Making the Hedrons Align

I don’t often get inspired or excited by spoiled cards, so I usually don’t make an effort to write spotlights. Not only am I here writing, but I even had to bribe PV to let me take this one.

hedronalignment

What can I say? I like a good puzzle.

When I first saw Hedron Alignment, I immediately thought of its spiritual ancestor, Battle of Wits. There have been a lot of alternate wins cards printed over the last decade or so, and Battle is the most competitive. Like Hedron Alignment, Battle of Wits is a blue enchantment that lets you win the game. The only constraint it imposes is the size of the deck you must play, making it much harder than usual to find a copy of the card. For formats that offer a lot of redundant card choices, quadrupling the size of your deck may not dilute your overall power level that much. How much does it actually cost you to go from playing 4 Wrath of Gods to playing 4 Wrath of Gods, 4 Day of Judgments, 4 Supreme Verdicts, and 4 Routs?

Hedron Alignment imposes similar challenges. First, you need to find all 4 copies of the card (in a deck 1/4th the size of a Battle of Wits deck). While on a ratio basis this looks similar, it’s actually much harder in practice as there are many effects that let you tutor for a single copy of a card. It’s a lot harder to dig up all 4 copies. It then introduces another twist—you need to spread them out between 4 different zones. This is an impossible challenge for most formats, but maybe we can make it work in Legacy.

The card actually reminds me of another Legacy pet card of mine—Misthollow Griffin. A shell already exists that specializes in putting copies of Griffin into different zones.

Food Chain

Tyus Buckley

This is the closest thing we can look at for inspiration from the competitive realm.

The deck has some nice built-in redundancies. You have some natural resistance to both discard and countermagic, as they can’t take your combo card directly so they can only disrupt your setup. Hedron Alignment has hexproof, so you are immune to Abrupt Decay.

What are all of the ways we can move the card between zones? First you need to get it out of your library. There are a lot of ways to get it from your library into your hand with cards like Brainstorm and Ponder. You can also tutor up extra copies with Infernal Tutor. You can directly exile it with Manipulate Fate (as we see in the Food Chain deck) or Extract. You can put it straight into your graveyard with something like Entomb.

The challenge with most of these options is they are all essentially 1-for-1s. Unlike Misthollow Griffin, you don’t want to put 3 copies into exile with Manipulate Fate.

Entomb is also pretty underwhelming—it’s narrow and only sets up 1 of the 4 stages you need to win. There’s a lot of room for fun deck construction here—look at cards like Wild Research.

If you want to be as competitive as possible, I would look at Intuition, which will get 3 copies of Archive for 1 card. If you can draw a single copy normally, then you just need one Intuition to get all 4 involved.

Let’s say you Ponder into one copy and you resolve an Intuition. You now have two copies in your hand and two copies in your graveyard. How do you win?

The easiest way is to cast a copy from your hand and then exile a copy from your graveyard. Wizards was kind enough to give us the delve mechanic, which gives you an easy way to exile from your graveyard. This would be a lot easier if we could play with Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise, which are now banned, but there are a few other delve options we can look at.

Logic Knot offers reactive interaction, while Tasigur and Set Adrift give you a proactive way to exile. I would love to be able to play Temporal Trespass if you can fill up your graveyard enough, as it can let you win immediately by exiling the fourth copy and moving to your upkeep right away. Unfortunately Deathrite Shaman doesn’t let you exile enchantments, but you can still play Relic of Progenitus, which has some collateral value.

How do you move copies out of your hand? This is generally the easiest as it is the most natural Magic action. You can play Careful Study or Liliana of the Veil to discard extra copies and there are lots of sweet ways to exile. The most obvious is Force of Will, like in the Food Chain deck. Chrome Mox can directly exile it while accelerating, and then there are some really techy options like Serum Powder and Gemstone Caverns (both suggestions of Justin Cohen).

Can we get a copy into play from the graveyard? Not easily, but it is possible. The best option to do this that I’ve come up with is Replenish, but this has the drawback of putting all of your copies into play. Now you need to return one to the graveyard (perhaps with Perilous Research?). I couldn’t find a practical way to get just a single copy out of your graveyard into play.

I strongly suggest avoiding exiling two copies, but if you want a way to recover from this, you can always play Pull from Eternity.

So where does all of this leave us? Here is a list of some options I brainstormed for each movement.

Library -> Hand

Library -> Graveyard

Library -> Exile

Hand -> Graveyard

Hand -> Play

Cast it!

Hand -> Exile

Graveyard -> Exile

Graveyard -> Play

Graveyard -> Hand

Exile -> Graveyard

Exile -> Library

This is a fun puzzle to try to solve, but unfortunately I can’t see any version of this becoming competitive. It’s just too slow for a format like Legacy. That doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be a lot of fun to try to come up with a competitive version.

Here is my first pass:

Hedron Alignment Combo

UB Hedron Alignment

These definitely aren’t the most competitive Legacy decks that you can find, but I think the deckbuilding challenges with Hedron Alignment are really fun to try out. Did I miss any great ways to move it between zones? Can you come up with a more consistent, faster, or more interactive version?

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