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Narfi, Betrayer King Art by Daarken

February 23, 2022 Alchemy Rebalancing: Zombie Buffs, Town-Razer Nerf and the Return of Fires

It’s been just about one month since the last balancing changes to the new Alchemy format were announced back in January, which brought about buffs for the “venture into the dungeon” cards and a handful of other changes. In the month or so leading up to those changes, Wizards of the Coast had been criticized by some in the community for waiting too long.

Earlier this evening, however, Wizards reaffirmed their commitment to regular re-balancing in the new format by releasing a wave of changes (mostly card buffs) that will go into effect tomorrow, Thurdsay, February 24.

With this update coming so soon after the release of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, Wizards has decided to hold off on any changes to cards from the new set. Instead, many of the card buffs are based on the premise of increasing the power of Zombie decks in the format, particularly concerning decayed Zombie tokens. Cards like Champion of the Perished have given the tribe some powerful tools, but the archetype hasn’t been quite strong enough to see much play.

Additionally, Wizards is continuing the trend they started in January with Teferi, Time Raveler of rebalancing and reintroducing cards that have been Banned from Historic. This time around, the card they’ve chosen to bring back to the format is Fires of Invention, a powerful enchantment allowing its controller to cheat on mana costs that dominated in both Standard and Historic before it was banned.

There are a number of other cards that were changed, including some of the foretell-themed cards and a few of the more obscure Alchemy-only cards that never quite got there in constructed. The only Alchemy card to receive a nerf this time around is Town-Razer Tyrant, which has had the timing of its ability changed in a way that’s reminiscent of the previous change to Luminarch Aspirant.

The announcement from Wizards was a bit brief this time around, but they had this to say regarding the changes as a whole:

Alchemy Rebalancing for February 24, 2022

While we are waiting to see the full impact of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty on the Alchemy metagame before making balance changes there, we are taking this opportunity to buff the Zombie deck and other cards that are agnostic of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty set-specific themes. The overarching goal of the Zombie buffs is to strengthen the decayed mechanic. Since the more generic Zombie build-around cards, such as Champion of the Perished and Bladestitched Skaab, are in line with other creature-themed deck rewards, we instead chose to strengthen the Zombie-specific mechanic that separates Zombie decks from other creature-themed decks.

We are also aiming to adjust Town-Razer Tyrant’s play rate and win rate as it is a staple in multiple top decks in Alchemy, and we are rebalancing and unbanning Fires of Invention in Historic.

Tomorrow, you can expect full analysis on all of these changes and what they mean for Alchemy from our excellent DoggertQBones, but in the meantime, let’s take a look at the altered cards. Below, you’ll find a summary of all of today’s changes along with a link to jump to each card. You can also skip straight to the rebalanced card list by clicking here.

Summary of Changes:

Rebalanced Cards

Alrund, God of the Cosmos // Hakka, Whispering RavenBuffed
Cobbled LancerBuffed
Cosmos ChargerBuffed
Death-Priest of MyrkulBuffed
Falcon AbominationBuffed
Gitrog, Horror of ZhavaBuffed
Hobbling ZombieBuffed
Narfi, Betrayer KingBuffed
Sepulcher GhoulBuffed
Sinister ReflectionsBuffed
Skull SkaabBuffed
Stitched AssistantBuffed
Tibalt, Wicked TormentorBuffed
Tireless AnglerBuffed
Vega, the WatcherBuffed
Town-Razer TyrantNerfed
Fires of InventionNerfed and Unbanned from Historic

Current Historic Banned Card List

Card NameSuspension DateBan DateRebalance/Unban Date
Nexus of FateJuly 13, 2020
Oko, Thief of CrownsDecember 10, 2019March 9, 2020
Once Upon a TimeDecember 10, 2019March 9, 2020
Veil of SummerDecember 10, 2019March 9, 2020
Fires of InventionJune 1, 2020July 13, 2020February 24, 2022
Agent of TreacheryJune 1, 2020July 13, 2020
Winota, Joiner of ForcesJune 8, 2020July 13, 2020
Field of the DeadAugust 24, 2020
Teferi, Time RavelerAugust 3, 2020October 12, 2020January 25, 2022
Wilderness ReclamationAugust 3, 2020October 12, 2020
Uro, Titan of Nature's WrathSeptember 28, 2020February 15, 2021
Omnath, Locus of CreationOctober 12, 2020February 15, 2021
Thassa's OracleMay 19, 2021
Time WarpJune 9, 2021
BrainstormJuly 21, 2021

The Zombie Buffs:

Cobbled Lancer

Change: Ability costs {1}{U} (from {3}{U})
Reason: “Cobbled Lancer’s biggest strength is in its mana efficiency, but decks using it for its efficiency were often uninterested in using the activated ability. We are aiming to play to the card’s strengths by making the activated ability cheaper.”

Death-Priest of Myrkul

Change: Removed mana cost from the triggered ability (was {1}), power/toughness increased to 3/3 (from 2/2)
Reason: “The mana gate on the triggered ability made Death-Priest of Myrkul a weak turn-four play, as it could not immediately create a token when used in decks utilizing decayed. The power and toughness increase will also help insulate the Zombie deck from 2-damage board wipes, which are often used to beat creature-themed decks that rely on creatures with lower power/toughness.”

