What will shake up Standard Post-Rotation?
Top 5 Cards That Will Shake Up Standard Post-Rotation
In September, we’ll see four sets rotating out of Standard that include a lot of cards that have become staples in the format that make whole archetypes possible (Goldspan Dragon and Magma Opus come to mind). Today, I want to look at five cards that aren’t seeing much play in the current Standard that might get the breathing room they need to shine come rotation.
Now, I know there are a ton of powerhouse cards that see tons of play today that aren’t going anywhere (The Meathook Massacre, The Wandering Emperor, Fable of the Mirror Breaker, etc.) but those aren’t the ones I want to talk about. I want to look at cards that are cool designs that seem powerful that haven’t had a chance to really pop off in the format yet. These cards could be role players that can slot into existing decks or buildarounds that create whole new archetypes we don’t currently have in competitive Standard.
Liesa does a ton for five mana and somehow hasn’t broken out in the current Standard. The Orzhov decks simply have too many options today that are capable of closing out a game early, so a five drop (even one with this much beneficial text) just doesn’t do the job. She’s primarily focused on graveyard recursion in the form of her first ability while also denying your opponents graveyard recursion with her second. I believe this graveyard imbalance is going to become more important with Tenacious Underdog being a staple in the format for both aggro and control decks. Being able to deny your opponent the late-game blitz will save you a ton of damage and minimize your opponent’s card draw.
All that said, she’s also a 4/5 flyer with lifelink. Burn decks and traditional aggro strategies are going to struggle with that stat line and lifegain on your side of the field. Plus, she puts your opponents on a very real clock. While she’s been forgotten in the current meta, I suspect she won’t be after rotation.
The Mono Green aggro deck in Standard is going to be losing some tremendous two-drops in both Werewolf Packleader and Ranger Class, and those slots will need to be filled if the deck is going to remain. I suspect Packsong Pup fits the role because it scales as the game progresses, because there are still plenty of playable wolves and werewolves in the format, and the life gain effect on death could prove the difference between victory and defeat in an aggro mirror.
While I think the card will be playable in Mono Green, it will also be a valuable role player in the Gruul Werewolves deck that we’ve seen pop up on the ladder from time to time. I believe that deck will be a key competitor post-rotation. Almost all the creatures the werewolves deck leveraged were from the two Innistrad sets with the biggest losses coming in the form of removal spells like Inscription of Abundance and Blizzard Brawl.
When Crimson Vow dropped, the internet lost its mind over this card, with casual players everywhere screaming how broken it was while seasoned pros dismissed it as over-hyped. While in the short-term, those pros were absolutely correct, I’m hopeful for its future in Standard. Necroduality has the unique problem of being a card that sets up an aggressive strategy that can’t usually be played until turn four. Given that it hits the board relatively late in the game and doesn’t immediately add power to the board, this doesn’t seem like a particularly good card in a traditional aggro deck.
However, with cards like Archghoul of Thraben, Overcharged Amalgam and Headless Rider, I think it’s very possible to build a zombie deck that isn’t necessarily a hard aggro strategy but more a midrange one that accrues card advantage through your creatures entering the field and dying. This type of strategy just can’t keep up with the Mono White aggro decks, or Naya Runes lists we see today, but those aren’t going to be around anymore after rotation. I think zombies will be well positioned to take advantage of the new meta come September.
Manaform Hellkite has long lived in the shadow of its big brother Goldspan Dragon. The truth is, Goldspan just provided so much more value with explosive ramp, self-protection, and haste that the one additional mana seemed irrelevant. However, in September, we’re all going to witness the lack of Goldspan in a big way and I suspect spell-slinging Izzet decks that relied on Goldspan in the past for ramp will change their tactics around a bit and lean on Manaform Hellkite alongside burn spells to close games more quickly. Let’s not forget that Thermo-Alchemist is available in this format, so we may see a Mono Red burn deck come along and Manaform Hellkite might just be the curve topper that deck needs to deliver the death blow to their opponents.
Also worth mentioning here is Moonveil Regent, another Mythic 4/4 dragon for four. I suspect it too will see a fair amount of play in decks with more than one color as a card draw engine as well as a beefy flier that puts the opponent on the clock.
In this spot, I really could have put any of the Kamigawa dragons. I believe all of them are going to see a massive resurgence in the format in their respective deck types after rotation because of one card leaving the format: Vanishing Verse. Verse has single-handedly held these dragons down because the main value you receive from them is their death trigger which doesn’t trigger off an exile effect. Now, I know plenty of exile effects remain – Wandering Emperor, Eaten Alive, and March of Otherworldly Light to name a few – but none of these match the efficiency of Verse so you’re less likely to face them every other game on the ladder. As such, these dragons are much more likely to soak up destroy removal like Infernal Grasp or die in combat and give you the benefit you’re looking for.
I call out Junji specifically because I believe they’re one of the strongest with a death trigger that can either progress your board state by reanimating another threat or disrupt your opponent by mind rotting them attached to a 5/5 body that might as well be unblockable. This card is incredible and the current removal suite including Vanishing Verse has kept it down in the format for far too long. I can’t wait for it to get some room to do its thing.