A Whole New World: MTG after Rotation – Leaving the Company
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.
As much as we all hate Collected Company in the current metagame, you have to admit that over the past year we’ve had one of the best standard seasons ever. For the most part they were balanced with a slight edge of one deck over another in a delicate game of rock paper scissors, but towards the end of Dragons of Tarkir’s and Origin’s time in standard the deck became a menace (especially in hands of a pro level player). That’s why it tops my list for cards that are rotating at the end of September. Down below you can find my choices from Origins and DTK, as well as my insight on how their absence will affect standard come October with the release of Kaladesh. I will also comment on if they cards are worth holding onto or buying for eternal formats in the future.
The Top 20 Rotating Cards
- Collected Company
- Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
- Pain Lands
- Secure the Wastes
- The Commands
- Nissa, Vastwood Seer
- Hangarback Walker
- The Dragonlords
- Den Protector
- Kytheon, Hero of Akros
- Pyromancer’s Goggles
- Nantuko Husk
- Dark Petition
- Ultimate Price
- Nissa’s Pilgrimage/Explosive Vegetation
- Thunderbreak Regent
- Tragic Arrogance
As you can see, not all of the cards are rares, but their absence will nonetheless impact standard for months to come.
I won’t spend too much more time on CoCo, but there are a few more things I’d like to say about it before moving on to #2 on my list. Without this card the core of the Collected Company deck is pretty much done. The Bant Humans, Bant Spirits, and the previous incarnations of Bant Company with the best 2 and 3 drops in standard will suddenly become rather fair decks that can be handled more easily with removal and board wipes. Bant Humans might still be good, as could UW Spirits, but they’ll have to focus more on combat tricks, card advantage, and possibly cards like Eldrazi Displacer to give them an edge over their opponents.
In eternal formats, namely Modern, the card should should continue to see a lot of play. Abzan Company is the most successful of the bunch, but don’t look past decks like Slivers or GR Shamans that also use the card to see some success. As more efficient creatures are printed in Magic and the metagame changes in modern, I think Collected Company will a good investment. Hold on to any you have and pick them up cheap if you can. It’s still $13 now, but should dip after rotation for a while before going upwards again.
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy saw play from the time Origins went live all the way until it rotated out. There were times the card became a slightly less popular choice in decks like Collected Company, but during the Tarkir set with fetchlands and Delve the card was irreplaceable. It’s no longer $100+ to buy, but for it to still be $30+ a few weeks before rotation says something about his power. It will see play in both Modern and Legacy in the future, it’s just a matter of time. If you’ve been waiting to pick them up, this rotation will the best time to do so. It’s only going to get more expensive down the road.
Collected Company is already a dead deck come rotation, but decks like Esper control or UR Burn/tempo could have really used him in the next metagame. They won’t become too much weaker, but the edge they could have gotten with his abilities could have pushed those decks to tier 1 status. Blue decks definitely take a hit with him gone.
What makes the loss of painlands so hard is the loss of a colorless source of mana more than anything else. It makes cards like Reality Smasher and Edrazi Displacer that much harder to play with, forcing an deck builder to add in colorless sources that might take away some of versatility of the deck. During Oath of the Gatewatch, BW and RW Eldrazi decks were pretty good and in no small part to pain lands. The new enemy “fast” lands in Kaladesh should make two color decks playable, but those Eldrazi cards will definitely suffer a bit and see less widespread play. There will probably be some good artifact based decks where those Eldrazi cards will see play, but otherwise I expect you to see a lot less of them.
Three color decks like Temur Emerge will also probably suffer, as tap in lands will slow down their ability to respond to threats (and losing Gather the Pack doesn’t help either). You shouldn’t have to worry about these painlands shooting up in price though, in fact they should be good alternatives to Shock lands or other pricey lands until you can get your hands on them for modern. Another possible consequence of losing the pain lands is that the 2 color decks playing them now have to decide if the go with speed and the fast lands, or play the Battle and Shadow lands that tap into play. We’ll either see more aggro or more midrange decks. Evolving Wilds probably will see more play too.
Man I’m really going to miss Secure the Wastes. It was the cornerstone of my RW Tokens deck and was a great way of getting cards like Westvale Abbey to flip. Not only will it hurt my deck, but it also greatly weakens GW Tokens (which is also losing Dromoka’s Command) and various control decks like BW and Esper Control. This won’t totally destroy token strategies though, as Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, and cards like Hanweir Garrison should be able to fill in the gaps and still put the pressure on your opponents. In the black based decks, I expect that Liliana, the Last Hope will make a lot of tokens, and Ishkanah should also see more play in either Jund or Abzan token decks (I personally like Jund as you get better planeswalker).
