A Whole New World: MTG After Rotation – Innistrad Block Black Cards
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 standard 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’ll be talking about the black cards we will be losing in standard today. Black will be losing A LOT of powerful cards and their absence will reshape standard as we know it. Aristocrats, Reanimator, BR aggro, and even GB control are losing their keycards. This means we’ll have to totally rethink how we play these decks, or forget them altogether and forge ahead into uncharted waters. Hopefully you’ll agree with my choices.
Top 10 Rotating Black Cards from the Innistrad block
- Liliana of the Veil
- Tragic Slip
- Geralf’s Messenger
- Blood Artist
- Unburial Rites
- Knight of Infamy
- Skirsdag High Priest
- Vampire Nighthawk
- Sever the Bloodline
The biggest loss for black in all of standard is going to be Liliana of the Veil. She has always been extremely powerful and has played her role in a number of winning decks. Before there was reanimator, there was Solar Flare which used Sun Titan, Blade Splicer, and Phantasmal Image to overwhelm opponents with giant creatures. Liliana played her role as removal and control, and when she died Sun Titan would bring her back to the battlefield. Most recently she has seen play in GB control or “The Rock” as people like to call. She has also seen quite a lot of play in older formats such as Legacy and Modern. I don’t expect her to get reprinted in this form again due to it’s power level, but I think we could see her in a special set in the future like From the Vault or Modern Masters to keep her price down. Players will be hard pressed to replace her in GB control or any other deck they use her in. A turn 3 Liliana was extremely oppressive against opponents, and without that early pressure I think we’ll see more midrange decks. Could Vraska the Unseen see more play? Hmm, perhaps, but I think we’ll be leaning more towards the “Unseen” part of her name.
Mutilate will be SORELY missed, especially in the recently proven GB control deck. In a Theros standard FULL of indestructible Gods and other creatures that are going to be HUGE (not to mention the possibility of mono black control with the added bonus of Devotion abilities), the metagame is going to need something like this. Golgari Charm will take care of tiny creatures with 1 toughness, but if you want to wipe the board of larger creatures you’ll have to use something like Merciless Eviction or Profit//Loss from Dragon’s Maze. Look for a lull in GB control decks a right after rotation. This card seems like it could get reprinted in a future set, so it might be a good idea to hold onto your copies until then. We could see it again in few years.
Tragic Slip has seen more play in the last 6 months of standard than it ever did before that. The key reason being its synergy with the Aristocrats deck. Morbid will sorely be missed past rotation, as well as the other cheap cards that made the deck so good to play during Dragon’s Maze. It would be really nice to see it in a future set, but something tells me we won’t see this mechanic again for a loooong time. I’d give it 4 years at least. Aristocrats is already losing quite a few key cards, so I wouldn’t expect it to see much player after rotation, even WB Xathrid Necromancer builds. The only place you’ll be seeing the Slip in the future is in Pauper matches.
The Zombie creature type is losing an incredible amount of their brethren with the rotation of the Innistrad block. UB Zombies dominated the Dark Ascension metagame, and BR zombies were really good back in the RTR metagame. Geralf’s Messenger found his way into almost all 2 color decks which featured black, and his absence will be sorely missed in those strategies. Zombies and Vampires alike will fade away from exitence in the next few weeks. Say your fond farewells to him them now, because he probably won’t be getting reprinted. Undying is a block only mechanic which means you won’t see it again in a future set. I’m sure there are some good Rakdos cards with Unleash that could match his power, but nothing will replace that amazing ability of his.
