7, Sep, 23

MTG Arena: What is Alchemy?

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Article at a Glance

With the unprecedented growth that MTG Arena is experiencing, it’s no surprise that it now has an exclusively digital format. Launched in December of 2021, Alchemy is currently the latest MTG format to be created by Wizards of the Coast. Thanks to this, you may expect it to also be the best! Depending on who you ask, however, that’s not quite the case. In fact, it’s often regarded as one of the worst!

Opinion aside, Alchemy is still a relatively new format on MTG Arena. Subsequently, there are a lot of details that need to be covered about the format, especially thanks to recent changes. So, let’s dive right into everything you need to know about Alchemy on MTG Arena!

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What Is Alchemy on MTG Arena?

Crucias, Titan of the Waves | Alchemy: The Brothers' War

Alchemy is a brand new MTG Arena-exclusive format. Initially, its goal was to be an ever-evolving and balanced version of the Standard format. Recently, however, Alchemy has diverted from this life path to try out pastures anew.

In stark contrast to Standard, Alchemy has not changed its rotation schedule. Instead, it has stuck to the two-year rotation cycle, meaning rotation has just happened! In theory, this should keep Alchemy feeling fresh, exciting, and most importantly different from other formats.

Alongside now being its own thing, the main goal of Alchemy is to be balanced. This is where the format’s main feature comes in, rebalancing. Through rebalancing, Wizards of the Coast can nerf problematic cards in order to keep them in check. Similarly, if an archetype is underperforming, Wizards can give it a buff.

For example, a card that was consistently overperforming in Alchemy was Crucias, Titan of the Waves. Previously, this was an obscenely powerful 3/3 who provided immense value. As you can see above, however, the card has since been nerfed into only being a 1/3.

While stat changes are the most common, occasionally the abilities of creatures are changed too. To stop things from being too confusing, however, Wizards doesn’t want to completely reinvent creatures and spells via rebalancing. As a result, sometimes Alchemy cards do need to be banned in order to preserve them.

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Alchemy Banlist on MTG Arena

Big Spender
Big Spender | Alchemy: New Capenna

Currently, there are not any cards on Alchemy’s banlist.

This empty banlist is thanks to the recent rotation cycle, which pushed out Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. Previously, this card was banned thanks to being an aggressive and reliable nuisance in the format. Curiously, rather than rebalancing the card, which was definitely possible, Wizards just decided to ban it, so as to not interfere with Historic.

Is Alchemy a Good Idea?

Tezzeret's Reckoning
Tezzeret’s Reckoning | Alchemy: Phyrexia

Whether or not Alchemy is a ‘good idea’ comes down to personal belief and experience with Magic: The Gathering. If you ask me, MTG Rocks’ resident Alchemy fan, I’m going to say yes, it’s absolutely a good idea. If you ask other players, however, they might vomit in their mouths a little at the very mention of the much-maligned format.

Unfortunately, while Alchemy might have been an amazing idea in theory, in reality, Wizards hasn’t been treating it right. Underdelivering on rebalancing frequency and essentially leaving the format to fester, it’s been easy to hate Alchemy. Especially since Alchemy changes affect the Historic format, which makes rebalancing incredibly difficult.

While Alchemy does have a lot of problems, and that’s putting it lightly, it’s not all bad news. The format can be incredibly enjoyable at times, especially thanks to its unique cards. This includes cards from The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, which are great fun to play with. Alongside these benefits, Alchemy is now a point of difference compared to Standard.

With Standard now featuring a three-year rotation cycle, MTG players are faced with things staying the same for a long time. In Alchemy, however, things have just been completely shaken up! Subsequently, there’s now no better time to get in the format if you’re at all interested. If you don’t want to play it, however, no one is going to force you to, don’t worry.

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