Arena, But Cheaper: Six Budget Decks

ServoToken brings his budget expertise for the first time to PlayingExplorer with 6 New Budget Explorer Decks

[A note before we begin: ServoToken does not play Arena and despises the predatory nature by which cards are obtained. This may or may not become evident throughout the following article.]

Explorer. A fun new-adjacent way to play some of your favorite cards from the comfort of your own toilet. But what happens when the format is prohibitively expensive because every deck demands the entirety of your rare wildcard collection to even have a functional mana base, let alone access to powerful spells? Well, today we have an assembly of budget oriented decks that you can try out without committing too many wildcards to the ceaseless maw that is Wizards of the Coast’s patent pending Wildcard Shred-o-matic. For today’s offering to the resistance, we’ve set a budget limitation of six mythics and six rares so as to not dip too heavily into a wildcard collection. Let’s get straight into it.


The traditional Rakdos Sacrifice strategy is seen dominating the top tables of many Pioneer and Explorer tables alike. This strategy is primarily dependant on uncommons, and thankfully the core of the deck is relatively ubiquitous among recently-assembled collections. The main strategy is to grind the opponent to dust using the Cat Oven combo, Witch’s Oven and Cauldron Familiar, while simultaneously abusing a myriad of death triggers and cards that want to see other cards sacrificed.

Blue Spirits is one of the most hardy tempo-strategies that has graced the scene since the Delver decks of legacy’s yesteryear. The deck relies on the immense synergy between these spooky specters and their capacity to fly over opposing forces. It plays a handful of counterspells which people may generally be underprepared for, and incorporates creatures with spell-like abilities to establish and maintain dominance throughout the game.

4-Color Omnath is a relatively off-the-wall strategy that many people have attempted over the years without significant success. This niche deck relies on the little known interaction encountered when there is an Omnath in play and lands enter the battlefield, wherein the Omnath player proceeds to win the game on the spot. Joking aside, this deck relies heavily on the new cycle of fetch-lands from Streets of New Capenna, which interact extremely favorably with the likes of Renegade Rallier to churn through Omnath and other landfall triggers to create an overwhelming advantage at little cost. 


Mono Red is a classic strategy as old as the game itself. This particular iteration leans toward the aggro, or “Sligh” variant, which looks to jam out cheap and efficient creatures and beat an opponent down before they can establish themselves. The appeal to this deck, for anyone who hasn’t seen or heard of mono red before, is the speed by which one can churn through games. Win or lose, BO1 games can last as little as a couple of minutes, which means that ranking up can be an absolute breeze for someone practiced enough.

On the opposite side of the spectrum in terms of speed is UW control. This deck looks to dominate a game by prohibiting an opponent from enacting their game plan, either via its unending counterspells or dense suite of removal. This archetype is more focused on extracting as much fun for the pilot out of each game it plays as possible, and is better suited for those that want a more rich and full experience out of their time on the Arena platform.

To cap off the train of classic archetypes, we have Mono Green Ramp, a deck that looks to extract all of the basic forests from its deck, put them into play, and cast some of the largest and most in-chargest cards in the game. The deck tries from its first turn to get ahead of the opponent on mana to eventually outclass whatever an opponent might have going on in the mid game. The best part of a ramp deck like this is the extreme redundancy, wherein a ramp pilot can expect very similar results throughout all of their matches. If you’re looking for a linear style deck that doesn’t just mindlessly turn creatures sideways and beat face, consider this deck that mindlessly puts lands into play so that it can eventually turn one creature sideways and beat face!

That’s all for this one. Joking and criticisms aside, I think that the promise that the Explorer format makes is extremely good looking, and beneficial for the community overall. Arena isn’t my preferred way to play, but the platform offers a lot of things that classic paper magic or MTGO just can’t. I, like the rest of the crew here on PlayingExplorer, am very much looking forward to the day that we can shut this site down for good once Pioneer becomes fully accessible on the platform. Until then, we’ll continue to work with what we have and make the best of the place that we’re at. As always, stay safe, play smart, and thanks for reading. 

  • Darren "ServoToken"


    ServoToken has been playing competitive magic since 2011, spending a majority of that time living in the shoes of a player on a strict budget. After investing a lot of time learning how to make the best of a bad situation, his goals today are to spread those lessons to the often-ignored population of Magic players who can’t afford to drop a car payment on a new deck every couple of months. His mantra is that “You don’t need to play mono-red to do well on a budget”. These days, you can typically find him deep in the archives of Scryfall searching for new cards to brew around or making tweaks to the Pioneer Budget deck spreadsheet on his unending mission to bring his favorite format to the people on the cheap.

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