Standard Esper Midrange Guide By Mogged

17/09/2022 · 5 min read

A small Introduction to the new DMU Standard format

Week 1 metagame

Starting off Standard  week 1 one thing was obvious, the good black cards were too many for what is typically a new rotation, it’s week 1 so my idea was to start simple and see if it sticks I tried to make a monoblack curve trying to fulfill all roles of what a midrange deck should be able to do, and it was the easiest and most obvious deckbuilding that I can remember, I ended up winning(splitting) the first Standard MTGO challenge  I made a few tweaks and I can say that already this is one of the decks to beat.

MTGO Challenge winning decklist by Mogged:

Mono Black by Mogged
Mono Black by Mogged

But enough about monoblack , that’s a different guide

The format seemed to be all black based midrange, and how midrange metas work is that the greedier/bigger midrange comes out on top.

Decks like Naya reanimator seemed to have the upper hand when the games go long and heavy, since no deck was able to punish their big 5-6 mana casts and their lack of removal, from monoblack’s side it was obvious the matchup was sub 50% winrate.

Week 2 metagame

Entering week 2 in a midrange metagame there are 2 ways to navigate this

1: Go Above them:A midrange with higher curve and heavier spells that will overwhelm the smaller midrange (Going below them with an aggro deck is impossible since that strategy matches really bad with most black cards and especially meathook massacre)

2: Play Blue: there is no better way to punish sorcery speed high mana cast than playing counterspells

My Esper Midrange version

I knew Esper had all the tools to match well against midrange, but the hard part was the mana, losing pathways would mean your 2nd land drop is so weak since the Innistrad Lands + Triomes are excellent for 1st and 3rd land drop, painlands are usually really bad in anything except aggro so they are questionable in this kind of deck, 2 drops were also underwhelming since the deck lost luminarch.

Remembering Dennick existed is what convinced me to run with it:

Dennick, Pious Apprentice

This card fixes everything, It’s a lifelinker to help with the painlands problem, its a 2 drop that works well with Raffine, making the lifelink a big deal or simply discarding it and saving the value disturb for later, it blanks graveyard trespasser, corpse appraiser and the white invoke spell

I had already played this deck a lot in the past standard so just fixing the mana and finding the generic good answers was easy enough

I Played the first Standard Challenge of week 2, had some awesome games and lots of comebacks and the deck felt like it was the right thing to do against all these Sheoldreds, black Invokes etc.

I ended up winning(splitting) again.

Esper Midrange by Mogged
Esper Midrange by Mogged

Matchup guide

I will now give some insights about the few matchups I consider real since standard is still so new as well as how to sideboard vs them

Monoblack midrange

This is not an easy matchup by any chance, Esper has a tiny edge against this because of the recursive 2 drops which match well against monoblack’s kill theme and a small edge because monoblack is a little too heavy on sorcery speed 4 or 5 cmc spells forcing them to run into obscura, Ertai and make disappear, experienced players will cut some Sheoldreds and maybe even invokes to get some cheap spells in like cut down , but most players won’t so esper can capitalize on that and will usually get a big t4 advantage by using one of the counter cards

On the play:

On the draw:

BR midrange

This matchup is very similar to monoblack with the difference being that their threats (Fable and Ob Nixilis) require multiple answers so the sideboarding becomes more about finding a way to get ahead on board through a tempo swing, having to keep infernal grasp on the draw for sheoldred since she gets on board 1 turn before obscura is a common theme throughout this guide

On the play:

On the draw:

Grixis Midrange/Grixis vamps

Another black based midrange matchup that has a smaller punch early but better value engine than Monoblack and RB, we don’t respect their early threats and try to put the pressure on them

On the play:

On the draw:

Jund Midrange

This vague version of the deck is extremely greedy and their entire deck is probably very clunky without fable resolving, just gain a huge tempo swing by countering their semi-effective 2 for 1 threats

On the play:

On the draw:

Esper Midrange:

The Mirror is all about tempo, resolving a wedding or raffine with a 2drop first is overwhelming, cut down is surprisingly the best way to steal some tempo

On the play:

On the draw:

Orzhov midrange/Orzhov tokens

This deck has many variations and the end curve of the deck isn’t yet defined, grasp can be really good or really bad depending on that, feel free to decide what the best answer is yourself

On the play/draw:

Rakdos sacrifice

Try to disrupt their general plan without trading removals for creatures, this deck is weak to massacre and can’t answer your threats efficiently

On the play:

On the draw:

Red aggro

Red green aggro or just red aggro plays right into massacre and efficient answers like cut down and knockout blow, this is a very favorable matchup

On the play/draw:

RWx reanimator

Keep hands with a good curve that will draw you into your super efficient answers, dennick and your 10 counters completely shut them down

On the play/draw

Old school control decks

I don’t think this archetype exists yet but it’s bound to happen
The idea is to take out removal and add counters and duress but this could change depending on their win condition.

On the play/draw


After reviewing the matchups I am convinced that I should be playing this right now until midrange adapts to dealing better with instant speed like Grixis can be built into, this Esper is a deck that you can’t beat by going below or going above it, you have to go blow for blow without being forced to tapout and right now nothing is built to do that

Hope I gave some insight to the deck, I will hopefully be able to
explain some general concepts I am mentioning here about attacking metagames in the future

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MTGO Grinder
Mogged is one of the MTGO grinders behind many of the top winning decks across formats. He has the most Challenge top8s and wins in 2021, and is currently leading in Challenge wins in 2022. His articles show a deep understanding of the MTG theory and are great for those looking to improve their gameplay, better understanding the game, and learning how the metagame evolves over time.


Published: 2022-09-17 00:00:00

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