Alabaster Mastery

Posted in From the Lab on April 12, 2012

By Noel deCordova

Hello and welcome back to the Lab. Previews and spoilers for Avacyn Restored abound this week, and I can already tell this set is going to shake things up. The first addictive whiffs of spoiler spring were made manifest last week, during a surprise preview of Avacyn herself. After I picked up my jaw, everything seemed to click into place. Angels are swooping down upon battlefields like never before with this set. Check out some other previews to see what I mean. These majestic warriors are descending to save Innistrad, a plane formerly slotted for desolation and monster takeover. It's a neat third-act twist, and one ripe for radical riffing on third sets in general.

I'm happy to unveil another mythic rare Angel from the new set today. I could try to subtly tease the card through an exquisitely detailed sequence... but I won't, because the card's block of text hits with major impact. Witness a cool Angel here.

Gwaaaaahh. And other inarticulate noise words. When Bruna, Light of Alabaster valiantly heads into battle, the spotlight yanks over to her. As well as, oh, every Aura on the battlefield. And your hand. And your graveyard.

Bruna is a fully fledged bomb in the rightfully tuned deck. Although she's multicolored, that sits well with me, particularly when one of those colors is blue. You know, the color that likes to scroll through libraries at a rapid rate? As for white, well, it has a long and storied history of subtle interactions with Auras. Blend these attributes together and Bruna, Light of Alabaster starts to look like a game-ending machine.

Bruna: Brains and Brawn

When I first scanned and processed Bruna, I was instantly aware of her capacity for slaughtering opponents. She doesn't just attach one Aura to herself; the key phrase "any number" sends her mystical ways over the top. Additionally, I was captivated by Bruna's ability to peek at not one zone but three in her quest for enchant creature Auras. This facet intrigues and challenges me: can I use all three zones in one attack to suit up Bruna in a sufficiently murderous manner? Odds are, yes indeed.

Bruna, Light of Alabaster | Art by Winona Nelson

First, let's check out some of the Auras I plan on using. The colorless elephant (or fellow "El–" name) in the room is Eldrazi Conscription. Silly Eldrazi cards, being ludicrously powerful and malleable to any deck skeleton. Although the annihilator will not kick in by the time the Conscription is attached to Bruna, that's still a resounding 10 points of trample damage. So a mere two Eldrazi Conscriptions in the graveyard or lumped in your hand can zoom out and bolster Bruna to lethal levels.

The Conscription is a heavyweight, but I continued my search for other Auras. I was enamored with my goal of using all three zones in my journey for Alabaster-tinged victory. The question then became: What Auras can both stall my opponent's progress and give Bruna a bit of a boost? After checking Gatherer, I came up with the cycle of Vows from the Commander release. Vow of Duty and Vow of Flight becomes lopsided Cagemails in this deck. Early on, you can pin down your opponent's creatures with the Vows. Then during Bruna's first attack, shift them all to her! She'll be stronger!

I knew this deck wanted card drawing. Kor Spiritdancer was an early thought, as she draws cards for every Aura cast. But it's really blue that steps in to fill this role, as foreshadowed. Enclave Cryptologist is an early mana drinker that can quickly jumpstart the flow of cards. Compulsive Research does excellent work as well. Excess Eldrazi Conscriptions and other Auras should nearly always be discarded for a future Bruna to resurrect. And speaking of other Auras, I decided to fill out this deck with a toolbox of enchant creatures. Auramancer's Guise is just silly with Bruna's ability. Eland Umbra is a nifty way to protect Bruna (or slap it on a Spiritdancer or Cryptologist to defend early invaders.) And Corrupted Conscience is always welcome in my hand, whether it's tarnishing my opponent's game plan or giving Bruna infect for a quicker kill. The quaint Three Dreams can search up any combination of Auras to help my game state.

The last addition to the deck was Leyline of Anticipation. Despite previewing this enchantment two summers ago, I remain entranced by its flashy tendencies. Giving all your spells flash is immensely powerful. Flash in Bruna during your opponent's combat step for a devastating turn of events. Have Bruna block a weaker and suddenly quaking creature and commence shoring her up with Auras. If all goes well, you might get to annihilate after all!

Light Script

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I'll move further along this deck building path, if I may. For a multitude of reasons (soon to be revealed) I wanted to add green to my next Bruna deck. The initial inspiration came from reading Bruna again and noticing that her ability triggered on every attack. Setting aside the magnitude of her ability (as powerful as it is), I wondered if I could glean any potential benefits from having Bruna attack twice in one turn, through the use of extraneous combat phase cards. These types of cards are usually red but for one outlier: the Bant-flavored Finest Hour.

Assuming Bruna is my only attacker, the Hour will give me another combat phase to attack with. But what if all those Auras attached to her were to mysteriously disappear before her second attack? Not a problem, as that attack will promptly bring them all back. So sacrificing all those Auras to, say, Auratog, wouldn't be a half-bad plan, as the Auratog would swell and the beatdown would commence.

Now add Lure to that equation. Now Bruna baits all blockers, leaving an open space for an Auratog slash. Add in all the trampling Auras that are stuffed in the deck, and the damage total should exceed 20. Eldrazi cards can be mighty dull in repeated doses, so I subbed the Conscriptions for another frightening Aura, Mythic Proportions. Vow of Wildness and Armadillo Cloak continue the "good for me, bad or subpar for you" trend as well.

There are some fun two-drops to slap these Auras onto. Gatherer of Graces can be a force in this deck. Follow up a Gatherer with a Shielding Plax to doubly protect it (the Plax complements the deck nicely). Meanwhile, Looter il-Kor skirts across the shadowy parts of the battlefield to increase card flow, and I'm sure it would agree to take a Vow of Wildness.

There are all sorts of fun tricks this deck can pull, but my favorite has to involve Glamer Spinners. Let's say you have a small army of creatures, led by Bruna. You attack with them all, and Bruna works her Alabaster magic, engorging to Mythic Proportions (or two). But your opponent aims a removal spell at her! Glamer Spinners can save the day by flashing in and transferring all of Bruna's Auras to another attacker, say the usually unblockable Looter il-Kor, or Gatherer of Graces, which would become giant and very regenerative. And Lure throws a wrench in the works as always.

Overall, this deck is a bit of a hodgepodge, and I encourage you to take elements from it and the above deck to concoct your own Bruna brews!

'Baster Beats

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Tune in next week for another wacky preview from Avacyn Restored! Until next time.

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