With M20 firmly in our rear-view mirror, and with Throne of Eldraine approaching faster than anyone could expect, we turn our eyes to a brave new world. A brave new Standard.
Throne of Eldraine has zero official spoilers, except for a few Brawl-specific cards, so let’s take a look under the hood of a Standard truck that doesn’t contain Ixalan, Rivals of Ixalan, Dominaria and M19.
First let’s take a look at what we’ve lost.
The biggest, baddest, control win condition and card advantage engine is finally gone from Standard, and many players will be saying ‘good riddance.'
Teferi was a must-have for any Blue/White control deck in the format, and even saw a bunch of play in Midrange sideboards. As a threat that required dealing with, while also drawing you into more gas, Teferi was eventually overshadowed in Standard by another copy of himself- but more on that later.
Control decks will be left stranded without the best Blue-White planeswalker in a long time, and I don’t expect to see anything like Teferi, Hero of Dominaria in Standard for a while. He’s still got a place in Modern, even outshining Jace, the Mind Sculptor right after he was unbanned.
Expect Standard Control win conditions over the next few years to be a creature of some description and a little more interactable (see Nezahal, Primal Tide, Aetherling, Sun Titan etc.) Goodbye Teferi, we really, really knew ye and couldn’t avoid ye.
One of the more annoying threats they’ve printed in Standard, Adanto Vanguard saw an incredible amount of play in every white aggressive deck imaginable for a solid 2 years.
In a world of damage-based removal, this little guy racks up the attacks, incentivises your opponent not to block, and can even be paired with a bit of lifelink to offset the life payments.
The deck with the best win-rate in Standard for quite a few months was the classic Mono-White Aggro, that paired Adanto Vanguard with exceptional 1-drops such as Skymarcher Aspirant and Dauntless Bodyguard, following it up with Benalish Marshal, History of Benalia and Venerated Loxodon as those sets came out.
The Mono-White aggressive decks have taken a back seat recently to Feather, the Redeemed decks, which is just as well, as everything except the Venerated Loxodon are rotating! Adanto Vanguard was still a vital piece of the puzzle, and it’s slot may not be properly replaced.
In the month since M20’s release, Adanto Vanguard saw even more play than before with the very short-lived tenure of the Black White Vampires deck. This aggressive deck leveraged Adanto Vanguard and friends with new M20 cards Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord and Knight of the Ebon Legion, giving Ixalan’s Vampires a last chance in the sun- No pun intended.
The deck will be well and truly dead in the water post-rotation, as Adanto Vanguard, Skymarcher Aspirant, Legion Lieutenant and Champion of Dusk all leave Standard’s shores to become yet another Tier-4 Modern tribal deck.
Speaking of ubiquitous aggro staples, Goblin Chainwhirler feels like he’s been around forever. Since he first appeared in Dominaria and people realised that you could wipe your opponent’s small creatures, ping their planeswalkers and crew Vehicles with him, this whirly boi has been tearing up Standard for 18 months now.
A great example of raw power getting the nod over and over, this creature fits just as well into midrange as it does into the top end of an aggressive deck.
Goblin Chainwhirler was a mainstay in the Black/Red vehicles deck just before Standard rotated this time last year, wiping your opponent’s Thopter tokens and Toolcraft Exemplars. When that deck rotated, Chainwhirler refused to die and slotted right into the Mono-Red deck that was often the best choice in Standard.
Also rotating with Chainwhirler are Wizards/Burn staples Ghitu Lavarunner, Fanatical Firebrand, Viashino Pyromancer and Wizard’s Lightning, paving the way for a new strain of Mono Red to jam those MTG Arena queues with.
Lightning Strike, Shock, Skewer the Critics, Runaway Steam-Kin and Experimental Frenzy won’t be rotating though so Mono Red as a deck won’t be going anywhere any time soon.
There have been a lot of Standard mistakes on this list, but probably none bigger than Nexus of Fate.
Designed as a ‘fun Commander card’ and the first Buy-A-Box promo that wasn’t in actual boosters, when Nexus of Fate took off in Standard, the designers were surprised.
A thoroughly uninteresting card to play against, many Nexus decks had a small amount of win conditions, and would usually win by their opponent conceding to the round timer (or sheer boredom).
Nexus of Fate was eventually banned in MTG Arena best-of-1 as its win percentage was incredibly high without being able to sideboard against it.
