Rotation Grief: Dominaria (Part 2)

The Standard Rotation is upon us. The coming meta will be shaped, in part, by what we lose. We've reached the end of this journey of grief (or jubilation, depending on who you ask) as we look into the red, green, multicolored, and colorless cards we'll have to remove from our Standard decks as Dominaria rotates out.

The Standard Rotation is upon us. The coming meta will be shaped, in part, by what we lose. We've reached the end of this journey of grief (or jubilation, depending on who you ask) as we look into the red, green, multicolored, and colorless cards we'll have to remove from our Standard decks as Dominaria rotates out.

Dominaria Red Losses

Ghitu Lavarunner Goblin Chainwhirler Wizard's Lightning

Fight with Fire: Burn lists never included this signature Jaya spell, because it can't go to the face unless kicked. Nevertheless, red decks that didn't plan to win by turn five—mostly Izzet combo builds and Grixis Control—enjoyed the flexibility of this design, especially out of the sideboard in a slower game two. 10 damage for 9 mana is a reasonable deal if you're ramping or controlling the board long enough to get there, but it was also a guaranteed way to kill Lyra Dawnbringer, something Lava Coil couldn't accomplish alone. Grief Factor: 5/10

Ghitu Lavarunner: For the better part of two years, Mono-Red used to start almost every game with either Fanatical Firebrand or this little Wizard. And of course that subtype of his mattered a lot. Grief Factor: 8/10

Goblin Chainwhirler: Possibly the defining symbol of the whole Standard era that's now coming to a close. Mono-Red has been the most successful deck throughout the entire cycle—and before, as it was already coming into it strong—and the Chainwhirler was the overpowered 3 drop that pushed the archetype all the way to the top of the first tier. That free Blazing Volley filled the nightmares of many 1-toughness creatures, beginning with Llanowar Elves and Paradise Druid. The latter, who's now survived it, must be breathing a sigh of relief at the mad Goblin's departure. On top of that, first strike was a bonus that not granted to the other members of the cycle. Grief Factor: 10/10 (At least, it is a big loss, although for many players, it'll be a maximum Jubilation Factor. It really was a broken design.)

Goblin Warchief: The hasty Goblin lord was in Standard for the first time since Scourge. It didn't get to do much, since there wasn't a great incentive for red decks to take the full Gobbo route this time around. But the Goblin tribe is popular and often on the verge of putting together the critical mass of Constructed-worthy critters. If they'll get there next year, they'll have to do it without the support of their Warchief—barring another reprint. Grief Factor: 5/10

Siege-Gang Commander: Speaking of incentives to play Goblins, Siege-Gang Commander is one of the most desirable curve-toppers for the tribe, and the last time it was around was in Magic 2010. The card's also pretty good in generic red midrange decks, and great at token interaction, even if the potential team-up with Woodland Champion never materialized. Let's hope we won't have to wait ten more years to see this gang lay siege to a Standard table again. Grief Factor: 5/10

Skirk Prospector: Another old-school Goblin, in this case originating in Onslaught. The "Remember those times?" feeling that Dominaria promoted was in full swing with the Gobbos, and it's somewhat surprising that it didn't really come to fruition. Grief Factor: 5/10

Squee, the Immortal: The second coming of fan favorite Squee was also part of the set's nostalgia theme, in particular concerning the refurbished Weatherlight and its crew. Squee, Goblin Nabob coming back to its owner's hand from the graveyard had made it the perfect discard fodder back in the day. The exile-proof immortal incarnation required more mana and had a less of a clear application, but the most ingenious Johnnies still managed to do something with the card, as niche as it was. Grief Factor: 3/10

The Flame of Keld: Mono-Red's oldest refueling engine in this Standard cycle. It later found itself competing for deck space with all the Izzet gimmicks from Guilds of RavnicaRisk Factor, Experimental Frenzy—as well as Chandra, Fire Artisan from War of the Spark. It's a battle this Saga eventually lost, but first it took down some opponents in flames. Grief Factor: 7/10

