A Whole New World: MTG After Rotation – Return to Ravnica Block White and Blue 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.
I bet you totally forgot about the articles I did last year around this time when Innistrad was rotating out and Theros was coming in. Don’t worry, I almost forgot about them too ^_^. Luckily I remembered a week before the full Khans of Tarkir spoiler came out, so that should give us just enough time to look for some deals as stores try to unload their extra stock. There have been quite a few big changes since the last time I did these articles. First and foremost I’ve been playing different formats such as Modern and learning about other ones such as Legacy and EDH. This will give me a better (but not great) grasp on how the rotating cards could be used.
The other changes have been that the game of Magic has grown exponentially since Innistrad came out, and other formats such as Modern and EDH have really grown. This affects prices of previously bargain bin cards, and makes rotating cards that might have been dirt cheap a few years ago when they left standard now a hot item. Today I’ll doing white and blue, so lets start out with what I think will be the top 10 rotating cards from those colors from Return to Ravnica, Gatecrash, Dragon’s Maze, and M14.
Top 10 Rotating White and Blue cards from the RTR block
- Jace, Architect of Thought
- Tidebinder Mage
- Archangel of Thune
- Jace, Memory Adept
- Ajani, Caller of the Pride
- Cyclonic Rift
- Rest in Peace
- Angel of Serenity
- Planar Cleansing
Jace, Architect of Thought came to define the Return to Ravnica block. He started off as an enigma but quickly gained notoriety in control decks and rose to over $40 in value. His value dipped after Innistrad rotated, but he quickly went back up to $30 in Theros when Esper/UW control showed not signs of dying down and Mono blue devotion made him a part of their deck. His absence will really hurt both decks, but you probably already knew that. He currently sits at $4 thanks to the duel deck printing and the loss of popularity in Mono blue devotion. His foil is also only $14 at the moment. I don’t see him getting much play in Modern or Legacy, but I could see him possibly becoming a thing in EDH thanks to his -8 ultimate ability. I don’t see him being reprinted any time soon, especially with the newest version of him Jace, the Living Guildpact. With the Core sets being retired after 2016, I think this is going to put him in difficult situation to get reprinted. I’d grab a cheap foil of him if you can, but otherwise I’d pass on keeping him long term.
The loss of Tidebinder Mage is REALLY going to hurt mono blue devotion. Not only because it was an early enabler of devotion in that deck, but also because it tapped down some of the biggest threats in the standard format: Polukranos, World Eater, and Stormbreath Dragon (and much much more). It never really cost a lot, maybe hitting $6-7 at its peak, and has settled down now at around $1. This is a card that I actually see getting some play in Modern merfolk, so it might be worth holding on to your playset if you already have them or picking up a few at bargain bin prices. Tapping down a Tarmogoyf instead of a Hydra doesn’t seem like such a bad trade off. We might see a reprint of him soon though, so don’t worry if you can’t get them right away. I wouldn’t put it past Wizards to bring him back in M16 or the block following Khans to keep green under control (cause it looks like it will be the dominant color this fall/winter). Just to repeat what I said earlier, I’d hold on to your set if you have him, or buy him for cheap and sit on him.
UW and Esper control still have Elspeth, Sun’s Champion as a finisher, but taking Aetherling out of the mix is going to reduce the number of control’s options. To even act like this is is the reason UW control won’t be playable after rotation is laughable. We all know which two cards that deck will be missing the most. I don’t see it being reprinted in the near future at least for a couple years, but I do think it has a future in EDH. That means foils. You can get them for $6 now, and I think that would be a good investment. If you have the card still, you probably won’t get a lot for them, so you might as well hold onto them (the best time to sell them were about a year ago at the start of Theros when they were $6-7). I wouldn’t feel bad about trading them away either though if you can.
Archangel of Thune was and still is a pretty sweet card I think. She saw a lot of play when she first came out in GW midrange decks alongside Scavenging Ooze and later on she was in most UW/x control sideboards alongside Nyxfleece Ram. She’s also found a spot in Birthing Pod decks (and some Soul Sister builds) in modern. She started out at about $30 when she was first released and held that for most of her time in standard until dropping to $15 in the last few months. She’s not that hard to reprint so it is possible we’ll see her in a future set in a few years. If you can get her for between $10-15 I’d pick up at least 2. She’ll be a good trade for players using Birthing Pod in modern, popular due to her typing (Angel), and might see some play in EDH too. If you have them hold onto them, as you can expect her value to shoot up again when she’s reprinted. I think she’ll hold her value in the mean time so don’t feel bad if you didn’t get rid of her a few months ago when she was over $20.
