By Niels Viaene
Standard, and with that, Gentry rotates on October 4th. On that day we say goodbye to Ixalan, Rivals of Ixalan, Dominaria, and M19. In this article we will go over some cards and archetypes that have gone away, or, in case of the archetypes, will look drastically different in times to come.
We will look at what is lost across each color and what that means for archetypes in Gentry. After that, we will look at a few archetypes that barely lost anything and will serve as a baseline for what you need to prepare for with all your experimental decks. In the next article, I will attempt to look at Cards and archetypes that were suppressed up to now and the new things that become available with Throne of Eldraine.
White was not in a good place in the metagame. Its main value lied in giving the best sideboard options against Mono Red in Healing Grace and Revitalize. Both of those are leaving us, but as we will see soon, Mono Red is pretty gutted as well, so that might not be as scary as you would think it is.
Ixalan’s Binding was the best catch-all answer with an additional shutdown twist that was available in the format and was almost single-handedly a reason to cinlude white in your control decks. Seal Away get to play runner-up, but that is also going away.
White goes from being the weakest color in Gentry to losing all of its best cards and will need a lot of support from Future sets to be relevant again.
Blue is usually very strong in Gentry because its counterspells are often commons and trade 1-for-1 for any card your opponent has. This leaves a lot of power to be condensed into the Uncommons and Rares you play.
Essence Scatter and Spell Pierce are gone now, and while there are plenty of other alternatives waiting in the woods, they are all less powerful or optimal. Dive Down, while not a counterspell per sé, was the best creature protection spell available, and is also gone. Finally, we say goodbye to Syncopate, a mean Counterspell that has both early and late-game value in decks that generate a strong mana advantage. The exile clause that was attached to it ended up being more relevant than most people realized.
Losing the best counterspells (only Negate is left in the ultimate group) is huge blow for all blue decks, but there are other cards leaving that make entire archetypes unplayable. Curious Obsession was the main reason Mono Blue was a contender for best deck in Gentry, and it is rotating out. That’s not to say blue aggro decks are dead now, but they will need to focus elsewhere to find a path to victory. It also loses Merfolk Trickster, which damages the emerging UG Flash deck as well.
If White was the worst color in Gentry, Black was likely the best, but it seems to lose as much of its powerhouses as white does, but does so in its options for removal. Fungal Infection, Moment of Craving, Vicious Offering and Ravenous Chupacabra on their own were such a powerful removal package that every Control deck could turn to them for whatever the metagame was throwing at them.
Beyond losing all their cheap removal, black loses the best creature they had for early interaction and fodder. Dusk Legion Zealot will probably be the one card rotation out that I will personally miss the most. On the other side of the spectrum lies The Eldest Reborn, the most advantage-dense card that black ever had on an uncommon slot in Gentry.
The current version of Mono Red has been stable for over a year now, that also means there is a lot of it rotating out. Ghitu Lavarunner, Fanatical Firebrand, Viashino Pyromancer, Wizard’s Lightning, Lightning Strike and Flame of Keld are all gone. Does that mean mono red does not exist anymore? Far from it, but it will look very different from here on.
Besides cards in Mono Red, the color is not that relevant, and loses very little. Shivan Fire is the only true loss for Control decks as most of their relevant red tools are from more recents sets.
People don’t really tend to see green as a strong color, but once we list all cards that are going away, I think people will look back to green as a color of many missed opportunities in the metagame we are leaving behind.
Vine Mare is the elephant in the room. It had a unique spot in the metagame because it was so hard for Black, the best color, to interact with. Pair it with some acceleration creatures that incidentally protect it from sacrifice type effects and you have a scary beater against all the control deck. That acceleration is also gutted. Llanowar Elves had a far lower impact on the format than I thought it would have. It will be Druid of the Cowl that will be missed more, I suppose. Some say Leafkin Druid does the same thing but people are missing how much extra value that 1 power has agains an army of tokens and 2/1 creatures. Same thing goes for Elvish Rejuvenator, gone and will be missed.
Song of Freyalise, a backbone for explosive Green-based token strategies s also gone and is another unsung hero in the metagame. Once paired with Sporecrown Thallid and friends it was potent enough to punch all the way into a Gentry Open top 8. Not bad for a deck many people was a “kiddie deck”.
Wildgrove Waler is gone and takes all the explore friends with him. Once called the best deck in the format, but quickly overshadowed once Gates entered the fray, it was always a scarier threat to the Mono-Red decks than its replacement.
Enigma Drake is gone but that will only cause a minor shift in how UR Drakes plays. The biggest impact will be not to have a 1/4 on turn 3 for them, so look for their aggro match-up to drop slightly.
[Tatyova, Benthic Druid[/c] and Muldrotha, the Gravetide get a mention, more because they are fan favorites of mine. but I don’t mind not seeing them anymore as curve toppers in the BUG Elementals lists.
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria was probably the one card that warped most decks into including White. Between the powerful planeswalker and great sideboard cards against Mono-red, a lot of control decks included White and even Gates reached its full potential on 4 colors, after including White. Nicol Bolas, the Ravager would have had the same effect, but red was just not as exciting to add to your control shells, often being the only card to be featured in mainboards, with some Shivan Fire support.
Did I miss anything? Do you feel like there is a card that we will miss more than any of the ones mentioned above, let us know in the comments.
As I prepare for the next format I always look at a format in a few different ways. The first is to see what barely loses anything from rotation. Then I look for things that were not playable before rotation but might get their shot in the limelight now. And finally, I look at the new set to see if I can find a core to build new decks from. In this article I will look at three survivors, that I modified a little bit to fit some new strategies and in general be better in an untested field.
I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone that Gates is public enemy number one. The core of uncommons in Gate Colossus, Gatebreaker Ram, Gates Ablaze and Guild Summit is extremely potent. The fact their lands come into play tapped should be a reason for gates to be balanced, but almost every deck in Gentry has that handicap. To make matters worse, Arboreal Grazer and Growth Spiral pretty much negate the tempo loss this deck takes.
As it wants to play as many gates as possible you are practically invited to play a 4th color. Here I chose Black over white because Liliana, Dreadhorde General is the biggest baddie on the block these days, and it gave me Duress in the sideboard. Feel free to shift to White, you can even shave some numbers of Rams and colossi if you want to include some other power uncommons. This version is build to put as much pressure as possible and assumes nothing the opponent will do is scarier than your plan.
This deck lost Reckless Rage, which single-handedly warps its match-up against the next deck we will be talking about. I also did some shifts in the creature base to add in an Ardenvale Tactician and ended up filling the Rage slot with a playset of Slaying Fire, but that is a poor mans option unless it is going to the face, which gives this deck some reach it did not have before.
I went with the tactician, but there are many other option to consider in the Adventure creatures from Throne of Eldraine, which makes this a very modular deck in times to come.
Losing Enigma Drake and Tormenting Voices would have gutted this deck if not for the fact that Pteramander does a very good drake impression while dodging all the 4 damage spells people are bringing to fight you, and Thrill of Possibility being a straight upgrade over the voices. Throne of Eldraine also brings a new mechanic in the cycle that does something when you draw your second card each turn. Here it is a small supporting cast of only two pay-off cards, but see if you can figure out just how easy it is to trigger them over and over and over and over again. Just don’t run into Narset, Parter of Veils when that is your plan, or, you know, board in the 10 cards you have to answer her…
That is it for now. Does that mean there are no other decks you can play? Of course not. There are tonnes of options, and in the next article we will be looking at a few more of them, both adaptations of known entities to this brave new world and brand spankin’ new contenders to the metagame.
See you on the Battlefield,