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MTG Arena Introduces Alchemy: A Digital-Only Rotating Format Including Rebalanced and All-New Cards

In this article: Wizards of the Coast has announced a new format coming to MTG Arena: Alchemy. Alchemy will be a separate format that contains all of the sets legal in Standard and will rotate at the same time, but will also feature unique cards designed for digital play and will rebalance cards from Standard as needed (the original cards in Standard will not be affected). Alchemy releases on December 9 and will bring 63 new cards along with it. With the announcement, Wizards also showed off ten Alchemy card previews and several rebalanced cards.

Yesterday, Wizards of the Coast teased that a major announcement would be coming regarding the MTG Arena digital client. During the Weekly MTG Twitch stream earlier this evening, show host and Wizards’ senior communications manager Blake Rasmussen unveiled that on December 9, an all-new format will be coming to Magic Arena: Alchemy.

Source: Weekly MTG Stream 12/2/21

Alchemy will be a rotating format that is aligned with Standard and it’s rotations, but will have a number of substantial changes from the traditional format on which it’s based. Firstly, cards in Alchemy will be subject to regular rebalancing. Secondly, Alchemy will have its own unique cards that are designed for digital play. As a part of this, new cards will be added to Alchemy through supplemental packs that will release alongside each premier (Standard-legal) set.

Wizards was also careful to clarify that Alchemy is not replacing Standard or anything else that is already a part of Arena – it will stand as a separate, live format on the client. Just like Standard, Alchemy will have ranked play modes in best-of-one or best-of-three play. There will continue to be only one constructed ranking across formats.

There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s break it down into a bit more detail:

(You can also jump straight to the rebalanced cards or jump to the card previews.)

Card Rebalancing

A core aspect of Alchemy is that cards in the format can be weakened (nerfed) or strengthened (buffed). This means that cards that are printed into Standard but turn out to be stronger or weaker than intended can be adjusted rather than being banned outright. In Standard, the original versions of the cards will either remain as they were, or be banned if necessary just as before.

However, this means that for some cards, there will essentially be two versions – the original, true-to-paper version of the card in Standard, and the rebalanced Alchemy version of the card that has had its original text altered. However, there will be no need to collect both versions of the card – when you get a copy of a card that has been rebalanced, you will have access to both the original and rebalanced versions of the card based on which format you’re playing in.

Wizards was vague on exactly how often balancing changes will be made, but they say they “intend to rebalance cards on a more frequent basis to keep the format fun, fast, and dynamic.”

To make it clear which version of the card you’re looking at, the rebalanced versions of cards will have an Arena logo in the top left corner by the title, and in the bottom center below the text box, like so:

In today’s announcement, a total six nerfs and five buffs were announced as an example of the direction the rebalancing will be taking – details on the changed cards a bit further down. [Click here to jump to the rebalanced cards]

New Digital Cards

They other key aspect of Alchemy that will distinguish it from Standard is the exclusive digital cards that will be coming to the format. When Alchemy releases on December 9, it will bring with it Alchemy: Innistrad, a small set of 63 brand new cards to kick-start the format. Cards will be added to Alchemy along with each Standard-legal set release through a supplemental Alchemy set in the following weeks. Wizards says that in the future, these supplemental sets will contain around 30 cards each.

With today’s announcement, Wizards also included ten preview cards from Alchemy: Innistrad; you can jump to the previews by clicking here or read on.

All of the cards that are added to Arena from Alchemy sets will also be legal for play in Historic and Historic Brawl.

Alchemy booster packs will be the same price as regular packs – 1,000 gold for one pack, or fifteen for 3,000 gems. Additionally, an Alchemy bundle with 20 Alchemy boosters will be on sale for 3,000 gems or 15,000 gold, but are limited to one purchased per account.

As an incentive to get players to try out the new format, Wizards is also automatically granting all players a free gift when Alchemy is released, containing three Alchemy boosters, six rare Alchemy individual card rewards, and one mythic Alchemy individual card reward.

