10, Dec, 21

Are the New MTG Alchemy Cards Any Good?

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Article at a Glance

Today is release day for Magic Arena‘s newest format, Alchemy. This new, “digital only” Standard-like format comes with a handful of rebalanced Standard cards, and a slew of new cards to try and push the meta away from that of “Paper” Standard. We now have all of the new cards previewed, but considering their hefty price tag in Wild Cards, are they even good? Are they worth spending your hard earned cash, or precious Wild Cards on these cards?

We’re going to look at all the cards in the set so you can make a more informed decision for if you want to pick these up. We’ll be talking in the general context of Historic’s Meta, and the projected Alchemy Metagame. We’ll break down each color into 3 sections:

  • Definitely Craft
  • Consider Crafting
  • Don’t Craft

White Cards

A lot of white’s cards play into the “white weenie” archetype quite a bit, withy some potential control cards mixed in as well.

Definitely Craft

Only 2 cards hit home in this category. Divine Purge is a pretty awesome effect for control. Combo this with Drannith Magistrate and your opponents cannot cast the spells you exile. I think that this card definitely has a home in both formats, since both formats have some style of control deck in them.

Sigardian Evangel is the kind of card that Mono White aggro would love to have, especially in Historic. This is a fantastic way to break a stalled board state in the mid to late game, and push through damage with Thalia’s Lieutenant.

Consider Crafting

In the “consider crafting” category, we have 5 cards. Captain Eberhart is a pretty interesting and powerful effect. What keeps him from that definitely craft status, is his stats. This could be an interesting card against control decks, but you already have Thalia, Guardian of Thraben to hose those so it’d have to be tested.

Angel of Eternal Dawn is a strange card. Parts of the card are decent in very specific match ups. It’s a fine creature on its own, but unless a ramp deck comes about, I don’t know that the occasional and coincidental “keep it Day” effect is enough to spend a wild card on.

Inquisitor Captain I think is a card that you probably will want in Alchemy’s Mono White aggro. Historic already has Ranger-Captain of Eos, which I think is strictly better than this, but for a format that doesn’t have that card advantage engine, this is pretty solid.

Slayer’s Bounty is a very situational card, only really being great against creature decks. It’s spellbook is full of removal options for permanents of all types, but since you only get to look at 3 out of a larger pool, there’s no guarantee that the ones presented will be useful.

Lastly, Faithful Disciple is a pretty interesting 2 drop, that has a spellbook that’s a mix of creature buffing effects, removal, and other cards. Arguably, these cards are pretty good, and can have some uses for a mono white deck, but it has the same issue as Slayer’s Bounty.

Don’t Craft

First off in the “Dont Craft” section, Ethereal Escort doesn’t do enough and is competing with a lot of powerful cards. Expedition Supplier is underwhelming, and the Utility Knife is not great either.

Suntail Squadron gives you some Suntail Hawks, and that’s not really exciting, especially since we don’t have great equipment for them. Lastly Angel of Unity is really only good with Party, and I don’t think that Party is going to be a top tier viable strategy in either format.

Blue Cards

Blue’s cards look to take advantage of more control elements, and some clones / duplication effects.

Definitely Craft

In our “definitely craft” piles, we have 3 cards. Geistchanneler is a kind of card that I’d expect decks such as Jeskai Control, or Izzet Dragons / control to play. This card allows those decks to turn up their tempo game a bit. Making things like Unexpected Windfall or Alrund’s Epiphany cost less mana is a strong set up to a very strong line of play.

Sinister Reflections is pseudo-protection. While the creature that’s targeted with removal will still bite the bullet, you’ll have a bit of back up creatures to keep you going. My immediate thoughts for homes for this are in Mono Blue Tempo, Azorius Spirits, and possibly Izzet Dragons. What’s better than 1 Goldspan Dragon? Two more.

Lastly, Unexpected Conversion is a very interesting control card. I think that this will allow control decks to diversify their interaction to cover more decks. When they draw a card that’s dead for a match up, they can use this to pitch it, draw a couple more cards, and hopefully Seek some more meaningful interaction.

Consider Crafting

Five cards in this category as well. First off, Absorb Energy is a card that strikes me as niche. It’s a Cancel with potential upside. Control decks may only want this against other control decks, where the mana cost reduction has a higher chance to be relevant. My thought here is that this is going to be a Mono Blue Tempo style card, where there’s a diverse cast of card types in that deck, so it’s likely to hit all the time. Is it better than the other counter magic already in that deck? That remains to be seen.

Kindred Denial is another counter spell that I could see being a decent control card. It’s most likely going to want to counter cards that are 4 mana value or greater, but you do have to consider that you need cards in your deck at varying points on the curve to get full value.

Discover the Formula at first glance seems like it’s a bit expensive. But I think this could see a home in an Azorius control deck. The fact that it’s an instant is very nice, and if you can reduce the cost of any more than the 3 cards you see, then it’s paying for itself almost.