As you can see from the picture I had on file, Jace, Memory Adept has been around for a while. He was in M12, M13, and M14 which leads me to believe that this version of Jace probably won’t be reprinted for a long time (if not ever again. There are an insane amount of versions of him in MTG). His 0 ability has always seemed rather strong to me, and in a control heavy metagame landing him severely limits your opponent’s options. I’ve seen some people play with him in EDH decks, and I’d expect him to have strong casual demand as well after he rotates. Foils of him go for about $15, so if I were to put my money anywhere with him I’d buy a foil. I expect him to stay at around $5-6 for the immediate future, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him creep up as time goes by and there are less of him on the market. He’s a long term prospect, and I’ll be keeping him in my trade binder.
Ajani, Caller of the Pride is another card that has been around for a while and has a ton of different versions out there, so I think this one also won’t be reprinted. Three mana planeswalkers are usually good bets, but not being able to affect the board right away and not being able to protect itself hurts his playability. It’s possible he’ll work his way into some Hexproof decks in Modern, but I expect any value he has to be determined by the casual market. He saw a lot of play in standard when mono white aggro, Boros aggro, and Hexproof/Voltron decks were popular, but I just don’t think there will be enough demand for him after he rotates (correct me if I’m wrong though and missing some information). I’d trade him away now if you can get $5 or more for it.
Cyclonic Rift was one of those cards you rarely saw in standard, but when you did it made a HUGE impact. I remember seeing it in Colossal Simic (a take on Colossal Gruul with Polukranos, World Eater and Burning Tree Emissary that used Prophet of Kruphix as well), but other than that it was relegated mostly to sideboard work. This card really gained popularity from EDH/Commander. It’s only $3 now ($10 foil) and I expect both of those prices to go up after it rotates out. For starters, the “Overload” keyword means it won’t be reprinted in a core set again for a long time (if at all). We might see it in a future Commander set, but I would expect prices to rise in the mean time. As EDH gains in popularity I expect this card to keep going up, up, and up. Pick some up if you haven’t, hold on to them if you already have them, and if you see a foil for under $10 grab it.
Back when Junk reanimator was dominating, everybody was running this in their sideboard (if they were in white). Once Innistrad block rotated, Rest in the Peace went back into most people’s trade binders. While its time in standard is finished, it has a long life ahead of it in other formats, especially legacy. In Japan, you can still sell them for $1 at almost every store, and as long as Legacy continues to be a thing it will hold its value. Now that the fetchlands have been spoiled in Khans, a big obstacle to the format has been overcome. As more people get into that format (thanks to places like SCG, Big Magic, and Hareruya holding Legacy events every year), more people will need the sideboard staples like RIP. Not only Legacy, but Modern might see an influx of new deck ideas and who knows what cards will see sideboard play as the the metagame shifts. This is a strong hold if you have them, and if you don’t pick up a few at $1. It is possible we could see a reprint in the near future due to Khan of Tarkir’s heavy Delve and Dredge theme, but that only means the card will go up if it’s needed in sideboards again.
Angel of Serenity was big in Junk reanimator during Innistrad/RTR block, but never recovered after rotation last year. She’s been hanging at about $2-3 and probably won’t change much after rotation. I expect she’ll see some play in EDH which means her foil price of $12 will change, but I wouldn’t expect her price to change right away. Over time she’ll inch up in value, so I’d say hold onto her if you have a few copies. If you can find a foil under $10, pick it up. I don’t think we’ll see a reprint of her any time soon, but she’ll most likely be back in a future set when she’s needed again. Her Angel typing should also help in holding her value. I’d snap up a playset for $1 if you can find them and sit on them.
Well, UW control is definitely in a pickle. It’s been totally gutted with Return to Ravnica rotating, and taking away Planar Cleansing is adding insult to further injury. It by no means is a playable card outside of this standard environment, but its loss does mean that more control players will be turning to Fated Retribution and pushing that card’s value up slightly. This is bulk rare, so don’t worry about buying any or having it’s value go up after rotation. The 10th card is always hard to pick, but I think you’ll agree that not having this in standard will change things.
The New World
From these first 10 cards alone, I think you can already see how standard is shaping up in 3 weeks. No more UW based control decks and a very weakened mono blue devotion deck (though I wouldn’t say it’s down for the count just yet. I tested a Theros block version of it and it seemed okay). The loss of RIP will make Sultai and GB dredge decks pretty effective, and also open the doors for delve. Without a clear control deck in the first few weeks, I’d expect aggro decks to pray on slower midrange decks focusing on setting up later turns with mana creatures. I’m not going to get into all of that here though. You’ll have to check out my articles in about 2 weeks regarding which cards you should be picking up in the days leading up to the release of Khans of Tarkir (once the full spoiler has been put up).
As I said at the beginning of the article, I’m still learning about the older formats, so if you have any other suggestions or comments about the choices I made I’d like to hear what you have to say. Thanks for reading and be sure to check out Black and Green next time!