The Kaladesh spoiler season launched last weekend at PAX, and we got to see a ton of cards from the new set. I had already planned to write this article before I saw all these cards, and the goal here is to prepare for a rotation without yet knowing the full set.
Here are the most impactful Standard cards that Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins provided. Some of those are easily replaceable and others have very unique effects that warp entire strategies positively or negatively—let’s take a look:
Best Cards Rotating Out
Some former standouts are missing from this list. Dragonlord Ojutai is a big one, which was a major player for a long time—but not much at all since Eldritch Moon came out.
Everything else can be substituted—we won’t lose B/G Delirium because Nissa and Ultimate Price are gone. Fiery Impulse can easily become Galvanic Bombardment, Read the Bones can be Painful Truths, and so forth.
Which Decks Stay?
- B/G Delirium
- U/R Burn
- Emrakul Ramp
- U/W Spirits
Some of these will require a face lift, but the core cards are still there. UW Spirits didn't make a big splash, but it doesn't lose much and was overshadowed by Collected Company decks—it should become a bigger player.
Which Decks Leave?
- Bant Company
- White Weenie
- B/W Control
- G/W Tokens
- Mono-Blue Prison
Collected Company, GONE. Thank god. What a tilting Magic card. I would be surprised if it meant that the combination of Duskwatch Recruiter, Spell Queller, and Reflector Mage won’t ruin your day at the top tables anymore. These cards are all very good and Tamiyo, Field Researcher can still tie them together.
White Weenie loses too many cards, but it still has Always Watching, which gets better once Dromoka’s Command is gone, and it still has Thalia's Lieutenant. I expect a white aggressive creature-based deck to still be around, just not as low to the ground and explosive.
B/W Control loses Languish, which is a big hit, but it still has all the planeswalkers. Planar Outburst and Descend Upon the Sinful are reasonable options. In my opinion, the deck wasn't that good and Languish was one of the best reasons to play it—so I think it’ll disappear.
G/W Tokens loses Hangarback Walker, Dromoka’s Command, and Secure the Wastes. If it does still exist thanks to Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, and Oath of Nissa, it’ll have a completely different identity. Fewer tokens and more planeswalkers—Naya with Chandra is my first guess.
Mono-Blue Prison, well. This was basically a Magic Origins Block Constructed deck.
Non-Rotating Cards that Improve
Dromoka’s Command being in multiple top tier decks made most enchantments difficult to justify, and without it many of these will come out of the woodwork.
Cryptolith Rite is a very powerful card—it’s possible that without Collected Company it doesn't have enough staying power, but a card like Eldritch Evolution could take the spot. Fevered Visions was already competitive, and without Dromoka's Command should get even better.
World Breaker gets a whole bunch of new targets: ARTIFACTS! Add to that the increased viability of enchantments and World Breaker looks excellent.
Thought-Knot Seer. That card is just so good. I never really grasped why it saw such a low amount of play. Languish could be a reason, but that doesn't seem enough. Painlands leaving might suggest that it should see less play, but I just can’t imagine it not making a big splash before it leaves.
Corrupted Crossroads is a decent replacement for the painlands—it requires a rather Eldrazi-heavy deck, but if there is one, Corrupted Crossroad should be a big part of it.
Jace, Unraveler of Secrets
It now doesn't have to compete with Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. I was really impressed with how big Jace played out in our Esper Planeswalkers deck at Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad, and I wouldn't be surprised if it saw more play.
Nahiri, the Harbinger
With artifacts in Kaladesh and enchantments rising, Nahiri should see more play. Also, getting an Emrakul out is actually pretty sweet, which surprisingly is not a plan that anyone has built around yet.
The good ramp spells are leaving and the only good one left (until we see Kaladesh completely) is Hedron Archive. It has upsides that the 2 other ramp spells didn't have—it's an artifact, which works well for getting delirium faster, and in particular, casting Emrakul.
We’ve seen Ali Aintrazi play the card in his Sultai Control deck that featured Emrakul—something to keep in mind.
This card saw 0 play yet, still, it’s not that far off from Dromoka’s Command. Clearly it’s not as good, but it might be a playable replacement going forward, especially in decks that can swarm the board (I’m looking at you, Thopters and Servo tokens).