Every MTG Standard Rotation causes some trouble for players. However there’s no need for that to be the case. We can help you avoid unpleasant worries with this guide. Just follow our advice and the whole process will surely be easy.
We’ll talk about which sets are in Standard, when exactly is rotation happening in real life and on MTG Arena. Finally there will also be some great transition events on MTGA. Let’s dive right in!
Which Sets are in Standard Now?
Currently there are eight editions legal in Standard. From Guilds of Ravnica to Theros Beyond Death – these sets are presented in the left column of the table bellow.
|Current Standard Sets||Status in Future Standard|
|Throne of Eldraine||Rotates out.|
|Theros Beyond Death||Rotates out.|
|Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths||Rotates out.|
|Core Set 2021||Rotates out.|
|Zendikar Rising||Remains in Standard.|
|Kaldheim||Remains in Standard.|
|Strixhaven||Remains in Standard.|
|Adventures in the Forgotten Realms||Remains in Standard.|
|Innistrad: Midnight Hunt||Remains in Standard. Starts rotation.|
As you can see everything changes with the release of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt.
So three powerful sets (Throne of Eldraine, Theros Beyond Death, Ikoria) are out. Same goes Core Set 2021. Zendikar Rising, Kaldheim, Strixhaven, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms will stay in Standard along with freshly added Innistrad: Midnight Hunt.
But What About the Second Rotation?
Let’s look even more into future. What happens after Midnight Hunt? Well, we get Innistrad: The Crimson Vow late in 2021, followed by unknown sets around April 2022 and July 2022. Another unknown set comes in September 2022, and it brings us the second rotation.
In that one everything before Midnight Hunt rotates out. There’s always a year between rotations, which means there’s no need to worry. You should have plenty of time to play with your cards before they rotate.
When Does MTG Standard Rotation 2021 Happen?
It depends. The rotation dates are different for paper Magic and MTG Arena. We know that rotation in paper happens when Innistrad: Midnight Hunt releases. This is on September 17th, 2021, one week after the prerelease.
On the other hand Midnight Hunt comes on MTGA before in comes out in paper. That’s why we expect Standard rotation to happen on September 9th, 2021. This is the most likely release date for Midnight Hunt, based on previous Arena releases.
What Happens to Old Cards in MTGA?
Absolutely nothing. You might remember the very first rotation on Arena. There was a wipe of your entire collection. This will NOT happen this time. You will keep every card you own – they will be playable in Historic.
MTG Format: Historic
Historic is an eternal MTG format, created especially for Arena. Eternal format means that it doesn’t have rotations. Think Modern in paper MTG or Wild in Hearthstone. With each new set, new cards are legal in Historic. However, cards won’t leave the format, unless they get a ban.
Historic contains each set from Ixalan onward plus cards from Historic Anthologies. Game modes where you’re able to play Historic include:
- Historic Ranked
- Historic Traditional Ranked
- Direct Challenge (play against a friend)
- Practice Match
- Pauper (not always available)
- Singleton (not always available)
- more special formats
MTG Arena Renewal Events
There is no “dusting” or similar ways to convert your rotating cards into new ones. Developers are well aware of that, so consequently we’ll be getting special generous events after rotation. These events will help you renew your collection for the new Standard.
Be sure to not miss out on these, since we can expect them to be very profitable. We’ll have more information to share in August 2021.
Why Does MTG Standard Rotation Exist?
You might ask yourself – why does rotation even exist. Well, Standard is a very popular format for a reason. It drastically changes every year. To achieve this there are only two possible paths: power creep and rotation.
Nobody likes power creep. It might be exciting at first to see new and powerful card, but very disappointing once you realize your old cards are now worthless.
That’s why once a year 4 sets rotate out and new ones come. It keeps Standard fresh and exciting with plenty of different cards.
What to Do Before MTG Standard Rotation?
As we said before, it really depends on which medium you’re talking about – digital or paper. Let’s take a look at each of those.
