Mausoleum Wanderer
27, Jul, 22

Explorer Anthology 1 Brings More Staples, but Are They Enough?

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Article at a Glance

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

Mausoleum Wanderer

Mausoleum Wanderer
Mausoleum Wanderer | Eldritch Moon

Announced in a marketing post on Twitter, Mausoleum Wanderer has been all but confirmed for Explorer Anthology 1. This is excellent news for blue players and Explorer in general, as a tier 1 Pioneer deck will be 1:1 on Arena. Previously, several Pioneer decks have been missing core pieces in Explorer. For instance, the Mono Blue Spirits deck isn’t complete without Mausoleum Wanderer. Similarly, Pioneer Bant control decks typically run four Supreme Verdict, also introduced to Explorer.

If you’ve not heard of it before, Mausoleum Wanderer is a fundamental part of mono blue Spirit decks in Pioneer. With the ability to gain +1/+1 until end of turn whenever another Spirit enters the battlefield, Mausoleum Wanderer is a valuable source of early game damage. On top of its damage-dealing abilities, Mausoleum Wanderer can also be sacrificed to counter Instant or Sorcery spells. While this counter is mitigated by an opponent paying X, where X is Mausoleum Wanderer’s power, it’s still incredibly versatile. 

Introducing cards like Mausoleum Wanderer in Explorer Anthology 1 is precisely what WotC needs to do. While part of Magic’s charm is brewing decks with the available pieces, Explorer isn’t meant to be its own format. Instead, Explorer is Arena’s holding pattern that players get to enjoy until the proper arrival of Pioneer. As a result, WotC should always prioritize cards that Explorer needs in Explorer Anthology 1 rather than fun jank. Unfortunately, leaks suggest that Wizards of the Coast may not follow that philosophy.

Elvish Mystic

Elvish 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 core card in many decks. On its own, Elvish Mystic is nothing too special. A 1/1 for one that can tap to add one green mana is pretty basic, after all. This ability is also precisely the same as Llanowar Elves. As the astute among you may have noticed, Elvish Mystic isn’t called Llanowar Elves. Despite these cards being otherwise identical, this naming quirk allows players to run up to eight mana dorks in 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, Historic players looking to ramp are forced to use both Llanowar Elves and Jaspera Sentinel. While Jaspera Sentinel does give access to any color of mana, typically, this combination isn’t nearly as effective. Elvish Mystic is also found in Pioneer decks such as green Devotion. Unfortunately, even after the addition of Elvish Mystic, many other components of this deck will be missing. These missing cards include what is arguably the core of any Devotion deck Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx.

The Leaks

Alongside the official teases from Wizards themselves, a leaked list of Explorer Anthology 1 cards are circulating on Reddit. As with all leaks, these shouldn’t be automatically believed, however, there’s a smattering of evidence backing this list up. Notably, Reddit users are seemingly discovering Anthology cards within MTG Arena’s game files, which all but confirms their impending arrival. Thankfully, we won’t have to wait long to find out if these leaks are correct. That’s because Wizards of the Coast is announcing the full list of cards in both Anthologies later today.

Unfortunately, the majority of the 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’re not what Explorer needs. Rather than completing Explorer’s transition to Pioneer, for tier 1 decks at least, WotC is focused on building an interesting Explorer metagame. We’ll concede that this isn’t really a bad thing. However, we’re nonetheless disappointed at the lack of some Pioneer staples. 

Things are not 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 may be dashed when players find the entire cycle of Artifact lands in the Anthology. Introduced in Modern Horizons 2, these lands obviously synergize with Artifacts. However, that’s not something that Arena currently needs. This has led many players to believe Dominaria United and The Brothers War will have some serious Artifact synergies. Until then, ten of Historic Anthology 6’s 20 cards may be effectively useless.

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