Talion's Throneguard
19, Oct, 23

Controversial MTG Nerfs Have Been Weirdly Successful

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Article at a Glance

Throughout recent weeks, MTG Arena has been through the wringer at least a few times. With bugs and issues aplenty, the game certainly had more faults than usual. Thankfully, thanks to the diligent team at Wizards, these issues have all been resolved. As if this wasn’t good enough, Arena even got a much-needed update to boot! 

Finally addressing two of the game’s most problematic cards, Wizards utilized Alchemy’s biggest flaw and or feature. Rebalancing two cards to nerf them into the ground, Wizards attempted to save two formats in one well swoop. Thankfully, these latest MTG nerfs have been rather successful in achieving this goal, however, all is not entirely perfect. 

Alchemy’s All Better Now

Prior to the recent rebalancing, the Alchemy format was absolutely dominated by The One Ring and Orcish Bowmasters. Controlling almost every single game, if you weren’t playing these cards, chances are you’d be losing. Thanks to these play patterns, it was safe to say that something needed to be done, and thankfully, Wizards didn’t hold back. 

By removing the enter the battlefield effect from Orcish Bowmasters, and adding an additional cost to The One Ring, Wizards decimated these cards’ playability. Sure, they’re still good, but they’re no longer the format conquering all stars that once dominated the meta. Instead, these two cards are simply entirely optional yet interesting additions to specific decks. 

While almost every deck in Alchemy took a hit through The One Ring’s nerf, one was hit significantly harder. Once topping the competitive ladder with little competition, mono-black has now almost completely fallen off the map. Losing some always-useful consistency through the nerfs, this deck is undoubtedly worse for wear, but it’s hardly useless anymore. 

Still touting Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, Evolved Sleeper, and Liliana of the Veil this deck is by no means bad. Thankfully, however, it is unpopular, giving players a break from its oppressive nature. Ultimately, in Alchemy, this isn’t too hard to do, as the number of competitive decks in the format is incredibly small. 

Despite the small sample size of Alchemy’s competitive ladder, it nevertheless appears there has been a dramatic change. After all, the days of mono-black domination appear to be over, for the time being at least. This has led to the rise of the wonderfully named Pigrange deck, alongside a number of other compelling archetypes.

Pigrange Is Here

Porcine Portent | Alchemy: Wilds of Eldraine

Popularized by MTG Streamer, Crokeyz, Pigrange is an interesting spin on a Mardu Midrange deck. Utilizing plenty of Alchemy cards, this deck is practically the poster child for the format. Weird, interesting, and full of charm, this deck is certainly Alchemy incarnate alright. As if those details weren’t compelling enough, the deck is also surprisingly good. 

Boasting a 78% win rate on the MTG Arena ladder, Pigrange simply contains a lot of powerful and versatile cards. This is especially true for the deck’s namesake card Porcine Portent. Offering removal and one of three pigs from the card’s spellbook after the fact, this card simply offers great value. 

Like many cards in the deck, this value gets even better when paired with the new Dedicated Dollmaker card. Able to exile and create a nonlegendary token of any permanent, this card is absolutely insane. Want more pigs? Dollmaker has you covered. What about annoying your opponent with Juggernaut Peddler? Dollmaker makes it worse. More dwarves from Jewel Mine Overseer? Dollmaker, again, is here to help. 

As if Dedicated Dollmaker wasn’t enough to make this deck a frightening force, Pigrange also includes some Alchemy staples. Making use of Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, Crucias, Titan of the Waves, and a smattering of removal, this deck has it all. 

While Pigrange may be the most interestingly named Alchemy deck around right now, it’s obviously not the only one. There’s Golgari, Orzhov, and Abzan Midrange, the returning five-color legends deck, Izzet Spells, and Golgari Food too. Each offering compelling win rates in the competitive ladder, Alchemy is looking remarkably healthy right now. Between the nerfs and the new Alchemy cards, the MTG Arena exclusive format is finally coming into its own.

Historic Has a New Menace

Jegantha, the Wellspring

For better or worse, while the recent MTG nerfs were incredibly needed in Alchemy, they don’t just affect that format Instead, all Alchemy nerfs are also applied to Historic. While this can often lead to difficulty and delays in needed rebalancing, thankfully, both formats needed it this time around. 

Just like Alchemy, both The One Ring and Orcish Bowmasters were everywhere in Historic. Between Mono-Black decks, Golgari Midrange, and Rakdos Midrange, the meta was utterly dominated by these recently released staples. Following the nerfs, however, many MTG players have fallen out of love with these once-powerful cards. 

On the one hand, the recent nerfs have made Historic a whole lot more interesting. After all, most games aren’t just a race to play The One Ring anymore. That being said, however, the massive change in the meta has left new dominant problems to contend with. Claiming over a quarter of the meta share together, Mono Green and Izzet Jegantha are definitely dominant now. 

Powered by Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx Historic’s Mono-Green deck is like Pioneer’s dominant deck on steroids. Playing Delighted Halfling and Utopia Sprawl for added ramp, this deck is incredibly difficult to catch. Once it gets going, threats like Cavalier of Thorns make beating this deck certainly no easy feat. 

While it may be difficult, Izzet Jegantha, for better or worse, has a lot of answers to this Mono-Green menace. Shutting down removal with plenty of burn spells and dishing out damage with aggressive synergistic creatures, this deck keeps pace and then some. As if that wasn’t enough, the namesake card Jegantha, the Wellspring is also there for added value. 

Were the Nerfs a Success?

Smashing Success
Smashing Success | Kaldheim

Ultimately, while Historic may now predominantly be two decks fighting one another, the nerfs have definitely been an overall positive. For starters, Alchemy has been saved from its former scourge, with more strategies and interesting decks emerging. The same has happened to Historic since games have gotten more complex overall. 

Thanks to these changes, it’s safe to say that the nerfs have been a major success on MTG Arena, however, it’s not all good news. Because Bowmasters and The One Ring were so prevalent, most players had a playset in their library. Due to the nerfs, however, these cards are now practically useless, effectively wasting the wildcards used to craft them. 

Unfortunately, Wizards isn’t giving out any compensation, despite the strength of the nerfs. This has left many players understandably infuriated, as the impact is close to the cards being banned. While frustrating, ultimately, this is just the way of the world with Alchemy at the moment. Ideally, we’d love to see this change in the future, with compensation being provided, but we’re not holding our breaths. 

Read More: Wizards Announces Brand New MTG Play Boosters for 2024

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