Wilderness Reclamation’s printing in Ravnica Allegiance brought Nexus back to the fore again, but luckily, a card that was seeing a bunch of play for other reasons nerfed Nexus of Fate to the junk heap where it belongs. More on him later.
So long Nexus of Fate. You were the worst.
While Green is never starved for big, big, boys, Ghalta was the biggest boy of all.
Coming hot on the heels of Ixalan’s Dinosaurs, this card slotted right into any Green deck that could handle it. All you needed were some high power creatures, and Ghalta could hit the table as early as turn 4; Llanowar Elves into Steel Leaf Champion into any creature would do the trick.
But much like the rest of the Ixalan Dinosaurs, -and Dinosaurs in real life-, Ghalta barely had the time to shine and never really tore up the tournament scene, due to a penchant for dying to removal (or meteors).
Jadelight Ranger/Wildgrowth Walker
The most basic creature ‘value’ mechanic ever, with the most ham-fisted payoff card ever, these two were a non-stop value train that just kept giving to the Black/Green decks. Sayonara.
Search for Azcanta
The card filtering/draw engine for blue decks for 2 straight years, this was a lot of fun to jump through the hoops and squeeze the living bejesus out of your deck.
Why did they print this card?
Mono Blue was so good for so long, but was never truly great when it didn’t draw this card. See ya Tempest Djinn and Siren Stormtamer, may you never peck me to death again.
Chart a Course
Great in spells-matter decks, great in tempo decks like Mono Blue/Blue-White fliers, this was the best rate card draw spell we’ve seen in a long time.
Rootbound Crag/Isolated Chapel et. al. will rotate with Ixalan/Dominaria, but don’t fret! They’ll just be replaced by something very similar, I imagine.
Things That Aren't Rotating
After a years-long drought of decent Blue-White planeswalkers, Wizards really messed up and put another Teferi in Standard right after Hero of Dominaria was already making people complain 24/7 across the globe.
Granted, this Teferi was quite different, but was equally annoying in those different, different ways.
Playing like a horrible mix between Reflector Mage stapled to a Quicken and an old school Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, expect Teferi, Time Raveler to be a staple of every Blue/White tempo deck from here until he rotates in October 2020. Unless he gets banned first, they banned Reflector Mage and that was significantly less annoying than this guy.
He enables instant-speed shenanigans, as we’ve seen in the last month with the advent of the new Scapeshift/Field of the Dead Bant decks, but luckily for all of us Scapeshift is rotating with M19. Field of the Dead doesn’t look so good without picking and choosing the lands you have in play, so maybe that’s the last that we see of that.
Little Teferi keeping your opponent’s Instant/Flash spells to their main phase is still going to be incredibly powerful, and it’s possible without extra support Teferi will shine the most as a midrange/tempo card, similar to how Reflector Mage acted in the Blue/White flash deck in Standard a few years ago. I’d pick these up now before they’re crazy expensive!
Feather is a great case study for people discovering a card’s value long after its release.
Red/White Feather is a force in Standard, as it combines resilient threats with cheap pump/card draw, all while not even needing their title card in play to be good!
Keep your eye on any cheap Red/White creatures/pump spells/targeted cantrips in the Throne of Eldraine spoilers.
The cycle of cards with CCDD mana costs (colour/colour/other colour/other colour) are going to be quite important in the new set as Standard moves into new territory.
As the power level of these cards were pushed to be Standard relevant, they will pave the way as premier 4-drops when we suddenly have only half the cards in Standard. Expect Crackling Drake, Golgari Findbroker, and Basilica Bell-Haunt to be staples for the next Standard environment as we find our way in this crazy new Eldraine world.
Hydroid Krasis/Nissa, who Shakes the World
These cards are somehow both top-end threats and enablers for ramp decks, so don’t expect them to go anywhere any time soon.
Hydroid Krasis is just too good a card to not be good, and like Sphinx’s Revelation of the past, gives you incredible inevitability as each one you cast gets you closer to casting another!
Nissa’s Elemental synergy is just a cherry on top of an already great card that ramps your mana and provides a steady stream of threats to end the game with.
What cards are you excited to get some play once Ixalan, Rivals, Dominaria and M19 rotate out of Standard?
What are you hoping is in Throne of Eldraine to buff up your favourite deck? Let us know on social media- it’s about to get really exciting in Standard!