This week’s Weekly MTG has passed, and MTG Arena got a ton of love! We first looked at some of the cards coming in the most recent Explorer Anthology, and they are a big deal. Some were already spoiled, but this official confirmation should get fans excited. Alongside this are some new Alchemy cards and some data supporting the format’s success. Some MTG players may find this dubious since Alchemy is a topic disliked by many, but it does bring up some interesting conversation. Let’s get into it!
Explorer Anthology Spoilers
Because of another list revealed recently, some of these ‘spoilers’ were leaked already. That said, the leaked spoilers generated a ton of excitement amongst the MTG community, so this confirmation should still serve as an exciting moment. This Explorer Anthology is looking particularly exciting!
Reflector Mage and Mutavault were among the earlier cards that were also spoiled in the Weekly MTG show. While Reflector Mage only sees some fringe Pioneer play, Mutavault is an incredible powerhouse that should make aggressive strategies much more viable in Arena’s eternal formats.
The third card spoiled, and the only Explorer Anthology card spoiled that we didn’t already have a hint about was Thought-Knot Seer. This isn’t super surprising for the community since Mutavault signaled the potential for this and Reality Smasher to be a part of the set. Alchemy creator Chris Kiritz alluded to more cards in the Anthology following a ‘theme’ set up by these cards, so Reality Smasher seems likely to be a part of this set.
Thought-Knot Seer will be an exciting card for Explorer. The card currently sees Modern play in Eldrazi Tron but does not see much Pioneer play. Thought-Knot Seer’s ability to function similarly to a Thoughtseize with a body is absolutely incredible. You get a win condition, and you get to hinder your opponent in either accelerating their own win condition or dealing with the Seer itself.
This Weekly MTG also kicked off Brothers’ War Alchemy spoilers, showing off three interesting cards for MTG Arena players to sink their teeth into. Notably, the next Arena Open in mid-December will be Cube, and Alchemy cards will be in the Cube, so these may apply to more people than usual.
The first card spoiled was called Lonely End. This two-mana instant is rather powerful, allowing you to give a creature -3/-3 or remove three loyalty counters from a Planeswalker for the cost of two mana. While this is likely to be played in conjunction with Tasha, it can also help deal with the annoying Alchemy threat.
One thing that Kiritz mentioned when talking about this card is that they are really interested in experimenting with cards that give players who go second an advantage:
“Part of the thought there, honestly, is that a lot of Arena is played best of one, and being able to weight things a little bit so that there’s some advantages to not being the starting player is something we thought about as we built Alchemy cards.”
For those interested, when mousing over the card, there will be an indicator reminding you whether you went first or not.
The second card previewed this week is Argivian Welcome. This, obviously, is an incredibly powerful option for UW control decks, and Kiritz confirms that’s exactly what it’s supposed to be:
“This card is a pretty clear attempt to boost UW control in Alchemy right now. This is a swing at something people might play in a constructed deck. It can be removal if it’s a target for it is great. Being able to give something perpetually Flash in your hand is something most control decks with they could do.”
Notably, giving a board wipe Flash can help keep up with decks that like Haste creatures since those tend to be the weaknesses of board wipes in the first place. While finding a card to remove with Argivian Welcome may prove to be a bit difficult depending on the metagame, there is probably a place for this somewhere.
Crucias, Titan of the Waves
Crucias, Titan of the Waves is a lore-based character card that was not printed in The Brothers’ War. Crucias is the younger version of Bo Levar, one of Urza’s nine titans. “Before he went legit and became a businessman, Bo Levar was a pirate.”
The effect on Crucias looks like a fantastic fit for the cards already seeing Alchemy play. The discard effect works wonders with the infamous Diviner of Fates, and being able to create Treasure Tokens while attempting to find specific cards in your hand is an incredibly powerful ability.
Alchemy is “Doing Pretty Well”
This Weekly MTG marks about a year of Alchemy. According to Alchemy creator Christopher Kiritz, the newest MTG format is “doing pretty well.” As many MTG players may expect, the chat had a very different perspective from the featured Alchemy expert. It’s no secret that while being MTG’s newest format, Alchemy is also its most controversial one. Either way, some statistics were presented during this stream to outline the advantages presented by Alchemy.
This may be a bit difficult to understand the point of just looking at it. The point being made in Alchemy’s merit with this graph is the amount of variance in Alchemy decks. This graph show how much dominance the top 10 decks in each metagame have. We can see this by comparing the percentage of play that these top 10 decks cover in each format. Because Alchemy’s top 10 decks have less of a metagame share, this graph shows that Alchemy should have more variance at both Platinum and Mythic levels of play. If you’re getting tired of seeing the same few Standard decks, you can move over to Alchemy to experience some variance.
“Alchemy is a Gap-Filler”
If MTG Arena’s most popular formats equated 100% of all play in MTG Arena, this is the percentage of play each format would have seen daily starting in June of this year. The yellow lines drawn vertically on this graph represents Arena set releases, including Alchemy Horizons, Dominaria United, The Brothers’ War, and the Explorer Anthology (not in that order). Through this graph, Kiritz talks about Alchemy’s new role on MTG Arena:
“We want people who are really interested in Standard to engage in Standard, get their fill of that release, enjoy it and then, about a month later, give or take, depending on exactly when in our release cycle it falls, there is a new way to play. There’s more cards and more to explore.”
According to Kiritz’s statement, Alchemy is a way to help alleviate the staleness of other Arena formats. As we wait for the next big premium set release, Arena gets another Alchemy set so players who want to try something new have the option to do so.
When asked about some challenges encountered, or things they’ve learned along the way in regard to Alchemy, Kiritz had this to say:
“We’re always learning. This was new to everybody, something we haven’t done before. So, we’re always going to learn from our mistakes and iterate on what we’ve done and change. One of the things I work with the team very much on is: alright, how to we continue to improve and get better over time? I think we’re doing that.”