New to Magic - The Standard Format?

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I'm very new to magic (haven't even bought my first deck yet...) and I'm trying to understand how the standard format works. After a LOT of research (surprisingly necessary for whatever reason...) I have come to this conclusion:

The standard format is the 2 most current blocks. And you can't have more than 2 blocks in standard at once, that's why when the first 2013 block set comes out, then the 2011 blocks will become obsolete. So then only the 2012 block (Innistrad/Dark Ascension/Avacyn Restored) and the newly released 2013 set (Return to Ravnica) along with the rest of the upcoming 2013 block will be standard.

So basically it doesn't matter that 2013's block isn't finished yet. Since the first set of the block is about to be released, that's considered a block in the standard. And as I theorized before, you can only have 2 blocks in the standard. So 2011's blocks are going obsolete. This theory was based on the fact that the 2011 block IS going away on October 5th according to: www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.a....



So maybe I've overcomplicated it, but simply put, the 2 most recent = standard. Even if the most recent block isn't fully released yet. Is this right?

 
Almost. 2011 is already out of standard.

Sets rotate every october. Right now, the sets in standard are Magic 2012, Scars of Mirrodin, Innistrad, and 2013. When Return to Ravnica is released in october, it will push Magic 2012 and Scars of Mirrodin out of standard.

As a rule of thumb, think of it as only 2 expansion sets are in standard at once.

Core sets(like 2012, 2013, etc.) come out over summer as a way to refresh the pool of cards to construct decks with, because when the last expansion set is rotated out the pool will be at its smallest. Core sets are generally balanced and full of staple cards that will go into most decks.

Sets that are expanded (Scars of Mirrodin>Mirrodin Besieged>New Phyrexia) are released into standard over time because of their size, and a need to follow the story line that is being told through the game, with the cards(usually with flavor text).

Etc etc. If youre just getting started its probably best to stick with new stuff. Ask your shop owner and they can lead you in the right direction.

If you need advice on a deck to buy, the green event deck from 2013 is actually pretty baller for a precon. I bought one for my friend to use last week because he didnt have his cards and we tweeked it and he went 3-2. It already has some good cards in it so its a great place to start.
The problem you're having is that Core Sets aren't part of a block.  Blocks are sets of (usually) 3 expansions that are all linked in theme and story.  Core sets are basically the bones of the game that the expansions are hung on.  So, Core Sets and blocks are seperate.  The latest 2 blocks are legal.  Core sets are legal until a block rotation happens the year AFTER they are released.  So, right now, Magic 2012 and Magic 2013 are legal - in October Magic 2012 rotates out.
The easiest way to found is the banned/restricted list under resources on magic home page. It will even tell you when the rotation happens.
Yep, easiest way to figure out what is allowed, is to go to DCI homepage 
  And check there
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