Top 10 Explore Cards (and Supports) in Magic: The Gathering

Updated on May 15, 2019
Jeremy Gill profile image

Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.

What Is Exploring in Magic?

Some Magic creatures, particularly from the Ixalan set, possess the rare explore ability. These effects usually trigger when a creature enters the field, at which point you reveal the top card of your deck. If it's a land, you add it to your hand; if not, you either place it back on top of your deck or in your graveyard (your choice), then your creature receives a +1/+1 counter.

While a bit unpredictable, this means you're either gaining extra draws or boosted creatures alongside deck manipulation, making exploring a versatile ability. Yet only a few dozen cards utilize the mechanic as of this writing; which reign supreme? These are the ten best explore cards (and supports) in Magic: The Gathering!

Tishana's Wayfinder mtg
Tishana's Wayfinder mtg

10. Tishana's Wayfinder

CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 3

Wayfinder's 2/2 power and toughness aren't great, but she automatically explores upon arrival. This either buffs her to a respectable 3/3 or grants you a free land, both useful benefits.

Additionally, Wayfinder possesses the handy merfolk subtype and has several slots to accept any color, blending well in green/blue merfolk decks.

Emperor's Vanguard mtg
Emperor's Vanguard mtg

9. Emperor's Vanguard

CMC: 4

Vanguard has decent 4/3 stats, but unlike most of today's troops, he doesn't automatically explore when he enters the arena. Instead, he explores whenever he inflicts combat damage to a player, granting a rare reusable exploration.

While I wish Vanguard had better subtypes, he can be a valuable long-term tool, especially when given blocker-deterring traits like trample, flying, and menace.

Shadowed Caravel mtg
Shadowed Caravel mtg

8. Shadowed Caravel

CMC: 2

This vehicle requires you to "crew two" (tap creatures with total power of at least two) whenever you want it to attack or block. Additionally, Caravel itself won't explore. However, whenever any of your other units explore, Caravel receives a +1/+1 counter, gradually gaining strength.

In devoted explore decks, Caravel quickly becomes a looming threat, pressuring foes to spend a removal despite its low mana fee. Remember to keep an ally untapped and ready to crew when necessary.

Lurking Chupacabra mtg
Lurking Chupacabra mtg

7. Lurking Chupacabra

CMC: 4

Chupacabra's subtypes aren't especially useful and his 2/3 stats are disappointing. However, he offers several colorless slots, and while he himself doesn't explore, he weakens an opposing creature by -2/-2 for the turn whenever one of your other creatures does.

That's a significant drop that can kill several monsters outright, activate multiple times each turn, and since it specifically targets enemy units, you're never forced to activate it on yourself (in cases where you explore while opponents don't control any creatures).

Merfolk Branchwalker mtg
Merfolk Branchwalker mtg

6. Merfolk Branchwalker

CMC: 2

Branchwalker has one less toughness than Wayfinder, but maintains the same power, subtypes, and exploration upon arrival. In exchange for that lost toughness, Branchwalker needs less mana, making her more accessible in the early stages of your game and the generally-superior choice.

Deadeye Tracker mtg
Deadeye Tracker mtg

5. Deadeye Tracker

CMC: 1

Deadeye Tracker is a weak 1/1, but he only costs one mana and carries the pirate subtype. Plus, by spending two mana, tapping, and exiling two cards from an opponent's graveyard, he explores, another continuous exploration that simultaneously prevents graveyard revivals. Be sure to mill cards into opposing graveyards to continuously activate the trait.

Path of Discovery mtg
Path of Discovery mtg

4. Path of Discovery

CMC: 4

Though it needs a fair chunk of resources, this enchantment simply has your creature explore when they enter the field. This works best when swarming tokens with cards like "Tendershoot Dryad" and "Leonin Warleader," rapidly overwhelming foes with boosted creatures and draws. But note the effect isn't optional, so you can't decline in the rare cases you'd want to (perhaps if you're getting milled), and it won't impact units already fielded.

Jadelight Ranger mtg
Jadelight Ranger mtg

3. Jadelight Ranger

CMC: 3

Yet another green merfolk scout, Ranger is a bit color-locked and her stats are a poor 2/1. However, she explores not once but twice upon entry, potentially arriving as a fierce 4/3.

If you reveal a non-land with the first explore but you'd like a land, send it to the graveyard, giving your second venture a chance for a land. Alternatively, if you'd prefer the counters, simply keep the non-land on top to guarantee your bonus.

Wildgrowth Walker mtg
Wildgrowth Walker mtg

2. Wildgrowth Walker

CMC: 2

Walker himself won't explore, but he's the mechanic's best support yet. For two mana, he starts as a decent 1/3 who can tank early hits, but Walker automatically gains a +1/+1 counter whenever a creature you control explores, quickly skyrocketing in strength. He also grants you life, providing a handy lifegain tool (especially for a non-white faction).

Enter the Unknown mtg
Enter the Unknown mtg

1. Enter the Unknown

CMC: 1

Enter the Unknown offers a nice low-cost sorcery that works well even outside dedicated explore themes. For a single mana, you have any creature you control explore. Additionally, you can play an extra land during your turn.

If you end up drawing a land, you've basically gotten a cheaper version of "Growth Spiral" (in itself a good card), and if not, you boost a creature and gain an extra land play. Either way, you're getting two benefits for a single mana while filling your graveyard with a sorcery, useful for meeting "spell mastery" conditions on cards like "Nissa's Pilgrimage."

A common member of my own green commander decks, Unknown is a bargain value, costing less than fifty cents!

Which card would you prefer?

See results

Exploring in Magic: The Arena

Most of today's cards are available in Magic's online Arena game, so be prepared to combat the occasional explore-based deck. More commonly, you'll see explorers sprinkled throughout other themes, from merfolk to white/green lifegain builds.

Exploring offers potential hand advantage (particularly helpful for green) plus boosted creatures, and I hope to see the mechanic spread in future sets. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of exploring creatures, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Jeremy Gill

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hobbylark.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hobbylark.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)