Whether you're ready or not, rotation is coming soon. The Prerelease is less than a month away and the release is in a month at the end of September! I don't know about you, but when I had this realization, I knew what I was going to write about this week. This new release schedule has really surprised me with how quickly we've moved from one format to another. When Kaladesh hits in a month, we are losing Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins. That's a ton of influential spells that will be leaving the format but there are other implications as well.
Up until now we were on the triple set block rotation with the core set mixed in there as well. Over the past year we started seeing the two set blocks as our norm. This will be the first season that will truly be on the new two block system. For the first time, we will have two, two set blocks and a third coming into the fray. We don't really know what differences we will see but my guess is that the over all power level of decks will decrease. My guess is that most decks will rely on cards from within their respective blocks to synergize with.
The biggest format shift will come with the much anticipated rotation of Collected Company. This is a card that I've said repeatedly is too powerful for Standard. There are ways to beat this potent card but it gives the cast such an advantage that often the steps players take to beat it end up falling short. Company decks have dictated the flow of the format for far too long but once the spell leaves for it's home in Modern, Standard should look quite different than where it stands currently.
What can we expect though with the new format? Some of this we can guess already, so let's dive in and see what's what with Standard.
First up is GW Tokens. Here's a current list.
Surprisingly a lot of cards are leaving this strategy with rotation. The combination of Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is a potent one, but without a card like Dromoka's Command we may find ourselves lacking a way to efficiently deal with the opponent’s permanents. This green white instant is on another level in terms of efficiency, so I doubt we will get an easy replacement. Both of these planeswalkers should still be great after rotation though and should certainly show up in decks.
The same could be said of the Collected Company strategies. A big part of why they are successful is due to the power level of Dromoka's Command, as well as the deck’s namesake. After rotation, there are no current cards that will guide our deck construction the way these two instants did. We could pair green or white with any other combination of colors because the glue that held them together will not be present. The powerful cards like Sylvan Advocate — and likely the werewolves like Duskwatch Recruiter // Krallenhorde Howler — will be played though, so hang on to those cards.
Next up I was prepared to discuss how easy Mono White Humans and BW Control ported into the new metagame, but after looking over the strategies I noted they will be missing some key parts that make their machines function efficiently. Humans will be losing both Dragon Hunter or Kytheon, Hero of Akros // Gideon, Battle-Forged. There are other white one drops but none so capable of forcing aggression. We could certainly see more cards printed to replace these attacking creatures but we’ll have to wait and see. This should open the door for other aggressive strategies to take over. Without these one cost creatures the decks slows down dramatically and loses its effectiveness to kill quickly.
Due to this hole in the metagame for swiftly attacking creature decks I think getting some play sets of both Vampire and Zombie creature types could prove profitable. If you have your head in the financial mind set you probably already have cards that fit this category, but if not, now is the time. Should one of these two tribal decks take off, the prices of these cards might double over night.
Getting back to White-Black Control, Standard is losing its only four mana sweeper. Once Languish leaves the format, all of the key components will shift. If we don’t see a similar card to this black wrath variant, we may find ourselves relying on red for Kozilek's Return or slower white cards like Planar Outburst. I’ve liked Outburst for a while now and I sell them regularly at $1 or $1.5 depending on my current stock.
What other strategies are left then?
With all the Eldrazi floating around in the card pool we can be nearly certain that a deck will show up utilizing these creatures. We have a couple of options when it comes to the new Eldrazi. First up we can ramp towards giant Eldrazi monsters.
The core of this deck utilizes two different parts of the card pool that I believe will be pillars. Both ramping to Eldrazi and achieving delirium should be core strategies in the new format. Very few aspects of this strategy will leave the format and cards like Fiery Impulse are easily replaced. We don’t know if this type of deck will be well placed post rotation, but we do know that it’s a good starting point. Regardless of this strategy surviving, we definitely do know that Emrakul, the Promised End is too good to not see play. We don’t know where she will show up, but I’d be surprised if she didn’t exert her influence over the format in some way.
Ramping isn’t the only way that Eldrazi tear through the metagame. Don’t forget about decks like this one we haven’t seen for a while.
Mono Red Eldrazi and decks of its breed were quite popular and successful for a time but have since lost favor. They fell short due to the changes in the current of the metagame, but these cards are still legal and will be waiting for a home in the new environment. The aggressive Eldrazi are good enough to get Eye of Ugin banned in Modern. Playing them a turn slower in Standard is still a tough line to deal with for any opponent. I know I still have these cards sleeved and ready to rock in another deck. We’re heading to a block presumably full of thopters as well and we’ve already seen them pair perfectly with Eldrazi. All the signs are pointing to the Eldrazi menace reemerging.
Speaking of Emerge, those cards will be jumping at you all year long.
This is just the latest advancement trying out our newly added Emerge mechanic. I expect the metagame to have many variants on this strategy. One thing we know for sure though is that these Emerge creatures are very good. Cutting the cost of expensive spell is always a powerful strategy and we have proven that yet again with creatures in this cycle.
Another tribe that has busted onto the competitive scene is Spirits.
Tentatively, I would call this the deck to beat in the post rotation meta. Just like with the Eldrazi Aggro deck, this is an established competitive archetype with few cards leaving upon rotation. Additionally, playlers love this concept of playing the game on their opponent’s turn so that will draw more players to play this deck. Reflector Mage and Spell Queller provide the one two punch for any opponent. The tempo and disruption this Sprits deck can muster is immense and difficult for anyone to overcome. In Kaladesh, I would look for a cheap Counterspell to pair with these flash creatures as well. I could also see removing the top end of this deck for some Emerge action. The deck won’t stay as it is but its core should survive the rotation updates.
All of these strategies are great to keep in mind because they will show us some potential targets for investmen as well. Following the competitive scene is always a glimpse of the monetary side to follow.
Until next time,
Unleash the Force!
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