Standard is, and has long been, vital to thriving local game stores. Regular play, a robust competitive tabletop scene, local metagames, and that cheeky, friendly competitive edge is infused into so many local game stores that when Standard struggles, stores take note.
Even in the context of Magic growing leaps and bounds over the past few years, tabletop Standard hasn't kept pace. Commander has grown tremendously. More and more players enjoy Pioneer and Modern. And Standard sees more play on Magic: The Gathering Arena every day than individual games in any other format.
It concerns us when tabletop Standard gets left behind despite Magic's tremendous growth. Time and time again, we've heard from players and local store owners that they believe a healthy, well-liked, well-attended Standard is still incredibly important to their experience and their success. Lately, we've been doing more asking and listening to assess how we can help Standard.
Over the past few years, Standard play has dried up in many stores. I have my own list of possible reasons, but I’d love to hear from you about your store community. Why has sanctioned Standard play declined relative to other formats in your store?— Aaron Forsythe (@mtgaaron) November 9, 2022
And we've been putting together plans to do just that. It helps that Standard is once again gaining traction as a fun format, showcased in Pro Tour March of the Machine this very weekend, but we also recognize we need to make a more public commitment to Standard and competitive tabletop Magic. As such, we'll be rolling out multifaceted plans over the coming months to do so.
Today is step one.
That step is that we're going to extend the lifecycle of all cards in Standard by one year: starting with the current Standard environment, sets will rotate out every three years rather than every two years.
This means that with the release of Wilds of Eldraine, there will be no Standard rotation for this year only. The following year in 2024, Innistrad: Crimson Vow, Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, and Streets of New Capenna will rotate out of Standard.
(MTG Arena will follow this change for Standard, but not Alchemy. Learn more with the full details from the MTG Arena team.)
Our intent with this change is not to overshadow any of the amazing growth Commander, Pioneer, Modern, and other formats have seen in recent years but instead give players more reasons to engage with Standard. Extending the Standard rotation to three years will, we believe, achieve two main points (and an additional benefit) that can make tabletop Standard more enjoyable:
- This will give current Standard cards more longevity. Time and again, we hear that players want to play with cards they love and enjoy longer. Standard is our only rotating format, and while keeping it fresh is important, we also feel that there's a more effective middle ground.
- It will allow mechanics and archetypes to be more effectively built on over time. As we moved away from the block model, we gained a lot of flexibility, but we also lost some ability to build on mechanics and themes within a set. With a longer window, we can find more opportunities to build up or revitalize archetypes. Coupled with the point above, that can lead to more diversity, longer-lasting archetypes, and enough competitive churn to keep players engaged.
- It also gives us stronger tools to create an environment where decks are more "color(s) and mechanic" (like Green-White Toxic or Blue-White Soldiers) and less midrange. With a larger card pool, the format can handle bigger swings with entire decks seeded at once.
We believe this will give Standard more stability, more vitality, and strengthen it for local game stores.
Our attention toward improving the Standard experience won't be ending here. To help ensure Standard thrives at local game stores, we'll be rolling out a multistep plan to support and revitalize Standard tabletop play. While later steps are still in the planning stages, we felt it was important to share this change as early as possible once our plans around rotation were locked into place.
The rest of the plan is currently undergoing iteration and will roll out as we finalize it. While we work on that, we want to hear more from you! Tweet at us (@PlayMTG or @wizards_magic), join our Discord discussion, and come share your thoughts during a future episode of WeeklyMTG on May 16!