Wizards of the Coast has announced a brand new format for MTG Arena called Alchemy. Let's go over the new format and why it is being introduced.
The Alchemy format goes live on December 9, with the MTG Arena December patch.
What is the Alchemy Format?
The ultimate goal is to have a new format that focuses on digital players that can be balanced instead of resorting to bans.
- The format includes all Standard cards as its base.
- Some cards have been rebalanced for digital play - 11 cards will be rebalanced for launch.
- Wizards will look to rebalance problematic cards for Alchemy rather than ban them like they do in Standard.
- If you own a Standard card, you also own its Alchemy counterpart should it be rebalanced.
- Special digital-only cards will be launched for play in Alchemy.
- Alchemy: Innistrad is a new digital-only set that includes around 60 new cards for the format.
- Every Standard set going forward will also have a digital-only Alchemy set that will contain around 30 cards and release a month after the Standard set.
- These digital-only cards may have mechanics that are unique to the digital space.
- Alchemy will rotate cards with the same release schedule as Standard.
- Ranked and Unranked queue options are available as is Best-of-One and Best-of-Three.
- You can use your Standard Decks in Alchemy.
- If your deck contains cards that were rebalanced, you can swap them in the deck to make it Alchemy legal.
- When the patch drops on December 9, all players will get 3 Alchemy: Innistrad packs when they login in addition to several rare card rewards.
- There will be competitive events for Alchemy - more on that in a moment.
- Wizards will update their card gallery with the new Alchemy: Innistrad cards.
It looks like MTG is finally looking to be more competitive with other digital card games by introducing balance changes which is commonplace in titles like Hearthstone and Legends of Runeterra, among other games.
A new set is coming out that is specific to digital formats like Alchemy and Historic formats.
- Alchemy: Innistrad will feature around 60 new cards in addition to the rebalanced cards.
- Spellbook is a new mechanic that works much like how 60560's offers and conditions work.
- You will have three options displayed from a curated list of cards and select one.
- Usually cards created through the mechanic are put in your hand.
- We can expect card previews throughout the next week.
The cards in Alchemy: Innistrad will be available in card packs. Here's how they work:
- Unlike regular packs, there are no common cards in the set. Instead, they are filled with Innistrad: Crimson Vow commons.
- Once four copies of each Crimson Vow common have been obtained, you'll then receive the usual 20 Gems.
- There is a special kind of duplicate protection that occurs with the new packs:
- Once you've obtained all Rare cards from Alchemy: Innistrad, you will be given Crimson Vow cards instead in their place.
- Then if you collect all Crimson Vow cards, you'll get 20 Gems.
- The same goes for Mythic Rares, Alchemy: Innistrad ones first followed by Crimson Vow cards, and finally Gems.
- Once you've obtained all Rare cards from Alchemy: Innistrad, you will be given Crimson Vow cards instead in their place.
- Packs will be the same price as regular card packs.
- If you open a card from an Alchemy card pack and its been rebalanced, you also get the Standard version too.
Additionally, a special Alchemy bundle containing 20 Alchemy boosters will be available for 3,000 gems or 15,000 gold - limit one purchase per player.
How Do Set Rotations Work With Alchemy?
If you are familiar with the Standard set rotations in MTG, you're in luck! Nothing is really changing with Alchemy but you want to keep the following in mind:
- Each supplemental set that releases shortly after a Standard set is tied to that set.
- A supplemental set will rotate at the same time its Standard set does.
- Supplemental sets will continue to be available in Historic after their rotation, as expected.
If you aren't familiar with an MTG set rotation, here is how it works:
- Each September, MTG rotates the sets that are playable in the Standard format.
- Any set that has been in Standard for longer than a year when rotation happens will be kicked out and only playable in other formats.
Which Competitive Events Are Happening for Alchemy?
Wizards of the Coast has announced two competitive events for Alchemy in the immediate future.
- December - Qualifier Weekend for Ranked will use Alchemy format.
- January - MTG Arena Open Featuring Alchemy format.
Additional events will happen for the format as Alchemy becomes a regular part of the Standard and Historic mix.
What Freebies Do I Get When Alchemy Launches?
Wizards of the Coast is giving out several freebies on December 9.
