Esper Hero Breakdown

Sebastian Pozzo

Sebastian Pozzo

Introduction

Hello everyone! Standard is wild! I don’t remember seeing so many decks perform well after more than a month from the last set release. There are still many tournaments ahead so today I will make a breakdown of the deck with a wider range of possibilities.

If you like midrange decks, and tuning and updating your list week by week according to the metagame, then Esper Hero is perfect for you. I believe the strategy is capable of being favored against every deck, but not at the same time. You will have to choose what decks you want to beat, therefore card choices are key.

Match-ups with an Average List

Kanister and BBD chose this archetype for the weekly MPL battles and adjusted the list as the format developed. Also Misplacedginger and Marcio Carvalho chose it to play in the MOCS finals recently with very different approaches.

So let’s see, what do we expect the metagame to be?

Recently, there has been a huge success of Planeswalkers decks (Jeskai, Esper and 4c 《Command the Dreadhorde》), Mono Red still on top, Izzet Phoenix is doing well, Esper Control, Esper Hero and White Aggro have lost a bit of terrain, and we still have some less popular decks such as Nexus, Gruul Aggro, Bant Flash and Grixis that also see some play.

For an average list of Esper Hero I would say:

Card Choices: Mainboard

Now is time to analyze how to build the deck card by card.

Let’s start with the cards that are almost an “auto-inclusion”.

Auto-Inclusions

4 《Hero of Precinct One》

Hero of Precinct One

I wouldn’t say that the deck is built around this card, because it can function perfectly without it. However, it synergies with basically all cards in the deck, providing good defense to our Planeswalkers, making sure we can survive while we attack with 《Thief of Sanity》, and even developing a sweeper demanding threat against control with just one creature. It is the reason this deck has a favorable matchup against White Winnie.

4 《Thief of Sanity》

Thief of Sanity

This is a high variance card, it can be solved by 《Shock》 in a bad tempo exchange, it can meet a 2/2 《Hydroid Krasis》 that you can’t kill or it can just win the game alone if uncontested. The fact that we can play 《Thought Erasure》 on turn 2 increases the chances of the latter, and the fact that they might feel forced to kill 《Hero of Precinct One》 on turn 2 also diminishes the chances of the first one. So overall a very strong card for the deck.

4 《Thought Erasure》

Thought Erasure

Obviously excellent card, and if we add the fact that it triggers 《Hero of Precinct One》, and also you can play it in your opponent’s draw step with 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 makes it an A+.

3 《Teferi, Time Raveler》

Teferi, Time Raveler

Very decent tempo card at the least, with the upside of being huge when your opponent relies on instants like 《Wilderness Reclamation》 and all counter-magics. Also synergies with discard and bouncing 《Oath of Kaya》.

3 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

Good old Teferi gives us some raw power to close the games. The deck really needs the card advantage that Planeswakers provide.

2 《Tyrant’s Scorn》

Tyrant's Scorn

It’s a decent removal, if we weren’t playing 《Hero of Precinct One》 it’s possible that we would choose to play 《Cast Down》 instead, but bouncing our creatures can be useful from time to time too.

2 《Mortify》

Mortify

Instant multicolor unconditional removal that also can deal with some of the cards that we fear the most such as 《Experimental Frenzy》 and 《Search for Azcanta》. Three mana is a fair price we are willing to pay.

1 《Oath of Kaya》

Oath of Kaya

Flexible card to kill small creatures or finish Planeswalkers, with so many Planeswakers in our deck the second ability is also very relevant.


Pozzo_Esper_Hero_1

Auto-Inclusions

It will be hard to find a list without these cards above. But let’s analyze the other cards, in particular the 4 drops, here is where we find more differences between all the lists.

Flexible Slots

《Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord》

Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord

This one is not very flashy but it does help in both opposite scenarios, providing life gain and high Loyalty against aggro and recursion against control. It will be better if we play 《Hostage Taker》 and 《Deputy of Detention》 too, since we really need those alive.

《Hostage Taker》

Hostage Taker

I think this card could be maindecked if we expect a lot of 《Hydroid Krasis》 and White Aggro decks. Otherwise I would just have it as a sideboard card.

《Seraph of the Scales》

Seraph of the Scales

I started high on this card, however, as time went by I started to dislike it because most of the decks either play 《Lava Coil》 or both Teferis, is not the perfect world for this Angel of Justice.

