Last updated on October 15, 2023

Mephit's Enthusiasm - Illustration by Kim Sokol

Mephit's Enthusiasm | Illustration by Kim Sokol

Alchemy has been around on MTG Arena for some time now, and it’s started to settle into its little niche as the digital-only format where digital-only mechanics go to die. The format has seen little growth since release, but that hasn’t stopped Wizards from releasing a new expansion just about every time a Standard set rolls around.

The set includes hundreds of new cards, tons of new digital-only mechanics, and some controversial design choices. One of the mew mechanics, “boon,” is reminiscent of planeswalker emblems but on spells. It’s basically a delayed triggered ability.

That certainly left me with some questions, and that’s why today I’ll be going over some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the mechanic including how it works, what cards it’s on, and whether or not it’s actually that good. Let’s get started!

How Does Boon Work?

Champions of Tyr - Illustration by Fajareka Setiawan

Champions of Tyr | Illustration by Fajareka Setiawan

Boon is a delayed triggered ability that works similarly to a planeswalker emblem until it activates or expires. They’re basically triggered effects that can be delayed until a later turn.

When you get a boon from another card or spell, it’ll appear in the corner of the screen similar to how you’d see an emblem. The boon’s oracle text explains the effect and when it happens.

Arcane Archery

For example, Arcane Archery doesn’t trigger until you cast your next creature. When you do, it gives it a variety of buffs ranging from +1/+1 counters to trample to reach.

The History of Boon in MTG

Boon is a digital-only mechanic introduced in Alchemy Horizons: Baldur’s Gate. It originated on seven unique cards, with four in white, two red, and one green. It’s similar to the perpetually mechanic previously introduced to digital-only formats and has yet to be added to the Comprehensive Rules or to the online card database.

Boon vs. Emblems

Boon works very similar to emblems in that it can’t be interacted with or removed for the duration of the game. The difference is that boons expire or activate later on in the game, while emblems last forever.

Has Boon Existed Before in Other Forms?

While the boon mechanic hasn’t existed in exactly the same way in other forms, it’s still a sort of mixture between planeswalker emblems and the perpetually mechanic in Alchemy.

Celestial Unicorn Flaming Fist Officer

It’s also somewhat similar to the “whenever” wording on a lot of other Magic cards like Celestial Unicorn and Flaming Fist Officer. The main difference is that you can’t interact with it, and it only happens once.

There’s also the boon cycle, which refers to a cycle of 1-mana value cards from Alpha, Beta, and Unlimited, but that’s much different and not at all related.

Is Boon a Triggered Ability?

Arcane Archery

Yes, boon is a triggered ability that’s set up beforehand and delayed until the trigger occurs. For example, Arcane Archery’s boon triggered ability will wait until you cast the next creature spell after the ability that makes the boon resolves.

The Boon Mechanic vs. the Boon Cycle in Alpha

The boon cycle from Alpha refers to five 1-mana cards, one of each color, that were extraordinarily powerful. The most prominent of the cards includes Lightning Bolt, Ancestral Recall, and Dark Ritual. The other less used cards are Giant Growth and Healing Salve.

Ancestral Recall made it into the Power 9, and Lightning Bolt is still one of the most popular cards in the game. But the same can’t be said for the other three, which are reserved for more niche uses.

Is Boon Good?

While boon as a mechanic is somewhat strong in its own right, I think I’d rather just have a creature or artifact with the triggered ability on it. That way I can trigger it multiple times, extracting more value, while boon usually allows for just one instance of the trigger.

That’s obviously taken into account during balancing, which is why boon cards typically offer more value for the single trigger than other abilities where you’d get the payoff multiple times.

Gallery and List of Boon Cards

Best Boon Card

Mephits Enthusiasm

While none of the boon cards seem too powerful in their own right (likely them testing the mechanic more so than the mechanic just not being too good), I’m looking at Mephit's Enthusiasm as the one with the most potential. It’s four damage for two mana, nothing too crazy, but that excess damage will go to your next creature’s power, and that seems playable in red-based aggro decks that need single target removal.

This won’t always hit, but you’re still using the spell to its maximum potential if it doesn’t. Not to mention that the boon upside makes you feel good about the situation if you have to blast something small with deathtouch.

Wrap Up

Arcane Archery - Illustration by Julian Kok Joon Wen

Arcane Archery | Illustration by Julian Kok Joon Wen

That wraps up everything there is to know about the boon mechanic in Alchemy. I’m not the biggest Alchemy player myself, but I’m glad to see them actually try to use the digital aspects of MTG Arena for something that couldn’t otherwise be done on paper.

What do you think of the boon mechanic? Is it exactly what you’ve been waiting for, or do you feel there are too many combo decks and aren’t a fan of the mechanic? Let me know in the comments below or over in the official Draftsim Discord. And make sure you’ve got Arena Tutor to help you out if you’re heading over to MTGA to see what it’s all about.

Until next time, stay safe and stay healthy!

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