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MTG Arena Budget Explorer Decks for Beginners

MTG Arena Budget Explorer Decks for Beginners

The best budget decks for Explorer, with cheap common and uncommon cards only.

If you’re new to MTG Arena, building a cheap budget competitive deck can be challenging, especially if you’re looking to spend as little real-world gold as you can! This can already be difficult if you’re breaking into Standard, but it can feel insurmountable if you’re looking to get into eternal formats such as Explorer!

Magic’s myriad of different cards can be overwhelming, and Wildcards are a precious resource that you can’t always afford to waste on the wrong decks, no matter how enticing! Placing small bets on crafting and gradually opening cards until you find an expensive deck you’re sure you’ll love is the best way to go, at least while your resources are so limited.

In this guide, you’ll find our exclusive curated list of some fantastic budget Explorer decks from various archetypes, with a brief explanation of the deck, an upgrade guide, and sample decklists for each one. Visit our Explorer deck page if you’d like to see what some of the finished products look like. For more similar decks, check out our Historic Budget Decks that overlap with a lot of cards here. You can also go straight to the Budget deck section itself for the complete list

If you need any help, you can always join the MTG Arena Zone Discord server, leave a question in the comments, or follow the site’s Twitter to catch up on any updates!


Budget Deck Aims

Here’s a set of parameters we build our budget Explorer decks around, to ensure they’re at their most useful to you:

  • The base deck will aim to have as few rares as possible, but if one or two different cards are exceptionally important to the archetype and there’s no easy replacement, then you might see them. For each deck, we provide pathways or a link to upgrade into more competitive versions. Upgrades depend on your collection and Wildcard availability, so we’ll provide different options to tailor to your specific needs!
  • The Rare Dual Lands generally speaking will be pivotal in most Explorer decks both now and moving forward.

Before I continue, I do want to address something that’s going to come up every single time a multicolored deck is brought up.


When Do I Craft Lands?

Likely the largest inhibitor for most players getting into Explorer is the manabases. With so many rare lands available, it’s hard to get them all for even one deck much less multiple. Despite that, lands will always be extremely helpful and that is what I would always recommend you craft first no matter what deck you’re looking to upgrade. So which ones should you craft first? In terms of color combinations, I would say whichever one has the most applications in other decks, the ones for the deck you enjoy the most, or the lands that would update your deck the most. With that, I also have an order to which types of dual lands you craft first as well.

  1. Shocklands
  2. Fastlands
  3. Pathways
  4. Checklands
  5. Slowlands
  6. Triomes

*NOTE*: This advice is for those who aren’t looking to follow the deck upgrade guide specifically. If you have a limited budget on what you can craft, then follow this list. If you’re looking to create the most competitive version of a deck, you should prioritize that deck’s lands first which will generally be Shocklands, Pathways, and Fastlands if they play them.

Shocklands

Shocklands are the hallmark land in Explorer and you’ll also seem them in every 2+ color deck. For those unfamiliar on what shocklands are, I mean lands like Hallowed Fountain, Watery Grave, or Breeding Pool. Any land that can come into play untapped if you pay 2 life is a Shockland.

I would consider Shocks the best lands in Explorer as if you look at the average mana base, you’ll pretty much always see full sets of Shocklands where the checklands can be a bit more sporadic. That being said, Shocklands don’t play as nicely in budget mana bases as check lands so it is still a bit of a toss up between these and checks.

Fast Lands

Fast lands recently got completed on Arena and are very powerful in the right decks. Fastlands are lands like Seachrome Coast or Inspiring Vantage, any land that comes into play untapped if it’s land 1-3. These lands are quite strong as long as your deck is relatively fast, but even midrange decks have been playing these recently. Furthermore, half of the fast land cycle will be Standard legal for quite awhile making them an even better craft

Pathways

Pathways are a very helpful land to have and have become staples in many Explorer decks. Pathways are easy to recognize as they’ll all have pathway in the name like Needleverge Pathway or Brightclimb Pathway.

Checklands

Checklands used to be a vital part of Explorer mana bases, but have more recently fallen in popularity. For those unaware on what checklands are, I mean ones like Glacial Fortress, Drowned Catacomb, or Hinterland Harbor. Any land that comes into play untapped if you have a land out of a certain type is a Checkland.

