The Dawn of a New Age: MTG after Rotation – Theros/M15 block Green and Artifact Cards
Note: “The Dawn of a New Age” (formerly 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.
Father time and my work schedule have not been kind to me. Long days at work and other errands have pulled me away from finishing up this series of articles, but I will have it done before rotation. With only one more article to go, I think that’s fairly realistic. The only problem is that we’re about 1.5 weeks away from the full Battle for Zendikar spoiler which means I’ll be really busy with my limited articles leading up to the pre-release. We better get started . . .
Top 10 Rotating Green and Artifact cards from the Theros/M15 block
- Sylvan Caryatid
- Courser of Kruphix
- Elvish Mystic
- Polukranos, World Eater
- Satyr Wayfinder
- Hornet Queen
- Perilous Vault
- Genesis Hydra
- Nissa, Worldwaker
- Obelisk of Urd
Not many people thought much of Sylvan Caryatid when it was released in Theros. We had been so spoiled by cards like Deathrite Shaman, Elvish Mystic, and other one mana costing mana dorks that a 2 mana dork was somewhat of a let down. Heck, we had had Birds of Paradise back during M12! Then people realized that the hexproof was pretty good and a great way to get your ramp while not having to worry about being slowed down. It saw some play in RTR/THS block, but didn’t really break out until Khans of Tarkir exploded onto the metagame with multiple 3 color decks. Abzan, Naya, Jund, they all benefited from having a turn 2 mana fixer. The card was also one of the most important components of Jeskai Ascendancy combo. The card reached more than $20 at one point here in Japan but has since settled at around $2.50.
Three color decks are going to be hurting when this rotates, and it’s going to be another nail in the coffin for Jeskai Ascendancy decks (the first being Retraction Helix). We have Honored Hiearch from Origins to be a semi-mana creature, but the card I really expect to step up into Caryatid’s place is Rattleclaw Mystic. It looks as though the time of 1 cmc mana creatures is at it’s end which should really slow down ramp strategies. No longer will a turn 2 three mana costing creature be important, but instead a powerful 4 mana creature on turn 3. This is going to really slow things down. I would also expect Whisperer of the Wilds from Fate Reforged to see some play in green/x ramp decks as well. The Ferocious trigger shouldn’t be too hard to activate.
As for Caryatid’s play-ability after rotation, I think it will be a good pick up at $1-2. There are going to be decks like Ascendancy Combo in modern that will need a well protected creature in order to go infinite, and nothing does it better than this card. Pick up a cheap playset for the long term. It also has a generic enough name to be reprinted in the future and if it does see standard play again it could easily push $5-6.
Green midrange and ramp decks absolutely loved this card. Green never really gets good card draw but Courser was pure advantage. Play all your land, draw gas, gain life, and block almost anything. It broke out during Theros standard in Jund and Gruul monsters, using the mana advantage to create huge Polukranos, World Eaters, and more recently it has been part of the GR Hydra, Mono green devotion, and Atarka Ramp strategies. Due to a reprinting in a special event deck, its price was kept under control and it became very affordable. Due to this reprinting I don’t expect the card to see much movement after rotation, and I think the price should stay around $3-4 in the near future (if not lower). It sees play in some modern decks but nothing tier 1 or tier 2 that would warrant picking up extras if you still have your playset. One thing you should keep in mind though is that it has Kruphix in the name, which means it won’t be reprinted in a non-Theros set and if it does ever return it will be in a supplemental product a few years down the road. It could see play, so if you can get this a dollar after rotation get a few for the long haul. I doubt we’ll see it in standard again though.
We all knew that green devotion and any deck that used Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx days were numbered, but the biggest effect the metagame is going to feel in BFZ standard is going to be green ramps new vulnerability to mono red aggro and other aggro decks. Without the incidental life gain and the 2/4 body to block smaller creatures, ramp decks lose a lot of the padding that it once had to get out their big creatures and stabilize. Ramp strategies should still be okay, but it’s important to keep in mind they’ll be a little bit slower. Sword of the Animist should do a good job of pulling land out of your deck, and Nissa, Vastwood Seer also is a great card once your flip her to get that card advantage back.
You don’t know you had something so good until it’s gone. Yes, crispy fried Elves seem rather common as of late in the current metagame which is why many people have decided not to play GR ramp decks, but when you’re unable to play a turn two 3-drop you’ll miss it. Without Elvish Mystic green ramp decks will be a lot less explosive and more vulnerable to control or decks with a lot of removal (like Abzan midrange or Esper control). We could still see some sort of mana ramp creature in Battle for Zendikar, but as it stands now it looks like our only option as a one drop mana creature is Honored Hierach. If decks slow down, it’s quite possible that the new Hierarch will be able to activate its mana ability more often than it can now. Another deck Elvish Mystic’s absence could affect is the GB Elves deck, as well as a few other aggro decks that are playing it to get a little more speed out of the gates. Those types of decks will manage, but ramp midrange decks will need to rethink their strategies entirely without a one drop. Don’t worry about buying these before rotation. Plenty to go around.