It’s currently around $3 and I don’t expect it to go up much more after rotation, however there is a chance that it will see play in modern token decks somewhere down the road, if not as a 1 or 2 of. Not a horrible card to hang on to, but if you can get rid of it try to at least keep 2.
The loss of all of the commands will affect the metagame as well. Without Ojutai’s Command Bant or UW decks will have to focus on using Spell Queller or a less versatile counterspell, without Silumgar’s Command Esper and Sultai decks lose a great sideboard card, and without Atarka’s Command aggro burn decks lose a great source of damage, but none of those will make a big of impact leaving as Kolaghan’s Command and Dromoka’s Command will.
Kolaghan’s Command was great during the DTK standard season, and saw a lot of sideboard play afterwards in both Grixis and Mardu decks, but lately it’s fallen out of favor thanks to the 3 toughness of Bant Company’s creatures and a lack of artifacts to destroy. It won’t affect the metagame too much when it rotates. It does have a good future in both modern and possibly legacy though, so I think it’s a good investment this rotation, especially if it dips it’s current price of $7.
Dromoka’s Command seems like it would be a great sideboard card in modern, especially if decks like GW hatebears becomes strong. It stops burn, aggro, and even some combo decks if you play it at the right time. It’s only $3 so I think it would be good to pick up. As for it’s impact on standard, Bant and GW Token decks lose an important piece of their strategy. Dromoka’s Command acted like a removal spell in many situations but also put a lot of pressure on opponents with it’s +1/+1 counter as well. It was incredibly versatile and without it we’ll have to see more sideboards devote a slot or two to extra removal, and white will have to pick up the slack with cards such as Declaration in Stone.
I loved this card since it was spoiled, and my copies saw a lot of play during her entire standard life. It was good in ramp, good in Bant company, and good in just about any other green based deck as both a form of land smoothing, a late game threat, and card advantage once flipped. Cards like Tireless Tracker can get you SOME card advantage, and Nissa, Voice of Zendikar can put creatures into the battlefield to protect herself, but they can’t do both like Vastwood Seer could.
The biggest hit will be to green midrange decks like Sultai or Bant which will have fewer ways to smooth out their mana. Sometimes you find yourself getting stuck on 3 land and need one more or need that final land to play your finisher and Nissa filled those roles perfectly. Tireless Tracker should be fine as replacement for her since it gives you a threat and card advantage, but most of the time they were played along with one another so there will definitely be a gap that needs to be filled in green decks. I think she’ll hold her value well after rotation, and being a double sided planeswalker means she’ll be hard to reprint so I would definitely recommend getting copies of her if she drops below $10.
Hangarback Walker, like Jace, exploded onto the scene just weeks after Origins was released. It started out in the creature based Hardened Scales deck and ended its competitive tenure in GW tokens, but in between this card showed up in decks left and right and was only silenced by the double whammy of Eldrazi Displacer and Kalitas. At one point it reached $20+ and held that value for almost 2 seasons, but with only a few weeks it’s bottomed out at around $3. There is a possibility that it could be reprinted in a future set (even in this upcoming block) so I wouldn’t get rid of your copies just yet as it would definitely see play in standard. It could also show up in modern or other eternal format down the road I think.
Standard has been fine without it over these last few months, but losing it will definitely hurt GW Tokens and the sideboards of a few decks. Other than that, I don’t think the metagame will be changed too much by its loss.
I’m going to miss the Dragonlords, but Dragonlord Atarka’s absence will be felt most of all. Atarka was such a bad ass during Theros/Tarkir with GR midrange decks that ramped into Surrak and Atarka with a See the Unwritten, but what I remember most from her is being in GR Eldrazi ramp decks. She killed whatever your Eldrazi couldn’t, and also took out planeswalkers. GR Eldrazi ramp should be able to survive without Atarka, but losing an 8/8 flying trampler is unfortunate. There are other big finishers like Ulvenwald Hydra but it just won’t be the same.
