I’m going to be looking at current standard decks and discussing what they lose with rotation. Without knowing the full set for Guilds of Ravnica it would be impossible to tell you any exact lists for future decks, but we can discuss what each archetype loses from the current list and see if there are any replacements already available to us. The first deck list I am going to look at is Bant Turbo Fog deck. The deck loses very little with rotation, it loses a fog (Haze of Pollen) and a draw spell (Glimmer of Genius) while these might not have replacements it won’t be hard to bump up the Root Snare already in the deck to 4 and play more Settle the Wreckage which is effectively a 4 mana fog with the upside of sometimes not needing to fog next turn due to all their creatures being exiled.
Next is the traditional UW control deck. The biggest cards this deck loses are Fumigate, Cast Out, and Glimmer of Genius. Disallow will also be rotating but the counter an ability mode on it hasn’t been very relevant except vs. Chandra, Torch of Defiance for a while, and that is also rotating along with Disallow. Fumigate already has an easy replacement in Cleansing Nova which also happens to be pretty good against the fog deck game 1 killing their Gift of Paradise and their Search for Azcanta. Glimmer will be hard to replace as we do also lose Pull from Tomorrow and Hieroglyphic Illumination but I’m confident they will give us something to use as draw power and even if they don’t Secrets of the Golden City might be enough to fill the role. Cast Out has an easy replacement in Ixalan’s Binding already.
UG stompy is another deck that has most of its powerful cards sticking around. This loses more than the above decks but still has enough sticking around to be playable, without seeing any Ravnica spoilers yet I’d start with something like:
This biggest cards the deck loses are Heart of Kiran, Blossoming Defense, and Rhonas. Blossoming Defenses can just become the Spell Pierces which in most situations should be pretty similar with Fatal Push gone more mana will be spent for most removal spells than before.
The last deck I’m looking at that doesn’t lose a lot with rotation is BW Knights. Almost all of the knight cards came from Dominaria and they have been a powerful core for a while now (just not quite as powerful as some of the other decks around). Every other deck loses a lot of cards while the BW deck gets to keep its most powerful cards: Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants, History of Benalia, Knight of Grace, Knight of Malice, Valiant Knight, Benalish Marshall, Dauntless Bodyguard, and Kitesail Freebooter, as well as the angels that they often play as a top end sticking around through rotation.
Finally, I want to look at the red decks. With the rotation of Scrapheap Scrounger and Heart of Kiran there will no longer be a reason to splash black in the decks, and we also lose a lot of the one drops, making the mono red “wizard” deck a bit better as we get to keep Ghitu Lavarunner. Without a full spoiler being out I don’t think we can conclude full Red Deck Wins archetype. While we keep all the burn spells we lose 2 of the 3 one-drops the deck played as well as Earthshaker Khenra and Ahn-Crop Crasher. I’d expect any red deck to start with The Flame of Keld and the wizard core—including 12 burn spells, Ghitu Lavarunner and Viashino Pyromancer. Chainwhirler and Rekindling Phoenix do stick around to fill out the higher end of a curve if there is a more midrange red deck to be made with cards from Ravnica.
While I don’t like making too many speculations about a format without a full set spoiler, I’d be very surprised if a Teferi deck was not tier 1 after rotation given how little of the support rotates, and the support of the Azorius guild coming out Ravnica Allegiance. I will almost certainly be playing a deck with Teferi week 1 of the new format.
~ Sean Armstrong
Editor’s Note: This was written prior to the full swing of Ravnica spoilers, which is now underway, so take things with a grain of salt.