A breakdown of all 25 rebalanced card changes for MTG Arena’s Alchemy format, to go live on April 7, 2022.
Hello everyone! For April 2022 we’re seeing new rebalances to Alchemy, and surprisingly, there aren’t any nerfs this time! While many people were expecting some changes to the dominant Black cards in Alchemy, this time, we have 25 buffs to evaluate. Let’s see if it makes some of these cards playable!
The changes go live to MTG Arena on April 7, 2022, and once the patch goes live players will be able to enter the All-Access “Try the Latest Changes” event to play Alchemy for free without having to have the cards in your collection.
As always, here’s the scale I’ll be using to label the new cards that potentially have constructed applications.
- 0/5 – Unplayable in every sense.
- 1/5 – Extremely niche play or very unlikely to see play.
- 2/5 – Niche to no play, maybe playable in certain conditions.
- 3/5 – Reasonable playable. Not format breaking, but has the power level to see play in some strategy (or strategies).
- 4/5 – Very strong card, but not the best the format has to offer. Has the power level to see a lot of play.
- 5/5 – The very top of the format. This card will create a huge impact going forward on the format.
Please note, the new cards are not yet live on the database yet. The change to be made on the card will be noted (along with the reason given by Wizards of the Coast) below the original version of the card.
Decks built around the Warrior and Equipment theme introduced in Zendikar Rising are especially susceptible to removal, and the equip costs are often too expensive to recover from the Warriors being removed. Most of the changes for the Warrior-Equipment deck aim to make the cards less taxing on mana and more inherently resilient to removal.
- Change: Gains “Equip abilities you activate cost 1 less to activate.”
- Reason: Arms Scavenger suffered from its spellbook being too difficult to cast in the early game. Having it reduce equip costs will make the spellbook cards more appealing to cast and give the card utility in the early game when mana is too constrained to cast the spellbook cards.
Drawing a card every upkeep is quite powerful, but when it’s just random equipment, it’s hard to take full advantage. However, making all equip abilities also cost 1 less to activate is quite a big deal for making this card more playable. I’m still not sure if it will make it, but it definitely has a fighting chance now.
- Change: Gains ward – Pay 2 life
- Reason: We added ward to give Warrior-Equipment decks more options to mitigate the inherent risk of building around Equipment.
Armory Veteran was never even close to a Constructed rate, but giving it Ward – 2 Life and the natural Menace when equipped does make it a bit more enticing. As is, it’s probably still a bit too weak, but it’s definitely at least a consideration when constructing an equipment deck.
- Change: Gains ward 1
- Reason: We added ward to give Warrior-Equipment decks more options to mitigate the inherent risk of building around Equipment.
Another Warrior getting Ward, but this time, it’s Ward – 1 rather than life. That said, I feel that this card is worse than Armory Veteran so I highly doubt this would see play, especially when there’s a lot of solid 2 drops in Boros.
- Change: 5/4 (from 5/3), second ability now works with reconfigure (0: Attach target Equipment you control to target creature you control. Activate only as a sorcery and only once each turn.)
- Reason: We reworded Bruenor Battlehammer’s ability to work with reconfigure, as Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Equipment creatures are a strong addition to the Warrior-Equipment deck. We also felt the card could use extra resiliency as a four-mana build-around.
I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again. The bar for 4 drops in any constructed format is high. Bruenor getting an extra toughness and working with reconfigure, while nice, will do very little to make this an enticing option over the other four drops of the format.
- Change: Now triggers off Humans and Warriors.
- Reason: Since most Warriors in Alchemy are not Humans, we added Warrior as a type that can trigger Expedition Supplier’s ability to give the Warrior-Equipment deck more tools to generate Equipment.
Sheesh! Now this is a payoff! I actually mentioned recently how I thought Expedition Supplier should’ve been a Warrior payoff rather than a Human one so I’m glad to see they went that direction! In a deck that wants a lot of Equipment, Supplier could be invaluable to make sure your synergies are always on and a good way to keep pressure up. This doesn’t necessarily guarantee that Boros Equipment will be a good archetype now, but this will definitely help!
Goma Fada Vanguard
- Change: Now counts Warriors and Equipment.
- Reason: We are looking to have Goma Fada Vanguard scale better into the later stages of the game since later turns are often spent casting Equipment rather than more Warriors.
