Feature Article from Frank Lepore

Modern Monday - UB Midrange

Frank Lepore

4/27/2015 11:00:00 AM

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Kalman Kovacs has been a fan and reader of my articles for as long as I can remember. If I recall correctly he started out as a troll, then after some time, we kind of became bros. Truth be told, he might still be just as big of a troll as he was when he first appeared in my comment section; maybe I'm just more accustomed to it now. Either way, he's good people!

Last week Kalman left a comment on my Modern Monday article, that stated the following:

Frank T Lepore, just wait till you play my UB midrange deck. Got a 4-0 last night and have put up a 3-1 five other times. It's tuned and plays Phyrexian Obliterator and Tasigur. Yeah, those are some real threats. And I'm on a 5-0 streak against Grixis Delver. Seems good, eh?

I'll be honest: he had me at Phyrexian Obliterator.

To say I was immediately curious would be an understatement. But instead of posting a message of inquiry and waiting for him to get back to me, I went and did the leg work for myself. He said that he went 4-0 “last night,” and he posted his comment on April 22nd. So I went and looked at the Magic Online Daily Event decklists from April 21st and tried to find one with Phyrexian Obliterator.

Sure enough, there it was…

UB Midrange by Brewtality (4-0)
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Geralf's Messenger
4 Phyrexian Obliterator
2 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
1 Tombstalker
Creatures [11]
2 Liliana of the Veil
Planeswalkers [2]
1 Damnation
3 Disfigure
1 Dispel
1 Engineered Explosives
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Serum Visions
1 Shadow of Doubt
2 Spell Pierce
2 Spell Snare
2 Thoughtseize
4 Victim of Night
Spells [24]
2 Bloodstained Mire
2 Creeping Tar Pit
4 Darkslick Shores
2 Drowned Catacomb
4 Polluted Delta
5 Swamp (256)
4 Watery Grave
Lands [23]
Deck Total [60]


2 Countersquall
1 Disfigure
2 Dragon's Claw
1 Drown in Sorrow
3 Fulminator Mage
1 Night of Souls' Betrayal
1 Nihil Spellbomb
2 Shadow of Doubt
2 Spellskite
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!

A UB Midrange list complete with Phyrexian Obliterator, Geralf's Messenger, Tasigur, the Golden Fang, and numerous other gems, piloted by one BREWTALITY. I was a huge fan of Disfigure from when I played it in an Esper Mentor list; it's just a really well-positioned removal spell right now, taking out creatures in Infect, Burn, Jeskai, you name it. Victim of Night was also an incredibly unique choice of removal and considering that every land in the deck can tap for black mana, it basically requires the same two mana that something like Ultimate Price would.

Anyway, I was dying to see how the deck played with Kalman having such great results with it, so let's check it out.

UB Midrange vs. Grixis Delver

UB Midrange vs. RW Burn

UB Midrange vs. Grixis Delver, Match 2

UB Midrange vs. Living Twin

After these matches, I actually have no idea why people are playing Grixis Delver. I'm just never impressed by the deck and I'm not sure I've lost to it more than, say, once. These matches were no exception where I went 2-0 against the archetype and Kalman boasted that he had an impressive 5-0 record against the archetype. They can be quite aggressive out of the gate and have the potential to counter all of your plays while they beat down with a Young Pyromancer or a Delver of Secrets, but if they stumble on this plan, most other decks can usually one-up them with bigger game.

I have to say, I was pretty thrilled with the deck. I love any opportunity to see Phyrexian Obliterator do what he does best. The fact that he's virtually invulnerable to damage-based removal is such a huge boon.

One card I've definitely been considering since playing the deck is Stubborn Denial. It's basically “turned on” by all of our creatures - Tasigur, the Golden Fang, Tombstalker, Phyrexian Obliterator - and even Geralf's Messenger contributes once he has his +1/+1 counter. Stubborn Denial would basically fulfill the same role as both Dispel and Spell Pierce, but with a little more insurance once we have a creature out. I'm not sure if it would be better, but I think if it fits into any deck it's this one. Furthermore, it becomes a hard counter for everything from removal, to planeswalkers, to things like Splinter Twin, which is incredibly useful.

Another card I kind of wished for at times was Snapcaster Mage. The deck runs very few blue cards and none that require more than one blue mana, which is awesome. Snapcaster could potentially begin to require us to have two blue mana available if we're flashing back a blue spell, but that never seemed too problematic. I think my only concern would be finding room and straying too far from our pseudo monoblack theme.

Mid
Low
 Phyrexian Obliterator
$20.60
$16.99
Store QTY Price  
Game Haven St George 1 $13.87
WuMagic 1 $16.99
Game Haven St George 1 $17.31
Total Access Games 1 $17.74
Half Blood Nerd 2 $17.96
Old Man Adventures 5 $17.99
Good Games Indy 4 $18.03
Adventure Games Osh 1 $18.03
thekingdomkokomo 1 $18.03
thekingdomkokomo 1 $18.03
Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Phyrexian Obliterator Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

Hmm. Thinking of more recent offerings, I wonder if Dragonlord Silumgar has a place in the deck. If we're able to protect him via some counter magic, he could be an incredibly versatile threat. But maybe I'm reaching here while spinning my wheels.

I think Kalman is really onto something with the deck, and you should definitely give it a try if you're looking to play something unique with some resilient creatures in a deck with a lot of control elements. One thing I did find unfortunate was that we didn't have an Island to search out in case of an opposing Blood Moon, and the black and blue color combination isn't exactly known for its answers to enchantments; basically, all of our blue cards are simply dead to a Blood Moon, so we want to counter it if at all possible. Outside of that, though, I think we have a very solid offering for the Modern format, and the results are definitely promising. I might add a few more answers to graveyard shenanigans in the sideboard, but that's just a personal preference.

That's all I have for this week! Melissa and I have some friends visiting us this week, so there might be a special guest on my upcoming videos. Make sure to tune in and find out when we take a look at Standard again this Thursday. Thanks for reading and I'll catch ya then!

Frank Lepore
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