When I first looked at my preview card, I couldn't really wrap my brain around it. The card does so much that I wasn't really understanding its value. Kind of a "forest for the trees" thing. It wasn't until I broke it down that I saw the beauty of the card. There is something for Spike and something for the Jenny/Johnny in each of us.
Let's start with...
For Spike, Hedron Alignment gives you a hexproof enchantment for three mana that lets you scry repeatedly for two mana. This is repeatable scrying, and that is very rare. Scry tends to be something you get to do once and not again. Whether you get to do it when a Theros block Temple enters the battlefield or as a bonus on an instant or sorcery, it tends to be a one-time benefit.
Most of the permanents that let you scry repeatedly involve attacking or tapping. Crystal Ball is great, but without help you can only do that once per round, limiting the usefulness. Viscera Seer and Catacomb Sifter let you scry by sacrificing creatures, which can give you plenty of cards, but they need to be in the right decks for them to really scry deep.
Hedron Alignment best compares with Prism Array and Stormcaller of Keranos. It is in this light that you realize just how good this card is. Prism Array demands all five colors of mana to let you scry, while Stormcaller of Keranos is red but needs blue to use the ability and sits on a rather fragile 2/2 creature.
Hedron Alignment is an enchantment, one of the most difficult permanents to destroy. Most decks have only a handful of ways to deal with enchantments. Add in hexproof and this thing isn't going anywhere for the rest of the game.
So, can we think of a deck that includes blue that wouldn't want to have this, because all I can think of are decks that would love it!
Even cards outside of blue would love Hedron Alignment. Abbot of Keral Keep would love to know what card you are about to exile, especially when you can improve the odds of it being something particularly helpful. Instead of blindly manifesting cards, why not know what they are beforehand? This preview card gives you a chance to flip a creature more often than not. You could even improve your chances of flipping just the card that Narset Transcendent wants!
These are all interesting Standard options, but I like to look at all the options available to a casual player. Arbiter of the Ideal sounds like an excellent plan. Scry away the enchantments, instants, and sorceries and get a free permanent every turn. Pretty much any card that is looking for something in particular on the top of your library is going to like the ability to scry repeatedly. Delver of Secrets is obvious, but what about cards with kinship? Djinn of Wishes? Descendants' Path? There are all sorts of goodies that Hedron Alignment makes so much better.
While this is a solid enabler card, and certainly something Spike could love, Jenny/Johnny wants something more exciting than that. Let's take a look at the rest of that text box:
Now, I understand that Commander players are not saying "Yes!" to this card. There may be a way to make copies of the card so you could pull this off in a Commander game, but I'll leave that to the truly amazing Jennys and Johnnys out there. In spite of the limited use of the alternate win condition portion of the card, a three-mana permanent that lets you scry multiple times in one round can be amazing in Commander. Many players run Sensei's Divining Top and/or Crystal Ball. Hedron Alignment will let you dig deeper than either of those cards, assuming you can commit the mana. You may not be saying "Yes!" right now, but add it to your decks and see just how good it can be.
Also, picture it with Prophet of Kruphix! This could prove to be an amazing mana sink for a deck that is already ridiculous!
Many other alternate win condition cards offer up just the win condition. Battle of Wits does nothing other than offer you the option. Otherwise, it is a dead card in your deck. Azor's Elocutors has an alternate win condition and is also a creature—but realistically, that just makes it easier to kill. If you want, you can choose to completely ignore the alternate win condition and just enjoy your repeatable scrying all game long. This card is the bomb.
You know you wanna!
Aligning or Colliding Hedrons?
So let's break this down and see just what has to happen to win the game with Hedron Alignment.
One copy of Hedron Alignment on the battlefield. Simple. Three stinking mana and you fire it out there. Barring a counterspell or some mass enchantment removal, once it hits the battlefield, Hedron Alignment isn't going anywhere. Step one complete.
One copy of Hedron Alignment in your graveyard. Not a problem. Your opponent could counter your spell or find some way to destroy it off the battlefield. It will end up in the graveyard. Your opponent could mill your library or force you to discard cards from your hand. You could do any of those things yourself. You could use Merfolk Looter and dump Hedron Alignment from your hand to your graveyard. This is a little more difficult than just getting it on the battlefield, but not by much. Step two complete.