Verix Bladewing: This double Dragon used to be a complement to Core Set 2019's Dragon theme. A very minor presence in the meta, but one that inspired a core group of enthusiasts. Grief Factor: 2/10

Wizard's Lightning: Mono-Red and Izzet Wizards' second set of Lightning Bolts, after Lightning Strike and before Skewer the Critics. The latter is all that's left in the new meta, and it might not be a bad thing after all. Grief Factor: 9/10

Dominaria Green Losses

Grow from the Ashes Llanowar Elves Steel Leaf Champion

Adventurous Impulse: This was another entry in a long line of basic card selection tools in green. Dinosaur decks already had a strictly better version in Commune with Dinosaurs, then the printing of Bond of Flourishing in War of the Spark almost completely pushed the Impulse out of the meta, although there is something to be said about doing it as a turn-one play. Once Upon a Time from Throne of Eldraine is going to restore that pattern. Grief Factor: 7/10

Gaea's Blessing: One of the oldest cards in Dominaria, Gaea's Blessing dates all the way back to Weatherlight. 22 years ago, a tool to avoid decking had been more relevant. It was only reprinted in Standard once, as part of Time Spiral's selection of timeshifted cards, so this was the first time it appeared in a regular set with a modern frame. Grief Factor: 5/10

Grow from the Ashes: Run-of-the-mill ramp spell that became more widely played when it started to accompany Circuitous Route in Field of the Dead decks. Neither 3 mana for one land nor 5 mana for two are amazing deals, but at least the expense and the effect scaled with the game's progression, plus the lands enter the battlefield untapped. Grief Factor: 6/10

Llanowar Elves: One of the most iconic green cards in the history of the game, it used to be a fixture of Core Sets until Magic 2012. Then, after a long leave of absence, Dominaria and Core Set 2019 featured back-to-back reprints. Thanks to that, we've had 17 months during which all green and green-adjacent builds were able to enjoy "the Elf opening." It will be tough to make up for the enormous turn-one tempo advantage. A return of Birds of Paradise—also missing from Standard since M12—seems unlikely, and Golden Goose might just not be enough. Grief Factor: 10/10

Marwyn, the Nurturer: Much like their sworn enemies the Goblins, Elf decks were feasible in the meta, yet didn't really go anywhere. A slightly more successful build came late in the run after the printing of Leyline of Abundance in Core Set 2020. Marwyn was meant as one of the two tribal centerpieces, along with Core Set 2019's Elvish Clancaller. She was effective at times, but suffered from an "all eggs in one basket" syndrome. Since Marwyn was the only carrier and enabler of the counters, you just had to kill one creature and all that hard-built advantage was gone, since a new copy would have to start from scratch. Grief Factor: 5/10

Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar: As a big, recursive trampler, this new Multani was a better finisher than what the meta ever gave him credit for. With the exception of the odd Golgari deck or other strategy incorporating a heavy self-mill component, Multani remained a victim of circumstances. Grief Factor: 4/10

Saproling Migration: Standard never did much with Dominaria's Fungus subtheme. This scalable spell was one of the bases for the Saproling deck, along with Spore Swarm, Sporecrown Thallid and Yavimaya Sapherd. Sometimes it showed up in Selesnya Tokens, too. Grief Factor: 4/10

Song of Freyalise: All kinds of go-wide decks tried, at various points, to break this Saga, but in the end its indisputable potential was never fully realized. One issue was that it's a bad top deck on an empty board. Also, its most crucial chapter takes too long to kick in, whereas the first two often prove irrelevant and don't guarantee substantial ramping. Grief Factor: 3/10

