It’s time for the first Wildcard Season in Arena history. What is the prize for playing in all four weeks this season? A random foil that you missed out on. That’s pretty sweet! To get that random foil, you’ll need to play all four arenas, which means you’ll need to jump into this one. Some people love this format, others not-so-much, and it is easy to see why: this Arena, more than any other, redefines the game. Join me as we begin a Daring Exploration through this week’s format.

Format Rules and Technical Notes

The Daring Exploration scenario rule redefines the game in a way that changes how every single card should be evaluated.

Whenever a player scraps a card from play (such as an Explorer), they draw a card.

This week we are playing with the Colony Wars starter, Promo Pack 2, and Crisis: Fleets. 104 cards in the trade row, six of which can be acquired directly to hand.

Technical Notes: Most people seem to understand the scenario rule but just to be clear: you draw a card when you scrap a card after you’ve played it, using its scrap ability. The scrap-from-trade row cards won’t do anything special. (This week, I don’t think you should buy them anyways. See below.)

Exploring To Infinity And Beyond

Because you can always buy an Explorer, every card in the game must be compared to Explorer. If the card is not better than Explorer, you should usually avoid it. I’ll get into exceptions later in the article. But to belabor the point: every card must be compared to Explorer because you can “go infinite” with them. Here is the infinite combo, a first in the game’s history:

  • You have an empty discard pile,
  • You have an empty deck,
  • You have a way to draw a card (including any scrap ability) and at least 2 trade unspent this turn.
  • Buy an Explorer.
  • Draw a card, forcing your one-card discard pile to become your deck, meaning you draw Explorer.
  • Play Explorer, gaining 2 trade.
  • Buy an Explorer.
  • Scrap the Explorer you just played, gaining 2 combat and drawing a card — which is an Explorer.
  • Repeat these last three steps infinitely until you generate enough combat to destroy every opposing base, then your opponent.

Extremely technical note: There are other ways to perform this combo. Technically your discard pile can have cards in it when you start, if every card in it has a scrap ability and/or lets you draw cards. You can even have some number of cards that do not do that, so long as your draws and scrap abilities in your discard pile and hand are greater than the total number of cards in your discard pile.

Every card you buy during the game can decrease your chance to go infinite. But you can’t go infinite if you only buy Explorers; you must buy Machine Cult’s deck-scrapping cards to get there. That option is not always going to be available, however. Or both players might buy one of these cards, making the race very difficult to win. Then what?

Andrea’s Comprehensive List of Cards Worth Buying

Here is a list of every card in the format worth buying, in my opinion. These cards have self-scrapping abilities, draw cards, or have a damage or authority-gain rate high enough to justify playing without the card-drawing. I’ve rated every card in the format from 1 to 10, where 1 is “just barely playable” and 10 is “buy this or please do not blame me for your losses.” If the card is not on this list, I cannot imagine a scenario where it is worth buying.

