Hello everyone! My name is Oliver Polak-Rottmann, and I am a Platinum Player from Vienna, Austria, and since the start of this year’s season I am part of Hareruya. In the future, you will get to read more of my articles and I hope you will find them enjoyable.
Don’t worry this will not be another 《Collected Company》 article!
I will instead be writing about the upcoming Standard season and will try to give you a quick overview on which important cards will rotate out, which strategies are here to stay and how the new format might look like.Parting Ways
The most important card that will leave the format is without a doubt the earlier mentioned 《Collected Company》. It has been a very dominant card since it first saw printing in Dragons of Tarkir and found its way into all kind of decks. There was Rally, Aristocrats, Bant-CoCo’s and at the World Championships alone we saw three totally different Company strategies, even counting all “regular” Bant Company decks as one archetype. As all the Company strategies were valid throughout the season, every other deck had to try to beat it or otherwise you were in a tough spot. I am very happy this card will finally rotate out, as it also limited your ability in regards to deckbuilding.
《Jace, Vryn's Prodigy》 is the next big player that will rotate out of the format. I played quite a lot of different Jace decks while this guy was in the format. I am sad that this card rotates out, as it was such a good card for filtering your deck and finding specific answers.
The Dragonlords will also leave Standard and they had huge impact during their time. Not so much during the last period of Standard, so you will not feel their absence immediately, but they were always great payoff cards for their color pairs.
《Languish》 will be gone as well, which means there is currently no four Mana 《Wrath of God》 in the format. Yes, there is 《Kozilek's Return》 but this card certainly needs some setting up to be used properly.
Last but not least the Painland cycle rotates out of Standard as well, which will actually have a huge impact this time around. At first I thought Wizards will reprint some of them, as 《Thought-Knot Seer》 and 《Reality Smasher》 are still in the format. The Painlands will be missed in Standard, as they felt like such a fixture during the last few years, but I am sure they will be back at some point and we do get a sweet replacement for them in Kaladesh. There are of course a lot of other cards rotating out with the release of the new set but the ones I mentioned are, in my opinion, the most important ones, as they are not only role-players but enabled entire strategies. (The Commands for example are very strong individual cards, but they are not core to any deck).New Possibilities
So, with that out of the way, what new and exciting cards are we going to get out of Kaladesh?
The Fastlands are back but this time with enemy color pairings. How will they influence Standard this time around? As we know from Modern, Fastlands are great at fixing your colors during the early turns. In Standard the clocks are usually ticking a bit slower as you tend to not have as many mana efficient spells during the early game.
For aggressive decks the Fastlands are great, as they try to do their stuff as early as possible and do not care that much about whether a land comes into play tapped in the later stages of the game.
For Emrakul Decks on the other hand this certainly could be a real issue, as you always want your 7th or 8th mana source to come into play untapped. I am not saying they will not see play at all in those decks, but they are not exactly what you are looking for.
Overall the Fastlands will be a great addition to Standard manabases but not every deck will auto include them in high numbers as they also do not go well with either the lands from Battle for Zendikar or the ones from Shadows over Innistrad.
The next card I want to talk about is Aerial Responder. When I first saw this card, 《Vampire Nighthawk》 immediately came to mind. The “Whitehawk” does not have Deathtouch but Vigilance instead, which could be an even bigger deal as you can attack and block at the same time against the more aggressive decks in the format. With only that few cards spoiled as of today I am not sure how strong this card will be in maindecks, but cards like this always have potential as great sideboard cards in both aggro or control decks.
Ceremonious Rejection is a card that I think will have a huge impact not only in the new Standard but even in older formats. It counters 《Emrakul, the Promised End》 as well as any other Eldrazi for the cost of just one single mana which potentially presents a huge game swing. In older formats this card is even more versatile as not only are Eldrazis a thing in basically all formats right now, but it also counters artifacts which makes it straight up stronger than 《Annul》 or 《Steel Sabotage》, both of which are seeing sideboard play! I really think this card will have some impact even in Vintage, which says a lot about the power level of this card.
