Table of Contents
- Meta Overview and Changes
- Explorer Best of One (Bo1) Meta Tier List
- Tier 1 Decks
- Tier 2 Decks
- Tier 3 Decks
Discover the best Magic: The Gathering Arena Explorer decks and archetypes that the players are using to climb the ranked ladder and win tournaments. Our MTG Arena Best of One (Bo1) Explorer Meta Tier List regularly reviews and ranks the top decks in the format, curated by our expert Altheriax. We also follow up our choices based on a variety of factors and sources, with comprehensive analysis from the data available.
Meta Overview and Changes
Explorer Best of One (Bo1) Meta Tier List
|Tier 1||Mono Blue Spirits||Guide|
|Tier 1||Mono White Humans||Guide 🆕|
|Tier 1||Selesnya Angels||Guide|
|Tier 1||Boros Heroic||Guide|
|Tier 1||Bant Spirits|
|Tier 1||Abzan Greasefang||Guide|
|Tier 2||Boros Convoke||Guide|
|Tier 2||Mono Red Aggro||Guide|
|Tier 2||Gruul Stompy||Guide|
|Tier 2||Rakdos Sacrifice||Guide|
|Tier 2||Golgari Elves||Guide|
|Tier 2||Izzet Creativity||Guide 🆕|
|Tier 2||Mono Green Stompy||Guide|
|Tier 2||Azorius Control||Guide|
|Tier 3||Mono Green Devotion||Guide 🆕|
|Tier 3||Mono Red Goblins|
|Tier 3||Rakdos Midrange||Guide|
Tier 1 Decks
Mono Blue Spirits
This is a tempo deck that is capable of some very fast aggressive starts and also has good disruption in the form of counterspells, bounce spells, and the ability to tap down the opponent’s creatures. The Spirits tribal theme gives the deck access to strong creatures that also pack disruptive abilities like Mausoleum Wanderer that can counter non-creature spells, Rattlechains which can protect your other creatures from removal and then allow you to play almost entirely at instant-speed, and Shacklegeist that can tap down opposing creatures.
Creature heavy draws alongside Supreme Phantom enable some very fast starts that are even capable of outracing other aggro decks, but other draws with fewer creatures allow you to play games where you suit up a single creature with a Curious Obsession or Combat Research, protect it with counterspells, and then win on card advantage.
Weaknesses: Like a lot of tempo decks, Spirits can struggle against very fast low to the ground aggressive decks, since it generally prefers to play against slower decks where it can leverage counterspells and bounce spells to prevent the opponent from stabilizing. It can also struggle against decks with a lot of cheap interaction like Fatal Push, especially with hands where you’re trying to suit up a single creature with Curious Obsession.
When is it good to play? As long as the format isn’t completely overrun by very low to the ground aggressive decks then Spirits is a great choice, since it’s great against slower decks, and is very capable of outracing faster decks too due to the high amount of flying threats, and creature disruption like Brazen Borrower and Shacklegeist which can slow down the opponent.
Mono White Humans
Decklist Updates: Coppercoat Vanguard from Aftermath is a great addition to the archetype providing you with extra redundancy for your 2 mana lord effect alongside Thalia's Lieutenant that also provides some extra protection for your other creatures.
A purely aggressive deck, Mono White Humans looks to flood the board quickly and beat the opponent down before they have a chance to set up defenses. Rather than just a straight-forward aggressive deck like Mono Red, Mono White leans much more heavily on creature synergies including playing only Humans so we can maximize the potential of Thalia's Lieutenant.
Furthermore, many of the creatures played are not only aggressive, but have other abilities as well, which makes them flexible threats. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben will slow down decks reliant on spells, Dauntless Bodyguard and Extraction Specialist insulate our threats, and Brutal Cathar acts as removal for the deck. To top it off, Brave the Elements is an extremely flexible card that can be anything from a counter to a removal spell to giving our entire board unblockable.
Weaknesses: Humans can struggle against wrath heavy decks like Azorius Control or decks that can enact their game plan quicker like Abzan Greasefang.
