Rotation is coming! It’s the most exciting time of the year, as Magic players all around the globe wait with great expectations for Jolly Old St. Rosewater to come stuff their deckboxes full of new and exciting cardboard! Tinsel is hung on the Tree of Perdition, and chestnuts are roasting over the Furnace of Rath. But what does this mean for Arena?
If you are new to Magic, here’s what happens and why. The format you have been playing so far is “Standard”. This consists of the most recent two year’s worth of sets. When the Fall set releases, the oldest year’s worth of sets leave Standard, and the new set rotates in. For this rotation – the first since the start of the Open Beta – this means that we’re losing Ixalan, Rivals of Ixalan, Dominaria, and CoreSet 2019. We’re keeping all three Ravnica sets, and Core 2020. What’s coming in is Throne of Eldraine.
The “why” of this is a little more complicated, and goes almost all the way back to Magic’s beginning. It became apparent, within a couple of years, that scarcity would be a huge barrier to entry for new players. This is further complicated by the collector aspect of the game, and the need to protect the value of older cards in the secondary market (for which the Reserved List was created). Bringing in new players is essential to Magic’s long term survival. So if you can’t just reprint any card you want, and new players need access to those cards to compete, how do you resolve this? Wizards’ solution in 1996 was to create constructed formats – originally just Type I (now known as Vintage) and Type II (now known as Standard). The emphasis would be put on Standard play, keeping it more accessible for newer players, while Type I existed so more enfranchised players could still use their entire collection.
So how is the Arena metagame going to change? Some of the decks you’re facing now in constructed events are going to disappear entirely – anything that relies heavily on cards or mechanics from those sets. Orhzhov Vampires, for example, is unlikely to survive. Other decks may still exist, but will change which cards they play. U/B, U/W and Esper Control will probably be good examples of this. Those decks are less set or mechanic dependent, and more representative of larger archetypes. There are other decks which *may* survive rotation. I suspect that Temur Elementals will still be viable after rotation. Finally, there will be some exciting new decks which will enter the format. Look for B/W Knights to emerge as a competitive deck.
It is impossible to predict with any certainty what decks will be good, and what won’t. We don’t even know all the cards yet, so the format is obviously not “solved”. So what should you play in those first days after rotation? I’d recommend taking one of two approaches. You could run something very aggressive. RDW (Red Deck Wins) is likely to exist in some form or another, and aggressive decks tend to do well in new, and unknown formats, as the midrange and control decks are looking for optimal builds and play patterns. The RDW Cavalcade of Calamity deck survives almost 100%, with Gingerbrute easily replacing Fanatical Firebrand, which is the only card from the main deck rotating out. Alternately, I’d recommend running an existing deck that you’re familiar with, which will mostly survive rotation. Again, Temur Elementals is a good candidate for this, or possibly Boros Feather. Piloting something which you already understand will make it easier to navigate the new decks you’ll be facing.
In the spirit of the holiday, I’ll end this post with a festive recipe for Twice Baked Rotatoes!
5-10 medium or large potatoes (always in multiples of 5)
Cooking oil, or cooking spray
Food coloring in a variety of shades
Chives or green onions
Bacon bits or Ketchup
1 cup Sour Cream
Cracked black pepper
Butter or margarine
½ cup Milk
1 large Mixing bowl, and 4 separate smaller bowls
Cake decorating bag with a large star-tip
Directions (for 5 potatoes):
1. Preheat your oven to 400°
2. Wash the potatoes, pierce them with a fork, then put them on the backing sheet
3. Bake for approximately 1 hour (until the insides are soft), remove from the oven, turn it down to 375° and allow potatoes to cool enough to handle
4. Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise, and scoop out the insides into your mixing bowl
5. Using your electric mixer, add ½ cup milk, ½ cup sour cream, and 2 tablespoons of butter. Blend the potato until smooth.
6. Split the potato mix into 5 equal portions. Using the cake decorating bag, fill the first potato
7. Mix into each of the other portions of potato a few drops of food coloring to make Blue, Black, Red and Green mixes. Fill each of the other potatoes with these mixes.
8. Place the filled potatoes onto the baking sheet and put them back into the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden.
9. Arrange potatoes into WUBRG order on a serving dish, and serve with garnishes for people who want to make Guild, Wedge or Shard colored potatoes. Sour cream for White, Blue Cheese for Blue, Cracked Black Pepper for Black, Bacon Bits and/or Ketchup for Red, and Chopped Green Onions or Chives for Green.
Thanks for stopping by, and consider heading out to your local game store for their Throne of Eldraine PreRelease event(s)!