Frantic Scapegoat | Murders at Karlov Manor | Art by Jesper Ejsing
4, Jul, 24

Unassuming Standard Sleepers May Be Post-Rotation Gems!

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It’s that time of year again, folks. In just three weeks, the Fall 2024 Standard Rotation will be coming to MTG. As a result, we’ll be saying goodbye to four sets full of quality cardboard. Innistrad: Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, and Streets of New Capenna will be leaving us. Not a moment too soon, some might argue.

In their absence, Standard will change as it always does. Established decks will lose key pieces, and new ones will rise up to take their place. Of course, Bloomburrow will be arriving as rotation takes place, but for now, none but WotC and the gods can say what that has in store. In the meantime, there are still plenty of Standard-legal gems waiting for their time to shine post-rotation.

5 | Evolved Sleeper

Evolved Sleeper | Dominaria United

The current Standard meta is heavy on Aggro and Midrange lists. Dimir Aggro, Orzhov Aggro, Golgari Midrange: all some of the top-tier decks at the moment. These decks are all quite distinct, but they do have a few things in common as well. They all play black, for one, and many of them play Tenacious Underdog, too. In a few weeks, however, we’ll be saying ‘played,’ as the card will be rotating out of Standard. This means something needs to take its place.

Enter Evolved Sleeper. This is a card that shines in both Aggro and Midrange. It can swing as a 2/2 on turn two and a 3/3 on turn three while leaving you with open mana for Cut Down and the like. It also serves as a card draw engine later on, which is ideal for any of the decks listed above. The card lacks the recursion of Underdog, but it retains the card draw. Additionally, its lower, broken-up cost makes it easier to slot into your early turns.

While Evolved Sleeper does place a heavy black mana requirement on you, the payoff is more than worth it. In fact, it’s surprising that the card hasn’t found a home in the format thus far, given the popularity of grindy black decks. Whatever the reason, it’s time to stop overlooking this Dominaria United gem. If you’re planning to play black at all after Standard rotation in 2024, this is one of the best MTG cards you can pick up.

4 | Plan The Heist

Plan the Heist | Outlaws of Thunder Junction

While its popularity has dwindled a bit over the last few weeks, Azorius Control is still one of the defining decks of the Standard format. It pairs a ton of exile-based removal with excellent card draw, eventually grinding out even the most persistent opponents. With rotation, however, this deck loses a lot of its best cards. March of Otherworldly Light, The Wandering Emperor, and Memory Deluge are all staple four-ofs in the deck, and they’re all on the way out.

Sunfall and Temporary Lockdown will still be around to replace the former two, but Memory Deluge is a trickier hole to fill. There simply isn’t a lot of great card draw available in the remaining Standard sets. A lot of options, like Chart a Course or Rowdy Research, only really fit in creature decks, which Azorius Control certainly isn’t. What’s the solution? A little ol’ Thunder Junction uncommon called Plan the Heist.

While obviously not as powerful as its rare cousin, Plan the Heist does bring a fair bit to the table. It draws three cards every time, which is more raw advantage than Deluge. It can also provide selection in a pinch, which puts it on par. Black Midrange and Aggro decks rely heavily on discard effects to combat Control, and Plan the Heist is a card that plays very well against such tactics. You can even Plot it early and then cast it when your hand has been stripped of resources, essentially ‘storing’ cards for when you need them.

3 | Archangel Of Tithes

Archangel of Tithes | Outlaws of Thunder Junction

Of all the current Standard meta players, Boros Convoke is perhaps the most likely to survive rotation. It only loses one real card, Voldaren Epicure, meaning it’ll be firing on all cylinders as other decks scramble to find new parts. For this reason, having tools to fight the deck will be absolutely essential once the 2024 Standard rotation hits MTG.

There are a few ways to go about this. You can run Temporary Lockdown, or switch out your old End the Festivities for Tectonic Hazards, and try to control the board. Alternatively, you can go in expecting a wide board and restrict it another way. With an Archangel of Tithes, for example.

Despite its clear high power level and utility against Aggro, this Thunder Junction reprint has failed to find a home in Standard as of yet. The high white requirement is likely the main reason, but decks like Orzhov Midrange can accommodate it. If they do, they’ll find a card that can serve as both a stall piece and a finisher in one neat package.

Keep Archangel untapped when you need to hold off opposing forces, then once you’ve built up your own turn her sideways and tax your opponent’s blocks, too. This is a card that can serve multiple roles well, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it in a range of lists if Boros Convoke’s reign of terror continues.

2 | Frantic Scapegoat

Fall-2024-Standard-Rotation-MTG-Frantic-Scapegoat

Mono-Red Aggro is truly the cockroach of Magic. No matter what format you’re playing, and no matter what year it is, the deck always manages to survive and find a playable list somehow. That said, the current Standard version of this classic MTG deck is taking some major hits coming into the Fall 2024 rotation.

Most of the deck’s one drops, including Kumano Faces Kakkazan and Play With Fire, are going in the furnace. Leaving a gaping hole in the most important spot on the Mono-Red curve. There are a few good candidates to fill it, such as Embereth Veteran and Reckless Lackey. For my money, though, you can’t do better than Frantic Scapegoat.

This is a 1/1 for one with Menace and Haste at a baseline. Not incredible on the surface, but that’s two to three guaranteed damage in most games. The best part is that Scapegoat can pass its Suspected status on to the next creature you play, granting them Menace instead. In Mono-Red Aggro, that’s very handy indeed.

All of the deck’s Haste creatures, be they Charming Scoundrel or Goddric, Cloaked Reveler, work very nicely with Menace. Curving Scapegoat on one into any of these later is going to feel great, especially with the Scapegoat’s own Haste getting some early chip damage in first. It’s easy to pass this card off as a meme given the wacky art, but I genuinely think it could be the savior of Aggro in the months to come.

1 | Goldvein Hydra

Fall-2024-Standard-Rotation-MTG-Goldvein-Hydra

As many Standard players will know, there’s a high concentration of exile-based removal in the format right now. This is actually a bit of a tentpole issue. A ton of very powerful cards with great death triggers have been held back thanks to The Wandering Emperor and March of Otherworldly Light et al. Some of these cards will be sticking around, looking at you Sunfall, but we will be heading into a format with fewer of them. This leaves room for those death triggers to finally make an impact.

There are a number of great creatures you could choose to fill this slot. Aclazotz, Deepest Betrayal and the rest of the Ixalan Gods certainly spring to mind. But for the sake of color balance and overall fairness, I’ve opted for Goldvein Hydra. This is a recent card, and it does command a fairly hefty price tag. That’s driven by Commander and Pioneer demand, though, not Standard. So far the card has failed to find a foothold there, precisely because of how easy it is to exile it and deny all the value.

This won’t be the case so much after the 2024 Standard rotation finally hits MTG. Once this happens, Goldvein Hydra will become the aggressive value creature it was always meant to be. Which decks will it fit in? It seems like a solid fit for both Gruul Aggro and Golgari Midrange to me, but honestly, any non-Control deck playing green needs to consider it. A hasty, evasive threat that refunds its mana on death is not something you can afford to ignore. Not in a post-rotation world.

Read More: Top 10 Best MTG Standard Decks

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