Welcome back, readers!
If I've learned anything playing and investing in this game, it's that the closer we get to rotation the faster things start to drop. Remember this Standard staple?
Goblin Rabblemaster is currently buylisting for $1 and selling at $3. But even at rotation it had already declined dramatically to $4.71, from a relatively staple $15 seen from January to April. With rotation pending, it began to dip around June to July, experienced a small resurgence, and then continued back downward as rotation neared.
This happens pretty consistently. The biggest challenge is that the more people are concerned about rotational prices the sooner they sell, and in an ironic twist might actually begin the rotational drop earlier as a result.
When you know something will lose value at a specific point in time down the road, it makes sense to unload it before that point. Thankfully, the wonderful people at Wizards of the Coast have very specific release dates that they make public in advance.
We know Shadows over Innistrad (SOI) will be released April 8th, 2016. On that date, Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged will rotate out of Standard. Many of the cards in those sets will lose a great deal of value between now and then as players try to unload them.
The primary goal of this article is to review the major Standard archetypes to see where they'll stand post-rotation. We'll be looking at the specific cards each deck loses, and whether what remains is functional or not. Finally, we'll speculate on where the remaining staples might find a new home.
With that, let's dive in!
Verdict: Dead on Arrival
Abzan loses nearly its entire mana base, as well as much of the original payoff for going Abzan in the first place---the ubiquitous Siege Rhino and his other undercosted friends. This archetype as we know it will not survive rotation.
However, the power levels of Den Protector and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar are too high not to find another home somewhere in Standard. Assuming the mana base doesn't get new tools in SOI or Oath of the Gatewatch (OGW), we'll probably see the deck revert back to a green-white shell, utilizing Dromoka's Command and Silkwrap as removal spells of choice.
With a resurgence in Den Protector and a shift back to just two colors, I expect we'll see a rise in Deathmist Raptor as well.
Verdict: Dead on Arrival
While this deck actually maintains a good quantity of its spells, it loses the entire creature suite save Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. For his part, Jace gets considerably worse when you don't have fetchlands to fill your graveyard to allow him to flip on turn three or four.
But the biggest loss is to the mana base. This is a four-color deck with extremely greedy mana, which only works currently thanks to a glut of fetchlands (typically 10-11). Without the fetches allowing this archetype to stretch its manabase so widely, it's far more likely to contract back to a two- to three-color deck.
The combination of Ojutai's Command and cheap, powerful creatures is still incredibly potent, so we might see a splash for something like Dragonmaster Outcast or Fathom Feeder. Right now I think the red is more promising as the current two-drop options in black are severely limited, unless OGW or SOI bring us something appealing.
G/R Eldrazi Ramp
Verdict: Very Functional
This is by far the most intact deck at rotation. The biggest loss (and it is significant) is Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, which served primarily as a board wipe. The deck will still have Dragonlord Atarka to fulfill that role, and soon it gets to add Kozilek's Return as an additional sweeper.
When you have a Tier 1 archetype that hasn't lost anything on rotation it's worth watching. In the case of Eldrazi Ramp we can actually expect it to get stronger with the addition of OGW to the mix---it's likely this deck will be one of the premier decks come rotation.
As the big Eldrazi threats hail from Battle for Zendikar, their current prices are still relatively low. Should this archetype perform according to my predictions, I expect a nice uptick in both Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and Oblivion Sower. These are already core elements of the archetype, and there's a good chance the deck will want even more Eldrazi in later builds to make it easier to trigger Kozilek's Return.
I would pick up your playsets now. Both cards are good in Commander as well, and with Ulamog having found a home in Modern Tron decks already, his price is likely heading up over time.
I am also a big fan of Kozilek, the Great Distortion. His draw ability is uncounterable as it triggers on casting, and countering spells for zero mana (out of a non-blue deck!) is nothing to sneeze at. I think this guy will also find a home in the ramp archetype (likely as a two- or three-of).
We've never seen anything like this version of Kozilek before, and people may be undervaluing it. I've pre-ordered my playset already.
Verdict: Severely Reduced
The biggest loss to this deck at rotation is the combo element of Become Immense and Temur Battle Rage. This one-two punch allowed the deck to pick away at the opponent until the shields were down, and then simply kill them from out of nowhere.
However, red aggro decks always seem to get something from the first set in a new block. While it may look like it's going away, I have a strong feeling the red deck will find some potent new threats to mix in.
Without the combo finish, this archetype will likely need some additional cheap burn spells or more token generators. Wizards may be somewhat hesitant to make super cheap burn spells due to their impact on eternal formats, but the deck is likely to get something.
If the deck shifts to a more burn-heavy build, Atarka's Command becomes much less important, as simply another replaceable Skullcrack effect. Assuming this happens, the deck may move away from green entirely and embrace the more traditional mono-red archetype that appears in most Standard formats.