Amidst the upcoming ban announcement set to take place on Monday, December 4, all the attention seems to be on Pioneer, Modern, and Pauper. These formats in particular could see significant changes moving forward, so it makes sense that they would be the talk of the town. Almost immediately after on December 5, though, is the release of a large group of cards to MTG Arena. These cards are all part of the Alchemy: Ixalan set.
These cards are specifically designed for digital play. Utilizing mechanics such as Conjure and Seek that wouldn’t realistically work in paper as written, these cards create a fun and interesting play experience for those involved. While some players don’t like how much these types of cards separate MTG Arena play from paper play, being able to play with mechanically unique cards in Alchemy and Historic on MTG Arena is a nice option to have.
Alchemy: Ixalan is set to have 30 new cards in it. We have already gone over two new cards, including one with a new spell type. December 5 is coming up on us very quickly, though and it appears as though we have a handful of other spoilers to share. Let’s start by going over a group of cards that each feature a cool kindred theme.
Seeking Certain Creature Types
First up, we have a one-mana card with the ability to Seek a Merfolk card. This means that, assuming you Explored this turn, you will get a random Merfolk card from your library added to your hand. The Lost Caverns of Ixalan is filled with powerful Merfolk that naturally Explore themselves, so this is not a difficult bit of criteria to meet. Cenote Scout and Sentinel of the Nameless City work quite well with this card, for instance.
Pirate’s Landing is quite similar, except rather than needing to Explore to Seek the requisite Creature type, you need to cast this spell via a Treasure. Both of these cards are quite reasonable, but neither one of them have immense upside. The issue is that, if you are building a kindred-style deck, you essentially have no control over what Merfolk or Pirate you end up Seeking with these cards.
In the case of Pirate’s Landing specifically, though, this card does have the ability to find Crucias, Titan of the Waves, one of the most powerful midrange cards in the format. Not only does Crucias naturally make Treasure tokens itself for Pirate’s Landing, but in a midrange deck, it will likely be your only Pirate, allowing you to reliably Seek for it via Pirate’s Landing. The key is having other cards that make Treasure tokens in your deck.
Of this mix of cards, Dusk’s Landing definitely has the highest upside because it has the ability to seek two Creatures, not just one. This is a solid piece of card advantage if you can meet the requirement of draining your opponent. Fortunately, this isn’t too difficult. Connecting in combat with a Creature with Lifelink or simply casting a card like Vampire’s Kiss easily enables this card. Not to mention, there are some solid Vampires in the format, including Bloodtithe Harvester.
Another commonly utilized mechanic among Alchemy cards is Conjure. Conjure essentially creates virtual copies of cards in a certain zone. For example, Propogator Primordium is a two-mana 3/3 that puts two copies of Propogator Primordium into your graveyard when it enters the battlefield. Then, after enough turn cycles, you have the ability to bring back a Fungus Creature from your graveyard to play, which includes the Conjured cards.
Propogator Primordium is certainly a bit slow, but a three-power Creature at two mana isn’t terrible. One cool feature of Conjuring permanent cards specifically into your graveyard is that this works well with Descend. This card fuels The Mycotyrant as a result and can even bring back the Mycotyrant a few turns later, since it’s a Fungus as well.
Speaking of Conjure fueling Descend, that’s the whole idea behind Chitinous Crawler. Once each turn, you get to Conjure a copy of a Creature already in your graveyard to add to your Descend count. Once you have eight or more permanent cards in your graveyard, you can start exiling permanents from your graveyard and playing them.
Notably, this ability does not say once each turn. As a result, there may be some shenanigans to be had with Mox Amber in Historic. With two copies of Mox Amber between your graveyard and the battlefield, a Legend in play and enough permanent cards in your graveyard, you can keep looping Mox Amber by floating mana, then playing the second copy from your graveyard, sacrificing the old one via the Legend Rule. This will allow you to generate infinite mana. It’s unclear how reliable this is, as it takes some setup, but it’s cool, nonetheless.
Our last Conjure-related spoiler is a very weird card, but relatively strong. As a two-mana 2/1 that creates a Map token when it attacks, it has a reasonable floor. The real bonus, though, comes if you were able to have two Artifacts enter the battlefield under your control during your turn. Because the Map token counts as one of them, you only need to play one Artifact if you attack unharmed.
Then, you get a copy of Thieving Magpie directly into play. Thieving Magpie isn’t the scariest card, but if your opponent can’t deal with Landlore Navigator quickly and you keep playing Artifacts, you can keep getting more and more Fliers that can generate card advantage.
More Intriguing Spoilers
Beyond Seek and Conjure, the use of one-time boons is another mechanic unique to digital play. When Valiant Batrider connects in combat, it does a solid Esper Sentinel impression, forcing the opponent to pay one extra mana for their next non-Creature spell or let you draw a card.
Unfortunately, though, this card seems fairly weak. It costs more mana than Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, needs to connect in combat and gives the opponent the option of whether to pay mana or let you draw a card. Of course, Thalia does affect your own non-Creature spells, but there are likely better options at the three-drop slot in Alchemy than this.
One white three-drop that does have some potential is Legion’s Chant. At minimum, this card functions just like Patch Up. While Patch Up was never quite good enough to reliably see play, Legion’s Chant has higher upside, assuming you have cast other Chorus cards during the game. We’ve already seen a Chorus removal spell spoiled, so there may be more Chorus cards yet to be previewed.
Even putting multiple copies of this card in your deck means that subsequent copies of Legion’s Chant will be even better. If you can reliably bring back four mana worth of Creatures with this card, that may be enough to get it over the hump.
Last but not least, we have a card that can seek non-Land Artifacts from your library to the battlefield. Given the randomness of Seeking for cards, this isn’t a reliable tutor in an Artifact deck. Additionally, if you end up overpaying for the Artifact you Seek, it won’t stay on the battlefield. Instead, it will go to your hand and cost one more to cast.
Once again, though, there may be some cool lines of play with Mox Amber in Historic. Assuming Mox Amber is the only zero-mana Artifact in your deck, Plunderer’s Prize provides an easy way to find the powerful mana producer for only one mana. Perhaps this could make some combo decks in Historic more consistent, like Kethis, the Hidden Hand combo.
While Alchemy may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it gives Wizards of the Coast the opportunity to explore a wide range of design space that may not be realistic in paper. Definitely keep an eye out for more Alchemy: Ixalan spoilers as they arrive.