Although this card was never particularly exciting, this will more or less be a 2/2 that can always lock down a blocker which definitely isn’t bad. This probably won’t see much, if any play, but it may also be better than it looks for the Warrior deck.
- Change: Combined +1/+1 and trample abilities:
1: Choose one that hasn’t been chosen this turn:
- Target Warrior gets +1/+1 and gains trample until end of turn.
- Target creature becomes a Coward until end of turn
- Reason: To improve the general mana efficiency of the Warrior-Equipment deck, we combined two of Kargan Intimidator’s abilities to have it compete less with equip abilities.
I always felt that Kargan Intimidator was quite close as it is a scary card, and by combining two abilities into one, it’s substantially better than it used to be. Like the other cards, I’m not positive if this will make a big impact on the card’s playability, but I could see this going in both Warriors and Red aggressive decks in general!
- Change: Gains ward 1, gives other Warriors ward 1
- Reason: Since Warriors have a focus on Equipment and are less about playing as many Warriors as possible, we added a ward ability to this card to have it work better with the Equipment portion of a Warrior-Equipment deck.
I want to get something straight, Kargan Warleader was already a good card, it just lacked support. Benalish Marshal was a Standard staple, and although you have to build around Warleader to get the effect, that’s still super strong. Now, this gives everything Ward 1 on top of that? This is a slam dunk for Warriors and if this change doesn’t make the deck playable, nothing will.
Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients
- Change: -2 now grabs a Warrior and Equipment, -3 now counts Warriors and Equipment:
+1: Create a 1/1 white Kor Warrior creature token. You may attach an Equipment you control to it.
−2: Look at the top six cards of your library. You may reveal a Warrior and Equipment card from among them and put them into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.
−3: Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients deals damage to target creature or planeswalker equal to twice the number of Warriors and Equipment you control.
- Reason: Since the deck-building cost of playing Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients is high, we felt the card advantage should be stronger than a generic four-mana planeswalker and the removal ability should scale better and be more consistent.
Nahiri was always relatively close on it’s initial rate, but unfortunately, four drops need to be pretty obscene to see play. Now that Nahiri is better card advantage and can kill most things on entry, it may just be good enough. Since Nahiri’s starting loyalty is 4, there’s a real chance that you can -2 twice and grab 4 cards which is quite a strong deal.
You may think that this is the same rate that Showdown of the Skalds gives, but Nahiri having more flexibility in both when you have to cast your cards and acting as a token producer/removal may let it pull ahead.
- Change: Costs 1W (from 2W)
- Reason: We are aiming to give more Equipment options to decks building around them. Reducing this card’s mana value will give it a better chance of having immediate impact by enabling it to be cast and equipped in the same turn more consistently.
Like many of the other cards on this list, Plate Armor has always been somewhat close to seeing play, but it being 3 mana was super killer as it also had a decently high equip cost (despite the cost reduction). At 2 mana though, it may just be good enough to see play. +3/+3 and Ward 1 is a massive boost so if you can get this to cost 1 or even 0, this is an extremely powerful effect.
Decks built around Kaldheim‘s Elf archetype lack options to experiment with different configurations, and most of the strength is concentrated in a few cards. The changes for the Elf deck are aimed at giving the deck more options and flexibility and make the payoff more competitive in Constructed.
- Change: Starting loyalty is now 4 (up from 3), +1 puts two +1/+1 counters on up to one Elf (up from one +1/+1 counter), -6 becomes -7:
Elves you control have “Tap: Add black mana.”
+1: Put two +1/+1 counters on up to one target Elf. Untap it. It gains deathtouch until end of turn.
0: Create a 1/1 green Elf Warrior creature token.
−7: You get an emblem with “Whenever you cast an Elf spell, it gains haste until end of turn and you draw two cards.”
- Reason: Most of Tyvar’s strength is in repeatedly using the second ability. We buffed the first ability to be more competitive with the second ability. Since the Elf tokens are easy to attack through, we also made Tyvar more naturally resilient.
Personally, I never thought Tyvar Kell had much potential as a Planeswalker as it was mostly used to create a 1/1 Elf each turn which is pretty crappy for a 4 drop. However, now that it has an additional starting loyalty and adds 2 +1/+1 counters rather than 1, it might be a tad bit stronger.
