Esper decktech and sidetech

Esper decktech and sidetech

Esper Guide

Hi everyone!

In my last article I talked about the possibilities of the new edition and today we are leaving theory and getting into the wonderful world of practice. We start with a list that I highly recommend if you are going to play the $500 Cash GGtoor M:TG Arena Duel #12 this Saturday

Last weekend we had two Standard Challenges at Magic Online and I would say that two decks came out very strong from those events and are at the forefront of the format: Jund and Esper. Both are midrange decks that can exchange resources very well, although each in a different approach, and in this article we’re going to talk about Esper.

Esper Midrange was already a popular strategy in Standard before SNC, they started with more control lists, with lots of planeswalkers and wraths and then there were versions using more creatures and playing more proactively. Capenna contributed a lot to this more aggressive line with a creature:

Tenacious Underdog

Tenacious Underdog is everything this deck wants, it has an early game presence and you are never sad if it dies because it has a strong late game too, allowing you to pay 4 mana and gaining more resources. Apart from that, coming back from the cemetery really interacts well with Kaito Shizuki.

Raffine, Sheming Seer

Raffine is the card that surprised me the most in this deck. I’ve seen her do some interesting things on rogue lists, but in this deck she’s fantastic. You’re playing midrange, so you want to get to your best cards and Raffine makes that possible, with the bonus of helping with attacks and being a tough creature to deal with. Not to mention that she has great synergy with Tenacious Underdog on multiple levels.

Elspeth Resplendent

Another card that surprised me a lot was the new Elspeth. Because of her strong ultimate, her clock on the table is real and fast, in addition to being an evasion machine. But especially in this deck, the second skill is very strong because we have a good number of 3 mana value permanents that make a difference, so getting it on the table and doubling our threats is a very common line that gives a lot of advantage in a grind game.

Void Rend

Just closing this card-by-card some might miss Void Rend on this list. For now, Vanishing Verse has been doing the exact same thing, but for 1 mana less and that difference is huge in a format that is trading resources all the time and where the time advantage is real. Void Rend plays when we have, for example, a large number of multicolored permanents and a better response becomes necessary. Remember, the answer is good if it responds to the field, parsing into the void is ignoring that there is a metagame.

About the list, the one I’m going to use here will be the one that came second at the Standard Challenge, used by musasabi:

Deck (60)
Elspeth Resplendent
Kaito Shizuki
Lolth, Spider Queen
Sorin the Mirthless
The Wandering Emperor
Legion Angel
Luminarch Aspirant
Raffine, Scheming Seer
Skyclave Apparition
Tenacious Underdog
Vanishing Verse
Wedding Announcement
Brightclimb Pathway
Cave of the Frost Dragon
Clearwater Pathway
Deserted Beach
Hengegate Pathway
Hive of the Eye Tyrant
Raffine’s Tower
Shattered Sanctum
Shipwreck Marsh
Sideboard (15)
Legion Angel
Check for Traps
Malevolent Hermit
Malevolent Hermit
Portable Hole
Ray of Enfeeblement
The Meathook Massacre

As I said, the game approach is midrange, we can be aggressive, but our focus is to generate card advantage until our opponent can no longer exchange resources with us. Low cost creatures serve for aggressive lines, but also to make it possible to make a line of defense for planeswalkers and enter the mid/late game safely. If you’ve played Esper, or even Orzhov, you’ll love it.

Talking about the matchs that I expect to play against:


The match I’m most looking forward to, as everyone likes Ob Nixilis, the Adversary and Esika’s Chariot; The match is an eternal grind, so focus on generating card advantage and not making attacks that open windows for your opponent. By using Ob Nixilis, the Adversary they have more range, which often puts them in the aggressive position. Wedding Announcement is my favorite card in this match as it helps me dominate the table with ease. Post side I love Malevolent Hermit, for being a clean answer to Esika’s Chariot.

Side in: 3 Malevolent Hermit, 3 Check for Traps, 2 The Meathook Massacre
Side out: 4 Luminarch Aspirant, 3 Kaito Shizuki, 1 Skyclave Apparition


Ah, midrange mirror. Don’t play to win, play to generate card advantage. That is the best advice I’ve ever gotten about playing this type of mirror. Vanishing Verse is the card that defines the match for me, and that’s why I love Raffine, it dodges this removal and has evasion, in addition, it helps me draw better than my opponent. Post side I take out my low cost creatures, as they are great targets for Vanishing Verse and The Emperor Wanderer, and put in cards that help me exchange resources better. If my opponent comes aggressive post side, there is a window to side in more removals and take out Kaito Shizuki and even Skyclave Apparition.

Side in: 3 Malevolent Hermit, 3 Check for Traps
Side out: 4 Luminarch Aspirant, 2 Skyclave Apparition

Naya Runes

This match can be very easy or very difficult depending on how many removals we have. They have free access to Trample and that gets in the way, a lot. This match would make me trade The Meathook Massacre for a better wrath and I’ve thought a lot about it, Doomskar or Farewell are very good and even a split of one of them with The Meathook Massacre could be very interesting.

Side in: 2 Portable Hole, 2 Ray of Enfeeblement, 1 Legion Angel, 2 The Meathook Massacre
Side out: 3 Kaito Shizuki, 4 Tenacious Underdog

Mono White Aggro

Side in: 2 Portable Hole, 2 Ray of Enfeeblement, 1 Legion Angel, 2 The Meathook Massacre
Side out: 3 Kaito Shizuki, 4 Tenacious Underdog

Rakdos Artefatos

Side in: 2 Portable Hole, 2 The Meathook Massacre
Side out: 4 Luminarch Aspirant

I really like this deck as an option for the weekend, it’s a safe choice and already covers cards from the new edition that I think are great.

see you next week!

Rudá dos Reis

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