A Whole New World: MTG After Rotation – Return to Ravnica block Black and Green 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. As with my “Bang for your Buck” articles, I can’t be held responsible for any mistakes I make. I will plead my case for each card and if you agree, then you can act on it and make the decision.
Today I’ll be covering Black and Green, and if you’ve been following standard at all then you’d know that black has been a dominating force since the beginning of Theros block. You don’t have to be Einstein to realize that its reign is finally over. There’s going to be a few more shake ups in a few weeks. I doubt any current archetypes will survive.
Top 10 Rotating Black and Green cards from the RTR Block
- Pack Rat
- Scavenging Ooze
- Desecration Demon
- Lifebane Zombie
- Doom Blade
- Underworld Connections
- Devour Flesh
- Garruk, Caller of Beasts
- Sylvan Primordial
- Shadowborn Demon
Pack Rat has been the bane of just about every non-black mage ever since the dawning of Theros block and the advent of mono black devotion. The color has an insane amount of removal and disruption, and giving it a card that can totally disregard that and kill opponents by merely replicating itself made a lot of people’s lives very hard. Without it, I expect black devotion to lose a lot of attack power, and this should also effect every Black/x variant as well. I’m not saying mono black devotion won’t be a thing anymore, it just won’t have the oppressive power that it had before. Pack Rat ($2.50) has started showing up in a few eternal format decks as people test it out, and that would explain why it’s price hasn’t rock bottomed to $1 like all the other black devotion cards out there. The foil is also around $22. It’s not that hard to reprint it if Wizard’s wants to, but I think flavor wise we won’t see a reprint for a few years at least. In that time, the card could see a bit more play in modern (such as in BW tokens) or another format. I’d hold on to your copies for now if you still have them, but if you have already jumped ship, it might not be a bad idea to buy some for under $2 if you can find them. I don’t think we’re done with this card yet.
Without Scavenging Ooze in standard, I think we’re looking at graveyard based decks getting out of control. As I said with Rest in Peace, I believe this card will see a lot of sideboard play in eternal formats. It was originally a Commander/EDH card, so I would continue to think it will see play there, but it has also become an integral part of GB/x based decks in Modern to help counteract Dark Confidant’s loss of life. In Japan, most stores are STILL buying it at $8-$10 each, and they are selling it for upwards of $16 if not more. It’s currently going for about $6 in the USA, so if you have a chance to trade for them at that price do it. Get a few extra and hold on to them. Sure it could be reprinted in a future set, but I don’t think Wizards will be doing it soon. It’s possible we could see it reprinted in next year’s fall set as a stop gap for Dredge and Delve, and if that does end up happening I think it’s best to get your play set now while they are cheap. Foils also seem to be rather cheap now at about $18 so snap them up if you can. Without Deathrite Shaman in modern, this card will be going places.
Desecration Demon was always a scary card to face in a vacuum. When mono black or any other black based deck dropped him on the table that was the time that you swallowed hard and took a look at your life total. He was a very good game-ending clock. Without tons of tokens to lock him down, he ran free in Theros standard. Now that’s he’s gone, decks like BW midrange and Black devotion decks will lose a dangerous finisher, and it will be safer to fly the friendly skies with other creatures in Kakns. I don’t see him really doing anything in other formats after he rotates, but if you have a foil I’d hold onto it for EDH players. I don’t see it being retired for long, so if you weren’t able to get value out of him a few months ago when people started to unload their RTR block cards, you won’t be at a total loss. I’m gonna hold onto mine for the next time they are in standard because they are sure to get a decent price when that happens again. It might not be for 2-3 years, but I’m fine waiting. I originally bought mine at $0.70 from bargain bins after RTR was released, so I’m not losing anything. As for you guys, if you don’t have them feel free to pick them up from the bulk rare box and sit on them for a while.
I think Lifebane Zombie has a future after rotation. It should hold it’s value at about $2-3 with the casual market alone, but it might see some play in fringe modern decks as well. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see it in EDH in the future. It has a strong ETB affect and intimidate. It puts a body on the ground and gives you information about your opponent’s hand. I’m sure there are some zombie players out there who will be in the market for these in the future. I’d wait a few weeks and see if their price dips a little bit more, then pick up a play set at rock bottom prices. I think all he can do it go up in the future. I also don’t think he’ll be printed again right away either. He’ll be back for sure, but not soon. If you can get a foil for $5-7 that might not be a bad investment either.
Going forward, it seems as though Wizards is moving away from cheap removal spells. No more 1-2 mana spells unless they have some huge draw back like Ulcerate (lose 3 life). Doom Blade and Ultimate price were a large part of mono black devotion’s dominance in Theros standard, and without it we non-black using players will finally be able to stick a turn 3 Polukranos, World Eater or other giant creature without our opponent smiting it at the end of the turn. It’s one of the reasons why Kalonian Hydra (a sweet card) never saw play I think. We might see it reprinted again, but not for a long time I think. I’m sure players will clamor that it’s not fun playing limited MTG with 5 mana instant speed removal spells, and it will eventually come back but not for a while. This isn’t a card you really have to worry about investing in, but its absence (along with Ultimate Price) will definitely shape the metagame in Kahns of Tarkir.