When is it good to play? Mono White Humans is a generically good deck so it should be good to play in functionally any metagame.
This is a tribal deck built around life gain synergies that has a lot of flying creatures and creatures with high toughness that are solid blockers. Packing creatures that are great on defense alongside a ton of life gain makes this naturally very well positioned against aggro decks which make up a big portion of the Best of 1 metagame. It’s also one of the best Collected Company decks in the format since it has a bunch of great 2 and 3 mana creatures with good synergy, so a good Collected Company hit can single-handedly win you a lot of games.
Additionally, the deck is very good at turning the corner and closing out the game once it’s stabilized because most of your threats are flyers, especially if you’ve gotten a bunch of +1/+1 counters from Giada, Font of Hope, or you’ve managed to hit the 27 life threshold for Righteous Valkyrie, or the 5 life threshold for Resplendent Angel.
Weaknesses: Although Angels is very strong against aggressive, creature-based decks, it has a really big weakness to slower, more interactive decks like control which makes it a risky choice if those are a big part of the format. Thankfully in Best of 1, aggressive creature decks make up a much bigger portion of the meta and the slower, more interactive decks like Azorius Control and Rakdos Midrange are generally less popular than in Best of 3, so this isn’t as much of an issue in Best of 1.
When is it good to play? As long as the meta is made up of a lot of aggressive or creature-based strategies then Angels is a great choice.
A powerful hybrid between an aggro and combo deck, Boros Heroic leverages the Heroic and Prowess mechanic to apply colossal pressure in a very short time frame. Since each creature (beside Dreadhorde Arcanist) gets larger with spells cast, this deck looks to get a creature or two on board, and then kill the opponent with a flurry of spells.
While this will mostly function as a “solitaire” deck, it has a lot of options as you’ll generally have the ability to cast multiple spells per turn and you have some interaction in the form of Reckless Rage to deal with opposing creatures. Furthermore, many of its spells have multiple purposes like Gods Willing or Sejiri Shelter being both an offensive or defensive tools.
Weaknesses: Decks that lean heavily on creature interaction can be tough for this deck as you’re trying to build up one creature to kill the opponent with, so something like Rakdos Midrange or Sacrifice can pose real issues as it’ll be very tough to keep a creature on board long enough to build it into a sizable threat.
When is it good to play? This is a powerful and proactive strategy so its a strong fit for the Bo1 environment barring there aren’t too many interactive decks.
Bant Spirits is a derivation of Mono Blue Spirits with light splashes to play Selfless Spirit, Skyclave Apparition, Empyrean Eagle, and most importantly, Collected Company. With the extra colors, you do get more powerful and varied creatures, but you do give up on some of the more tempo elements that Mono Blue provided. That said, this deck is more focused on racing as you have access to more lords and Collected Company is excellent at filling your board quickly.
Weaknesses: Since this deck plays significantly less interaction than its Mono Blue counterpart, you’ll have a much harder time stopping cards that can really destroy your game plan like a Skysovereign, Consul Flagship or an early Greasefang, Okiba Boss to kill you before you have a chance to develop.
When is it good to play? This is a very balanced deck so there aren’t many metagames where this wouldn’t be, at minimum, a solid choice.
This is a combo deck that is trying to pitch a vehicle into the graveyard, and then bring it back with haste using Greasefang, Okiba Boss as early as turn three! This is especially powerful in Best of 1 since the two main ways of stopping the combo (graveyard hate and instant-speed creature removal) are both much less common in Best of 1 which increases your odds of being able to combo off.
The deck can set up vehicles in the graveyard very consistently using mill spells like Grisly Salvage and Stitcher's Supplier, or discarded from your hand with cards like Liliana of the Veil and Raffine's Informant. With graveyard hate being less common in Best of 1, the mill spells are even more potent since the deck runs four Can't Stay Away which also allows you to reanimate Greasefang, Okiba Boss if you mill it over, so it’s very easy to find both parts of your combo. Even if the opponent is able to stop the combo or you take a little longer to find Greasefang, Okiba Boss, the deck is still capable of playing a reasonable fair game off the back of cards like Liliana of the Veil and Esika's Chariot too.
