Explore is a new mechanic from Ixalan which is triggered mostly by a creature with ‘Explore’ entering the battlefield. Explore asks you to reveal the top card of your library and draw it if it’s a land, or put a +1/+1 counter on the creature if it’s a nonland card and choose either to put it back or throw it in the bin.
Apart from the flavor it brings to the game since Ixalan is a world filled with exploration and treasure hunting, Explore can be a good mechanic to build around especially if you have Panharmonicon in play.
Panharmonicon essentially doubles our explore trigger when the creature hits the battlefield. It means we can get twice as much +1/+1 counters, or draw 2 extra lands. Sweet!
And what’s great with so much +1/+1 going around?
Good ‘ol Winding Constrictor doubles the counters we give our creatures making them really big! It’s so good that I chose to use Black Green as my color base and splashing Blue for some utility spells in the sideboard. Let’s not forget Rishkar which makes all our explorers into mana dorks.
Looking at the explore cards we have quite a good selection in the BG pie.
We have some great synergies thanks to Wildgrowth Walker and Lurking Chupacabra (I love this card’s name so much!). We have a continuously growing creature that gains us back some life, and another creature that basically is a removal on a stick! Each explorer is either a Renewed Faith or a Grasp of Darkness with a Panharmonicon out.
Here’s my BuG Explore Panharmonicon list:
4 Winding Constrictor
2 Rishkar, Peema Renegade
4 Wildgrowth Walker
4 Merfolk Branchwalker
4 Seeker’s Squire
3 Tishana’s Wayfinder
3 Lurking Chupacabra
2 Herald of Secret Streams
3 Nissa, Stewerd of Elements
4 Fatal Push
4 Blooming Marsh
4 Botanical Sanctum
2 Drowned Catacomb
1 Fetid Pool
4 Walking Ballista
2 Never // Return
2 Hour of Glory
1 Vraska’s Contempt
Splashing blue allows us to play Herald of Secret Streams on the mainboard. It’s a great way to allow our explorers to go through blockers thanks to the +1/+1 counters.
Nissa, Steward of Elements is another awesome card we can play. Her scry ability lets us sequence our top cards to either trigger a +1/+1 counter, or a free land whenever explore triggers from our creatures. Her +0 ability helps us clutter the board much faster since our curve is quite low. Her ultimate can also steal games which is nice to have.
We didn’t play Glint-nest Crane to help dig up Panharmonicon because Explore will help us find it eventually if we keep throwing the cards we reveal to the graveyard. We also avoid flooding our draws with lands since our creatures help skip some of our land-heavy draw sequences.
Walking Ballista from the sideboard will give us a way to deal with chump blockers, damage planeswalkers, or even go to the dome. It already works well with Rishkar and Winding Constrictor but it’s also a great mana sink when Rishkar turns all our explorers to mana dorks and we don’t have good attacks.
We also packed a planeswalker-creature-god removal suite because we don’t have any direct way of dealing with planeswalkers outside combat, and we don’t want The Scarab God taking our stuff from us either.
Lastly, Duress is in there against the control match-up. Apart from Negate, I’d still like to have a turn-1 interactive spell against control players so I can take out whatever’s relevant to them in the early turns, and I can see their hands and play around it better.
I’m very excited to see how this deck plays out. It looks really fun, and really funky! If you have these cards lying around – sleeve it up and let me know!