Friday Morning Magic | Shadows Over Rotation

For the first time ever, Magic: the Gathering’s Standard format is seeing rotation occur in the spring.

It was (somewhat) recently announced that there’s a new policy when it comes to the game’s block expansions. We’re now getting three two set blocks in a 12-month span instead of two three set blocks. The result is a meta that shifts far more rapidly and (possibly) uncontrollably. No more long summer months longing for rotation. No more grinding it out against the same cards for 24 tiring months. The best of the best in tournament play will need to hone their deck building skill as they’ll become far more prevalent far more often.

The entrance of Shadows over Innistrad into the format means that Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged are leaving the format. This is an extremely powerful impact for two reasons First, Khans was a set that was focused on three color cards, each of which were extremely powerful due to their “difficult” casting cost. I say difficult somewhat sarcastically considering the other reason for the powerful impact on rotation: the removal of fetchlands from standard. Combined with the Battle for Zendikar rare land cycle, which you could fetch for, there won’t be three/four color good stuff decks in standard anymore. You can’t simply run a pile of good cards and value your way to victory.

Well, maybe you can; there’s a heck of a lot of good white cards between Battle for Zendikar block and Shadows over Innistrad (along with the occasional leftovers from Dragons of Tarkir and Magic: Origins, both of which are not leaving the format), but synergistic decks with relevant gameplans will more than likely reign supreme. As a result, the Standard metagame will undoubtedly become far more diverse than the four decks it currently is.

“But Jake!” you might say. “There are so many decks in Standard right now! Abzan, Abzan Blue, Abzan Red, Mardu Green, Jeskai, Jeskai Black…”

Stop. You essentially just named one deck six different times. The manabase of KTK-OGW Standard has allowed these value decks to thrive unpunished. Sure, you may have a point in that the Jeskai decks are far more different than the Abzan/Mardu ones, but at the end of the day they’re still the same: a combination of threats and removal. At the end of the day, there’s only really four or so actual archetypes: these value decks, Rally, Company, and Ramp. Occasionally you’ll see aggressive red decks, dragon oriented decks, or maybe even a control deck, but that’s your meta game right there. Four decks with a handful of fringe decks.

Friday Morning Magic | Shadows Over Rotation

Here’s some of the archetypes that have been tested for DTK-SOI standard:

  • B/R Vampires
  • U/B Reanimator
  • G/W Megamorph/Midrange
  • G/B Delirium
  • G/B Eldrazi
  • Mono Red Eldrazi
  • Ramp
  • B/W Control/Midrange
  • Esper Dragons
  • Humans
  • U/R Madness

To be honest, this only feels like the type of the iceburg. There’s other decks I’ve seen posted online that have piqued my interest. This could very easily be a format where there’s a bevy of viable decks to choose from week in and week out.

Or this could just be a mid-range player’s paradise. I don’t know; I can’t predict the future.

The bottom line, though is this. That future looks incredibly bright if you’re a fan of diverse metagames in magic. To be honest, who isn’t? As much as I loved Mono Black Devotion back in the day, I enjoyed playing it against a bevy of different decks every round. I’ll miss Siege Rhino, but I won’t miss playing against the same decks nonstop to the point where sideboard tech has become mainboard staples.

There’s a shadow ready to be cast over Standard. I’m excited, are you?

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