Deck Tech: Esper Midrange with Chris Anderson
A number of the best players in the room are playing eerily similar decks... and some groups even developed them independently! Chris Andersen is one of the handful of top magicians on Esper Midrange, splashing black into the U/W Midrange shell popularized by Sam Black just a few weeks ago.
Chris is currently undefeated with Esper Midrange.
“Three weeks ago, after Sam made finals in the WMCQ with his Delverless Delver deck, I talked to Penick about it because I knew he played it in the PTQ the next day,” Chris said, describing the first version of U/W Midrange. “He said he liked it, but he's working on adding black to the deck because the Vapor Snags weren't very good. The deck is way too passive for Vapor Snag— you're very rarely aggro.”
The grand experiment began, and met with success. “Doom Blade is really good in the format right now and black lets you play Lingering Souls, which is really good against Delver.” Work to make Esper Midrange a contender began prior to the StarCityGames.com Invitational. “Penick, Boyd, and I worked on it for a little bit; Boyd ended up switching to the mono-blue Delver deck,” Chris said. “I played it in a PTQ online and I didn't Top 8, but I really liked it.” That convinced Chris to run the deck at the Invitational, where he performed admirably. “I ended up 7-1, and I beat Delver; I went 4-1 against it. I haven't lost to Delver today, and I think overall I'm 10-1 against it.”
That's a stern win percentage!
Recently, Adam Prosak has been playing a similar deck on magic Online, and Michael Jacob played a version of that at the Invitational and is doing the same today, alongside Ari Lax. Chris prefers his particular seventy-five, however. “The deck is much more proactive than Prosak's deck. I don't have any Forbidden Alchemy—I don't like that card at all, especially, against Delver. You have to be affecting the board each turn until about turn 9, and by then you should have won.”
So why does the deck beat Delver? “You can just control them. You make trades a lot better than they do, and you can slow them down enough that they can't just aggro you out with a Geist draw or a Sword of War and Peace draw. You have enough cheap cards to trade and get into the late game, where you can take advantage of the fact that you have Lingering Souls, Blade Splicer, Gideon, and Sun Titan,” he said. “They're usually out of cards.”
One card that exhausts opposing resources better than any other is Vault of the Archangel. “Vault lets everything trade, and it turns Lingering Souls into a 4-for-1,” Chris explained, shaking his head. The card is gross!
The problem cards for Chris have been pretty obvious. “Sword of War and Peace is rough,” he admitted. “If you don't have the Doom Blades for it—you've got lots of Doom Blades to put them back on tempo—it's very difficult to come back, and they can just steal wins for you.” When you do have those Doom Blades though, it's not hard to wrest control.
“I've played some games against G/R Aggro, and they seemed tough... but Blade Splicer is really good against that deck and I probably just drew bad,” Chris added. “Frites might give me trouble—an Elesh Norn seems really good against me. I've got a couple of Nihil Spellbombs in my sideboard now.” While he'd ignored the graveyard in Indianapolis, he knew that Brian Braun-Duin's finish would put Frites back on the map.
Among his sideboard cards is one very powerful little enchantment. The one-of Intangible Virtue is insane—you probably want two. I have not lost a game where I cast that card.” Bringing it in against Delver and Curses, it proactively answers some very dangerous situations!
Check out the list below, and decide which flavor of Restoration Angel suits you best.