A quick note to readers: a different article was set to be released for today’s Rhythmik Study discussing my recent promotion to Level 1 Judge at the Star City Games Open Series in Philadelphia. However, the new changes to Wizards’ Banned and Restricted list was so drastic that it required a quick change and rewrite for what is likely the biggest news in the game since the M10 Rules change.
Friday at midnight, we all saw one of the biggest bombs dropped by Wizards of the Coast in a long time – Extended will be losing three blocks on 1 July: Mirrodin, Kamigawa and Ravnica. While Time Spiral will be the set rotating from Extended in October when Scars of Mirrodin is released, Coldsnap will not be leaving with it – it gets the Oust in July, as well. This announcement is huge, and comes to the dismay of most players in the community. While all of the current archetypes in the Extended format will no longer be viable (Zoo loses Ravnica Shocklands, Dark Depths loses its namesake, and Sword of the Meek is banned), and many players’ collections will lose a decent amount of value, but I believe this is actually healthy for the format, and the game as a whole.
Before you press your back button and delete MTGOacardemy from your bookmarks, allow me to explain why Extended will actually be the most fun format you will want to play!
What this means for the game
Smaller Card Pool: The current Extended has a card pool that is currently too large for its own good. With two 150-card expansions being released every year, as well as a 250-card large expansion, and the Core Sets being changed back to large sets, seven years worth of cards is too many for R&D to work out every interaction (see: Sword of the Meek/Thopter Foundry). I wholeheartedly believe that four years worth of releases will be the magic number for a balanced format.
Accessibility: One of the problems mentioned by Brian-David Marshall in his article on the change was that attendance for Extended format tournaments was dismal. This is a problem that has been going on for years, since getting the cards necessary for a viable Extended deck requires players to reach back seven years to cards that many players likely cashed out of before the horrible tumble in price occurred that Standard players know all too well.
Value Retention: Speaking of the price tumble, this is the aspect that I think I love the most. No one wants their cards to lose value, but are those Reflecting Pools and Mutavaults really going to be used in Extended? Of course not, because Fetchlands and Shocklands are in Extended. Wait. Buy Reflecting Pools. In the same vein of Value Retention, with the likelihood of Extended becoming more popular, cards may not only not lose value, but they may even gain value simply because they are usable in Extended.
Overextended: Hey, remember a month and a half ago when all those rumors about a new Extended format that included sets going back to Masques Block? If there is any truth to that rumor, this seems like not just a step, but a leap in the right direction. Let’s face it, if “Extended Plus” only has only four more years worth of cards than Traditional Extended, what real incentive to we have to play “Extended Plus?” With changes like this, “Extended Plus” is looking more like a reality every day, and with Traditional Extended becoming a “Standard Plus” format, having a format that goes back to Masques Block seems like it couldn’t be healthier for the game.
What this means for Amsterdam
While I do admit, I was livid just like I’m sure the rest of you were when I found out, after a lot of reflection, I could not be more excited for this Pro Tour. This will be the first time in a while that a Pro Tour will be a completely clean slate. While some may argue that newly rotated Standard formats are clean slates, many decks in Standard Pro Tours are ports of the best decks in the last block (read: Faeries, Jund), and Block formats evolve on Magic Online over the course of the block. I know my buddies and I are going to be having a blast running through deck ideas and casting Bitterblossoms and Momentary Blinks again.
Get the jump on the format! Look at all of the decks that have been good in Standard for the past few years – Faeries, Jund, 5-Color Control, Kithkin, Blink Riders – and figure out what kind of twist you can put on these decks. Have you seen anything in Zendikar that you think would be a great target for Makeshift Mannequin or wished that Mystical Teachings/Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir could tutor up your Baneslayer Angels, or that Momentary Blink was legal in Lorwyn/Alara Standard? Well now all of your dreams have come true!
As far as what I’ll be playing in Amsterdam, only time will tell, but for now, I’ll likely be working with some of the best players I know converting decks from Standard in the past few years, but I’m sure I’ll be playing something with cute interactions and will be attacking a lot. Be sure to read in the future as I’ll definitely be discussing deck choices.
What this means for your wallet
As I mentioned before, with the smaller card pool, many cards will remain playable after they rotate from Standard, which means cards will hold most of their value upon their rotation from Standard. So definitely keep your Noble Hierarchs, Knights of the Reliquary, and Elspeths in your binder – the price drop won’t be low enough to warrant trying to cash out.
But what about those cards that have already left Standard? Once again, look to previous Standard formats for cards that lost most of their value after they rotated.
Reflecting Pool: If last year’s Standard was any indication, the interacting between Reflecting Pool, Vivid Lands, and Filter Lands is completely ridiculous. This card is at the bottom of its expected price range – hovering around $8 in paper and skyrocketing already on Magic Online. Buy yours before they hit the $20 mark, because they will.
Cryptic Command: Arguably the best counterspell ever printed. Any deck running Blue will start with four of these and 3-4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor and go from there. Kudos to people who never got rid of their Player Reward promos (Like me.) You’ll be happy to pick these up now.
Standard Staples: Get your set of Standard staples if you don’t have them already. Since Alara’s rotation will not cause many Standard staples to plummet like they normally do, there’s no reason to be shy about picking them up. You’ll need them to play Standard, so make sure you have the ability to get as much mileage out of those cards as possible.
Time Spiral Block Cards: Unless you are playing in Amsterdam in a couple of months, do not buy these cards. The first PTQ for the new Extended format will not contain Time Spiral Block or Tenth Edition.
While this news comes as a definite shock to everyone, it’s nowhere near as bad as you may think. Just give the format a chance and cross your fingers for “Extended Plus,” or “Legacy Lite.” Until next time, have fun brewing for the new Extended format, and I’ll see you in Amsterdam!