MTG Arena artwork for Sheoldred, the Apocalypse card

[Update #2]: MTG Arena has now banned Fable, Bankbuster and Invoke Despair in order to shake up Standard.

[Update]: MTG Arena's Aftermath expansion has now launched ahead of schedule due to some server issues.

While the Standard format on MTG Arena is absolutely thriving, its tabletop counterpart is slowly but steadily declining in both popularity and relevance. This is partly due to being overshadowed by formats like Commander or Modern, and partly because the high prices on staple cards like Sheoldred alongside the fairly stale metagame push people away before they even give it a try.

So in an effort to solve this problem and revitalize Standard, Wizards of the Coast has now done something a bit drastic - extended the Standard rotation from two to three years! In other words, there won't be a new Standard rotation once Wilds of Eldraine goes live this September. Instead, Innistrad: Crimson Vow, Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, and Streets of New Capenna will all be rotating in late 2024.

Here's a brief rundown of what exactly Wizards of the Coast is planning to achieve with this whole change:

"This will give current Standard cards more longevity. Time and again, we hear that players want to play with cards they love and enjoy longer. Standard is our only rotating format, and while keeping it fresh is important, we also feel that there's a more effective middle ground.

It will allow mechanics and archetypes to be more effectively built on over time. As we moved away from the block model, we gained a lot of flexibility, but we also lost some ability to build on mechanics and themes within a set. With a longer window, we can find more opportunities to build up or revitalize archetypes. Coupled with the point above, that can lead to more diversity, longer-lasting archetypes, and enough competitive churn to keep players engaged.

It also gives us stronger tools to create an environment where decks are more 'color(s) and mechanic' (like Green-White Toxic or Blue-White Soldiers) and less midrange. With a larger card pool, the format can handle bigger swings with entire decks seeded at once."

It's also important to note that this change in rotation timing will not be applied to MTG Arena's digital-only Alchemy format. In theory this should give Alchemy a lot more personality as it'll heavily diverge from Standard as time goes on, as well as give players another unique format to escape to whenever the Standard meta gets too stale.

Personally, I'm not exactly sure what to think about all of this. While extending the rotation does solve some problems, it also introduces a whole bunch of new ones that will need to be addressed, and quickly. For example, cards like Fable of the Mirror-Breaker are absolutely everywhere, and with the rotation now being pushed back an entire year that just means we're going to see even more of them.

Wizards of the Coast could ban these outliers, but since all of them are expensive it's just going to make people feel even less encouraged to invest into Standard since their decks could simply disappear overnight. It's quite the conundrum, and to be perfectly honest I don't know what the best solution actually is - if there even is one!

Whatever the case may be, it's definitely going to be interesting to follow what exactly happens with Standard over the next few years. For now, however, you can read more about the changes and Wizards of the Coast's reasoning for them over at the official website.