Following the launch of Dominaria United, many players were beyond pleased that Alchemy Horizons: Baldur’s Gate was no more. Players no longer had to put up with its balanced Draft environment or interesting competitive scene. Instead, Dominaria United was here offering its own thoroughly enjoyable but much complained about the Draft environment. Putting the focus back on Standard, for better or worse, Alchemy seemed like a past problem. Now that the dust has settled after Dominaria United’s release, however, MTG Arena players are starting to notice Alchemy isn’t actually as dead as they had hoped.
Into the Future
During Wizards of the Coast’s recent MTG Arena announcements post, players noted a curious addition to the upcoming event schedule. Dubbed “Into the Future,” this event sparked much debate amongst intrigued players. Ultimately, not much is known about this event, which runs from the 6th to the 8th of October. As usual, however, that slight detail didn’t stop MTG Arena players from wildly speculating about what was to come. As a result, many players have convinced themselves that this mystery event heralds the return of Alchemy.
“So basically Alchemy DMU is coming October 6th, and they are doing an alternate Alchemy draft queue again,” Reddit user u/EmTeeEm proclaimed without question on the MTG Arena subreddit. While this speculation is technically unconfirmed, for now, it does indeed appear that Alchemy Dominaria United is on the horizon. This hypothetical Alchemy release date would align with past Alchemy release schedules, after all. Should this release date be correct, MTG’s seemingly unending ongoing spoiler season will drag on for even longer than expected.
Arena Alchemy Championship 1
Alongside announcing the potential release date of Alchemy Dominaria United, the recent blog post also highlighted Arena’s upcoming blockbuster tournament. Creatively dubbed Arena Championship 1, this tournament boasts a $200,000 prize pool and promises to be the “pinnacle of MTG Arena Premier Play.” With coverage broadcast on the Magic Twitch channel, players should be able to follow the tournament’s action easily. Unfortunately for Wizards, however, the weekend event is already mired in controversy thanks to the event’s formats.
Much to players’ dismay, the Arena Championship 1 is almost solely focused on Alchemy. Only the first three rounds of the event, out of ten total, are Dominaria United Draft. After that, it’s Alchemy all the way down. As MTG Arena’s premier digital-only format, it makes a good deal of sense that Wizards would use Alchemy in the game’s first and bigger tournament. Players, however, still aren’t happy with this decision.
“I know complaining about being forced into Alchemy is well-trodden ground but I’m still surprised to see a $200k tournament forcing a format that doesn’t even exist in paper. Can’t imagine there are many (any) top players happy about that,” Reddit user u/Superb-Draft stated. Similarly u/Miyagi_Dojo complained that it’s “a big miss on not showcasing the new post-rotation Standard.”
Alchemy Isn’t All Bad
While many Reddit users love to bemoan the very concept of Alchemy, its existence isn’t entirely without merit. Thanks to the current state of Standard, the much-maligned digital-only format might even be worth celebrating. Currently, black decks are proving oppressively dominant in Standard thanks to the efficient removal and a litany of powerful threats. Through Alchemy’s rebalancing, other colors may not need to wait until The Brothers’ War to stand a chance again. While players may not always like rebalancing and Alchemy’s effect on Historic, the ability to create a healthy post-launch metagame should be lauded, not condemned.
Thankfully, things may be changing for MTG Arena players who lament the inclusion of rebalanced cards in Arena’s Eternal format. While there is a little more than a faint glimmer of hope to confirm this, the Tales of Middle-Earth Draft set does raise some questions. Arriving on MTG Arena as an Alchemy set, you may expect Tales of Middle-Earth to receive similar treatment to Alchemy Horizons: Baldur’s Gate. Surprisingly, however, after Wizards Presents, it was announced that the Tales of Middle-Earth set would be a “true-to-tabletop” experience. This means Wizards won’t be rebalancing the set’s cards nor introducing any new digital-only mechanics. While it is too early to say exactly what this move means, it’s such a turn of face that we can’t help but be curious.
It’s Not All Bad News
Thankfully for the vocal MTG Arena players, the expected launch of Alchemy Dominaria United is still a few weeks. In the meantime, Wizards of the Coast hopes to keep players entertained with a new “Sleeper Agent” event. This buy-in Historic singleton event gives players a chance to win Dominaria United’s coveted stained-glass showcase card styles. Alongside tantalizing rewards, the event also offers compelling gameplay focused around poison counters, which were surprisingly absent from Dominaria United.
Wizards of the Coast has also made up for one of their past blunders to earn additional goodwill. During the recent MTG Arena summer sale, many fans excitedly purchased the Matt Jukes lands, only to find the card style not added to their collection. A month after the sale ended, Wizards has finally refunded players who didn’t receive the card style. Affected players will also be given the card style in the future for free “when the lands become available again.” Unfortunately, there’s no word on exactly when the Matt Jukes lands will be returning, but it’s nevertheless nice to know they’re coming back.