Weaknesses: The combo is weak to graveyard hate and insant-speed interaction, so if the opponent has either of those, you’re often forced to rely on your ‘fair’ game plan which won’t be good enough in certain matchups. Additionally, most of the Best of 1 Greasefang, Okiba Boss lists are very focused on setting up the combo and don’t tend to run much interaction themselves outside of Thoughtseize, so if you’re against a fast aggressive deck, and you have a slower start, or the opponent has a way to stop your combo then you can sometimes get overrun.
When is it good to play? Abzan Greasefang is generally a great choice in most situations in Best of 1 since your linear game plan is so strong and the deck has a good amount of resilience too. Having said that, it can be risky if people start running more graveyard hate or instant-speed interaction since that will shut off the most powerful part of your deck.
Tier 2 Decks
This is an incredibly fast aggro deck that is looking to go wide as fast as possible in order to enable the convoke payoffs in Venerated Loxodon (which provides a huge amount of stats), and Knight-Errant of Eos (which provides card advantage to help you refuel, and can be used to dig for your other payoffs like Regal Leosaur once you already have a big board).
On top of that you also have Regal Leosaur as a payoff which provides a big buff to your whole board – it is much more vulnerable to interaction than its Pioneer counterpart Reckless Bushwhacker (however interaction is generally less common in Best of 1 so that’s less of an issue), and costs one extra mana (which can be an issue in a low land deck), but the buff it provides is often game winning when it does resolve.
You have some great enablers in the deck, especially Gleeful Demolition which can be used on Ornithopter, and tokens from Thraben Inspector and Voldaren Epicure to put three 1/1s into play which can enable you to convoke as early as turn 2!
Weaknesses: Outside of Giant Killer the deck has basically no interaction which means that other decks like Spirits or Greasefang can potentially race you, especially when you’re going second. You’re also very reliant on your top end cards to not run out of gas which can mean you’re soft to counterspells or discard in certain spots, and you’re very weak to sweepers meaning you tend to struggle a lot against decks like Azorius Control.
When is it good to play? Convoke will generally be a good option since it’s very generically powerful, and also resilient to single-target removal which is the most common interaction in Best of 1, so as long as counterspells and board sweepers aren’t very popular then it should be a good pick.
Mono Red Aggro
This is a very pure aggro deck that is trying to commit creatures to the board as fast as possible to close the game out before the opponent has a chance to stabilize. The deck is capable of some very fast starts since it runs a lot of haste creatures and cards like Burning-Tree Emissary really help you to flood the board quickly.
Embercleave and Torbran, Thane of Red Fell also allow you to force lethal damage through even if the opponent has stabilized against you, especially if you can equip Embercleave to Anax, Hardened in the Forge. The deck also has access to decent reach in the late game because it has elements of burn like Ramunap Ruins, Bonecrusher Giant, Kumano Faces Kakkazan, etc. so it’s very difficult to completely stabilize against this deck unless the opponent has a decent amount of incidental life gain.
Weaknesses: The deck is very one dimensional which means it’s fairly easy to stop if you’re running a deck with a lot of interaction or sweepers like Azorius Control. It doesn’t have great ways to stop other linear decks that are attacking from a different angle either like Abzan Greasefang (that is very capable of outracing you if they get the combo off early), and doesn’t have great ways to beat a deck like Selesnya Angels that is essentially built to take advantage of aggro decks like Mono Red (although you could main deck Rampaging Ferocidon as a way to improve that matchup).
When is it good to play? Mono Red is a very generically strong deck, especially when it’s on the play, so it’s generally a good choice as long as its tougher matchups like Selesnya Angels or Rakdos Sacrifice don’t account for a big portion of the metagame.
Looking to play an aggressive, yet fair game plan, Gruul Vehicles ports over the Pioneer version over into Explorer.
