A few months ago, when I was doing a deck guide for Food Chain, I mentioned that Aluren would not be far behind. Luckily for me, waiting a little bit to do it was greatly beneficial since they printed a card in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, Acererak the Archlich, which is very effective in this strategy. Today, I want to go through the latest version of this deck which looks very strong and I think might be a real contender in Legacy. This list is from a Japanese tournament, the KMC 15th Invitational, and comes from the finalist, Hiroshi Okawa. I like a lot of the inclusions this player made and I’m excited to dive into the deck, so let’s jump right in!
Legacy Aluren by Hiroshi Okawa
This deck is sort of a traditional Sultai midrange deck with a combo flourish. A lot of the cards in the deck play to the board and generate some incremental value. This helps manage your opponent’s game plan and can effectively apply pressure to your opponent’s life total. When your opponent is forced to interact with that, you can cast Aluren, which transforms your deck into a difficult to interact with combo deck, since many of the cards, like Cavern Harpy, will let you generate a near infinite amount of value and convert that into a clean win with Acererak. This style of deck can be extremely effective in Legacy, as sometimes you need to grind and sometimes you need to race, so having the tools to effectively do both is quite nice.
Let’s take a look at some of the cards this deck plays and how they fit into the game plan.
While it may seem odd that a deck called Aluren would only play three copies of the namesake card, this deck doesn’t function like a pure combo deck. One of the advantages of playing creature-based combo decks is that in many circumstances, the deck can assume a more midrange-oriented role. This forces opponents to deal with your early development in order to maintain a stable board while you transition toward a point where you can resolve Aluren and win the game on the spot. The combination of dual game plans and Aluren itself being a rather clunky four-mana enchantment makes three copies a pretty reasonable number to land on.
Along with Aluren, Acererak is one of the pure combo elements of this deck. In the past, the combo aspect of this deck would involve a fair amount of deck building space, needing tutors like Imperial Recruiter, Dream Stalker to bounce them, Cavern Harpy to create a loop (which is still here, more on that later) and a card like Parasitic Strix to kill them.
With Acererak in the mix, the kill is substantially more streamlined, as Acererak bounces itself and kills your opponent through completing the Lost Mine of Phandelver. However, there’s no way to tutor Acererak and it doesn’t do much by itself, so getting the numbers right on Acererak is tricky. This particular Aluren list is built to play like a grindy midrange deck with a combo finish, so playing smaller numbers of Acererak makes sense here. I could see playing an extra copy to have a more consistent kill, but I honestly like the single copy since this deck will generally see a lot of extra cards.
In previous versions of this deck, Cavern Harpy served as a key combo piece, enabling you to loop cards like Parasitic Strix and kill your opponent. Since Acererak streamlines the combo kill, Harpy isn’t necessary for the combo kill. However, using Harpy with Aluren to recur creatures with an enter-the-battlefield effect will provide an incredible amount of card advantage and make it so that opponents can no longer manage your plan. Combining it with Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath is even better, since this will result in you drawing your entire deck, as you get to gain three life for every one life you pay.
Uro is close to the perfect card in this deck. Just like Acererak is a one-card payoff for Aluren, Uro is a one-card enabler of the midrange element of this deck. It has the potential to singlehandedly take over the game and over requires a lot of resources from opponents to keep in check. This opens up the door for a clean combo kill later on. Additionally, Uro works well enough with Aluren in play since you can cast the front half for free and, as I mentioned, pair it with Cavern Harpy as an alternate win-con.
Having six copies of this effect really let this deck grind its opponents down. Like Uro, this is another card that works as a midrange tool that can gum up the works for your opponent, but also fits in well with Aluren in play. There are pros and cons for both Baleful Strix and Ice-Fang Coatl so I like the split here. It does pull your mana in slightly different directions so be mindful of your mana base as you’re developing.
Green Sun’s Zenith is a great way to increase consistency and speed, which makes it a great fit for a deck like Aluren which can be a bit clunky at times. Being able to find Dryad Arbor is crucial here, since that will provide an early mana advantage which will leave opponents
While Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and Urza’s Saga have been getting a lot of press lately, Grist, the Hunger Tide is a Modern Horizons 2 card that has a lot of power packed into it. Of course, it’s going to fit well in any Green Sun deck, but I think this deck would be interested in the card regardless. It does a great job of playing the traditional midrange game this deck is trying to play, gumming up the board and threatening to answer almost any creature that can enter play. In addition, its mill ability works quite well with Uro, both fueling it and helping dig towards putting it in your graveyard and it’s honestly awesome to see Grist show up and do work here.
We’re long past the days of Deathrite Shaman, where your mana creature could freely be a four-of. Birds of Paradise helps accelerate you, but has little function outside of that. You don’t want to draw too many of them or draw them late, so two copies seems pretty reasonable. I could see wanting an extra copy for some extra consistency, but two should be sufficient with Green Sun’s Zenith filling out the rest of the turn one mana creature space.
At this point it is pretty clear that Endurance is perfectly suited for Legacy. The combination of situations it helps with is extremely diverse and it’s effective at solving each issue it addresses. Between ambushing Delvers, stopping Dredge from going off and disrupting Doomsday, all while having the diversity of being either a free spell or a threat, Endurance might be one of the best answers to be printed into Legacy in a long time.
