MTG Arena Zone Premium
MTG Arena Zone Premium
Grinning Ignus Art by Alayna Danner

July 5th, 2022 Banned and Restricted Announcement: Grinning Ignus Banned, Sweeping Changes To Alchemy And Historic

Arena is seeing a big overhaul today with huge changes in Alchemy and Historic! See what cards got changed and what that may mean for each format!

With Alchemy Horizons: Baldur’s Gate almost here, Wizards announced the next rounds of rebalances to release in tandem with the set! Check out our full review of all the cards:

There were a huge amount of changes this time around that should have a very noticeable impact on Alchemy and an extremely noticeable impact on Historic come July 7, 2022. Let’s break it down.

Grinning Ignus Banned in Alchemy

Anyone who has played Alchemy recently knew this change (or something similar to it) was coming from a mile away. The Ignus Combo deck was absolutely massacring ladder as the deck was simply too good to contend with. It absolutely embarrassed every other strategy with it’s resilience and consistency. It was obvious action had to be taken, but it was unclear if they would change Racketeer Boss, Cabaretti Revels, or Grinning Ignus itself.

After deliberation, they realized touching the other two cards likely eliminated Ignus from playability anyway so they went with just banning it. Keep in mind though, this is solely in Alchemy so if you still want to play the combo, you can in Historic!

Big Changes To Historic

For the most part, there was a lot of ire with lumping Alchemy and Historic together for rebalancing changes. While both are true digital formats, many players felt that cards that were perfectly fine in Historic being nerfed for Alchemy was an extremely unnecessary move. While it’s still a contentious practice, this is the first time Wizards is approaching it from the opposite direction!

While Historic was a relatively diverse format with many powerful decks, at the end of the day, if you want to win a tournament you had two options: Golgari Food or Izzet Phoenix. Both of these were substantially better than the rest of the metagame with play and win rates supporting this notion. However, Wizards are using their rebalancing powers to see if they can knock both decks down a peg or two!

Starting with Golgari Food, the biggest issue the Sacrifice decks always had is that they were unbelievably strong against creature decks. Between Cauldron Familiar loops blocking large swaths of damage and The Meathook Massacre absolutely butchering every creature strategy, it felt impossible to deal with if you’re relying on creatures. To that end, Wizards changed both of them!

Now that Cauldron Familiar can’t block and The Meathook Massacre doesn’t gain life, their ability to shut out aggro decks with large and sustained incidences of life gain is a huge deal. Unlike all the other cards, Meathook is still an Alchemy legal card as well that’s quite popular which will give creature strategies there a similar boost in power. I really like these changes as it impacts specifically Food’s ability to completely destroy aggro decks while still leaving it resilient to the other decks in the format as it should be. This seemed like an excellent fix.

Moving onto Phoenix, the two cards they identified as problematic were Dragon's Rage Channeler and Unholy Heat. Since they are two completely distinct cards and Phoenix isn’t so polarized against any particular strategy, this is definitely a bit of a tougher fix. To that end, they only made Channeler get +2/+0 rather than +2/+2 when you have Delirium to make it easier to handle. While that seems like a reasonable fix, I’m unsure if it’ll have the intended effect. There aren’t many decks that are playing burn spells or fliers already (beyond Phoenix itself), so I feel this isn’t going to read any differently for a good amount of decks. Making it easier to kill is still a big deal, even if it’s just the mirror or you only need a 3 mana The Meathook Massacre, so we’ll have to see how this plays out.

The other nerf of reducing Unholy Heat to 4 damage instead of 6 is definitely sound. It was always weird that Red had one mana Terminate as it seemed too easy to accomplish and also felt like a color pie break. Realistically there aren’t many creatures that see play that have more than 4 toughness anyway, but a Narset, Parter of Veils or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria now being able to survive an Unholy Heat is likely to have some pretty big implications.

Winota, Joiner of Forces Is Back In Historic

Coming off the bench in Historic, Winota is ready to cheat in some Humans once again. This change is very simple and very elegant, Winota only triggers once per turn.

Winota was always such a beast as it could win the game on turn 3 or 4 consistently with multiple triggers coming down and Humans raining down from the sky. Now that you only get one look, it’s much more reasonable in terms of power level. It’s hard to say if this will prevent it from seeing any play, but considering both Food and Phoenix got hit with nerfs, the general power level of the format is going down which may make more modest cards like this powerful.

Archetype Upgrades in Alchemy

With each new supplementary product being added to Arena, Wizards has looked to buff full archetypes to try and make them more viable. The last round of buffs were relatively successful as they saw Venture becoming a powerful strategy, and this time around, they focused on two archetypes.

