Too-Specific Top 10 - Rotation Rotation Rotation, 2020 Edition
(Emergence Zone | Art by Jonas de Ro)
Change of Season
Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know Knight of Autumn was the only Selesnya creature with an enter-the-battlefield ability to see significant Standard play?)
I'm not much for anniversaries, mostly because I'm terrible at remembering them. With that in mind, then, it snuck up on me a bit that Too-Specific Top 10 has been going for well over a year now, with the first list having come out in June of 2019. The only reason I'm remembering this anniversary months after the fact? I've actually been wanting to return to some of my lists I've done after the fact and see how they've aged, along with making some into annual editions now that I'm well into the flow of things. And there is not a more natural candidate for a return visit than the yearly Standard Rotation.
Top 10 Standard “Staples” of the 2019-2020 Season (in EDH)
For those that weren't around for last year's changing of the guard, the criteria and methodology was quite unique from the normal weekly routine we've established here on Too-Specific Top 10. Rather than pouring over Scryfall modifiers for just the right unique niche to make a top ten list out of, instead we pulled from the existing Standard Mythic Championships or Grand Prix Top 8 decklists. Why, you ask? Because speaking in rather broad fashion, those are the cards that end up being in high demand, and therefore end up with a higher price that may be ready to fall once those cards have rotated.
Only, there is one other thing to cover before we dive into the decklists to come up with our candidates for this year: which sets are rotating out of Standard, exactly?
Guilds of Ravnica
War of the Spark
Core Set 2020
The third visit to Ravnica fades into the rearview mirror, along with last year's Core Set. While probably no one has strong feelings on Core Set 2020 outside of Field of the Dead and Golos, Tireless Pilgrim, I know three sets straight out of one of the most popular planes in the multiverse and the end of the Bolas Arc made a bit of an impression on me, personally. So let's take a look at what cards did well in Standard that may now be coming down in price a bit as sets of four make their way to the marketplace, and see if any of them make an impression of their own! Let's take a look at the criteria:
Criteria: Rares and mythics that were featured in a Top 8 decklist from a World Championship, Grand Prix, Mythic Championship, or Players Tour in the last year, made a Top 8 decklist at at least five different events during that span, and are originally from sets rotating out of the Standard format that have not been banned in said format. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.
For those paying attention, the banned criteria is new this year, and is a necessary evil given the rapid advancement of banned cards in the Standard format as of late. Plus, we all knew that Field of the Dead was gonna be at the top of the list if we counted it, anyhow. Between that and the price already having dropped for those banned cards in all likelihood, there seemed little reason to include them this time around. The other big restriction this time around to avoid flash-in-the-pan cards like Finale of Glory from entering contention despite not really having seen wide play is the five different events, which should keep our card pool restricted to just those cards that really were Standard "staples", at least for a little while.
On to the decklists that will make up our cardpool!
Mythic Championship V, Oct. 18-20View on Archidekt
Grand Prix Nagoya 2019, Nov 2-3View on Archidekt
Grand Prix Lyon 2019, Nov 2-3View on Archidekt
Grand Prix Richmond 2019, Nov 8-10View on Archidekt
Mythic Championship VI, Nov 8-10View on Archidekt
Grand Prix Sao Paulo 2019, Nov 16-17View on Archidekt
Cards That Already Made the Cut:
- Mass Manipulation
- Legion's End
- Nissa, Who Shakes the World
- Voracious Hydra
- Hydroid Krasis
- Liliana, Dreadhorde General
- Massacre Girl
- Casualties of War
- Vraska, Golgari Queen
Cards That Didn't Make It:
- Deputy of Detention (Two total inclusions, Mythic Championship V & Grand Prix Nagoya 2019)
- Chance for Glory (One total inclusion, Mythic Championship V)
- Plaza of Harmony (One total inclusion, Mythic Championship V)
