Sheoldred full artwork from Magic: The Gathering
Image via Wizards of the Coast

‘Wish it would change back’: MTG players already fed up by Standard’s big rotation change

How about we just ban Shelly and be done with it?

Half a year on, Magic: The Gathering fans are still far from convinced about Wizards of the Coast’s decision to stretch out the Standard rotation, with many today claiming it has only succeded in instead driving a wedge between MTG‘s paper and digital formats.

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Players have dug up conversations around the modern state of MTG Standard on the eve of the format’s latest addition, Murders at Karlov Manor, with some fans suggesting on Feb. 5 that they have grown tired of running into the same meta decks that, if the format had never changed, would almost certainly have rotated out by now. “I think the essence of Standard has been compromised,” one player declared amid the growing calls for change.

Image of man looking through spyglass in Murders at Karlov MTG set
The next Standard expansion is here, but players are bored of the format. Image via WotC

The general sentiment among fans was that “Wizards has shot themselves [sic] in the foot by destroying the format they were trying to save,” with some adding newer sets are “boring” because they are compared to a larger pool of cards in the very format that is supposed to counteract the idea of a stagnant metagame.

In short, Wizards claimed Standard MTGonce the premier format of the game—had grown unpopular due to players unsatisfied that new sets would only be valid in Stardard for a year. By delaying the rotation by one year through 2023 and 2024, cards will be in Standard for longer, meaning players would get a little more out of their investment in newer sets.

The side effect of this is a longer and more stale metagame, which has reportedly become even more noticeable in the digital versions of the CCG such as MTG: Arena. “When you can play Standard for as long as you want, wherever you want, naturally you’re going to get sick of whatever the meta is,” one player said, noting “paper” or physical MTG players would feel September 2023’s Standard change is much more beneficial.

Some suggested MTG: Arena should have its own version of Standard similar to how it previously operated, where the meta would be “faster” and sets would rotate regularly.

Others were quick to mention this part of the new Standard cycle is a one-off and that once next September rolls around and the fresh MTG rotation begins again, we’ll have a better idea of whether the new format works.

An alternative option players suggest is a more aggressive approach to banning cards, with the all-encompassing Sheoldred, The Apocalypse one example on that front. Sheoldred has been a staple of MTG Standard since its release with Dominaria United in September 2022 and now, over a year on, “Shelly” can still be found in over a third of Standard decks in MTG: Arena, according to MTG stat website MTGGoldfish.

Cards that have dominated Standard in the past have received restrictions but Wizards has stayed quiet since May 2023’s triple-ban of Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, Invoke Despair, and Reckoner Bankbuster. Other cards copped the banhammer but in non-Standard formats; Standard’s banlist has remained untouched for nearly a year. All three saw ridiculous levels of play through 2022 and early 2023, yet despite Sheoldred’s domination, she remains legal to this day.

We’ll see how the MTG fandom reacts in September when the next round of rotations arrives. Until then, well, I hope you’ve got an answer for Shelly on turn four.


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Author
Nicholas Taifalos
Weekend editor for Dot Esports. Nick, better known as Taffy, began his esports career in commentary, switching to journalism with a focus on Oceanic esports, particularly Counter-Strike and Dota. Email: nicholas@dotesports.com