+1/+1 Counters

This has always been an archetype that was pretty on the fence as the payoffs were good, but not amazing. Wizards is looking to change that by buffing a huge amount of these payoff and enabler cards.

The full list of card changes and how they are changed will be at the end of the article.

Most of these cards were buffed simply by making them cheaper, but the ones that retained their mana value while becoming more powerful are the ones I’m the most excited by. Ochre Jelly getting Ward 2 will go a long way to making it a stickier threat as, like the article stated, it was too susceptible to exile effects.

Oran-Rief Ooze buffing all creatures with +1/+1 counters rather than just the ones you’re attacking with is another great change that’ll let this deck scale more effectively.

Finally, Dueling Coach being a functional 4 mana 4/4 that can give a creature two +1/+1 counters is a pretty strong rate. On top of that, you can scale all your creatures for just one mana now which is down from FIVE which is obviously a substantial change. Considering how close this archetype always felt, I wouldn’t be surprised if these changes will let it flourish.

Instants, Sorceries, and Wizards

An archetype I wasn’t really thinking about, Wizards noted that their titular tribe was struggling as decks with large amounts of instants and sorceries generally avoided creatures so they’re hoping they can make the payoffs more enticing.

The full list of card changes and how they are changed will be at the end of the article.

Like the previous changes, many of these cards were buffed by reducing the mana value of them. However, unlike the previous changes, I’m a lot more skeptical about the impact this will have. The +1/+1 counters deck always felt close, but I feel nobody was looking at any of these cards with any hope that they’ll be constructed playable. Reducing their mana value will obviously go a long way to making them potentially playable, but many of these effects are not particularly strong. However, if I have to point a few cards out, I’m definitely excited by Mentor's Guidance and Umara Mystic.

While you do need a Wizard to get the full effect, having a two mana Scry 2, Draw 2 is an extremely powerful effect that shouldn’t be underestimated. This is more a less a Behold the Multiverse that you never have to foretell which is obviously a big deal considering you only need to invest half the mana. If nothing else, this card will definitely see play.

While not as exciting, Umara Mystic getting Haste is a pretty substantial buff to the card. Now the closest analog to it is Sprite Dragon which has seen some play, but not substantial amounts. Not permanently scaling is unfortunate, but +2/+0 for each spell or Wizard can add up quite quickly. Between this and Mentor's Guidance, I feel there’s a strong chance a Wizards deck can pop up.

Two Quality of Life Changes

Here Wizards did slight changes, one for pure quality of life and one was a small buff.

Painful Bond would erroneously put the text “When you cast this spell, lose 1 life” on lands so they changed it to all nonland cards 3 mana value or less gain that text.

For Obscura Polymorphist, they made it a may ability so you don’t have to exile your own creature if you didn’t want to.

You’ll find the comprehensive list of today’s changes to the each format below, along with the full text of Wizards of the Coast’s original announcement. The changes will go into effect on July 7th, 2022 for online play.

Format Changes:

FormatCard NameChanges
AlchemyGrinning IgnusBanned
HistoricWinota, Joiner of ForcesUnbanned (with changes)

Rebalanced Digital Cards:

  • Cauldron Familiar can’t block.
  • The Meathook Massacre no longer gains you 1 life when an opponent’s creature dies
  • Dragon's Rage Channeler only gets +2/+0 and Flying when you have Delirium (down from +2/+2 when you have Delirium)
  • Unholy Heat only deals 4 damage when you have Delirium (down from 6 damage when you have Delirium)
  • Winota, Joiner of Forces only triggers when one or more non-Human creatures attack (down from triggering from each non-Human attacker)
  • Bretagard Stronghold now distributes two +1/+1 counters to one or two creatures (up from one to one or two targets)
  • Dueling Coach now gives two +1/+1 counters to up to two target creatures and will put a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control with a +1/+1 counter for W and tapping it (up from one +1/+1 counter on up to two target creatures and the same ability for 4W and tapping it)
  • Fall of the Imposter now costs GW (down from 1GW)
  • Gnarlid Colony now gets four +1/+1 counters when kicked (up from 2 +1/+1 counters)
  • Sigardian Paladin now costs 1GW and is a 4/3 (down from 2GW and a 4/4)
  • Hargra Constrictor costs 1B (down from 2B)
  • Tenured Inkcaster costs 3B and is a 3/3 (down from 4B and up from 2/2)
  • Iridescent Hornbeetle costs 3G and is a 3/3 (down from 4G and 3/4)
  • Moss-Pit Skeleton now returns from your graveyard to your hand when a +1/+1 counter is placed on a creature you control at the beginning of the next end step (used to be put on top of the library at the beginning of the next end step)
  • Skyclave Shadowcat costs 2B and the activated ability costs B (down from 3B to cast and 1B for the activated ability)
  • Ochre Jelly now has Ward 2
  • Oran-Rief Ooze puts a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control that has a +1/+1 counter when it attacks (changed from attacking creatures)
  • Tanazir Quandirx is a 5/5 (up from a 4/4)
  • Ardent Dustspeaker costs 2R and is a 3/2 (down from 4R and 3/4)
  • Maelstrom Muse costs UHR (down from 1UHR)
  • Rockslide Sorcerer costs 2R and is a 2/2 (down from 3R and 3/3)
  • Tome Shredder costs 1R and is a 2/1 (down from 2R and 2/2)
  • Master of Winds a 1/5 and ability changed to “base power and toughness becomes 1/5 or 5/1 until end of turn) (up from 1/4 and base power and toughness 1/4 or 4/1 until end of turn)
  • Mentor's Guidance costs 1U (down from 2U)
  • Rowan, Scholar of Sparks has 3 starting loyalty and -5 to ultimate (from 2 starting loyalty and -4 to ultimate)
  • Will, Scholar of Frost has 5 starting loyalty and -8 to ultimate (from 4 loyalty and -7 to ultimate)
  • Sorcerer Class cost for level 3 is 1UR (down from 3UR)
  • Umara Mystic has Haste
  • Painful Bond only puts the life loss text on nonland cards (erroneously would put it on lands)
  • Obscura Polymorphist may target up to one creature (from it being a mandatory trigger)