- Finale of Glory (Two total inclusions, Grand Prix Nagoya 2019 & Grand Prix Lyon 2019)
- Assassin's Trophy (Three total inclusions, Grand Prix Nagoya 2019, Mythic Championship VI, & Grand Prix Sao Paulo 2019)
- Angel of Grace (One total inclusion, Grand Prix Lyon 2019)
- Dawn of Hope (One total inclusion, Grand Prix Lyon 2019)
- Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God (One total inclusion, Grand Prix Lyon 2019)
- Ugin, the Ineffable (Two total inclusions, Grand Prix Lyon 2019 & Grand Prix Sao Paulo 2019)
- Ethereal Absolution (One total inclusion, Grand Prix Richmond 2019)
- Gideon Blackblade (One total inclusion, Mythic Championship VI)
- God-Eternal Oketra (One total inclusion, Mythic Championship VI)
- Unbreakable Formation (One total inclusion, Mythic Championship VI)
- March of the Multitudes (One total inclusion, Mythic Championship VI)
Mythic Championship VII, Dec 6-8, 2019View on Archidekt
Grand Prix Brisbane 2019, Dec 7-8View on Archidekt
Grand Prix OKC 2019, Dec 14-15View on Archidekt
Grand Prix Portland 2019, Dec 21-22View on Archidekt
Cards That Already Made the Cut:
- Knight of the Ebon Legion
- Rotting Regisaur
- Shifting Ceratops
- Time Wipe
- Cavalier of Gales
- Cavalier of Flame
- Nightpack Ambusher
- Deafening Clarion
Cards That Didn't Make It:
- Skarrgan Hellkite (Three total inclusions, Mythic Championship V, Grand Prix OKC 2019, & Grand Prix Portland 2019)
- Pelt Collector (Two total inclusions, Mythic Championship V & Grand Prix Portland 2019)
- Gruul Spellbreaker (Three total inclusions, Mythic Championship V, Grand Prix OKC 2019, & Grand Prix Portland 2019)
- Golos, Tireless Pilgrim (Two total inclusions, Mythic Championship V & Grand Prix Brisbane 2019)
- Cavalier of Night (Four total inclusions, Grand Prix Lyon 2019, Mythic Championship VI, Grand Prix Sao Paulo 2019, & Grand Prix Portland 2019)
- Drawn from Dreams (Three total inclusions, Grand Prix Richmond 2019, Mythic Championship VII, & Grand Prix Brisbane 2019)
- Cavalier of Thorns (Two total inclusions, Mythic Championship VII & Grand Prix Brisbane 2019)
- End-Raze Forerunners (Two total inclusions, Mythic Championship VII & Grand Prix Brisbane 2019)
- Finale of Devastation (Two total inclusions, Mythic Championship VII & Grand Prix Brisbane 2019)
- Quasiduplicate (Two total inclusions, Mythic Championship VII & Grand Prix Brisbane 2019)
- Vivien, Arkbow Ranger (Two total inclusions, Mythic Championship VII & Grand Prix Portland 2019)
- Chandra, Awakened Inferno (Three total inclusions, Grand Prix Brisbane 2019, Grand Prix OKC 2019, & Grand Prix Portland 2019)
- The Royal Scions (One total inclusion, Grand Prix OKC 2019)
- Theater of Horrors (One total inclusion, Grand Prix OKC 2019)
- Finale of Eternity (One total inclusion, Grand Prix Portland 2019)
- Planewide Celebration (One total inclusion, Grand Prix Portland 2019)
- Shared Summons (One total inclusion, Grand Prix Portland 2019)
- Find // Finality (One total inclusion, Grand Prix Portland 2019)
Magic World Championship XXVI, Feb 14-16View on Archidekt
Grand Prix Lyon 2020, Mar 7-8View on Archidekt
Cards That Already Made the Cut:
Cards That Didn't Make It:
- Experimental Frenzy (Two total inclusions, Mythic Championship V & Grand Prix Lyon 2020)
- Runaway Steam-Kin (Three total inclusions, Mythic Championship V, Magic World Championship XXVI, & Grand Prix Lyon 2020)
- Niv-Mizzet, Parun (Three total inclusions, Grand Prix Richmond 2019, Magic World Championship XXVI, & Grand Prix Lyon 2020)
- The Elderspell (Two total inclusions, Mythic Championship VI & Grand Prix Lyon 2020)
- Chandra, Acolyte of Flame (Three total inclusions, Mythic Championship VI, Magic World Championship XXVI, & Grand Prix Lyon 2020)
- Tithe Taker (Four total inclusions, Grand Prix Brisbane 2019, Grand Prix OKC 2019, Grand Prix Portland 2019, & Magic World Championship XXVI)
- God-Eternal Bontu (One total inclusion, Grand Prix Lyon 2020)
Players Tour Online 1, Jun 13-14View on Archidekt
Players Tour Online 2, Jun 13-14View on Archidekt
Players Tour Online 3, Jun 19-20View on Archidekt
Players Tour Online 4, Jun 20-21View on Archidekt
Players Tour Finals 2020, Jul 25-Aug 1View on Archidekt
Cards That (Finally) Made the Cut:
- Legion Warboss
- Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves
- Tamiyo, Collector of Tales
- Priest of Forgotten Gods
- Dreadhorde Butcher
- Expansion // Explosion
- Blast Zone
