Crucias, Titan of the Waves | Alchemy: The Brothers War
30, May, 23

MTG Players Infuriated by Missing Format Fixes

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After a week of fervent speculation, yesterday, Wizards finally announced the latest round of bans for Standard. Promising to breathe life into the faltering format, MTG players have long been awaiting these much-needed changes. Unfortunately, however, in the eyes of some players, it seems these changes don’t go far enough. 

To make matters worse, it wasn’t only Standard that received dubious amounts of love yesterday. Following yesterday’s major ban announcement, Wizards also debuted upcoming changes to everyone’s favorite format, Alchemy. Just like the Standard bans, these changes should have been something that players were able to celebrate. In reality, however, Alchemy is once again proving to be a disappointment. 

Needed Nerfs

MTG Alchemy Changes May 29th
MTG Alchemy Changes May 29th

Much like the state of Standard prior to the latest bans, the Alchemy format hasn’t been doing well. While similarly plagued by Rakdos Sacrifice decks, the real trouble in Alchemy is mono-red aggro decks. Utilizing Alchemy exclusive cards such as Tiefling Outcases and Big Spender, these decks are seriously speedy. 

More so than on paper, this speed is a serious problem on MTG Arena. Not only are the mono-red aggro decks ruthlessly efficient at dispatching opponents, but they’re also fast. This makes these decks an incredibly good use of a player’s time, especially when grinding through ranks. This makes these decks even more prevalent within the Alchemy metagame.

Thankfully, it’s not just MTG Arena players who are aware of this fact, as Wizards is on the case. Hoping to temper the power of mono-red aggro decks, WotC announced a handful of nerfs coming to Alchemy later today. These nerfs target the most ubiquitous cards in the mono-red decks, which hopefully can’t be immediately replaced by another threat. 

In order to not completely crush the dreams of mono-red players, Wizards is only two cards in Alchemy today. These cards are Kumano Faces Kakkazan, and Traumatic Prank. To reduce the effectiveness of these cards, Etching of Kumano is losing Haste while Traumatic Prank is getting its cost increased by one.

As you might expect, when explaining these decisions, WotC noted that these cards are just a smidgen too powerful. In the case of Kumano Faces Kakkazan, this is because of its aggressive utility “that plays well with both creature-centric and spell-centric builds.” Traumatic Pank, meanwhile, was too good at dealing with the large creatures that usually defeat mono-red decks. 

Better Late than Never

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

Currently, as with the recent Standard bans, it’s too early to tell if these changes will break open the format’s metagame. Nevertheless, it’s always nice to see WotC actually doing something with Alchemy. All too often, it seems WotC is too hesitant to make changes to the MTG format, which is all about change. Sadly, even despite the brand new nerfs, this is still somewhat true. 

Much to the chagrin of many MTG players, Alchemy is not just its own interesting format. Instead, the new cards, as well as those that get nerfed, are all included within Historic and Historic Brawl. Frustratingly, this means Wizards has to be a lot more careful what they nerf, buff, and completely rework. 

As a result of changes being interconnected, it seems that many cards which need changing, don’t get that treatment. This is certainly the case for Crucias, Titan of the Waves. Introduced in The Brothers’ War, this flavorful legend is an absolute powerhouse and the bane of many players’ existence. 

In the Alchemy format, Crucias provides excellent card advantage within the already potent Rakdos archetype. While strong, however, this MTG card is hardly a format-defining powerhouse. The same cannot be said about Crucias in Historic, however. Thanks to their potent seek ability, Crucias is incredibly useful at finding game-ending threats in Historic. They’re so good, in fact, that they’re the most played creature in the entire format

Despite this dominance and prevalence with both Alchemy and Historic, Crucias has never been touched by Wizards. As you might imagine, thanks to their strength, this is starting to get on the nerves of MTG Arena players. “Lol Komino too stronk. Crucius is fine. Believe us guys,” u/oldman-fingers commented on Reddit.

Hope, But Not Enough 

Liliana The Last Hope
Liliana The Last Hope | Double Masters 2022

Thankfully, some hope is on the horizon for the Alchemy-loving MTG Arena players. This is thanks to the upcoming release of The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set. While direct-to-Modern on paper, on MTG Arena, this set is a full Alchemy release. Similarly to Alchemy Horizons: Baldur’s Gate, this will likely completely upend the Alchemy and Historic meta as we know it. 

As if that wasn’t enough, Alchemy hasn’t switched to the new three-year rotation of Standard. Instead, following the release of Wilds of Eldraine, the oldest four sets will rotate out of the format. This means in a few months, there’ll be no more Fable of the Mirror-Breaker or Invoke Despair, huzzah!

Considering that I’m MTG Rocks’ resident Alchemy fan, these upcoming sets and changes should get me deeply excited. Unfortunately, however, that’s not the case. Despite how good Alchemy could be on paper, it seems the format isn’t going to realize that potential anytime soon. 

Ideally, Alchemy could be rebalanced every month, if not every fortnight, in order to create a fantastically balanced metagame. Sadly thanks to the interconnectedness of rebalances, this approach is currently untenable. Thankfully, however, this can be fixed by removing Alchemy cards from Historic. Not only would this decision appease Historic players, but it would also allow Alchemy to truly shine. 

While I’m obviously biased toward my own suggestions, admittedly, these fundamental changes are sink or swim. On one hand, they could rejuvenate both formats, however, it’s equally possible this could entirely kill Alchemy. To some players, this might not sound bad, however, Alchemy does have fantastic, currently underutilized, potential. 

Read More: Are Underplayed MTG Cards Bad or Misunderstood?

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