Checklands are excellent to craft early as they work really well in basic heavy mana bases, making them the perfect blend between budget and competitive. The only downside to crafting checklands is that they’re the most likely to be reprinted into Standard in the future, but they just rotated out a few years ago so it’s not terribly likely they’re coming back anytime soon.

Slowlands

If you’re not familiar with the lands I’m referring to, I’m talking about the ones from Innistrad like Haunted Ridge and Rockfall Vale. Although these are some of the weaker lands you have access to in Explorer, the upside of crafting the is you can use them in Standard for over a year! When wildcards are short, you need to spend your resources wisely!

Triomes

Triomes are the tricolor cycle from Ikoria and Streets of New Capenna which are fantastic in 3+ color decks, but have no real utility otherwise. If you’re on a budget, I would generally steer clear of decks that are more than two colors, but if one really strikes your fancy, these will be a fine pickup. However, if you want to get more utility out of your wildcards, the new triome cycle from Streets of New Capenna would be a great craft as you’ll be able to use them in multiple formats.

Snarls

Snarls are so underwhelming they didn’t even make the list. I would not craft these for Explorer, but you can consider playing them if you already have them.

If you’re looking to craft the Rare lands and put them in these lists, cut the Uncommon tapped lands first, then cut the basics evenly for the amount of Rare lands you are adding. Furthermore, if you have to build the mana base piecemeal, don’t be afraid to substitute specific Rare lands out for others. If you’re a Standard player, crafting 4 Seachrome Coast before crafting Hallowed Fountain, despite it being slightly weaker, would be a more frugal investment of your wild cards.


What Cards Do I Upgrade in My Deck First?

Realistically speaking, there’s no great way to go about this. You could look at overlapping cards to try and get the most bang for your buck for your crafts, but a lot of the time, most cards for specific decks are rarely going to overlap.

The best thing I could recommend is that if you really like a deck and want the best possible version, you just craft it all at once or dedicate yourself to crafting it piecemeal until it’s completed.

Unfortunately, frugal and Explorer simply do not overlap, so unlike Standard budget decks, this has a lot more to do with your playing experience rather than expected value of a craft.


Budget Explorer Decks

Mono White Aggro

Budget Mono White Aggro
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $20.33
Explorer
best of 1
0 mythic
4 rare
32 uncommon
24 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (5)
1
Kabira Takedown
$0.39
Sorceries (3)
3
Lay Down Arms
$1.47
Lands (20)
20
Plains
$7.00
60 Cards
$22.02

To start us off we have a classic with Mono White Aggro. Mono White has always been flush with a good amount of commons and uncommons which allows it to have a strong game plan without necessarily having the strongest cards.

If you like White aggro, you’re in luck as Mono White Humans is one of the best decks in Explorer!

Mono White Humans
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $129.75
Explorer
best of 1
0 mythic
32 rare
14 uncommon
14 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
60 Cards
$158.68

Mono Blue Tempo

(E) Budget Mono Blue Tempo
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $19.48
Explorer
best of 1
0 mythic
4 rare
28 uncommon
28 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (20)
4
Pteramander
$1.40
4
Spectral Sailor
$1.40
Instants (16)
4
Spell Pierce
$1.96
4
Essence Capture
$1.40
4
Lofty Denial
$1.56
Enchantments (4)
Lands (20)
20
Island
$7.00
60 Cards
$35

Mono Blue Tempo is a prime example of a deck that does not mess around. You play a cheap creature, counter anything of relevance, and peck your way to victory. It’s unfortunate that a budget deck has to have some rares, but you may have noticed that there isn’t an updated version. Well, you don’t really need one!

The only change you could make is shaving some Brineborn Cutthroat or Spell Pierce for Brazen Borrower and some Otawara, Soaring City over an Island or two, but this is the closest to complete out of all of the decks on the list! That said, this isn’t the most competitive Mono Blue deck either, so if you want the best form of Mono Blue, even if it looks different, you have to go with Spirits.

