Geist of Regret Art by Igor Krstic

Alchemy Rebalancing Review – May 5, 2022

A breakdown of all 13 rebalancing card changes for MTG Arena’s Alchemy format, to go live on May 5, 2022.

Hello everybody! So right when we least expect it (although Alchemy does change regularly so maybe it was pretty expected) we have another round of Alchemy balance changes, and this time, there was a greater emphasis on trying to balance popular cards rather than looking to bring unplayable ones to prominence.

With the absolute dominance of Rakdos Midrange in Alchemy, it’s no wonder that there was attention brought there immediately, but on top of two of Rakdos’ best cards, Omnath, Locus of Creation and many other cards got minor buffs to boot!


Citystalker Connoisseur

Change: Added “nonland” to its enters-the-battlefield ability:

  • When Citystalker Connoisseur enters the battlefield, target opponent discards a nonland card with the greatest mana value among cards in their hand.

Reason: We are aiming to enable slightly more counterplay to Citystalker Connoisseur by protecting lands from its discard ability, particularly the channel lands from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty and the cycling lands from Streets of New Capenna.

Man oh man this is a huge nerf to ol’ Citystalker. This is such an impactful nerf, I didn’t even realize the card changed to begin with! Despite how much I play Alchemy, I don’t remember ever hitting a land off of Citystalker Connoisseur which has to show how relevant that change is.

Now I’m not saying I never have nor has an opponent done it to me, but it seems extremely irrelevant to how the card plays out. This card is so good because it rips the best card from the opponent’s hand, leaves behind a relevant body, and then a small incremental advantage in a Blood token.

It had extremely little to do with being able to hit lands and while this can stop the true lock out of Citystalker Connoisseur and Reflections of Kiki-Jiki, this will have no bearing on how much play it sees.


Painful Bond

Change: Changed “mana value 3 or greater” to “mana value 3 or less”:

  • Draw two cards, then cards in your hand with mana value 3 or less perpetually gain “When you cast this spell, you lose 1 life.”

Reason: Decks were too easily able to circumvent Painful Bond’s downside by including very few or no cards with mana value 3 or greater. We are changing what mana values Painful Bond affects to better balance against the efficient card advantage it provides by encouraging decks to either include more cards with higher mana values or be willing to pay an additional life cost.

Alright now we get to an actual impactful change! Painful Bond was absolutely insane as it had a similar functional deck building cost as Lurrus of the Dream-Den but without such a strict guideline. You can build your deck to be predominately cheap spells and get a premium draw 2 and if one of those spells ends up hurting you, who cares? Decks want to be as low curve as possible which, like Lurrus, just makes you build better decks and rewards you for doing so.

Now that it’s the opposite effect, it’s a lot more interesting. Instead of rewarding you for building low curve, it now punishes you as you can lose insane amounts of life if you have too many cheap spells in hand. I’ve seen many players say this heralds the end of Painful Bond as a playable card and it’s definitely going to hurt it, but I think it’s still too strong to not see play in some strategies.

It can reward players for building a bit of a higher curve deck which is a nice trade-off rather than having no reason to do so between Connoisseur being excellent against high curve decks and Painful Bond working well in low curve decks.


Omanth, Locus of Creation

Change: Changed “scry 1” back to “draw a card”; the rebalanced cost remains 1RGWU:

Reason: After seeing the impact of the rebalanced Omnath, Locus of Creation in Alchemy and Historic, we are changing Omnath back to drawing a card when it enters the battlefield. It will continue to have its rebalanced 1RGWU mana cost.

NOW WE’RE TALKING. At the beginning of Alchemy, I was actually really impressed by Omanth’s power despite it being nerfed into the ground. Being one mana more and not getting a draw is a world of difference, but despite that, it seemed powerful.

However, the issue with Omnath is despite it being still strong, it didn’t feel strong enough to warrant the deck building cost necessary to play it which made it fade into obscurity very quickly. Couple that with Rakdos decks gaining a lot of ground and you have a recipe for disaster. I’ll admit that even still I don’t know if it’s strong enough to build a deck around it, but it’s definitely much better with the card draw attached!

Now you’re never losing value and if you untap with it, you can go nuts like you used to. I’ll be extremely interested to see if it’s now sufficient to see play again, and if it is, it may feature the next card up on this list.


Settle the Wilds

Change: Now costs 2G instead of 1GG.

Reason: Given the high deck-building cost to include permanents with mana values 4 or greater, the strict double-green mana requirement felt like an unnecessary hurdle. By making this card easier to cast we hope it can find a place in more decks, especially with the release of Streets of New Capenna and its focus on multicolor strategies.

While this seems like a minor change, this is one that needed to happen for awhile. Realistically there was no reason to have this as double green if they wanted it to be a mana fixer and ramper rather than a tool solely to use in 1-2 color ramp decks. Now you could play this in 3+ color ramp, but you likely wouldn’t want to as you may not have enough basics to justify it plus no 3+ color ramp deck really exists.

