Magic: The Gathering developer Wizards of the Coast has announced a new game format that will be released exclusively for MTG Arena on December 9th. This new mode called Alchemy will periodically rebalance cards instead of locking them out completely, as well as introducing brand new digital cards.
While Alchemy will be using the same sets and rotation schedule as Standard, Wizards of the Coast strongly advises that this is not intended to replace what it now calls “printed” formats. Instead, it uses Alchemy to create something new that implements the digital nature of Arena even more fully than other digital card games like Hearthstone are already doing.
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This means that certain printed cards have versions with rebalanced text or abilities that can only be seen in alchemy. For example, particularly strong cards like Alrunds Epiphany and Goldspan Dragon receive nerfs, while potentially undervalued cards like Phylath, World Sculptor are upgraded (the new versions of all three can be seen in the gallery above). Wizards of the Coast plans to keep a close eye on the Alchemy meta, and make additional adjustments about once a month to shake things up.
In addition to exchanging old cards, new alchemy expansion sets are released in the form of special booster packs around 4-6 weeks after each premiere set. The cards in it will only feature digital mechanics similar to those first introduced in Jump start: historical horizons Earlier this year and is being set in direct response to how the metagame appears to be shaking at the time.
The first of these supplementary sets will appear in the world of the newest set, Innistrad: Purple Vow, introducing 63 brand new cards. You can see 10 of these new cards in the gallery above, including the return of the summoning mechanic that can generate new cards and a zombie creature that Wizards of the Coast says was specifically designed to give a boost to zombie-themed decks .
While the paper game and usual drafting formats continue as usual, the need for something like Alchemy arose from the fact that formats are “resolved” much faster in a digital environment, said Wizards of the Coast. Standard will still be available in Arena as usual, but those looking for a more evolving metagame will now have Alchemy as an option too.
Wizards of the Coast continues to lean towards the digital nature of Arena and is just another way the identity of Magic: The Gathering has changed in recent years. In October, IGN spoke to dozens of professional gamers and community members about how Magic’s changing identity is changing, as well as its licensed crossover sets with TV shows like Strange things or games like Fortnite and Street Fighter.