Alchemy Rebalanced Card Review and Decklists
Hello everyone! Arena just had easily one of, if not the most, exciting announcement since it’s inception with the introduction of a new format: Alchemy. Alchemy is going to run alongside Standard as a set that uses the same card pool and rotation schedule, but will have cards that are nerfed/buffed and exclusive sets added to it.
This will allow those who get bored of regular Standard or those who want to try something fresh to hop in with many cards they already own and get a brand new experience! Personally, I’m beyond excited for Alchemy as having more ways to play (especially ranked) is fantastic for those who play a lot.
With that, to head into the brand new format, Wizards will be changing 11 cards ranging from top of the format all stars to cards people may have forgotten even existed! You can review all the cards that will be rebalanced here. I’ll be giving a rough review of each card and also providing 5 deck lists that you can use day 1 without needing any other new card! Let’s get into it.
Alrund’s Epiphany has been a pillar of Standard for quite awhile now and has been the hot topic for the most likely card to be banned in Standard. A lot of the power of this card comes from gaining 2 birds with the extra turn and its synergy with Galvanic Iteration, but the changed version looks to temper that.
Instead of always getting the birds, you only get them if the cast spell was foretold so it forces you to wait a turn to get the birds and doesn’t allow copied versions to make the birds at all! This is definitely a substantial nerf, but far from kills the card. Instead of using it purely for comboing or as an unbelievable midrange tool, you’ll have to be a bit more patient with the approach. I’m sure this is still playable in something like Izzet Control or Dragons, but I actually think a more typical Control deck could make the best use of this now.
When you have so many catch up mechanisms, taking a turn to Foretell Epiphany is really no big deal. I’ve played a lot of Control decks where the only win condition was Bird and Angel tokens and I can see this being a strong strategy yet again.
Chariot, like Epiphany, has also been a dominant force in Standard, albeit not as long nor has it been considered as oppressive as Alrund’s has been. Nevertheless, Chariot has been a staple in nearly every single Green deck that can play it as it’s (functinoally) 8 power for 4 mana that can get even better with time. That is an obscene rate that makes it hard for other 4 drops to compete.
Thankfully, the new version of Chariot feels significantly more tempered. Crewing it is much easier, but only producing one token is a huge downgrade compared to 2. The main issue with Chariot is that it was impossible to answer cleanly, but now if you kill the Chariot they’re only left with a 2/2, if you kill the token they may struggle to use Chariot’s copy ability, and Prismari Command can now answer it completely! I think it’s still a great card, but you do need to work a little more to make sure you can use it to its full potential.
The biggest fear with the new Chariot is that if you lose the token and can’t produce another, it’s a pretty mediocre card. However, with just a little work, you can play all good cards and have more than enough token producers to keep the Chariot kicking.
For Faceless Haven the discourse is pretty simple. This card is one of the best cards in Standard and will continue to be, just a little less good. Not being able to profitably block it with a 4 toughness creature was always super brutal, but now the aggro decks can be more reasonably road blocked by larger creatures. This was an excellent change all around.
In a sense, Goldspan Dragon is like the fourth pillar of Standard with Alrund's Epiphany, Esika's Chariot, and Faceless Haven as the remaining busted cards in the format. Personally I think it’s the weakest card of the 4, but that didn’t make it any less excellent. Guaranteeing that you were going to get value out of it was always a big upside for Goldspan, but the frustrating element about it is that the opponent can tap out to cast it, you try to kill it, and with the Treasure it produced the opponent could protect it with something. It was a pretty awful experience when you were unsure whether or not you’d actually be able to kill it, but now they took away that ambiguity.
Only making a Treasure on attack is a very reasonable change to the card that still keeps the spirit of it being this weird ramp creature. I feel like if they kept the original ability and just nixed the part where Treasures produce two mana that would’ve been fine as well, but this is probably the safer change. Like the previous 3 cards, this is definitely a nerf, but isn’t going to stop Goldspan from seeing a reasonable amount of play.
Luminarch Aspirant is a great card, but not one that I would’ve identified as definitely needing a nerf. I have mixed feelings about nerfing it, however I do think it is a pretty elegant change that doesn’t heavily impact the card’s playability.
Aspirant was always such a brutal card to see in a tight game as you expect that you can block one way and then your plans are just thrown out the window. Furthermore I think this can make the decisions a little more interesting as you have to plan ahead with the trigger rather than giving it to the creature that’s always going to attack. Again, I don’t think this needed a nerf, but it is probably a better design as a result of it.
Once again, this card is still going to be great, it’s just slightly less powerful and makes combat a little bit less of a nightmare for the opponent.
