12 Cards That Will Have a Major Impact on Post-Rotation Standard

August 20, 2013 | Posted by Dee



Theros will be here before you know it so I started preparing for the Standard rotation. I did a lot of research on Return to Ravnica block and M14 (RTRb+M14). This card pool will make up 79% of the cards in post-rotation Standard. If you understand those cards well, you’ll have a great head start for deck building.

I picked the 12 cards based on their raw power level. Also, I looked to see if they have enough support cards in their colors to build a solid deck.

A card can be really powerful but if there are not enough support cards, it won’t have much of an impact on the metagame. For example, when Thundermaw Hellkite was first released, it barely saw any play because red was such a weak color compared to the other colors. But then the rotation happened. Red became much better so Thundermaw Hellkite became a top card.

One thing to also note is that we have a good idea of the mana fixing in Theros block. Wizards developer, Sam Stoddard, wrote that three-color mana bases are going to be weaker. Theros block is going to have new dual lands but they will be geared towards two-color decks instead of three-color ones.

Basically, three-color decks will be much less consistent than two-color decks. Even if there are viable three-color decks they won’t be able to play as many cards of the third color like we see today. For example, one of the current top decks plays 4 Voice of Resurgence, 4 Boros Reckoner, and 4 Domri Rade with barely any mana problems. This type of deck won’t be good in Theros Standard.

We can look at the new Standard metagame in terms of two-color decks. If a two-color combination has a lot of good cards in RTRb+M14, there’s a very good chance it will spawn good decks. However, if a two-color combination is pretty weak compared to the other two-color combinations, it will probably have little impact on the metagame.

Of course, Theros can change things but it’s impact is limited because it will only be 21% of the new Standard format.

Based on my research and taking into account Sam’s mana comments, here are 12 cards from Return to Ravnica block and M14 that will probably see major play post-rotation.

1. Supreme Verdict

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The blue/white board sweeper is my number one card because it crushes most of the top creatures in RTRb+M14.

After the rotation, blue/white players don’t have to worry about Thragtusk, Hellrider, Thundermaw Hellkite, and Strangleroot Geist. These Innistrad block creatures dominate Standard right now and they are very good against Supreme Verdict.

Also, blue/white is one of the best two-color combinations in RTRb+M14. Along with the uncounterable board wipe spell, Azorius has Sphinx’s Revelation, AEtherling, Azorius Charm and Detention Sphere (no Oblivion Ring in M14).

Cavern of Souls will leave the format so counterspells like Syncopate and Essence Scatter should be more potent.

2. Mutavault

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Mutavault looks like it will fill the void of utility lands left behind when Innistrad block leaves Standard. After the rotation, you won’t have access to lands like Kessig Wolf Run and Gavony Township.

Unlike those lands, Mutavault can be played in much more decks because it has a colorless activation cost. Some people think Mutavault is only good in aggro and midrange but it actually sees play right now in Green/Black Control.

The manland is especially relevant because it matches up well against top removal spells in RTRb+M14 such as Supreme Verdict, Mizzium Mortars, and Dreadbore.

Note that Mutavault pushes players to build two-color decks. Those decks can play Mutavault whereas three-color decks will have a hard time including the manland due to the mana restrictions Sam mentioned.

3. Voice of Resurgence

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Voice of Resurgence is one of the few creatures in RTRb+M14 that matches up very well against Supreme Verdict. It’s good against counterspells and Azorius Charm. Plus, it’s an excellent blocker against fast aggro decks especially since Pillar of Flame is leaving the format.

Green/white is really good in RTRb+M14 so Voice of Resurgence has a lot of support cards. Selesnya has cheap beefy creatures (Loxodon Smiter and Advent of the Wurm), a versatile Charm, mana ramp (Elvish Mystic), and other strong two-drops (Scavenging Ooze and Call of the Conclave).

Also, green/white has solid removal with Banisher Priest and two of the best finishers, Archangel of Thune and Kalonian Hydra. Those two five-drops will gain a lot of value because Thragtusk and Thundermaw Hellkite will leave the format.

4. Burning-Tree Emissary

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Mono Red Aggro is one of the best decks in Return to Ravnica block. Burning-Tree Emissary is the best card in the deck because she enables super fast starts. M14 improves the deck with Mutavault, Shock, Chandra’s Phoenix, Young Pyromancer, and Chandra, Pyromaster.

The Gruul 2/2 also fits well in Red/Green Aggro. You can use her mana to cast Scavenging Ooze or Gyre Sage. Green/red is a solid color in RTRb+M14 with strong cards such as Domri Rade and Ghor-Clan Rampager.

