The release of Guilds of Ravnica and along with it a new Standard
will be here before we know it
. Kaladesh and Amonkhet blocks will be rotating at this
time, taking many of the best cards in the current Standard format with it.
While it’s impossible to say what the best decks will be right now with
only knowing four of the five sets that will be Standard legal, we can take
what do know about the cards that will be legal and speculate from there.
And that’s exactly what I’d like to do today by listing some cards that I
believe have the chance to gain value after rotation. Many of the cards
I’ll be talking about today will have similar reasons why I believe they
will be more important in the new format, most likely because they were
held back by a card that will rotate out. Before we begin, let’s talk about
what looks to be the five most important cards that will survive rotation,
for some context:
These are the cards that will likely define the format early on, depending
on what cards are added from Guilds of Ravnica. There shouldn’t be
any surprises in this list, as all five have proven to be pillars of the
format already. The red aggressive decks were the only thing holding these
cards back previously, but they’re losing almost everything at rotation.
Instead, it looks like midrange and control decks that can play these cards
will be the early front-runners of the format. With these cards in mind,
let’s go through the cards that I believe have a good chance to become
Standard staples in October.
If you’re going to need to be able to grind and you won’t have access to
the two-mana enchantments listed above, then Treasure Map and/or Azor’s
Gateway will do the trick. One of the most important cards to leave the
format will be Abrade which was holding back the playability of many
artifacts. This will be a reoccurring theme today, as these aren’t the only
two artifacts on my list.
Not only do I believe Treasure Map is the better card of the two, but it’s
also not legendary like Azor’s Gateway, making me believe it has a much
higher upside for seeing Standard play. Being able to make multiple
Treasure tokens also pairs nicely with Karn, Scion of Urza and Tezzeret,
Artifice Master. Colorless cards always have the ability to go into a wide
variety of decks, and that’s what I expect from Treasure Map post-rotation.
Sorcerous Spyglass will likely be an important sideboard staple and even
has the chance at become a maindeck fixture. Looking at the cards I listed
above, Sorcerous Spyglass is a nice answer to all three of the first cards,
as well as a wide variety of other cards in the format, and any deck can
cast it. Two of the likely most common artifact removal spells, Teferi,
Hero of Dominaria and Thrashing Brontodon, are stopped cold by Sorcerous
Spyglass. This is already one of the most popular sideboard cards in the
current Standard format, and I expect that to only pick up after Abrade
The last artifact that I believe could gain quite a bit of value with
Abrade leaving the format is Gilded Lotus. This five-mana artifact gives an
incredible boost to your manabase, something that midrange, control, and
ramp decks alike would love to take advantage of. We know how powerful it
is to be able to cast Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and untap two lands to be
able to continue to interact. Gilded Lotus is similar, except it’s like
untapping three lands.
Gilded Lotus also provides the perfect amount of mana to activate Azcanta,
the Sunken Ruin when it transforms, or can offer extra mana to pump into
Arguel’s Blood Fast. If the format starts to revolve around Teferi, Hero of
Dominaria control decks, Gilded Lotus may be a way to pull far ahead on
While History of Benalia saw some play in the current Standard format I
believe it’s the card that will gain the most from rotation. It’s the
perfect sideboard card for control decks, which will be losing Baral, Chief
of Compliance and Walking Ballista to bring in as a cheap threat. I also
expect W/B and W/G aggressive and midrange decks to pick up in popularity
to fight the control decks, with History of Benalia being a big part of
their success. W/B Aggro saw a decent amount of success in Standard ever
since the printing of History of Benalia, but the deck had too poor of a
R/B Aggro matchup to be a big part of the format. With R/B Aggro all but
disappearing from the format after rotation it looks like it will be
History of Benalia’s time to shine.
Lyra Dawnbringer already saw some play, similar to History of Benalia, most
in the sideboard of control decks to bring in against aggro decks. R/B
Aggro had the ability to use Unlicensed Disintegration to answer Lyra
straight up, or Soul-Scar Mage allowed burn spells to shrink the
lifelinking Angel. With those two cards out of the format, it looks like it
will be much harder for aggressive decks to have a clean answer to Lyra,
especially the red based decks which should cause it to see more play.
There are still answers like Fight with Fire and Banefire, but don’t be
surprised to see many more Lyra’s flying around early on in Guilds of Ravnica Standard.
I won’t spend much time on these two cards as they will just be the new
removal spells that will replace Cast Out and Fumigate, respectively. There
looks to be plenty of good artifacts and enchantments for Cleansing Nova to
clean up as well, but that proposition isn’t as appealing when you’re
playing many of those enchantments yourself. It will be interesting to see
how U/W Control decks adapt to the possibility of playing these cards
The power level on Tezzeret, Artifice Master is incredibly high, and I
wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if it went right up with Teferi,
Hero of Dominaria as far as Guilds of Ravnica Standard play. Not
only will the rotation of Abrade be beneficial to Tezzeret, since it will
be easier to keep artifacts on the battlefield, but Goblin Chainwhirler
should see a sharp decline in play, which will increase the value of the
1/1 flying Thopter tokens. It’s possible a new artifact deck will exist
with some combination of the artifacts listed above, Tezzeret, Karn, Scion
of Urza, and Sai, Master Thopterist. I’ll be keeping my eye on all of the
artifacts that are previewed in Guilds of Ravnica to see if there
will be enough for a competitive Tezzeret, Artifice Master deck, and with
how much we already have, I’ll be surprised if there isn’t one.
