Wizards of the Coast announced some major balance changes for Magic Arena‘s newest format, Alchemy. We knew that they wanted to wait until a few couple major events finished up before making those changes, and now they’re here. We had a few predictions for what was going to be changed, and we were on point to some extent. But Wizards decided to go quite a bit farther than we thought. There’s a lot to cover here so let’s get into it.
We knew that WotC wanted to buff underplayed and fun cards to try and bring them up into viability, but we had no idea what would get touched. This pass hits a bunch of cards from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, and a couple of the original Alchemy cards.Acererak the Archlich had the option for an opponent to sacrifice a creature on it’s attack removed, allowing you to always make zombies. This really wasn’t used, as Acererak is mostly a combo piece in Historic. Assemble from Parts‘s reanimation ability was changed from 3B to 1BB, making a turn 4 reanimation more of a reality, while also making you have to commit to black more to utilize this card. I think this could power up reanimator mostly in Historic. Bloodrage Alpha got buffed from a 4/4 from a 4/3. We’ve seen Gruul Werewolves make a power play in Alchemy, and I think that this helps the deck a bunch. 4 toughness is pretty hard to deal with, and this makes Bloodrage Alpha a nice midrange creature for that deck. Cloister Gargoyle got a neutral change, getting it’s cost reduced to 1W (From 2W), but went from an 0/4 to an 0/3. I don’t think that this is going to really be enough to make this card playable in competitive, as the dungeon mechanic is too slow to get going. Dungeon Descent had it’s “enters the battlefield tapped” clause removed, and the ability now costs 1 to activate instead of 4. For similar reasons to Cloister Gargoyle, I don’t think this is really going to see a ton of play. Dungeons are too slow to really get going, and I don’t think you really want to play this in a deck full of legendary creatures. Ellywick Tumblestrum had her Ultimate ability buffed, going from -7 to -6. Once again, I don’t believe this will do much since the Dungeon mechanic is a really slow grind, and both Alchemy and Historic are much faster than this would allow to make work. Fates’ Reversal had it’s cost reduced to B from 1B. Putting a creature from your graveyard to your hand is ok, but better would be to the battlefield. This feels pretty needless truthfully. Find the Path had it’s mana ability changed from adding GG to adding 2 mana of any one color. I think that this is a good change for this card, as these kinds of land enchantments tend to find homes in some decks. I would have loved to have seen this have a cost reduction to 1G as well, and then I think it’d be really good. Puppet Raiser got a toughness increase from 3 to 4. Truthfully, I haven’t seen this card see any play, and I don’t think that 1 extra toughness will really make a difference. I could see this card finding some kind of home in some Mono Black Aggro style deck to help beef up your top end, but we’ll have to see how the format shakes up. Precipitous Drop had its cost reduced to 1B from 2B. This card is competing really with Dead Weight, as more than likely you’re not going to be completing a dungeon in most decks. I do think that if that situation comes up, this is a great card. Triumphant Adventurer got a power buff from 1 to 2. As with the rest of the Dungeon cards, 1 power isn’t really going to do much for this cards viability. It still dies to Spikefield Hazard, and Dungeon cards aren’t really competitive.
That is ALL of the buffs. There’s quite a few here and ultimately I don’t think that many of these won’t move the needle on the archetypes they’re in, but we’ll have to see. Let’s move on to the Nerfs, or Adjustments, as Wizards calls them.
There’s a handful of Adjustments to some top cards in Alchemy. As I mentioned earlier, Our predictions were somewhat correct, but there’s more that got hit as well. Let’s get into it.Divide by Zero‘s Learn ability was changed to only activate if the permanent returned was mana value 4 or less. The learn portion of this card was definitely a big draw to use it, but this is still a very powerful card. I expect that it’s still going to see some play in Alchemy. Fearsome Whelp got some nerfs, having it’s cost reduction ability trigger in the upkeep, rather than at the end of the turn. They’ve given this haste as compensation. The team wanted to make this card a bit easier to interact with, as the cost reduction is very powerful. Now, the opponent has a bit of time to deal with the card before the reduction happens. Truthfully, I think that this nerf brings the Dragon deck variants down in tier. The deck will still be ok for early laddering, but won’t be nearly as competitive. Hullbreaker Horror had its “This spell can’t be countered” clause removed. This brings the card down in power, but makes the control mirror matches a bit more interesting. This also opens the door for aggro / midrange decks with blue in them to leverage Disdainful Stroke and other counter spells to be able to deal with it. Good change overall, as this card is pretty bonkers. Inquisitor Captain got a little nerf, adding in “if you cast it and” to the enters the battlefield ability. This may seem like a non-factor, but this does come into play as Cleric decks are playing Pyre of Heroes to cheat this into play. This really doesn’t hit Historic, as the only deck playing this is the Heliod Combo deck, which casts this anyways. Good nerf, but the card is definitely still good and playable. Lier, Disciple of the Drowned had a “during your turn” clause added to it’s main ability. This is a pretty big change, as you’re no longer able to use cards like Fading Hope or Divide by Zero to protect Lier, or removal spells, on your opponent’s turn. This opens up the door for opponents to deal with Lier on their turn, play and attack with creatures, and also to interact with the Lier player’s graveyard. Overall a good change Sanguine Brushstroke got a nerf, removing the life gain from the Blood Token sacrifice ability. This is a good change as this curves the ability for decks using this to restabilize from behind. Often times Orzhov decks would combo this with The Meathook Massacre and the Blood Artist Brushtroke created to gain a TON of life. This curves that down a bit. Town-Razer Tyrant had a small change adding a “non-basic” land clause to which land it could target. This really doesn’t move the needle too much, as there’s plenty of Non-basic lands in both Alchemy and Historic that are worth targeting. From creature lands to duals, there’s plenty to hit and this will still be a great card.
There’s 1 MAJOR change that’s happening in Historic. Teferi, Time Raveler is getting rebalanced and unbanned in Historic. We talked about this in the Banned and Restricted Announcement article earlier, so you can find out our thoughts on the card there.
There’s a lot here some of this better than others. What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments!