This week we had a lot of news for those who play MTG Arena, in addition to the release of
Alchemy Horizons: Baldur’s Gate, we also had nerfs and buffs for valid cards in the history
and I’m going to talk about exactly that today.
Talking first about History, during the SNC Championship we had another chapter in the
history of the format and like most of the previous chapters, the protagonists were Izzet
Fênix and Golgari Food. A lot has changed in Magic and these two decks continue to clash
at the top of the format. They change the extras, GW Humans, Affinity, Auras, but keep the
protagonists. And it’s very difficult to change that because both decks are absurdly
consistent and as much as they both use the graveyard, they both also know how to play
against serious hate and do great results.
But things will change. That’s because Wizards of the Coast announced digital changes to
the main cards in the decks I mentioned above and these changes have a huge impact.
Cauldron Familiar Gains “Cauldron Familiar can’t block.”
The first change is to the Cauldron Familiar, the foundation of how Golgari Food makes a
big part of your plan. If, on the one hand, this change does not prevent the synergy of this
card with Trail of Crumbs, on the other hand, it makes the best match in Food, aggressive
decks, look strange. Golgari’s plan against any aggro deck was to make Cauldron Familiar
and simply buy a lot of time blocking and sacrificing for Witchs’s Oven, and then put in Trail
of Crumbs and slowly take over the table. But the basis of the plan is: the cat needs to
block. Cauldron Familiar not being able to block changes everything, now several
aggressive decks can play because they no longer have to worry about this card stopping
their whole plan, you no longer need evasion to be aggro in Históric.
Meathook Massacre – Removed “Whenever a creature an opponent controls dies, gain
Another change that aims to make the deck worse versus aggros. Making The Meathoock
Massacre against aggros and coming to life was one of the main moves in the deck and
now it no longer exists. Leaving only the “aggressive” part of the triggers.
Both changes weaken Food versus aggro and open up the metagame for faster archetypes
to press combos and controls, something impossible with the Food barrier. On the other
hand, a more aggro meta for Food without the right resources could be the end of the deck,
although a Jund version with Devil Mayhem still manages to give aggros work.
Other relevant changes:
Dragon’s Rage Channeler – Delirium effect now +2/+0 (from +2/+2)
The great importance of Dragon’s Rage Channeler is as an enabler, it turns on Delirium and digs the deck, hence it plays so much on Izzet Fênix. Not changing anything about this
ability means the card will still play, just getting weaker to combat, as a 1/1 shark can now
stop it after Delirium, and of course, get weaker versus damage-based removals. However, I
believe in playing card the same way.
Unholy Heat – Delirium now deals 4 damage (from 6 damage)
Okay, here we have something important. If this slot will make more people play with
Lightning Axe it’s more about the metagame than I like it, I hate parsing cards like that in
the void and as the meta needs more removals for planeswalkers I’d still use Unholy Heat,
otherwise Lightning Axe. But what changes is how some cards will play in the absence of a
one-mana Doom Blade. For example, I recently wrote about Elder Gargaroth, and it didn’t
make sense to use a dying drop5 for a one mana removal. But now, having toughness six is
relevant and can open a window for more cards to play the format. Of course, there are still
other answers, but this opening is real. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria also loved this change,
being punished less in the match versus Phoenix. A Nerf removal always leaves a lot of
room for new threats to enter the format and I expect quite a bit of news now.
These changes impact Izzet Phoenix, but unlike those that affected Golgari Food, they leave
the entire deck. As I said, Dragon’s Rage Channeler is still an important enabler for the
deck and should continue to play very well and Unholy Heat will have its presence defined
by the metagame, which is no disaster.
Winota, Joiner of Forces – Now triggers when one or more non-Human creatures you
control attack; unbanned in Historic.
Winota, Joiner of Forces was banned at the beginning of the format and since then this
ban has never been reviewed. The format has changed a lot, including gaining cards with
very high power levels, which could justify a change. But they solved unban with just a
change in the card and that takes away its characteristic “combo”. It is still possible to attack
and take a strong card, but of course a crowded table poses less danger after this nerf. Will
WinotaWinota, Joiner of Forces be able to play? Likely, it still represents a card advantage
move and pushes more damage. But your deckbuilding changes a lot and the power level of
the card has dropped. An alternative might be to go back to using Angrath’s Marauder,
ensuring the single hit has a big impact, and I’m more tempted to use it knowing that if it
comes in hand I can discard it with Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. But it’s a deck that needs
to be all redone and it discourages me to depend so much on a /4 card with Unholy Heat still
killing it for just one mana.
Historic’s biggest problem was its stagnant metagame, especially on Golgari Food and Izzet
Phoenix. As much as the changes, at first, seem to affect Food more, releasing the
metagame for aggressive decks changes a lot and puts pressure on Izzet himself, in addition
to leaving more cards to be explored. Winota not being banned anymore still doesn’t seem
like such an important change, but I confess that I like the challenge of a deckbuilding with
Until my next article!