As the Baldur’s Gate spoilers come to an end, Wizards moves on to its next set of spoiler cards. The New Capenna drop for Alchemy on MTG Arena is coming soon, and while the new cards are cool, will it really help the format?
Alchemy has been very unpopular with the community lately. The new spoilers don’t even prompt the members to talk about a format. Since spoilers are usually the most exciting thing in the game, that’s a very bad sign.
What’s interesting, though, is a talk about what would bring this format back.
How to revive a dead format
To revive a format, you must first understand what the issues are. The biggest problem for MTG Alchemy right now is the lack of access. This format is incredibly expensive to integrate. The cost of Wildcards in MTG Arena is quite high and the gameplay so far has been poor. Hopefully the release of these new maps will solve the gameplay problem, but the accessibility problem will be much harder to solve.
Wizards is trying to combat this by creating a hybrid Alchemy Draft format to improve the accessibility of Alchemy cards. I think it will be slightly helpful, but it only targets a demographic of gamers who can go endless in their drafts. These players won’t have a problem with jokers in the first place. The signal only lasts a weekend too. If they wanted to maximize accessibility, I think creating a quick draft with this layout would be the most beneficial option. The second change is more beneficial: Wizards plans to move more Alchemy cards to Uncommon cards. This should help those who want to play Alchemy but don’t have the wildcards to support it.
MTG Alchemy Gameplay
The biggest access bar for Alchemy for the majority of the playerbase is pretty straightforward. Alchemy is only playable on MTG Arena. Anyone who plays MTG knows that Commander is the game’s biggest potential audience. Commander is a format that, in reality, is only played on paper. This eliminates a large part of the community from the start. The minor benefit to this is that Arena can create a format that targets a specific demographic of players. The problem is that Alchemy doesn’t appeal to any demographic at this time.
The second problem with Alchemy is that there is no top game for it. With nothing for players to aspire to or pursue, Alchemy’s player base will not be very supported. Content creators have no reason to cover the format. There is a small upside to being able to emerge victorious with some pretty fun beers as the meta may be heavily unoptimized, but the player base will be extremely small. This is not what a good format looks like.
READ MORE: MTG Standard Tier List
Sorcerer’s Risen Pioneer
A fantastic example to watch with a recent format that was very dead, and is now considered a flagship format, is Pioneer.
Dimir Inverter was a deck that quickly took over Pioneer in the months before Covid arrived and the world went into lockdown. The game plan was to get Inverter of truths take out and flip your deck. From this moment, win the game with Oracle of Thassa Where Jace, Bringer of Mysteries . Sound powerful? He was so obscenely strong that he completely towered over Pioneer. This turned Pioneer into an extremely unattractive format to play. The Covid strike also wiped out the majority of top-tier games for Pioneer as MTG pushed Arena as a Covid workaround.
With that in mind, Pioneer’s problems were playability and there was no real goal to achieve. Lack of access was a more minor issue with Covid, but even if it wasn’t, Pioneer would still be dead in its current state.
The first step was to update the list of bans. There was no way to fix the gameplay issue without banishing a piece from the Dimir Inverter deck. Inverter of truths is prohibited. There have been other bans in the meantime, such as railing spy but the point has been made.
The accessibility issue eventually resolved itself. As the world has become more apt to deal with the repercussions of Covid, we are once again able to host in-person tournaments.
The Premier reading problem was solved by Wizards dictating Pioneer as its new flagship paper size. Most (if not all) of the upcoming regional championships will be Pioneer.
Interestingly enough, there’s already talk about Pioneer returning to an unhealthy place. People are still exploring Pioneer regardless. This is due to the buzz Wizards generated around Pioneer by promoting it as a flagship format. As long as a format is competitive in nature, we need something to aim for. Alchemy doesn’t have a goal yet.
Let’s take this example to show that Wizards is able to revive dead formats and bring them to the forefront of the game.
What must change?
The top three concerns for MTG Alchemy at the moment are game quality, accessibility, and competitive support. The first two issues need to be resolved for the third to be most successful in driving traffic to the format.
MTG Alchemy is Magic’s most updated format. It’s reassuring. The ability to digitally change cards on the fly gives the format a lot of potential here. Digital changes are a new idea that the community has not yet accepted. He is wildly successful in other card games. That’s not a bad thing.
Accessibility is going to be the big problem that becomes very difficult to solve. As spoilers stand right now, there are still a lot of Rare and Mythic cards.
MTG Alchemy Spoilers
Some spoilers are presented throughout this article. The rest of the spoilers can be found here. More cards are still spoiled as of this writing.