- Commence the Endgame
Cards That Didn't Make It:
- Knight of Autumn (Four total inclusions, Mythic Championship V, Mythic Championship VI, Grand Prix Lyon 2020, & Player's Tour Online 4)
- Tale's End (Two total inclusions, Grand Prix Nagoya 2019 & Player's Tour Online 2)
- Solar Blaze (Four total inclusions, Grand Prix Richmond 2019, Grand Prix Brisbane 2019, Grand Prix OKC 2019, & Player's Tour Finals 2020)
- Venerated Loxodon (Three total inclusions, Mythic Championship VI, Grand Prix Brisbane 2019, Player's Tour Finals 2020)
- Judith, the Scourge Diva (Two total inclusions, Grand Prix Brisbane 2019 & Player's Tour Finals 2020)
- Spawn of Mayhem (Three total inclusions, Grand Prix OKC 2019, Grand Prix Portland 2019, & Player's Tour Finals 2020)
- Ritual of Soot (Three total inclusions, Grand Prix Lyon 2020, Player's Tour Online 2, & Player's Tour Online 3)
- Ionize (One total inclusion, Player's Tour Online 1)
- Bolas's Citadel (Three total inclusions, Player's Tour Online 2, Player's Tour Online 3, & Player's Tour Finals 2020)
- Cindervines (Three total inclusions, Player's Tour Online 2, Player's Tour Online 3, & Player's Tour Finals 2020)
- Enter the God-Eternals (One total inclusion, Player's Tour Online 3)
- Kaya, Orzhov Usurper (One total inclusion, Player's Tour Online 3)
- Kaya's Wrath (One total inclusion, Player's Tour Online 3)
- Oath of Kaya (One total inclusion, Player's Tour Online 3)
- Narset's Reversal (Two total inclusions, Player's Tour Online 4 & Player's Tour Finals 2020)
- Awakening of Vitu-Ghazi (One total inclusion, Player's Tour Online 4)
- Tajic, Legion's Edge (One total inclusion, Player's Tour Finals 2020)
- Mobilized District (One total inclusion, Player's Tour Finals 2020)
And with that, we have a full card pool of 28 to choose from, so let's get to our top ten!
10. Vraska, Golgari Queen
(5,393 Inclusions, 5% of 109,384 Decks)
There are quite a few cards that surprised me with where they ended up on this list, but none more than Vraska, Golgari Queen. Her +2 ability giving two loyalty is worth quite a bit, as far as survivability, especially when combined with her Smother for nonland permanents on her second ability. That said, the +2 also requires you to sacrifice a permanent to draw a card, something I would never pay four mana for, the same of which is true of her other ability as well. With that in mind, I half expected to look Vraska up and find that the inclusions were mostly from Superfriends decks looking to take advantage of her ultimate pretty much immediately with a Deepglow Skate or Doubling Season, but that isn't the case. Looking at her page on EDHREC, it's really just a gathering of all the Golgari goodstuff that you can find, looking for a sac effect that can accrue value and provide removal. And what can I say? She does do that... but don't about forty other cards already do that too?
9. Massacre Girl
(Helms 305 Decks, Rank #362; 5,907 Inclusions, 3% of 227,793)
There are actually very few creatures with Wrath of God-like board wipe effects stapled to them in black, so it's little surprise to see that one of the newest and best of them makes the cut here.
Five mana for a board wipe that won't necessarily wipe the entire board (although in practice, it pretty much always does) might seem a little steep at first, but there are a couple things to keep in mind when it comes to Massacre Girl. Unlike the seven-mana Deathbringer Regent, Massacre Girl can get rid of indestructible creatures, and, more importantly for a lot of black decks, can be recurred from the graveyard to use her ability again (Protip: Try this with Lifeline and a sac effect for a good time for the whole table). While Bane of the Living is initially cheaper to cast, it's usually much more expensive to actually activate, especially if you need it the same turn you cast it for its Morph cost. Which just leaves Kagemaro, First to Suffer, which costs the same to cast as Massacre Girl, but costs extra mana to activate and requires you to have a full grip to wipe the board. And while those last two options can be scaled somewhat to perhaps keep some of your larger board presence, which can be very relevant in decks looking to recur large creatures from the graveyard, when they are used as an actual board wipe they leave you with an empty board, as opposed to Massacre Girl's very relevant 4/4 body with menace.
