Magic: the Gathering

Deck Guide

Standard: Esper Midrange - Deck Tech and Sideboard Guide

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As Murders at Karlov Manor is coming soon, in today's article I'll bring you one of the best Standard decks, its details and strategy.

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translated by Joey Sticks

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revised by Tabata Marques

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About this Deck

Esper Midrange or Esper Raffine is a deck that, just like most miracles in Standard, gathers powerful cards that become even better together. Before I delve deeper into this deck's strategy, it is important we stress the differences between Esper Midrange, Esper Legends and Esper Control, three decks that can confuse people because they're so similar.

Esper Control is one of this deck's Control variants that focuses more on planeswalkers, with The Wandering Emperor as the main win condition. This deck has several removals, counters and spells that will support this strategy, which wants to control the game and finish with the planeswalker listed above or another threat.

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Esper Legends, as the name suggests, is a version that focuses more on creatures, and it is practically an Aggro deck. It also uses several legendary creatures that create value for this strategy. As for Esper Midrange, it is a healthy medium between the other two variants, considering it brings elements from both of them and mixes all of these traits until it is what is today the best version of this archetype.

Deck Build

Let's delve deep into the list we chose for this article.

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Raffine, Scheming Seer is the heart of this deck. This creature can create value in so many ways that it is impossible to think about this deck without it nowadays. It is a threat with evasion and protection that scales considerably as the game goes on. Allied to other small creatures in this deck, such as Deep-Cavern Bat and Faerie Mastermind, it can simply mow down your opponent.

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Ixalan gave this deck another powerful creature that became a big staple in this format. Tishana's Tidebinder is an incredible creature because it interacts with your opponent in several ways at instant speed and also places a threat on the board.

This deck also has an excellent removal and counter kit. These tools, even though they aren't as well-positioned in the meta considering Cavern of Souls is present in this format, are still relevant in several situations. The Wandering Emperor is still this format's best planeswalker, and it is an extra win condition that can easily decide how your game goes.

Virtue of Loyalty and Wedding Announcement are two cards that complement each other well and match with this strategy splendidly. Many times, they'll be the ones responsible for finishing your games, considering they create several tokens and speed up the clock you impose on your opponent.

Mulligan and Style

As I mentioned at the beginning, this deck is basically a "good stuff" deck because it has the best cards possible in this color combination. With this in mind, you must prioritize starting hands that interact with your opponent's threats and develop your own game plan.

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The example above shows a viable starting hand that allows you to develop the first few turns, and has the interactions you need to deal with possible threats.

Sideboard Guide

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Now, we'll delve deeper into this deck's sideboard guide, and map our choices for the five main matchups you will face.

Vs. Esper Midrange

Let's start with the mirror. As any mirror, each action you take can guide the course of the match and decide who is the winner. This deck's lists vary very little between each other, and they only alter the number of copies of each card. So, draw quality and starting hands will be the deciding factors in this case.

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Try to deal with your opponent's most dangerous cards (Raffine, Scheming Seer, Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, The Wandering Emperor) and be careful with Virtue of Loyalty and Wedding Announcement. Use your enchantments any time you can, and interact with your opponent's enchantments if you can.

Faerie Mastermind is an important creature because it takes advantage of your opponent's draws, but keep in mind that your opponent will use this against you as well.

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Vs. Domain Ramp

This is the format's "deck to beat". Domain can create a lot of value because it can ramp and guarantee the mana it needs to play its spells. Leyline Binding is incredibly strong, and Herd Migration can be disastrous to Esper. So, try to prevent your opponent from ramping and force them to keep up with you.

Deep-Cavern Bat shines considerably in this matchup because it takes resources away from your opponent.

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Vs. Mono-Red Aggro

This is this format's most popular Aggro deck. I consider this matchup favorable. Esper has the tools to deal with Red's threats and can take on its creatures through board presence.

Remove their main threats and use your health points wisely; all will be ok.

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Vs. Bant Toxic

This deck's power is concentrated on its creatures, and most of them are in your deck's removal range. Keep controlling the board and remove the threats that are in play, but be careful, because this deck should be respected.

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Vs. Golgari Midrange

This is a well-balanced matchup. Our opponent has several powerful threats, but we have the answers we need, and Esper creates even more value than them. Be careful with threats like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, Archfiend of the Dross and Preacher of the Schism.

Virtue of Persistence is another powerful card in your opponent's arsenal. Mosswood Dreadknight acts as this deck's engine and creates a lot of value as well.

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Final Words

We've reached the end of another article. Esper Midrange is one of the candidates for best deck in this format when the new season comes along, and I believe this list will still be solid in the upcoming weeks too. You can add one or two cards you find necessary, such as Outrageous Robbery, for instance, which can be an efficient sideboard card in grindy games, but I believe this version is consistent enough for this format.

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If you have any questions or suggestions, please tell us in the comment section.

See you next time!