Selling Before Rotation
You should probably sell most of your paper Standard cards before rotation. The best time to sell is probably 4-6 months before they rotate out. However if you plan on playing with them you should definitely keep them – that’s why you got them in the first place!
Selling After Rotation
So you kept your cards and now they’ve rotated out. You shouldn’t try to sell them immediately. They are probably at their lowest price point now. In case you don’t need money now, you could wait some months to see if prices will rise. This can be especially true for cards beloved at the kitchen table like Guardian Project or Smothering Tithe.
Since you can sell or disenchant your old cards in MTGA, the biggest thing you can do is not to craft those. Rotation is coming soon and if you’re running low on Wildcards, it might be a better idea to not craft that Angel of Grace for your tribal Angel deck.
On the other hand if you really want to play some deck and you need a key card for it, just craft it. Having fun is the most important part of Magic.
Top 5 Best Cards Rotating Out in 2021
With rotation coming up, let’s take a look at the best cards that are rotating out from Standard. Some will be missed, others not so much – depending on who you ask.
Honorable Mention: Shark Typhoon
For a card that was inspired by the movie Sharknado, this is a surprisingly powerful design. The card was extremely versatile, and always provided strong options.
Getting a big flyer, which replaces itself, or just having a bunch of them to overwhelm your opponents. You couldn’t really go wrong with it. You can probably still expect to see this enchantment in some of the eternal formats.
5. Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger
Theros Beyond Death produced two very powerful titans. Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath was quite quickly banned, while Kroxa remained in Standard.
Two mana 6/6 (with upsides and downsides) proved to be good enough – a whole archetype was built around Kroxa. However, there’s no escaping from Standard rotation in 2021.
4. Emergent Ultimatum
Now we know why Wizards don’t usually print seven mana sorceries, with text: “You win the game.”
3. Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Companions were nerfed, but that didn’t stop Lurrus. Its restriction was probably the easiest one to reach. A lot of decks already don’t care for expensive cards.
Sure, you have to pay three mana to get Lurrus to your hand, but that’s not really a problem, when it’s essentially a free card – and a very, very good one at that. Lurrus saw play all the time it was in Standard, and now rotation is coming to “nerf” it once again.
2. Yorion, Sky Nomad
Another companion on the list is pretty similar to Lurrus. Again, the requirement wasn’t that hard to reach and the extra card you got was very powerful.
Yorion was the reason that there were a bunch of 80-card decks running around in Standard, so it definitely had a big impact on the format. Early on, there were Lukka Yorrion decks with Fires of Invention, and finally the big decks with Emergent Ultimatum.
With Yorion rotating out in September 2021, we can once again expect only meme decks to play more than 60 cards.
1. Whole Throne of Eldraine Set
Okay this might be cheating – but the whole Eldraine set was unbelievably powerful. Six cards from that set got a ban in Standard:
- Cauldron Familiar
- Escape to the Wilds
- Fires of Invention
- Lucky Clover
- Oko, Thief of Crowns
- Once Upon a Time
Even after that – Standard decks are full of Eldraine cards. There are standalone powerful cards like Embercleave and The Great Henge. On the other hand, there’s the adventure creatures, the most played ones are:
All of them defined the Standard environment since they were printed in October 2019. Especially when combined with Edgewall Innkeeper.
Standard rotation 2021 can’t come soon enough, so we can get a fresh new meta free of the powerful Eldraine cards.
Before we wrap up, let’s take a trip down the memory lane and examine which cards we were the “baddies” of previous couple of Standard rotations.
Top 5 Best Cards That Rotated Out in 2020
Honorable Mention: Runaway Steamkin
Steamkin was mostly forgotten in the last months of 2020 Standard. However, it was once a centerpiece of a mono red deck, it was a big threat that also gave you mana. That was particularly nice with Experimental Frenzy, which is also rotating out.
5. Nissa, Who Shakes the World
Nissa was an absolute powerhouse in Standard. She doubled your mana, made hasty threats and gave you at least two mana back immediately after you played her. Decks were often built in a way to get Nissa in play as quickly as possible.
