top of page

'Explorer' (aka Pioneer Lite) Officially Coming to MTG Arena

Card: Lotus Field | Art: John Avon

Fans of true-to-tabletop formats, get ready.

On Thursday, WotC announced that it is bringing a new non-rotating format to MTG Arena. Dubbed "Explorer," the new format will serve as a placeholder for Pioneer until the devs can bring all of its legal cards to Arena.

In the meantime, Explorer will feature the same banlist and contain every legal Pioneer card currently on Arena.

This addition has been speculated for months and will give players an eternal format to play on Arena that doesn't include digital-only cards or Alchemy rebalancing.

When Does Explorer Come to MTG Arena?

According to WotC's announcement, Explorer's deck builder is set to launch on Arena today (April 21, 2022) with the client's latest update.

You'll have to wait until the launch of New Capenna on Arena next week to start queuing up with your favorite mostly-Pioneer decks and hitting the queues with them.

When Will Explorer Become Pioneer?

Currently, there is still a large chunk of cards missing from the Arena card pool needed to mirror a true digital version of Pioneer. That being said, WotC is "committed" to bringing Pioneer to Arena.

In its announcement, Wizards said, "Consider this the first leg of our Pioneer journey, where one day Explorer will be "retired" as a format, and we simply call it . . . Pioneer (in the same vein that Classic format became Vintage on Magic Online)."

The article also went on to note that, "supporting Pioneer on MTG Arena will take several years to accomplish."

In order to do so, WotC will take an "all cards that matter" approach. This means you'll be able to build just about any deck that sees play in Pioneer with the card pool once it's completed.

Don't expect all the draft chaff and random commons from every set to be there. However, that shouldn't impact deckbuilding if you're aiming to create something that's playable.

WotC also mentioned that it plans to start adding Pioneer staples later this summer with the release of Historic Anthology 6.

This should breathe new life into the format and bring several of its most important cards to Arena.

Explorer as a Competitive Format

Moving forward, WotC plans to treat Explorer like Standard in terms of play queues, events, and rewards. Players will even be able to rank up on the competitive ladder by winning in Explorer queues.

Meanwhile, Wizards announced that it plans to host some events for its new Premier Play system in the Explorer format.

To keep things competitive, WotC plans to follow the Pioneer ban list. However, it did note that certain Explorer bans may need to be made if the meta becomes problematic given the current card pool. Once the format is retired and becomes Pioneer, it will follow the tabletop Pioneer banlist card-for-card.


Are you hype for Explorer? Which Pioneer-lite deck are you crafting first on Arena? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!

❤️If you want to support Bolt the Bird, consider checking out our Patreon page and sharing this article! ❤️

Bolt the Bird features unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Our content is not approved/endorsed by Wizards of the Coast. Images and portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC

1,485 views0 comments
bottom of page