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The Perfect UB Midrange Guide

2018/04/11 00:00 

    • Grzegorz Kowalski
    • Hareruya Pros Blog

Hello everyone, it's Grzegorz Kowalski with another Standard article! Since I wrote the last time I have accrued more experience in the format. In the process I've also found the deck that I like - more importantly, it appears to be the best midrange deck in the format.

Without further ado, allow me to share with you everything that I've learned about UB Midrange in the last few weeks. Please enjoy!

The deck

The deck offers everything that a midrange player can dream about. It has good card advantage and card selection. It runs decent mana efficient removal in 《Fatal Push》 next to the best removal in Standard - 《Vraska's Contempt》. On the top of that, it has an unbeatable late game with a variety of threats attacking from multiple angles.

Having a mix of everything - though in a lot of cases in 1-2 copies - makes UB Midrange very challenging to pilot. However if you learn to do it properly it becomes very rewarding with many opportunities to outplay your opponents.

Main Deck Card Choices

Removals

Fatal Push

4

Vraska's Contempt

4

Essence Scatter

2

This is our classic removal package (well, I guess 《Essence Scatter》 is not technically removal). 《Vraska's Contempt》 is the single best removal spell in Standard and thanks to the consistent mana base that UB offers us we can easily play 4 of them.

《Fatal Push》 is worse, but it's a necessary evil - the current metagame is not great for it, but we have to play them to combat aggressive openings of some decks. It's important to note that 《Push》 gets better with 3x 《Field of Ruin》 because you can turn on the "Revolt" effect very easily.

《Essence Scatter》 is the way to combat midrange decks and I can envision playing 3 of them in the main deck if we see more of UB/Grixis/RG instead of Vampires or Red Aggro in the field.

Card Advantage

Glint-Sleeve Siphoner

4

Champion of Wits

4

Gonti, Lord of Luxury

2

Our main ways of generating card advantage or just improving our card quality. These cards are main reason why I believe UB midrange is just strictly better deck than UB control. In such a one-for-one oriented format, being able to put a creature into the battlefield and get some additional good effect is what makes our deck great.

Finisher

The Scarab God

3

Torrential Gearhulk

2

Liliana, Death's Majesty

2

Late game stuff. Surprisingly, the blue color has access to the best finishers in current Standard. If we don't fall behind too much, each of the above cards can win us a game on its own.

《Walking Ballista》

Walking Ballista

2

I didn't really like the 《Ballista》 at the first glance. Fortunately I gave it a shot and I don't regret it. It's an OK-ish turn 2 play, as it can kill 《Siphoner》, chump block an attacker against Red Aggro and kill another creature before damage, make your opponent hold onto a 《Jadelight Ranger》 (you can shoot it in response for the "Explore" trigger).

In the late game it can do much more, and is oftentimes at least two-for-one. As a bonus it can turn on "Revolt" for 《Fatal Push》 when it's necessary. 《Ballista》 is also MVP versus GW tokens and Vampires.

Other Stuff

Commit // Memory

2

《Commit // Memory》 is nothing new - it's our best way to deal with enchantments, other non-creature permanents and of course a certain cannot-be-countered 7/6 dinosaur. It also works well with 《Gonti》 and 《Field of Ruin》. You can take the card with 《Gonti》 if it's necessary and opponent cannot refuse the shuffle effect of 《Field of Ruin》.

Search for Azcanta

1

《Search for Azcanta》 is my latest addition; while it makes our deck worse against aggressive decks, it provides a ton of value against midrange and control decks.

Glimmer of Genius

1

The same goes for 《Glimmer of Genius》. I like it as an one-ofs because it's often the best target for 《Gearhulk》 - with a 《Glimmer》 in our graveyard we can use our mana efficiently and always cast the 《Gearhulk》 turn six instead of waiting for a good target to 《Essence Scatter》 or 《Vraska's Contempt》.