Steel Leaf Champion: Arguably the most powerful turn-two play in the environment, following Llanowar Elves on turn one. Stompy had been most successful during the time when Rhonas the Indomitable was still part of the line-up—Rhonas's and Steel Leaf's careers overlapped between April and October 2018, the latest recorded zenith of Stompy. But Steel Leaf Stompy remained widely popular. Now that the champ is finally retiring, it won't be an easy act to follow. Grief Factor: 10/10

Dominaria Multicolored Losses

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria Adeliz, the Cinder Wind Muldrotha, the Gravetide

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria: The hero used to be the most hated card in Standard—until Teferi, Time Raveler came along to overshadow even the meta-warping effect of his previous self. Big Teferi was created as the ideal planeswalker for control decks. He provided a steady stream of card advantage without ever forcing his owner to tap out of counterspell mana. He could perform a huge tempo-positive maneuver as a minus, and he offered a game-winning ultimate to work towards—sometimes with the assist of The Elderspell, once that trick was introduced. A lot of games against Esper Control came down to whether or not Big Teferi resolved. The presence of such a polarizing card might not seem healthy, but it's actually taken a back seat to Little Teferi's degree of dominance lately. Grief Factor: 10/10

Aryel, Knight of Windgrace: A Knight tribal lord, strictly meant for Knight tribal decks, but such decks actually existed and prospered in their little corner of the Standard. Too bad Aryel doesn't stick around to witness the knightly apogee that Throne of Eldraine Standard is foreshadowing. Grief Factor: 5/10

Rona, Disciple of Gix: Here we have a textbook case of a card nobody really cared for, until a combo with it suddenly surfaced. Rona's time in the spotlight was short-lived, though, as she got unceremoniously dropped when Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle decks morphed into Kethis, the Hidden Hand decks. Grief Factor: 4/10

Adeliz, the Cinder Wind: The glue at the center of Wizard tribal builds, which experienced a bit of a resurgence in the last stretch of the Standard cycle, after the printing of Dreadhorde Arcanist and Lightning Stormkin. After all, in a Wizard deck, Wizard's Lightning is Lightning Bolt and Wizard's Retort is Counterspell. You can't go wrong with that kind of payoff. Grief Factor: 7/10

Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain: The latest incarnation of Jhoira of the Ghitu deserves a mention only because, heck, Jhoira is the captain of the new skyship Weatherlight and that has to count for something. Actually, in Standard, it meant absolutely nothing, because the card was pretty much a non-entity there. Jhoira goes down in history as a solid commander, though, and it's a pity she'll miss the renewed popularity of the Brawl format that comes with the Throne of Eldraine intro decks. Grief Factor: 2/10

Shanna, Sisay's Legacy: The descendant of Captain Sisay saw some play in go-wide decks early on. The card's basically a Voice of Resurgence token with bonus protection against abilities—most notably against Teferi, Time Raveler. Though the kind of build that might have wanted to run Shanna was mostly relegated to the outskirts of the meta by the time Teferi rose to prominence. Grief Factor: 4/10

Tatyova, Benthic Druid: Between the historic theme and related mechanics, there was a plethora of playable legends in Dominaria. But most of them never really found a home (e.g. Grand Warlord Radha, Darigaaz Reincarnated) or only fit into specific contexts that never reached tournament relevance (Slimefoot, the Stowaway). Tatyova is another one of these fringe cases, but the card deserves a mention here. While certainly too expensive for the more competitive shades of Constructed, her landfall ability was insanely powerful, especially in conjunction with Scapeshift or even World Shaper. Jank lists, casual builds, and even the occasional bona-fide rogue deck made good use of those interactions for their own shenanigans. Grief Factor: 5/10

Muldrotha, the Gravetide: Here's the Sultai Elemental that was doing outrageous things before it was cool. The most extraordinary thing about Muldrotha is how a card that had "designed for Commander" written all over it managed to actually see its fair share of Standard Constructed play. Brawl will miss it most of all. Grief Factor: 6/10

