What you do if I were to say that there was a five color combo deck in Legacy that centred around a four mana Green enchantment, had 22 creatures, and was capable of killing the opponent at instant-speed? You’d probably scoff at such a ridiculous notion. Surely, such a deck could only exist in the minds of mad men dreaming of Magical Christmasland, right?
Aluren is a combo deck centred around its namesake enchantment. For 2GG each player gets to cast creatures with mana cost 3 or less for free and at instant-speed. Normally in a format like Legacy where everyone is running really cheap creatures, giving your opponent the ability to cast their spells for free would be a downside. However, the way Aluren is built, your entire deck is built to abuse this deck to the fullest potential.
Just in case you can’t figure out how the combo works, what you do is play Aluren then cast Parasitic Strix with another Black creature in play, such as Deathrite Shaman or Baleful Strix, to drain the opponent for 2 life. Then you play Cavern Harpy to bounce Parasitic Strix to your hand, then cast Strix again to drain them for 2 life. You then return Cavern Harpy to your hand by paying 1 life, then cast it again to return the Strix to your hand. You repeat this process as often as you need to kill the opponent dead. Thanks to Aluren, this can all be done at instant-speed, allowing you to combo off in response to removal, the opponent playing a spell, or even at the end of their turn. This makes the deck so difficult to play against and can catch many opponents off guard.
To help set up this combo, the deck runs Imperial Recruiter to search for any creature in your deck, as well as Intuition, Brainstorm, and Baleful Strix to help dig for your combo pieces. The deck also runs Sedraxis Alchemist and Dream Stalker to bounce your Recruiters over and over to search out multiple creatures. Deathrite Shaman helps to accelerate into your Alurens as well as color fix just in case you have to actually cast your spells, and Shardless Agent is nothing short of pure value, getting you anything from tutors to cantrip creatures to your combo pieces.
Aluren also runs several means of protecting itself, as the majority of its combo pieces are rather fragile. Thoughtseize and Cabal Therapy do wonders in this deck, picking away pesky counterspells, Abrupt Decays, and Swords to Plowshares that would otherwise rain on its parade.
It’s important to note that just because Aluren is generally a combo deck, the deck also has the capability to just beat down. Sometimes against slower, permission/removal heavy match-ups it makes more sense to just swing in every turn and build up incidental damage. You can often win by simply attacking with your value fliers and finishing off the opponent with Deathrite Shaman activations.
THIS DECK LOOKS PRETTY WIDE OPEN. HOW SHOULD I BUILD MY SIDEBOARD?
You’re absolutely correct in that this deck can run virtually any creature with converted mana cost 3 or less and 2 or fewer power. This gives Aluren nearly hundreds of viable sideboard creatures, and it really boils down to what kinds of decks you’re expecting to face. For example, in the list above the builder has opted for Harmonic Sliver and Peacekeeper in their sideboard. Harmonic Sliver is a catch-all answer for everything from Trinisphere to Ethersworn Canonist. Essentially any artifact or enchantment that messes with your ability to combo off gets crushed by Harmonic Sliver, and thanks to Dream Stalker you can get multiple uses out of it to crush archetypes like Stoneblade, Painted Stone, and Enchantress. Peacekeeper, on the other hand, is great for shutting down aggressive decks like to give you the time to set up your combo. As well, unfair decks like Sneak and Show, Tin Fins, and Flame-Kin Zealot Dredge are completely shut down by Peacekeeper.
Because of how powerful a tutor Imperial Recruiter is, you can run a package of 1-of creatures in your sideboard you can fetch out to suit any metagame. Do you have a lot of graveyard decks running around? Yixid Jailer and Scavenging Ooze say “Hi”. Is your meta teeming with removal-heavy decks like UWR Delver? Give Sin Collector, Burrenton Forge-Tender, or even Plaxmanta a shot. Are you facing an abundance of Sneak and Show? Man-o’-War and Callous Oppressor have your back. A single copy of a card isn’t going to break your sideboard, and the level of customization gives you the ability to play around and see what works and what doesn’t.
Aluren also tends to run Force of Will and a fourth Thoughtseize in their sideboards to help shore up their matches against faster combo decks like Storm and Charbelcher. Aluren is by no means a speedy deck, and anything you can do to slow down other combos is a huge boon to your survival. Carpet of Flowers is great for adding mana against the countermagic heavy decks such as Delver to fight through Spell Pierce and Daze as well as ramping into your Aluren. Abrupt Decay is another catch-all for typical anti-combo cards like Chalice of the Void out of MUD or Counterbalance in Miracles. Toxic Deluge seems like it might be out of place give that Aluren is a creature deck, but its utility comes from the fact that you can cast it for any amount of life to clear away problems. Toxic Deluge can wipe the board of everything from Charbelcher’s Empty the Warrens tokens to Emrakul to Elesh Norn, all of which can be massive headaches for Aluren.
WHAT MATCHES DO I WANT TO FACE? WHAT SHOULD I AVOID?
Generally, you don’t want to be facing decks with excessive discard or removal. Jund and UWR Delver can be major headaches by either making you discard combo pieces or just countering them. One of the things about trying to play Aluren combo is that you have to actually have the Aluren in play, and these types of decks do a great job of preventing that. However, should you actually get Aluren on the table, these match-ups become much better since you can go off in response to any removal they have. Jund is also particularly scary because they tend to run Engineered Plague in their sideboards, and a Plague set on Harpy stops you from comboing altogether.
Good match-ups for Aluren are pretty much any deck that doesn’t want to interact with you. Show and Tell decks are especially good since you can Thoughtseize away their countermagic, then when they cast Show and Tell you can put down Aluren and combo off in response to anything they try to pull. Storm and Charbelcher can also be a good match-up with the right opening hand, as Aluren runs seven maindeck discard spells to disrupt their plans. Because most decks in Legacy cantrip rather than actually draw cards, by getting a Storm player’s hand low enough you can make sure that they won’t have the critical mass of spells necessary for them to combo off. Aluren also has several match-ups that are awful game 1, but become very much one-sided for games 2 and 3. For example, MUD and Countertop both have maindeck methods of shutting off your ability to build up a board state and combo off, but once you get into your sideboard with Harmonic Sliver and Abrupt Decays these matches become considerably easier.
BOTTOM LINE: WHY BUILD ALUREN?
You should build Aluren because it does what most combo decks in Legacy can’t. Unlike the vast majority of combos in the format, once it gets going Aluren is virtually impossible to stop. Always threatening to kill the opponent at every possible moment can be nerve-wracking, and forces your opponent to slam the brakes on their own game plan to play around you. It’s a great feeling knowing that your opponent is virtually paralyzed once Aluren comes down. This deck boils down to three things: free spells, value creatures, and instant-speed combos. If any of that sentence has your interest, Aluren is the deck for you!
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