After playing around with cards and mechanics exclusive to Magic: The Gathering Arena, Wizards of the Coast is expanding into supporting a new digital-only format called Alchemy. This new format and everything that comes with it will launch on December 9.
Alchemy is built on the Standard format and its yearly rotation of sets. That means when the time comes for a year's worth of cards to drop out of Standard, they will lose legality in Alchemy as well. However, a pool of new, Arena exclusive cards will be added a few weeks after each Standard-legal set launches, meaning we'll see new batches of digital cards every few months. Players will find these via Alchemy booster packs or by cashing in wildcards like any other card in Arena. Our first Alchemy infusion will play off of the most recent pair of Innistrad sets and is called Alchemy: Innistrad, bringing 63 cards into the client. Most if not all of the cards will feature rules and mechanics that are more at home in a virtual card duel than at the kitchen table.
Jumpstart: Historic Horizons introduced Arena players to mechanics like Perpetual, Seek, and creating non-token spells out of thin air; rules that make permanent changes to cards, find cards in your library without the need to shuffle afterward or go around the deckbuilding considerations of the game. Alchemy will be playing in this space yet again. You'll see creatures that will affect cards drawn on the turn to reduce or increase a spell's cost, or ones that may care about who took the first turn in the game. A new rules text word called "draft" will work a lot like Hearthstone's Discover, allowing a player the choice of adding one of three cards (chosen randomly from a larger pool) to their hand.
The second huge change for Alchemy is the addition of rebalanced cards with different text or mana costs from the originally-printed Standard card. This concept was tested during a very quick Mirror, Mirror event over the summer. For example, the green artifact Esika's Chariot, which has been a strong force in Standard for months, will now have a lower Crew cost but will enter the battlefield creating one 2/2 cat token instead of two. Because Wizards now has the option to rebalance problem cards, there will technically be no bannings in the Alchemy format. Instead, cards will be tweaked to an appropriate power level. Omnath, Locus of Creation will now be one mana more expensive to cast, and its abilities have been toned down slightly.
Rebalanced cards will exist separate from the original printings and will feature an Arena "A" at the bottom of the card and next to the spell's name at the top. This powershifting of cards won't just be a tool to bring down a strong effect but is being used to make cards better as well. Cosmos Elixer, seen below, now adds a Scry 1 effect to its life gain trigger.
Cards introduced through Alchemy and rebalanced cards will be making their way to Historic and Historic Brawl legality, making these formats still the place to play all of your digital collection from throughout the last few years. The new alternate Standard, Alchemy, and Alchemy: Innistrad will hit MTG Arena on December 9.