Since it launched back in December of 2021, most MTG players haven’t looked too fondly upon Alchemy. Not only was the fledgling format exclusive to MTG Arena, but it leveraged that digital platform, arguably for the worse. Introducing new digital-exclusive mechanics alongside card rebalancing, Alchemy is frequently criticized for causing needless confusion, even for paper MTG players. Thankfully, despite the constant complaints that are directed at Alchemy, the format is hardly the worst thing in the world. In fact, due to the unique cards and occasional rebalancing, Alchemy can actually be a lot of fun. Now, following the latest round of rebalancing changes, Alchemy has hopefully gotten a little bit better once again!
Time for a Change
Prior to the recent announcement from Wizards, MTG’s few Alchemy fanatics have practically been begging for a rebalancing. Sure, the format wasn’t in the worst state in the world, however, it nevertheless could do with some improvement. After all, when Alchemy was first announced, Wizards promised frequent rebalancing to constantly refine the format into perfection. The actual implantation of that strategy, however, has left much to be desired, as rebalancing steadily became rarer and rarer. Thankfully, almost three months after the last rebalancing, Wizards has finally done as players asked, buffing a smattering of cards.
Once again, similar to the rebalancing back in January, Wizards is centering Alchemy’s latest buffs around a specific creature type. While Spirits and Samurai were the lucky archetypes previously, this time around Ninjas are getting some long-overdue love. In order to rework this creature type for Alchemy and Historic players, Wizards primarily reduced mana costs across the board. Satoru Umezawa and Nashi, Moon Sage’s Scion, for instance, both now have cheaper Ninjutsu abilities. Additionally, a few cards, such as Futurist Operative, had a major reword. Cutting the card’s cost from 3U to just U at the expense of its power and toughness, Wizards clearly isn’t afraid to make sweeping changes.
Overall, as Wizards explains, the goal of rebalancing Ninjas is to “improve their defensive capabilities.” By reducing Ninjutsu costs and adding more 4-toughness Ninjas, Wizards hopes to “better reward players for enabling Ninjutsu and building around the mechanic.” At the time of writing, while these changes are undoubtedly welcome, it’s unclear if they’ll have a truly major impact. Whatever the impact, this rebalancing should certainly facilitate more fun, something Ninja-themed decks already are, according to players.
“If you play enough Historic you’ve probably seen UB ninjas at least a few times. It’s a fun deck to play against, always being tricky.”u/Historical-Tip-8233
O Crucias, Crucias, Wherefore Art Thou Crucias?”
Thankfully, while Ninjas were undoubtedly the focus of this rebalancing, they weren’t the only cards receiving changes. In order to give players more “defensive tools,” Wizards also buffed Dawnbringer Cleric and Hinterland Chef. Alongside pushing these creatures up to four toughness, Wizards even buffed a Legacy all-star. Thanks to its ability to destroy Urza’s Saga and other powerful artifacts and enchantments, Haywire Mite can be exceedingly useful. On MTG Arena, however, the card’s usefulness is somewhat middling, so much so that it apparently required a mild buff.
Overall, throughout all their changes, Wizards hopes to slightly curb the most powerful Alchemy deck going around: Rakdos Sacrifice. While this is certainly something that the Alchemy format needs, players aren’t happy with how Wizards is going about this. As, by buffing somewhat underwhelming tribes and niche cards, Wizards isn’t addressing the card at the core of the issue. In case you’ve not played enough games of Alchemy to find out for yourself, this card is Crucias, Titan of the Waves. Introduced in Alchemy: The Brothers’ War, Crucias, Titan of the Waves is an absolute powerhouse that utilizes the Seek ability for a weak tutor effect.
As a key part of the Rakdos Sacrifice decks dominating Alchemy, many players have been hoping Crucias would get nerfed. Unfortunately for these hopeful players, however, they once again remain untouched by the latest round of nerfs. Understandably, this has left many MTG players, such as u/GingeContinge both baffled and upset at Wizards’ lack of action. Alongside this, some Alchemy players even suggested Wizards wasn’t nerfing Crucias on purpose because they’re a fairly recently released card. For better or worse, there’s no indication of if this is actually the case, however, it’s nevertheless a concerning thought.
“I don’t mind when they buff underpowered tribes but the failure to nerf the most oppressive card in the format is why I have literally zero interest in alchemy. If the point is a dynamic, ever-changing meta, leaving Crucias, Titan of the Waves untouched is an utter failure.”u/GingeContinge
Not Quite My Tempo
Currently, despite its incredible potential, Alchemy is still lamented as one of the worst formats in all of MTG. Exacerbating already pressing problems with player confusion while supposedly stealing cards, it’s easy to find fault in the format. There is the potential, however, that Alchemy could genuinely be a fantastic way to play MTG. To make that happen, however, Wizards of the Coast needs to seriously commit to rebalancing cards more frequently. Currently, the last three rebalancings have been spaced almost three months apart which seriously ruins their effectiveness. After all, within that time frame both a premier and an Alchemy set are released onto MTG Arena. By introducing new cards, these sets obviously shake up formats without the intervention of Alchemy’s rebalancing.
Obviously, the rebalancings that occur following set releases are welcome, but they still don’t happen often enough. If you ask me, to truly improve Alchemy, making both its Draft and Constructed events enjoyable, Wizards should be rebalancing at least once a month. While this would help the format, obviously doing that isn’t as simple as pushing a rebalance button at Wizards HQ. Instead, a dedicated team of designers would be required to constantly innovate and refine not just Alchemy, but Historic too. This is the real problem, as currently, Alchemy’s middling player base simply doesn’t demand that kind of attention. It’s possible this may change in the future following MTG Arena’s release on Steam, however, that remains to be seen. In the meantime, we can only hope that these latest changes help to make Alchemy that much more enjoyable.