Repair Bot210It’s better than Explorer. It’s the best common in the format.
Cargo Launch110Draws you a card when you play it, another when you scrap it. This is the best card in the format.
Falcon310Draw two, opponent discards one. Golden.
Imperial Smuggler210Draw two, discard one, +1 damage over an Explorer? Sold.
Probe Bot210Better than Explorer. The chance of getting its ally ability is worth the risk of setting up the trade row for your opponent.
War Kite210Better than Explorer, especially if you have ally abilities or your opponent has bases.
Aging Battleship5107 damage, draw three cards, or four with a Star Empire trigger. I have never lost when playing this card.
Moonwurm79If you have any other green cards in your deck, or if it is before turn 10, you should just buy this thing.
Leviathan89If you have any other green cards in your deck, or if it is before turn 10, you should just buy this thing.
Stellar Ray58If this would become the only green card in your deck and you have 6+ unspent trade and your opponent does not have green cards, pass this by. Otherwise, get it. Three Explorers are better than this card, but you are spreading out those card draws and damage. (Two cards on the same turn is usually better than three spread throughout your deck.)
Battle Bot18Usually buy this but not after turn 10, unless you are close to going infinite.
Convoy Bot37Not after turn 10, unless you are close to going infinite.
Gunship47Compared to two Explorers, you are getting -1 draw, +1 damage, and making them discard a card. You are also getting a Star Empire ally trigger, and getting all of that trade at once. I would rarely buy this after turn 10.
Heavy Cruiser56This card is slightly worse than two Explorers, but has the potential to do much more. Also, the 4 damage in a single turn is sometimes meaningful (to finish off bases).
Mech Cruiser56Not after turn 10, unless you are close to going infinite.
Cargo Pod36If you have exactly three trade left, this is a solid choice. But you might then have the trade row flip up an amazing card for your opponent. Check their deck and estimate how much trade they will have, and make your call then.
Stellar Reef25This card is basically an Explorer that has a tiny chance to trigger an ally ability. Why only “sometimes”? You are changing the trade row. You may or may not want to do this, depending on the amount of trade you have left.
Mining Mech or The Oracle45Not after turn 10, unless you are close to going infinite, and ideally not as your only scrapper.
Customs Frigate45If you have any other blue cards in your deck, this is an autobuy. Even if you just acquire an Explorer, this becomes a 4-cost card that draws you two cards when you scrap it.
The Wrecker74Not after turn 10, unless you are close to going infinite, and ideally not as your only red card.
Bounty Hunter54More damage than Explorers and it will help you win the race with that ally ability. Get if you are already on the blue team.
Plasma Vent64If your opponent has green cards in their deck, there is no shame in hate-drafting this card. Especially if they have any bases in their deck. Obviously if you can acquire to hand, this becomes worth it.
Frontier Ferry44If your opponent has any bases in their deck, this has the chance to be much, much better than two Explorers. The authority gain might make the difference, too.
Emperor’s Dreadnaught84If you can acquire to hand, do so. If you can’t, only buy this if your opponent has the chance to acquire to hand.
Orbital Platform34I’m not convinced of this yet, but it seems like it will rarely be actively bad. It just isn’t great this week.
Federal Transport24I never lost buying this card. Compared to Explorer, you are getting -1 card, -1 trade, and +5 authority. Depending on the race, this might be worth it. I consider this to be a worth it on the first shuffle. It’s like adding 15 authority to your total. Not enough if your opponent can go infinite, so don’t bother if they already have two scrapping cards.
Peacekeeper63Compared to three Explorers, you are getting -3 cards, -6 trade, and +6 authority. Minus three cards is a lot, but late in the game this card might save your bacon. If you are losing the race, you should pick this card up. Or, if you have other blue cards in your deck.
Patrol Bot23Only if you have other deck-scrapping cards. If you do, get it. Or if it is the first shuffle, get it. Otherwise it isn’t worth the risk.
Border Fort42Only if you have other deck-scrapping cards. If you do, get it. Or if it is the first shuffle, get it. Otherwise it isn’t worth the risk.
Knightstar52Worth it if your opponent has any bases and if you have any other yellow cards in your deck.
Mercenary Garrison41Worse than the Oracle. Only get if you have 2+ scrapping cards already, or 1 scrapping card and a blue card.
Warning Beacon21Purchasing this to trigger a red ally ability is fine.
Bioformer41Only if you have Blob ally abilities in your deck. Otherwise, you’d be better off buying two Explorers.
Colony Seed Ship51Only if you are acquiring it to hand, and the authority gain might make a difference or if there is an ally trigger you must meet.
Cargo Mech51Not after turn 10, unless you are close to going infinite, and ideally not as your only red card unless it is the first shuffle.

Please note that these ratings assume that you do not have the possibility of going infinite. If you have purchased two or more scrapping cards, don’t buy anything that doesn’t scrap cards or draw you a card (either through text or by having a scrap ability).

Are Bases Worth It? Not Really.

War Kite and the relatively-high amount of damage on an average turn make bases not really worth buying this week. There are a few exceptions (listed above), but generally speaking they are not reliable defenses worthy of your investment.

In Conclusion & Humble Brag

This is going to be a polarizing week in the community. If you like this sort of format, you are going to absolutely love this format. Going infinite is a dream come true for some players. I am not one of those players, however, and I am looking forward to next week’s format. However, I did score a nifty 6-0 run to begin and end my week in the Arena. I hope that this guide helps you get your foil and stars.

(Now that I think of it, if there was ever going to be a week that I knocked dommola off of his perch, this might be that week. Hrm.)

Andrea Davis is an award-winning designer and producer. She has designed Star Realms promos, Hero Realms Boss Decks, and cards for Epic Card Game. Andrea is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Game Design and Development at the University of Limerick in Ireland.