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The Equipment-based Midrange Archetype in Highlander

Welcome to the Equipment-based Midrange hub! Here you can find all the Highlander content related to this play style.

A Summary of the Equipment-based Midrange Archetype

Midrange decks come in all shapes and sizes, but the key to this playstyle is access to your Equipment suite. You will find that regardless of the flexible card choices, your core will always revolve around ‘buffing’ up a Mana-producing creature with anything from a Batterskull through to an Umezawa’s Jitte or Sword of Fire and Ice. This lets your 1-mana Elvish Mystic (and co.) vault you ahead in mana in the early turns, and then turn into legitimate threats in the later game. These 1-toughness creatures can also be exchanged for more cards by equipping them with Skullclamp, allowing you to pull ahead on the card advantage war.

Equipment-based Midrange Deck Lists and Variations

The most straightforward example of all these principles in action is when you play all the ‘best’ cards in Green, White, and Black (‘Abzan’ colours). This creates a stable three-colour manabase and allows you to leverage the best value-generating creature cards in those colours. Prior to receiving the official appellation of Abzan, Green-White-Black midrange decks that sought to generate value and attack with creatures were often colloquially referred to as ‘Junk’ decks.

Deck List – Abzan Midrange

In addition there is a video primer available, which covers the key groupings of cards and touches on the fundamental aspects of the Abzan Midrange playstyle in only 7 minutes. You can watch it here:

For a deep dive into the this playstyle, be sure to check out The Rock and Junk, an article in the How to Build Better Decks in Highlander series by Dan Abraham and Dr Drew Carter.

Another angle players often take in the same colours is to leverage the powerful creature-based tutor cards available in Green. Birthing Pod allows you to generate value whilst converting those 1-mana Llanowar Elves into 2-mana creatures that leave behind another body or generate other card advantage, such as Strangleroot Geist, Voice of Resurgence, and Stoneforge Mystic. Given that the core of the deck revolves around a creature tutor, it also opens the list up to including creature-based combos, such as Melira, Sylvok Outcast. This card can be combined with Kitchen Finks or Murderous Redcap and a sacrifice outlet to win the game on the spot. This style of Equipment-based Midrange deck is often referred to as ‘Melira Pod’.

Deck List Melira-Pod

Last but not least, the third major player in the Equipment-based Midrange category is a 4-colour version that can also play a Tempo-style game when needed. The three primary colours are Green, White, and Blue (referred to a ‘Bant’) with a small splash of Black for key powerhouses such as Seige Rhino and Leovold, Emissary of Trest. Thus, it is affectionately referred to as ‘Dark Bant’.

Dark Bant is especially strong at preying on aggro strategies by drowning them in card advantage, as well as control strategies that cannot contend with the potent combination of mana acceleration, early threats, and light ‘permission’ suite. The latter often come in the form of Counterspells that can either be played for free when you need to ‘curve out’ (i.e. Daze) or cycled away in the late game or in a threat-light hand (i.e. Misdirection). These conditional Counterspells are especially good at preventing a timely Wrath of God or other interaction that would stymie your aggression, as well as interacting with an opponent’s degenerate combo which the three-colour variants of Equipment-based Midrange often struggle with. Blue also lends some of the most versatile threats in the form of Vendilion Clique and Spell Queller, both of which apply pressure whilst also reducing the opponent’s ability to enact their game plan or interact with yours. Last but not least, Blue offers sideboard options that manage problematic matchups like Hydroblast effects for Blood Moon, and Dovin’s Veto for degenerate Combo decks.

Deck List Dark Bant

There is a video primer available for this deck, which covers the key groupings of cards and touches on the fundamental aspects of the Dark Bant playstyle in only 7 minutes. You can watch it here:

Building Equipment-based Midrange on a Budget

If you enjoy the sound of Equipment-based Midrange decks but are on a budget, we would recommend sleeving up the three-colour option first. For the most part, you can access some relatively cheap highlander staples in the combination of Green, White and Black, and the deck even functions without access to a Bayou, Savannah and Scrubland. Replacing these with basic lands does not necessarily make your ‘budget Junk’ list strictly worse, because of your resilience to Blood Moon. Further, Indatha Triome assists with a strong manabase to cast your double-black and double-green pip cards. The three original dual lands also present a great target to work towards whilst still having a functional and competitive Highlander deck!

Playing 7 Point Highlander on a budget? Don’t forget to listen to listen to one of the 7 Point Highlander Cast’s seminal episodes on how to construct a good deck whilst on a shoestring!

Podcast – Building on a Budget

Highlander Equipment-based Midrange Video Content

Compiled below are links to some excellent Youtube resources that can help you see Equipment-based Midrange in action:

Where to Next?

Did Equipment-based Midrange fit the kind of deck archetype you’re looking for? If you’re building an Equipment-based Midrange list and want to dive deeper into the archetype, you can check out our Expert-level article series by guest authors Dan Abraham and Drew Carter. Here is their article entitled: How to Build Better Decks in Highlander: The Rock and Junk.

Want to know more about other Midrange decks? Visit the Midrange hub here.

Some of the decks featured above also contain a combo sub-theme. If you’d like to know more about dedicated Combo decks or those that have a ‘combo finish’ element to them, visit the Combo hub here.

Although predominantly a Midrange deck, the Dark Bant variation can leverage counterspells to play a tempo-style game not unlike the Protect the Queen archetype. If you’d like to know more about dedicated Tempo decks or those with a Tempo element to them, visit the Tempo hub here.

Dr Sarven McLinton

Sarven has been playing Magic the Gathering since Stronghold (1998) and is on The Highlander Points Committee. He is well-versed in a wide variety of deck archetypes but remains an avid student of the game. Sarven is a passionate writer and seeks to apply his extensive experience in research and statistics to gaming. By day, 'Dr McLinton' works as a Research Associate at the Centre for Workplace Excellence (CWeX) managing various projects investigating psychosocial factors at work, as well as lecturing Psychology Honours and supervising PhD candidates. By night, 'McLinton Sensei' teaches traditional Japanese Karate in South Australia's premiere sporting centre, the ARC Campbelltown. He holds a 4th-degree black belt and is a gold medalist, competing both nationally and internationally in Karate and Open-style contact tournaments.