A Pro Tour with an established metagame gives you few options as a player. You can play the best deck, or you can play a deck that gives you a chance to catch your opponents off-guard. For me, this meant that I ended up playing U/B Midrange over R/B to a medium 5-5 finish. That said, I still think U/B is going to be a good choice for a number of metagames going forward.
Don’t sleep on The Scarab God. This thing is still ridiculous and I was never losing games when it landed on a battlefield that wasn’t already out of control. The red decks aren’t well equipped to deal with a threat on this level. I was still able to win a number of games following a couple of Unlicensed Disintegrations, as The Scarab God always comes back for more. This does mean that you either need your own board presence or the ability to deal with the opponent’s threats before turn 5, and that’s the major difference between a midrange and control version of these decks.
One of the bigger pulls to midrange for me was Kitesail Freebooter. This is an effect powerful enough to be a major player in Humans, what most call the best deck in Modern, but it never really did much work in Standard. The shift from creature-based aggro decks to higher densities of noncreature spells may change that. As Heart of Kiran increases in popularity and players use History of Benalia and Karn as their threats of choice, the Freebooter only gets booter. Surviving a Chainwhirler, taking a removal spell, and brickwalling a Bomat Courier are all useful traits for the flyer.
Glint-Sleeve Siphoner is in an interesting place right now. On one hand, it’s the absolute worst card in your deck versus Chainwhirler and Ballista. These also happen to be two of the very best cards in Standard. On the other hand, this is your best threat against control, especially U/W decks without access to Fatal Push. This means that Siphoners can be cut, main decked, or sideboarded, and we see players doing all three right now.
Personally, this card is too powerful for me not to main deck and I can board it out versus Chainwhirlers when I need to. Having ways to discard cards and reanimate creatures from your graveyard make the 1 toughness liability less painful, but I understand why people might shy away from this card.
Gifted Aetherborn looks like it’s a great threat against red decks, but that rarely ends up being the case. Chainwhirler’s first strike and the many flyers are a real problem, and most versions are playing few Shocks and Sprays. All that said, it’s still a solid attacker, another 2-drop to trigger raid, and can gain a bit of life. It’s also excellent to get back with The Scarab God, as a 4/4 lifelinker is a real threat against aggro. Being excellent against big green creatures makes this a much more playable card than it normally would be when control is a popular strategy.
Champion of Wits also dies to Chainwhirler and Ballista, but you’re not worried about that. Getting Champions into the graveyard is a good thing, and as long as you aren’t overextending, it usually works out just fine. Champion is what makes this deck work, since you have a handful of cards that are just not at their best in any given matchup for game 1. You’ve got lots of removal spells and plenty of creatures that shine in some matchups and look mediocre in others. This filtering is a game changer, and loading up the graveyard for The Scarab God is always a plus. You also have some copies of Chart a Course for this same reason and as a cheap card drawing spell when you have one of your many 2-drops.
The 4-drop creatures I went with were a split between Ravenous Chupacabra and Hostage Taker. Chupacabra is more powerful in many situations since they can’t kill it to get their creature back, but being able to hit an artifact really matters. Heart of Kiran is widely played, and taking a Lifecrafter’s Bestiary or God-Pharaoh’s Gift can win a game.
Liliana, Death’s Majesty gives you effectively more copies of The Scarab God. Not playing four Gods and still playing Lilianas is mostly due to the fact that they work well together and The Scarab God is legendary, so drawing one of each is often better than two Gods. Liliana can also take over a board that isn’t out of control, milling creatures to bring back or Champions to eternalize.
The black removal is absurdly good right now. Fatal Push gives you a cheap tempo play while Vraska’s Contempt can exile the planeswalkers, Gods, and big threats. Cast Down adds a little more to your removal suite as a cheap way to deal with something like Glorybringer that these decks were previously missing. Doomfall is good enough to main deck as a way to exile bigger threats while also giving you more main-deck hand disruption to complement the Freebooters.
This deck is slanted toward beating aggro in game 1 and boards in over 10 cards against control decks to swing that matchup. With game against everything in the format, U/B Midrange should always be on every Standard player’s radar.