Magic: The Gathering Standard format set rotation changed to 3 years

Wizards of the Coast announces a major change for Magic: The Gathering Standard format, updating set rotations to every 3 years.

In an apparent attempt to "revitalize" the Magic: The Gathering Standard format, Wizards of the Coast will update the set rotations from every two years to every three years.

Wizards of the Coast announces a major change for Magic: The Gathering Standard format. Set rotations will now be every 3 years instead of 2 years. (Images: Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro)

Official formats for playing Magic: The Gathering have become a staple of the hobby and the collectible card game (CCG) community. These official formats are what most small and large-scale MTG tournament events follow. While MTG formats have expanded and evolved many times over the years, changing the set rotation in Standard of the playable cards and sets is a big deal. Professional Magic: The Gathering players will certainly need to re-assess their builds to stay competitive.

But is this also an attempt to address Hasbro’s alleged overmonetizing of the Magic: The Gathering brand? Check out the details revealed so far.

The announcement of the official change to Magic: The Gathering’s Standard format was posted on May 7, 2023 at the MTG website and shared via the official social media channels.

The initial part of the announcement provides the rationale for the change. Apparently, the Standard format has been lagging behind the growing popularity of Pioneer, Modern, and Commander formats (or homebrew sub-formats like Oathbreaker). According to Aaron Forsythe, Vice President of Design for Magic: The Gathering at Studio X:

It concerns us when tabletop Standard gets left behind despite Magic's tremendous growth. Time and time again, we've heard from players and local store owners that they believe a healthy, well-liked, well-attended Standard is still incredibly important to their experience and their success.

To help bring Standard back on the forefront of Magic: The Gathering’s business strategy and renew player interest, the format will now have cards and sets rotate out every 3 years. This change will be effective upon release of the Wilds of Eldraine expansion set.

The new Standard format set rotation of every three years will take effect with the release of the Wilds of Eldraine expansion set later this 2023.

But this is only the first step, according to Forsythe:

That step is that we're going to extend the lifecycle of all cards in Standard by one year: starting with the current Standard environment, sets will rotate out every three years rather than every two years.

This means that with the release of Wilds of Eldraine, there will be no Standard rotation for this year only. The following year in 2024, Innistrad: Crimson Vow, Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, and Streets of New Capenna will rotate out of Standard.

Forsythe also confirms that this new rotation process will be applied to the popular Magic: The Gathering Arena, but not for the cards in the Alchemy format. The MTG Arena development team verified that the Alchemy format will still follow the 2-year rotation.

Aside from the sets mentioned prior, Alchemy Horizons: Baldur’s Gate (which was a tie-in to the Forgotten Realms Dungeons & Dragons setting) will also rotate out of Magic: The Gathering Arena's Alchemy format.

While the Standard format set rotation will also apply to Magic: The Gathering Arena, the Alchemy format will retain the 2-year set rotation.

The later sections of the announcement attempt to reassure the MTG community and player base that this is not intended to overshadow the other popular formats. Instead, extending the rotation period to three years in order to give Standard cards longevity, allow for building on mechanics and deck archetypes to be more effective, and provide a larger card pool that sees more variety than just the prevalence of mid-range decks.

More details about the change to Standard rotation will be discussed on May 16, as part of the WeeklyMTG podcast and the WotC team invites players to join the discussion through the official Discord channel.

Wizards of the Coast has been under scrutiny recently, not the least of which is due to the Open Gaming License issue and the alleged harassment of an MTG YouTuber from Pinkerton agents due to unofficial leaks of the March of the Machine: The Aftermath microset. But this change to Standard format for MTG set rotations is generally a welcome change of pace. Will it be enough to keep MTG collectors and players happy?

The first look for Magic: The Gathering Wilds of Eldraine will be on July 28, 2023 with the set release on September 8, 2023. Preorders are already available through Amazon and local game stores.

Geoff Borgonia
Geoffrey "Borgy" Borgonia is a veteran writer, artist, journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur based in the Philippines. When not contributing to some of the top pop culture sites on the planet, he spends the rest of his time running his business, practicing martial arts, working on and developing books, comics, and games. In his man-cave, his only luxury is sleep. Borgy on Linkedin.