The Wandering Emperor
23, Apr, 24

MTG Players Are Eager for Rotation to Finally Bring Change to Standard

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Article at a Glance

At this point, it’s no surprise just how impactful Outlaws of Thunder Junction has been in various Constructed formats. Kaervek, the Punisher and Pillage the Bog have proven themselves as elite upgrades in Pioneer. In Modern, Slickshot Show-Off has elevated Prowess decks to a new level. Meanwhile, Simulacrum Synthesizer has been crushing tournaments in Legacy Artifacts shells.

Interestingly, though, the format that Thunder Junction has arguably had the least effect on is Standard. Despite having the smallest card pool by far, the vast majority of top-tier archetypes look nearly identical to how they did before Thunder Junction arrived. Domain strategies are still as dominant as ever. While some Esper midrange decks have incorporated Duelist of the Mind, the main base for the deck still revolves around the power of Deep-Cavern Bat and Raffine, Scheming Seer.

For players hoping for a major shakeup with the introduction of Thunder Junction, you may be out of luck. As it turns out, the solution to mixing up Standard may not come just by adding one set at a time. Standard is set to rotate in August 2024, with four sets leaving Standard forever.

Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, Innistrad: Crimson Vow, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, and Streets of New Capenna will all be gone, and players are already discussing what cards they are most excited to see leave Standard. Some of these sets have been at the forefront of Standard for a while, so perhaps this rotation will provide the jolt that the format needs.

Domain Pain

Raffine's Tower

In a recent discussion forum, players were talking about the cards they are most looking forward to rotating out of Standard. Obviously, this question is rather subjective, and there were a lot of different responses given. Still, there were plenty of cards and archetypes that garnered a great deal of attention. Many cards that players mentioned all came in one deck: Domain ramp.

This is not shocking in the least, for multiple reasons. First, this deck has been extremely strong for over a year. With a few exceptions like Up the Beanstalk and Cavern of Souls, nearly every card featured in the deck was printed over a year ago. As such, this strategy has remained a tier one archetype nearly that whole span.

Multiple different top-end cards from the deck, including Atraxa, Grand Unifier and of course, Sunfall, were brought up as being a bit format-warping. This is yet another reason the Domain deck is so despised. After all, a resolved Atraxa spells game over for most decks in the format, and Creature decks often can’t come back from Sunfall. As a result, players have been forced to lower their curves significantly or risk getting completely outclassed.

Unfortunately, neither of these cards are leaving Standard in August. However, they will have to find new homes, as Domain as we know it should cease to exist. The fact of the matter is, the new “Triomes” like Spara’s Headquarters, Raffine’s Tower, and beyond acted as the cornerstone of this shell. Without them, it becomes incredibly difficult to maximize all of the multi-color payoffs, including Atraxa and Archangel of Wrath, this deck plays.

Beyond that, this deck is incredibly reliant on Leyline Binding as an early piece of cheap interaction. Leyline Binding doesn’t rotate out of Standard either but becomes much worse without these Streets of New Capenna Lands with three Land types. If you’re as sick of this deck as I am, Standard’s rotation may be just what you need to get excited about the format once more.

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Not the Only Lands to Bite the Dust

Nissa, Resurgent Animist

Astonishingly, the group of Lands mentioned above aren’t the only cycle from Streets of New Capenna wreaking havoc on Standard. Since the release of Murders at Karlov Manor, a collection of Lands that gain life and sacrifice themselves when they enter the battlefield, such as Brokers Hideout, have helped give rise to a new strategy. Temur ramp in its current form revolves entirely around these Lands.

Both Aftermath Analyst and Worldsoul’s Rage act as elite ramp enablers in conjunction with these Lands. You simply spend the first few turns playing these Lands and developing your mana, then bring them all back. The life gain cushion makes it quite difficult to race, and the mana advantage you gain makes it tough to go over the top of.

Worldsoul’s Rage’s ability to act as a removal spell/burst of ramp in the early game and a Fireball to win the game with in the late game has brought specific attention to it. Once again, though, Worldsoul’s Rage isn’t going anywhere in August. Luckily, with the Streets of New Capenna Lands rotating, this deck’s entire gimmick goes out the window.

Aftermath Analyst and Worldsoul’s Rage become perfectly fair. Nissa, Resurgent Animist becomes a lot tamer as a result. Additionally, having two Lands enter the battlefield for Nissa, Resurgent Animist is no longer trivial. The rotation of Streets of New Capenna will really force ramp decks to take on a whole new identity, and the shakeup is quite welcome.

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Other Notable Dismissals

The Wandering Emperor | Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty

Beyond ramp decks, plenty of other archetypes will be losing important staples for good. One of the cards whose disappearance a lot of players seem to support is The Wandering Emperor. The Wandering Emperor isn’t necessarily dominant within the format, but it is a staple of Azorius control. The real reason some players are frustrated by it has to do with the play patterns it creates.

When your control opponent passes with four mana up, it’s often quite obvious they have The Wandering Emperor at the ready. The problem is, it’s not easy to do anything about it even if you know it’s coming. If you attack, your best threat gets eaten. If you don’t attack, The Wandering Emperor starts making tokens. Either way, the powerful Planeswalker sticks around ready to create even more advantage on future turns.

Another card plenty of players want gone is Kumano Faces Kakkazan. Mono-red decks will almost certainly still be a thing for years to come. Still, there’s a noticeable difference in the games where the red players doesn’t play the Enchantment turn one versus when they do. Getting to deal a damage, buff your next threat, and end with a 2/2 with Haste for one-mana is a lot to combat. Pumping your two-drop follow up can even put it outside of Cut Down or Play with Fire range!

The absence of Raffine, Scheming Seer will also serve as a major hinderance to Esper midrange decks moving forward. Most of these are cards have defined the Standard metagame for quite some time. The rotation should finally bring some much-needed change to what I believe has been a relatively stale format.

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