We got to see how scary this guy really was in Gruul Monsters back during Theros/RTR standard, and he was also a force to be reckoned with in any green based devotion deck. he could wipe out an opponent’s entire board with a well timed monstrous, and having 5 power and 5 toughness meant he could eat Tasigurs and Siege Rhinos for breakfast. He was pretty dominant for a while but ended up getting hated out by 9 sets worth of removal, especially in black. He became too much of a liability instead of an asset and not worth wasting your 4th turn (or 3rd turn on if you were ramping into him). He had his time in the sun, but that time has passed. I’m going to miss that sweet monstrous ability but there are a few green creatures that can take up his mantle when he retires. Surrak, the Hunt Caller will definitely see some more play post rotation in that spot, but if the metagame is going to get slower Whisperwood Elemental will also be a good choice and still give you a lot of power. Outland Colossus might be a good card as a big dumb beater in green ramp decks as well.
I don’t think the metagame will miss him that much since he’s been hated out of standard for a while now, so don’t expect a big shift in ramp’s strategies to fill the void. As for Polukranos usefulness outside of standard, we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of Nykthos devotion decks in eternal formats, and we could possibly see him show up in the future in a modern metagame full of Tasigurs and Rhinos. Not saying it will happen, but just saying there’s a possibility he could find a home. I’m gonna sit on my $1 World Eaters until it happens (since I didn’t get rid of them earlier).
I seriously can never look at this card and NOT think of Saito Tomoharu and his Saito Wayfinder posts on Twitter. Wayfinder was one of those cards that you had no idea how to use when it was first spoiled in Theros, but then as we ended up seeing the Strategy between Nemesis of Mortals and then Whip of Erebos, his true purprose came to light. This little guy brought reanimator back to life (pun intended) after Unburial Rites rotated with Innistrad, and for a while Abzan Whip decks were downright unbeatable. Later on the Wayfinder would work alongside Sidisi and Tasigur in Sultai Whip decks, and I’ve even seen him used in standard BG Dredge decks that used Deathmist Raptor, Den Protector, Nighthowler, and Become Immense. Sure there were other ways to fill your graveyard, but he got you a land (most of the time), a body to block with, and put creatures in the graveyard.
Most recently he’s shown in Abzan Rally decks, and without him that deck might struggle to put enough creatures in the graveyard to reach critical mass. Origins recently printed Gather the Pack which should work alright if the metagame is slower, but more cards might be needed since Commune with Gods and Kruphix’s Insight are also rotating out. Elves Rally might be alright if the deck can find another card similar to Gather the Pack, but otherwise it might be stuck in tier 2. Since it’s a common, I wouldn’t worry about buying any for eternal formats.
Speaking of Reanimator decks, Hornet Queen was the GO TO target in many whip decks (both Junk and BUG types) because it gave you value even if the card was removed from the game. It put 4 extra bodies in the air, and they all did a great job of keeping cards like Stormbreath Dragon and other flyers at bay. It saw a lot of play in green devotion decks as well a few months back. At the height of its popularity it reached about $8, but cards like Bile Blight, Virulent Plague, Anger of the Gods, and a number of other board wipes (including Ugin) hated it out at the start of 2015 and now it’s back to a dollar bin card. I expect some people to pick this card up for EDH, but due to the number of cards now in circulation I don’t think the card is worth buying for a long term investment. I don’t see it doing much in the next few years, and it could even see a reprint in the future due to its generic name so no need to horde them.. As for how its absence from standard will affect things (as well as Hornet Nest’s), I think Dragons should have a lot easier time attacking unimpeded through the air. In their place I expect Thopters to rule the sky, meaning more people will be using cards like Hangarback Walker, further pushing up that cards price.
Exiling used to be the end all way to remove things that bothered you, but with the new Eldrazi cards in Battle for Zendikar, it seems like not even the exile zone is going to be safe anymore. Perilous Vault was a great card for UB control for FRF standard, and that popularity raised its price to over $10, but after that the card couldn’t muster more than a 1-2 in a control main deck or sideboard. This card seems like it could see some play in eternal formats which makes me want to consider getting some at $2 if it drops that far, but at the same time Vault could be reprinted in the future, maybe even at the tail end of the new Eldrazi’s time in standard in a year and a half from now.
