A New Take on Midrange

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As you know, I have been playing a variety of decks in Standard. This is the normal process I go through until I find a deck I really believe in and am willing to continue work on. The deck I have played the most is The Aristocrats. Most of the red, black, and white cards are exactly what I want to be doing in Standard right now. This past week, after looking at the cards I felt were underplayed in Standard, I set out to craft a deck utilizing them. As it so happens, many of the cards on the list fall into those Aristocrat colors.

My process for this deck was twofold. First of all, I wanted to create a controlling deck based on a specific set of removal spells and finishers. Second, I based the initial deck list on how Aristocrats looked post-board in many matches. Combining these ideas in the deck building process led me to create a deck that was well set up to crush the aggressive strategies popular in Standard right now. In return I was left in a worse position against the midrange decks of the format. Take a look at the deck.

BWR Midrange

Most players' reaction to this deck is that the mana curve seems high. My counterargument is that I play more cheap removal spells than Jund. There is definitely a lot of interacting in the early game, but no acceleration to get to the midgame faster. Because there is so much removal, this is not a problem. In fact, I typically had more removal than my opponents could handle.

Versus Aggro

Naya is the new tier-one deck in the format in most player’s eyes. BWR Control makes quick work of that deck. Your removal is well suited to take out their creatures and they typically do not have as many threats as you have creatures. Once you stabilize, you can start playing your tokens and attacking.

Another common way to win is just by playing Obzedat. They have no way to handle this potent threat. Until the board is clear, you should be almost always be blinking him out at the end of each turn. Sometimes, you need to keep him in play as a blocker, but when you do, you risk a pump spell or burn spell in combat.

The weakest cards in this matchup are Sin Collector, which almost always is just a Gray Ogre, and the one Assemble the Legion. I cast Assemble one time against Naya and promptly died the following turn. Most of the time, you cannot afford the turn it takes to sit in play doing nothing. In other matchups it is quite good, but against aggro it gets sideboarded out.

The plan post-board is -3 Sin Collector and -1 Assemble the Legion for +4 Devour Flesh. This plan has been very successful and I highly recommend it.

Versus Midrange

Unfortunately the midrange matches didn’t turn out as favorable as I would have liked. There are more ways to get rid of Obzedat than previously and many of your maindeck removal spells depend on your opponents' draw. Jund is basically a mirror match where they are set up slightly better for game one. They normally have a hard time with your token strategy post-board, but game one is rather close. My testing against Jund is inconclusive because it seemed like I could never get a decent draw against them. One positive note, typically this match is not nearly as long as the typical Midrange vs. Midrange battle.

One idea I had to improve the match was to play Blood Baron of Vizkopa instead of Obzedat. Despite Obzedat being the much better card in my opinion, it would function similarly in the aggro match while being much harder to kill for Jund. I have not tested the change but it seems likely it would be better to play Baron.

The Junk match is similarly close like Jund, but they have many less ways to kill your threats. You can slow them down with your removal enough to defeat them the majority of the time.

Overall, I really liked this deck. It seemed very good in the format right now. If you are looking for a better way to fight against Naya or Aristocrats, give this deck a try.

Other Versions

As I was working on this concept of BWR Control, it seems that some other players were also. Take a look at what some other players are sleeving up in Standard.

BWR Midrange
By Frank Lepore

As you can see, these two decks have many cards in common. The removal packages seem developed with the same threats in mind and the finishers have just as much overlap as well. Both decks are trying to do basically the same thing.

One part of this deck I don’t like is Nearheath Pilgrim and Restoration Angel. In my opinion, Restoration Angel is a poor choice for this deck. You are rarely utilizing the blink ability and just playing it as a minor threat with flash. To me that's not enough. The Nearheath Pilgrim also seems out of place. The ability to gain some life back when paired with any of your creatures is great, but it doesn’t seem like it would work out well in the end.

Never having tried this version, I wouldn’t recommend changing it immediately but after testing, I don’t think it would end up in the deck. One card that some versions similar to this play is Rhox Faithmender. I can see the benefit to that card but I’m not certain it is necessary either.

No matter which specific cards you want to play, BWR Midrange is well set up to take on the format. This deck requires testing, patience, and a good eye for threat evaluation. If you enjoy midrange deck and have some of those skills, I would highly recommend playing this deck.

Until Next Time,

Unleash the Midrange Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

6 thoughts on “A New Take on Midrange

  1. I really like an unburial rites package here.

    Half of your cards are removal which are dead against control, and half are impactful, but expensive creatures that don’t always save you against bte openers. Faithless looting means you can find the right half of your deck for the opponent at hand. From that point, you already have faithless looting, liliana and lingering souls, so the rites seem like a perfect fit. It fits the deck’s plan of grinding advantage, while also giving you a possible nutdraw. Squeezing in a sire of insanity also seems strong.

  2. I ran a similar deck to a WMCQ top8 recently. This deck was however metagamed more to Act2 and Aristocrats so some of the card choices reflect this. Also, this was before DGM was released. The Lootings and Unburial Package mean you can just break a midgame grind and just play your better spells.

    Enclosed is my list,

    2x Angel Of Serenity

    4x Boros Reckoner

    2x Obzedat, Ghost Council

    2x Olivia Voldaren

    2x Restoration Angel

    1x Thundermaw Hellkite

    3x Tragic Slip

    2x Victim Of Night

    3x Dreadbore

    4x Faithless Looting

    4x Lingering Souls

    1x Mizzium Mortars

    1x Rakdos’s Return

    1x Sever The Bloodline

    2x Unburial Rites


    4x Blood Crypt

    4x Clifftop Retreat

    3x Dragonskull Summit

    3x Godless Shrine

    4x Isolated Chapel

    1x Mountain

    4x Sacred Foundry

    1x Slayers’ Stronghold

    2x Vault Of The Archangel

    60 cards



    1x Rhox Faithmender

    2x Assemble The Legion

    2x Curse Of Death’s Hold

    1x Underworld Connections

    2x Electrickery

    1x Purify The Grave

    2x Liliana Of The Veil

    2x Sorin, Lord Of Innistrad

    2x Slaughter Games

    15 cards

  3. Great suggestions guys. I think the biggest take away from your suggestions plus what I covered in the article is that this deck archetype is highly customizable. You can gear this deck to beat most other decks in the format, so just decide what you need to beat and adjust your list accordingly. Even though it may seem counter intuitive right now with all of the threats that replace themselves when they die, I really liked Liliana of the Veil in every match that I played her in. So, make sure you leave a few copies of her no matter what else you’re doing. Good Luck with your versions!

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