A first look at the Magic: The Gathering Alchemy format at a major tournament showcased a total of six decks that dominated during the Swiss and playoff rounds.
The MTG Alchemy format was showcased at a major Magic tournament for the first time at the Neon Dynasty Championship. A majority of players thought Naya Runes was the deck to beat at the tournament, bringing Mono-White as an answer. But the star of the tournament was Orzhov Venture, piloted by Eli Kassis for the title at the NEO Championship.
Kassis’ deck went 7-0 throughout the Swiss Alchemy rounds, along with Grixis Midrange by Jim Davis and Izzet Mill from Shota Yasooka. Jean-Emmanuel Depraz made the top eight and went undefeated during the first day of competition with his Jeskai Hinata deck. And Zach Dunn piloted his Mono-White build to the title match, finishing in second overall at the NEO Championship.
Several buffs were applied to Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms cards within the Alchemy format, improving upon the Venture mechanic. Triumphant Adventurer was buffed via a reduction in cost by one, along with Precipitous Drop. Nadaar, Selfless Paladin is a strong three-drop within the Orzhov Venture deck, synergizing with Triumphant Adventurer.
Both cards allow players to quickly get through a dungeon, allowing Nadaar, Selfless Paladin to pump the team by +1/+1 and to increase the damage applied by Precipitous Drop. The deck also runs four copies of Citystalker Connoisseur, one of the best Innistrad: A22 cards in the format, along with four copies of Archon of Emeria to prevent players from casing more than one spell per turn while forcing an opponent’s non-basic lands to come in tapped.
Graveyard Trespasser//Graveyard Glutton put in a ton of work as a sideboard card in best-of-threes. The Meathook Massacre is great against Aggro and Midrange, and Reckoner Bankbuster was a nice one-of that kept the deck from running out of gas.
Jim Davis’ Grixis Midrange deck stood out from the other similar builds at the Neon Dynasty Championship due to him running four copies of Kaito Shizuki. The new NEO planeswalker provided card draw when necessary and the 1/1 token he creates with his second ability was able to chip away at an opponent’s life to win matches.
The Grixis Midrange deck also includes four copies of Citystalker Connoisseur and two copies of Graveyard Trespasser//Graveyard Glutton. Rahilda, Wanted Cutthroat and Town-Razer Tyrant help apply pressure to an opponent’s board state. And the variety of removal keeps other MTG Aggro and Midrange builds from gaining an advantage on the battlefield.
Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, one of the new NEO Dual-Faced sagas, applied a solid amount of pressure as well at the major Magic tournament, especially when Reflection of Kiki-Jiki was able to copy cards like Citystalker Connoisseur, Town-Razer Tyrant, and Bloodtithe Harvester.
Jeskai Hinata has been popular on the MTG Arena Alchemy Ranked ladder, but it hadn’t proved itself worthy of tournament play until piloted by Jean-Emmanuel Depraz. Hinata, Dawn-Crowned is a very strong four-drop, prompting Depraz to add four copies of it into the main deck despite being a legendary creature.
The Jeskai Hinata MTG deck primarily runs Instant spells, controlling the board state until either Hinata, Dawn-Crowned, or Goldspan Dragon can get in for a win. The other win condition in the deck is Magma Opus, which has its cost reduced thanks to Hinata, Dawn-Crowned.
The Izzet Mill deck, played by Ma Noah at the Neon Dynasty Championship, was a surprise Alchemy deck that performed well against Aggro and Midrange builds. It doesn’t run a single creature in the main deck. There are four copies of Smoldering Egg and two Reckoner Bankbuster’s in the sideboard, though.
Tasha’s Hideous Laughter is the focus of the Izzet Mill deck, disrupting an opponent’s game plan each time it is cast. The win conditions within the build are Burn Down the House, creature lands, and a copy of Mascot Exhibition within the sideboard. Farewell was the main board wipe, in conjunction with Burn Down the House. And the inclusion of Discover the Formula helped win games that had run long.
The Mardu Midrange MTG Alchemy deck played by Zach Dunn carried him all the way to the title match on the third day of the NEO Championship, never losing in the upper bracket rounds. Creatures like Triumphant Adventure, Archon of Emeria, Citystalker Connoisseur, and Valki, God of Lies were able to gain the upper hand against most Aggro and Midrange decks.
But the stars of the deck were the planeswalkers Lolth, Spider Queen, Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor, and The Wandering Emperor. Wedding Announcement also provided a bunch of value, swinging a match back into Dunn’s favor upon hitting the battlefield. And Fable of the Mirror-Breaker showed off to the world why it’s considered one of the best NEO sagas.
Mono-White Aggro has been one of the best Standard Constructed decks for several months. Most players brought the deck to the Neon Dynasty Championship specifically targeting Naya Runes decks. And the MTG deck accomplished its task, however, Mono-White struggled against the MIdrange builds.
The addition of The Wandering Emperor from NEO greatly improved the Mono-White deck, shifting it from a strictly Aggro build to more of an Aggro-Midrange deck. Despite a nerf within the MTG Alchemy format, the Guttman’s deck still ran three copies of Luminarch Aspirant. There were also four copies of Archon of Emeria and four copies of the previously nerfed Inquisitor Captain.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben provides great value at all stages of a match and Hopeful Initiate is the only one-drop within the Mono-White deck. Guttman thrived with his build, able to get aggressive when the opportunity presented itself and to play a strong Midrange game when matches ran long.