Nothing helped mono black devotion to enable dominance more than Underworld Connections. It gave the deck the ability draw the removal it needed, it provided extra cards to feed to Pack Rat, and it also added to the Devotion count for Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Without it, the deck will have to turn to card advantage engines like Erebos, God of the Dead and pay a much steeper price for the same effect or forsake devotion altogether for Read the Bones or Sign in Blood. This card could be reprinted in the future, but I don’t think it will happen as long as Gray Merchant of Asphodel is still in standard. We’re looking at around 2-3 years before we see or hear from it again. There’s nothing locking it down to the Ravnica plane, so there isn’t much holding it back. Most black devotion decks seem to have already dropped it anyways. This will be a bulk rare after rotation and is not really worth picking up. If you still have them, you might as well hold them for the next time they are in standard (and get rid of them then).
This is more of an honorable mention than anything else. This card helped keep Hexproof decks in check, and also got around Blood Baron of Vizkopa’s ability rather well when both black devotion and Orzhov midrange were going at each other’s throats. It’s also a similarly casted 2 mana removal spell that is leaving standard and further weakening black’s position and hold on creature based decks. Without this, Doom Blade, and Ultimate Price we’re in for some battles of of epic proportions and things such as board wipes and big defenders are going to be a lot more important. Just as with the other 2 mana removal spells, we could see it back but not for a while. Once wizards sees how crippled creature removal becomes, I think they’ll start trickling some 2 mana removal spells back into standard.
Garruk, Caller of Beasts really took off after Makito Mihara popularized it during Pro Tour Theros. He was the perfect fit for green devotion based decks, and although the deck fell out of favor after a few months (due to mono black’s opression), he’s seen something of a comeback in mono green devotion decks just before rotation alongside cards like Genesis Hydra. I think this will be one of those one-shot Garruk’s due to it’s casting cost and abilities, and it’s likely not to be reprinted for a long time. Modern and Legacy probably won’t use it, but I think the EDH market will help it to keep its value over time, especially foils. He’s currently at $8, but if he drops to $4-5 after rotation, I would advise you to pick some up and sit on them for a few years. All of his abilities points to him being a lot of fun in EDH, so get him while he’s cheap if you can. The foil is about $22, but if you can find him for around $15 consider that a good investment.
These last 2 spots were a tough call, but if I had to choose one that could have a possible impact after rotation, I would put my money behind Sylvan Primordial. He was absolutely bonkers in EDH, but that’s what got him banned in that format. It’s possible that he could be unbanned in the future and that’s what I’m betting on. It won’t happen immediately, but it’s a possibility as new interactions in EDH come to light. We could also see him possibly reprinted in a new set, but I don’t see that happening in the next few years. You can buy a foil for about $3, which is off his previous high of about $10 and if you can find it for that or less I’d buy it and sit on it. I think the casual crowd will still enjoy using him as well. As far as the loss of the card from standard, it’s really too bad. Some players were finally starting to slip him into Green devotion decks, and it looks as though reanimator will be viable again on some levels in Khans of Tarkir.
Shadowborn Demon + Shadowborn Apostle decks never really took off, but they were fun to play. Shadowborn Apostles, which were never played in standard are still going for $1, and to me that means one thing: Casual demand. People love to play with their demons (well, compared to Dragons and Angels at least), and I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody were to come up with a Demon Cube either. He’s still about $3 (foil $8), but I think he will drop a little bit lower after rotation. If you see a good deal on him pick him up, but this is more of a soft sell I think. We could see him back in the future, but I think the whole Apostle combo would make it hard to bring him back. Eventually Liliana will have to kill all of the demons who have power over her, which means we could see a Demon heavy deck in a few years. The card actually saw some standard play during Theros/Born of the Gods in a GWB reanimator deck, but outside of that he was strictly a casual card. He could possible be a decent EDH card too.
The New World
The exit of Pack Rat, Desecration Demon, Underworld Connections, and Lifebane Zombie pretty much spell the demise of mono black devotion in standard. There will still be some strong black cards like Thoughtseize and Hero’s Downfall, but they will most likely be part of mono black aggro or a multicolor deck with black as the support color (instead of as the main one like it was during Theros block standard). To repeat what I said above, the loss of cheap black removal will also put more pressure on sweepers such as End Hostilities, Anger of the Gods, and Fated Retribution. Green devotion decks should also suffer a little since both Garruk, Caller of Beasts and Domri Rade will be gone, but I’m sure Genesis Hydra and Ajani, Mentor of Heroes will fill their roles nicely (well, at least the card advantage part). Without Scavenging Ooze and Rest in Peace, graveyard manipulation cards are going to thrive so keep that in mind for the upcoming metagame.
There were a few cards I thought I might include in this list, but they didn’t cut it. Maybe you think differently though? Should cards like Primeval Bounty or Witchstalker have been in this list as well? Is there any other information that you’d like to add to the choices I did make? If so, I’d like to hear from you. Leave your comments down below and help us to make better decisions before rotation. Look for the next article soon. I’ll be covering Red, artifacts, and lands next time. It will be interesting to see how decks like Rabble Red and RW Burn fair (though I’m guessing not well). Enjoy your Return to Ravnica cards until then!