Current Historic Banned Card List

Card NameSuspension DateBan 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, 2020
Agent of TreacheryJune 1, 2020July 13, 2020
Field of the DeadAugust 24, 2020
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, 2021October 13, 2021
Memory LapseOctober 13, 2021January 25th, 2022
Tibalt's TrickeryOctober 13, 2021

July 7th, 2022 Banned and Restricted Announcement

Announcement Date: July 5, 2022

Arriving on Thursday, July 7, the next game update brings several adjustments to cards—individually and in support of deck diversity. Additionally, Grinning Ignus will be banned in Alchemy effective July 7.

Individual Cards

Cauldron Familiar
Gains “Cauldron Familiar can’t block.”

The Meathook Massacre
Removed “Whenever a creature an opponent controls dies, gain 1 life.”

Cauldron Familiar and Meathook Massacre have shown themselves to be too strong versus conventional creature-based decks in Historic. Cauldron Familiar effectively shuts down creature combat, and Meathook Massacre punishes the opponent for trying to build a board state to get around Cauldron Familiar. We are hoping these two changes make other creature-based decks more competitive against Food decks.

Dragon’s Rage Channeler
Delirium effect now +2/+0 (from +2/+2)

Dragon's Rage Channeler is one of the most powerful cards in Historic, especially in the Arclight Phoenix deck, and we are hoping to make it easier to interact with in combat and with removal.

Unholy Heat
Delirium now deals 4 damage (from 6 damage)

Unholy Heat too easily undermines red’s weakness to large creatures. This change is meant to make high-toughness creatures stronger against red in Historic.

Winota, Joiner of Forces
Now triggers when one or more non-Human creatures you control attack; unbanned in Historic.

Winota, Joiner of Forces was too difficult to beat both in the early and late game when triggering multiple times per turn. By restricting it to triggering once per turn, we are keeping the explosive potential of the card but are allowing other decks to overcome it if they develop a strong board position.

Grinning Ignus
Banned from Alchemy

Grinning Ignus

One of Alchemy’s guiding lights is to keep the format fast, fun, and dynamic. While combo decks can be a fun and healthy part of metagames, this deck fell outside these format goals. We discussed rebalancing (and may do so at a future date), but each change we’ve considered so far would effectively eliminate this combo, so we’ve decided to ban the card instead.

Deck Archetypes

+1/+1 Counters

Past sets in Standard and Alchemy have supported decks built around +1/+1 counters, and we’re buffing those cards to better support cards like Brokers Ascendancy, Sanctuary Warden, and Falco Spara, Pactweaver from Streets of New Capenna. These changes aim to make cards originally designed for Limited more competitive in Constructed, and to buff other cards that have not made an impact in Standard and Alchemy.

Bretagard Stronghold
Now distributes two +1/+1 counters each of up to two target creatures you control (up from one).

We added flexibility to Bretagard Stronghold to make it better in games where it is more important to have a single big creature and games where only one creature is likely to be in play versus removal.

Dueling Coach
Entering the battlefield now distributes two +1/+1 counters among one or two target creatures; activated ability cost changed to W, Tap (reduced from 4W, Tap)

Dueling Coach’s ability was too expensive and heavily relied on other cards to be worth activating. The changes are aimed at making it a more self-sufficient four-mana creature and even stronger when combined with other cards.