8. Expansion // Explosion
(8,265 Inclusions, 8% of 107,890 Decks)
Back when I did a top ten list on cards in abnormal frames in the immediate aftermath of Throne of Eldraine's Adventure cards, it actually ended up eighth on the list as well. That is somewhat misleading, however, as Expansion // Explosion has gotten significantly more inclusions in the last year, and this list in general has more highly ranked cards on it as a whole. Those expanded play numbers don't come as much of a surprise, given the flexible and powerful nature of this split card. It's utilized in EDH the same way that it was used in Standard, to copy cheap removal and card advantage spells, and with the even higher top end in the late-game of the average Commander table, the Explosion half of the card can be an absolute game-ender or just a large swing that takes out a player's commander while drawing you multiple cards. Either way, it's hard to be playing an Izzet deck and even think about leaving this staple on the sideline.
7. Casualties of War
(8,346 Inclusions, 8% of 109,384 Decks)
Speaking of staples, Casualties of War is rapidly becoming just that for Golgari decks. While it's more expensive than long-time Gruul staple Decimate, it also destroys even more permanents while not having the requirement having to have a target of each type to be on the battlefield that sometimes makes Decimate a dead card in your hand or even makes you blow up one of your own permanents to remove a crucial problem on the opposing side of the board. In short, if you can afford to the difficult-to-cast double green and black pips, then you should probably be playing this card.
6. Priest of Forgotten Gods
(8,951 Inclusions, 4% of 227,793 Decks)
Priest of Forgotten Gods is an absolute powerhouse of a sac effect in Aristocrats builds, despite its high cost of entry at two creatures to activate its ability and only being able to sacrifice said two creatures instead of your entire board as you would be able to do with an unlimited sacrifice effect like Phyrexian Plaguelord. This is thankfully made up for by the low mana cost to get this little Cleric out on the battlefield for only two mana, and the absolute bonkers-ness of its sacrifice ability's actual effect. Design just kept adding words to this thing in the same vein as cards like The Great Henge, and it feels like that as you explain it to your opponents piece by piece, even before you get to the very possible death triggers you're probably playing alongside this thing. The only real question when looking at Priest of Forgotten Gods in a brewing session is whether you categorize it as ramp, sac outlet, card draw, or removal?
5. Nissa, Who Shakes the World
(9,374 Inclusions, 4% of 216,082 Decks)
In similar fashion to last year, the Cream of the Crop planeswalkers are making appearances all over this list, even with Teferi, Time Raveler being cut out of contention. Nissa, Who Shakes the World is more than deserving of the number five spot even without the inherent planeswalker bump in popularity, however. Yet another mana-doubler available to mono-green decks, Nissa can also get you an extra two mana on top of that with her +1 ability, eventually stacking up enough +1/+1 counters on a given land that you can use it as a finisher as well. If the table is insane or powerless enough to let you continue doing that, or if you happen to have had a Doubling Season in play upon her resolution, then you can also ult her to search for every Forest in your deck and make all of your lands indestructible. All of which is to say, if you're building any sort of creature land deck with the new Ashaya, Soul of the Wild or Obuun, Mul Daya Ancestor, then this is obviously a slam dunk. But honestly, it's still plenty good enough for just general green decks or land strategies, as well, so I wouldn't be surprised to see these inclusion numbers keep climbing.
4. Blast Zone
(9,972 Inclusions, 2% of 439,117 Decks)
If a card being a contender in just about any green deck leads to impressive numbers, then I wouldn't be surprised to see Blast Zone's numbers have surpassed 10,000 by the time this article is actually published. Feel free to click on it and see, I'll wait.
To be fair, predicting that Blast Zone's numbers will consistently go up is a pretty easy bet to make, given that it can fit into basically any deck with a spot for an extra utility land, not to mention the absolute auto-include that it is in any deck that cares about counters of any kind. Having removal on a land is just not a very common effect, and I can't think of even one example of it over the years that is even half as good as Blast Zone is. I mean, in the days when I played Standard, we were harping on how good Barbarian Ring was, and it usually did more damage to you than anything or anyone else. Blast Zone can come down and almost immediately wipe out the 1/1s on the board, or get a bunch of counters added on at the end of an opponent's turn to remove their commander and a few other incidental threats out, all at the same time. That is a lot of possibilities for the low, low price of a single land slot.