This is all about the maindeck. I'll talk about sideboard below, in match-up section, to explain you where you want to bring certain cards in. I'll also try to show you, how you can improve your list, if you expect a lot of given match-ups in your expected metagame, to make your 75 better versus them.

Grixis Energy - Very Good

Canyon SloughHarnessed Lightning

It's basically copy of our deck, except they have worse mana, don't run 《Field of Ruin》, and have more weak one for one removal, which is very unimpressive in this match-up.

How to improve the 75:

Essence Scatter

I think deck is well tuned, to beat Grixis, so you don't need to change anything. The best change would be to cut one 《Fatal Push》, and add third 《Essence Scatter》, but I don't recommend it, unless your meta is 60+% Grixis and UB.

Sideboard:

Against Grixis Energy (On the Play)

Out

Fatal Push Fatal Push Fatal Push Fatal Push

In

Duress Duress
Negate Negate

Against Grixis Energy (On the Draw)

Out

Fatal Push Fatal Push
Commit // Memory

In

Duress Duress
Negate

UB Midrange - Good

Search for AzcantaGlimmer of Genius

I know that putting down "good" as a prediction in a mirror match is weird, but hear me out. The addition of 《Search for Azcanta》 and 《Glimmer of Genius》 improves our match-up in mirror, but that's not what I'm really referring to.

The mirror match is very skill intensive, games are very long, with so many important decisions and potencial lines of play, if you learn how to play the mirror properly I believe it's easy to reach 75% or more winrate against average players; this is not the case in other mirror matches in format.

How to improve the 75:

Same as with Grixis Energy.

Sideboard:

Against Mirror Match (On the Play)

Out

Fatal Push Fatal Push Fatal Push Fatal Push

In

Duress Duress
Doomfall Doomfall

Against Mirror Match (On the Draw)

Out

Fatal Push Fatal Push Fatal Push
Commit // Memory

In

Duress Duress
Doomfall Doomfall

Red Aggro - Bad

The match-up is certainly winable, but to be honest you don't want your opponent to start with a basic 《Mountain》 - because we're running 《Search for Azcanta》 and 《Glimmer》 main it gets even worse.

Search for AzcantaMountainGlimmer of Genius

How to improve the 75:

Dusk Legion ZealotSeekers' SquireMoment of Craving

You don't want 《Search for Azcanta》 and 《Glimmer》 in the maindeck. If you expect a lot of Mono Red in your metagame, I would replace those cards with 《Dusk Legion Zealot》 or 《Seekers' Squire》. 《Moment of Craving》 is also a decent maindeckable option.

Sideboard:

Against Mono Red (On the Play)

Out

Gonti, Lord of Luxury Gonti, Lord of Luxury
Liliana, Death's Majesty Liliana, Death's Majesty
Search for Azcanta
Glimmer of Genius

In

Contraband Kingpin Contraband Kingpin
Moment of Craving Moment of Craving
Gifted Aetherborn
Doomfall

Against Mono Red (On the Draw)

Out

Gonti, Lord of Luxury Gonti, Lord of Luxury
Liliana, Death's Majesty Liliana, Death's Majesty
Search for Azcanta
Glimmer of Genius

In

Contraband Kingpin Contraband Kingpin
Moment of Craving Moment of Craving
Gifted Aetherborn
Golden Demise

Sultai Constrictor - Even

Bristling HydraHadana's Climb

The match-up is weird; our deck is very well positioned against green decks in general, but things are different here. 《Bristling Hydra》 and 《Hadana's Climb》 are stuff of nightmares for us, but in games, where they don't draw the combo or we manage to somehow deal with it we are extremely favored.

How to improve the 75:

Essence ScatterGifted Aetherborn

The first good change in the maindeck is to replace a 《Search for Azcanta》 for the third 《Essence Scatter》. Other than that, you can cut 《Contraband Kingpin》 for more 《Gifted Aetherborn》. It makes your Red Aggro and Mardu match-ups worse but gives you a few more % against Green-X decks.

