Welcome to our latest patch. We have some much-awaited balance changes for you, an adjustment to the matchmaking system, and the release of our newest Spellslinger Serra, just in time for the holidays! We hope that you enjoy these changes and have a happy holiday season.
Welcome Serra to the Arena!
Ascension: At the start of your turn, heal yourself and all friendly creatures 1.
Divinity: Your deck can have white multicolored cards.
Signature Cards: Serra's Disciple, Serra's Judgment, Shrine of Valor
- Health : 23 → 24
Liliana is a strong choice for new players, but has underperformed a bit at higher leagues. We are giving her one more health to help her survive more aggro matchups.
- Gideon: 4/4 → 3/3
Gideon definitely wasn't skipping leg day! Even before the release of Helvault Unsealed, Gideon was a premiere aggro deck in the format. Now with powerful new tools at his disposal, we are bringing him back in line with other aggro decks and also making Gideon's Protection hold more weight.
- Animal Arrow: 1 mana, draw a creature and draft an upgrade for it → 2 mana, draft a creature and give it a random upgrade
Animal Arrow was at the center of some difficult-to-solve gameplay bugs, which have now been solved. While taking a look at them, we also re-evaluated the design of the card. We prefer the play pattern of using her button on turn 1, and so moved this to turn 2.
- Mizzium Monstronsity: 4 mana → 3 mana
In the last balance change, Magnum Opus's cost was reduced to 3, but the cost of Mizzium Monstrosity itself remained 4. We have now changed Monstrosity to match the cost of the card that generates it.
- Teferi's Acolyte: Next trap is free → Next trap costs 2 less
Some of the most important traps to play around cost 3 mana. By capping the cost reduction at 2, you'll need to leave at least one mana open when you arm these traps, which more loudly communicates them to the opponent. You'll see this theme (and change) repeated with Hatch a Plan.
- Extract Fear: 2 mana → 1 mana
We made previous nerfs to Ashiok's kit, which were necessary, but some of them were more impactful than we thought they would be. As such, we are giving Ashiok back some power by reverting this card to one mana. Get ready to generate a turn-1 nightmare again!
- Vraska's Grub: 1 mana 2/1 → 2 mana 3/2
The ability to go up on mana with Vraska's Grub was a powerful ability, but as more cards were released it sped up her deck too much. Vraska extracts a lot of value from her creatures and has few weaknesses, so we want to at least slow down some of her early game explosiveness and make her play fair for a bit longer.
- Laboratory Maniac: New abilities - If this was played on a previous turn and your deck is empty, you win the game. Miracle: Add a random artifact to your deck.
Laboratory Maniac was a key part of a powerful Blue deck that could win the game consistently by turn 6 or 7. While we like the possibility of alternate win conditions for control decks, such as having an empty deck, this was quicker than intended and needed to be addressed on multiple axes. One axis was the Laboratory Maniac itself. The best way to play the Maniac was to hold it in your hand until your deck was empty, and then drop it for the win. Because there are so few ways to deal with cards in hand, this effectively meant your opponent had to win the game before your deck was empty. Now, by requiring the Maniac to be in play for a turn before it can win you the game, your opponent has the chance to remove it from the arena. This makes it a riskier, more interesting card. In addition, we slowed down the Maniac by changing the miracle to add a card to your deck (rather than remove a card via milling). Overall, alongside some of our other changes, we believe that a Maniac-focused deck can still be viable—only at a later turn and with higher risk.
- Tolarian Academy: Each artifact → First artifact each turn. New ability on hit - Add a random artifact to your deck.
Perhaps even more important than the Laboratory Maniac change for overall meta health is this adjustment to Tolarian Academy. The ungated ability of the Academy to lower the cost of multiple artifacts a turn became too powerful when played in conjunction with some of the new artifacts released in Helvault Unsealed, and its power would only continue to grow with the release of more cards. Combined with Jace's aura, it became a key cog in a powerful draw engine that can run through a player's deck in just a few turns. As such, we have restricted it to only apply it's discount to the first artifact played each turn. The discount now no longer scales as the game goes on, which is equally important, and instead when you miss mana you get another artifact shuffled into your deck. Who knows what long-lost artifacts you'll find buried in the Academy's vaults?
