Standard: Esper Midrange Deck Tech & Sideboard Guide

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Standard: Esper Midrange Deck Tech & Sideboard Guide

We will talk in detail about Esper Midrange, the good stuff of the format and has several synergistic creatures, planeswalkers and removals.

By Thiago, 14/05/22, translated by Humberto - Comment regular icon0 comments

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About Esper Midrange

Today we are going to talk about one of the main decks in Standard, Esper Midrange. Like most midranges lately, it consists of a mix of synergistic creatures, planeswalkers, and some removals. It's a sort of Esper good stuff of the format, featuring The Wandering Emperor, The Meathook Massacre, Kaito Shizuki, Lolth, Spider Queen and an addition of New Capenna that has been positively surprising, Raffine, Scheming Seer.
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The idea is to generate value with planeswalkers and creatures like Tenacious Underdog, which draws card on death when cast with blitz, Raffine, who helps recycle the hand, Obscura Interceptor to bounce some spell and Legion Angel which only offers a 1-for-1 trade if countered the first time.

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In order not to increase the mana curve too much, we used a Lolth, Spider Queen and an Elspeth Resplendent considering generating card and board advantage, as well as forcing negative trades to the other side. Elspeth isn't the type of planeswalker that we want to have multiple copies of, while we might want more than one Lolth to fill the board with creatures. Still on the curve, the idea of โ€‹โ€‹jamming from drop 3 or less is to increase the odds of Elspeth's -3 ability hitting good permanents.

Mulligan and Game Stance

Because it is a midrange with some impactful creatures with low mana cost, we can adopt both a beatdown strategy, as we can play backwards with removals and planeswalkers generating more value than the opponents.
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Our focus here is to go from turn 2 to 4 with creatures, planeswalkers or Wedding Announcement and if any drop 5 comes, we have more advantage. The good thing about the deck is that it doesn't need a lot of mana to put pressure on the board. For Example: Aspirant at 2, Raffine at 3 and Kaito or Wedding Announcement at 4. Luminarch Aspirant and Raffine's pump can cause the game to go out of control in 1 or 2 turns, especially if we are facing decks with damage-based removals.
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We also have resources for grinding decks with planeswalkers. All 4 cards of this type that we used in the list are good against control and midrange mirrors, with emphasis on the probably best card in the format, The Wandering Emperor and Elspeth which has the potential to generate a 3-for-1 depending on what we get with the -3. In this type of match, it is ideal to prioritize cards that require favorable trades or generate an advantage in other ways, such as Underdog, which can be cast from the graveyard.
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Against aggro, we can control the game with Vanishing Verse and Meathook, in addition to The Wandering Emperor dealing well with creatures and Elspeth giving the lifelink counter to some creature. Obscura Charm completes the removals package, being very flexible about its use.

Sideboard

vs. Control (Esper and UW)

Removals become useless in this match, while we want counters and discards. The ideal is to be able to keep Malevolent Hermit on the board to counter spells or prevent our plays from being countered, as this deck has a tap out proposal, not giving us much room for us to spend the turn with open mana for interactions.

IN

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OUT

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vs. Midrange (Esper, Jund and Bant)

There is no general rule for sideboarding Esper mirrors or against Jund. Ray of Enfeeblement is good against Esper and worth adding, removing Luminarch and a Kaito or two Kaito in case we are on the draw. Massacre can be useful on the draw, but unnecessary on the play, it's better to leave a Portable Hole.

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Obscura Interceptor is problematic because it's a tempo play, which we don't want in this type of match because delaying plays doesn't get us anywhere, we need to respond to threats or generate more value. That way, leaving a copy or none on the post-side is interesting.

IN

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OUT

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vs. Aggro (Mono White, Naya Tokens)

Mono White and Naya Tokens are included here, as the idea of โ€‹โ€‹these decks is to be the beatdown, even if in different ways. Our biggest problem is playing on the draw because Kaito is awful in this scenario, Underdog doesn't do much and Luminarch is slow, but it ends up being a necessary option. Obscura Interceptor has lifelink and returns a spell to the hand, but costs 4 mana with three of them being colored, the Wandering Emperor is much superior almost always. We still have the option to add Hermit to have more creatures that hold the game until the planeswalkers win. On the draw, it's even worth exchanging 2 Underdog for 2 Hermit against Naya Tokens.

IN

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OUT

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vs. Naya Runes

This deck is a little different from the others, requiring us to use all removals and Archon of Emeria to avoid the storm the deck causes with Showdown of the Skalds. Meathook isn't that useful because Runes' creatures grow much faster than we can kill with it. So, we can remove 1 or 2 copies. I prefer -1 Meathook and -1 Kaito post-sideboard, but if you remove both enchantments, Kaito stays on the deck.

IN

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OUT

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Conclusion

That's all for today, any questions or suggestions, I'm available in the comments. Until the next time!
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Thiago

Economist, Standard and Historic player. I stream on Twitch MTG Arena.

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