Magic: The Gathering has plenty of archetypes within the game. They play at different tempos, and each has a different kind of game plan. There are aggro decks that want to win the match as fast as possible. Or control decks, which deny your opponent from playing their resources and let you grind into a slow but steady win. In between both of those is the midrange archetype.
Midrange decks are closer to control decks than aggro, and excel at trading resources early on in the game. Unlike control decks, however, midrange decks have a lot more creature threats as opposed to just a few game-enders seen in control.
What Is A Midrange Deck?
A midrange deck, as the name might imply, is a deck that will let you start winning in the middle of a game. It has two key aspects: removal and other cards to interrupt your opponent, and late-game threats to start snowballing the game in your favor. Often, a midrange deck can swap between control and aggro rather easily, and shine especially when it comes to the sideboard thanks to how versatile this archetype can be.
Much of the removal midrange plays generally fall under one or two mana and can target a plethora of creatures in a format. Popular removal cards include Fatal Push and Dreadbore, ensuring you have access to removal at the start of the match to take care of early game threats. Midrange decks also tend to interrupt the hand with cards such as Thoughtseize to prevent the opponent from playing something that could tip the tide in their favor.
The other end of this deck archetype is creatures. Often, these cost a bit to cast, but once they hit the battlefield, they can start swinging the game in your favor drastically. These generally have powerful effects or high power and toughness stats, if not both. Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger and Titan of Industry are both good examples of solid midrange creatures. Once they hit the battlefield, they immediately make an impact and if not removed, can lead to the game completely snowballing.
Midrange decks can lead to you taking a lot of damage before you get online. However, once you get your creatures down, your life total is often safe, and in many cases, they can give you some comfort in gaining life depending on the deck. Thanks to how much interaction midrange decks run, it's rare you will ever have a dead draw at any point in the game. Midrange decks require a lot of careful decision-making, determining when to best use your removal and baiting out negates to ensure you can resolve your creatures.
Common Midrange Decks
Due to how broad midrange can become, it can be hard to define what a midrange deck is. However, many midrange decks tend to fall within a few color combinations and have been played in formats such as Standard, Pioneer, and Modern.
- Rakdos (red/black) has become one of the most common color combinations for midrange. Some of the most popular midrange decks of Pioneer and Modern fall into this combination. Rakdos has a lot of easy-to-cast removals that can destroy a creature with little to no restrictions. Plus, Rakdos cards like Dauthia Voidwalker in Modern and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet in Pioneer let you take advantage of your removal, using them to advance your own gamestate.
- Some players add green to the Rakdos mix in their midrange decks to make them Jund (black/green/red). The popularity of Jund midrange tends to be based on what powerful green creatures are in the format. For example, in the 2022 Standard, Titan Of Industry and Soul Of Windgrace are green cards that are powerful game-enders once they're online, slotting perfectly into a midrange deck.
- Though not the most popular color for midrange, blue can find itself in the red and black mix for a Grixis (blue/black/red) deck. Decks built like this tend to run a few broad counterspells, letting you have answers to stop an opponent or keep your own plays safe. The game plan remains the same, but blue offers a bit more variety in available answers, especially in formats where removal or hand-hate cards aren't common, such as the current Standard.
How To Build A Midrange Deck
Midrange decks need two important things: interaction and "bombs." Generally, you want to include more interaction, as many midrange decks run a low amount of creatures compared to spells.
The removal you choose in a midrange deck should never extend past two mana. Generally, you want them to be able to hit any creature. The only exception to this is one mana removal. Fatal Push can hit a lot of early game threats, and even larger creatures later on in the match when you have creatures dying on your side of the battlefield. The removal should be as un-specific as possible, not restricted to any creature type. For example, Infernal Grasp is a fantastic removal for a midrange, the only downside being that you'll lose two life. On the other side, a card like Cast Down is less useful since it's useless against any legendary creatures.
All of your creatures should put pressure on the opponent. In Standard, Bloodtithe Harvester is played in many midrange decks, acting as a solid creature on the battlefield on top of removal. A card like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse is an example of a creature that helps you recover the life you lost early in the game while putting pressure on the opponent. Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger is a staple as it lets you take advantage of the dead cards in your graveyard to bring it back out and burn the opponent while tearing apart their hand.
Since most midrange decks only play two or three colors, the mana base is rather easy to play dual lands that often do not enter tapped. Depending on the format, utility lands are often included to further create an advantage. Pioneer tends to run Hive of the Eye Tyrant as a creature to threaten with and hate the graveyard while Modern includes Shizo, Death's Storehouse to make creatures often unblockable.
You shouldn't include too many of these utility lands. They are only useful once your threats are out, and do little until that point.