Bo1 Mono Blue Spirits
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $63.14
Explorer
best of 1
2 mythic
24 rare
13 uncommon
21 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (25)
3
Spectral Sailor
$1.05
4
Rattlechains
$1.96
4
Supreme Phantom
$2.36
4
Shacklegeist
$1.96
2
Brazen Borrower
$11.98
Instants (6)
2
Lofty Denial
$0.78
Enchantments (6)
2
Combat Research
$0.70
Lands (23)
3
Faceless Haven
$1.47
60 Cards
$110.34

Mono Black Aggro

Budget Mono Black Aggro
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $123.63
Explorer
best of 1
0 mythic
8 rare
25 uncommon
27 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (26)
4
Cult Conscript
$1.40
4
Audacious Thief
$1.40
4
Fell Stinger
$1.40
Instants (7)
4
Fatal Push
$9.96
Enchantments (4)
Lands (23)
19
Swamp
$6.65
4
Ifnir Deadlands
$1.56
60 Cards
$34.42

If you like being aggressive while having great interaction, this is the deck for you. Mono Black is the best deck for disruption and pressure which is always an extremely solid strategy in any matchup you would come up against.

Unfortunately, as it stands Mono Black has no competitive version, but this will be updated if that changes!

Mono Red Aggro

Budget Mono Red Aggro
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $29.8
Explorer
best of 1
0 mythic
0 rare
30 uncommon
30 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (4)
4
Play with Fire
$15.96
Sorceries (6)
Enchantments (4)
Lands (20)
16
Mountain
$5.60
4
Ramunap Ruins
$3.96
60 Cards
$44.28

If you like beating opponents to death quickly, this is the deck for you. Mono Red is known for its speed and this is definitely the speediest deck you can find whether you are on a budget or not.

Bo1 Mono Red Aggro
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $72.25
Explorer
best of 1
8 mythic
16 rare
16 uncommon
20 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Artifacts (4)
4
Embercleave
$25.96
Enchantments (4)
Lands (24)
14
Mountain
$4.90
2
Castle Embereth
$0.98
4
Ramunap Ruins
$3.96
60 Cards
$86.48

Mono Red Burn

Budget Mono Red Burn
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $28.59
Explorer
best of 1
0 mythic
0 rare
30 uncommon
30 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (16)
Instants (11)
4
Play with Fire
$15.96
Sorceries (8)
Enchantments (5)
Lands (20)
16
Mountain
$5.60
4
Ramunap Ruins
$3.96
60 Cards
$41.58

If you like the speed of Mono Red, but want slightly more reach and/or interaction, Burn is the way to go. With a more nuanced game plan, Burn is great for lovers of the color Red that want a bit more agency in their games. If you like this play style, you can easily branch into the list below or go for a more traditional aggro version like the list above.

Bo1 Mono Red Aggro
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $72.25
Explorer
best of 1
8 mythic
16 rare
16 uncommon
20 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Artifacts (4)
4
Embercleave
$25.96
Enchantments (4)
Lands (24)
14
Mountain
$4.90
2
Castle Embereth
$0.98
4
Ramunap Ruins
$3.96
60 Cards
$86.48

Azorius Auras

Budget Azorius Auras
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $25.93
Explorer
best of 1
0 mythic
8 rare
22 uncommon
30 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (16)
4
Selfless Savior
$2.36
4
Adanto Vanguard
$1.40
Lands (20)
5
Island
$1.75
9
Plains
$3.15
4
Port Town
$1.96
2
Tranquil Cove
$0.70
60 Cards
$38.74

Although the Explorer version is much less potent than the Historic one, Auras game plan is very powerful by combining value-oriented creatures with cheap auras to quickly overrun the opponent. You will need a minimum of 4 Rares to get the most out of the budget version of the deck, but if you’re very tight on cards, you can play Seasoned Hallowblade over the Light-Paws.

(E) Azorius Auras
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $64.25
Explorer
best of 1
0 mythic
19 rare
18 uncommon
23 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (2)
2
Spell Pierce
$0.98
Enchantments (21)
3
Arcane Flight
$1.05
2
Aether Tunnel
$1.18
Lands (22)
3
Island
$1.05
7
Plains
$2.45
60 Cards
$119.24

Boros Cycling

(E) Budget Boros Cycling
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $12.96
Explorer
best of 1
0 mythic
0 rare
24 uncommon
36 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (22)
4
Flourishing Fox
$1.40
4
Drannith Healer
$1.40
4
Valiant Rescuer
$1.40
Instants (4)
4
Zenith Flare
$1.40
Sorceries (4)
4
Go for Blood
$1.40
Enchantments (8)
4
Footfall Crater
$1.96
4
Cast Out
$1.40
Lands (22)
7
Mountain
$2.45
11
Plains
$3.85
60 Cards
$21.72

A mostly forgotten archetype, Boros is definitely underappreciated but is likely the best deck you could play without any Rares. The game plan is hard to interact with, the creatures scale well, and you have insane late game with Zenith Flare that can kill opponents from nearly any life total.

