Syr Ginger, the Meal Ender | The Wilds of Eldraine
8, May, 23

Wizards of the Coast Is Overhauling the Flagship MTG Format!

Article at a Glance

Initially created all the way back in 1995, Standard, or Type 2, is one of the oldest formats within MTG. Despite this pedigree, however, the format has undergone various major changes throughout the past 28 years. In fact, as a rather small-scale MTG format that receives new cards regularly, it’s almost always in a state of flux. 

As if the ebb and flow of new sets and rotation didn’t keep Standard fluid enough, Wizards has also implemented numerous sweeping changes. Altering how rotation works, the number of cards available to Standard players hasn’t always been the same. 

Currently, the MTG Standard format works on a four-set model. As the name describes, this has four premier sets released per year, with the oldest four sets rotating out alongside the Fall release. First introduced in 2021, this rotation strategy arguably hasn’t been the most successful, as the popularity of Standard has been fading fast. So much so, in fact, that Wizards of the Coast is taking decisive action to save the Standard MTG format!

A Three Year Rotation

Eriette of the Charmed Apple | Wilds of Eldraine
Eriette of the Charmed Apple | Wilds of Eldraine

Coinciding with Pro Tour March of the Machine, over the weekend, Wizards announced Standard is getting a new major overhaul. Coming into effect following the release of The Wilds of Eldraine this year, rotation is changing in a big way. “Starting with the current Standard environment, sets will rotate out of Standard every three years rather than every two years.” 

To make sure everything is as straightforward as possible, this means that there will be no Standard rotation this year. Instead, once The Wilds of Eldraine launches in the Fall, MTG Standard players will simply have more cards to use. The next rotation will happen in 2024, where  Innistrad: Crimson Vow, Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty and Streets of New Capenna will rotate out of Standard. 

While Standard is getting this major change to respond to player feedback, not every MTG format is getting changed. The Standard adjacent Alchemy format, for instance, is sticking with a two-year rotation. According to Wizards, this will ensure Alchemy always has an “ever-evolving and fresh Magic Meta.” Whether or not this change just increases the already pressing concerns around confusion, however, remains to be seen. 

Why the Change? 

Change the Equation | March of the Machine
Change the Equation | March of the Machine

Throughout the past few years, there has been no hiding the fact that Standard isn’t quite as popular as it used to be. Usurped by the Eternal and highly enjoyable format of Commander, Standard has been pushed out of the limelight. One of the major reasons this happened was the COVID-19 pandemic, which majorly disrupted in-person play. Preventing Pro Tours from keeping the competitive scene alive, one of Standard’s greatest strengths disappeared without warning. 

Thankfully for Standard fans, during 2022, Wizards of the Coast revived the Pro Tour circuit at long last. This, however, didn’t immediately save Standard, as the format still had some major flaws. These fundamental issues were discussed by MTG’s Vice President of Design, Aaron Forsythe, in late 2022. Talking to Twitter, Forsythe asked the community why “Standard play has dried up in many stores.”

More than happy to share their opinions, MTG players across social media lamented the current state of Standard. Blaming it for being too expensive, too hard to keep up with, and generally unsupported, it seemed there was rot in the format’s core facets. Subsequently, with player numbers dwindling, on paper, it was clear that something had to be done. So, Wizards of the Coast is doing just that. 

Obviously, the change to a three-year rotation is designed to improve the state of Standard significantly. As for what should be explicitly improving, however, that was recently highlighted by Aaron Forsythe and Billy Jensen. Speaking in a recent MTG news post, these designers highlighted three core elements of Standard that will be seeing significant improvement. Listed below, these changes should lead to a more diverse, interesting, and financially viable format for players to enjoy. 

  • This [change] will give current Standard cards more longevity
  • It will allow mechanics and archetypes to be more effectively built on over time
  • It also gives us stronger tools to create an environment where decks are more “color(s) and mechanic” and less midrange.
Aaron Forsythe and Billy Jensen

This Is Just the Beginning

Unnamed Ashiok Art | The Wilds of Eldraine
Unnamed Ashiok Art | The Wilds of Eldraine

Since this major change to Standard rotation hasn’t happened yet, it’s unclear whether or not this will save the format. Thankfully, however, even if this monumental change doesn’t do the trick, Wizards isn’t letting Standard die for another two years. Instead, as Forsythe and Jensen explained, WotC’s “attention toward improving the Standard experience won’t be ending here.” 

To hopefully put Standard back on its former pedestal, Wizards will be “rolling out a multistep plan to support and revitalize Standard tabletop play.” While this certainly sounds promising, currently, no dates have been announced for further changes. Instead, “later steps are still in the planning stages,” so it may be some time before they’re implemented. Nevertheless, Wizards wanted to let us all know they are actively working on a solution to Standard’s woes.

At the end of the day, it’s too early to definitely assess the effects of the rotation changes. That being said, however, they certainly seem positive. After all, MTG players have been requesting changes like this for literal years in order to breathe life into Standard. By allowing new cards to retain their usefulness for longer, this change should be able to do just that. Whether or not the heightened interest in Standard lasts, however, remains to be seen. 

Read More: MTG Lord of the Rings’ Core Cryptic Mechanic is Finally Revealed!

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