It’s that time of year Magic players. A time that some look upon with envy, some look at with gloom and some look at with little care (looking at you Legacy players). It’s about to be post-rotation Standard, which means that 891 cards are about to leave the format for eternity. Here are the list of cards that will fill their void and make the biggest impact come fall:
25. Militia Bugler
Bugler is the quintessential card that is waiting for its home in a Standard context. Right now, there are pieces to a lot of different puzzles but no obvious fit. Yet if things were to change such that soldiers ever becomes a deck, or r/w Aggro, or humans, or hell Boros Goblins, then Militia Bugler will be a big reason why. Bugler is what every weenie deck wants. Consistency. Card Draw. Card Selection. Toolbox.
Flametongue Kavu, Nekrataal, that card that Patrick Sullivan really hates. Whatever you decide to refer to it as, just remember that The Chup is still lingering in the bushes- even fiercer now that there are no more invincible Gods around.
23. Dream Eater
When your opponent casts three of these in a row, you’ll see how very quickly it lives up to its namesake. It might not be at the same raw power-level in terms of stats that Torrential was, but the ability to stack your deck and bugle for more Dream Eaters is enough to make it Torrential Gearhulk 2.0. If you ever find yourself staring down 6 blue-mana and an opponent with a fist-full of cards, be ready to “say goodnight”.
The whiz bomb flinging king himself. Hasted up Turn 4 Siege-Gang into turn 5 Siege-Gang into turn 6 Siege-Gang is what most people refer to as a nut draw and a good reason why Gobbo’s may be a dominate deck come next Standard season. Although it has only seen niche play in sideboards up to this point, don’t snooze on the Goblin Gang. Without Glorybringers flying overheard, there’s little standing in Siege-Gang Commanders way for the title of best 5 drop in red.
Ah sweepers, making people quit Magic since the very beginning. It’s never fun to ‘attack all’ into your first Settle the Wreckage, nor is it fun the second time, or any time, really. Settle is a great card, but without its other partner in crime, the flashy Cast Out, Settle undoubtedly loses some of its luster as tapping out for Ixalan’s Binding is a good tell that you don’t have it. But even without Cast Out and without a Gearhulk to flash it back, Settle the Wreckage will be a necessary card for white decks everywhere.
It hits everything, it gets around everything. It’s instant speed. And it gains you life. Vraska’s Contempt has been good as long as it’s been around and it doesn’t appear as if it’ll be dethroned anytime soon.
19. Lyra Dawnbringer
Lyra is that card that swings the game immediately if she sticks around. If I’m playing mono-red, I usually give her two swings till I find an answer before I scoop ‘em up. Sometimes even that feels like too much. Lyra is a scary card to deal with and left unchecked, will single handily win a game.
18. Thought Erasure
It’s been a long time since Standard has had a bonafide hand disruption spell in the format. Transgress the Mind had its drawbacks, and Lay Bare the Heart quickly became unplayable when Planeswalkers doubled down as legendaries after the sweeping errata that occurred in every format just a few months ago. But much like Thoughtseize, Thought Erasure can hit any non-land card in the opponent’s hand and even has the added benefit of scrying to the graveyard. Nothing short of a Thoughtseize re-print will dismantle Thought Erasure as the premium hand disruption spell in Standard.
17. Field of Ruin
Flip Enchantments are gonna be a boon in post-rotation Standard and Field of Ruin will be the answer keeping them all in check. Three of the flip enchantments have already seen heavy play (Search for Azcanta, Legion’s Landing, Arguel’s Blood Fast) and with a smaller card pool their power level will be magnified. With the shock lands being reprinted and the possibilities seemingly endless, Field of Ruin will also help to keep many a greedy mana base in check.
Glimmer of Genius 2.0. Chemister’s Insight makes it so control decks aren’t often at a loss for options in any given situation. It’s already card advantage- which you look for at 4 mana- but it’s card advantage that can be played twice. Historically speaking, flashback-style cards have been known to be some of the most powerful in existence (think: Lingering Souls, Faithless Looting, Ancient Grudge). Chemister’s Insight seems to be another iteration in a powerful line of 4 mana draw spells that precedes it.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in Magic, it’s that the meta is always changing, and the cards within it never stay for too long. One day you might find yourself losing to Sweltering Suns, the next day you find yourself losing to Sweltering Suns AND a bunch of lifelink’ed card drawing dinosaurs- such is life.
14. Llanowar Elves
If Goblin Chainwhirler were to be banned, Llanowar Elves decks could end up being half the format. It’d just be broken jank turn 3 Lyras everywhere and then when you add in cards like Song of Freyalise and Growing Rites of Itlimoc, that’s when things really become degenerate. Llanowar Elves is a great card. It’s a good thing it’s number one villain will likely be in the format the entire time that it is.
The Bird that never dies. Vraska’s Contempt is its best nemesis, but trading 4 mana for 4 mana even with the life gain involved is never where you want to be. The bird should become even better in the fall, particularly in a meta-game that will have slowed down significantly as many powerful cards will have rotated.
Between mentor, multiple ways to put counters on tokens, and this guy, Wizards has certainly put a lot of thought into Chainwhirler-proofing this set. His secondary ability aside. A combination of a 3/2 body with haste and mentor make for Tajic to be an imposing force in his own right. Boros (Naya?) tokens may not be there quite yet, but when it does reach top tier status, Tajic will certainly be the glue holding the whole thing together.