(E) Boros Cycling
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $60.39
Explorer
best of 1
0 mythic
16 rare
20 uncommon
24 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Companion
Creatures (21)
4
Flourishing Fox
$1.40
4
Drannith Healer
$1.40
4
Valiant Rescuer
$1.40
4
Hollow One
$2.36
Instants (6)
4
Zenith Flare
$1.40
Sorceries (4)
4
Go for Blood
$1.40
Enchantments (8)
4
Footfall Crater
$1.96
4
Cast Out
$1.40
Lands (21)
3
Mountain
$1.05
6
Plains
$2.10
4
Sacred Foundry
$67.96
60 Cards
$142.64
Sideboard
1 Cards
$0.99

Boros Heroic

Budget Boros Heroic
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $16.9
Explorer
best of 1
0 mythic
0 rare
24 uncommon
36 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (16)
4
Gods Willing
$1.40
4
Defiant Strike
$1.40
4
Reckless Rage
$3.96
2
Sejiri Shelter
$2.58
Sorceries (8)
4
Ancestral Anger
$1.40
Lands (20)
8
Mountain
$2.80
8
Plains
$2.80
60 Cards
$27.44

If you are a fan of scrappy strategies like Infect (which is my favorite deck ever), this deck is for you. Play a bunch of small creatures, pump them up, and absolutely clobber your opponent before they have a chance to react.

Boros Heroic
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $82.34
Explorer
best of 1
0 mythic
20 rare
23 uncommon
17 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Companion
Instants (16)
4
Gods Willing
$1.40
4
Defiant Strike
$1.40
4
Reckless Rage
$3.96
2
Sejiri Shelter
$2.58
Sorceries (8)
4
Ancestral Anger
$1.40
Lands (18)
1
Plains
$0.35
4
Sacred Foundry
$67.96
60 Cards
$169.64
Sideboard
1 Cards
$0.99

Dimir Rogues

Budget Dimir Rogues
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $85.76
Explorer
best of 1
0 mythic
12 rare
24 uncommon
24 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (16)
4
Ruin Crab
$7.16
Instants (18)
4
Fatal Push
$9.96
2
Spell Pierce
$0.98
4
Into the Story
$1.56
Sorceries (2)
2
Of One Mind
$1.18
Lands (24)
9
Island
$3.15
7
Swamp
$2.45
4
Choked Estuary
$1.96
60 Cards
$48.04

While Rogues does require some Rares, it is also one of the strongest decks you can make on a budget. The deck doesn’t need fixing nearly as badly as other decks and it’s strongest cards (Soaring Thought-Thief, Fatal Push, Drown in the Loch, Into the Story) are surprisingly all uncommons! If you like the game plan of Mono Blue, but want to play more powerful cards, this is the deck for you.

(E) Bo1 Dimir Rogues
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $200.15
Explorer
best of 1
2 mythic
28 rare
23 uncommon
7 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (15)
4
Ruin Crab
$7.16
Instants (15)
3
Fatal Push
$7.47
4
Heartless Act
$1.40
4
Into the Story
$1.56
Sorceries (6)
4
Thoughtseize
$59.96
Lands (24)
5
Island
$1.75
2
Swamp
$0.70
4
Fabled Passage
$25.96
2
Shipwreck Marsh
$8.98
4
Watery Grave
$59.96
60 Cards
$267.18

Gruul Aggro

Budget Gruul Aggro
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $10.29
Explorer
best of 1
0 mythic
0 rare
42 uncommon
18 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (28)
4
Zhur-Taa Goblin
$1.40
4
Voltaic Brawler
$1.40
4
Clamor Shaman
$1.40
Instants (2)
Sorceries (4)
Enchantments (4)
Lands (22)
7
Forest
$2.45
7
Mountain
$2.45
4
Hashep Oasis
$2.36
4
Ramunap Ruins
$3.96
60 Cards
$24.54

When people think of Gruul, they think of aggro and for good reason. Gruul has some of the best aggressive cards around with access to fast mana and extremely efficient creatures. Unlike Mono Red, the strength of Gruul is all about the larger than average creatures so it is usually better in creature mirrors and can be more threatening to opponents who can’t remove each threat.