Other notable losses from the meta are Ojutai and Silumgar from Esper dragons (which will cease to be a deck after rotation), and Dragonlord Dromoka from the sideboard of Abzan and Bant decks. Aside from Dromoka which saw limited play in standard, Sultai midrange decks will be missing Silumgar from time to time, and UW Midrange decks won’t have that Ojutai/Always Watching combo anymore either. I expect most Sultai decks to follow the delirium strategy from now on, and as for UW you can be sure there will be a variety of UW Spirit decks post rotation. I think each of the dragonlords are great for EDH and casual players alike, so you can expect there to be steady demand for them much like the Theros gods. Their prices will hit a low next month, but will steadily creep up in the following months.
What made Languish such a key card in recent standard decks was it’s 4 mana casting cost. In the past we had Damnation and Day of Judgment at 4 mana, but now if you want any kind of board wipe you have to pay 5 mana or more which was just too much against hyper aggressive decks like humans. Control decks in standard such as Esper, Sultai, and Mardu will definitely feel more pressure from fast decks now and have to stock up on early removal. Planar Outburst could possibly see more play with Languish out of the picture, and I also think that most control players will be leaning back towards white now that black will no longer be viable. As for its life after standard, I don’t think it will see much play at all outside of casual formats like Cube and EDH.
Den Protector has always been a solid card. It worked well in aggro and midrange decks, and was a pain in the ass for many decks that only played tokens or other weaker creatures. My favorite deck with DenPro was the green megamorph deck that abused Deathmist Raptor and was able to rebuild a board state with just one flip of this card. It was incredibly versatile and I think it will still have life in modern after it rotates. Just like most of other Origins and Dragons of Tarkir cards, it saw a huge drop off of play in the weeks leading up rotation, but that doesn’t mean it’s loss won’t be missed. I think delirium decks will be affected by them somewhat as it was a good card to use and get your Ishkanah or Grim Flayer back. It’s only $2 and I think if it drops any lower than that you should grab a playset after rotation. A good long term investment.
I feel so bad for Kytheon. He FINALLY saw heavy play when White human decks jumped to the top of the standard metagame, but with rotation he will soon be forgotten. I’m surprised he’s still $7.50, but I think that will drop in the coming weeks. It’s not a bad card though and just like Den Protector I think there is a future modern deck that can use him. Humans are a powerful tribe, and nothing beats flipping him on turn 3 and beating your opponent away with a 4/4 indestructible planeswalker. Another long term investment, but worth having a playset of in case he shows up in modern. White/X human decks are losing a lot of one drops and Kytheon rotating pretty much takes the deck out of contention. Other than that, his absence won’t be felt that much. Midrange decks will rejoice as they don’t have to worry about hyper fast aggro decks anymore.
I loved the ingenuity of UR, RW, and GR Goggle decks and I’ll miss not having it in standard. With its absence I expect that previous players of the card will switch to more of a UR Tempo/Burn deck or a GR Delirium build. Big Red decks could also pop up, but they all will lack that big finish with a double burn for 20 damage or more. I doubt it will see much play outside of casual and EDH decks after it rotates, so don’t expect it’s $3 price tag to move so much. Goggles was kind of a fringe deck though, so I don’t expect its loss will have any effect on the next standard metagame.
I think Nantuko Husk deserves a mention, since it was one of the main enablers of the GB Aristocrats deck. Without it, the deck becomes a lot harder to pull off the win, but a build that focuses more on getting out Ormendahl and uses Cryptolith Rite could be possible. However, the deck also loses Collected Company and a number of other cards such as Elvish Visionary so I don’t it will be viable. I could see former players moving into the Brood Monitor/Eldrazi Displacer/Cutthroat combo in the future. Anyways, farewell artistocrats (until we get another enabler).
GB Season’s Past ended up just being a flash in the pan, but it showcased Dark Petition in a positive light and the card ended up showing up a lot in control decks, especially in BW and Esper decks. Being able to grab an answer for tokens (Virulent Plague), planeswalkers (Ruinous Path), or humans (Languish) ended up becoming very useful and it’s rather sad that this card didn’t see more play before the previous Pro Tour. It won’t see much eternal play, but I do suspect foils will be sought after for EDH. Dark Petition rotating will weaken those black based control decks but there will be other ways to draw cards. It just makes sideboarding that much harder for control players.
