Getting Ready for Rotation (2014), part 1

No real need to do this quite this early, but since I’ve been thinking about this already, why not jot down some of the thoughts I’ve had.

Polukranos, World Eater

Since the format is losing three big sets and a small set, while only gaining one new set, there are just going to be many things that aren’t going to be as strong as they were previously. This is especially true now, as the top three archetypes of the format (Monoblack Devotion, UW Control and Monoblue) are going to be completely neutered by the loss of quite a few cards.

Now, each of these has been repressing Polukranos in different ways, which are all going away. No more Doom Blade, Ultimate Price, Supreme Verdict, Lifebane Zombie, or Tidebinder Mage. Especially the last two have often been able to get free benefit from the fact people play big, green creatures.

Of course, Khans is going to have at least one efficient black removal, and probably a sweeper of some sort, and cards like Hero’s Downfall and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion are going to be around to harass our favorite Hydra, but that’s a lot less oppressive situation then previously, which probably leaves Polukranos as one of the big winners of rotation.

Actually, Polukranos might win so much, people will start playing less of them in their decks, because it is still legendary, and you can’t play that many of them, because drawing multiples is sometimes bad, if you can’t get them killed. On the other hand, Polukranos’s ability is such that unlike most legendary creatures, you might actually want to play another one more often.

This probably leads to Arbor Colossus gaining some maindeck love. It can even dodge some removal Polukranos can’t such as Fated Conflagration, which is going to be marginal, but will probably come in from the sideboard more often in the future.

There are other marginal removal spells, such as Reprisal and Pillar of Light, which are specifically targeted for cards like Polukranos and the Souls. These will probably gain in popularity, although these two examples are both white and therefore weak against Stormbreath Dragon, which will probably feature strongly in the same decks are Polukranos in the future as well, so these two are probably more of a sideboard choice anyhow.

Devotion decks of all kinds will lose cards, and Polukranos is no exception, losing at least Burning-Tree Emissary. On the other hand, a friend of mine has had a GU-devotion deck with Kiora’s Followers and Prophet of Kruphix’s for a while (even though he doesn’t play it regularly). I think it will be pretty good in the future. Reid Duke played something quite similar just last weekend in an SCG Open.

Prognostic Sphinx

As far as we can see, the best sweepers in the format going forward (Anger of the Gods, Elspeth, Sun’s Champion) are not going to be able to touch Prognostic Sphinx and its pretty hard to kill any other way. Sure, white will get some sweeper in the new block, but I think WotC knows people will have had enough of the oppressive UW control decks by now and that will be put to side for a while.

(I do expect Extinguish All Hope to see some play if the format is slow enough, but that costs six, and there probably won’t be many decks with a full set of them.)

On top of being very resilient, Sphinx is very good. Sure, its not going to be beating down as fast as Polukranos or Stormbreath Dragon, but it doesn’t need to. It has a very different function. I’ve actually advocated for this card quite a bit in the past, so I want delve deeper here. Just play it.

Goblins

This is just speculation, but with Goblin Rabblemaster and Mardu Horde features goblins as one of their races, there might be a goblin deck in there somewhere. Sure, there’s only going to be Frenzied Goblin and Foundry Street Denizen right now, but we also have Hall of Triumph and Obelisk of Urd, so a couple of good additions will be fine, or we might need to bend the limit of playability a bit to make this work, but with some good burn, there might be something to this deck.

Of course, there’s always going to be a fast red deck. Its just that integral to the game as a whole. Therefore, if not goblins, there will be a fast monored deck of another kind, as we saw in Theros Block constructed. Frenzied Goblin might be the key here, as it makes this deck better against Courser of Kruphix. Stoke the Flames helps too.

Monoblack Aggro

Another deck I’ve written plenty about. It will survive rotation pretty intact. Probably. It could use a Doom Blade and maybe a Duress, depending on how the format develops, but most of the tools are there. Sure, Rakdos Cackler, Lifebane Zombie, Desecration Demon, Pack Rat and Thrill-Kill Assassin will be gone, but those are all pretty optional.

Post-rotation version might look something like this:

One more two drop would be great. The real strength of this deck is how well it adapts to your mana situation. With 10 creatures with bestow (and possibly more, if you’d rather play Herald of Torment), you’ll be able to use your mana well if you flood out, but with eight one-drop creatures and eight one-drop spells, you’ll be good for a while even if you don’t draw more than one land.

There’s plenty more to talk about, but we have plenty of time to get there.

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