MTG’s Archenemy format is a better fit for Universes Beyond

MTG’s Archenemy format is a better fit for Universes Beyond

Thanks to Universes Beyond: Doctor Who, Archenemy should find a new home in one of Magic’s upcoming crossover sets.

Archenemy is a creative and innovative multiplayer format for MTG that has fallen on hard times. Designed as a way for players to cooperate and take down one boss player with a bonus deck and enlarged life total, Archenemy still has passionate fans even while lacking in official support.

Despite the last piece of dedicated Archenemy support from Wizards being 2017’s Archenemy: Nicol Bolas, players haven’t given up hope on the format’s eventual return. MTG’s Lead Designer Mark Rosewater was recently asked by a fan on his blog whether players will ever get another set.

While Rosewater rarely likes to answer with a definitive ‘no’, fans’ hopes were fuelled when the designer specifically singled out the recent return of Planechase, saying:

“We recently did Planechase, so there’s always a chance.”

MTG Universes Beyond is Archenemy’s greatest hope

The surprise return of Planechase to MTG is entirely down to Universes Beyond: Doctor Who.

Doctor Who’s ability to hop between different worlds and times is what helps it maintain its longevity and cult-classic show status. Just like Doctor Who returned from the TV dead in 2005, the world-hopping premise of the show is such a perfect fit for Planechase that it brought the format screaming back to life.

Much like Planechase, Archenemy is an MTG format with flavorful additional material that can thrive in the right crossover. Where Planechase has its Planar deck, comprised of worlds to visit that apply various buffs and limitations, Archenemy has the Scheme deck. Schemes can only be used by the archenemy player, with effects varying from restrictions on the cards opponents can cast to powerful removal, helping the solo player to provide a real threat to the group.

Archenemy is perfect for villains and boss battles

If Planechase was brought back through Doctor Who, and regular MTG design space can no longer fit Archenemy, where might this format find a new home? The answer could be coming up sooner than expected.

Universes Beyond: Final Fantasy is a hotly anticipated crossover set that is sure to bring many new fans to MTG. Archenemy and Final Fantasy make a perfect mechanical fit, with the one vs many style and powerful Schemes simulating the party-based combat and often gigantic, lengthy boss battles the venerable RPG series is well known for.

In building Archenemy for a Final Fantasy set, WotC has the chance to not only revitalize the format but build it out in interesting new directions. The archenemy player could gain access to a second scheme deck containing more potent cards when their health drops below half of the starting total, representing the ‘form change’ or second phase that often occurs in RPG boss battles. To keep things in balance, the regular players could have their own ‘party deck’, with less powerful cards than Schemes, but allowing for group synergy, tactical cooperation, and combos.

If Archenemy doesn’t find a home in Universes Beyond: Final Fantasy, the next best bet is one of the confirmed crossover sets with Marvel. Thanks to the number of supervillains available, Archenemy and its Schemes could be a perfect fit. Where Final Fantasy is a great fit for Archenemy thanks to the mechanical potential, a Marvel set drawing on comic book storytelling is perfect for Archenemy’s flavor.

The Archenemy: Nicol Bolas set already featured Bolas vs the Gatewatch, a Planeswalker team aesthetically inspired by superheroes like the Avengers or the Justice League. Archenemy kits could be put together for Universes Beyond: Marvel in a similar vein. For example, the Fantastic Four vs Doctor Doom.

The Marvel crossover could even give MTG the chance to shake up the format, having an Archenemy player as Spider-Man, and the other players as lower-level villains or members of the Sinister Six trying to take the web-slinger down.

MTG’s roster of scheming, sinister villains first provided inspiration for Archenemy, allowing it to grow as a format. But now, as Magic and its story branch off in bold new directions, there is less call for overarching enemies to take the stage. It’s time for MTG to allow Archenemy to thrive again and pass the baton over to Universes Beyond and all its varied, villainous potential

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