No premier Modern tournaments. Let’s all have a moment of silence for the format that remained silent this entire weekend…
Thank you for your reverence. As is hopefully understandable, this week’s article will be a little “threat light” in terms of new and wonky decklists. Thankfully, the GP that we discussed in last week’s article gives us something to discuss, and there’s an exciting list I’ve been testing courtesy of Yuuki Ichikawa. Let’s start with that one!
Esper Midrange, Yuuki Ichikawa
I saw this list when Yuuki Ichikawa did well with it at Pro Tour Fate Reforged. I’ve needed a lengthy break from Karn Liberated in Modern for a while now, but I couldn’t ever find a list that I liked that also didn’t cost a million dollars (the plight of the student/player). This list, for Modern, is fairly cheap and it is quite strong. I’m certainly a midrange player at heart, and this deck captures the true idea of what it means to be a midrange mage.
Monastery Mentor is the real deal and just wins games outright by itself. Monastery Mentor, backed up with a seemingly endless amount of cheap discard spells and instant speed removal, will often just make more Monk creatures than your opponent knows what to do with. These prowess Monks often lead to blow outs with “free” spells like Slaughter Pact. I’ve won more than one game with this deck where my opponent leaves a few Monks unblocked and I Slaughter Pact a blocked Lingering Souls token to lethal my opponent.
Lingering Souls is an almost unbeatable Magic card. Yes, Siege Rhino makes the Spirits look a bit silly, what with trample and all, but in this deck, which is jam packed with other removal in the form of Path to Exile and cuts, and efficient creatures like Tasigur, The Golden Fang and Snapcaster Mage, Siege Rhino isn’t the scary beast that it’s made out to be.
I like decks like this one because they have favorable matchups against combo decks. As a Tron player for the longest time, I’ve never had a favorable matchup against Scapeshift or Splinter Twin. With this deck, however, you’re not soft in those matchups at all. If Twin is going to comprise a large portion of the metagame like it has in the past, then I like where this deck is positioned.
Now no deck is perfect. Like I said, I’ve played this list for a few weeks both online and in paper at my LGS. I say that not to say I’m better than Yuuki Ichikawa, because we all know that’d be a bold faced lie, but I say that to say that I’ve gotten some reps in with the list, and I’m not coming at this deck from a purely theoretical point of view. First, is the card choice of Sorin, Lord of Innistrad.
This is among my least favorite cards in Magic for a variety of reasons, but in this deck, the card is fairly reasonable. The deck lacks a considerable amount of life gain and you can feel pinned down early if you’re not careful. The Vampire tokens with lifelink provide a large life advantage that can leave an opponent far behind. However, sometimes a 1/1 Vampire isn’t enough. Sometimes, your team needs life link in a mana efficient way. While Vault of the Archangel, which is already included in this list, is insane with Lingering Souls tokens, you know what else is insane with Lingering Souls? Sorin, Solemn Visitor.
While the plus one from the Lord of Innistrad creates immediate card advantage, the plus one from Solemn Visitor immediately puts yourself out of reach against burn opponents and aggressive creature based strategies. Casting Lingering Souls on three curves out quite nicely with a Solemn Visitor on turn four to gain some amount of important life. Of course, you can still benefit from the “2-for-1” clause of Sorin by activating his -2 ability as well. I’ve done a fair amount of testing with both these cards, and while I currently have Lord of Innistrad sleeved up because of my most recent testing session, Solemn Visitor currently gets the start in my deck if I were going to a tournament today. I wasn’t even thinking of this while I was drafting this paragraph, but can you imagine all those prowess Monk tokens with lifelink? Wheeee…..
I was a big advocate of the Jund deck in the RTR-INN standard format. This Esper Midrange list plays a lot like that. You have cheap, effective creatures that can win the game outright, and you have sufficient removal to deal with your opponents threats. You even have a guaranteed way to win the game in your Creeping Tar Pit. A nice unblockable land/creature keeps a lot of the planeswalkers of the format in check, and it can close out games long after your Lingering Souls and Monastery Mentor have done some head work. The nice thing about this Esper list is that the lack of a true, popular control list in standard means that the list doesn’t have any disgusting matchups. In a heavy 1-for-1 removal heavy format like Modern, Lingering Souls and other effective x-for-1’s push you far ahead of your opponent. In short, if you like decks with cheap removal, effective creatures, and powerful ways to end the game, consider sleeving up this Esper list for your next Modern tournament.
What are you playing?
I spent all of this week musing over this list that I’m currently playing and testing out. I’m really curious, however, as to what the readers on LegitMTG are playing. What lists are really prevalent at your LGS? Any fun lists you’ve been checking out that I should be looking at and writing about? I’m really open to suggestions for lists to write about in between really large Modern premier events!
Until Next Time…
As always, you can find me on twitter with both Magic and non-Magic related thoughts @imjorman, over at my podcast’s twitter @atyourendstep, on http://www.twitch.tv/ayesTV streaming random constructed events, and at practically every Magic: The Gathering tournament within a few hours of Columbus, Ohio. Until next time!
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