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I started playing Magic (or started again rather) just after the Theros set had come out. The standard format was defined to include the Return to Ravnica block and the entire Theros block of which the last two sets had not come out.

I do not think Wizards of the Coast has made any official announcements yet so I'm asking for what may happen based on what has happened in the past. When can I expect Standard to change and what should I expect? Is it likely that the Theros block will remain in and the Return to Ravnica block will drop, or are the changes unpredictable?

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2 Answers 2

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Standard rotates once a year, in the fall. New cards printed in a core set or expansion set stay in Standard for between one to two years after their printing.

Currently, the normal set release schedule is:

  • One block (like Theros) on a yearly cycle: one sets each for fall, winter, and spring.
  • One core set (like M14) each summer.
  • A couple of specialty products throughout the year, like Commander decks or Modern Masters. These aren't part of Standard.

Both the structure of Standard and the release schedule have varied over time, but there's no particular reason to think Wizards of the Coast will change them anytime soon.

Modern-day Standard environments consist of:

  • The current block.
  • The previous complete block.
  • Any core sets released since the previous complete block.

The cards in Standard rotate once a year, when the first set of the new block is released in the fall. At its smallest, Standard is one old block + one set from the new block + one core set. At its largest, just before rotation, Standard is two complete blocks + two core sets. Because rotation happens in the fall, the cards in the summer core sets effectively "age out" the fastest (after about 1 1/4 years).

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The format rotation is pretty predictable (although subject to change at WOC discretion).

Cards allowed (aside from cards that get banned on an individual case basis):
- Cards from 2 most recent story-related blocks
- Cards from any Core set released after the older story-related block in standard.

Example (from May 13, 2014): Current standard:

Return to Ravnica
Gatecrash
Dragon's Maze
Magic 2014
Theros
Born of the Gods
Journey Into Nyx (effective May 2, 2014)
Magic 2015 Core Set (effective July 28, 2014)

When the story-related block is released (after Magic 2015 Core Set) Return to Ravnica, Gatecrash, Dragon's Maze and Magic 2014 will cycle out.

A new Story-related block and its first set are usually released every Sept/Oct each year (2 new sets of the block follow after 3-4 months each). Core sets usually come out in June/July. Each story-related block is in 'Standard' for about 2 years. Later sets in block and the core sets usually cycle out in about a year.

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Could you also mention how long these cards stay in standard, i.e. the normal set release schedule? –  Jefromi May 13 at 16:57
    
@Jefromi updated. thanks for the suggestion. –  Colin D May 13 at 17:04
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