Obsessive Collector I think may be a card that could be a top end of a spirits deck, but at the end of the day it’s an average midrange creature. It’s hard to remove with Ward, and if this slots into an aggro strategy, it’ll help keep some cards flowing to your hand. It’s possible it’s not quite good enough, but worth testing.

Lastly Oglor, Devoted Assistant is a really interesting card. There’s really only 2 applications that I can see for this card. The first would be a dredge pay off. We have Narcomeba, Silversmote Ghoul and Arclight Phoenix in Historic as creatures that would remove themselves from the grave for value. The other one will combo with cards we’ll talk about in the next color.

Don’t Craft

In our “don’t craft” category, there are 3 cards. Geist of Regret doesn’t necessarily fit a shell that I can think of. It’s expensive, and doesn’t feel like a card I want in a spells matter style deck.

Tireless Angler is a pretty meme-y card. It’s spellbook is all fish related cards, the most competitive of which is Ruin Crab and Sea-Dasher Octopus. The only thing it has going for it is that it’s a good blocker.

Lastly, Rimewall Protector is maybe more of a card for Brawl. There aren’t any “wizard / giant” archetypes that are competitive right now, so I don’t think this is a card I’d be actively looking for.

Black Cards

Black’s cards are focused around the graveyard and hand disruption.

Definitely Craft

All of these cards I could see being great in a Zombies deck, which is at the fringe of competitive play. Assemble from Parts is a card that I could also see being added to Reanimator strategies. It’s a 1 shot God-Pharaoh’s Gift that also shuffles the creature back into your library. Sap Vitality is a great removal option for the mono black deck, buffing one of your many creatures. Lastly, Puppet Raiser is a way to help keep creatures in your hand, at the expense of ones that have already died.

Consider Crafting

For the “consider crafting” section, Gutmorn, Pactbound Servant might be the card that makes the “Mono Black Discard” deck actually work. The problem with that deck is that you need to play a critical mass of discard effects, but eventually they become worthless when your opponent has no cards in hand. This helps give you more spells to cast that can help win the game. Part of that deck would definitely be Citystalker Connoisseur, giving you a high value card.

Patient Zero is unlike any card we’ve seen before in Magic. The persistent damage is something that we should definitely test to see how strong it is, especially in a deck like Zombies. Sanguine Brushstroke is a cool take on Blood Artist combos, and depending on how you build this deck you can try to combo off in one turn. Lastly Predatory Sludge is a cool take on the Ooze duplication ability. It basically is a consistent source of cards if you can find ways to kill the permanent you target.

Don’t Craft

Black didn’t get a ton of duds this go. Veteran Ghoulcaller is a cool card with a decent effect, but 1 toughness isn’t great. Break Expectations is a good card itself, but the spellbook spells are mediocre, and Thoughtseize does it better. Cursebound Witch doesn’t impress, and while you can get cat oven combo from this, it’s not consistent. Given that the last two here are uncommons, it’s not a huge deal if you want to test these out.

Red Cards

The Red cards are all about burn.

Definitely Craft

Red got a lot of goodies this go. My pick for one of the strongest cards in this set is Toralf’s Disciple. I think that Burn in Historic is in a fantastic spot, and having the ability to pull 4 Lightning Bolts out of thin air with each attack is insane. Going along with that is Frenzied Geistblaster which is a stellar prowess creature for the burn deck.

For new burn spells, Conductive Current and Brittle Blast are quite strong. Conductive Current lets your other burn spells push more, and those extra 2 points of damage can matter. It also helps you against creature decks, which can often pose a problem for burn decks. Brittle Blast is great because the exile clause is very relevant, in Historic especially. It also dealing 5 damage is pretty big as well.

Werewolves got a big player in Bloodrage Alpha, which helps you pick the fights you want for your creatures to help shift the board balance in your favor. Lastly, Rahilda, Wanted Cutthroat is essentially a Robber of the Rich for Werewolves, which I think is a nice addition to the Werewolves deck.

Consider Crafting

One of the planeswalkers in the set Tibalt, Wicked Tormentor is a pretty interesting card. It’s expensive for what it does, but it has ramp, card advantage, and self protection all in one. The spellbook is full of devil cards so that’s just an extra, but probably unused bonus.

Town-razer Tyrant is a card that will gain and lose value as the meta changes. If there’s a land that needs to be targeted that has a non-mana ability, this will be a great option. It does deal incremental damage which may be good enough for it to see some play anyways.

Lastly Electrostatic Blast is a pretty cool source of card advantage for Red, letting you look 3 deep, while also dealing some damage, possibly to your opponent directly. That being said, 2 damage isn’t anything to write home about so that’s the one thing really holding this back, but will be worth testing out.