Fall of the Impostor
Costs GW (from 1GW)

We are buffing a removal spell for the +1/+1 counter deck since synergistic decks often have trouble including interactions that don’t contribute to the deck’s strategy.

Gnarlid Colony
Now four +1/+1 counters if kicked (from two +1/+1 counters)

Sigardian Paladin
Costs 1GW (from 2GW); activated ability costs GW (from from 1GW); now 4/3 (from 4/4)

Hagra Constrictor
Costs 1B (from 2B)

Tenured Inkcaster
Costs 3B (from 4B); now 3/3 (from 2/2)

We are aiming to give +1/+1 counter decks more options to win through blockers with these four changes.

Iridescent Hornbeetle
Costs 3G (from 4G); now 3/3 (from 3/4)

Since Iridescent Hornbeetle has a unique effect for +1/+1 counter decks, we are making it more efficient for Constructed play so players building these decks have more options.

Moss-Pit Skeleton
When triggered, Moss-Pit Skeleton’s last ability now returns Moss-Pit Skeleton to your hand at the beginning of the next end step (as opposed to the top of your library).

Skyclave Shadowcat
Costs 2B (from 3B); activated ability costs B (from 1B)

We are aiming to give +1/+1 counter decks more options for card advantage with these two changes, especially versus control decks.

Ochre Jelly
Gains ward 2

Exile effects were too effective against Ochre Jelly and made it difficult to sink mana into the card. Adding ward 2 will make it stronger against cards like Vanishing Verse and Skyclave Apparition.

Oran-Rief Ooze
Changed “each attacking creature” to “each creature you control” on the second ability:

Since Oran-Rief Ooze has a significant deck-building cost, we felt it did not need the additional restriction of having to have creatures attack alongside it.

Tanazir Quandrix
Now 5/5 (from 4/4)

Buffing Tanazir Quandrix to 5/5 will give it better defensive utility against the four-power Dragons, Angels, and other flying creatures in Alchemy and make it more threatening while attacking with its last ability.

Instants, Sorceries, and Wizards

Decks built around instants and sorceries often have very few or no creatures to interact with. We are buffing creatures and other cards that synergize with instants and sorceries to encourage more decks that are easier to interact with.

Ardent Dustspeaker
Costs 2R (from 4R); now 3/2 (from 3/4)

Maelstrom Muse
Costs UHR (from 1UHR)

Rockslide Sorcerer
Costs 2R (from 3R); now 2/2 (from 3/3)

Tome Shredder
Costs 1R (from 2R); now 2/1 (from 2/2)

We are making these four creatures more efficient to give decks built around instants, sorceries, and creature type Wizard cards more options to play and build decks with.

Master of Winds
Now 1/5 (from 1/4); triggered ability changes to “base power and toughness becomes 5/1 or 1/5 until end of turn”

Master of Winds’s stats were not competitive with other flying creatures at the same cost. Since many flying creatures have four power, this change will let Master of Winds profitably block those creatures and attack for more damage.

Mentor’s Guidance
Costs 1U (from 2U)

Reducing the cost of this card will make it more competitive with other creature-centric card advantage options like Of One Mind, Chart a Course, and Winged Words.

Rowan, Scholar of Sparks // Will, Scholar of Frost
Rowan starting loyalty now 3 (from 2); Rowan ultimate now -5 (from -4)
Will starting loyalty now 5 (from 4); Will ultimate now -8 (from -7)

It was too difficult to have Rowan and Will stay on the battlefield to make use of their passive, so we’re increasing the starting loyalty to make them easier to protect.

Sorcerer Class
Cost for level 3 now 1UR (from 3UR)

Most of Sorcerer Class’s power was in level 2, and level 3 was often not worth reaching due to its high cost. We are reducing the cost to reach level 3 to make the card a more consistent win condition given its high deck-building cost.

Umara Mystic
Gains haste

We added haste to Umara Mystic to let it scale better into the late game when played with other cheap instants and sorceries in the same turn.

Quality of Life Changes

Painful Bond
Added “nonland”

Painful Bond

We are adding “nonland” to Painful Bond so it doesn’t add misleading text to lands in your hand.

Obscura Polymorphist
Added “up to one”

We are adding “up to one” to Obscura Polymorphist so you aren’t forced to exile a creature if it would be disadvantageous to do so.

Enjoy our content? Wish to support our work? Join our Premium community, get access to exclusive content, remove all advertisements, and more!

MTG Arena Zone Premium

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
Twitch and Discord.

Articles: 649

Leave a Reply