Magic: The Gathering Skips Standard Rotation This Year, Increases Format To Three Years
Wizards of the Coast has announced it will be extending the rotation period on Magic: The Gathering’s Standard format, meaning cards will remain legal in the game’s ‘premiere’ ruleset for a year longer than they once did.
This means that, for this year only, Standard rotation will not happen with the release of the Autumn set. Instead, the sets originally scheduled to rotate out of the format will instead leave it in Autumn 2024.
The reasons for this change are outlined in an article on the official Magic: The Gathering website. In particular, vice president of design Aaron Forsyth highlighted the dwindling popularity of Standard in paper and the increasing play of non-rotating formats like Pioneer, Modern, and Commander, saying “it concerns us when tabletop Standard gets left behind despite Magic’s tremendous growth”.
Another reason for the change given is the current high number of Midrange decks dominating the format. Midrange decks try to control the board in the early game, before swapping to more aggressive, damage-dealing strategies later. According to Forsyth, the goal is to make more “color and mechanic” decks viable, such as The Brothers’ War’s Blue/White Soldiers.
Standard is Magic’s ‘premier’ format; the one sets are primarily designed for. Before this change, sets would have between 18 months and two years in the format, before they would rotate out and make room for upcoming releases. This allows the metagame for Standard to evolve much more quickly than other formats, and it often ebbs and flows between high power and lower, slower play.
In practice, this change means that we won’t see a Standard rotation this year with the launch of Wilds of Eldraine, as previously expected. Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, Innistrad: Crimson Vow, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, and Streets of New Capenna will remain legal in the Standard format for another year, until the launch of next year’s currently unannounced Autumn set.
This also means the other current Standard sets, Dominaria United, The Brothers’ War, Phyrexia: All Will Be One, March of the Machine, and March of the Machine: The Aftermath will all also remain in Standard for longer, not rotating out until 2025. In effect, Standard is moving from an eight-set format, up to a 12-set one (or 13, if you count The Aftermath).
Rotating out Autumn 2024:
- Innistrad: Midnight Hunt
- Innistrad: Crimson Vow
- Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty
- Streets Of New Capenna
Rotating Out Autumn 2025:
- Dominaria United
- The Brothers’ War
- Phyrexia: All Will Be One
- March Of The Machine
- March Of The Machine: The Aftermath
Curiously, Alchemy, a format that used to remain in lockstep with Standard rotation, will maintain the two-year rotation. This means that the four main Standard sets (Midnight Hunt through to New Capenna), as well as their tie-in Alchemy releases, and Alchemy Horizons: Baldur’s Gate, will all rotate out with the launch of Wilds of Eldraine.
The impact of this change could be massive for Magic. Not only does it make Standard a much more appealing format to play in paper, as the cards you pull will be playable for much longer, but it also means the addition of four more sets to the rotation will make the format more wider.
However, it does also mean a number of cards that have become emblematic of the current Standard environment will still be big players for a lot longer. We were just awaiting cards like Fading Hope, Brutal Cathar, and Fable the Mirror-Breaker to leave Standard, and now with them potentially being playable for a whole extra year, it feels crucial that Wizards is also more proactive on banning format-skewing cards.
Fortunately, Wizards has said that this is only the first step in a plan to “revitalize Standard”. Forsyth describes this as a “multistep plan”, which, while no details were release, could involve more aggressive banning or even further changes to the format are yet to come.
NEXT: Every Card In Magic: The Gathering’s March Of The Machine: The Aftermath