Digital-only cards in digital-only formats like Historic give Wizards of the Coast the ability to functionally rebalance cards simply and clearly. They can simply update the text digitally, and the cards will remain accurate to their new function.
Functional rebalancing is a significant change in how formats are balanced. Going forward, WotC will be managing formats on MTG Arena in two different ways. "Print" formats, like Standard, will continue to work exactly like they do in tabletop Magic. For "Live" formats, like Historic, balancing is added alongside banning and suspension as a tool to address problems and make improvements to the format.
Currently, WotC is restricting these changes to digital-only cards, where there will be no conflict between a digital and printed version of a card. They are working on expanding beyond this (for example, by rebalancing previously banned cards so they can be safely returned to play in digital formats only).
A more serious and permanent version was during the October 2021 Ban and Restricted List Update, when five designed-for-digital cards from Jumpstart: Historic Horizons were updated. The most critical change was shutting the loop created by Vesperlark and perpetual toughness shrinkers; other assorted positive effects were also added.
List of Rebalanced cards
|Card||Date of change||Original||Changed to||Reason|
|Davriel's Withering||2021-10-03||Target creature perpetually gets -1/-2.||Target creature an opponent controls perpetually gets -1/-2.||To prevent an undesirable combo with Vesperlark that can result in a drawn game.|
|Davriel, Soul Broker||2021-10-03||-3: Target creature perpetually gets -3/-3.||-3: Target creature an opponent controls perpetually gets -3/-3.||To prevent an undesirable combo with Vesperlark that can result in a drawn game.|
|Faceless Agent||2021-10-03||Power/Toughness: 2/1||Power/Toughness: 2/2||Making it better|
|Sarkhan, Wanderer to Shiv||2021-10-03||0: Conjure a Shivan Dragon card into your hand.||+1: Conjure a Shivan Dragon card into your hand.||Eases balancing loyalty|
|Subversive Acolyte||2021-10-03||Mana cost
[...] becomes a Human Cleric. It gets +1/+2 [...]
[...]becomes a Phyrexian. It gets +3/+3 [...]
[...] becomes a Human Cleric. It gets +1/+1 [...]
[...]becomes a Phyrexian. It gets +3/+2 [...]
|Distinguishing from Gifted Aetherborn as a defensive play|
|Alrund's Epiphany||2021-12-09||Creates Bird tokens
|Only creates Bird tokens if foretold
|Make Alrund's Epiphany less effective at winning games from an empty board|
|Esika's Chariot||2021-12-09||Creates two cat tokens
|Creates one cat token
|Make Esika's Chariot easier to interact with using removal spells|
|Faceless Haven||2021-12-09||Power/toughness: 4/3||Power/toughness: 3/3||Make it easier for others to stabilize against aggressive monocolor decks|
|Goldspan Dragon||2021-12-09||When attacks or becomes target of a spell, create a Treasure token||When attacks, create a Treasure token||Make Goldspan Dragon easier to interact with using removal spells|
|Luminarch Aspirant||2021-12-09||At the beginning of combat on your turn, put a +1/+1 counter on target creature you control||At the beginning of your end step, put a +1/+1 counter on target creature you control||Tone down Luminarch Aspirant's aggressive impact|
|Omnath, Locus of Creation||2021-12-09||Mana cost: , draw a card when enters the battlefield||Mana cost: , scry 1 when enters the battlefield||Lower the refund ability of Omnath|
|Demilich||2021-12-09||Power/toughness: 4/3||Power/toughness: 4/4||Make more resistant to removal|
|Druid Class||2021-12-09||Level 3 cost:||Level 3 cost:||Make more well-rounded and promote the gameplay of leveling up your class as the game progresses.|
|Wizard Class||2021-12-09||Level 3 cost:||Level 3 cost:||Make more well-rounded and promote the gameplay of leveling up your class as the game progresses.|
|Phylath, World Sculptor||2021-12-09||Landfall - Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, put four +1/+1 counters on target Plant you control.||Has Trample
Landfall - Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, put four +1/+1 counters on target Plant you control. It gains trample until end of turn
|Distinguish from Tovolar's Huntmaster as a top-end|
|Acererak, the Archlich||2022-01-27||Whenever Acererak the Archlich attacks, for each opponent, you create a 2/2 black Zombie creature token unless that player sacrifices a creature.||Whenever Acererak the Archlich attacks, create a number of 2/2 black Zombie creature tokens equal to the number of opponents you have.||Removes sacrifice option|
