Magic: Frequently Asked Questions

March 1, 2012

What is “Standard”?
The Standard format uses only the newest sets the game has to offer. The current block, the block that was released the previous fall, and the most recent core set or sets are all legal to play in a Standard deck. Sets currently legal in Standard are: Theros, Born of the Gods, Journey Into Nyx, Magic 2015, Khans of Tarkir, and Fate Reforged.
Dragons of Tarkir will be Standard legal March 27, 2015.
Magic Origins will join Standard on July 17, 2015.

What is “Constructed”?
Constructed decks must contain a minimum of sixty cards. There is no maximum deck size; however, you must be able to shuffle your deck with no assistance. If a player wishes to use a sideboard, it may contain up to fifteen cards.
With the exception of basic land cards, a player’s combined deck and sideboard may not contain more than four of any individual card, counted by its English card title equivalent. All cards named Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and Forest are basic.

At FNM, we play Standard Constructed and Modern Constructed.

What’s in Standard?
Let’s say you are a returning player who hasn’t played since Ice Age, Visions, or Lorwyn, or if you are a new player who was given a whole bunch of older cards- are they worthless? No. Heck, no. In fact, a great many of them will have been reprinted in a Standard Legal set, so you can use them at FNM, even if the copy you have was printed earlier. It doesn’t matter when the physical card was printed, just that some version of the card with that name was printed in a Standard Legal set.

How can you tell if you have an old (or new) card and want to know if it is Standard Legal for the FNM tournament? Go to http://gatherer.wizards.comand enter the card’s name. Run the search and check the “Sets & Legality” tab on the results window. If “Standard” is listed, your card is legal at FNM. Pretty nifty.

What is Standard rotation?
Currently, the set rotation pattern for Standard is in a two-year transitory phase between the previous pattern (Standard rotates once per year in the Fall) and the upcoming one (Standard rotates twice per year in Fall and Spring). This means that:
Theros, Born of the Gods and Journey into Nyx rotate out in Fall 2015.
Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged rotate out in Spring 2016.
Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins rotate out in Fall 2016.

From Fall 2016 on, the release of the first set of each block will rotate out the block three back, meaning that Standard will always consist of exactly three blocks, each of which will consist of no more than two sets. This also means that Standard will always consist of either five or six expansions.

Mark Rosewater wrote a detailed article explaining all the changes to rotation and block structure. You can read it here.