Welcome to What We’d Play! With this weekend’s Arena Open right around the corner, many are unsure what they’d play in Alchemy. That’s where we come in and let you know what we’d play and why we’d play it. Hopefully this advice aids in your decision making for this weekend’s Arena Open!
Gerry Thompson — Mono-Red Aggro
- 3 Bloodthirsty Adversary
- 4 Reckless Stormseeker
- 2 Voltaic Visionary
- 4 Town-razer Tyrant
- 4 Rahilda, Wanted Cutthroat
Alchemy is a format that’s far from solved and had plenty of viable decks. I like Mono-Red Aggro, but my confidence level for it being the absolute best deck isn’t 100%.
That said, there’s no card that leads to more free wins in the format than Town-razer Tyrant. If your opponent stumbles on mana in the slightest and you have Turn 4 Tyrant, the game is probably over. Even if they don’t stumble, the game might be over anyway. It’s an incredible card that you’d need a good reason to consider not using.
I like a more traditional Mono-Red Aggro list over the bigger Dragon-based decks because I’d rather have the early creatures. Rahilda, Wanted Cutthroat is truly impressive, plus Bloodthirsty Adversary and Voltaic Visionary allow you to win wars of attrition against cards like Inquisitor Captain.
One of the best things about the deck is the ability to sideboard into a control deck with Conductive Current and planeswalkers. With cards like Thundering Rebuke and Brittle Blast, dealing with bigger creatures isn’t much of a problem.
Card advantage, free wins, and a powerful sideboard plan are exactly what I’m looking for when selecting a deck. Mono-Red Aggro has it all.
Dom Harvey — Esper Control
Alchemy is a totally unexplored format for now, offering a potentially massive edge to anyone who can crack the code for the Arena Open this weekend. With nothing obvious to target and no precedent to follow, identifying the strongest new cards and leaning into them as hard as possible is a good default plan.
Key to the Archive is an obvious standout from Alchemy: Innistrad. It gives you a crucial mana advantage against other control or midrange decks as well as something useful to spend it on (when it isn’t helping to cast Turn 5 Hullbreaker Horror), and it’s impossible for an opponent to adequately prepare for everything that might emerge from its spellbook. Your control deck now has a proactive nut draw that can bulldoze anything but still helps you take control when you’re behind.
The rest of this list is built to support Key and fight against anyone else who reached the same conclusion. Alongside Key, the other format-defining Alchemy cards are Inquisitor Captain and Town-razer Tyrant — all must-answer cards that you’d rather deal with on the stack than the battlefield. Disdainful Stroke and Divide by Zero (joined by the full set of Jwari Disruption) accomplish this well, with Divide in particular remaining one of the strongest tools in blue’s arsenal.
Meanwhile, Doomskar and Divine Purge clean up against creature decks like Esper Clerics or Gruul Werewolves. You can get by with just the strong sweepers of Azorius Control or the cheap removal of Dimir Control, but Esper opens up Vanishing Verse as a highly flexible answer, while Duress and Ray of Enfeeblement are the best cards at their jobs and relatively easy to splash off Pathways, Forsaken Crossroads, and The Celestus.
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa — Azorius Control
The answer to what I would play in Alchemy depends on what exactly I’m playing. As I wrote earlier this week, I would play Mono-Green Aggro in the Best-of-One Arena Open, but I would play Azorius Control in Best-of-Three.
Alchemy is in a spot where most of the decks are aggro decks (Mono-Green Aggro, Mono-Red Dragons, Gruul Werewolves, etc), and this is something that’s going to be even more pronounced in the Arena Open, as that traditionally skews towards aggro. Because of that, I want to play a deck that is tuned towards aggro (and I think this version of Azorius is — it’s got a lot of removal and sweepers and no hard counters), but I also want to play a deck that beats the decks that traditionally prey on aggro.
In Alchemy, these are the black control decks, with The Meathook Massacre and Sanguine Brushstroke. These decks have enough blockers, spot removal, mass removal, and lifegain to make short work of any aggressive deck, and I expect them to float towards the top in an aggro-centric field, so I want to make sure I beat them. Traditionally, the best way to beat a black control deck is with a blue control deck, and Alchemy is no exception. I think Esper Control is also a valid choice, but so far I haven’t felt like I needed the black.
Brad Nelson — Esper Control
Not much has changed for me when it comes to my Traditional Alchemy choice. Esper Control has a nice mix of anti-creature spells along with great ways to interact in control mirrors. It’s also playing one of the best Innistrad: Alchemy cards in Key to the Archive. It for sure will suffer against anti-control builds of Izzet Control or other Dimir decks, but I just don’t see too many people pulling the trigger on them come this Sunday.
The metagame will be what’s most interesting going into this weekend. My prediction is everything’s going to show up, but black-based midrange and control decks may end up being disproportionately more popular as they feel like great Day 1 decks in Best-of-One. Who really knows though, so I’m going to battle with the deck I’ve played the most. Andrew Cuneo’s Esper Control build is an absolute gem, and I highly suggest you give it a spin!
Shaheen Soorani — Azorius Control
I’m still quite new to Alchemy, but any format where Azorius Control is an active participant is fine in my book. This version of Azorius Control showcases the Lier, Disciple of the Drowned package, a force that dominates in Standard. There’s a pile of upgrades in this deck that are unique to Alchemy; however, the proven foundation is what carries this archetype to the top.
The advantage provided by Key to the Archive, Discover the Formula, and Unexpected Conversion cannot be replicated in Standard. This is the uniqueness that Alchemy can provide, while having the ability to make modifications when necessary. I was hoping for some better removal options in the new format, which would address the largest deficit in Azorius Control. For now, we will have to rely on the added advantage from Alchemy, and the powerful control engine of Standard, to make control a contender in this new format.