Falcon Abomination

Change: Added flash
Reason: “Overcharged Amalgam was difficult to play in Zombie decks because so many of the Zombie-themed payoffs are best played on your turn. We are aiming to give another option to play alongside Overchaged Amalgam by introducing an instant-speed threat to deploy if Overcharged Amalgam doesn’t have good targets to counter.”

Hobbling Zombie

Change: Costs {1}{B} (from {2}{B})
Reason: “Most decayed token generators require a specific condition, like Ghoulish Procession, or a significant mana investment, like Tainted Adversary. Reducing Hobbling Zombie’s casting cost will give another cost-effective and reliable source of decayed tokens alongside Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia.”

Narfi, Betrayer King

Change: Costs {2}{U}{B} (from {3}{U}{B})
Reason: “Narfi, Betrayer King’s reanimation ability is the strongest part of the card, but as a result, decks would often try to discard or mill Narfi and actively avoid casting him. Reducing the casting cost will make it less punishing to draw Narfi when he is unable to be milled or discarded and strengthen its role as an answer to board wipes for the Zombie deck.”

Sepulcher Ghoul

Change: Power/toughness increased to 2/2 (from 2/1)
Reason: “Sepulcher Ghoul was too harshly countered by expendable tokens and creatures such as Cursebound Witch and Eyetwitch. Giving it a second toughness will let it get into combat much more by profitably attacking through 1- and 3-power creatures.”

Skull Skaab

Change: Removed nontoken restriction
Reason: “Decayed tokens are often the best creatures to exploit, but Skull Skaab would be too repetitive in Limited without the nontoken restriction as players would almost always exploit a Zombie token and replace it immediately. Since this change will not affect Limited, we are able to remove this restriction and provide another option to play with the decayed and exploit mechanics together.”

Stitched Assistant

Change: Costs {1}{U} (from {2}{U}), now scry 2 (from scry 1), power/toughness decreased to 2/1 (from 3/2)
Reason: “At three mana, this card was overshadowed by Fell Stinger. Since drawing multiple Fell Stingers can lead to awkward draws, we chose to move it to two mana to be a more efficient but less powerful card-advantage option alongside Fell Stinger.”

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The Other Buffs

Alrund, God of the Cosmos // Hakka, Whispering Raven

Change: Alrund’s ability now reveals the top three cards (from two cards), Hakka’s power/toughness increased to 3/3 (from 2/3)
Reason: “Alrund, God of the Cosmos’s strength is in its flexibility of being a five-mana win condition that can fill gaps in the curve before then. We are buffing both sides to play into this flexibility by having it be more relevant in combat earlier in the game and a more consistent win condition later in the game.”

Cosmos Charger

Change: Costs {2}{U} (from {3}{U}), foretell costs {U} (from {2}{U}), power/toughness decreased to 3/2 (from 3/3)
Reason: “While individual foretell cards have proven to be strong, building around the mechanic is too inefficient. Making Cosmos Charger cheaper will help subsidize the expensive mana requirements of the foretell mechanic, and a mana-efficient Cosmos Charger will have the potential of being a threat for disruptive aggro decks.”

Gitrog, Horror of Zhava

Change: Removed opponent’s option to sacrifice token creatures
Reason: “Gitrog, Horror of Zhava is effective at generating card advantage but is not much of a threat against the metagame’s more common token producers, such as Wedding Announcement and Ranger Class. We are aiming to make GItrog a more reliable win condition by increasing the opponent’s cost when denying it from combat.”

Tibalt, Wicked Tormentor

Change: Second ability now deals 4 damage in both instances (from 3 damage)
Reason: “Since Tibalt, Wicked Tormentor is not an aggressive card, opponents were too easily able to take the 3 damage from the second ability. We are aiming to make the second ability more balanced with the other two abilities by increasing the range of targets it can destroy, making it more punishing for the opponent to take the damage.”

Tireless Angler

Change: Now triggers when a Swamp enters the battlefield in addition to Islands
Reason: “We felt Tireless Angler triggering off Swamps would be a flavorful addition that would also allow the card to see play in more decks.”

Sinister Reflections

Change: Costs {1}{U} (from {U}{U})
Reason: “Previously, Sinister Reflection [sic] was effectively restricted to mono-blue creature decks. We are aiming to expand its applications by making it easier to include in multicolor creature decks, perhaps Zombies or Ninjas!”

Vega, the Watcher

Change: Gains ward {2}
Reason: “Vega, the Watcher was too fragile to reliably build around mechanics like foretell and flashback. Giving Vega, the Watcher ward 2 will make it a safer turn-three play and better reward players who wait until a later turn to get immediate value with Vega.”

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The Nerfs:

Town-Razer Tyrant

Change: Ability deals damage in the end step (from upkeep)
Reason: “Town-Razer Tyrant was needlessly punishing creature decks that mostly operate at sorcery speed. Adjusting the timing of the trigger will give decks a full turn to use the land at no cost and more information before deciding whether to sacrifice their land.”

Fires of Invention (now UNBANNED in Historic)

Change: Costs {4}{R} (from {3}{R}), unbanned in Historic
Reason: “Fires of Invention is an exciting card to build around but was able to generate too much mana too early in the game. By delaying the card one turn, we are aiming to lower the ceiling and better align it with the deck-building cost of the card.”

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Dude from Vermont who likes to play Magic and Escape from Tarkov. Musician, writer, and gamer. Submit feedback or corrections to @Paul on the Discord.

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