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Against the Odds: Hedron Alignment (Pioneer, Magic Online)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 214 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had another Pioneer Against the Odds poll, and in the end, one of the trickiest alt-win conditions in the history of Magic came out on top: Hedron Alignment! As such, we're heading to Pioneer today to see just how possible it is to align the hedrons in the format. The main goal of the deck is to find all four copies of Hedron Alignment and, using cards like Dig Through Time and Tamiyo, Collector of Tales, get one in exile, our graveyard, in our hand, and on the battlefield, allowing us to win the game on our upkeep! What are the odds of winning with Hedron Alignment in Pioneer? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Hedron Alignment (Pioneer)

The Deck

When Hedron Alignment won the poll, I immediately knew that we'd be using Dig Through Time to try to find copies of our namesake card (with the added bonus that delve gives us an easy way to get a copy in our exile zone). My initial attempt was a straight blue-black control style shell, with Hedron Alignment as our finisher, but it was pretty rough. Not only was it hard to stock our graveyard for Dig Through Time, but cards like Leyline of the Void or Rest in Peace from our opponent's sideboards were almost unbeatable since blue-black can't kill an enchantment, and with our graveyard locked down, we can never win with Hedron Alignment. To fix these issues, we ended up splashing into green for Tamiyo, Collector of Tales and Assassin's Trophy. Tamiyo, Collector of Tales in particular was a revelation, not only filling our graveyard quickly to power up Dig Through Time but also helping us find copies of Hedron Alignment and even return them from our graveyard to our hand in a pinch. 

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Hedron Alignment is pretty simple: to win the game, we need to find all four copies and get each one in a specific zone, with one on the battlefield, one in our hand, one in our graveyard, and one in exile. Apart from drawing a ton of cards to find Hedron Alignment, the main challenge is making sure that we have ways to get a copy into exile (by far the hardest zone) and the graveyard. 

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Our deck's main engine is Dig Through Time and Tamiyo, Collector of Tales. Both cards are good on their own and even better together, and they also just happen to be the most consistent way to set up the Hedron Alignment kill. Dig Through Time digs seven cards deep into our deck to find copies of Hedron Alignment, usually for just two mana, assuming we have cards in our graveyard to delve away, while also giving us an easy to get a copy of Hedron Alignment in our exile zone by delving it away. Meanwhile, Tamiyo, Collector of Tales is mostly in the deck for her +1 ability, which stocks our graveyard with cards to reduce the cost of Dig Through Time and also finds us copies of Dig Through Time and Hedron Alignment. The other big upside of Tamiyo is that the 3 gives us a way to get back a copy of Hedron Alignment from our graveyard to our hand, in case our opponent manages to counter or Thoughtseize it, or if we mill copies over with Tamiyo's +1. Without the Eternal Witness-esque 3 on Tamiyo, Collector of Tales, having three copies of Hedron Alignment hit our graveyard would mean that we could never align the hedrons and win the game. But thanks to Tamiyo, having a bunch of Hedron Alignments in our graveyard is actually an upside in our deck!

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Meanwhile, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and Collective Brutality, along with being solid standalone cards, work as important safety valves for our Hedron Alignment kill by allowing us to discard cards from our hand. If we just happen to draw three copies of Hedron Alignment, it's hard to get one in our graveyard and one in exile (without discarding to hand size, which is really slow and clunky). Jace and Collective Brutality give us easy ways to discard extra copies of Hedron Alignment if we get stuck with too many in hand. Otherwise, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy is also our backup win condition. While it isn't especially practical, if something goes wrong with our Hedron Alignment game plan, our backup plan is to flip and ultimate Jace and eventually mill our opponent out by casting spells. 

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Finally, we have Search for Azcanta, which does double duty with Hedron Alignment. In the early game, we can surveil copies of Hedron Alignment into our graveyard. Then, after we flip into Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin, the land gives us another way to dig through our deck to get copies of Hedron Alignment into our hand. Thanks to a bunch of cheap spells and Tamiyo, Collector of Tales, we can usually get the seven cards we need to flip Search for Azcanta into our graveyard pretty quickly, making it a weird source of ramp as well by giving us an additional land. 

Other Stuff

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Otherwise, our deck mostly looks like a Sultai Control deck, with a bunch of removal, sweepers, and discard. Assassin's Trophy and Murderous Cut are probably our most important removal spells since Assassin's Trophy gives us a way to deal with cards like Leyline of the Void and Rest in Peace that would otherwise ruin our Hedron Alignment kill, while Murderous Cut gives us another way to get Hedron Alignment into our graveyard, thanks to delve.

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Meanwhile, Thoughtseize joins Collective Brutality in our discard slot. While its main purpose is to disrupt our opponent and protect Hedron Alignment from counterspells, it's also worth mentioning that in a pinch, we can Thoughtseize ourselves to get a copy of Hedron Alignment in our graveyard, either to leave it there or to delve it into exile with Dig Through Time or Murderous Cut. This leaves us with a Hedron Alignment plan that looks something like this:

The Matchups​​​​​

In general, Hedron Alignment is really good against creature decks, where Languish and our removal spells are especially effective. On the other hand, based on our matches, decks that are looking to win with spells or a ton of planeswalkers are more of a challenge since our interactive spells are mostly designed to fight creature decks. While cards like Thoughtseize and Collective Brutality (along with some good sideboard options) help, we'd still rather avoid playing decks like Jeskai Ascendancy or WB Planeswalkers.

The Odds

All in all, we played five matches with Hedron Alignment and managed to win three, giving us a 60% match win percentage, making Hedron Alignment slightly above average for an Against the Odds deck. While slightly above average might not sound that exciting, considering how challenging it is to win with Hedron Alignment, I was thrilled with the results. More importantly, apart from one game where we won with Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet from our sideboard, all of our wins either came directly from Hedron Alignment or from our opponent scooping when it became apparent they wouldn't be able to kill us before the hedrons aligned. Oh yeah, one thing we learned is that Tamiyo, Collector of Tales with Dig Through Time is pretty busted. While Hedron Alignment might not be the best finishing option if your goal is to win a Grand Prix (although it certainly can win some matches!), I wouldn't be surprised to see Tamiyo, Collector of Tales and Dig Through Time form the foundation of a very competitive Pioneer deck.

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Pioneer is still awesome, so let's keep playing it! Which one of these classic jank cards should we build around next week? Let us know by voting below!

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Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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