Video Daily Digest: Esper Vengeance

Mr. Merriam has done the labor of scouring the hidden layer beneath the very tip top of the Pro Tour lists to bring you the rogue brews beneath! And holy cow is this a rogue brew! Talk about thinking outside the box!

Over the weekend of a Pro Tour, it’s the most popular decks and those that make the top 8 that end up on camera and get the most hype in the coming weeks. But with so many great players in one room and so many decklists published, there are often some hidden gems lurking for those who are willing to look for them.

Fortunately for the rest of you, I’ve already done that work and come up with a couple I’m going to feature today and Friday.

Today’s comes from Team Genesis member and former Pro Tour Champion Lukas Blohon. When you see Goryo’s Vengeance you automatically have to think combo deck, as Grishoalbrand is one of the fastest and most powerful combo decks around. However, the way this deck plays out makes it much more like a midrange deck than one that draws half its deck on turn 2.

For one, there is only a single copy of Griselbrand in the deck. You’re mostly targeting Obzedat, Ghost Council, a creature that can exile itself before Goryo’s Vengeance does meaning it will come back for more and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, which should you have a large enough graveyard to immediately transform and keep on the battlefield as a Jace, Telepath Unbound.

Both Obzedat and Jace do a better job of supporting the non-Goryo’s Vengeance part of the deck, mostly because they’re castable but also because they are great at accruing value over a longer game, which is exactly what a deck filled with discard spells, removal, and Liliana of the Veil wants to do.

Speaking of Liliana of the Veil, that’s the card that best links the two parts of this deck, since it works well with the midrange half while serving as a quality enabler for graveyard shenanigans. Collective Brutality serves a similar dual purpose while being well-positioned against creature decks and Burn.

Also, color me tickled by the presence of Murderous Cut, a very powerful card that has been largely pushed out of Modern by the power of Gurmag Angler and Tasigur, the Golden Fang. This deck has enough threats that you don’t want too many of the delve creatures, leaving space for a single copy of the flexible removal spell.

I love decks that have the potential to go over the top but aren’t at all dependent on doing so, which means players are tempted to side in hate cards that don’t actually shut you down. In a midrange deck looking to trade resources, leaving the opponent with an ineffective sideboard card could make the difference.