《Elite Guardmage》

Elite Guardmage

Very good against Mono Red and never disappointing (well maybe if they have 《Narset, Parter of Veils》). A solid option that is starting to gain popularity.

《Basilica Bell-Haunt》

Basilica Bell-Haunt

Even better against Mono Red and also never disappointing. I was surprised when I saw Marcio Carvalho registered 4 《Basilica Bell-Haunt》 in the maindeck for the MOCS. It makes a scary matchup as Mono Red be actually favorable.

《Deputy of Detention》

Deputy of Detention

I’m not a big fan of this one since the body is usually not very relevant and it’s easy to kill. It becomes better if we have many 《Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord》 our deck, I rather have it in the Sideboard.

《Ugin, the Ineffable》 and 《Liliana, Dreadhorde General》

Ugin, the IneffableLiliana, Dreadhorde General

Usually we find one or two 6 mana Planeswalkers. While Liliana has the bigger power level sometimes leading to an absurd advantage and winning the game alone, Ugin is the most solid choice that will save you more often from an opposing Planeswalker or 《Experimental Frenzy》. As for how full of Planeswalkers the metagame is today I’d stick with Ugin.

《Duress》

Duress

When I saw Marcio’s list from the MOCS I noticed 2 《Duress》 in his maindeck and really liked it. In a world full of Planeswalkers and 《Command the Dreadhorde》 we want extra discard. With 《Teferi, Time Raveler》, it is less likely to be dead. It’s not great in our best match-up (White Aggro) but it still has some targets.

《Despark》

Despark

I started by disliking this one but as Izzet Phoenix picked up some popularity I have to give it another try. I think one is the right number.


Pozzo_Esper_Hero_2

Mainboard

So this is where I want to be nowadays. Since there are many decks that don’t play creatures I like to keep the removal count low, and rely a bit more on the life gain from the 4-drops against aggro to minimize the dead cards against control.

Field of Ruin

Also I would recommend not to play only one basic land since the most ambitious mana bases are bringing 《Field of Ruin》 to the metagame.

Card Choices: Sideboard

Let’s see how we build the sideboard from here.

《Narset, Parter of Veils》

Narset, Parter of Veils

It’s mostly for 《Arclight Phoenix》 deck, while also very good against most control decks and 《Hydroid Krasis》 decks.

《The Elderspell》

The Elderspell

This card can be so powerful that with all the Planeswalkersmania out there I woudn’t leave home without packing a pair of these.

《Dovin’s Veto》

Dovin's Veto

Obviously very good against control and Planeswalkers decks, but it turns out they also play 《Teferi, Time Raveler》. So I don’t like playing more than two of this because sometimes things can go wrong and you don’t want to have dead cards, especially postboard.

《Duress》

Duress

I suggest to play 2 or 3 total in maindeck and sideboard, since we already have 4 《Thought Erasure》 and we don’t want to overload the discard count. Same that happends with 《Dovin’s Veto》 and 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 could happen with 《Duress》 and 《Tamiyo, Collector of Tales》.

《Kaya, Orzhov Usurper》

Kaya, Orzhov Usurper

I like this one as a singleton. It can be massive against 《Arclight Phoenix》 and 《Finale of Promise》 if things pan out our way. It can also see play against the 《Command the Dreadhorde》 decks and against White Winnie.

《Enter the God-Eternals》

Enter the God-Eternals

It obviously crushes the aggro plan from Mono Red, but we still need to keep 《Experimental Frenzy》 under control. In case you decide to play 《Seraph of the Scales》, I rather have 《Lyra Dawnbringer》 in this slot.

《Moment of Craving》

Moment of Craving

I think it’s necessary to have some other early interaction that can give us some breathing room against aggro in the first turns. It might be needed when we are on the draw.