Like Mono Green Stompy, the deck utilizes the full eight turn one mana creatures in Elvish Mystic and Llanowar Elves to get way ahead on curve, and to follow up with a myriad of excellent three drops afterwards. However, unlike Stompy which is mostly reliant on Collected Company and The Great Henge Gruul opts for insanely powerful permanents such as Esika's Chariot for pressure, Skysovereign, Consul Flagship for pressure and interaction, and The Akroan Warto make this a nightmare for other creature matchups.
Since the deck is both fast and plays exclusively strong cards, you have a very consistent game plan that can win quickly or be surprisingly grindy.
Weaknesses: While the deck is powerful, you are only playing on a very fair axis. Decks like Mono Blue Spirits can simply interact with your high impact cards or Abzan Greasefang can go over you very quickly, so while you have a consistent game plan, that may not work in the face of decks looking to not play fair.
When is it good to play? Since it is just a solid deck, there really isn’t a metagame this would be particularly bad in, however, it would excel in metagames where there are a lot of other creature strategies.
This is a high synergy sacrifice deck that is looking to take advantage of the high amount of creature decks in Best of 1. Cauldron Familiar + Witch's Oven paired with cheap efficient removal like Claim the Firstborn, Fatal Push, and Bloodtithe Harvester gives Rakdos Sacrifice a naturally good matchup against the creature decks in the format. The deck also has very good reach in the lategame due to the direct damage off cards like Cauldron Familiar, and Mayhem Devil so it’s very capable of winning games without even needing to attack.
Additionally, Fable of the Mirror-Breaker really helps to filter your draws off the second chapter, and provides great lategame engines if Reflection of Kiki-Jiki survives since it can copy Bloodtithe Harvest to act as a removal spell every turn, or copy Mayhem Devil to deal a bunch of direct damage, and Unlucky Witness and Deadly Dispute also give you good card advantage to grind if the game goes long.
Weaknesses: This particular build is very focused on beating creature decks (which makes sense considering that makes up a big portion of the Best of 1 metagame) but not running any cards for the slower decks like Thoughtseize or Ob Nixilis, the Adversary means that you’ll have a pretty rough time against slower decks like Azorius Control and 4/5C Enigmatic Incarnation.
When is it good to play? As long as there are a high number of creature-based decks in the format, Rakdos Sacrifice will be a great choice. If the meta shifts to more slower, late game decks like Azorius Control or Emergent Ultimatum for example, then it might not be the best choice but I don’t see that happening any time soon.
This is a go wide aggro deck that is trying to capitalize on a lack of sweepers in the Best of 1 format. The idea with this deck is to go wide fast and pump your whole board with lord effects on cards like Elvish Clancaller and Leaf-Crowned Visionary. Once you have a lot of mana, you can then pump into Elvish Warmaster to boost your whole board, produce a ton of card advantage off Leaf-Crowned Visionary, or just kill them outright with a huge Shaman of the Pack trigger.
The vast majority of creature removal run in Best of 1 is single-target which this deck is fairly resilient to because it’s able to swarm the battlefield so fast, and since it’s a creature deck with some combo elements, it’s often capable of going over the top of other creature decks in the format.
Weaknesses: The single biggest weakness of Elves is to board sweepers which means your matchup against a deck like Azorius Control will be really bad. It also doesn’t run any interaction which means it can often be outraced by other linear decks like Abzan Greasefang or Selesnya Angels.
When is it good to play? Elves is generally a good choice as long as board sweepers and combo decks like Abzan Greasefang or Temur Ignus aren’t very popular.
An extremely scary combo/control deck, Izzet Creativity looks to control the board early with plentiful interaction, deploy a few tokens, and then suddenly win out of nowhere utilizing Indomitable Creativity to get The Locust God and Sage of the Falls for an instant win. While somewhat one dimensional, the deck is very good at assembling their win condition in order to take any game that the opponent hasn’t already won.
