A Whole New World: MTG after Rotation – Innistrad Block Artifacts and Lands
Note: “A Whole New World” is a series of articles that I do before each block rotates out of standard. In these articles, I take a look at all of the cards that will no longer be tournament legal, and speculate whether or not they will be returning to future sets or have no chance of being reprinted any time soon. I will also talk about which cards to hold on to, and which cards NOT rotating will be affected by these changes.
I’m starting this a little bit later than I would have liked to, but there has been a lot going on and I still have quite a few articles to post before Theros is released in about a month. The spoilers have already started, and the prices of the Innistrad block cards have already taken a huge hit, but not all is lost. Come September 27th, you will no longer be able to use Innistrad, Dark Ascension, Avacyn Restored, and M13 cards. There is going to be a HUGE shift in power to certain colors due to this change, and other cards are certain to be affected. Today’s article will be covering artifacts and lands. While not as big of a loss as the Scars of Mirrodin block that was almost HALF artifacts, I think there will still be some holes in sideboards after rotation. The loss of dual lands will be absolutely devastating to some decks though.
Top 10 Rotating Artifacts and Lands from the Innistrad block
- M13 and Innistrad dual lands
- Kessig Wolf Run
- Cavern of Souls
- Gavony Township
- Runechanter’s Pike
- Nephalia Drownyard
- Vault of the Archangel
- Moorland Haunt
- Desolate Lighthouse
- Witchbane Orb
As I said above, the loss of dual lands is going to be devastating, especially if none are reprinted in Theros. Yes there will be guild gates, but playing with those is going to greatly slow down the game, and most players don’t like that. You can expect an increase in the popluarity of two color decks like BR and GW aggro, as well as mono colored decks such as mono white (with Brave the Elements) and mono black control. You can bet that there will be a 3 color deck decrease of about 80% come October. So should you hold onto these? It’s a tough call, but I’d say yes. There is a chance they’ll be reprinted in future core sets or other multicolor sets, so don’t sell them. The price is already too low anyways. They might be good in older formats such as modern and legacy as well, so keep them.
Kessig Wolf Run has been the defining land of the Innistrad block. It was in GR Wolf Run Ramp alongside Inkmoth Nexus and Primeval Titan in the previous standard block before RTR came out, and after rotation it found a home in Naya decks and most recently Jund decks. Those decks will already be heavily weakened due to the rotation of dual lands, and probably cease to exist, but that still doesn’t mean that this card won’t be missed. In control decks, it let players keep very few threats on the board and fill up with removal spells, then used this on their Rakdos Keyrune or other disposable creature to eat away at their opponent. Without it, GR decks will have a much harder time winning later on in the game. Will this be reprinted? Probably not due to the Kessig name. A functional reprint in a future set, yes. As Kessig Wolf Run, no (unless we return to Innistrad in 5-6 years). Without it’s ability, those wanting to trample will probably be turning to more Bloodrush cards such as Ghor-Clan Rampager and other Gruul cards.
Control players EVERYWHERE are rejoicing. With this card rotating in less than a month, control players will finally be able to use Essence Scatter on Kalonian Hydras, Angel of Thunes, and a variety of other creatures you NEVER want to see on the board. Control decks should make a comeback in the first few weeks of Theros standard, most likely UW contrl, but don’t count UB out of it either. This card is seeing a lot of play in older formats, so it’s worth holding on to, and it also has a chance of being reprinted in a few years if control decks get out of hand like they have in the past.
While not such a high impact card as the previously mentioned ones, I think this utility land will be missed in GW midrange decks that use a lot of mana creatures to accelerate into bigger creatures and spells. Gavony Township turned your 1/1s into a threat, and gave those decks more reach later on in the game. If you couldn’t take out that 1/1, it could turn into a 4/4 in a few turns and soon dwarf anything your opponent could put out. Just as with Kessig, I think the name “Gavony” will keep this card from being reprinted outside of anything other than constructed decks. It could see a functional reprint as something else, but I wouldn’t expect that anytime soon. Bye bye Gavony. If players want to beef up their mana creatures, they’ll have to do it with cards like Angel of Thune or good old fashioned enchantments like Collective Blessing.