Don’t Craft

Fearsome Whelp has an alright effect, but it’s stats are bad. Truthfully we have this kind of effect on Sarkhan, Wanderer to Shiv, and that doesn’t see play in Historic. For Alchemy, there’s enough cheap and easy removal to deal with this.

Arms Scavenger is in this pile because it’s an average creature that can be removed very easily, and it’s spellbook only has mediocre equipment.

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Green Cards

Green cards are a bit all over the place, but they do have the 2nd planeswalker for the set.

Definitely Craft

Green has a good few cards in this category. First up Antique Collector is a really great way to recycle your board, and get a little value on the back end. Assuming that there aren’t any graveyard hate cards, you can find yourself in a less bad position after a boardwipe.

Grizzled Huntmaster is a very cool card. This is a card that I can see having a few applications. First, if your sideboard is full of silver bullet creatures / hate creatures against specific match ups, you can get rid of a useless mana dork in favor of your tech in game 1! You’ll also get multiple copies of it, which should be great. The second application is if there’s some creature that you want to protect that’s part of a combo, you can hide it away in the board, and fetch it up when the time is right.

Hollowhenge Wrangler is straight value. The stats are great, and it self sustains itself as an engine. The only limiting factor here is how many lands you have in your deck. If we ever get Dakmor Salvage on Arena, this could be a sweet little dredge engine.

Ravenous Pursuit is a high tier removal spell, as it’s not a fight, it’s a punch. It also grows a creature in your hand which is a huge deal in the Mono Green strategies. At 2 mana, this is a great deal of value.

Lastly, Tenacious Pup, while adorable, is a feisty lil guy. This is a fantastic addition to green and gruul aggro decks where they would love to take advantage of the counters given. What’s nice about this is that the ability will persist through turns, so if you play this on turn 1, the next creature that you play, say on turn 2, should get the buffs.

Consider Crafting

Garruk, Wrath of the Wilds is the second planeswalker of the set, and he’s alright. The +1 ability is really where his strength lies. His spellbook ability only gives you some average to subpar creatures, but in a pinch, it can help protect him. His ultimate is Overrun which is fine.

Ishkanah, Broodmother is a cool spider tribal card. Her spellbook is all spider cards, which is fine if you’re running spider tribal. She is a great blocker just on her own, and all the spiders you can draft become pretty solid blockers as well.

Lupine Harbingers is one of the few cards that actually get more expensive if you foretell it. But considering that it will be a 6 mana 8/8 if you foretell it on turn 2 and cast it on curve, and it has haste and trample, possibly make this a formidable creature. Just depends if Mono Green wants a card like this.

Settle the Wilds is a very interesting ramp card. For 3 mana, you’d ideally want any land, but you also draw a card from your deck, which is pretty good. This will probably want you to play a bit higher up on the curve as well to ensure that you have a card to seek.

Don’t Craft

So these aren’t quite as bad as some of the other cards that you have in the set, but they’re lower tier crafts for sure. Geistpack Alpha is a decently sized card, but it requires it to die. You can’t control when it dies, or if it dies, and while 4 toughness is a lot, there are ways to remove it. Hinterland Chef is an average creature, and the creatures that it has in its spellbook are generally mediocre. The best among them are Gilded Goose and Lotus Cobra.

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Multicolor, Colorless, Artifact, and Lands

Definitely Craft

There’s only 2 multicolored cards in the set, and Begin Anew is a pretty spectacular one. This can help creature decks like Selesnya Humans break a stalled or negative board position, and take the advantage.

Key to the Archive is an insane card, especially in the context of Alchemy. The spellbook for this card is all Mystical Archive cards, so you can get things like Time Warp and Approach of the Second Sun. This is similar to Tome of the Infinite, and can be great in Control decks, and a Mono White taxes style deck, where you can control the flow of the game.

Forsaken Crossroads is a really interesting card. It can help with fixing mana in the early game. These are definitely upgraded scry lands at their worst, but at best, it’s a flexible basic land.

Consider Crafting

Gitrog, Horror of Zhava is a a pretty strong creature in it’s own right. It’s modeled after Desecration Demon, and it’s gives you some benefit for just playing your lands.

Wickerwing Effigy is a card that seems pretty medium at face value, But i’m sure that there’s some kind of Enter the Battlefield or Attack trigger that you could abuse this with in some fashion.

Don’t Craft

Our last two cards here, Ominous Traveler is an ok card, but the stats aren’t great. The spellbook has some powerful cards, but they’re so random in what they are, that you can’t really expect to plan around what you get. Soulstealer Axe is ok, it just doesn’t do enough, and what it does do, you can’t really plan around it well.

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This is obviously the first set of Alchemy cards coming to the game, there’s a lot of room for these kinds of cards to grow. I’m excited to see what new mechanics the team comes up with, and what cards come with Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty.

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