Alchemy Rebalanced Cards
Alchemy is a new, digital-first format only on Starting from December 9, 2021, Magic: The Gathering Arena! Alchemy is MTG Arena’s version of Standard; it includes all Standard sets, and rotates as it normally does. However, it will also regularly rebalance cards and add supplemental cards with each premier set, incorporating digital-only mechanics such as Conjure, Perpetual, Seek. Below is the official Wizards of the Coast statement regarding rebalancing:
To foster an evolving metagame and to keep pace with the millions of games played on MTG Arena each day, we will be regularly rebalancing cards in Alchemy.
Weakening cards (nerfs) will be the primary tool to affect the metagame. Nerfs will be aimed at cards and decks that have an outsized impact on the metagame, either through their own strength and win rate or by suppressing other strategies. The goal of nerfing cards is to allow more strategies to compete and interact with these cards, and we are hoping the nerfed cards will continue to be relevant and powerful options in the format.
Strengthening cards (buffs) will be targeted at popular and highly played cards that are not part of the competitive metagame. Buffs will have the goal of improving the experience and overall quality of life of those playing with these cards and are less likely to affect the competitive metagame. This first set of Alchemy buffs targets single cards for a wide variety of strategies, but we will also look to buff multiple cards for a single strategy in future updates.
We will not be rebalancing iconic cards that have a significant history behind them. Cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Lotus Cobra, Thoughtseize, and Negate are powerful but often used as references and examples to evaluate new cards and abilities. Rebalancing them would be too disruptive to those conversations. If these cards cause issues, we will look to address them indirectly through live balancing or ban them if necessary.
As Alchemy is a new format and a new tool to manage digital formats, we expect this philosophy to be updated and changed as we collect player feedback and data on the impact of these changes.
In this article, we aim to record every card rebalances so you can find them in one place. Each card will show its old and new version, summary of the change and the reasoning for the change according to Wizards of the Coast. Here are some important points you need to know about the rebalanced cards:
- Owning a rebalanced card gives you every version of that card. When you receive a rebalanced card from an Alchemy booster, you will also receive the Standard version of the card, and vice versa.
- Alchemy versions of rebalanced Standard cards will contain the MTG Arena “A” in-line with the card name. They will also have the MTG Arena “A” as a “foil stamp” at the bottom of the card.
- Rebalancing cards are planned to be taking place on a more frequent basis to keep the format fun, fast, and dynamic.
- Rebalanced cards will also be replaced with their original cards in other live digital-only formats, such as Historic and Historic Brawl.
December 9, 2021
11 cards are to be rebalanced for the first Alchemy update, Alchemy: Innistrad.
- Change: Only creates Bird tokens if foretold, foretell cost is 5UU (from 4UU)
- Reason: We are aiming to make Alrund's Epiphany less effective at winning games from an empty board, either through combining it with Galvanic Iteration or naturally chaining them together. With this change, Birds cannot be created from copies from Galvanic Iteration (regardless of whether the original was foretold), and chaining Alrund's Epiphany is more difficult as it cannot be cast in the same turn it was foretold. Alrund's Epiphany needing the support of creatures like Smoldering Egg and Goldspan Dragon will allow more decks to interact with this strong win condition.
- Change: Enters the battlefield with one Cat token (from two), Crew 2 (from Crew 4)
- Reason: We are looking to make Esika's Chariot easier to interact with using removal spells as it generates too much value against one-for-one removal spells, and vehicles are inherently strong against sweepers (like Wrath of God). The change to crew 2 will better support synergies with smaller tokens such as 2/2 Wolves or pairs of 1/1 tokens.
- Change: Becomes a 3/3 creature (from 4/3)
- Reason: Removing the fourth power on Faceless Haven will make it easier to stabilize against aggressive monocolor decks. Decks will have more time to find answers when being pressured by Faceless Haven and have more options in deck building now that 4-toughness creatures can profitably block the land.
- Change: Removed “or becomes the target of a spell”
- Reason: Like the Esika's Chariot change, we are looking to make Goldspan Dragon easier to interact with using removal spells. Goldspan Dragon’s trigger, particularly when combined with Negate or Saw It Coming, heavily punished interaction, and creature interaction is a facet of Magic that we want to promote rather than discourage.
- Change: Triggers at the beginning of your end step (from beginning of combat on your turn)
- Reason: We are looking to tone down Luminarch Aspirant’s immediate impact on the game, particularly when it follows a turn-one creature. We decided to move the trigger to the end step as opposed to the upkeep to maintain the defensive utility of growing creatures in anticipation of an attack.
Omnath, Locus of Creation
- Change: Costs 1RGWU (from RGWU), scry 1 when entering the battlefield (from draw a card)
- Reason: Most of Omnath, Locus of Creation’s strength comes from refunding the card spent to cast it and sometimes refunding its mana cost. We are still preserving the potential for explosive turns but are making it less efficient by removing the ability to fully refund itself. We changed the enters-the-battlefield trigger to scry 1 instead of removing it altogether to still provide a window of interaction before the landfall triggers since playing lands does not use the stack.
- Change: Now “gain 2 life and scry 1” (from “gain 2 life”)
- Reason: Cosmos Elixir had too low of a floor for a four-mana card in situations where the 2 life per turn is not meaningful. Adding scry 1 to the trigger will raise the floor and help players catch up by finding their life gain synergy cards or other life gain cards to start drawing cards.
- Change: Is 4/4 (from 4/3)
- Reason: Decks with Demilich are often light on creatures and have trouble pushing through multiple removal spells and engaging in combat. The 4 toughness will make Demilich a more reliable card to build a deck around.
- Change: Level 3 costs 2G (from 4G)
- Change: Level 3 costs 2U (from 3U)
- Reason: Most of the power in these two class cards is concentrated in the first two levels, and the total investment to reach level 3 was too high. Making level 3 easier to reach will make these cards more well-rounded and promote the gameplay of leveling up your class as the game progresses.
Phylath, World Sculptor
- Change: Has trample, Landfall trigger has “It gains trample until end of turn.”
- Reason: Phylath, World Sculptor competes with Tovolar’s Huntermaster as a green six-mana creature that creates multiple creatures. Since Phylath, World Sculptor has a high deck-building requirement, granting it and its landfall trigger trample will better separate it from Tovolar's Huntmaster by making it more effective at ending the game.