Yet another key card in a few decks that will be missed in October is Blood Artist. “The Artist” saw play in standard as far back as mono black zombies in AVR standard in conjunction with Mortar Pod and Bloodthrone Vampire as a sacrifice outlet. Since then, it has seen quite a lot of play in RBW control decks and of course Aristocrats. Without him, Aristocrats loses another key to their strategy, and so does RBW control’s Boros Reckoner/Blasphemous Act combo. The Vampire creature type is on it’s way out, so don’t plan on playing any more of that type of deck for a while. I think he’ll get reprinted in a future core set, so feel free to hold onto your copies for nostalgia value. The Bubbling Cauldron/Festering Newt combo will have the same type of effect, and there are sure to be some enchantments in Theros that might be similar, but it won’t be the same. The lack of zombies as well as the Artist will spell doom for Artistocrats and black based aggro. I don’t think we’ll be seeing as many nasty BR, GB, or mono black aggro decks in the future. They’ll be slower, and a bit easier to handle.
Ever since Scavening Ooze came out in M14, everbody has counted out reanimator strategies from standard. During late Dark Ascension Standard, the first brewings of Frites (French Rites, or Faithless Looting + Unburial Rites as I like to call it) showed up. The original colors were RBW, but as people continued to brew, it became 4 colors along with mana dorks, and in the Avacyn Restored metagame, the introduction of Craterhoof Behemoth really turned the strategy into high gear (the combo wasn’t found out for a month or two though). With the addition of Temple Garden and Overgrown tomb in Return to Ravnica, GBW came into its own, sporting a brand new Angel of Serenity as it’s destroyer of hopes. This deck dominated for more than 6 months in total before being unseated by Mr. Ooze. It still seeks to fight its way back into standard, but those are nothing but death throes. Reanimator as we know it will be gone. It probably won’t be reprinted, but what we have in its place is Obzedat’s Aid for 5 mana, as well as the new Cerberus from Theros that puts all creatures in the graveyard back into play. The strategy could work, but it’s not going to show up until well into Theros standard.
He hasn’t shown up as of late, but the Infamous Knight has seen his fair share of play in standard. He really helped decks like BR and mono black zombies dominate for a while, and his protection from white was key against decks like UWR and Esper control that had access to Azorius Charm. Exalted was also a useful mechanic to use. Aside from Sublime Angel in GW control he was the only exalted creature to really see any play. We might get a similar card like him in a future set as a balance to Fiendslayer Paladin, but he most likely won’t be reprinted in a set unless it has exalted in it in the future. If you’re looking for a replacement to him, you can find strong 2 drop creatures in Wight of Precinct Six or Thrill Kill Assassin, but they are lacking the special abilities that the Knight Had. It might be better to wait and see what Theros brings.
The last 3 cards played supporting roles in standard decks over the last 2 years, and their absence affect quite a few strategies. The backbone of Aristocrats was already cracking under the pressure of the other losses, but losing the High Priest is back breaking. Aristocrats will not be able to function as a Tier 1 deck anymore after rotation with all these missing parts. Vampire Nighthawk on the other hand, has seen some play in GB control decks recently, and before that it was in decks like Grixis Control and other fringe decks. It was a good card. It gained you life, it blocked well, and it was absolutely necessary in many black decks due to it’s deathtouch and evasion. Luckily mono black decks have gotten a lot more tools to worth with in M14 such as Lifebane Zombie, so the absence of the vampire won’t be that bad.
Finally we have Sever the Bloodline. It was a great anti-token card, worked well in the sideboard of reanimator decks, and it could handle cards like Voice of Resurgence without any consequences. Ratchet Bomb will be fine against tokens post rotation, but that’s a one shot deal whereas Sever had 2 chances to do so. Because of this flashback, I don’t think we’ll ever see a reprint of it.
I’m sure you’re probably wondering where a few cards are, like Griselbrand, but most of the missing cards from this list haven’t been seen in standard for quite some time. Since the rotation of sets doesn’t affect modern or legacy, I don’t think the unmentioned cards will change standard that much. However, if you think I skipped over a card that will shake the standard metagame when it rotates, please let me know.
We’re 2 weeks away from the pre-release of standard, and 3 away from rotation now. I have 3 more articles to write before the Theros spoiler is complete, so be sure to check back in a few days for the next one. Red, Green, and Multicolor should be up by the end of next weekend! Still tons of powerful cards to cover and standard will definitely be reshaped by their loss! Thanks for reading.