OMNATH, LOCUS OF CREATION
Now we’re getting to the spice! All these changes have been nerfs so far, but Omnath is the first one where it was so beyond the scope of acceptable in Standard so this nerf actually makes it legal again. Making it cost 5 and changing the draw to a scry definitely brings this down to earth, but the question now is was this enough or the opposite of was this too much? Personally, I think they actually hit a pretty nice sweet spot with Omnath now.
With just the draw change, it likely would’ve still been too powerful as a 4 drop and at least has to contend with the powerful 5 drops that are in Standard. It may even be a little weak now compared to the other 5s in a vacuum, but no Omnath deck is built in a vacuum. If you’re playing Omnath, your deck is dedicated to making Omnath good.
I may have gone a little too hard on the Omnath plan, but I’m positive that it should look something adjacent to this. Omnath can be nuts if you have the tools to do so, and I would say this deck can definitely make the best use out of it. My favorite thing about this deck in particular is that you can go turn 3 or 4 Moonveil Regent, cast Omnath and use Regent’s ability to discard your hand and draw FOUR cards. Just for that interaction you better believe that this deck is one of the ones I’m most excited for.
After the six nerfs, we’re finally getting to the buffs section of the rebalanced cards! Cosmos Elixir is a card that was meant to be a cool midrange/control card (that Wizards slated as a lifegain piece weirdly enough), but never gained traction as it was a bit too weak. Now, instead of just 2 life if you don’t draw, you also get a scry which isn’t the highest impact thing around, but a definite upgrade. Not to be a cynic, but with this change Elixir is still a somewhat weak card, but it definitely has more potential than before. I started thinking about if there was a slower deck that incidentally gained a lot of life and wanted an effect like this. Here’s what I came up with.
Funny enough, I thought The Book of Exalted Deeds was banned in Bo1 Standard, but when I rechecked, that was just Standard 2022. If you’re looking to smack around creature decks like nothing else, this deck can definitely do that. It’s pretty one dimensional, but it does do its game plan quite well and you can produce 4 Platinum Angel and even decks that do play Field of Ruin very rarely play 4. I’ll be the first to admit this is likely not the most competitive option, but it is a deck that a lot of people seemed to like playing.
Hope you’re ready because we’re going to kick it up a notch. Demilich was an extremely cool card that had a lot of hype surrounding it with release, but didn’t quite get there in terms or power level. However, Wizards knew that with a good enough buff it may see play, and a buff it did receive…somewhere…hold on…uhhhhh…ah! It has a 4th toughness now!
It seriously took me a few minutes to figure out what they changed about the card and I guess a 4th toughness is something? I would’ve thought that this should’ve had Flying considering it’s literally floating in the picture, but not being blocked as easily is definitely a small, but relevant bonus considering it has an attack trigger. I don’t know if this is going to push it into Standard playability, but the card does have a lot of promise so you never know.
Druid Class was one of the many Class enchantments introduced in AFR and while it was definitely too weak for Standard, it’s nice to see what Wizards isn’t considering just rebalancing rares but will go for uncommons as well! The card is still pretty weak as I always thought the second level was the important part and that’s a total of 5 mana to get to, but making the final mode 3 mana as well is a pretty nice discount. I think this may see very fringe play (more on that later), but maybe they can buff it again later if they particularly like this card!
Another Class card upgrade with set release! Similar to Druid Class, the Level 3 of this got discounted from 5 mana to 3 mana to make this slightly more tenable in aggressive decks. Personally, I still think this is going to miss the mark as paying a total of 4 mana for a Divination is not remotely good enough considering regular Divination likely wouldn’t see play.
If they were serious about this card seeing play, it would the second Level to be discounted to 2 mana as well so it’s a better Divination and an interesting draw option for Blue creature decks. I doubt it would happen, but I highly doubt my design would be any type of problematic.
PHYLATH, WORLD SCULPTOR
The final changed card of the set, Phylath was a really cool ramp payoff back in Zendikar that never saw it’s time to shine in the midst of all the absurdity. It can make pretty big boards out of nowhere, but with the ability to chump block both it and the buffed Plants, it was too slow for a 6 mana win condition.
Now, both Phylath and the Plant it buffs has Trample so it’s a whole new world for Phylath. It can kill very quickly now that chumping is impossible and can actually be a real win condition in Standard with that power level. To that end, we also have the final deck of the list.
This is a classic Ramp deck with the early game Ramp and the late game payoffs. Between a buffed Phylath and the new Cultivator Colossus, you can have some pretty obscene turns later on and have good plays in the mid game with Ulvenwald Oddity and Goldspan Dragon.
Overall, I really like the changes to most of the cards as the nerfs felt appropriate overall and the buffs at least got most of the cards much closer to seeing play. I’m really interested to see what other cards they change in the future as some currently innocuous cards could shine one day!
What do you think of the new cards or of Alchemy in general? Let me know in the comments!
Thank you for reading!