Realistically, it still seems somewhat weak for my taste, but maybe growing your Elves quicker will end up being good enough. For what it’s worth, if you’re playing Elves, you’re playing Tyvar.
Harald Unites the Elves
- Change: Chapter 1 now mills five cards (up from three)
- Reason: Since Harald Unites the Elves requires a large board and a filled graveyard to use each chapter effectively, we raised the floor of the card by creating a more consistent first chapter that is less reliant on having a filled graveyard beforehand.
Now this is a 4 drop! Get a creature back, grow your whole board, kill an opposing creature. I always liked this card and it being more consistent will definitely help this card see play. I don’t know if this will make Elves good enough in general, but it is quite powerful nevertheless.
Another interesting application of this card is it’s combo potential with Moritte of the Frost. If you have 2 Moritte in your graveyard and cast this, you can loop these until you mill over your entire deck. As it stands, there’s no Thassa's Oracle in Standard/Alchemy and this is definitely too cute for Historic, but if a new win condition comes out for milling your library, this may see play there!
- Change: Costs 1B (from 2B), can now return Tyvar Kell from graveyard to hand, must exile itself to return a card:
When Elderfang Ritualist dies, you may exile it. If you do, return another target Elf or Tyvar card from your graveyard to your hand.
- Reason: We cut a mana from this card to make it a consideration for Constructed, and we allowed it to return Tyvar Kell from the graveyard to line up with Harald Unites the Elves and Harald, King of Skemfar. Since this card is now at a more competitive rate, we made it exile itself to prevent two copies from repetitively returning each other to hand.
A 2 mana 3/1 is an ok rate, and one that can rebuy a creature in your graveyard when it dies is definitely not bad. This card isn’t too strong early or late, but may be good enough to make the cut regardless.
- Change: Remove “nontoken”:
Whenever another Elf or Berserker you control dies, you draw a card and you lose 1 life.
- Reason: Many of the Elf-tribal cards, particularly rebalanced ones, create tokens, so we removed the nontoken restriction to have this card work with the full suite of options available to the Elf deck.
It never made much sense to me that Skemfar Avenger had so many restrictions, but I’m glad to see that it’s finally lost half of them! Triggering off tokens now makes this substantially better, and if this also triggered off itself, it would’ve been a home run. Unfortunately, it still only triggers off other creatures, but that’s still a decent rate.
- Change: Is 3/4 (from 3/3)
- Reason: We gave this card a 4 toughness to give it a role as a more resilient option since most Elves have lower power/toughness and are susceptible to small sweepers and toughness-based removal spells.
Lords are hard to come by, but unfortunately for Elves, there’s has to be 4 mana to compete with Tyvar Kell and Harald Unites the Elves. While a 4th toughness is nice, this is likely too weak to contest with the other 4 drops available to Elves.
Harald, King of Skemfar
- Change: Now looks at seven cards (from five):
When Harald, King of Skemfar enters the battlefield, look at the top seven cards of your library. You may reveal an Elf, Warrior, or Tyvar card from among them and put it into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.
- Reason: Since the deck-building cost of Harald and other Elf cards is so high, we increased the number of cards Harald looks at to better reward that deck-building challenge and give more consistency to decks that opt to support their Elf creatures with more enchantments, artifacts, instants, and sorceries.
I never really thought Harald needed a buff as it was one of the better Elves cards already, but I’m not going to complain! A 3 mana 3/2 that can dig deep to find a solid spell isn’t incredible, but it’s definitely a solid rate.
Return Upon the Tide
- Change: Now creates three 1/1 Elves (up from two):
Return target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield. If it’s an Elf, create three 1/1 green Elf Warrior creature tokens.
- Reason: Elves are often not worth reanimating, and the Elf deck has trouble finding room for non-Elf cards, so we increased the reward for reanimating Elves to make this a more appealing option for the deck.
This change doesn’t make too much sense to me as it’s not like Return Upon the Tide wasn’t seeing play because it didn’t produce enough Elves, but rather a reanimate isn’t good in a low to the ground deck. Maybe I’m being baited and this is better than it looks, but I doubt it.
- Change: Costs 3B (from 4B)
- Reason: We cut a mana from this card to make it more competitive with cards like Gelatinous Cube and other interactive creatures. We also felt this card should have a higher ceiling than similar options to account for the deck-building cost.
