MTG Arena: new Alchemy rebalance resurrects dead zombie cards

Magic the Gathering art showing zombies reaching towards the planeswalker Liliana.

The latest set of card rebalances for Alchemy, Magic: the Gathering’s digital-only format, has been announced by Wizards of the Coast. Revealed on the official Magic website on Wednesday, the tweaks include buffs to cards that rarely get played at all outside of low-power Limited formats like Draft and Sealed. The main focus is on zombies, a fairly underpowered, but very popular creature type.

Wizards has made sweeping buffs to Blue and Black zombie cards and, the article states, is aiming to “strengthen the Decayed mechanic” from the set Innistrad: Midnight Hunt. It says this is “the Zombie-specific mechanic that separates zombie decks from other creature-themed decks.”

That means that powerful zombie cards like Death-Priest of Myrkul and Narfi, Betrayer King have had upgrades – the former receiving an improved ability and the latter a lowered casting cost – but the changes don’t stop there. Wizards has gone as far as buffing very basic commons like Falcon Abomination, Hobbling Zombie, and Stitched Assistant, to try and make them more attractive options for zombie deck players. Attractive as zombies go, anyway.

Whereas January’s Alchemy rebalance mainly focused on curbing overpowered decks, or slightly boosting those that were falling behind, this month’s changes appear more experimental. They raise the question of how Wizards will approach Alchemy rebalances in the future, perhaps not only giving underplayed or unplayed cards a new lease of life, but also fostering entirely new, highly powerful decks.

With 30 new Alchemy cards arriving in March, and formats still in flux after Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty’s launch, it might seem a strange time to be making balance changes. However, Wizards says it is waiting to see what impact Kamigawa has and made these adjustments because the zombie cards are “agnostic of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty set-specific themes.”

Alchemy’s constantly shifting, online-only format has been controversial ever since it was announced, as many fans aren’t happy that their hard-won cards can be nerfed. However, buffs are another matter, and, since the majority of Wednesday’s changes concern easily obtainable common and uncommon cards, they’ve generally not raised the ire of the Magic community.

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