She also worked well with the next card on this list.
4. Hydroid Krasis
In the past ramp decks often had problems with drawing too many ramp spells and not enough big threats. Opponents might deal with their one big thing and they’d fall behind.
That’s not the case when your threat is Hydroid Krasis. It scaled perfectly into the late game, giving you everything you’d want – uncounterable card advantage, big body and life gain to utilize it. As mentioned before, it was particularly good with Nissa.
But that’s not the only card in Simic colors that was amazingly good.
3. Growth Spiral
Growth Spiral was everywhere. At the end of 2020 Standard format it was one of the most played cards in all sorts of high level tournaments.
2. Wilderness Reclamation
How do you know if a Magic card is good? Here’s some signs to look for:
- If there’s a deck named after you, you might be a good Magic card.
- If you’re essentially free, you might be a good Magic card.
- If you’re able to double mana, you might be a good Magic card.
Reclamation decks were present through all of the Standard format, which is particularly telling given the final card on the list, which somewhat limited its uses.
1. Teferi Time Raveler
Teferi wrapped the Standard format, changed the basic rules of Magic and were all around annoying to play against. Afterwards we got Teferi, Master of Time, but that one was one of the most fair Teferis, and didn’t see that much play.
Top 5 Best Cards That Rotated Out in 2019
Honourable Mention: Scapeshift
Scapeshift barely missed our list. The reason being that it only saw its time in the sun after Core Set 2020. But the printing of Field of the Dead really enabled one of the most interesting decks we’ve seen in a while Bant Scapeshift. It totally shook the metagame but only for around three months before rotating out.
5. Legion’s Landing
While seemingly not too powerful this one mana enchantment-vampire held together entire archetype of Mono White Aggro. Providing a body, ramp and a mana sink for just one mana proved to be very good. White aggro decks have struggled for some time, because there was no good replacement for this rare one drop.
4. Nexus of Fate
When Nexus was in Standard, you could go watch all seven seasons of Game of Thrones only to return to your match where your opponent was still looping Nexus turns. Thankfully those times were over and we are able to take our turns today.
3. Goblin Chainwhirler
Even though the triple red goblin saw less play at the end of his time in Standard, his impact was always present from his debut in Dominaria. A lot of decks with one-toughness creatures were pushed out of the metagame.
Besides dealing with small creatures, Chainwhirler was also known to take out a planeswalker. However, mono red kept the most of its powerful cards and still saw plenty of play even after his rotation.
2. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
He started as a Disruptive Student in 1998. He certainly took his time (pun intended) to become one of the most powerful planeswalkers ever printed. Teferi was either hated or loved, there was no in between.
At one point control decks didn’t even have to run win conditions, Dominaria’s hero was enough. You got to his emblem, exiled everything and keep putting Teferi on the top of your deck with his minus 3. Sooner or rather later the opponent got milled out.
Maybe you miss Hero of Dominaria. But don’t be afraid – there’s probably a 4 mana OP Teferi just around the corner. This way you’ll be able to play 3-4-5 Teferi curve with Hero and Teferi, Time Raveler.
1. Llanowar Elves
They have been in MTG since the very beginning – Alpha set was the first they appeared in. Even after 25 years Elves are still very very good Magic card – they provide both mana and a body for only one mana. They defined Standard environment as a staple in green decks of all sorts. As such they are number one on our list.
Throne of Eldraine didn’t bring us Llanowar Elves. However, we did get Gilded Goose, which is better in some spots, but worse in others.
Bonus: Rampaging Ferocidon
Rampaging Ferocidon was banned along with a bunch of other cards, which already rotated out in 2018. Dinosaur remained on the banlist until a couple of weeks before the rotation. Then it was unbanned to keep Field of the Dead decks in check. It was the first card that was ever unbanned in Standard.
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Hopefully this guide has helped you prepare for MTG Standard Rotation 2021. Until next time, may you open all the mythics you want.