I don't think you are a fool, it's just a meta call.
From what i have saw, auto-includes are a thing even in less competitive metas.
The sky isn't falling and my meta won't die for sure, but since, as you said, power creep is a thing, i hope they won't print another sheoldred, avacyn or cyclonic rift in the near future.
I play mostly at LGS "commander night"-type metas. So, not a fully stable group, but tend to see a lot of the same faces. I've played a couple different metas in the US, in the UK, and now in NZ. I've really never felt running those cards (except rift) was important, necessary, or even optimal.
If you're just hard-casting those cards without some plan to cheat them out, I think most good decks will either be fast enough that, by the time you play them, you're already in big trouble or outright dead, or they're controlling enough that playing a big expensive clunker with no immediate impact is going to be trivial to answer, if it even needs answering at all.
I really think you're vastly overstating the power level of avacyn and sheoldred to put them in the same list as rift. Nearly any blue deck is improved by rift, but I reeeaaaaally don't buy that any white deck is improved by avacyn. Unless you can reliably cheat her out and/or plan to armageddon, she's just not that great. She costs a ton in a color that's not great at ramp, and a lot of the good removal doesn't care about indestructible. There are way better things to do with that much mana. A deck just doesn't get to run very many cards at that mana cost and still be effective. Is Sheoldred really the bomb you're going to win the game with? Idk, I've seen a lot of sheoldreds cast, and the number that were a significant part of a victory is pretty low.
I think auto-includes are more of a thing in 75%-ish metas. Below that, people are running whatever jank suits their fancy. Above 75%, auto-includes exist, but don't tend to be big dumb clunky bombs like sheoldred, so much as efficient answers like swan song and swords to plowshares (swords is one I might compare to rift - not so much sheoldred). And so long as your meta is around 75%, I don't think it's particularly difficult to win with a smart cohesive build, rather than a bunch of dumb "auto-includes". So I really don't buy that any meta exists where Sheoldred or Avacyn are necessary, by any stretch.
Call me a fool, but I don't think Sheoldred or Avacyn are that great. Good at what they do, yes, certainly, but not the sort of thing I'm just going to jam into any deck in their colors. If I'm playing Kaalia (never gonna happen, but let's say) then sure, Avacyn is great. If I'm playing reanimator, then sure, Sheoldred is great. With tokens, craterhoof. But I'm not setting aside slots for those cards by default, or even close. Out of all my white decks (which, given that I've built over a hundred decks, is probably quite a few) I think I've only run avacyn once or twice. Sheoldred and craterhoof, same deal. Again, call me a fool. But I'm sure not suffering any major loss in win% because of it, from what I can tell. To me, outside of good synergy, these are mostly goodstuff cards, and a bunch of random goodstuff cards just don't hold a candle to a well-built deck with a cohesive plan.
I mean sure, sheoldred overshadows reya. But you can still run Reya if you don't have access to black, or you're playing kaalia and want redundancy, or you're building angel tribal, or you just want to. Yes, power creep is a thing, but it's not like Reya as a standalone card wasn't always crap. She was kind of OK in oldschool reanimator and that was a long, long time ago.
Cyc rift I have put in nearly every blue deck I've built though. You've got me on that one. That's probably as close to a true auto-include as exists in the format outside of fast mana.
I don't buy this argument of "oh, you're playing X color, so you have to play X card". Even if we're operating on the, imo, mistaken assumption that sheoldred/hoof/avacyn are auto-includes. If you're playing to win as your primary goal, then forget about sheoldred, there are waaaaaaay more powerful things available in this format. And if you're not playing to win at all costs, then guess what? YOU get to draw the line in the sand about what is and isn't fun to play with. You can choose not to include those cards if you don't want to. Nobody is twisting your arm. You can make plenty strong decks with or without them.
If your meta is becoming stale and refuses to move off them, then that's one thing, but personally that doesn't bother me too much, so long as it's not veering too close to cEDH. I always find it fun to run circles around the unimaginative goodstuff decks, personally.
Most of the never-to-be-surpassed cards existed at the format’s inception.
I don't know. Surely old cards had some really broken ass *****cards. But things like Avacyn, Sheoldred or cyclonic rift looks pretty new to me.
We're talking NEVER to be surpassed cards. None of those - maaaaybe cyclonic rift, but even then not really - are anywhere near that camp.
Wotc could totally print a slightly better sheoldred or a slightly better avacyn, or even a slightly better rift - in standard. Maybe it's not likely, but it's definitely not impossible. Power creep is a thing.
WotC printing a slightly better sol ring in standard? Never ever ever ever ever going to happen, not if power creep runs its course for a thousand years. Hell, I'd be shocked if a strictly-better worn powerstone was ever printed in standard, and that card is already several orders of magnitude less powerful than ring and crypt.
If you want to find never-to-be-surpassed cards that aren't super old, you're probably looking more for something like skullclamp or treasure cruise, not big dumb beaters that had a minimal/acceptable impact on other competitive formats. If there weren't bannings in constructed, then it's safe to say that wotc doesn't feel they made a mistake (and arguably didn't), and may well push the envelope further in the future.
Also, none of those cards (arguable exception of cyc rift) are really doing any serious damage to this format either, imo. Sure, they're good, but I'd put sheoldred and avacyn pretty low on the list of "what's wrong with EDH these days".
My comment was directed at OP, not you, sorry for any miscommunication.
I don't really have good advice for someone who's meta is powerful enough that any attempt at innovation becomes a huge handicap. I've been in more or less powerful groups, with more and less powerful opponents, but there's always been enough wiggle-room that, between my advantages in budget, build experience, and play skill, I haven't had any trouble making off-the-beaten-path lists win a reasonable amount of the time. If someone feels they're trapped in a competitive meta and don't want to be, all I can suggest is talking to them or finding a different group to play with. In my experience the vast majority of metas are around the 75% level.
Most of the never-to-be-surpassed cards existed at the format’s inception. It’s always just been a question of how much power you’re willing to sacrifice for innovation, and vice versa.
To me, it sounds like you’ve found a formula you think is best, refuse to move off of it, and then blame the format for your own stubbornness.
To be more constructive: I tend to think of some plan that I want to enact, and then build the deck to maximise my ability to execute that plan. If your plan is always just “win” then that’s probably why you don’t see much variety in your lists.