We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

MTG Alchemy: A guide to the digital-only MTG Arena format

Wizards of the Coast created Alchemy to be a digital-only Magic: The Gathering format for MTG Arena. Our guide will fill you on all the details...

MTG Alchemy - A homunculus plugging in an electric socket.

Alchemy came to MTG Arena on December 9, 2021, which makes it fairly new as Magic: The Gathering formats go. It’s essentially Wizards of the Coast’s attempt to do a Hearthstone: to take advantage of their popular MTG Arena platform and create a digital-only format with a bunch of cards that couldn’t work in regular paper games of Magic. The result has been a fun and fresh new way to play Magic… or an abomination, depending who you ask.

MTG Alchemy is a rotating format which contains all the cards currently in Standard, but many have been rebalanced for Alchemy and given new, slightly different abilities. WotC has also made a bunch of new cards for the format – cards like Giant Regrowth that would be difficult or impossible to use in regular Magic: The Gathering games: either because they require machine-like memory, have random effects, or create new cards by magic. (Nothing as crazy as Shudderwock or Purified Shard has emerged just yet though).

The Alchemy format has pretty vocal critics, mainly because it’s encroached on the existing Historic and Historic Brawl formats. From cards to controversy, here’s everything you need to know about MTG Alchemy.

MTG Alchemy - a ghostbuster firing a cannon.

What cards are legal in MTG Alchemy?

MTG Alchemy follows the cardpool of Standard, so in Alchemy games you can play cards from all the sets that are currently Standard-legal. Right now, and until the next Standard rotation that’s:

  • Innistrad: Midnight Hunt
  • Innistrad: Crimson Vow
  • Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty
  • Streets of New Capenna
  • Dominaria United

For the most part, and with one notable exception, Wizards of the Coast has tried to avoid creating an MTG banlist for Alchemy. Instead, it rebalances cards, creating new Alchemy versions of them with text that’s less troublesome. Sometimes cards are even changed to make them more powerful.

Starting with Alchemy: Innistrad, which came in on launch, Wizards has produced a set of Alchemy cards (about 30) alongside every standard set, as well as a whopping great, big 250-card set for Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate.

MTG Alchemy - an orc paladin holding a shield giving off spears of white light.

How does MTG Alchemy affect Historic?

Before Alchemy burst onto the scene, the Historic format let you play with all the cards on MTG Arena, as far back as Ixalan. Then Wizards threw in cards from Jumpstart and older cards from Historic Anthologies. But Historic was fundamentally changed in 2021, as the newly minted Alchemy cards were added to the format.

Yep, you can play all the MTG Alchemy cards in Historic, and in fact Standard cards that were rebalanced for Alchemy have their new rebalanced abilities in the format. That didn’t go down well with some fans, who felt that a new format should have been created if Wizards wanted a digital-only format with older cards.