The next card, in line with the “Whitehawk” and the better 《Annul》/《Steel Sabotage》, is also feeling like some sort of reprint: Demon of Dark Schemes reminds me a lot of 《Massacre Wurm》 and right now this could be a very good solution to 《Ishkanah, Grafwidow》 who certainly will be a huge player in the new Standard. It’s more of a control card than anything else so your deck will probably have some additional removal which means you can actually get a few reanimation activations out of this card. And as I mentioned before, the dragons are gone but this might fulfill a similar role.
We already know two of the new Planewalkers, so we are going to get started talking about the less exciting one: First of all, Saheeli Rai is a three mana Planeswalker, which automatically makes it an interesting card because they are always hard to balance. There already is a red blue Deck [UR Alchemist] in the format right now and it does not lose much to the rotation, so Saheeli Rai might play a role there. Planeswalkers tend to give you more reach in the lategame and that’s certainly the case for this lady. You can either ping your opponent and optimize your draw or you could go ahead and copy cards like 《Bedlam Reveler》. And if your deck happens to be artifact based the ultimate might come in handy. A lot of people I talked to are not very high on this card, but this is one of the first cards I will try out once the spoiler season has advanced a little bit further.
And now things get really “hot”: Chandra, Torch of Defiance. When I initially saw this card I had to confirm that it was real, as it seems so powerful. First of all, you have four abilities to work with which makes us think of 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》 right away. Of course she is not on that Jace’s level, but all abilities she has, looks pretty good. If you compare her first ability to 《Chandra, Pyromaster》‘s zero ability you can find similarities, but this time it is on her plus ability! The downside is that you can’t play lands with her ability as it specifies cast, but at least you get 2 damage out of the deal when you hit a land. The second ability lets you ramp on the next turn and get you closer to your big spells. Besides this it also helps protect her on the turn she enters the battlefield as the two mana allow you to play something like 《Incendiary Flow》 and kill one of their guys. The third ability is a little costly, but it is still a pretty efficient way to kill your opponent’s creature. Lastly we have the ultimate, which should win you the game pretty quickly. We saw a lot of games being decided by Jace, Telepath Unbounds’ ultimate and that needed much more work. You should be able to win the game with only 2-3 spells the turn you ultimate her. When you are playing against Emrakul decks be aware that the ultimate can kill you as well, you better keep that in mind!
I did not speak about any of the energy cards for the reason that I believe it is too early to judge them. They might be great or they might be too slow but we simply can’t tell for now, as we do not know enough about the ways you can produce or even use energy yet.
I am also not sure about the vehicles yet, but I think some of them will have an impact on Standard, as they are harder to kill than actual creatures. Sure, they are artifacts but the fact, that they are only creatures in your turn makes them untouchable for Planeswalker abilities and 《Wrath of God》 effects. I think the Fleetwheel Cruiser for example will be a good car(d), at the worst it’s like a 《Skizzik》. Skysovereign, Consul Flagship has similar potential as it works like an 《Inferno Titan》, which used to be a pretty good card in Standard!New Horizons
At the beginning of this article I talked about cards that will leave the format, but what do I expect from the new Standard? I think that Emrakul/Delirum decks will be the real deal, but I can also see more aggressive Decks with 《Fevered Visions》 or even White Weenie being real players. It might be a little too early to judge the new format as a whole but I am really looking forward to the changes. New formats are always great fun to explore and I think there will be a lot of cards we will be tinkering with in Kaladesh.
To sum things up I leave you with the three most important messages from this article:
– The format will change drastically, as you lose a lot of key cards such as 《Collected Company》
– Some previous strategies will still be good such as Delirium or 《Fevered Visions》
– Follow the spoilers, as there will be a lot of strong cards and there are two completely new abilities we have yet to explore
Thank you for reading and you will hear from me again in the future.
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A powerhouse player who was the Champion of GP Utrecht 2014 with Mono-Blue Devotion and another 4 GP Top 8’s to his name and countless Pro Tour appearances. Always on the forefront of reading the Standard metagame of any given season, he continues to travel and find success at events all over the world.
by Oliver Polak-Rottmann
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