11. Goblin Warchief
If you’re searching for what the next iteration of mono-red will be in the upcoming format, look no further. Goblins will be a force to be reckoned with come rotation and Warchief will be the engine driving the whole thing. Warchief’s extensive layers of text takes goblins from piddling tier 2 draft chaff to a tier 1 house. The only thing better than one Warchief is multiples and the only thing better than playing a Goblin Chainwhirler that wipes the board is playing a Goblin Chainwhirler that wipes the board and then immediately hits them for 3 more. Be ready, the Gobbos they are a coming.
10. Doom Whisperer
I still remember the first time I ever interacted with this card. The player had one Crackling Drake that was a 6/4, I was at 8 life, and they started surveilling away with damage pending.
“OH, I said to myself”
“So, two spells and you win?”
It was a bold move.
They didn’t have to do it. I didn’t have the kill on the board.
But they went with the odds, or so they told me.
And they lost.
Wasn’t even close really- three cards away…
If you were to ask a bunch of control players what the most important card in their control deck was, I’d imagine, the inquisitive bunch they are, would give you a multitude of different answers. Maybe they’d go for the card selection. Maybe they’d tell you the sweeper. But without a doubt, I’m sure, that a good number of them would tell you Force of Will, or Counterspell, or Disallow. Control players live and die by their hard control cards, which allow them to trade up in resources even if they give up a minor tempo disadvantage in the process. When it comes to blue mages, it’s impossible to say how many will tell you that Brainstorm or Search for Azcanta is the most important card in their deck. What I can say, however, is this- that when it comes to the best counter Magic card in a control players 75, ain’t no one saying Negate.
One deck that scarily doesn’t lose too much after rotation is Mono Green Stompy. It’s still got its solid turn one play in Llanowar and it’s ultra big payoff in Ghlata, Primal Hunger and of course, the fearful turn two Steel Leaf Champion. I envision Green will adopt a more Dinosaur oriented sub-theme that revolves around the draw consistency of Commune with Dinosaurs and the inherent strengths of cards such as RipJaw Raptor. Even without a few key pieces in mono-green, turn 2 Steel Leaf will still be a menace on the format for some time to come.
I wanted to deny the Karn-Father his due. I wanted to put some hipster card like Dark-Dweller Oracle here or some other hipsterish card like Ruin Raider here. After all, Kaladesh is out and artifacts simply don’t matter right now. Karn overnight will be going from a 4 COLORLESS mana 5/5 token producing Gideon to a 1/1 Karnstruct making husk of a man. Karn will be great again, but for now Karn is just good. Even still, come post-rotation, I’ll make sure to have a few Karns in my sideboard.
BOOM. The best creature card in the new set, Warboss is an absolute house in any deck he plays in. An army in a can, Goblin Rabblementor is a nightmare for any control player to deal with. Warboss is one of those cards that when you first see it the question to ask is less will it see play and more how much is this card going to warp the metagame around it?
White aggro strategies have yet to really see their day in the sun outside of a few 5-0’s on MTGO and that’s most likely because R/B Aggro kept it in check. Heart of Kiran just wouldn’t die and the combination of Khenra, Crasher, Mage, Courier, Chandra and the Phoenix had the potential to overwhelm Knight decks before they could even assemble into formation. All of those cards I just listed are gone and what’s left in their wake are a bunch of white creatures that haven’t lost much. History is a good card on its own, and as such, will see plenty of play in various non-knight decks post-rotation.
Killing Teferi at instant speed for 2-mana seems good. Being able to deal with Search for Azcanta on the turn that they play Search for Azcanta seems good too.
Blue. If anyone asks you what the best graveyard color will be post-rotation, the answer is blue. With Surveil already showing itself as a major keyword on every playable black or blue control card yet to be spoiled, it’s evident that players graveyards will be filling up just as fast as ever in our new Standard environment. As such, Search for Azcanta, a card that sees play in every format outside of Pauper, will run amok in Standard, doing so at a fever pitched pace. If you haven’t already, I’d suggest getting your playset of Search’s now, as it’ll be a staple till it’s not allowed to be a staple anymore.
It’s easy to look at Blue-White control and think it’s not losing much. Sure, Approach is out but that hadn’t been the dominate win condition for some time. And sure, Fumigate is out but in some circumstances Cleansing Nova will be better. That’s true but against many decks the life gain of Fumigate was huge towards making it so you could even get to play a turn 6 or later Teferi and the drawbacks of the life gain for opposing players made it so going wide was an unsavory proposition. But now that the big sweeper is gone, Blue-White Teferi decks will have a hard time keeping pace with a format that may very well rely on some form of token deck (goblins, vampires, soldiers). Teferi will be a dominate win condition again at some point, but right now he’s lacking the Pippen to his Jordan.
“Does this die to Chainwhirler. If it does then maybe think long and hard before you play it. Chainwhirler warps everything around him. He keeps high loyalty planeswalkers in check, pings players for one, and has the power to sweep imposing board states. As long as mountain is a playable card in Standard, Goblin Chainwhirler will be king.
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