Leovold, Emissary of Trest doesn’t really see widespread play these days, but in a Green Sun’s Zenith deck it is a perfect inclusion. Hullbreacher and Narset, Parter of Veils might be taking the center stage when it comes to denying card draw these days, but Leovold has the double benefit of a relevant trigger when your cards get targeted, which can place opponents in a difficult spot.
Abrupt Decay used to be a mainstay of Legacy but black/green strategies have been on a substantial downtick as of late. It still answers a ton of cards in a relatively efficient way though, so you can’t really knock it too much. This deck does have a problem interacting with creatures on turn one, though, so cards like Ragavan could cause some serious issues.
With the dual role of this deck, playing Force of Will both protects you from threatening strategies while protecting both parts of your game plan equally well.
Brainstorm needs no introduction, but running two Ponder is not common these days. In a deck with Green Sun’s Zenith and a lot of more expensive cards that add to the board, it can be difficult to both find the deckbuilding space, as well as time in-game, to afford to cast Ponder. Two copies helps increase consistency a bit, but they don’t play a major role in your development.
This is a pretty normal mana base, but a bit heavy on the dual lands for a deck like this these days. You really want to be able to cast your spells on time, and with a functional five mana dorks, Wasteland is less of a concern. There is some concern with your ability to turn on deathtouch for Ice-Fang Coatl, but there are enough fetchlands that this shouldn’t be too big of a deal.
The adoption of Carpet of Flowers over the past few years has been really wild. For years, Carpet was a fringe card that helped out against Delver decks, but now, it’s an absolute haymaker in the sideboard. It makes sense, since Delver has become more popular, as well as cards like Uro, which function as a one-card, mana-intensive engine, has begun to populate deck lists more.
There has been a substantial downtick in this card lately, since a lot of the threatening cards (outside of Ragavan) have been a lot more beefy lately, such as Murktide Regent and Urza’s Saga tokens. Plague Engineer is still an excellent card though, and does deal with Ragavan as well as any number of x/1 creatures that might show up, so it remains an important creature to keep in the sideboard.
Between Endurance, Force of Will and Force of Vigor, this deck has a ton of free spells that can answer a variety of different powerful strategies that can arise. This deck has plenty of green cards (one of the other upsides of playing Ice-Fang Coatl) so casting this for free is not an issue.
Veil of Summer doesn’t see as much play in Legacy as it did in other formats that it’s been banned in. It’s still an incredible sideboard card though and really effectively keeps discard and counters in check. Since so much of modern-day Legacy revolves around board position though that it can be difficult to include too many copies of the card.
Arguably one of the best Green Sun’s targets in Legacy, there are a lot of strategies in Legacy that will struggle to beat this card when it’s in play.
An extra copy of Endurance will make it really hard for any Delver or graveyard deck to get any ground. I can’t overstate how good I think this card is both in Legacy, as well as for Legacy.
It’s a little funny to have two different one-ofs in a Green Sun’s Zenith deck that can’t be tutored, but they’re both pretty good in different situations. Namely, Opposition Agent is a house against Doomsday, Storm and other Green Sun’s Zenith decks and Hullbreacher is really effective against both combo decks and slower Brainstorm decks.
- With Cavern Harpy in play and Force of Will in hand with no other blue cards, you can return the Harpy to your hand if you need to cast it at any point.
- Be mindful of the fact that your opponents can cast creatures for free off of Aluren, which could be problematic depending on the circumstance.
- With Uro and Cavern Harpy, make sure you’re aware of how the triggers work. You want to draw the card and gain the life of Uro before the sacrifice (so put it on the top of the stack). Then, you can cast Cavern Harpy and return it before it gets sacrificed.
Against Delver, assuming the role of a grindy midrange deck is definitely the best strategy. This forces them to interact with your early plays and opens the door for a combo later on. Trying to focus on the combo is a tough gambit, since they’re great at stopping players from assembling a combo. The cards you bring in help sidestep their mana denial and play to the board really well and should help in the matchup.
I like swapping Birds of Paradise for Carpet to make cards like Terminus less effective while also providing a nice mana bump for the grindy engines in the deck. For the most part, I like utilizing Cavern Harpy to generate a ton of value, which should provide enough resources to try to safely resolve an Aluren. You could side out Force of Will, since this is a grindy matchup, but your engines are excellent at providing extra resources, so that should make it much easier to use Force of Will.
I rarely say this in my deck guides but I actually kind of like Aluren’s position in the matchup. Between Force of Will and Endurance, there are a lot of free, meaningful pieces of disruption in the matchup, haymakers like Leovold and Opposition Agent that will slow them down and a combo finish that can end the game on the spot. Make sure you can survive early, but overall I think I wouldn’t mind being in Aluren’s seat here.
Death and Taxes
I could definitely see leaving in some Force of Wills, but I think the combination of disruption and a proactive plan are effective enough in this matchup. Endurance might ambush a creature in combat but otherwise doesn’t have a relevant ability in the matchup. This matchup, more than any other, might lead to problems with Aluren where your opponent can also cast spells for free, so be very careful when you put Aluren into play (namely with Flickerwisp).