Esper Midrange Deck (4th Place at a Starcitygames Standard Open)
June 24, 2012 | Posted by Dee
Ari Lax got 4th place at this weekend’s Starcitygames Standard Open in Detroit. I really like his deck because he took a strong deck and made it better.
He took Sam Black’s Blue/White (UW) Delverless Midrange deck and added black. The new color allowed him to replace Vapor Snag with actual removal spells like Doom Blade and Go for the Throat.
Vapor Snag is much better in an aggro deck like UW Delver. Many times you don’t need to actually kill creatures to win with UW Delver.
You just want to clear blockers for a few turns because Delver of Secrets and Geist of Saint Traft hit so hard. Bouncing blockers is usually enough. Plus, the life loss and cheap cost of Vapor Snag works well in an aggro deck.
In a midrange deck, you definitely would rather have Doom Blade because you’re not playing super aggressive cards.
Black also gives you access to other powerful cards, which I’ll talk about below. But first check out Ari’s decklist.
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Other than strong instant speed removal spells, black also gives you Forbidden Alchemy, Lingering Souls, Vault of the Archangel, and Nihil Spellbomb.
Forbidden Alchemy is one of the best card draw spells in Standard when the game goes long.
Lingering Souls is just an overpowered card that gives you a lot of card advantage.
Vault of the Archangel is really good with Lingering Souls. Trading 1/1 Spirit tokens for bigger creatures is good value. The Dark Ascension land helps you come back in games against creature decks where you go down below five life. It helps you whenever racing situations come up.
Nihil Spellbomb is one of the best cards against graveyard decks like Solar Flare and Frites. Adding “draw a card” to its ability makes it even better.
Ari cut most of the planeswalkers from Sam’s deck. Tamiyo, the Moon Sage is not that good against the most popular deck, UW Delver. Other decks are playing Restoration Angel and Tamiyo just doesn’t match up well against her.
You would rather have threats like Sun Titan, Phantasmal Image, and Lingering Souls.
Sun Titan is a creature so unlike planeswalkers, it combos with Cavern of Souls. It can return Phantasmal Image to destroy Geist of Saint Traft. Planeswalkers tend to have problems with that hexproof creature.
Phantasmal Image is just one of the best cards in Standard right now. It’s super cheap and many people are playing creatures with abilities that trigger whenever they enter the battlefield or die.
Creatures like Snapcaster Mage, Blade Splicer, and Huntmaster of the Fells are good ones to copy. Also, Phantasmal Image is one of the best cards against undying creatures.
Ari played more Thought Scours than Gitaxian Probes because Thought Scour combos with Sun Titan, Lingering Souls, and Forbidden Alchemy. Also, it gives you more cards you can flashback with Snapcaster Mage at the end of your opponent’s turn.
The core of the deck is very similar to Sam’s deck. You’ve still got the card advantage engine of Snapcaster Mage, Ponder, Thought Scour, and Gitaxian Probe. Also, you’ve got the Blade Splicer and Restoration Angel combo.
Ari just took a great deck and made it better with a couple tweaks.
I think this deck is so good that I’m considering playing it in the Gold 2-Player Events on Magic Online. These events tend to be very competitive because you basically pay $10 to play one match.
The winner gets around $16.50 worth of booster pack prizes when you sell them to a bot. Therefore, you can make some money if you win much more than you lose. But if you lose too often, you could lose a lot of money.
For example, if you lose two matches in a row, that’s $20 down the drain before you know it.