This coming weekend is the first Magic Arena Open with the newest format in the game, Alchemy. It’s been about a month or so since Alchemy was released and since Alchemy is a digital only format, we expect that there’s going to be more fluid changes to cards in the format. The only thing we didn’t quite know was if the cadence of the changes were going to be any more frequent than when new Alchemy cards are created with each set. Well, we now have a first date for changes coming soon.
The Arena Open
In the January 2022 MTG Arena Announcements article, Wizards of the Coast states that with the Arena Open this weekend as well as Qualifier Weekend next weekend both being Alchemy, players have been preparing long and hard for these events. They are not looking to make any changes to the format before these events happen.
That being said, after these events take place, we will be greeting with the next phase of Alchemy. This next phase will include balance changes exclusively to existing cards. These will include both buffs to fun, under performing cards and adjustments (most likely nerfs) to existing decks in the format.
What’s Likely To Be Changed?
While the gambit of cards that could be buffed is massive and honestly very hard to pin point, there’s definitely a few cards that we can speculate on getting nerfs.
The first card that I could see getting nerfed is Fearsome Whelp. This seemingly harmless little guy is the catalyst for the various Dragon decks in Alchemy to turbo out a VERY strong board far earlier than expected. Even letting one of these slide for a turn advances the dragon’s deck far above the curve which can lead to quick, decisive games that truthfully can feel unsurmountable.
I’d expect that at the bare minimum, this will go to 3 mana, as that brings the deck back into line with the natural curve, but still allows them to play some explosive turns around turns 5-6. Outside of that, I could see the ability requiring it to attack to gain the benefit, as that would accomplish the same thing, but you’d also have to put this at some amount of risk.
I think that these two wouldn’t happen together, I think it’s one or the other, with the former being the more likely change.
Key to the Archive
Another Alchemy card that’s made massive waves in the format is Key to the Archive. This card has been a powerful tool in Control strategies, allowing an effectively Standard power level deck access to Historic or Modern power level spells. My guess here is that this will go up to 5 mana, as a baseline nerf. This gives the opposing player a little more time to react and develop a plan to combat the spell that’s drafted.
A bit of a harder nerf that I could also see is making this only produce 1 mana of any color, but that I believe would kill the card entirely, as many of the spells you can draft are 2 colors. This change would make those spells essentially unplayable in decks that can’t produce the right colors.
One other possibility is that we see the list of draftable spells change. I’m sure that there’s data about which cards are picked most often (my guess would be Time Warp and Approach of the Second Sun) and replacing those cards with others that are more on par with the power level of the rest of the spells.
The last card that I’d expect to see some kind of change is Inquisitor Captain. This card does have a powerful effect, and a change for this that I could see being small but impactful is changing the mana value of the creatures you seek from 3 to 2. This has an impact on the decks that it’s currently played in, in both Alchemy and Historic. I’m not sure that this card really needs a nerf, but it’s definitely a consideration.
What cards would you want to see nerfed in Alchemy, or Buffed? Let us know in the comments!