Weaknesses: If you don’t happen to have the right interaction at the right time or the opponent can interact with your combo, you can definitely struggle to win. Decks like Mono Blue Spirits can be especially problematic as they apply pressure and have cheap countermagic making it difficult for you to combo.
When is it good to play? If there aren’t too many decks that can easily race you or consistently stop your ability to combo off, Creativity seems like an excellent choice in the field.
Mono Green Stompy
This is an aggro deck that leverages big creatures to apply pressure fast, and has access to Collected Company and The Great Henge as a way to go over the top of a lot of other decks in the format. The green creatures generally have very big stats relative to their mana cost which gives you an inherent advantage over most other aggro decks in the format since your creatures out scale theirs in most cases.
Being able to run four Llanowar Elves and four Elvish Mystic also enables some very fast starts where you can land a huge three drop on turn two or potentially play a Collected Company or The Great Henge on turn three. Speaking of which, Collected Company is a really strong card in this deck due to the high number of powerful three-drops, and The Great Henge allows you to out grind even Control decks if you can resolve it, so these cards provide the deck with solid ways to beat the slower, more grindy decks that a lot of other aggro decks struggle to beat.
Weaknesses: One of the biggest weaknesses of Mono green is it doesn’t have access to great interaction (all of the green creature removal are fight spells which mean they can’t be played very early and are vulnerable to instant-speed interaction), which means you tend to struggle against a deck like Mono Blue Spirits or Selesnya Angels that can often outrace you because most of their creatures have flying, and you don’t have great ways to slow them down.
Additionally, the fact that none of your creatures have haste means that it’s easier for more interactive decks to stabilize against you (assuming you don’t land Collected Company or The Great Henge) because they’ll always have a turn to kill your creatures before they start dealing damage.
When is it good to play? This is a great choice if decks that require early interaction like Mono Blue Spirits and Selesnya Angels aren’t a big part of the meta.
This is a late game deck that is trying to stabilize in the early game with a plethora of early interaction in the form of single-target removal, board sweepers, and counterspells, and then win in the late game off your finishers like Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. Control in Best of 1 is really trying to take advantage of a lot of the aggro decks being incredibly linear which makes them vulnerable to a lot of the interaction that control packs like Supreme Verdict.
There are also a number of decks like Rakdos Sacrifice that usually have good tools to fight Control in Best of 3, but tend to focus on beating creature decks in Best of 1, so you tend to have an edge in those matchups too. Instant-speed interaction also gives you a way to stop the most popular combo deck in Greasefang, Okiba Boss so the deck has tools to fight a lot of the popular decks in the format.
Weaknesses: Control is very weak to aggro decks that also pack disruption for non-creature spells like Mono Blue Spirits which runs Mausoleum Wanderer, counterspells, and protection spells in addition to other instant-speed threats which makes that matchup incredibly difficult to navigate. It’s also weak to discard effects which means that Abzan Greasefang and Rakdos Midrange which both tend to run four Thoughtseize and 3/4 Liliana of the Veil in Best of 1, so they have good tools to fight you.
On top of that, you need your interaction to line up well in order to stabilize so there will be some games against Aggro, especially where you’re going second where your interaction is either too slow or the opponent can outrace you (or has good ways to force through lethal like Den of the Bugbear or Ramunap Ruins from Mono Red).
When is it good to play? Control is generally a good choice so long as Mono Blue Spirits and to a lesser extent decks with discard spells like Abzan Greasefang and Rakdos Midrange aren’t a big part of the meta.
Tier 3 Decks
Mono Green Devotion
Decklist Updates: Polukranos Reborn is a great addition to the deck which goes a long way to help stabilize against decks with aggressive flyers like Spirits and Angels, as well as providing a lot of devotion, and providing a mana sink for situations where you have a lot of mana but nothing else to spend it on.
This is a ramp deck looking to utilise the very powerful turn one ramp creatures like Llanowar Elves to cast powerful threats like Karn, the Great Creator and Cavalier of Thorns ahead of curve. Then, once you have enough Devotion, ideally you have a Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx so you can start getting obscene mana advantages over the opponent.