I don’t think it’s rotation hurting control decks that much, especially since they have Ugin, the Spirit Dragon to fall back on as an exile effect. I also expect Languish, End Hostilies, Crux of Fate, and Tragic Arrogance to pick up some of the slack in the space it leaves behind. Those cards could see modest gains, but not much due to how many were printed and the supply I think.
Hail Hydra! God I loved this card back during M15 Standard. It was a fun card to have and gave decks like Green and GR devotion great card advantage. I won one of the Game Days around town with GR Hail Hydra actually. Once cards like See the Unwritten and Whisperwood Elemental were printed though, the Hydra fell out of favor since it didn’t have good synergy being manifested or put onto the battlefield. The card did see some play after KTK standard in some mono green devotion and Atarka Ramp decks, but it’s time has come and gone. It’s a neat card that I think will see some play in big mana decks in the future, especially in EDH and casual play but I don’t think you’ll have any problems getting this out of the $1 box after rotation. I also think this could possibly be reprinted in the future so you might as well hold onto your copies/pick them up for cheap. I don’t think Genesis Hydra rotating will really affect the metagame, so don’t expect a big shift from green midrange decks when he goes.
Nissa was a force to be reckoned with a year ago during M15/KTK standard in green devotion decks, adding to the deck’s already sickening ability to ramp into large amounts of mana, and here 4/4 creature making ability eventually led players to use Darksteel Citadels in green devotion decks to give you an indestructible trampler to play with.
Yes we have the new Nissa, Vastwood Seer, but I have a feeling we could see this same exact planeswalker in the next Zendikar set or after it. This seems like a powered up form of Vastwood Seer, which leaves me to believe she’ll be next in the storyline when Nissa joins us in a future set. Its because of that that I will hold onto my copies and maybe even consider picking up a 3rd or 4th one if she drops to $5 or so after rotation like most planeswalkers that don’t see play end up at. She was $40 at one point and is currently sitting at $10, but if she gets a reprint I would expect her to go back up again. Keep an eye on a possible reprint in a year or two.
She currently sees play in some sideboards of ramp decks, so I don’t think her rotating will affect those decks too much. It might hurt their control match ups a little bit, especially when facing off against Ugin decks, but I think Nissa Vastwood Seer should cover for her nicely.
My last pick for green and artifact cards rotating in 2 weeks is Obelisk of Urd. I remember calling this as a break out card before it spiked from $2 to $10, and I wish I had bought some at that time to make a quick buck but I was too lazy and missed that train (I did get a $5 foil though!). It has since settled down at around $5, but I wonder if this card has possibilities in Modern after rotation. If we’ve learned anything from its time in standard, it’s that this card can be downright nasty in the right deck such as mono red goblins or soldiers. With Zendikar bringing back Allies and Collected Company making all sorts of creature/aggro decks more viable in modern now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this show up there.
As I stated above, with its rotation Obelisk Soldiers and Goblin Obelisk will be lost to us, but Goblins should still survive post rotation thanks to cards like Goblin Piledriver and Hordeling Outburst. I think it will drop a little bit more in value after rotation, but I don’t think you’d be wrong in getting a playset and holding onto them for a while. This card could definitely take off in the future.
The New Age
Not every card can be mentioned in the article, but that’s not to say they didn’t have some sort of impact on standard during their life time. Here’s my list of honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the cut.
- Arbor Colossus – great sideboard card against dragons and Jeskai decks. Gonna miss him against Dragon decks especially in two weeks. Be ready to fly the friend skies or be burned by them.
- Springleaf Drum – part of both Jeskai Ascendancy and more recently UR Thopters, when it rotates fast decks that rely on it for early mana will slow down. Ascendancy is gone, but losing this, Ornithopter, and Ensoul Artifact is really going to hurt Thopters. Get your copies for Affinity now before they double or triple.
- Boon Satyr – I think this card also deserves an honorable mention. It saw play in both GR aggro and GR Monsters and appeared in some green devotion decks as well. Gonna miss bestow, especially at instant speed.
- Hornet Nest – the loss of this card is really going to hurt green midrange decks’ sideboards against aggro.
What we can take from this article is that ramp decks will lose some of their speed but none of their potency. There are cards that are less effective, but will still get the job done. I wouldn’t under estimate ramp strategies post rotation. I also expect graveyard strategies like Rally decks and UR Thopters to lose a little oomph as well. What do you think about the green and artifact list? If you disagree or want to add anything feel free to comment down below.
With the full spoiler of Battle For Zendikar due out next Monday and a World Magic Cup qualifier and PPTQ this weekend, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get out the final article before the pre-release. If that’s the case look for it after I finish up my Playing for your Weakness articles next week. We still have more than 2 weeks until rotation so that gives me time to finish up this series. Thanks for reading and being patient with me as I get through work and preparing for the PPTQ season here in Nagoya. Hope to post more soon!