Magic: The Gathering Announces Alchemy, A New "Live" Arena Format

Magic: The Gathering has gone through many changes in the past few years due to the design principles established when Magic Arena was first developed. Most recently, a huge innovation we saw included the creation of cards with digital-only abilities, as seen in Jumpstart Horizons. Another big one came in the form of an event where cards that impacted the formats they were in greatly were rebalanced to reflect a different sort of power level than they were originally printed at.

But what happens when both of these ideas are combined and turned into a whole other format? Well, Alchemy is that format, and it will hit Wizards of the Coast's main online Magic interface in exactly one week, on Thursday, November 9th.

The art for Esika's Chariot from the Kaldheim set, one of the cards to be rebalanced for Magic: The Gathering's digital interface, Magic Arena. Illustrated by Raoul Vitale.
The art for Esika's Chariot from the Kaldheim set, one of the cards to be rebalanced for Magic: The Gathering's digital interface, Magic Arena. Illustrated by Raoul Vitale.

While Alchemy will not be replacing the Standard format, it is provided by Wizards of the Coast as a "live" format (like Historic) to run alongside Standard. All of these formats will be tournament formats at times, and the cards introduced in Alchemy, be they rebalanced versions of old cards or all-new cards, will also be legal in Historic. Additionally, the rebalanced cards in Alchemy will be accessible to anyone who already has the Standard versions. If you pull either version of a card with an Alchemy version on Magic Arena, you will automatically have both versions.

As for bans and the propensity for Wizards of the Coast to give players wildcards for said bans, this will not change. Players will still receive wildcards for cards banned in Standard. In Alchemy, bans aren't nearly as likely to occur, with Wizards of the Coast erring towards a rebalancing of cards every month.

What do some of these rebalances look like? Well, for a few examples:

Esika's Chariot, rebalanced for the Alchemy format. Image attributed to Wizards of the Coast for Magic: The Gathering.
Esika's Chariot rebalanced for the Alchemy format. Image attributed to Wizards of the Coast for Magic: The Gathering.
Alrund's Epiphany, rebalanced for the Alchemy format. Image attributed to Wizards of the Coast for Magic: The Gathering.
Alrund's Epiphany rebalanced for the Alchemy format. Image attributed to Wizards of the Coast for Magic: The Gathering.
Phylath, World Sculptor, rebalanced for the Alchemy format. Image attributed to Wizards of the Coast for Magic: The Gathering.
Phylath, World Sculptor, rebalanced for the Alchemy format. Image attributed to Wizards of the Coast for Magic: The Gathering.

As can be seen above in Phylath, World Sculptor, not all of the cards will be receiving nerfs to their power level. Some will be buffed! A few more examples of changes to cards include:

As for the new cards introduced in Alchemy, all of these cards will have digital-only mechanics, including conjure, seek, and perpetual effects. There are others as well, including the following:

Patient Zero, a new card for Magic: The Gathering's new Alchemy format.
Patient Zero, a new card for Magic: The Gathering's new Alchemy format.
Toralf's Disciple, a new card for Magic: The Gathering's new Alchemy format.
Toralf's Disciple, a new card for Magic: The Gathering's new Alchemy format.
Captain Eberhart, a new card for Magic: The Gathering's new Alchemy format.
Captain Eberhart, a new card for Magic: The Gathering's new Alchemy format.

These new cards, along with the rebalanced cards can be found in booster packs on Magic Arena geared specifically for Alchemy. These new packs will be released with premier set releases and will come out four to six weeks after the set itself comes out. This is to ensure that there's time to see how the metagame plays out and perhaps is even solved, just to be shaken up once again by the arrival of these new cards.

For collectors on Arena, duplication protection will be put into place for the cards you get from the new packs, with special notice given about the rebalanced cards: If you have four of a given card, you won't be seeing more of those specific cards after the fact in that given pack. Also, at this time, we do not know whether the older rebalanced cards like Teferi, Time Raveler, or Oko, Thief of Crowns will be seen in the Alchemy format. Still, as their original versions are not Standard-legal anymore, it doesn't seem too likely.

Finally, the creation of Alchemy furthers the divide between paper Magic and play on Arena. The formats where digital-only cards exist, such as Historic or Alchemy, will be known as "Live" formats, whereas established tabletop formats like Standard, Pioneer, or Modern will be known as "Printed" formats. This is important regarding distinctions to be made for players new to the concept of formats and isn't much different from the distinction between Constructed and Limited.

What are your thoughts on this new format and all that it implies? Is this just an excuse for Wizards of the Coast to justify not taking the time to ban cards, or is it a great innovation that will bring Magic: The Gathering in line with other digital card games? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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About Joshua Nelson

Josh Nelson is a Magic: The Gathering deckbuilding savant, a self-proclaimed scholar of all things Sweeney Todd, and, of course, a writer for Bleeding Cool. In their downtime, Josh can be found painting models, playing Magic, or possibly preaching about the horrors and merits of anthropophagy. You can find them on Twitter at @Burning_Inquiry for all your burning inquiries.
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