One copy of Hedron Alignment exiled. There are plenty of ways for you to exile your own cards. At this point, though, we are starting to put cards in the deck just to make Hedron Alignment win the game. However, it can be done! We can use Manipulate Fate, Force of Will, and several cards that exile cards from target player's library rather than put them in the graveyard. If you find your opponents are playing Eldrazi, they may involuntarily help you with your dilemma! Step three is difficult, but doable.
Hedron Alignment | Art by Craig J Spearing
One copy of Hedron Alignment in your hand during your upkeep. Getting the copy in your hand seems easy, but you'll note this is the fourth and final one. If you accidentally end up with two copies somewhere, you've got some work to do. You also need to remember that simply drawing cards is great when you are trying to find one copy (or even two) out of four that are in your deck, but drawing cards to find all four copies is a good bit more difficult. The benefit with Hedron Alignment lies in having one in play already. Every spare mana can go toward scrying for the next copy of the card.
Something else to keep in mind if you decide to go this route: it will be fairly obvious early on what you are doing. Once opponents know you are trying to win in this fashion, expect them to try and drop a second copy into exile or in the graveyard, or even steal it from you. This is asking an awful lot from your deck.
But who are we kidding; you have to try this, right?!
Let's put this together:
4 Hedron Alignment
This just makes sense. You need four of them to pull off the win, so you include all four. I'd run more if I could, and it turns out, I can.
The Impersonator only helps by giving you a second copy of Hedron Alignment on the battlefield. It will be up to you to get the copy off the battlefield and into the zone where you need it. I don't really want one in the opening hand, so I went to two copies. I also considered Copy Enchantment, but for one extra mana, I like the versatility of Clever Impersonator. I will likely be looking to copy other cards, and Clever Impersonator does it all.
Next, I want to be able to exile Hedron Alignment. My search led me to the wayback machine and Divining Witch from Nemesis. The Witch exiles cards and searches for cards, but it can be a little unpredictable. What if I lose two copies of Hedron Alignment in those first six cards that are exiled? This is hard enough without leaving things up to chance.
More recent options are Snapback (maybe not so recent, but more recent than Nemesis!) and Dig Through Time. Snapback's alternate casting cost will let you exile a Hedron Alignment directly from your hand. Snapback gives you some defense against attacking creatures, as well as the opportunity to bounce a Drift of Phantasms should the need arise. Dig Through Time lets you search deeply into your library for multiple copies of Hedron Alignment and get them into your hand. It also lets you exile a copy of Hedron Alignment from your graveyard. Having this flexibility is important when your opponents do unfortunate things. I'm also including Shelldock Isle. I don't expect to be able to play the card, but there is a chance it will find a Hedron Alignment and keep it hidden from my opponents!
Getting cards into your graveyard shouldn't be all that difficult. I think looting makes good sense with this deck, since it will get you through your library even faster. I looked at recent options and chose Monastery Siege and Zephyr Scribe. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy is an option, but that card tends to draw a lot of attention. I think I'd prefer to lie low. Fact or Fiction is another option, but it is a one-time thing, and I think I'd prefer repeated activations.
There are bound to be times when I find I have multiple copies of Hedron Alignment in my graveyard. Recall is a seriously old-school card, but it does exactly what I want.
To do all of this searching is going to involve a lot of mana. Whether we are using it to scry with Hedron Alignment to find the other Alignments, or using it to cast the spells needed to get the Alignments to align, we'll need plenty of mana in addition to the land. I've opted for Burnished Hart and Silver Myr. The Hart gives us land or a creature if needed, while the Myr provides blue mana. We'll want as much of that as we can get.
Finally, we'll want more creatures. It seems very unlikely that our opponents will not attack us once they realize what we're trying to do. We should have ways to defend ourselves. I've opted for Drift of Phantasms and Vexing Sphinxes. The Drifts will let us search for Alignments or be blockers that are difficult to get through. The Sphinxes will give us another easy way to discard an Alignment to the graveyard, while providing a strong early deterrent to everyone else.
This is very much an all-or-nothing build. You are unlikely to win many games with the creatures in the deck, particularly when you have no removal. I'm sure a better build could include green. Hedron Alignment would benefit greatly from Prophet of Kruphix letting you untap all your creatures and lands every untap step!
In the end, the flavor of Hedron Alignment is beautiful. Whether you choose to try to align the hedrons or simply scry deep, I'm confident Hedron Alignment will find a place in many of your decks.