3. Midnight Reaper
(10,014 Inclusions, 4% of 227,793 Decks)
While Midnight Reaper still has a long way to go to catch up with Grim Haruspex's 16,375 inclusions, it is closing the gap. If prices stay the way they are, however, it may never quite get there, as the extra card you get for it, itself, dying is easily offset by the extra damage you take with each card draw in most decks.
Still, of the three-mana options, Midnight Reaper is probably still an easy number two, as it has an easier mana cost than Dark Prophecy and is also a creature in a strategy that obviously cares about creatures. Speaking of which, it's also a Zombie, which doesn't hurt either when it comes to decks looking to constantly create and kill creatures.
2. Liliana, Dreadhorde General
(11,365 Inclusions, 5% of 227,793 Decks)
If you'd rather pay six mana, no life, and have a couple options to immediately make more creatures or draw a couple cards as soon as your threat hits the board, then Liliana, Dreadhorde General is there for you! Combine all that with the lack of the word "nontoken" on the card and an ult that outshines Torment of Hailfire when it comes to ending a game, and it's not hard to see why this Liliana is seeing more play despite costing double the mana of Midnight Reaper.
1. Time Wipe
(11,931 Inclusions, 11% of 108,729 Decks)
While I've always been a bigger fan of Flood of Tears, the player-base as a whole seems to much prefer Time Wipe, as it's seeing 3,000 more inclusions despite requiring an additional color. While it will probably never catch up to the most popular Azorius board wipe in the format, Supreme Verdict, it is halfway there as far as inclusions, and there is a lot to be said for being able to save your most powerful or crucial creature when you wipe the board. Indeed, it could even be looked at as a means of replacing itself, which is nothing to sneeze at. I know I, for one, would play a Wrath of God that cost an extra mana and had "draw a card" stapled to it, after all.
To a lot of folks, myself included, it's just as fun to see what's at the bottom of a given list as it is to see what's at the top (I really need to do more "Top Ten Worst" lists, actually...), so since I've compiled the whole 28, here you go!
11. Tamiyo, Collector of Tales (4947 Inclusions, 4% of 116679 Decks)
12. Legion Warboss (4819 Inclusions, 2% of 211425 Decks)
13. Voracious Hydra (4588 Inclusions, 2% 216082 Decks)
14. Hydroid Krasis (4222 Inclusions, 4% of 116679 Decks)
15. Mass Manipulation (3425 Inclusions, 1% of 232052 Decks)
16. Cavalier of Flame (3195 Inclusions, 2% of 211425 Decks)
17. Knight of the Ebon Legion (3030 Inclusions, 1% of 227793 Decks)
18. Cavalier of Gales (1992 Inclusions, 1% of 232052 Decks)
19. Gutterbones (1709 Inclusions, 1% of 227793 Decks)
20. Deafening Clarion (1707 Inclusions, 2% of 102295 Decks)
21. Shifting Ceratops (1417 Inclusions, 1% 217399 Decks)
22. Sphinx of Foresight (1366 Inclusions, 1% of 232052 Decks)
23. Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves (Helms 557 Decks, Rank #239; 702 Inclusions, 1% of 101718 Decks)
24. Commence the Endgame (1243 Inclusions, 1% of 232052 Decks)
25. Dreadhorde Butcher (1164 Inclusions, 1% of 106877 Decks)
26. Rotting Regisaur (1032 Inclusions, 0% of 227793 Decks)
27. Nightpack Ambusher (895 Inclusions, 0% of 216082 Decks)
28. Legion’s End (69 Inclusions, 0% of 227793 Decks)
Nuts and Bolts
There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion…), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! This week, however, was pretty much all manual leg-work and very little Scryfall, so with that in mind, instead enjoy the full list of what cards rotating out of Standard are seeing the most (and least) play currently!
What Do You Think?
While it seems like more and more recent cards are making their way into EDH all the time these days, of the Top 100 cards in EDH over the last month, only 23 were actually printed in the last five years. That's still definitely skewed towards newer cards, given that Magic has been around 27 years now. There is also some known staying power of old (and therefore well-known) staples, but overall the problem of strictly better and/or more powerful cards making their way into EDH isn't as bad as it is commonly thought to be, at least not among the most popular cards. That does not mean, however, that it isn't accelerating and may become a bigger issue as more and more cards are printed with Commander in mind. So...
And finally, what are your favorite cards currently rotating out of Standard? Are there any diamonds in the rough that you feel aren't getting the love they deserve?
Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the table that's finally getting freed up now that the Standard tournament is over.