Esper Midrange with Michael Bonde

by Michael Bonde on 24 June 2019, Monday

Michael Bonde


In the last competitive season on Magic Arena, I obtained Mythic rank in both Constructed and Limited. While Limited was dictated by the format that the client presented, Constructed was dictated by the tier 1 metagame that changed from week to week and even day to day.


Getting ready for the Mythic Qualifier Weekend


I talked a lot with Thiago Rodrigues, who is the one who posts social media updates for our team when we play our hearts out at the Mythic Championship. We were kind of at the same place and mindset going into the Arena Mythic Qualifier Weekend (MQW). We had to be able to win against Red, and we had to have at least even odds against the Dreadhorde decks. And so, the tuning began, from an original Esper Hero created by Gerry Thompson. I had already made minor changes during my grind to Mythic on the Constructed ladder, but with our expected metagame in mind, we came to the following list.


Michael Bonde’s Esper Midrange”


4 Hero of Precinct One

4 Thief of Sanity

2 Deputy of Detention

2 Basilica Bell-Haunt

4 Thought Erasure

2 Mortify

2 Duress

1 Kaya, Orzhov Usurper

2 Oath of Kaya

2 Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord

3 Teferi, Time Raveler

2 Tyrant's Scorn

1 Vraska's Contempt

3 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

1 Island

1 Swamp

4 Glacial Fortress

4 Hallowed Fountain

4 Godless Shrine

4 Watery Grave

4 Drowned Catacomb

4 Isolated Chapel


2 Narset, Parter of Veils

2 Lyra Dawnbringer

1 Search for Azcanta

1 God-Eternal Kefnet

2 The Elderspell

2 Dovin's Veto

2 Basilica Bell-Haunt

2 Hostage Taker

1 Disdainful Stroke


The Current Standard: Innovation gets rewarded


Standard is in a sweet spot where if you have the time to innovate, you really get rewarded. On top of that, to be able to innovate takes hours of grinding, to understand how the different decks interact, and then find a hole in the meta, that you can exploit. This also takes a lot of understanding of the available card pool that is available. The people who are good at this impress me a lot. I am more of a player and tuner, so I stuck to a tested shell and tried to optimize it for what we expected.


The deck did extremely well. Thiago had a 10-0 run, prior to registration of the deck, and myself on a 11-1 record against Mono-Red. As always, our sample size with the specific version or games played in general isn’t going to be enough in any way – but playing the games, you get some knowledge about how the “good” draws play out against each other. If my Mono-Red opponents never stumble and pretty much play their strategy perfectly, and I still win with medium, medium+ or good draws, then you can start to make some assumptions. And with more time, tries and tests, you find out if it’s actually the case. But with time of the essence, we submitted the above deck and did poorly because we lost to non-Jeskai planeswalker control, which seems to be the bane of this deck.


Going forward, this deck is still a very solid deck to play on the ladder, until Mythic rank at least, since it crushes almost every aggressive strategy and plays well against most non-control decks. Cutting a few of the stabilizer cards in the sideboard going forward could be a thing to do to beat planeswalkers.


One thing you could also do, is turn to the enemy and tune the deck in a bit different direction like our own Mage hero Martin Müller. He decided to go with 0 Thieves and a bit more grindy shell, which did impressive work. For more information about this deck, I would advise you to check him out on Twitter and Twitch and give him the appreciation that he deserves for his innovation.


Sideboard Guide


If you choose to stick with my approach, here is a sideboard guide for the most popular matchups.


In: 1 Disdainful Stroke, 1 Search for Azcanta, 2 The Elderspell, 2 Dovin’s Veto, 2 Narset, Parter of Veils, 1 God-Eternal Kefnet

Out: 2 Tyrant’s Scorn, 3 Deputy of Detention, 2 Mortify, 2 Basilica Bell-Haunt


In: 2 Lyra Dawnbringer, 2 Hostage Taker, 2 Basilica Bell-Haunt

Out: 2 Duress, 4 Thief of Sanity



In: 2 Lyra Dawnbringer, 2 Hostage Taker, 2 Basilica Bell-Haunt

Out: 2 Duress, 4 Thief of Sanity


Command the Dreadhorde

In: 1 Disdainful Stroke, 1 Search for Azcanta, 2 The Elderspell

Out: 1 Oath of Kaya, 1 Deputy of Detention, 2 Basilica Bell-Haunt


Izzet Phoenix

In: 2 Narset, Parter of Veils, 1 God-Eternal Kefnet, 2 Hostage Taker, 2 Lyra Dawnbringer

Out: 2 Tyrant’s Scorn, 2 Basilica Bell-Haunt, 3 Deputy of Detention


Jeskai Planeswalkers

In: 1 Disdainful Stroke, 1 Search for Azcanta, 2 The Elderspell, 2 Dovin’s Veto, 2 Narset, Parter of Veils

Out: 2 Basilica Bell-Haunt, 1 Kaya, Orzhov Usurper, 2 Tyrant’s Scorn, 2 Mortify, 1 Deputy of Detention



In: 2 Lyra Dawnbringer, 2 Hostage Taker, 2 Basilica Bell-Haunt, 1 God-Eternal Kefnet

Out: 1 Duress, 4 Thought Erasure, 2 Thief of Sanity


That was it for now. If you need any help with grinding online or just with upcoming tournaments, tune in next time I stream, and I’ll try to give my two cents! Until next time!


This article was written by Michael Bonde in a media collaboration with


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