- Gutfire Devil: 1 mana 1/1 and 3 copies shuffled in → 2 mana 2/1 that can't block and 2 copies shuffled in
Gutfire Devils could create a lot of inevitability and be frustrating to play against. Being unable to make an attack or block for fear of creating more devils or taking lethal damage is not the sort of gameplay we want to promote. We are slowing them down by increasing their cost, reducing their frequency by lowering the number of copies they shuffle in, and opening up counterplay by making them unable to block. Because of all of these nerfs, we also increased their power by 1, so that they can still be a reasonable attacker if your opponent is racing. Overall, we believe that building a deck to take advantage of the Devils should be a viable strategy—just one that has less success and more counterplay than it does currently.
- Dance with Devils: 3 mana triggers on attack→ 4 mana triggers at end of opponent's turn
Because the Devils can no longer block, we moved the timing of this trap to the end of the opponent's turn. We also raised the cost by 1 to better match the increased cost of the Devils.
- Emberspawn Crags: Now gives fragile mana instead of no mana; Emberlings cost 1 more
Emberspawn Crags provided several aggro decks with a powerful midgame play. Missing mana is a tempo loss, for sure, but when the Emberlings it generated cost 0, it was well worth it. We want to make sure there are interesting land choices for different deck archetypes, and believe that this nerf brings the Crags more in line with our other lands. Just having the Emberlings go to 1-cost would have made it difficult to use, but now that you also get fragile mana you can still basically play the first one for free. And maybe you can find some other scary ways to use that fragile mana? Note that the Emberling changes does not affect Young Pyromancer, which still summons them directly into the arena.
- Tasty Morsel: 1/1 and gives +2/+2 on death → 2/1 and gives +1/+1
This morsel was a little TOO tasty. Now you only get +1/+1 if you chomp down on this mushroom, but it packs a bit more of a wallop up front.
- Demonic Priest: 3/2 → 2/2
This card, of complicated provenance (it's generated by the Profane Palace, which itself flips from Westvale Abbey) was just a bit too efficient at regaining the health lost from Westvale Abbey. Demonic Priests: now 33% less scary!
- Alarm Bell: Draft a creature → Draw a creature
Alarm Bell was quickly a standout card in Helvault Unsealed. It's flexibility in selection was too much in addition to the card value it was bringing, so we are removing the choice of which creature it generates.
- Encore Performance: 2 mana → 3 mana
This card was made as a combo enabler, so we want to make sure it is fair in the decks that actually use it. Sure, bringing back a small trinket for 2 mana was fine … but no one actually does that.
- Spawning Arowana: 0/3 → 0/2
Having consistent blockers is fine, but having consistent attackers that can get buffed with the help of some other colors was too aggressive for 1 mana, so we made these fish easier to reel in.
- Invisibility Cloak: 3 mana → 4 mana
This card has the potential to be highly uninteractive, and so we are adjusting its cost to better reflect that.
- Thought Provoker: 3 charges → 2 charges
We wanted this card to provoke, well, thoughts, and not rage. It scaled well early game (cheap cards for when you have less mana) and late game (it's interaction with Multiverse Mind). Due to it being a good draw in any portion of the game, it needed to lose some of its still considerable value.
- Hatch a Plan: Free trap→ Costs 2 less
Some of the most important traps to play around cost 3 mana. By capping the cost reduction at 2, you'll need to leave at least one mana open when you arm these traps, which more loudly communicates them to the opponent. If you're getting deja vu, that's because you might have read those sentences underneath the entry for Teferi's Acolyte above. Sorry.
- Oswald Fiddlebender: Buff is now permanent
Oswald was supposed to be a compelling build-around, but its ability was too situational and hard to use. By making the buff permanent, you no longer have to have the perfect turn with a lot of creatures on the board and a lot of spells in hand, and can instead build value over multiple turns.
- Reclamation: Now adds a copy of the card to hand, instead of the card itself.
This better lines up with other cards that can recur non-creatures from the graveyard.
- Kothophed & his deals: Now deal 4 damage instead of 3; Promise of Power provides 3 mana instead of 4
Kothophed is a powerful demon that loves making deals. But inflation comes for even princes of hell, and so now you have to take 1 extra damage when dealing with him. Adjusting Promise of Power to only give 3 mana should also make the choice of what deal to take more interesting.