The biggest loss that the current control decks will have at rotation will
be the quality of the card draw spells. Glimmer of Genius and Hieroglyphic
Illumination were both very strong cards, particularly in conjunction with
Torrential Gearhulk, and we will have to see how the decks adapt without
those cards. Opt and Anticipate are efficient card selection spells, but
neither help pull ahead on cards. Secrets of the Golden City and Sift are
pretty big downgrades for the deck over the aforementioned cards, mostly
because of sorcery speed, so we’ll have to see if Guilds of Ravnica supplies the control decks with a better option.
The black cards I’m going to mention today are a little more of a stretch.
Again, if the format is filled with control decks, I could see Ruin Raider
make an impact in a B/X Aggro deck. You don’t need to attack with the Ruin
Raider and expose it to a Seal Away or Settle the Wreckage to get value
from it, and it could pair nicely with Knight of Malice which also dodges
the white enchantment removal spells. I’m not exactly sure what a Ruin
Raider deck would look like as of now, but less red aggro decks in the
format should help this card out as long as there are enough other quality
cards to build around it.
It’s also possible a Vampire Tribal deck emerges with fewer Goblin
Chainwhirlers around, something Sanctum Seeker or Champion of Dusk can both
take advantage of. Both of these cards are naturally good against Settle
the Wreckage, with Sanctum Seeker getting in damage anyway and Champion of
Dusk being able to draw plenty of cards before you attack. Like I mentioned
before with Ruin Raider, these picks are somewhat of a stretch, but they’re
the cards on my radar heading into Guilds of Ravnica Standard.
The red decks are losing so many good cards at rotation that it’s hard to
imagine a Mono-Red deck being too powerful out of the gates. If there will
be a red deck, I expect it to be either extremely aggressive and based
around The Flame of Keld similar to the
deck that won Grand Prix Providence
this past weekend, or it will be a multi-colored midrange deck involving
Siege-Gang Commander. Siege-Gang Commander is a quality card that has been
held back by Goblin Chainwhirler so far, but if the number of Goblin
Chainwhirlers in the field drops dramatically, it may have the chance to
shine. The red decks will still have access to some good burn spells and
Rekindling Phoenix, but besides that they will need a ton of help from Guilds of Ravnica to dominate Standard again.
There will be many ways to build green decks after rotation, but one thing
is for certain: Llanowar Elves will be much better. Not only was Goblin
Chainwhirler somewhat holding the card back, but also some of the best
early removal spells, like Fatal Push and Magma Spray, will be leaving the
format. Additionally, the other best one-drops, Bomat Courier and Soul-Scar
Mage, are leaving the format which will lessen the pressure of having
access to a removal spell immediately. This should make Llanowar Elves a
powerful option to ramp past opponents in a variety of different G/X decks.
With so many powerful artifacts and enchantments in Guilds of Ravnica Standard, the green decks may need more than
just Thrashing Brontodon in the maindeck moving forward. Reclamation Sage
is another good option that should have increased value with the lesser
amount of Goblin Chainwhirlers in the field and also synergizes well with
Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle and Militia Bugler in a G/W shell. Vivien Reid
has already started seeing a decent amount of Standard play in green decks,
and I expect that to pick up with the importance of destroying artifacts
and enchantments increasing as well as dealing with flyers like Lyra
Dawnbringer. Having the card advantage to match Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
is also a must.
Finally, for the decks that want to play all five of the important cards I
listed at the beginning of the article, Chromium, the Mutable will be a
vital sideboard card to have access to in mirror matches. We will have to
wait to see if the manabase will be consistent enough to be able to support
an Esper Control deck, but if it is, Chromium will be the mirror breaker.
Change Is Coming
Those cards are just some that I expect to have a big impact on Standard
after rotation. At this time, we only know a little under 80% of the
format, and that means things will certainly change with the introduction
of Guilds of Ravnica to the format. For now, when you’re building
new decks or picking up new cards to have access to, keep these in mind as
I believe their best days are still ahead. Is there a card that you believe
will have a much bigger impact on Standard after rotation that I missed?
Most Magic players I talk to are excited for Standard rotations to happen
as they enjoy the thrill of playing a new, mysterious format for the first
time. I’m particularly excited for this rotation as I believe the sets
Wizard of the Coast has been making for Constructed since Ixalan
have been very good, and I believe Standard will be the best it’s been in
years starting in October. I’m a little worried that Teferi, Hero of
Dominaria decks will be too good, but then again, when a control deck is
the most popular deck in a format, there ‘s usually a way to design an
anti-control deck to fight it.
And I do love playing an anti-control deck!