Explorer Anthology 1 brings more staples, but are they enough?


Ahead of its full reveal later today and release on June 28, Explorer Anthology 1 has already promised several exciting maps. Over the past few days, Wizards of the Coast has teased many cards from the Anthology, much to the delight of fans. With several powerful maps, and notably the Pioneer staples announced so far, Explorer Anthology 1 is shaping up to be exactly what gamers wanted.

Mausoleum Wanderer

Mausoleum Wanderer | occult moon

announced in a marketing post on Twitter, Mausoleum Wanderer has been almost confirmed for Explorer Anthology 1. This is great news for blue players and Explorer in general, as a level 1 Pioneer deck will be 1:1 on Arena. Previously, several Pioneer decks were missing essential pieces in Explorer. For example, the Mono Blue Spirits deck isn’t complete without Mausoleum Wanderer. Similarly, Pioneer Bant monitor decks typically run four Supreme Verdictalso introduced in Explorer.

If you’ve never heard of it before, Mausoleum Wanderer is a staple of Pioneer’s blue Spirit mono decks. With the ability to gain +1/+1 until end of turn each time another Spirit enters the battlefield, Mausoleum Wanderer is a valuable source of early game damage. In addition to its damage-dealing abilities, Mausoleum Wanderer can also be sacrificed to counter instant or sorcery spells. Although this meter is mitigated by an opponent paying X, where X is Mausoleum Wanderer’s power, it is still incredibly versatile.

Presentation of cards like Mausoleum Wanderer in Explorer Anthology 1 is precisely what WotC should do. While part of Magic’s charm is to build decks with available pieces, Explore isn’t meant to be its own format. Instead, Explorer is the waiting model of Arena that players can enjoy until Pioneer properly arrives. As a result, WotC should always prioritize maps that Explorer needs in Explorer Anthology 1 over funny jokes. Unfortunately, leaks suggest that Wizards of the Coast may not follow this philosophy.

elven mystic

elven mystic
elvish mystic | Magic 2014 Core Set

Alongside Mausoleum Wanderer, Wizards of the Coast also teased Elvish Mystic’s Arena debut on Twitter. Also appearing in Explorer Anthology 1, Elvish Mystic is a staple card in many decks. In itself, Elvish Mystic is nothing special. A 1/1 for whoever can tap to add green mana is pretty basic, after all. This ability is also exactly the same as Llanowar Elves. As the more crafty among you might have noticed, Elvish Mystic isn’t called Llanowar Elves. While these cards are otherwise identical, this naming quirk allows players to run up to eight mana dorks into their deck.

The ability to run twice as many green mana dorks in your is essential for many green ramp decks in Historic and Pioneer. Currently, historical players looking to level up are forced to use both Llanowar Elves and Jaspera Sentinel. Although Jaspera Sentinel grants access to any color of mana, this combination is usually not as effective. Elvish Mystic is also found in Pioneer decks such as Green Devotion. Unfortunately, even after adding Elvish Mystic, many other components of this deck will be missing. These missing cards include what is arguably the heart of any Devotion deck Nykthos, sanctuary of Nyx.

The leaks

Along with official teasing from wizards themselves, a leak list of Explorer Anthology 1 maps circulating on Reddit. As with all leaks, it shouldn’t be automatically believed, however, there is a handful of evidence to back up this list. Notably, Reddit users are apparently discovering Anthology cards in MTG Arena game files, which all but confirms their imminent arrival. Luckily, we won’t have to wait long to find out if these leaks are correct. That’s because Wizards of the Coast will announce the full list of cards in both anthologies later today.

Unfortunately, the majority of leaked anthology cards aren’t worth getting excited about beyond the fact that they exist. There are undoubtedly several attractive cards, such as Siege Rhino and Tainted Remedy. However, they are not what Explorer needs. Rather than completing the transition from Explorer to Pioneer, for level 1 decks at least, WotC is focused on building an interesting Explorer metagame. We’ll admit that’s not really a bad thing. However, we’re nonetheless disappointed with the lack of some Pioneer staples.

Things aren’t much better for historic players. After the initial spoilers and teases for Chalice of the Void, excitement has been building for Historic Anthology 6. However, that excitement can be dashed when players find the full cycle of Artifact Lands in the Anthology. Introduced in Modern Horizons 2, these lands obviously synergize with Artifacts. However, this is not something Arena currently needs. This has led many players to believe that Dominaria United and The Brothers War will have some serious artifact synergies. Until then, ten of the 20 cards in Historic Anthology 6 may be effectively useless.

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