- Ball Lightning: Now uses the fleeting keyword (no functional change)
- Mastermind Lazav: Updated template to match Snapcaster Mage and Necrotic Ooze (no functional change)
Game System Changes
We have adjusted our matchmaking algorithm, alongside trophy rewards. Trophies are now capped at 45/15, instead of 50/10. This means, at most, you can gain or lose 3x as many trophies at the extreme end of the scale, rather than 5x. In addition, we split the difference between the original system and the newer system, making it less sensitive to the difference in trophy amounts between players. We think that this is a better balance between rewarding play (sheer number of games played) and rewarding wins. We also made some improvements to the back-end matchmaking algorithm, that should hopefully result in quicker matches in all leagues, but especially at the lower leagues.
Moonlight & Unspent Mana
We have also adjusted how moonlight functions with unspent mana. When Helvault Unsealed released, players were disappointed that armed traps were telegraphed because reserved mana didn't count as unspent for the purposes of moonlight. When designing these cards, we felt like that was an accceptable price to pay in order to prevent players from "double spending" those mana gems. But based on your feedback, we re-evaluated that stance and did more testing with moonlight and traps. We're happy to adjust the system so that mana that is reserved for traps will still trigger moonlight (and still be there to pay for traps). We'll keep an eye on the balance of the moonlight cards with this update, but we believe that the current power level of the cards is still within an acceptable range.
Look for a new special Play Angels Challenge!
- Fixed a bug where returning a temporary card to hand from the arena causes it to be discarded when the turn ends.
- Fixed a bug where 0-cost traps do not get disarmed in the Mana Tug event.
- Fixed a bug where sometimes traps created by other cards cause the game to freeze.
- Fixed a bug where the initial download is missing characters in some languages.
- Fixed a bug where there is no emote text in some languages.
- Fixed several bugs where, in some languages, the text on cards is not translated correctly.
- Fixed a bug where a copy of a permanently stunned creature is only stunned for one turn.
- Fixed several bugs where flipped cards lose any buffs granted before flipping.
- Fixed a bug where paincast damage is affected by mana cost modifiers.
- Fixed a bug where the matchmaking screen tip incorrectly listed Team challenges as refreshing every 5 days instead of every 7 days.
- Fixed a bug where Gideon and Guenhwyvar prevent some creatures from being summoned when attacking.
- Fixed a bug where sometimes the tooltip for Gideon's Lead the Charge ability has the wrong power and health for Gideon.
- Fixed a bug where Gideon's card frame was not legendary.
- Fixed a bug where sometimes Sorin's Endless Indulgence ability triggers even when no vampires are attacking.
- Fixed a bug where a copy of Aether Figment sometimes costs 3 mana after drafting.
- Fixed a bug where Clonesplosion's regular and foil art were swapped.
- Fixed a bug where Evil Twin does not copy Wildshape Brontosaurus's abilities.
- Fixed a bug where Sanguine Bond sometimes causes the game to freeze when destroying Wildshape Brontosaurus.
- Fixed a bug where Whispers of the Grave sometimes causes the game to freeze when destroying Wildshape Brontosaurus.
- Fixed a bug where Extract Samples does not create a copy if the creature it targeted was armored.
- Fixed a bug where Ghoulcaller's Grimoire sometimes exiles a different creature than expected.
- Fixed a bug where Laboratory Maniac's ability causes a loss instead of a win when the last card in the deck has a Nightmare attached to it.
- Fixed a bug where sometimes Clumsy Torchbearer causes an error when targeting a relentless creature.
- Fixed a bug where a creature returned by Moorland Haunt then returned to hand becomes a base copy with flying.
- Fixed a bug where a Cut Down returned to hand can not be played if it was countered.
- Fixed a bug where Delver of Secrets does not flip when drawing a card on the opponent's turn.
- Fixed a bug where Delver of Secrets flips when the opponent draws a card during the player's turn.
- Fixed a bug where Guess Again sometimes doesn't counter the second card played in a turn.
- Fixed a bug where Panharmonicon causes Corpse Trawler to buff creatures instead of debuff them.
- Fixed a bug where Recycled Grotesque can sometimes become invisible when sacrificing Merchant of Death.
- Fixed a bug where Thalia, Guardian of Thraben further increases the cost of spells returned to hand with Remand.