While making this 4 mana is a huge buff, I still think Thornmantle Striker is just kind of a weak card. If you have a big board it can be good, but if you have a big board, you’re probably already in good shape. For what it’s worth, the ceiling on this is pretty high as it can snipe any creature or planeswalker and leave you a 4/3 body, so maybe I’m underestimating it.
- Change: Costs 2G (from 3G), now 2/2 (from 3/2)
- Reason: We cut a mana from this card to make it a competitive consideration for Constructed and introduce a consistent way to make two Elves with a single card for the Elf deck.
Elderleaf Mentor is kind of like paying rent, you don’t want to do it, but you know you have to. Playing this is so unexciting, but it’s almost certainly necessary for Elves to properly go wide.
- Change: You may pay 1 (from 2):
When Elven Bow enters the battlefield, you may pay 1. If you do, create a 1/1 green Elf Warrior creature token, then attach Elven Bow to it.
- Reason: We effectively created a two-mana Elf by cutting a mana from the token-creation ability. This gives the Elf deck a consistent 3-toughness defensive option that it was lacking before.
2 mana 2/3 Reach Elf? Not a Constructed rate. One that when it dies it makes an Equipment that gives +1/+2 and Reach!? Eh, still probably not great. This is ok and technically a mana sink, but I’m not particularly impressed.
- Change: Ability costs 1BBG (from 2BBG)
1BBG: Sacrifice Skemfar Elderhall: Up to one target creature you don’t control gets -2/-2 until end of turn. Create two 1/1 green Elf Warrior creature tokens. Activate only as a sorcery.
- Reason: There are a lot of utility land options in Alchemy right now, so we cut a mana from the activation to make this more competitive with the other options and encourage more interaction in the Elf deck.
Man oh man, why couldn’t this enter untapped? This could’ve been a better Ifnir Deadlands (which easily could’ve been too good for what it’s worth) in Golgari, but it coming into play tapped is somewhat killer. That said, it probably is still good enough to see play and I wouldn’t be too surprised if other Golgari decks played a copy as well.
Shessra, Death’s Whisper
- Change: Costs 1BG (from 2BG), now 1/4 (from 1/3)
- Reason: Cutting a mana from Shessra, Death's Whisper will make it a Constructed consideration for both Elf and sacrifice decks, and adding a toughness will provide another resilient creature for the Elf deck.
Like any other card, going from 4 to 3 mana is a huge deal. That said, this was changed to help see play in Elves and/or Sacrifice decks, but personally, I’m not seeing it. Drawing a card a turn could be powerful, but 2 life isn’t negligible, but it being a 1/4 does make it a bit more exciting compared to the original 1/3. I still think the first line is mostly flavor text, but I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if this ended up being decent.
- Change: Is 0/3 (from 0/2), now gives a creature base power 3 (from 2)
- Reason: We made Symmetry Sage more threatening and resilient to give blue aggressive decks more options in Constructed.
Symmetry Sage was very bad as an 0/2 that gave things 2 power, but with both stats increased, this is leagues better. I could see this in any deck that likes casting a lot of spells, and although it doesn’t necessarily scale, this could be pretty nasty in the right strategies.
- Change: Second ability costs 2 to activate (from 3) and requires removing two counters (from three):
Pay 2, tap: Remove two counters from Spell Satchel: Draw a card.
- Reason: We’re making Spell Satchel’s second ability easier to use to have it scale better into the late game and give control decks more options.
Mana rocks are generally not that good, but 2 drop mana rocks are generally a huge exception. That said, Spell Satchel is not a free 2 drop mana rock which hurts it’s playability immensely as you need to cast more spells to get anything out of this card. Cards that require another card to do literally anything are generally very bad unless they’re part of a combo, and Satchel is far from that.
- Change: Removed “Enters the battlefield tapped”
- Reason: Since building around the party mechanic is open ended, we want to see what buffing Base Camp does to the deck before looking into rebalancing more cards around the mechanic.
YES. I don’t know why this ever entered tapped, but this is a great upgrade for the Party decks that were habitually plagued with sketchy mana. Party may still be too weak of an archetype, but this will go a long way to helping it out.
- Change: Changed “target player” to “target opponent”
- Reason: This is a quality-of-life improvement, making it so players don’t have to select a target each time Blood Artist triggers.