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BR Midrange Guide -Rekindle the Standard-

2018/01/31 00:00 

    • Christian Calcano
    • Hareruya Pros Blog

Hello everyone, a couple of weeks ago Wizards of the Coast made the decision to ban 《Attune with Aether》, 《Rogue Refiner》, 《Ramunap Ruins》, and 《Rampaging Ferocidon》 in Standard.

Attune with AetherRogue RefinerRamunap RuinsRampaging Ferocidon

There was a lot of discussion online leading up to the bannings regarding Temur and Ramunap Red being too good, so outside of 《Ferocidon》, it was not very surprising to see these cards banned. With Temur Energy effectively gone from the format, Ramunap Red getting weaker, and a new set of cards to play with, Standard is in a very interesting place at the moment.

We’ve already had one major event and some Standard leagues to gather some data from. The decks that appear to be doing well early on are Mono Red, Grixis Energy, Mardu Vehicles, and various different black aggro and midrange decks. The deck that’s specifically caught my attention though is BR Midrange.

BR Midrange

Here we have the most recent 5-0 list as the deck has been getting a bit more popular online recently. As you can see, the deck plays the best removal spells Standard has to offer.

Fatal PushUnlicensed DisintegrationVraska's Contempt

It combines them with some of the more powerful cards that have seen play over the last year in 《Glint-Sleeve Siphoner》, 《Glorybringer》, and 《Chandra, Torch of Defiance》.

Glint-Sleeve SiphonerGlorybringerChandra, Torch of Defiance

While all these cards can also be found in the Grixis Energy decks, the difference is that BR is also playing 4 copies of 《Rekindling Phoenix》!

Rekindling Phoenix

This very well may end up being the most powerful card in Rivals of Ixalan. It’s very difficult to kill outside of cards like 《Vraska's Contempt》, and it plays both offense and defense very well.

I also prefer this deck to Grixis because I think that even 2 color mana bases aren’t great, so 3 colors are even more difficult to support. I felt this way about Temur before the bannings as well, but 《Attune》 helped you find your colors early which allowed you to be able to play 3 colors consistently. There does appear to be more people playing 《Aethersphere Harvester》 which we have here as well. It’s not only great against the aggro decks, but it’s also good against 《Rekindling Phoenix》 and 《Glorybringer》 as well. It also helps with fixing your mana through 《Aether Hub》 as the deck doesn’t have too many ways to produce energy.

Dusk Legion Zealot

One of the more interesting inclusions in this deck is 4 copies of 《Dusk Legion Zealot》. It may look weak on paper, but the card definitely puts in work. It immediately replaces itself and gives you value by trading with other x/1s, chump blocking to preserve your life, or crewing 《Aethersphere Harvester》.

Arch of Orazca

The last Rivals card to appear in the main deck is 《Arch of Orazca》. As a long-time control player, I’m a big fan of this card. While you will most likely never get to activate it vs. the aggro decks, it can be huge in taking over games against the other midrange and control decks as those games tend to go long.

I think the deck is well positioned at the moment because it has a lot of tools to fight the current metagame. In general, you’re just trying to 1 for 1 your opponents with your efficient removal and then slowly pull away with your threats. While you don’t have raw card draw spells, 《Zealot》, 《Siphoner》, 《Pia Nalaar》, 《Chandra》, and 《Glorybringer》 provide you plenty of ways to gain card advantage.

Abrade

You have a lot of 1 and 2 mana removal spells to fight the aggro decks with, which includes 4 《Abrade》 which is your best card against Vehicles. While you're more hedged towards aggro preboard, postboard you get a lot better vs the other midrange and control decks by swapping some of the cheap removal for more threats, better removal, and some discard spells.

I like that the deck can play defense well with 《Harvester》 and 《Phoenix》, and then turn the corner with 《Glorybringer》 and go on the offensive. One of the key plays to note is that bringing back your 《Phoenix》 with the token is a free way to enable revolt for 《Fatal Push》 which will come up sometimes.

Sideboard

Sweltering Suns

Going over the sideboard, we have a few extra removal spells including 2 《Sweltering Suns》. We want these primarily for the aggro decks to have as much interaction early as possible so we can eventually stabilize and take over the game with our 《Phoenix》 or 《Glorybringer》.

Duress

Next we have some discard spells in 《Duress》, which we mostly only want for the control decks. You generally want to hold off on casting them until you can also cast a threat like 《Chandra》 or 《Phoenix》 to help resolve them through their counter magic or removal.

Scrapheap ScroungerChandra, Torch of Defiance

Speaking of control, we have some extra threats in 《Scrapheap Scrounger》 and 《Chandra, Torch of Defiance》. 《Scrounger》 is particularly great against control but is also good against midrange as it gives you another resilient threat on top of 《Phoenix》 that makes their removal worse. We have a 《Lost Legacy》 for the 《Approach of the Second Sun》 decks as a way it strip them of their main win condition.

Dire Fleet Daredevil

Finally, we have the new “Reverse Snapcaster Mage” in 《Dire Fleet Daredevil》. At first glance this was definitely one of the more exciting cards in Rivals, but I’m not entirely sure how good it is. While it may cost 2, it’s by no means a 2 drop as you clearly want to get value from one of your opponents’ spells. But this is a very situational card that I think would probably be best in the midrange mirrors with 《Vraska's Contempt》 being the target that would most likely swing the game in your favor.

Conclusion

Overall, I think the deck could be a major player in Standard going forward. I would recommend possibly going up to 4 《Chandra, Torch of Defiance》 between the main deck and sideboard.

Chandra, Torch of Defiance

It’s definitely one of the most powerful spells in the format and with as much removal as this deck has, you can easily protect her and quickly run away with games.

Tetzimoc, Primal DeathEtali, Primal Storm

Some other new cards that I think could be interesting here are both 《Tetzimoc, Primal Death》, and 《Etali, Primal Storm》. I think these both would be good against the other midrange decks as they’re not only big threats at 6/6, but they gain you even more card advantage in a matchup that’s generally about attrition. 《Tetzimoc》 is clearly better as a way to come back from behind, while 《Etali》 is a threat that snowballs very quickly if unchecked.

I hope you enjoyed this article and that you’re able to try this deck out. I’m very much looking forward to playing more Standard after the Pro Tour and seeing how this new format starts to shape up. Let me know if you have any questions or comments and I’ll do my best to address them. Best of luck in your future games!

Thanks for reading,

Christian Calcano

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