In a standard where instant speed removal (especially at 2 mana) is almost non-existant, the loss of Ultimate Price will affect black decks to some extent. Murder replaces it somewhat, but it’s at 3 mana which makes it tougher to deal with faster decks. I expect a shift away from black cards and into red one as burn spells start to gain relevance again. Ultimate Price was in a lot of black deck’s sideboards, and replacing it won’t be an easy task. These decks will have to find an answer for cards like Sylvan Advocate and Tireless Tracker or they’re not going to survive. Couple with the loss of Languish, I expect Jeskai control to make a return to the top of control colors during Kaladesh, especially with the new UW planeswalker spoiled.
Another honorable mention, Silkwrap, had its heyday during Dragons of Tarkir and Battle for Zendikar standard. It was an incredibly effective sideboard card against decks like Bant Company and at 2 mana it was easy to cost. If black is going to have trouble handling fast decks, then I expect white decks to have some problems dealing with them as well. Other easy to cast sideboard cards such as Rending Volley and Surge of Righteousness are also rotating, so I expect we’ll see more cards like Stasis Snare show up in standard, even if it costs an extra mana.
Both Vegetation and Nissa’s Pilgrimage rotating are going to really hurt ramp decks, but there are enough mana creatures at 2 mana and Hedron Archive to keep some form of its core together. The drawback is that when you’re not taking these lands out of your deck and filtering it, you’re making your draws a lot worse. We could see a resurgence of Sylvan Scrying and Ruin in their Wake decks (along with Traverse the Ulvenwald as well) in the new standard metagame, but not being able to go from 4 mana to 7 the following turn will make it tough for ramp decks to handle any kind of fast decks. The new Chandra makes a nice fit in GR Ramp, and Kiora could be semi-ramp in a UG deck, but I don’t think we’ll see ramp as a Tier 1 deck during the next set. It could still be good, but it will be missing a few components I think.
Thunderbreak Regent was, and still is, a monster. A 4/4 flyer for 4 mana is nothing to scoff at, and its ability made it incredibly hard to get rid of. It saw the most play in GR and Mardu dragon decks, and at its peak it was over $12 a pop. Thunderbreak Regent made it absolutely necessary to play some kind of sacrifice effect or board wipe and shaped the metagame during DTK standard. Having it disappear from standard clears up the skies for a large variety of spirits and I expect they’ll take advantage of its absence. At $1.50 I expect the card has hit rock bottom, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this show up here and there in modern in fringe decks. It has potential and could show up variants of Grixis, Jeskai, or Jund decks depending on the meta. It hasn’t seen any play recently though, so I don’t see it leaving standard causing any waves.
These last few spots were hard, but I think Roast deserves one of them. Roast was an absolutely great removal spell for red (until better black and white removal came along and overshadowed it). It stood up to Siege Rhino and Abzan decks during Khans block standard, and even Bant company respected its power level. Five damage is a lot, and even better it was only 2 mana. Towards the end of it’s time in standard it’s been regulated mostly to sideboards, but I think red decks without strong removal (like GR) will be missing it and looking for something that does more than 3 damage for those midrange match ups. Dromoka’s Command made it ineffective in GW match ups, but when your opponent didnt’ draw the card you had a solid removal spell.
Tragic Arrogance saw a good amount of play in white midrange decks against GW Token and Bant Company match ups, but I still think the card was underrated. With cards like Avacyn and Selfless Spirit set to take over the metagame, and Languish rotating, there are going to be very few ways to get rid of a huge army of creatures without risk of some combat trick. Planar Outburst could become a liability, and Descend upon the Sinful costs 6 mana which makes it difficult to cast. Tragic Arrogance also kept enchantment heavy decks in check so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more Stasis Snare and Quarantine Field show up now that it’s gone.
Sayonara, Until we meet again
Kaladesh is just around the corner and it’s bound to shake things up, but from what we’ve seen so far I think we can start to think up new brews and shore up the weaknesses of past decks to give them new life. I personally think that we’ll have some form of tokens deck after rotation (GR or BW), some kind of Ramp deck with the new Chandra, a UW spirit deck as well as a tribal humans deck based around Thalia’s Lieutenant, and possibly a competitive UR Tempo burn deck (which showed promise before).
The full spoiler should be out soon so I’d like to invite you to check it out and post your thoughts on a post Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins standard. Which decks do you think become viable and which ones will totally disappear from tournaments? I’d be interested to hear what you think. I also hope you’ll join me after the weekend for my first thoughts on Kaladesh from a limited perspective and check out my “Playing To your Weaknesses” articles when I post them. Thanks for reading and see you again soon!