Dominaria Colorless Losses

Cabal Stronghold Woodland Cemetery Karn, Scion of Urza

Cabal Stronghold: This reworked version of Cabal Coffers spent the first six months of its run powering ginormous instances of Torment of Hailfire and other Mono-Black Control payoffs. Then it languished in binders, lamenting the lost glory that never came back. Grief Factor: 7/10

Clifftop Retreat, Hinterland Harbor, Isolated Chapel, Sulfur Falls, Woodland Cemetery: The second half of the checkland cycle completed the allied-colored side from Ixalan. We'll have to get used again to a Standard environment where mana fixing is a serious limiting factor. Grief Factor: 10/10

Damping Sphere: This Tron- and Storm-hosing trinket was never meant for Standard, but it was still routinely included in Karn, the Great Creator's wishboards. I wonder how often someone actually felt the need to fetch it over all the other options. Grief Factor: 4/10

Gilded Lotus: The permanent and appropriately costed Black Lotus remains one of the most potent mana rocks ever. First released in Mirrodin, then reintroduced to Standard with Magic 2013, it's the kind of card that should be made available more often to allow every color some degree of ramping. Grief Factor: 7/10

Guardians of Koilos: The only real use of this odd robot was as a combo piece to fetch via Karn, the Great Creator while Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge was on the battlefield, plus probably a bonus Meteor Golem. Extremely narrow, but fun. Grief Factor: 3/10

Helm of the Host: King of the memes, with the Helm we sadly lose the chance to replicate any legendary creature to the most ridiculous outcomes. Grief Factor: 6/10

Icy Manipulator: Imagine a once influential artifact from Limited Edition (Alpha) was in Standard, twelve years after its last Standard stint with Tenth Edition—and nobody noticed. This might say something about the game's power creep. Grief Factor: 1/10

Karn, Scion of Urza: The more straightforward of the two 4-mana Karns is leaving Standard—no more Karnstructs, no more making the opponent choose which land to put in your hand. Grief Factor: 9/10

Memorial to Folly, Memorial to Genius: The Memorial cycle was a hit-and-miss affair, but its two main hits were definitely outstanding. Black got creature recursion—a natural fit for Golgari builds, especially those with Molderhulk. Blue got sheer card draw, joyfully exploited by many Wilderness Reclamation decks. Grief Factor: 8/10

Mox Amber: The latest in the Mox family, it was also the most severely conditional. It wasn't until the historic-based combo patterns of Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle and Kethis, the Hidden Hand took form that Mox Amber really started to shine. Before, Jeskai Superfriends was known to employ maybe some small number as an early accelerant, helped along by Fblthp, the Lost or its various 3-mana planeswalkers. Grief Factor: 8/10

Navigator's Compass: If at all, players used the Compass as a quick source of life against Burn out of Karn, the Great Creator's wishboards. Yes, these sideboards lost about three quarters of their usual cards; they'll have to rebuild their artifact tool box with Throne of Eldraine relics. Grief Factor: 2/10

Powerstone Shard: Another colorless way to ramp that never enjoyed more than niche applications. Grief Factor: 6/10

Traxos, Scourge of Kroog, Voltaic Servant: These two had a symbiotic relationship like Nile crocodiles and Plover birds. The combination never amounted to much in the meta, but it was there, and now it's gone. Now, Voltaic Servant would have a ton of potential applications that remain unfulfilled. Grief Factor: 6/10

Weatherlight: The skyship of legends was … a huge disappointment. It's cool that vehicles have become an evergreen presence like equipment, but this one in particular didn't inspire an ounce of the awe that it was supposed to. Grief Factor: 1/10

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.

Rotation Grief Archive

  1. M19 (white, blue and black)
  2. M19 (red, green, multicolored and colorless)
  3. Ixalan (white, blue and black)
  4. Ixalan (red, green, multicolored and colorless)
  5. Rivals of Ixalan (white, blue and black)
  6. Rivals of Ixalan (red, green, multicolored and colorless)
  7. Dominaria (white, blue and black)


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