|Assemble from Parts||2022-01-27||, Exile this card from your graveyard: Shuffle it into your library. Create a token that’s a copy of it, except it’s a 4/4 black Zombie in addition to its other types. Activate only as a sorcery.||, Exile this card from your graveyard: Shuffle it into your library. Create a token that’s a copy of it, except it’s a 4/4 black Zombie in addition to its other types. Activate only as a sorcery.||Increase potential for turn 4 reanimate; densifies black mana in exchange|
|Bloodrage Alpha||2022-01-27||4/3||4/4||Increase resilience as a four-mana card|
|Cloister Gargoyle||2022-01-27||, 0/4||, 0/3||Upgrade to Venture in general|
|Dungeon Descent||2022-01-27||Enters the battlefield tapped. , , Tap an untapped legendary creature you control: Venture into the dungeon. Activate only as a sorcery.||Enters the battlefield untapped. , , Tap an untapped legendary creature you control: Venture into the dungeon. Activate only as a sorcery.||Upgrade to Venture in general|
|Ellywick Tumblestrum||2022-01-27||−7: You get an emblem with “Creatures you control have trample and haste and get +2/+2 for each differently named dungeon you’ve completed.”||−6: You get an emblem with “Creatures you control have trample and haste and get +2/+2 for each differently named dungeon you’ve completed.”||Upgrade to Venture in general|
|Fates Reversal||2022-01-27||Upgrade to Venture in general|
|Find the Path||2022-01-27||Enchanted land has ": Add "||Enchanted land has ": Add two mana of any one color"||Upgrade to Venture in general|
|Puppet Raiser||2022-01-27||3/3||3/4||Increase resilience as a four-mana card|
|Precipitous Drop||2022-01-27||Upgrade to Venture in general|
|Triumphant Adventurer||2022-01-27||1/1||2/1||Upgrade to Venture in general|
|Divide By Zero||2022-01-27||Learn||If its mana value was 4 or less, learn||Encourages expensive spells|
At the beginning of your end step, each Dragon card in your hand perpetually gains “This spell costs less to cast.”
At the beginning of your upkeep, each Dragon card in your hand perpetually gains “This spell costs less to cast.”
|Gives a longer window to prevent the discount - gains haste in exchange|
|Hullbreaker Horror||2022-01-27||This spell can't be countered||Can be countered||Made easier to interact with in both control mirrors and other blue decks.|
|Inquisitor Captain||2022-01-27||When Inquisitor Captain enters the battlefield, if there are twenty or more creature cards...||When Inquisitor Captain enters the battlefield, if you cast it and if there are twenty or more creature cards...||Removing blink and cloning chains|
|Lier, Disciple of the Drowned||2022-01-27||Each instant and sorcery card in your graveyard has flashback.||As long as it is your turn, each instant and sorcery card in your graveyard has flashback.||Gives more shields-down moments when in conjunction with bounce spells|
|Sanguine Brushstroke||2022-01-27||Whenever you sacrifice a Blood token, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain 1 life.||Whenever you sacrifice a Blood token, each opponent loses 1 life.||Weakens impact against aggressive strategies.|
|Town-Razer Tyrant||2022-01-27||When Town-razer Tyrant enters the battlefield, target land you don’t control...||When Town-razer Tyrant enters the battlefield, target nonbasic land you don’t control...||Lowers impacts against one and two-color decks|
|Teferi, Time Raveler||2022-01-27||; 4 starting Loyalty; Each opponent can cast spells only any time they could cast a sorcery.||; 5 starting Loyalty; "Your opponents can't cast spells during your turn."||We are aiming to move Teferi, Time Raveler away from a generically strong card to a specialized anti-control tool.|
- Jay Parker & Donald Smith (October 13, 2021). "October 13, 2021 Banned and Resticted Announcement". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Wizards of the Coast (December 2, 2021). "MTG Arena: State - Alchemy". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Adam Styborski (May 6, 2021). "Welcome to the Summer of Legend". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Wizards of the Coast (June 30, 2021). "MTG Arena Announcements". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Donald Smith (December 2, 2021). "Alchemy Rebalancing Philosospy". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.