Hi everybody, and welcome back to Strictly Average MTG! We’re fast approaching the end of the year, and I want to thank you all for stopping by to read my articles. Today I want to provide some predictions for Magic: the Gathering in 2020. Before we look at those let’s review how I did with my predictions for 2019.
Last year I wrote about my predictions for 2019. How did I do? You be the judge.
- Commander goes back to 5 decks in 2019, all being allied colors. – Wrong
- Jace Dies. – Wrong (Gideon died)
- Return to New Phyrexia plus allied color fastland reprint. – Wrong
- “Standard Plus” will be Origins Forward. – Half credit (we have Historic on Arena, and Pioneer in paper)
- More Quality Standard reprints. – Yes!
Hey I got one! With the half credit that’s a .300 batting average. Put me in Cooperstown!
We actually received some really good cards reprinted for Standard play. While we can debate their strength (and possibly lack thereof) in the format, the fact that these reprints help those who play other formats is only a benefit to everyone. Leyline of the Void and the other leylines are played in several decks across eternal formats. Absorb finally entered Modern through this reprint, and did see some small amount of play as a singleton in many blue based control decks. Temple of Mystery and the enemy colored cycle of temples were a much needed inclusion. Popular in Commander, these cards are also the backbone of many Standard decks. Hopefully we receive the allied color versions in Theros: Beyond Death.
Here are my predictions for Magic: the Gathering in 2020.
The upcoming Commander product starting in Ikoria will provide planeswalkers that can be your commander.
Coming this spring, we will be venturing to a new plane when the set “Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths” is released. According to this article from the end of October beginning with that set we will receive pre-constructed Commander decks when the set is released. These decks will be thematically built around the various theme and overall setting of the new set, and I would not be surprised to see Kiora (as first seen in Kiora, the Crashing Wave) make her return to Standard. Serpents, Krakens, and Octopi are part of what I expect when seeing a set with a title like that. Also with the removal of the Planeswalker Decks from non-Core Set expansions this makes sense to replace them with Commander decks. The next logical conclusion would be to have Planeswalkers specifically made for both Standard and Commander play. Let’s make it happen!
The Zendikar fetchlands return in Zendikar Rising next fall.
The set announced for next fall is named “Zendikar Rising”, and will mark our second return to the plane. With Battle For Zendikar (and Oath of the Gatewatch) feeling like failures in the eyes of many perhaps the people at Wizards of the Coast (WotC) will get this one right, and provide a reprint of these fetchlands that appeared in Standard a decade ago. As much as I know many will not like them in Standard here are a few things to consider.
- The shocklands will leave Standard when these lands arrive.
- The fetchlands reprinted in Khans of Tarkir are already banned in Pioneer so these could follow them straight to the list.
- This will be the last printing of these types of cards (outside of a Masters type set).
You may be scratching your head at some of this but keep in mind they do not need booster packs to appeal to only Standard players. They know their consumers play more than one format, and by offering a product that can appeal to multiple players these will surely sell. I don’t think they will ever see Standard print after this though. They have been able to provide quality fetchlands in the form of Fabled Passage and Prismatic Vista both this year. Those lands provide the same quality of mana fixing, yet only take up one rare land spot allowing the design team to look for other options elsewhere. So when this happens buy them, buy the original versions, and make sure to get all the ones that you need. They may not be back.
We will have more reprints from the Modern era of Magic in Standard sets to support Pioneer.
One of the reasons that 2020 will be so focused on Commander is that WotC has learned that a lot of new players have entered the game through this format. While that is a great thing they also realize that they can not pepper Standard players with cards that cost five or more mana as they would be too slow for tournament play, yet fine for Commander. This is probably the biggest window we may see for quality reprints in Standard (think more along the lines of what we received in the last two Core Sets). I even expect to see the allied color painlands appearing in Core Set 2021 to help facilitate mana needs for the influx of new players. When this happens expect the price of the original version of the card to drop, providing you an opportunity to obtain a card that will hold its value longer over time.
The same treatment Chandra received with Core Set 2020 will be given to Teferi in Core Set 2021.
That’s right. Just was we are about to say goodbye to Teferi, Time Raveler we will receive three more. I believe this is part of what made Core Set 2020 special, and all three of these see some measure of play (especially Chandra, Acolyte of Flame). This is not counting any Planeswalker decks that accompany the release of Core Set 2021 of course, but I expect this type of treatment for a planeswalker just for this release for at least another year after this.
Paper Standard attendance will continue to dwindle at MagicFests.
Without a doubt attending a Magic: the Gathering tournament is a very fun experience. From attending the main event, playing a few side events, meeting artists, or even trading your cards into a vendor to get another foil Tarmogoyf from Future Sight, there’s a lot you can do there. That’s also not taking into account other activities in the city that you can do after the event. However there is a growing problem.
Attendance is dwindling. For Standard.
Since the release of Throne of Eldraine we have had two situations where major strategies have been removed. First it was Field of the Dead, and then (eventually) it was the trio of Once Upon A Time, Oko, Thief of Crowns, and Veil of Summer. This not only makes Standard less fun for those who wish to win the tournament, but the constant change also hurts proper growth of the format. Couple that with how quickly metagames are solved through online play, and how early deck submissions have to be entered before a tournament, and it does not provide WotC a large enough window to make corrections through banning cards.
Since the beginning of 2017 thirteen (13!) cards have been banned in Standard. That’s a span of only three years. You have to go backwards twice that length from 2017 to find two cards banned in 2011. Players notice these things, and will shy away from a format like that especially if fun has been replaced with “coming in first” and “pushing the set for sales”. This is where they can find solace in formats like Commander while they wait out the mess that Standard has become. It’s also a lot cheaper to play a few hours on Magic Arena than it is to go to an event. If one wanted to play their Rakdos Knights deck during Okotober (aka Elktober) all one has to do is turn on their PC. The only thing they have to pay is time. How will WotC get these players back? When tournaments draw less than 1,000 players (and some less than 500) for an event, whose fault is it? When tournament organizers are changing or even removing Standard from an event for another format (and do it at the last minute) is that the fault of the players for figuring things out too quickly, the power level of the cards being skewed to a specific strategy made to only sell packs, or to lazy design? Oko, Thief of Crowns has been the biggest mistake since Skullclamp, and with Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis being released earlier this same year that’s something to take to heart.
How does this get fixed? Or are we so far beyond fixing this that the youth culture that Wizards of the Coast seems to be is aiming their new releases at is wiser with their money than generations before them? Until we see a balance in power level (you know…like we did with Return to Ravnica through Theros expansions) I expect Standard attendance to continue it’s descent.
I hate to end on a sour note, but these are my predictions for Magic: the Gathering in 2020. Will they come true? Only time will tell; let’s watch it unfold.
We’re at the last two weeks of the year so it’s time to discuss my Top 10 cards for Modern starting with numbers 6 through 10 next week. Be there!
TAP MORE MANA!!!
Scott Campbell, better known as MTGPackFoils, has been playing Magic since he was 17 (which was in 1993). He’s known for loving decks such as Azorius Control, Jund, and others (especially in Modern). He is a husband, father, and a former nightclub DJ.