5. Jace, Architect of Thought

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Jace, Architect of Thought is one of the best cards in Return to Ravnica block. He’s a four-of in the top block control decks.

He doesn’t see much play in Standard right now because there are many cards that are good against him. However, many of those cards will be gone. Thundermaw Hellkite, Hellrider, Flinthoof Boar, Geist of Saint Traft, and Zealous Conscripts won’t be Standard legal in the near future.

Plus, the planeswalker has a good home in RTRb+M14. Blue/white is a great color combination for Jace because you can protect him with Azorius Charm and Supreme Verdict.

6. Scavenging Ooze

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Scavenging Ooze will probably be one of the top creatures in Theros Standard. It’s easy to cast. It has a ton of utility in any green creature deck. It gives you life against fast decks. The lifegain is a great combo with Archangel of Thune while the +1/+1 counters has a lot of synergy with Kalonian Hydra and Corpsejace Menace.

Plus, green is the best color in RTRb+M14. I looked at that card pool and built the best decks for each of the two color combinations. Then, I ranked the decks. Seven of them looked much better than the rest. Out of the seven, four had green.

7. Sphinx’s Revelation

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You probably don’t need much explanation to understand why Sphinx’s Revelation will have a big impact in post-rotation Standard. The Azorius X-spell has been a game changer in control decks during its time in Standard.

The card is so good it sees main deck play in Modern decks. Also, it’s a major part of the block metagame. Card draw plus life gain is definitely a strong combo.

8. Elvish Mystic

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By default, Elvish Mystic is a very important card in RTRb+M14. It’s the only one-drop mana ramp card in the card pool. If you want to play Domri Rade, Loxodon Smiter, or Dreg Mangler on turn two, your only option for mana acceleration is Elvish Mystic.

You don’t have to look far to see the importance of one-drop mana creatures. Currently, one of tier one decks, Kibler Red/Green Aggro, has six copies. And historically, the one-drop mana dork has been the lynchpin of many top Standard decks.

9. AEtherling

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AEtherling makes the list for a couple reasons. He has a natural home in Blue/White Control, one of the top decks in RTRb+M14. His first ability has excellent synergy with Supreme Verdict.

He’s one of the best control finishers ever printed. He kills very quickly and he’s hard to kill. He’s a two-of in the top control decks in Return to Ravnica block.

Right now, AEtherling doesn’t see much play in Standard. The combination of Restoration Angel, Augur of Bolas, and Snapcaster Mage have proven to be better but all three are leaving the format.

10. Domri Rade

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Turn two Domri Rade with Elvish Mystic is one of the best ways to beat control. The Gruul planeswalker crushes control because he gives you card advantage while ticking up to a devastating ultimate ability.

And he’s not just good against control. He can dominate midrange decks with his fight ability. Green has good creatures in RTRb+M14 to target with Domri’s second ability. Kalonian Tusker is a 3/3 for only two green mana. Lotleth Troll has regeneration and it can become bigger.

You’ve also got Scavenging Ooze and Gyre Sage, both of which can grow pretty big in the mid or late game. Ghor-Clan Rampager is usually bigger than creatures with the same mana cost so it is a good fight target for Domri.

11. Tidebinder Mage

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I did not expect Tidebinder Mage to make this list but during my research, I found a lot of evidence supporting her as a key card in RTRb+M14.

First, the best creature decks in Return to Ravnica block are Mono Red Aggro, Naya Aggro, and Green/White Aggro. Tidebinder Mage can target all the creatures in Mono Red Aggro and Naya Aggro. She can tap most of the creatures in Green/White Aggro including Loxodon Smiter, Voice of Resurgence, and Call of the Conclave.

Second, when you look at M14, green and red got some of the best creatures (Elvish Mystic, Scavenging Ooze, Kalonian Hydra, and Chandra’s Phoenix).

Third, look at all the other creatures on this list. Tidebinder Mage locks them all down except for AEtherling and Mutavault.

Fourth, Tidebinder Mage interacts very well with another blue M14 creature, Wall of Frost. These two creatures make up a great blocking team to protect Jace, Architect of Thought against creature decks.

Depending on how the new metagame shapes up, Tidebinder Mage could be a main deck card similar to Lifebane Zombie in current Standard. But if she’s not, she’s definitely going to be one of the best sideboard cards post-rotation.

12. Ghor-Clan Rampager

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Dubbed the true Gruul Charm by Patrick Chapin, Ghor-Clan Rampager is one of the best cards in RTRb+M14. An uncounterable +4/+4 effect for two mana is solid. Adding an option to get a 4/4 trampler at decent cost takes the card to the next level.

