Magic: Arena is creating a new digital-only mode that cheapens an existing one


‘Alchemy’ is coming, but it will change how Historic works in a bad way

Magic: Arena is introducing the Alchemy mode to the game, and in true Magic: Arena fashion, they’ve muddled the message. Here’s a breakdown of what’s been happening since the reveal this past weekend.

In a shock announcement, Wizards of the Coast unveiled “Alchemy,” a digital-only mode that only works in Arena, coming this month. The gist is that there will be rebalanced cards, as well as 60 “totally new cards” that “could only work in digital Magic.” Think Hearthstone mechanics, stuff that wouldn’t translate very well to paper Magic.

That sort of messaging is going to instantly ruffle some feathers. While Alchemy is a side mode, it is getting a decent amount of attention from the team (over Pioneer), and the prevailing sentiment from the community is basically “if I wanted to play Hearthstone, I’d play Hearthstone.” As a historical player of both myself, I get that, because each of them has a distinctly different feel, and I like swapping between them.

So here’s the kicker, and why so many people in the community are pissed. Alchemy is not technically its own thing. It’s actually going to impact Historic (the mode where you can play any old card you own, not just the standard rotation) in a big way. Cards will be changed for Historic too, and whether it’s nerfed or buffed, you will not get wild card refunds. In other words, Magic is going to effectively soft ban cards that they make unplayable, but not refund you. In Arena proper, if something is banned, you get a refund for that card.

It’s a bizarre move. Why have Alchemy impact Historic at all? To justify the development work on it? If it was a wacky side mode people could ignore it. But the combination of having it swallow up another existing mode and the wild card situation means it actively hurts the game.