Video Deck Tech - American Midrange (Standard)
Frank Lepore

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Well, I finally gave in.

...kind of.

Those who know me from these here weekly articles should know exactly what I'm referring to after only having read the title of this article. That's right...I'm playing a fairly mainstream deck today with some of the best cards in the format; a variant of one of the decks that is “on top of the world” so to speak. There are quite a few variations of these lists. Specifically:

- UW Midrange
- Esper Midrange
- American Midrange
- UW Delver
- American Delver

I think that's about the gist of it, with the main difference being that the lists entitled “Delver,” well, they run Delver of Secrets, while the midrange lists...don't. That's it. The entire backbone of these midrange lists is as simple as the following:

4 Restoration Angel
4 Blade Splicer
4 Ponder
X number of Mana Leak

Many of the lists will also run some number of Vapor Snag, Gideon Jura, and Phantasmal Image, but these numbers can be customized greatly. The list I chose to go with was piloted by MTGO player “sa9e” to a 4-0 finish in a Daily Event.

    American Midrange sa9e (4-0)    
 MTGO Standard Daily (4-0) - Week of 8/6/12 Format: Type II - M13    
Legal when M13 is current set    
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Blade Splicer
3 Phantasmal Image
4 Restoration Angel
2 Snapcaster Mage
1 Sun Titan
2 Thundermaw Hellkite

3 Bonfire of the Damned
1 Dismember
3 Mana Leak
1 Oblivion Ring
2 Pillar of Flame
4 Ponder
3 Vapor Snag

3 Clifftop Retreat
1 Desolate Lighthouse
2 Evolving Wilds
3 Glacial Fortress
3 Island (234)
2 Mountain (242)
2 Plains (230)
4 Seachrome Coast
4 Sulfur Falls
2 Celestial Purge
2 Day of Judgment
1 Dissipate
1 Divine Offering
1 Ghost Quarter
2 Jace, Memory Adept
2 Negate
1 Revoke Existence
2 Witchbane Orb
1 Zealous Conscripts
 

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So why did I chose this deck in particular?

Well, the answer is simple...

Thundermaw Hellkite!

Yes, that's right, I wanted to play with Baneslayer Angel's newest red counterpart, and he did not disappoint. While I, of course, don't end up getting him out every game, the games he does make an appearance seem to be quickly Put Away. Well, I'll just let you see for yourself...

American Midrange vs. Zombie Pod



American Midrange vs. Wolf Run RUG



American Midrange vs. UW Delver



American Midrange vs. Naya Aggro



As far as I know, the “midrange” shell was basically created when Sam Black realized that the combined power of Restoration Angel and Blade Splicer didn't really need Delver of Secrets and you could create a much more controlling deck if you opted to omit the one drop. Thus began a series of Midrange variants, and this one in particular is no slouch. While I said Thundermaw Hellkite was the reason I chose it, I was also fond of the Ajani, Caller of the Pride; while it's only a singleton, that's fine, especially since you most likely don't want to draw him in multiples.

While the black version of the deck has access to some more cheap removal (Doom Blade, Go for the Throat) the red version has access to...wait for it... Bonfire of the Damned! That's right: the red mythic that has risen to the unparalleled ranks of around $40. And with good reason! This is one of the best sweepers in the game right now, but do I really need to tell you that? Even without being “miracled” it still does a heckuva lot of work.

Other than the Bonfires, the deck also has access to one Dismember, two Pillar of Flame, one Oblivion Ring, three Vapor Snag, and three Mana Leak (if we want to count those as removal). The deck also has two Gideon Jura which is a gentleman that will always pull his weight. An interesting interaction is activating Gideon, attacking for six, then blinking him with Restoration Angel post combat to get another activation. All in all the deck has plenty of ways to remove creatures from your opponent's side of the board, while at the same time applying enough pressure to give even the most controlling of decks fits.

Speaking of Restoration Angel, it's easily one of the best parts of the deck and, along with the package of Blade Splicers, it kind of makes up the entire midsection of the deck. Whereas the Bant lists would run Thragtusk (which kind of feels like the green Baneslayer Angel), we run Thundermaw Hellkite in his place. In addition, I'm pretty sure no deck that's running Vapor Snags and Ponders would omit Snapcaster Mages and this one is no exception. It's kind of like a who's who of the best creatures in Standard right now, and we finish it all off with a single Sun Titan.

#####CARDID=22765#####

If the deck has one true flaw it's the mana base. This isn't to say it was built incorrectly, but rather that the colors themselves don't let to very convenient mana production. There were too many times in my experience where you won't get the color you need at the right time or that the land would coming into play tapped when you need it untapped. At times you would be able to overcome this, but it does making choosing which land to play on any given turn that much more relevant as you might have noticed from my Zombie Pod game. I hastily played the wrong land in one game and I can safely say that it made all the difference in the world.

The sideboard, in my experience, might be geared a little too heavily toward control decks, what with the two Jace, Memory Adept and two Negate. There are hardly any control decks floating around right now, and I think given that Zombies is such an aggressive matchup I might want another Celestial Purge or two, or even a couple more Pillar of Flame, which is also good against the Delver matchup. I wasn't exactly sure what the Witchbane Orbs were for but you could presumably bring them in against Zombies to Negate Geralf's Messenger and Blood Artist triggers; it just seems that four mana is a lot to ask for from an artifact that doesn't affect the board immediately. I might just want Terminus instead if the point is to deal with problematic creatures that target you with things.

The deck is incredibly resilient, and how could it not be, what with playing some of the best cards in the format, but it is a little heavy on the pricey cards. As I mentioned in the beginning, this deck also feels a little more “mainstream” than my normal fare, but it was the less conventional Midrange build, and I thought you guys might still like seeing Thundermaw Hellkite and Bonfire of the Damned in action. This week is GenCon and TCGplayer is going to be there in full force, so be sure and visit us at booth 2042 if you find yourself in attendance! Either way, be sure and be back next week and thanks for reading!

Frank Lepore
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