- 3 Alchemy Boosters
- 6 Rare Alchemy individual card rewards
- 1 Mythic Rare Alchemy individual card rewards
Alchemy is a new digital-only format that will be debuting in MTG Arena with our release on December 9. It uses the card pool of Standard as a base, but it extends that by adding rebalanced cards and digital-only cards.
Alchemy is launching with eleven rebalanced cards from the current Standard and the Alchemy: Innistrad supplemental set, which adds around 60 totally new cards with mechanics that could only work well in digital Magic.
We'll spell out everything you need to know about the new format below, and you can check out this morning's Weekly MTG (December 2) with Dave Humpherys and Ian Adams, two designers who worked on creating these new cards, for even more info.
ORIGINS OF ALCHEMY
Introducing a new format like this is a big change, and it's one we've been thinking and working on for some time now. For the last several years, players have been coming to MTG Arena for fast, fun digital Magic, and the play rate has been intense—each day, we see millions of matches of Magic on MTG Arena.
One of the key things we've learned from watching all of this play is that digital-first Magic players engage with the game slightly differently than tabletop players do. This is the same pattern we see across Magic play, and one of the main ways Magic has grown over the last several years is by embracing the many different ways that players love to play the game. From Commander players to collectors, from Standard and Modern to Pioneer, Historic, and beyond, we're working to create more products built for how every group likes to play and engage with Magic.
Alchemy is built for our digital-first players, who consume content more quickly but also want a metagame that stays fresh and evolves. As a digital-only format, Alchemy lets us add new cards after a set release, offer new mechanics that can only work in a digital game, and rebalance cards to keep the environment interesting and engaging every time players sit down to play.
We recognize that some players value a more authentic tabletop experience, so we want to reassure those players that Standard isn't going anywhere. Nothing about the addition of Alchemy will change how Standard currently works on MTG Arena, and we will continue to support formats that work just like the printed, tabletop version of the game.
Alchemy is simply an additional way to play, offering another option for players who want a new metagame and new strategies to conquer, who want a faster rate of evolution and change in that metagame, and who want a format that can work like a digital game.
Alchemy begins with all the cards in the Standard card pool and rotates on the same cadence, and then it adds in new features with rebalanced cards and cards with digital-only mechanics from supplemental sets like Alchemy: Innistrad. It also brings a new approach to digital-only formats across MTG Arena. We think these new features will help us keep digital formats fair and fun, so the rebalanced cards and new cards in Alchemy: Innistrad will also be legal in Historic, Historic Brawl, and similar digital-only formats.
Non-digital formats, like Standard and the Limited formats for any Standard sets, will not change at all in this process. They will continue to use the normal, printed versions of each card, and the cards from Alchemy: Innistrad will not be legal there.
In October's Banned & Restricted announcement, we rebalanced several digital-only cards from Jumpstart: Historic Horizons. Alchemy builds on this and extends it, creating a format where we can rebalance cards that have printed equivalents as well. Some of these are nerfs, bringing cards that had an outsized impact on the metagame back into the intended balance—still strong, but no longer dominating the field. Some of these are buffs, making cards that we've seen players enjoy, but fell short on power level, a bit stronger.
Here are some examples:
This rebalanced version of Omnath, Locus of Creation is legal in Alchemy, Historic, and other digital-only formats (the original remains banned in Standard). In general, we will look to rebalance rather than ban in Alchemy wherever we can. For a full list, as well as more details on rebalancing philosophy and why these cards and changes were selected, see Donald Smith's article.
As we saw recently in Historic, when digital-only cards are rebalanced, we can simply adjust the text on the existing card to update them. Things work slightly differently when we're rebalancing cards that have printed versions as well.
Since we want to keep Standard working exactly as it does in the tabletop version of Magic, we will not change any of these cards directly. Instead, whenever we need to rebalance a card that has a printed version, we will create a new, digital-only version of that card.
As shown above, these cards all display the MTG Arena "A" icon in their title bar to clearly call out that they are the rebalanced versions. Internally, their name is slightly different as well, with an "A-" prefix to indicate that they are the rebalanced version. For example, A-Esika's Chariot is the rebalanced version of Esika's Chariot. This only really matters for things like deck import and export, though; name-a-card effects and other in-game mechanics still refer to the normal name, for instance.
Since these rebalanced versions are now digital-only cards, any future balance adjustments can be applied directly. Starting with this update, all digital-only cards on MTG Arena will have the MTG Arena "A" down where the holofoil rarity stamp usually is so they can be clearly identified.