Runechanter’s Pike was an integral part of the UW Delver strategy back during the Scars/Innistrad block, but it also saw a little play in UWR flash alongside Geist of Saint Traft and Restoration Angel at the start of Return to Ravnica standard. It was a great way to play with a lot of removal and spells while still putting a lot of pressure on your opponent with the minimum amount of board presence. Since then it hasn’t seen much play (though I think it would be great with Young Pyromancer). Out of all the cards I’ve covered so far, the Pike has the best chance of being reprinted in a near future set. It doesn’t have any keywords like Kessig or Miracle holding it down, and with a return to more control decks in the next block, I think the Pike could be back sometime before the Theros block is finished. I was right about Ratchet Bomb coming back in the Ravnica block (well, M14), and I think I’ll be right about this as well. Hold onto your copies!
Esper control is going to miss card the most. In fact, it’s probably the ONLY deck that is going to miss this card. Nephalia Drownyard has been the win condition card in a lot of UBx decks, and without it there will be a lot more people shifting towards Aetherling. Just like with Kessig, I don’t see this getting a reprint outside of a future Innistrad block, so this will be nothing more than a memento of this plane of spirits and werewolves. There are some good mill cards in Dimir, but having this land really helped those strategies.
Vault of the Archangel was one of my favorite cards from DKA. I used BGW tokens with Sorin, Lord of Innistrad for the longest time and this card was perfect in that deck. It also helped out my BRW Vampire deck for a few weeks, and I’ve even put it into my Esper reanimator deck. Without it, the metagame won’t change too much. BGW token decks probably won’t see too much more play anyways thanks to Lingering Souls and Sorin rotating, but if you are determined to keep using BGW tokens, Ready//Willing should do the same thing for 3 mana. Its absence won’t shake up the metagame that much, but it will be a set back for some players who used it in their WB human aristocrats deck and other WB token strategies. I COULD see this being reprinted in a few years thanks to its ambiguous name as well. We might see it back again as soon as 2015.
The loss of Moorland Haunt will hurt decks like Esper control, UW control, and UWx flash decks the most. When a control deck runs out of threats, this is the best way for them to push damage through or to block until they can draw that Sphinx’s Revelation to refill their hand. Aside from the lack of mana in Esper, I can see this lowering the power of UW control after rotation, or at least taking away one of their options. They’ll be forced to play more creatures and have to forgo some removal. Moorland was pretty unknown in Innistrad standard, so I think there are chances it could get reprinted in an expansion in the next few years as a bulk rare.
We’re scraping the bottom of the barrel now, but I think this card deserves a mention. It saw play on and off in UWR control, Grixis control, and in other UR decks as an extra form of card draw. It got the nickname of “Loothouse” since it’s power was similar to that of Merfolk Looter. I used it a couple of times and I think in a block with more choices for control decks, it would be welcome. I think it could see a reprint in the future alongside the Haunt and Vault, but I wouldn’t expect it anytime soon. We’re looking after 2 years or so. There is still a chance it will be reprinted though.
While this card didn’t see much play at all in sideboards, I think people will miss the ability. Against cards like Rakdos’s Return and Jace, Memory Adept, players will really miss this ability. I think we could see a possible functional reprint of it in a future set, but because of the wording “destroy all curses” it probably won’t be reprinted itself unless a future set decides to use curses.
The loss of all these lands is going to affect standard the most. Without the ability to get a 3rd color easily, many decks currently seeing play in standard will cease to exist. I believe that GW, GR, and BR will make the most gains in the Theros metagame come October. I would recommend picking up the guild colors you think will be strongest now while their prices are low. Loxodon Smiters, Blood Baron of Vizkopa, and quite a few other guild creatures can be bought relatively cheaply now, but I think their prices will go up because of the access to fewer lands.
If there are any other cards you think I should have included in this list, let me know and I’ll throw them in there. Be sure to check back over the next two weeks before Theros is fully spoiled for the rest of the cards that will be rotating out and my thoughts about how to their absence will affect standard. Thanks for reading and see you again in a few days!