

While I do wish this first Anthology focused exclusively on cards that will power up Explorer, we did get a good amount of choice options which will certainly have a huge impact on the format moving forward.

Thank you for reading!

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DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is the content manager of MTGAZone and a high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on
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