What Stays and What Goes

Posted in Top Decks on September 16, 2016

By Luis Scott-Vargas

Luis Scott-Vargas plays, writes, and makes videos about Magic. He has played on the Pro Tour for almost a decade, and between that and producing content for ChannelFireball, often has his hands full (of cards).

I remember when Standard was a land of Dragons, but the advance of technology is making that less and less true. Vehicles are the new way to get around, and instead of Collecting Company we will be assembling energy, which is a change I'm happy to make. Let's take a look at what we gain and lose as Standard rotation happens.

First off, which sets are rotating?

Kaladesh rotates in.

Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins rotate out.

Here are the big losses:







These are some powerful cards, and their departure will affect many of the current best decks in Standard. First on the list, the current best deck.

Bant Company

All flavors of Collected Company need to find a new core, as they can no longer jam 25 creatures, 4 Collected Company, and a couple other cards and call it a day. These decks as they currently stand will no longer exist, though there are plenty of cards in them that will continue to see play.

I'd look for Bant Company to transform into more of a White-Blue Spirits shell, in spirit if nothing else. That deck would start something like this:

4 Rattlechains
4 Mausoleum Wanderer
4 Spell Queller
4 Nebelgast Herald
4 Selfless Spirit
2 Archangel Avacyn

And fill out the rest of the deck with new additions from Kaladesh or whatever types of interaction the metagame demands. A few more Spirits certainly wouldn't hurt, if those are a thing.

Mono-White Humans

The loss of Kytheon, Hero of Akros, Knight of the White Orchid, Dragon Hunter, and Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit makes Humans very dependent on what Kaladesh has to offer. I would be surprised if the current 22-one-drop version sticks around, though the core of Thalia's Lieutenant and Always Watching gives Humans a good head start on making a comeback.

Green-White Tokens

Without Hangarback Walker, Secure the Wastes, and Dromoka's Command, I'm not sure the deck can legitimately be called "Green-White Tokens" anymore. The combination of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, Sylvan Advocate, and good green and white cards can certainly still function, but the deck will be substantially different. Archangel Avacyn and Westvale Abbey get much weaker without Hangarback Walker and Secure the Wastes, and the token aspect of the deck might vanish.

If these are some of the decks that lose out, who wins?

Turbo Emrakul

Despite different versions of the deck using Nissa's Pilgrimage and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy—plus all versions using Gather the Pack—Turbo Emrakul will definitely be a player come rotation. Gather is replaceable with more copies of Vessel of Nascency, and not every deck even played the other two cards. Here's a sample Turbo Emrakul list that doesn't use any cards from the sets that are rotating:

Turbo Emrakul

Download Arena Decklist

Other Eldrazi Decks

Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher are still great cards, so I'd be surprised if they didn't find a home somewhere. The loss of pain lands like Yavimaya Coast stings, but there are enough colorless lands that I'm sure these cards will be castable. This type of deck may have to be nearer to monocolor, but that's well worth the power level the Eldrazi bring.

Black-Green / Jund Delirium

These decks lose Languish and Nissa, Vastwood Seer, but keep most of the rest of their important cards. I'm assuming there will be reasonable replacements for Ultimate Price and Fiery Impulse forthcoming (and Galvanic Bombardment may even be one of them), and it's not the individual removal spells that will be a cause for concern.

The core of Liliana, the Last Hope, Pilgrim's Eye, Distended Mindbender, Grapple with the Past, and Kozilek's Return still survives, making Jund a solid pick. Likewise, Grim Flayer, Ishkanah, Grafwidow, and Traverse the Ulvenwald give black-green all the game it needs to compete.

As with many other decks, the rotation of Collected Company goes a long way, and I'd expect sorcery-speed decks like these two to improve dramatically.

Here's a Jund list modeled after the one Lukas Blohon piloted to a 5th place finish at the 2016 World Championship:

Lukas Blohon's Jund Delirium

Download Arena Decklist

What Else?

This is by no means an exhaustive list. I fully expect Kaladesh to come roaring on-scene with a ton of new decks, both artifact-based and not. What this should give you is a head start on figuring out where the current crop of decks is headed. Some are headed out (see you later, Collected Company) and some are just starting to emerge as major players. I expect Emrakul to continue her dominance, though there will be plenty of new challengers.


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