Explorer Meta Guide: Top Decks for the Week of October 7

Jaffer dives into this week's Explorer meta game, discussing matchups, and tier list updates.


Each week, we at PlayingExplorer take a deep dive into the available MTGA ranked ladder data from players in Platinum rank and above. We take what data we have and break down which decks sit where in the Explorer metagame. These tier lists include a rolling average to ensure decks don’t move too volatility on the tier list after one good week. If you’re looking for an example of that tier list, here is this week’s best-of-three and best-of-one tier lists.

This metagame breakdown article will accompany that tier list each Friday, and will go over the top decks, why they have seen increases, decreases, or stagnation in play, and cover what stands out as to why these decks are contenders in the metagame.

When reading the information below you may notice not much has changed this week.


This week, we have our standard set of data from the ranked ladder from Platinum and up. Since Wizards is still not releasing Explorer data alongside their Historic, Standard and Alchemy data for some reason, we use a major tracker that we are affiliated with, in combination with Explorer tournaments with more than 50 players.

No big Explorer events this past week.

Explorer Competitive Guides

The data above is broken down by our Explorer Competitive Guides – a group of players on the PlayingExplorer team (which includes the authors of this article) who have met certain metrics to qualify to be a Competitive Guide and maintained those metrics each month to remain on the competitive team. While leaning on the data as much as possible, the competitive team often shifts decks up and down based on their experience and feelings about expected matchups. The input from our competitive guides, combined with the data, makes up our weekly tier lists. 

Metagame Breakdown

S Tier

Decks in this tier are the most heavily played and format dominant. These decks are the core that the rest of the meta revolves around. Players should be prepared to face these decks multiple times throughout a series of games on the ladder or in a single constructed event.

Rakdos Midrange

With there being the same deck in S Tier this week, Rakdos continues to hold a place in everyone’s midrange heart. The deck just has an overall good game plan against most decks. Having a lot of answers just tends to continue to be good!

With the data of how many games played in our affiliated tracker, do a lot of Rakdos players just continue to play this deck from how constituent it is? Or is the Arena economy just not friendly enough to allow most players to craft new decks? (Sample size being 2,811 games.) Looking at lists floating around online, nothing really changed as of late in RB Midrange.

With not many changes happening to the metagame this past week, I would like to avoid the same matches mentioned previously, Mono-Green Stompy, Green Karn, and Enigmatic Incarnation. Matches I’d like to play against still, Azorius Control, Greasefang, and most creature-based decks.

A Tier

Decks in this tier are generally on the same power level as those above it, and consistently post top results at events. However, due to certain factors like deck population or weakness in a key matchup they are not as format dominant.

Abzan Greasefang

Our favorite vehicle operator, Greasefang, Okiba Boss, continues to drive this deck to be A Tier. Being accompanied by angels and cats, this rat has no fear of graveyard hate!

Not much has changed with the Abzan variant of Greasefang this week besides the small choice of Corpse Churn vs Stitcher’s Supplier. With the missing pieces from Pioneer, Greasefang players will continue to adjust and find what’s best for their 75.

Enigmatic Incarnation

What was once a fringe Explorer list a few weeks ago has now gone full A Tier power. The game plan is still the same from when the deck first became a thing. Using Fires of Invention to cast two free spells a turn and getting a toolbox like creature from Enigmatic Incarnation. Some players are still testing the waters with different kinds of enchantments to play like Elspeth’s Nightmare or even playing Zur, Eternal Schemer.

Threats you still want to avoid are hyper aggressive creature decks, mass enchantment and targeted removal such as Back to Nature Farewell, and Boseiju, Who Endures. Rakdos Midrange continues to be a match you’d like to play against.


Fast cards, fast games, gotta go fast! Mono-Red is continuing to be a powerful creature based deck in our favorite non rotating Arena format. Nothing really has changed here this week either besides maybe some sideboard choices.

With things staying similar to last week the match ups are fairly similar to what to avoid and wanting to play. Avoiding Mono Green and heavy creature removal decks are parts of the keys to victory. To achieve absolute victory with the followers of Hazoret, finding those slower game strategy decks is best.

B Tier

Decks in this tier are proven performers with strong finishes that will reward good player skill/dedicated play. However, they generally lack a certain level of power/consistency to take them to the winner’s podium on a regular basis.

Green Karn

Karn and his gang of misfit creatures and planeswalkers are still putting up results in the Explorer ladder. Even causing some players to do a little bit of innovation in events. The only thing really changing as of late in this list tends to be the wishboard, Karn’s Sylex usually. 

Some matchups I wish to avoid when piloting this deck: Azorius Control. Matchups I’d like to play: Rakdos Midrange, Mono-Red, Greasefang variants, and Humans.

Azorius Control

Blue White Control. Countering spells, killing things, and mass destroying boardstates is still dealing with everything coming its way in the A Tier slot.

While pushing along its way on the ladder Azorius Control still faces the same issues as usual. Being out valued by discard spells and unanswered planeswalkers.

Rakdos Sacrifice

Still holding a place in B Tier at a 60% win rate, Rakdos Sacrifice is continuing to trigger its way up the metagame. The ability of using Mayhem Devil with any sacrifice synergy just continues to be a strong gameplan. Will we see cats and ovens climb higher on our tier list soon?

Like this deck and want to win with it? Then you’d like to play against some creature decks. Try avoiding heavy enchantment lists, strong midrange gameplans, and combos.

Mono-Blue Spirits

Our top tempo deck, or maybe our only tempo deck and top tribal deck, is still slinging digital cardboard on their opponents turns with flashy spirits! With the upcoming Shadows Over Innistrad Remastered set next year we might see this turn into bant spirits or have both archetypes around. However in the meantime this Mono Blue pile is still very popular with its cheap creatures, counters, and snow theme.

Rakdos midrange continues to be a problem child for Spirits to deal with. Nearly all other matches are fine.

C Tier (List Shoutouts)

Decks in this tier are on an average power level for the format or are heavily underrepresented. Like our B-tier these decks can reward dedication to the archetype, but they will require a more concerted effort. Players should be aware of these decks, but not over-tune for these matchups.

With the metagame not changing much this week, we have decided to do a C Tier shoutout this time around.

Mono-Black Midrange

Five-Color Elementals


Jund Sacrifice

Jeskai Creativity

D Tier (List Shoutouts)

Decks in this tier will find the current meta hostile to their overall game plan. These decks can find success in the right environment, but the winner’s podium will be few and far between.

Golgari Midrange

Dimir Control

Green Stompy

Mardu Greasefang

Mono-Black Midrange

Final Thoughts

That’s it for this week! What did you think about the metagame not changing much? Are you trying anything new in the format or found a special “spice” to a list you’re really enjoying? We at Playing Explorer were surprised and ecstatic on the announcement of Shadows Over Innistrad. Hopefully the next Anthology comes out this month or early next month!

Keep being awesome!

  • Jaffer

    Explorer Competitive Guide

    Jaffer has been stomping around with big dumb creatures in Magic: The Gathering since Theros release back in 2013. Ever since playing Mono-Green day one of his MTG career he's been in love with any stompy or aggressive-based deck. Jaffer is known for being a Twitch Partner in the Magic: The Gathering category, with 99% of his time in the Explorer queues.

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