Whenever we create these rebalanced versions of cards, we will grant all players a number of rebalanced cards equal to the normal versions they have collected. If you have three copies of Esika's Chariot, you will also receive three copies of A-Esika's Chariot. After that, whenever a player collects one version of a rebalanced card, they will also receive the other version as well. This applies in all circumstances, whether receiving the card from a store pack, individual card reward, wildcard crafting, from a Limited pool, or any other way. It's all built to make it as easy as possible for players to go back and forth between Standard and Alchemy however they like.
Going forward, we will regularly evaluate the Alchemy metagame and release additional balance adjustments to keep things diverse, fair, and fun. Since all of these rebalanced cards are now digital only, they will only be used in digital-only formats like Alchemy and Historic. Formats that are also played in tabletop Magic, like Constructed Standard or Limited formats with Standard sets, will continue to use the normal, printed versions of these cards.
In addition to the rebalanced cards, Alchemy also includes around 60 new cards found in Alchemy: Innistrad, a digital-only supplemental set featuring new cards and many new mechanics. Most of these cards are set on Innistrad, where fans will see some familiar characters, and a few of them call back to earlier sets in the current rotation.
Drafting a card from a spellbook is one of the new mechanics in this set, and it works much like Davriel, Soul Broker's offers and conditions. You will see three cards chosen from among a curated list and select one, usually to put into your hand. Unsurprisingly, the spellbook for Ishkanah, Broodmother is full of spiders. You'll be able to browse through these spellbooks in game by right-clicking (or long-pressing) on the cards, much like looking at dungeons or cards that make multiple tokens.
We'll be previewing more cards from Alchemy: Innistrad throughout the week, so keep an eye on the forthcoming image gallery to see all the new cards and mechanics as they are revealed. We'll also be back a bit later in the week with an article from Magic Design about some of the philosophy and choices behind these new cards.
All of these cards can be found in the new Alchemy: Innistrad packs, which you'll find in the MTG Arena Store alongside packs for Innistrad: Crimson Vow:
These packs work just like normal store packs, but because Alchemy: Innistrad doesn't have any commons, those slots are filled with Innistrad: Crimson Vow commons. Duplicate protection has been extended a bit in these packs as well; once you have collected a playset of all rare cards in Alchemy: Innistrad, the rare slot will provide uncollected Innistrad: Crimson Vow rares. Once you've collected four copies of all rares for Innistrad: Crimson Vow, you'll receive 20 gems as usual. This process applies to mythic rares as well; once you have complete play sets of Alchemy: Innistrad mythic rares, you'll receive Innistrad: Crimson Vow mythic rares and then 40 gems.
Going forward, each Standard set will have a supplemental Alchemy set of around 30 cards that will be available about a month after the main set releases. These cards will all rotate out of Alchemy with the set they are based on, though after rotation, they will continue to be playable in Historic.
With our December update, Alchemy joins Standard and Historic as one of the main formats on MTG Arena. It will offer all the same queue options, like ranked and unranked or Best-of-One and Best-of-Three, and it will also be used in a variety of events. Ranked play in Constructed Alchemy increases the same Constructed rank used in Standard and Historic, so players are able to move between different formats without hurting their ranked progress.
Any Standard deck that doesn't use the rebalanced cards is ready to go for Alchemy, and any deck using the rebalanced cards will just need to swap in the new, rebalanced versions that players have been granted. But to really experience Alchemy, you'll want to include some of the new cards as well. To help every player get this experience, and to celebrate the launch of Alchemy, when you login after the update, you will receive three Alchemy: Innistrad packs and several rare (or better) individual card rewards.
As a main format, we will also be supporting Alchemy with competitive events—the Qualifier Weekend from the December ranked season will use Alchemy, and there will be an Alchemy Arena Open in January. We will continue offering competitive events in Standard and Historic as well, but Alchemy will regularly be part of the mix.
Alchemy brings a whole new way to play Magic to MTG Arena, and it gives us a format where we can use digital tools to create a more robust and varied environment for our digital-focused players. We will continue to support traditional tabletop-style play the same as we always have, because we know there are a large number of players who value that style of play. But we also know that there are players looking for more variety and challenge, for a format where balance problems can be swiftly corrected without needing to ban cards or eliminate whole decks, and now they will have a format built for them.