In the last couple of days, plenty of exciting Kaladesh cards have been released, and I can’t wait to brew new decks with Vehicles, new planeswalkers, and energy cards. But the introduction of Kaladesh not only brings a bunch of new cards: on the release date of September 30th (the Friday after the prerelease), we will also say goodbye to Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins. These two sets will rotate out of Standard on that day.
In terms of metagame developments, the departure of old cards can be just as impactful as the arrival of new cards. For that reason, I will use this article to count down my picks for the Top 10 clusters of rotating Standard cards. It won’t be an exhaustive list of course, but it should give you a good idea of the losses that will have a big impact on the shape of post-rotation Standard.
Honorable Mentions: Spells
The amount of conditional removal spells in Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins was incredible. Although it was nice to have access to a large variety of options, most of these cards are ultimately replaceable. For example, Fiery Impulse can be replaced with Galvanic Bombardment, and Exquisite Firecraft has already been superseded by Collective Defiance. For that reason, none of these cards made my Top 10.
Although I mentioned this last week, the core engine of the Mono-Blue Prison deck will be rotating as well.
Honorable Mentions: Creatures
We haven’t seen these creatures in any of the top Standard decks recently. But they were centerpieces when we still had access to Temur Battle Rage and Rally the Ancestors, so that’s why they deserve an honorable mention.
10. Artifact-Related Cards
Magic Origins offered an early glimpse at Kaladesh, the birthplane of Chandra Nalaar. That plane is brimming with automatons, Thopters, and other artifact creatures fueled by raw Aether, so many of these artifact-related cards would have probably found excellent homes in the new Standard. Unfortunately, they won’t be legal.
In the new Standard, if your opponent plays a morph on turn 3, you should call a judge.
8. Dragon-Related Cards
We haven’t seen many of these Dragon-related cards at the top tables lately at premier events. But Esper Dragons was one of the best decks in Standard for a while, and R/G Dragons was a major player in Standard a year ago.
After the upcoming rotation, we probably won’t have a competitive Dragon deck anymore. Well, unless the inventors in Kaladesh come up with Dragon Vehicles. Now that would be something.
7. Mana Ramp
We still have Primal Druid, Ruin in their Wake, and Hedron Archive, but ramping up to big Eldrazi will likely be less reliable in the new Standard. At the very least, it will mean that turbo-Emrakul decks will be not as fast and that green-blue Crush decks may have to change drastically.
6. Powerful Sweepers
Languish was a key card for W/B Control and Jund Delirium, so these decks will have to adapt. Perhaps they could switch to Planar Outburst, perhaps there will be a new conditional 4-mana sweeper in Kaladesh, or perhaps control decks will look completely differently in the new Standard.
Tragic Arrogance has mostly been a sideboard card, but one capable of shattering cluttered board states. Planar Outburst could once again be a replacement, but it won’t allow you to keep your best creature and won’t be an out to an army of planeswalkers.
Aggro decks rely heavily on hard-hitting 1-drops, and we’re losing some of the best ones. We still have Town Gossipmonger, Falkenrath Gorger, and a few others, but there may no longer be a critical mass of 1-drops after the rotation.
What this means for White Weenie is that the typical start of three 2/1s by turn 2 is no longer realistic. As a result, Thalia’s Lieutenant and Always Watching get worse, and the deck as a whole will likely have to change.
4. Flip ‘Walkers
Jace and Nissa are the big ones here. Nissa saw a bunch of play as a sweet value card that could dominate the late game, be sacrificed for emerge, and generate card advantage. Jace was one of the best possible 2-drops for various decks, ranging from Esper Dragons to Temur Emerge over its course in Standard.
Jace in particular will be hard to replace. Wharf Infiltrator comes to mind, and perhaps it could work in decks with Haunted Dead and Prized Amalgam, but it won’t flash back any spells from your graveyard. Blue mages will have to do without Jace soon.
You still have battlelands, shadowlands, and Evolving Wilds, and we will gain the enemy fastlands from Kaladesh. But the pain lands will rotate out.
In a sense, the amount of mana fixing in Standard will stay roughly the same. Yavimaya Coast or Botanical Sanctum—it doesn’t matter all that much. Except for one thing: colorless mana. Yavimaya Coast could help cast Thought-Knot Seer or Reality Smasher, whereas Botanical Sanctum cannot. This will make it harder to support some of these Eldrazi cards after the rotation.
2. Command Cycle
The big one here is Dromoka’s Command. It was arguably overpowered, as it was such an easy inclusion for green-white creature decks. Both players in the finals of the World Championship were playing the instant.
After the rotation, putting enchantments like Fevered Visions or Stasis Snare in your deck will become safer. Another example consists of tribal decks that never got a competitive opportunity to exploit Howlpack Resurgence or Stensia Masquerade. For these and other decks, the departure of Dromoka’s Command will open up plenty of design space.
1. Collected Company
Bant Company has been the scourge of the format for many months now. Although the World Championship technically wasn’t won by Bant Company—Brian Braun-Duin was playing Bant Humans—it was still a deck with Collected Company and Reflector Mage.
With the departure of its signature card, the deck takes a huge hit, and there is no longer an incentive to pack your deck full of 3-drops. In fact, putting the rotation of Collected Company next to the departure of Dromoka’s Command and Nissa, Vastwood Seer, there no longer appears to be an incentive to splash green at all. Those Reflector Mage/Spell Queller decks will likely just stay white-blue in the new Standard.
Early Post-Rotation Standard Speculation
Looking at the cards that will rotate out, I would argue that G/U Crush, Bant Company, Bant Humans, and Mono-White Humans take the biggest hits. But U/W Spirits doesn’t lose much, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a big move toward that deck in the new Standard.
Languish and Nissa’s Pilgrimage can probably be replaced somehow in decks like Turbo Emrakul or B/W Control, although these decks will likely look substantially different after the rotation. Nevertheless, I don’t think we have seen the last of Grapple with the Past, Ishkanah, and Emrakul, and I’m sure control decks will stick around in one form or another.
Meanwhile, U/R Fevered Burn doesn’t lose much, and it could be a great home for two of the new planeswalkers from Kaladesh: Saheeli Rai and Chandra, Torch of Defiance. I can already tell you that I’m very likely to put on my goggles and register a deck with these cards at the Pro Tour.
And who knows? Perhaps red-green energy decks with Voltaic Brawler will have enough support. Maybe red-white Dwarves and Vehicles and Depala, Pilot Exemplar will be a great deck. And it’s possible that you can assemble a mono-colorless Affinity-esque deck with Inventor’s Fair.
It’s going to be a whole new world of invention, and it’s hard to say how the new Standard will shape up when over half the set hasn’t been revealed yet. But one thing is for sure: the reign of endless Collected Company mirror matches will soon come to an end. About time.