Sideboard:

Against Sultai Constrictor

Out

Champion of Wits Champion of Wits
Vraska's Contempt Vraska's Contempt
Search for Azcanta

In

Duress Duress
Doomfall Doomfall
Gifted Aetherborn

RG Monsters - Very good

Essence ScatterVraska's ContemptThe Scarab God

RG is extremely susceptible to 《Essence Scatter》, 《Vraska's Contempt》 and 《The Scarab God》 - so basically they're bad against our deck. They don't even have a chance for good and fast aggressive starts. We have enough time to set up our game plan and win the game just by casting better cards.

How to improve the 75:

Essence ScatterGifted Aetherborn

The match-up is great, so we don't really have to improve anything. With that said, the best change here would be -1 《Search for Azcanta》 +1 《Essence Scatter》, and switching 《Contraband Kingpin》 for 《Gifted Aetherborn》 in the sideboard.

Sideboard:

Against RG Monsters

Out

Liliana, Death's Majesty Liliana, Death's Majesty
Search for Azcanta

In

Doomfall Doomfall
Gifted Aetherborn

Go-Wide Token Strategies (BW Vampires/GW Tokens/Mono W Ascend) - Very good

It's possible to lose game one to their good starts, but we just crush them post-board. Don't waste your 《Fatal Push》 on weak targets. You should trade your creatures aggressively, and keep 《Push》 for creatures like 《Legion Lieutenant》 or in response to 《Appeal // Authority》.

Legion LieutenantFatal PushAppeal // Authority

How to improve the 75:

Golden DemiseMoment of Craving

Add more 《Golden Demise》 in sideboard - although I think that 2 is enough. Swap 《Search for Azcanta》 and 《Glimmer》 for a couple of 《Moment of Craving》 in the maindeck.

Sideboard:

Against Token Strategies

Out

Essence Scatter Essence Scatter Champion of Wits Champion of Wits
Supreme Will Search for Azcanta
Vraska's Contempt Glimmer of Genius

In

Moment of Craving Moment of Craving Contraband Kingpin Contraband Kingpin
Golden Demise Golden Demise
River's Rebuke Gifted Aetherborn
DuressProfane ProcessionRadiant DestinyCall to the Feast

Against BW, it's also OK to bring in 2 《Duress》 as they have 《Profane Procession》, 《Radiant Destiny》, and 《Call to the Feast》.

New additions from "Dominaria"

New set is around the corner. We almost know the full card lists right now, with so many interesting cards. I see few possible additions to UB. There's what we have:

Cast Down

《Cast Down》 - Seems like a very strong removal. It might replace some number of 《Fatal Push》 as it's much more flexible. There is a chance "Dominaria" will provide some Legendary oriented decks, making 《Cast Down》 weak card (at least versus those decks) but other than that I like this black removal a lot.

Vicious Offering

《Vicious Offering》 - It might replace 《Moment of Craving》 in sideboards. Obviously gaining life versus Mono Red is a huge deal, but another way to deal with 《Hazoret the Fervent》 or 《Glorybringer》 is also very attractive. Probably requires going back to 《Dusk Legion Zealot》 in the main deck. I'm not sure if that's better than 《Moment》 or not, but it's certainly worth testing.

Syncopate

《Syncopate》 - That's a big addition to standard. I think it will see a lot of play. There are some people playing 《Censor》 and 《Supreme Will》 right now, I think 《Syncopate》 will be a straight upgrade.

Conclusion

This is all I have to say on topic of UB Midrange for you today. If you like these types of decks, I think it's worth to at least give it a shot.

The games are fun, have a lot of interactions with you opponent and - what's important - the deck is very powerful, so you can keep a high winrate while having fun if you manage to pilot it well.

In case you don't enjoy UB as much as I do, you can check my last article, where I described more midrange decks including pros and cons of each, without focusing on a specific one.

See you next time!

Grzegorz Kowalski

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