Martin Goldman-Kirst's Recruits (Aluren Deck Tech)

Posted in Event Coverage on November 8, 2015

By Mike Rosenberg

Mike Rosenberg is a writer and gamer and has been part of the Magic text coverage team since 2011. He joined Wizards as organized play’s content specialist in June 2014.

With the start of Day Two, it was only natural to bring some undefeated players into the feature match area. One such match pitted sixteenth-ranked Shaun McLaren, playing Jeskai Miracles, against Martin Goldman-Kirst, who was playing something a little more off the wall.

I started following their match a little more closely as McLaren found himself on the back-foot once Goldman-Kirst stuck the namesake card of his deck: Aluren. When McLaren went for an end-of-turn Terminus via Sensei's Divining Top to wipe out the Baleful Strix, Deathrite Shaman, Eternal Witness, and Imperial Recruiter that Goldman-Kirst had mustered, the Aluren player had quite the follow-up.

"Still end-of-turn…" Goldman-Kirst said.

"Recruiter?" That got another Imperial Recruiter.

"Recruiter?" That also got another Imperial Recruiter.

"Recruiter?" Take a guess.

"Recruiter?" Well, out of Recruiters. What's next?

"Dream Stalker, returning Recruiter?" Ah, okay. Now I see.

"Dream Stalker, returning Recruiter?" If you're counting at home, that's six Imperial Recruiter triggers.

"Cavern Harpy, replay Recruiter?" Make that seven.

"Parasitic Strix?" Well, guess you're dead then, McLaren, at the surprise of nobody in the match or spectating once Goldman-Kirst started chaining Imperial Recruiters.

In the second game, once Mclaren's resources were down to just lands, Goldman-Kirst was able to place the Aluren once again.

Martin Goldman-Kirst, showing the combo sequence.

However, in that game, Goldman-Kirst did not need to go through the motions of the combo. With that, Goldman-Kirst went on to 10-0, furthering his lead in a race to clinch the Top 8.

Goldman-Kirst started his adventure into Magic with the release of Judgment back in 2001, but he started playing competitive with the release of Time Spiral in 2005. "This is the first deck I committed to in Legacy," said Goldman-Kirst, who has been playing Aluren in Legacy for roughly six years. His experience with the deck led to some success on the open-style tournament circuit where he saw a quarterfinals finish at the Open Series tournament in Seattle back in July 2012, the first open-style tournament he played in.

Aluren, a card printed way back in 1997, has had moments in competitive play as a card that was anything but fair, as it was the enabler for powerful enters-the-battlefield effects when paired with a creature that can return another creature you control to your hand. Perhaps the most famous pairing with Aluren, and still a staple that holds Martin Goldman-Kirst's deck together, is Cavern Harpy.

Cavern Harpy seems simple enough. It flies, it's cheap, and because of the two being paired together, it requires you to return a creature to your hand when it comes in. However, the "pay 1 life" clause allows for you to keep returning it to your hand. When your creatures are all being cast for free, Cavern Harpy goes from fairly innocuous flier to "Pay 1 life: Replay that Eternal Witness, Imperial Recruiter, Baleful Strix, or Parasitic Strix. Go on. You earned it."

That latter creature, by the way, is what makes Aluren so deadly. Not only are you able to cast your creatures for free, but at instant speed, allowing a simple Imperial Recruiter to assemble a lethal combination when paired with effects such as Dream Stalker and Cavern Harpy.

That being said, sticking an Aluren and recruiting a combo isn't the only way to win.

"I've won 16 games this weekend," Goldman-Kirst explained (he started the tournament with two byes). "Only 10 of those wins were from the combo."

The thing about Aluren is that, when your combo is so heavily tied to creatures and it's only one enchantment that lets you effectively go off, you sometimes simply win because you happen to deal lethal damage with those creatures. "This deck played like Splinter Twin does in Modern," Goldman-Kirst explained. "It can win a fair game, but you also have a combo in your deck."

Goldman-Kirst's comparison makes a lot of sense. Splinter Twin tends to play a solid combo strategy the majority of time in Modern, but when your deck has some Snapcaster Mages, some Pestermites, and some Deceiver Exarchs paired with some burn spells, sometimes you just win games the fair way through creature and spell damage rather than making the coveted "infinity faeries." Aluren can do the same; sometimes you get Aluren into play, have an Imperial Recruiter in hand, and your opponent just loses. Other times, you out-attrition your opponent with Baleful Strix and Eternal Witness along with Imperial Recruiter, and they just attack enough that your opponent succumbs to creature combat.

The key outlier, however, is that Aluren is always going to be present even in post-sideboard matches. "No combo pieces come out," Goldman-Kirst emphasized, though he mentioned willingness to shave a Dream Stalker here and there when sideboard tech needs to come in. In Legacy, especially when battling against attrition-based strategies, a lot of Aluren's creatures provide an immediate form of value. It's not unlikely at all that you just win because you are the last one with cards in hand and creatures in play.

That said, a lot of the time, you are just winning because an Aluren is on the battlefield.

Goldman-Kirst already was coming off a big weekend, as he earned a qualification for Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch at Vancouver's Regional Pro Tour Qualifier. This will mark Goldman-Kirst's seventh trip to the Pro Tour. If he keeps this up, he may do it with some Grand Prix success added to his career resume.

Martin Goldman-Kirst – Aluren

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