On May 7th, Wizards of the Coast announced that they will be extending the Standard rotation cycle to three years instead of two years. This news comes in response to the low turn out of players playing Standard at local game stores and their way to begin revitalizing Standard physically versus digitally with Magic Arena. While this may sound like a positive step, is it truly the correct step they should take? Let’s dive in!
The New Rotation
Before the announcement, Standard would have sets rotate out every two years. That means we would have eight active sets until September. We would then go down to only four or five sets. With the new change we will now have a total of TEN sets that will be legal for Standard play in September of this year, and we will not see a rotation until September of 2024. Their reasoning for this is that it will give current Standard cards more longevity, allow mechanics and archetypes to be more effectively built over time, and attempt to curb the ever-growing midrange decks. They feel this will give Standard more stability, vitality, and strengthen Standard for local game stores.
But is Rotation the Problem?
In my opinion, Rotation has never been the issue. I felt the rotation they have done has made it so the cards that have been commanding the format would be cycled out for new and fresh cards to take the helm. I feel there are so many bigger issues with Standard then how many sets are currently in the format. This feels like just more of a pseudo-Pioneer format that rotates every three years. Right now in Standard, this format is held hostage by two cards: Sheoldred, the Apocalypse and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. These two cards will be in Standard until September of 2024 and will continue to rise in price. Right now, to purchase Sheoldred, the Apocalypse it will cost you about $78 for just one copy of the card. That would cost you about $312 for a full playset if you are looking for one of the strongest cards in the set to be in your deck. For Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, you would be looking at roughly $105 for an entire playset. The price point of having a Standard deck that can be competitive is entirely too high from where it was in the past.
How Would I Fix Standard?
The first step of fixing Standard is by giving proper new player support. Bring back starter decks. Make intermediate decks that have powerful cards like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse in them, even if its just one copy. This will lower the price of these cards in order to make them more affordable for new players. The next step would be to give local game stores the learn how to play decks and having them host days where people who are wanting to learn how to play can come in and learn. Magic is nothing without its players and any TCG needs new players. Standard is the best way to learn this game and Wizards of the Coast knows that. Lastly, they needs to give more tournament support to Standard. That means make the big cash events at Star City Games and the DreamHack Championship the Standard format. Competitive players want to play what is the most popular formats that are getting the most support in the bigger tournaments. This will bring more competitive players to local game stores to practice or qualify for bigger tournaments.
It is nice to see that Wizards of the Coast has noticed the issues with Standard and they are trying to fix the format and its popularity. I feel that they are making the wrong step with extending rotation, and I hope that later steps will include new player support and better tournament support as well. To see the full announcement, click the link below and let us know what you think of the announcement.