Today finally marks the beginning of the official Standard 2022 rotation in Magic: The Gathering Arena. The rotation occurs once a year with the release of Magic’s fall premiere. This year’s Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, the first of two full sets on the Horror Plane scheduled for this fall, brings with it a revitalized constructed format. What exactly does rotation mean to players in the game, and why are people excited about this one in particular?
What is standard rotation?
Once a year, Wizards of the Coast changes which Magic: The Gathering expansion sets are legal for the game’s standard constructed format. This determines which pool of cards players can choose from when building 60-card decks for competitive play. Following Magic’s fall set release (like the Midnight Hunt release this year), one-year sets rotate out of legality to make room for the next year of releases.
In the case of the rotation we are currently experiencing, all four sets from Fall 2019 to the set before Fall of last year are leaving Standard. Those sets are Throne of Eldraine, Theros Beyond Death, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, and Core Set 2021. The remaining legal sets include everything from Fall 2020 to the present: Zendikar Rising, Kaldheim, Strixhaven: School of Mages, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms and the incoming Innistrad: Midnight Hunt. Any additional Standard legal sets released within the next year will be added to the legal card pool. The diagram below shows the previous standard sets at the top of the image, with the current 2022 standard legal sets and upcoming products at the bottom.
Why are people excited about this standard rotation?
Shaking off a competitive finish is always an exciting time. There are lots of experimental decks to build and lots to play with while you figure out what works and what doesn’t in a new format. This rotation is special for many Magic players because some oppressive cards leave Standard. Specifically, many Throne of Eldraine cards have been so good in the past two years that some set releases did not affect which cards were being played.
Bonecrusher Giant, Lovestruck Beast, Embercleave, and Drown in the Loch are just a small sampling of cards that have dominated competitive play. Not to mention cards that were banned due to their power level or repetitive play patterns like Oko, Thief of Crowns, Fires of Invention, and Caudron Familiar. Other sets like Ikoria have also produced powerful cards, but no other set has dominated Standard for the past two years like Eldraine did.
But now Eldraine is gone. And with the loss of the most ubiquitous creatures and spells, comes the rise of the sets that were retained. Mechanics like Party from Zendikar Rising, or Kaldheim’s Snow and God cards have a chance to rise to the top. Topics centered around the five universities in Strixhaven, and Adventures in the Forgotten Realms dungeon adventures and dice-rolling shenanigans might be valid now. All while a dark moon rises in Standard, bringing untold terrors to the new format.
Innistrad: Midnight Hunt is here!
Returning to arguably the most popular aircraft in the Magic multiverse, Innistrad and its classic horrors are back in Standard. Innistrad: Midnight Hunt is a set focused on the battle between humans and werewolves during an event called the Harvesttide Festival. The nights at Innistrad are getting longer and longer, and as a result, the daylight hours are dwindling. The fight through night and day continues as the characters try to fix the broken time cycle.
Innistrad: Midnight Hunt features not only werewolves and humans, but also zombies, vampires, demons, spirits, and ghouls. If it’s creepy or horrible, you’ll probably see it on a card at Innistrad. New mechanics come standard with Midnight Hunt, including a day / night cycle with Daybound and Nightbound cards that switch sides based on the time of day, while the Disturb mechanic brings creatures onto the battlefield transformed into something else. Classic Innistrad keywords like Investigate, Transform, and Flashback are everywhere in the set too.
Now is a good time to get into Magic: The Gathering and the easiest way is through MTG Arena on PC, iOS, and Android. Customer is free with optional in-app purchases to purchase card packs, event tickets, or cosmetic card styles. Free starter decks are provided to you as you play through the in-game tutorial, giving you a solid base of cards to get started. I would also encourage new or existing players to take a look at the pre-launch events for Innistrad: Midnight Hunt taking place this weekend. Check with your local game store for hours and information. Those who wish to build standard decks with physical paper cards will have to wait for the official physical release of Midnight Hunt on September 24.
Looking to get into Magic: The Gathering with this new rotation? Have you checked the Midnight Hunt letters? If so, what are some of your favorites? Let us know in the comments!