Other options mentioned above such as 《Hostage Taker》, 《Deputy of Detention》, 《Despark》 and 《Basilica Bell-Haunt》 can also be played in the Sideboard, so this is how I would run:

Pozzo_Esper_Hero_3

Sideboard

Decklist and Sideboard Guide

Mono Red Aggro

Against Mono Red Aggro

Out

Thief of Sanity Thief of Sanity Thief of Sanity Thief of Sanity
Ugin, the Ineffable Hero of Precinct One

In

Moment of Craving Moment of Craving Despark Deputy of Detention
Enter the God-Eternals Duress

White Aggro

Against White Aggro

Out

Ugin, the Ineffable Ugin, the Ineffable Duress Duress
Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord Teferi, Time Raveler Despark

In

Moment of Craving Moment of Craving Hostage Taker Hostage Taker
Kaya, Orzhov Usurper Enter the God-Eternals Deputy of Detention

Jeskai or Esper Planeswalkers

Against Jeskai or Esper Planeswalkers

Out

Mortify Mortify Tyrant's Scorn Tyrant's Scorn
Elite Guardmage Elite Guardmage Elite Guardmage
Oath of Kaya Oath of Kaya

In

The Elderspell The Elderspell Dovin's Veto Dovin's Veto
Despark Duress Deputy of Detention
Narset, Parter of Veils Narset, Parter of Veils

Izzet Phoenix

Against Izzet Phoenix

Out

Oath of Kaya Oath of Kaya Tyrant's Scorn Tyrant's Scorn
Ugin, the Ineffable Ugin, the Ineffable Basilica Bell-Haunt
Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord

In

Moment of Craving Moment of Craving Despark Deputy of Detention
Kaya, Orzhov Usurper Enter the God-Eternals Duress
Narset, Parter of Veils Narset, Parter of Veils

《Command the Dreadhorde》

Against 《Command the Dreadhorde》

Out

Elite Guardmage Elite Guardmage Elite Guardmage Basilica Bell-Haunt
Mortify Mortify Oath of Kaya

In

The Elderspell The Elderspell Hostage Taker Hostage Taker
Kaya, Orzhov Usurper Duress Deputy of Detention

Mirror Match

Against Mirror Match (On the Play)

Out

Mortify Basilica Bell-Haunt
Duress Duress

In

The Elderspell The Elderspell
Narset, Parter of Veils Narset, Parter of Veils

Against Mirror Match (On the Draw)

Out

Mortify Basilica Bell-Haunt
Duress Duress
Mortify Despark

In

The Elderspell The Elderspell
Narset, Parter of Veils Narset, Parter of Veils
Moment of Craving Moment of Craving

Esper Control

Against Esper Control

Out

Tyrant's Scorn Tyrant's Scorn Elite Guardmage Elite Guardmage
Oath of Kaya Oath of Kaya Despark

In

The Elderspell The Elderspell Dovin's Veto Dovin's Veto
Narset, Parter of Veils Narset, Parter of Veils Duress

《Nexus of Fate》

Against 《Nexus of Fate》

Out

Oath of Kaya Oath of Kaya Tyrant's Scorn Tyrant's Scorn
Elite Guardmage Elite Guardmage Elite Guardmage
Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord

In

The Elderspell The Elderspell Dovin's Veto Dovin's Veto
Despark Duress Deputy of Detention
Narset, Parter of Veils Narset, Parter of Veils

Bant Flash

Against Bant Flash

Out

Oath of Kaya Oath of Kaya Duress Duress
Ugin, the Ineffable Ugin, the Ineffable Basilica Bell-Haunt

In

Narset, Parter of Veils Narset, Parter of Veils Hostage Taker Hostage Taker
Enter the God-Eternals The Elderspell Deputy of Detention

Gruul Aggro

Against Gruul Aggro

Out

Thief of Sanity Thief of Sanity Thief of Sanity Thief of Sanity
Duress Duress Ugin, the Ineffable

In

Moment of Craving Moment of Craving Hostage Taker Hostage Taker
Enter the God-Eternals Despark Deputy of Detention

Conclusion

I hope you can enjoy this sweet Standard that we have, and remember that it’s crucial to keep making adjustments to the list as the format develops! Thanks for reading.

Sebastian Pozzo (Twitter)

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Sebastian Pozzo

Sebastian Pozzo Picking up the title of Standard Master this season, he has reached the Gold Level Pro. He also is being the first player from Argentina to qualify for the 2017 World Championship Holding the title Standard Master, his strength is in the constructed format, and is outstanding when picking decks for the format. At Pro Tour Hour of Devastation, he has chosen the most favored deck, Ramunap Red, leading him into the title Standard Master. He is joining Hareruya Hopes with his teammate from the same country of Argentina, Luis Salvatto. Read more articles by Sebastian Pozzo