The only exception, as I mentioned before, would be Omanth which would love this as you can get the crucial extra land and draw a card a good deal of the time. I do wish they would make it that if you don’t have any cards on curve you could pull from the next highest CMV which would be a really powerful change, but the wording may be too wonky or it may have implications in some weird combo deck I’m not considering that which may bar it from ever doing that. Regardless, good change and hope to see more of this as it’s a very good card!


Semblance Scanner

Change: 3/1 -> 3/2

Reason: These following changes, which are mostly increasing toughness, are aimed at making various Alchemy build-arounds more resilient to removal and more relevant in combat.

Believe it or not, giving an unplayable 3 drop an extra toughness likely isn’t going to make it playable. I guess it now breaks through 1/1s, but with the most common 1/1 now being a Devil token from Ob Nixilis, the Adversary, this is not a good look for a 3 Mana 3/2 with no ETB.


Captain Eberheart

Change: 1/1 -> 1/2

While I would normally say adding some toughness isn’t going to help, I may slightly alter judgement for the ol’ Captain. Devil tokens are a pain and any creature they can block and ping to death are in real trouble in terms of playability.

Realistically I think Eberheart is going to need that third point of toughness to start seeing real play, but that may make it too good and with no more knobs to adjust beyond the CMV, I doubt the long term prospects of this card. I would love to be surprised as it can be pretty powerful in Magecraft shells as anything with double strike would be, but that still seems unlikely.


Veteran Ghoulcaller

Change: 2/1 -> 2/2

Once again a second point of toughness is pulling more weight than it would normally as Devils can’t chump a creature or get sacrificed and kill this for free, but it’s still way too situational for my liking. Raise Dead effects are rarely playable in Constructed environments so there is little synergy to be had with this.


Artillery Enthusiast

Change: 1/1 -> 1/2

Forgot this card even existed and I’m sure I will forget it again in a week or so.

Garruk, Wrath of the Wilds

Change:

  • Starting loyalty is now four (instead of three).
  • Third planeswalker ability now costs six loyalty counters (instead of five).

Garruk, Wrath of the Wilds’s Spellbook

Conjure one from among three randomly selected (draft) from the Spellbook:

While getting an additional loyalty on any Planeswalker would be a pretty substantial change, I’m still not a believer in the Green machine. The plus ability is just ok by slightly upgrading a creature, and while going to 5 is pretty nice, the effect is much more marginal that it seems.

The real benefit to getting that additional loyalty is that it can -1 an additional time, and while pretty much none of the creatures you can grab are exciting, they are all more or less comparable to the 2/2 Knight token from The Wandering Emperor (if not better on average).

Finally, Garruk still has Overrun as an ultimate and while that is fine, I feel you’re going to be using the minus ability 99% of the time making it much harder to pull off.

Overall, Garruk seems like a reasonable walker as it’s easy to cast, high loyalty, all okish abilities, but I think it’ll just play out much worse than it reads. It’ll likely easily win the game when ahead, but since it’s so middling on boards of parity and pretty much useless when you’re behind, it severely limits it’s applications.


Geist of Regret

Change: 4/5 -> 5/5

The only thing you’re going to regret is building around this card! Jokes aside, a 5/5 Flier for 5 is substantially better than a 4/5 for 5, but even still, it’s a lot of hoops to jump through to get good value from this card.

There realistically isn’t enough strong flashback cards to really break this card, but that may not always be the case. Don’t think this will be playable right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that changed at some point.


Experimental Pilot

Change: 1/1 -> 1/2

Experimental Pilot’s Spellbook

Conjure one from among three randomly selected (draft) from the Spellbook:

Once again, this seems like an inconsequential change to an unplayable card. I don’t see how adding a second toughness fundamentally changes how good the card is. Second power and then we may be talking, but second toughness is not doing much. However, if more Vehicles that need Crew 2 or 3 become playable then there’s a non zero chance of this seeing play eventually.


Tireless Angler

Change: 1/4 -> 2/4

Tireless Angler’s Spellbook

Conjure one from among three randomly selected (draft) from the Spellbook:

Of course they had to give another power to a card that didn’t need it! Angler doesn’t need a better body, but an easier to trigger ability to see play. The spellbook is way too weak to justify the deck building cost and even if it triggered on Landfall I doubt it would see play. I like cards that generate free value, but this isn’t it.


Swarm Saboteur

Change: 2/1 -> 2/2

Once again, a creature that can be successfully killed by a Devil is no bueno although this is marginally circumvented by Ninjustsu. Nevertheless, getting a Virus Beetle is too weak compared to how difficult it can be to trigger Ninjustsu, but it is a cool card!

Plenty of changes and for better or worse, there aren’t too many impactful ones. While I really like how they handle changes and the hands on approach to the format, I hope they can find a way to revitalize the format eventually!

Thank you for reading!

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DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is the content manager of MTGAZone and a high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on
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