Gruul Stompy
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $182.6
Explorer
best of 1
4 mythic
47 rare
1 uncommon
8 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (26)
4
Llanowar Elves
$1.96
4
Elvish Mystic
$1.96
2
Scavenging Ooze
$0.98
2
Elder Gargaroth
$39.98
Instants (2)
Artifacts (6)
Enchantments (2)
2
The Akroan War
$1.38
60 Cards
$278.12

Izzet Spells

Budget Izzet Spells
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $34.89
Explorer
best of 1
0 mythic
2 rare
31 uncommon
27 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (18)
4
Sprite Dragon
$3.16
Instants (17)
4
Play with Fire
$15.96
4
Consider
$1.96
Sorceries (6)
2
Crash Through
$0.70
Lands (19)
7
Island
$2.45
9
Mountain
$3.15
60 Cards
$41.76

Izzet is all about casting spells and we have plenty of those alongside creatures who love to see them. You have a bevy of cheap interaction on top of cheap threats which gives you a lot of decisions each game you play. Unfortunately, as it stands, there is no competitive version of this deck particularly but I will update this if I find one!

Rakdos Sacrifice

Budget Rakdos Sacrifice
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $149.44
Explorer
best of 1
0 mythic
10 rare
24 uncommon
26 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (18)
4
Mayhem Devil
$1.40
Instants (8)
4
Fatal Push
$9.96
4
Deadly Dispute
$13.96
Sorceries (4)
Artifacts (4)
4
Witch’s Oven
$7.96
Enchantments (4)
Lands (22)
8
Mountain
$2.80
8
Swamp
$2.80
2
Bloodfell Caves
$0.70
60 Cards
$64.16

Love loops? Rakdos Sacrifice is a very powerful deck abusing the Cauldron Familiar / Witch's Oven interaction that’s pretty close to the competitive version, even on a budget!

Rakdos Sacrifice
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $234.34
Explorer
best of 1
0 mythic
28 rare
24 uncommon
8 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (16)
4
Unlucky Witness
$1.56
4
Mayhem Devil
$1.40
Instants (10)
4
Fatal Push
$9.96
2
Village Rites
$1.38
4
Deadly Dispute
$13.96
Sorceries (4)
Artifacts (4)
4
Witch’s Oven
$7.96
Enchantments (4)
60 Cards
$296.3
Sideboard
1 Cards
$0.99

Simic Flash

(E) Budget Simic Flash
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $19.55
Explorer
best of 1
0 mythic
4 rare
20 uncommon
36 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (12)
4
Frilled Mystic
$1.40
Instants (23)
4
Fading Hope
$5.16
2
Negate
$0.70
3
Essence Scatter
$1.05
4
Growth Spiral
$1.40
4
Saw It Coming
$1.96
Lands (25)
10
Forest
$3.50
11
Island
$3.85
4
Thornwood Falls
$1.40
60 Cards
$27.64

While this deck does require some Rares to get started, it is one of the few decks that can be excellent with only a few rares. Similar to Mono Blue Tempo, this deck is looking to counter everything and stick a threat, but unlike Mono Blue, just resolving one threat can be enough to win the game! Thankfully for this deck as well, the main upgrades are just to the mana base and you don’t need to use many wildcards beyond that!

(H) Bo1 Simic Flash
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $81.04
Historic
Tempo
best of 1
4 mythic
21 rare
17 uncommon
18 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (16)
4
Brazen Borrower
$23.96
4
Frilled Mystic
$1.40
Instants (19)
3
Fading Hope
$3.87
1
Negate
$0.35
3
Essence Scatter
$1.05
4
Growth Spiral
$1.40
2
Saw It Coming
$0.98
Lands (25)
4
Forest
$1.40
6
Island
$2.10
4
Breeding Pool
$79.96
60 Cards
$179.06

What About Best of Three?

These decks are optimized for Best of One play, but all of these decks can be ported into Best of 3 decks rather easily as well.

The easiest way is to find the base archetype these decks fall under on our page and take a look at what other players are doing.

There aren’t many ubiquitous sideboard cards so I would only worry about procuring those after you’ve optimized the main deck.


Decklists in this Article

Thank you for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts in our Discord server!

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Altheriax
Altheriax

Alth is an MTG Arena grinder who has been #1 on the ladder multiple times and is always looking to bring new ideas and archetypes to the format and push them to the top spots on the ladder. You can follow him on Twitter and YouTube.

Articles: 118