What Does Wizards’ Change to Standard Rotation Mean Financially?

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First, for those who don't read our Discord chat or keep up with Wizards of the Coasts' website announcements, we got a doozy on an otherwise calm Sunday afternoon.

There will be NO Standard rotation this year! That means when the fall set, Wilds of Eldraine, releases, no sets will leave Standard. That means another 16 months with Innistrad: Crimson Vow, Innistrad; Midnight Hunt, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, and Streets of New Capenna. This will lead to some financial ramifications for cards in these sets.

The Old Normal: Price Pullbacks

In most years, late spring is when we typically expect to see the Standard staples that will be rotating out in the fall begin to drop in price. They typically reach their floor around late summer. We can see this trend in cards like Adeline, Resplendent Cathar

There was an error retrieving a chart for Adeline, Resplendent Cathar

However, with this announcement, I would expect any cards that had begun to dip pending rotation may rebound in price. This means there are some possible financial gains in finding these types of cards. However, it is important to remember that the Standard metagame is volatile. There is no guarantee that a card that was a Standard powerhouse returns to its former glory given this extra lease on life.

Former Duds May Find a New Home

We all make bad speculation picks from time to time. It's easy to over-value a "what-if" scenario to the point that you convince yourself that everyone else is wrong on a card and you've found the next Arclight Pheonix. Now it seems all of us who missed thus far are given a "next shot" opportunity. I'm not suggesting you double down necessarily, but perhaps it's a good idea to dig through those misses and at least keep them on your radar rather than confining them to the "ole box of shame."

On a similar note, there are some cards that barely found a home in the current Standard environment but are now more likely to find one. Often these are mana-fixing lands. The two I am keeping my eye on are Shipwreck Marsh and Rockfall Vale.

The other lands in this cycle all have a TCGPlayer Market price above $5. Shipwreck Marsh though is at $2.92, and Rockfall Vale is under $1! I think this cycle of lands was well-designed and I've seen most of them in Commander decks I've played against. Barring a reprint, these two especially seem like they have good potential.

There was an error retrieving a chart for Shipwreck Marsh
There was an error retrieving a chart for Rockfall Vale

The Biggest Potential Winners

I normally focus on rares and mythics for speculation. The cards that typically drop in price the fastest and the farthest though are the strong uncommons. At a glance, the most played uncommons have so far shown little to no drop in value. A deep dive into all the strong uncommons might be worth your efforts if you want to buy up some "penny picks" thanks to this change.

One of these uncommons I will be keeping my eye on is Thirst for Discovery. it is a very strong card that provides card advantage and allows you to easily dump cards from your hand into your graveyard. We are already seeing archetypes built around dumping Atraxa, Grand Unifier into the graveyard and reanimating it.

There was an error retrieving a chart for Thirst for Discovery

Wilds of Eldraine Previews

It is unlikely that the design team behind Wilds of Eldraine or the sets occurring immediately after it was aware of this possible change. It also means that the play design team responsible for playtesting the set for Standard may also not have seen this change coming. If that is the case, it is possible some powerful and or broken interactions may occur with cards that weren't designed to be in the same Standard format. This means we will need to pay extra attention during Wilds of Eldraine spoiler season for speculation targets that fit this bill.

Why Did Wizards Make This Change?

While the focus of today's article has been on the financial ramifications of this change to the Standard Format, I think it worthwhile to briefly examine the reasons Wizards of the Coast stated were behind making the change.

  • Card Longevity - Like many others, I used to play Standard pretty competitively and rotation was always a time I dreaded as I watched the value of my collection plummet. While I can appreciate the logic behind this the flip side issue is that Standard often gets stale as a format. Like most other formats, the top cards tend to dominate, and having them remain for an additional year could easily dissuade people from playing the format rather than enjoying it. The Standard card pool will likely not be large enough to allow for a "rock/paper/scissors" type of format where different decks keep each other in check.
  • Mechanics and Archetypes Built Up - This one I will give them, I am sure lots of players noticed some potential cool interactions between cards that were released in the fall and those that had just rotated out of Standard. Oftentimes, these types of interactions aren't strong enough to survive in much larger card pools like Modern and Pioneer but may have worked in something like the old Extended format.
  • Want to push a more thematic environment instead of all midrange - I would argue that this one is more likely wishful thinking. The reason that midrange decks tend to become dominant is that they tend to play the best cards in the format at the cost of speed.

Lipservice to Local Game Stores

The announcement also mentions a push to strengthen local game stores. This is the part I find the most insincere, given that the push towards the digital realm has kicked most local game stores to the curb by cutting them out of the supply line to the players. It often seems like Wizards of the Coast knows that local game stores are the lifeblood of their game but can't get over the fact that by bypassing them they make a lot more money.

My Personal Take

I'm honestly not a big fan of this change. While I don't play a lot of Standard anymore, when I did, I loved rotation. It gave us a chance to brew and try out cards that couldn't cut it in the previous Standard format. Now, we will have less rotation and a much larger card pool in Standard. This means the cream of the crop cards like Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, The Wandering Emperor, and Farewell will just continue to dominate the format and cards that might have finally had a chance to find a home will be kept out. I'd argue that a better solution would be to rotate one set out each time a new set rotates in. This would mean more opportunities to brew and would likely mean more cards ended up being played in the format.

One thought on “What Does Wizards’ Change to Standard Rotation Mean Financially?

  1. The Standard format is now the same as Extended’s three year rotation during its early years. Decks didn’t change much. Players would use the same Standard decks with a few strong additions. It was extremely popular. Standard as it was played back then has been long gone so the change seems like it was long overdue.

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