The card has a lot of support since green/red is one of the top two-color combinations in RTRb+M14. For example, Ghor-Clan Rampager plays well with Elvish Mystic, Burning-Tree Emissary, and Domri Rade.

Also, I could see Mono Red Aggro splashing green just for Ghor-Clan Rampager since it’s so good in aggro decks. For this to happen, the Theros dual land for green/red will have to be a land that enters the battlefield untapped. Otherwise, the deck will be too slow.

There’s a really good chance the Theros dual will enter the battlefield untapped. I just can’t see Wizards having a Standard environment where two-thirds of the dual lands enter the battlefield tapped. I don’t think that’s ever happened before.

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9 Responses to “12 Cards That Will Have a Major Impact on Post-Rotation Standard”

  1. DaFish on August 20th, 2013 11:54 am

    No Boros Reckoner?

  2. Dee on August 20th, 2013 1:03 pm

    It seemed too hard to cast in a two-color world to make a major impact. Plus, red/white was pretty weak in my research.

  3. Jak on August 20th, 2013 2:52 pm

    What about Fiendslayer Paladin or Witchstalker?

  4. Dee on August 21st, 2013 2:07 am

    Fiendslayer Paladin is pretty good in a vacuum. But he doesn’t make this list because he’s vulnerable to Supreme Verdict and he’s smaller than creatures I think will see play like Loxodon Smiter, Dreg Mangler, Call of the Conclave, Kalonian Tusker, Gyre Sage (after one evolve trigger), and Scavenging Ooze (after one activation).

    Because of his low toughness (for a three mana creature) and first strike, Fiendslayer Paladin is only really good if you can pump his power. But many of the best pump effects will be gone. Cards like Rancor, Slayers’ Stronghold, and the exalted creatures (Knight of Glory and Sublime Archangel).

    Witchstalker is pretty mediocre in my opinion. Hexproof is not really that great when the body is only 3/3 and hexproof does nothing against Supreme Verdict.

    Also, Witchstalker trades with the cheaper Call of the Conclave, Kalonian Tusker, and Scavenging Ooze (after one activation). I think there are much better three-drops in green like Dreg Mangler, Loxodon Smiter, Domri Rade, and Varolz, the Scar-Striped.

    Witchstalker hates on blue/black but that two-color combination is very weak. Blue/white is much better and it has Supreme Verdict to get around Witchstalker’s hexproof.

    Hope that helps! :)

  5. Herb on August 21st, 2013 10:07 am

    why was red/white weak?

  6. Dee on August 21st, 2013 10:22 am

    The quick answer is that green and blue are better to pair with white.

    Here are the best multicolor red/white cards in my opinion:

    Firemane Avenger
    Spark Trooper
    Tajic, Blade of the Legion
    Warleader’s Helix
    Assemble the Legion
    Aurelia, the Warleader
    Viashino Firstblade
    Boros Charm
    Boros Reckoner

    (I think Boros Reckoner will be weaker because it doesn’t play well with Mutavault. Also, you can play it in a R/x Aggro deck without any white lands. You don’t need build a red/white deck to play it.)

    Compare that with the top green/white and blue/white multicolored cards:

    Advent of the Wurm
    Call of the Conclave
    Loxodon Smiter
    Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage
    Centaur Healer
    Voice of Resurgence
    Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice
    Selesnya Charm

    Lyev Skyknight
    Council of the Absolute
    Detention Sphere
    Supreme Verdict
    Azorius Charm
    Sphinx’s Revelation

    These cards seem much better and cover more scope (both in effect and mana curve) than the red/white cards.

    I encourage everyone to do their own research. Go through all the cards in RTRb+M14. Separate them by color and playability. Then, compare the two-color combinations to each other. I think you’ll learn a lot from this exercise.

  7. Michael on August 21st, 2013 12:50 pm

    Why not the most powerful card that will be in black (depending on what theros has to offer) Lifebane Zombie.

  8. Dee on August 21st, 2013 1:06 pm

    I found black to be pretty weak compared to the other colors so I didn’t include a black card.

  9. Ryan on September 16th, 2013 8:39 pm

    I really like this list. I think there are two more that could be added including: Rakdos Cackler because I think a mono red deck will define the format as soon as Theros rotates in, also I think Advent of the Wurm is so powerful with Voice that they will both find a home in a GW Midrange deck. It should be noted that all the cards are still relatively cheap so if your interested in them they should all go up so get your copies now.