Standard Format Switches to 3-Year Rotation in Effort to Save Paper MTG
Wizards of the Coast announced some pretty big news for MTG gameplay, but in a rather low-key announcement on their news page. Standard format, which has enjoyed (or been plagued, depending on your mileage) a 2-year rotation system, is now being extended to a 3-year period.
For those who are relatively newer to MTG, Standard is the only rotating constructed format, where older cards become illegal to make way for new cards (from new releases) coming in. This keeps the card pool small and manageable but also means that the meta is constantly changing.
What Happen this Fall/Autumn 2023?
Normally, when this year’s Fall set – Wilds of Eldraine in this instance – is released, the sets up to mid-2022 will be rotated out of Standard. Those sets are Innistrad: Crimson Vow, Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, and Streets of New Capenna.
Because of this new rotation change, nothing will happen in 2023. Instead, in the fall of 2024, those 4 sets mentioned above will then finally be rotated out. In 2025, the next oldest 4 sets will then go. That would be Dominaria United, The Brothers’ War, Phyrexia: All Will be One, and this month’s newest release March of the Machine.
To summarise, whatever you open in today’s packs, they are still Standard-legal for another 2 and a half years. How great is that?
How Will the Meta Shift with 3-Year Standard?
One thing’s for sure is that the overall power level of decks is going to increase. Not by much, but there will be a uptick in power.
This makes sense because, with 3 years worth of MTG cards instead of 2, more tier-1 cards will be legal at any one time. Logically this would mean a more competitive meta. It’s precisely this reason that Pioneer and Modern are way more difficult formats than Standard, simply due to the larger card pools.
We should also expect to see more tier-2 or even jank-level decks giving more of a fight than in the older Standard when rotation was every 2 years. For example, should Wizards reintroduce the mechanic Toxic to a set in 2024, then players can combine the newer cards with those from Phyrexia: All Will be One and not worry about deck becoming redundant in less than a year.
Does 3-Year Rotation for Standard Really Make a Difference?
Ultimately, for any player who dislikes the idea of rotation, having to constant buy and sell many cards to keep their deck up to date, then switching to 3-year rotations isn’t going to matter. They would likely continue focusing their game time on Pioneer and Modern rather than jump into Standard.
The question is: Will this bring paper Standard events back to the store? Our gut feeling is it would need a little more support from Wizards to do that. Booster pack prizes have already seen an increase this year, and regardless if you’re a new or veteran player, it’s going to be costly building a Standard deck.
Wizards could consider offering one-off promo cards exclusively for Standard events, similar to how they dangle such cards for either Store Championships, APAC Leagues, or Regional Qualifying events.
They could also bring back the Standard Showdown prize packs (which was eventually replaced by the current Promo Packs), to be given out only for Standard-format events. Those Showdown packs were much more readily available as you did not to have to win the entire event just to get one.
As long time supporters and players of Standard, this change to a 3-year rotation should come with more benefits than drawbacks. There’ll be less need to buy and sell cards that often, but the day will still come.
Newer players will not be as affected as much, and we always recommend playing Standard on MTG Arena (the online platform) before deciding if they want to take the plunge into paper. On Arena, there’s not as much purchases needed, and there’s the Wild Card redemption system to get the specific cards you need.
Whatever you’re playing now in Standard, everything carries on as usual. Just hold on to the older cards for now since they are going to be legal for another year.