MTG Arena artwork for Omnath, Locus of Creation

[Update #2]: MTG Arena's digital-only Alchemy format has now arrived, and with it a whole assortment of new and rebalanced cards.

[Update]: The Alchemy update will also bring with it Historic Brawl bans for Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, Field of the Dead and Agent of Treachery!

In an announcement they were building up towards for nearly a year now, MTG Arena devs have revealed a brand new, digital-only format - Alchemy. It'll essentially function as an offshoot of Standard and will contain the same cards along with a spattering of digital-only additions that will come with each major set.

The biggest difference between Standard and Alchemy, however, will be in balancing. While Standard cards are linked to paper Magic and thus unable to truly change, the Alchemy ones will be digital-only and will thus be frequently rebalanced in order to keep the metagame in an interesting place.

For example, the Alchemy version of Esika's Chariot will only create one 2/2 cat token, while its crew cost will get reduced from 4 to 2. Similarly, Alrund's Epiphany will only give you two 1/1 birds if you fortell the card, while the actual fortell cost will be going up to 7 mana. Pretty sensible stuff really.

These rebalanced cards will also make their way into the Historic format, which is where things get a bit shaky. While cards like Goldspan Dragon are too powerful for Standard and probably deserve a nerf, they're nowhere near as omnipresent in Historic so having them needlessly weakened feels a bit bad. As such, I can only hope Wizards of the Coast will find some way of maintaining Historic as a powerful format while still rebalancing cards for the Standard inspired Alchemy.

Whatever the case may be, I suppose we'll find out soon enough as Alchemy is set to launch on December 9, 2021. Once it does, I'll make sure to let you know.

For now, you can read a bit more about it, as well as learn how to collect all of the new cards, over at the Magic website.