Regarding the contents of the Alchemy boosters and how duplicate protected will apply, Wizards wrote the following:

  • Alchemy boosters will contain the new-to-digital Magic cards, rebalanced cards, and cards from the adjacent Standard set (i.e., Innistrad: Crimson Vow).
  • When you receive a rebalanced card from an Alchemy booster, you will also receive the Standard version of the card.
  • The same is true when opening a Standard booster that contains a card that has been rebalanced for Alchemy—you will receive both versions of the card.
  • When opening an Alchemy booster, it will prioritize the new-to-digital Magic cards created for the current Alchemy set.
  • If you’ve collected playsets of all the new Alchemy cards from the current set, you will instead receive cards of the same rarity from the adjacent Standard set (i.e., Innistrad: Crimson Vow).
  • If you are “set complete” for both Alchemy and the adjacent Standard set, normal duplicate protection rules apply.

There is a ton of information to absorb about the new format, and you can read even more details about it over on the official announcement post. You can also watch a VOD of the Weekly MTG stream where Alchemist was first announced:

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the new cards and balancing changes that will be coming with Alchemy!

Rebalanced Cards: Nerfs

Rebalanced Cards: Buffs

10 Alchemy: Innistrad Card Previews

Absorb Energy

  • Card Name: Absorb Energy
  • Mana Cost: {1}{U}{U}
  • Card Type: Instant
  • Rarity: Rare
  • Card Text:
    Counter target spell. Cards in your hand that share a card type with that spell perpetually gain “This spell costs {1} less to cast.”

Begin Anew

  • Card Name: Begin Anew
  • Mana Cost: {G}{G}{W}{W}
  • Card Type: Sorcery
  • Rarity: Rare
  • Card Text:
    Destroy all creatures. Creature cards in your hand perpetually get +1/+1.

Captain Eberhart

  • Card Name: Captain Eberhart
  • Mana Cost: {1}{W}
  • Card Type: Legendary Creature – Human Soldier
  • Rarity: Mythic
  • Card Text:
    Double strike
    Spells cast from among cards you drew this turn cost {1} less to cast.
    Spells cast from among cards your opponents drew this turn cost {1} more to cast.
  • Power/Toughness: 1/1

Forsaken Crossroads


  • Card Name: Geistchanneler
  • Mana Cost: {1}{U}
  • Card Type: Creature – Human Wizard
  • Rarity: Rare
  • Card Text:
    When Geistchanneler enters the battlefield, choose an instant or sorcery card in your hand with mana value 3 or greater. It perpetually gains “This spell costs {2} less to cast.”
  • Power/Toughness: 1/3

Gitrog, Horror of Zhava

  • Card Name: Gitrog, Horror of Zhava
  • Mana Cost: {2}{B}{G}
  • Card Type: Legendary Creature – Frog Horror
  • Rarity: Rare
  • Card Text:
    At the beginning of each combat, if Gitrog, Horror of Zhava is untapped, any opponent may sacrifice a creature. If they do, tap Gitrog, Horror of Zhava, then seek a land card and put it onto the battlefield tapped.
    Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, it perpetually gains “{B}{G}, {T}, Sacrifice this land: Draw a card.”
  • Power/Toughness: 6/6

Ishkanah, Broodmother

  • Card Name: Ishkanah, Broodmother
  • Mana Cost: {3}{G}
  • Card Type: Legendary Creature – Spider
  • Rarity: Mythic
  • Card Text:
    Other Spiders you control get +1/+2.
    {1}{B/G}, Exile two cards from your graveyard: Draft a card from Ishkanah, Broodmother’s spellbook.
  • Power/Toughness: 3/5

Ominous Traveler

  • Card Name: Ominous Traveler
  • Mana Cost: {2}
  • Card Type: Creature – Human
  • Rarity: Rare
  • Card Text:
    When Ominous Traveler enters the battlefield, draft a card from Ominous Traveler’s spellbook. That card perpetually gains “You may spend mana as though it were mana of any color to cast this spell” and “When you cast this spell, return a creature named Ominous Traveler you control to its owner’s hand.”
  • Power/Toughness: 1/1

Patient Zero

  • Card Name: Patient Zero
  • Mana Cost: {1}{B}
  • Card Type: Creature – Zombie
  • Rarity: Rare
  • Card Text:
    Damage isn’t removed from creatures your opponents control during cleanup steps.
  • Power/Toughness: 2/2

Toralf’s Disciple

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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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