This deck is capable of some incredibly fast starts, and also has decent flexibility due to the options in the Karn, the Great Creator wishboard. It’s also generally a deck that is very good at going over the top of most of the format (apart from control and combo decks), so is naturally well positioned against a lot of smaller decks (Lovestruck Beast, Old-Growth Troll, and Cavalier of Thorns in particular are very strong at stabilizing against aggressive decks).
Weaknesses: A lot of the fast starts in this deck really revolve around untapping with a turn one Llanowar Elves or Elvish Mystic, so decks with a lot of early interaction like Rakdos Midrange are good at slowing the deck down a lot. Additionally, basically all of the power in the deck comes from the expensive ramp payoffs like Karn, the Great Creator and Cavalier of Thorns which makes the deck pretty vulnerable to both discard spells and counterspells since they can both take out your big payoffs, often leaving you with ramp and nothing to do with it.
The final issue with ramp decks like this in general, is that most of your ramp cards are very bad draws later in the game, so if the opponent is able to disrupt your payoff cards, you can be left in a rough spot if you don’t draw well.
When is it good to play? This is generally a good deck to play if disruptive cards like discard spells and counterspells aren’t very popular. If you’re allowed to hold onto, and cast your payoffs, then the deck is incredibly strong and has great tools to go over the top of most other decks.
Mono Red Goblins
A derivation of Mono Red Aggro, Mono Red Goblins looks to use tribal synergies and play to the board rather than looking to necessarily be blazingly fast or kill the opponent with a barrage of burn spells.
While this does make the deck slower, you can build a much more powerful board state as you have so much synergy between Battle Cry Goblin, Conspicuous Snoop, Rundvelt Hordemaster, Hobgoblin Bandit Lord, Goblin Warchief, and Goblin Ringleader. If your opponent will allow you to keep adding to the board, you can snowball quite quickly.
Weaknesses: Being slower than your typical Mono Red deck can make racing in some matchups a struggle. Furthermore, removal can be more effective against this deck as your cards are weaker individually, but stronger the more you are able to play. However, with Goblin RIngleader and Conspicuous Snoop, you can rebuild if they give you enough time.
When is it good to play? The slower the meta, the better Goblins would be. Since you can be surprisingly grindy and you’re fast enough to get under slow decks, that’s the ideal matchup for this style of deck.
This is a deck that is packing a lot of very cheap, efficient removal and generically powerful threats. Discard spells like Thoughtseize and Liliana of the Veil are very effective against combo decks like Abzan Greasefang and control decks like Azorius Control, cheap removal like Fatal Push, Bonecrusher Giant, and Infernal Grasp are great against the variety of creature decks in the format, and generically powerful threats like Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker allow you to cement your position in the game and get ahead. Graveyard Trespasser also acts as a generically powerful threat that doubles up as graveyard hate which can be particularly useful against a deck like Abzan Greasefang to stop them from comboing off.
Weaknesses: Unlike Best of 3 where this is one of the best decks in the format, Rakdos Midrange tends to struggle a lot more in Best of 1 because it’s a deck that really leverages it’s sideboard to pivot it’s game plan depending on what it’s against. Obviously you don’t have access to your sideboard in Best of 1, so you lose the ability to cut your worse cards and adapt to the matchup you’re against, and you have to just hope you draw the right ‘half’ of your deck: for example if you’re against an aggro deck you have to hope to hit your creature removal and not your discard spells and planeswalkers, and against control, you have to hope to not draw a bunch of creature removal.
Additionally, since most creature decks are much more linear and generally faster in Best of 1, a lot of them are capable of outracing your single-target removal which means they can sometimes outrace you, even if you do draw creature removal against them.
When is it good to play? Rakdos Midrange is always going to be a fine choice in Best of 1 as long as the aggro decks aren’t going very wide (which makes your single-target removal less effective), but you’ll always be plagued with the issue of hoping to draw the right interaction for the particular matchup which isn’t always going to happen.