Ahh. To be able to build a true Wizards’ deck. An all Alpha deck, or Alpha40 as it is called these days. That is the dream.
I mean. As I have mentioned several times, I really like Beta cards. Alpha cards are, of course, mythic. They are rare. They are beautiful. And they are ridiculously expensive. But I actually in many ways prefer Beta. Probably because I know I will never be able to afford the really great cards in Alpha (nor will you ever see a mailday post with beta power, but still), but maybe also because I dislike inconsistencies in my decks. For example I would not like to play two Beta Lightning Bolts in the same deck I play two Unlimited Lightning Bolts. Or play a Revised Force of Nature next to a German FBB one. Alpha is in some ways simply inconsistent because of their special corners alone.
Some years ago I bought an Alpha Demonic Tutor. It was priced almost the same as Betas. I still don’t know why. But it kinda felt off in my decks. So I traded it to a very nice, clean Beta copy and a playset of Alpha Twiddle (the big text!). At that point I pretty much decided, that I didn’t want Alpha cards except for a few, that looked better than their Beta counterparts (for example BIG TEXT!): Primarily Twiddle, Icy Manipulator (still need these), Mana Short (also still need these), Drain Life and maybe Unsummon and Force of Nature at one point – because of the mistakes printed on them.
Therefore I surprised myself a lot a couple of months back, when I thought to myself, that I should consider making an Alpha40 deck. The main reason I considered it, was because the Northern Paladins’ Alpha40 ruleset seems very interesting and rather balanced. I have heard several people playing it, saying it is a great format full of fun interactions, and even though it is still possible for the highest of rollers to build incredibly powerful decks, you can play – and win! – with a deck not containing any power.
Another reason, why I thought I should build an Alpha deck is because a deck consisting of only Alpha cards is not only a piece of history or art, it is also a kind of Holy Grail… A true Wizards’ deck!
What to play
When looking through my collection I managed to round up these Alpha cards:
There are most black and green cards. And black-bordered black cards are just very sexy. I really like my playset of Pestilence. Also, I need a playset of black-bordered Dark Rituals anyway. So I decided that my first Alpha40 deck should be a mono black control/burn.
The deck should be based on big toughness dudes/walls (think Obsianous Golem and Wall of Bone), Pestilence and Drain Life. Maybe Sinkhole, Black Vise and Copper Tablet at some point. Maybe, but probably not, Hypnotic Spectors. Possibly more than four Dark Rituals, but they are probably too expensive for me to buy more than a playset of.
I tried to assemble a copy of the deck in a simulator, and even though I have no idea what to expect from other Alpha40-players, I was rather sure, that the monoblack pile would never win anything. I know monoblack decks can be a very considerable force in the format, but I think one of the most important cards, are Hypnotic Spector, and I am pretty sure, I will never buy three of those in Alpha. But more importantly than the apparent lack of ability to win, I didn’t find the monoblack deck very interesting or, more importantly, fun to play.
Combo, of course!
So I looked at my available cards once again, and found that I had to build something with the Enchantresses. And what else than a combo deck?
I don’t know if anyone has ever tried to build an Alpha40 combo deck, but I DO enjoy playing big spells, and I do not enjoy attacking.
After some theory-crafting, I came up with an Enchantress built with Wild Growths, some Mana Flares and some x-spells.
This will be a looooooong journey.
See, the funny thing here is, that I am pretty sure that even if I ever manage to assemble 40 Alpha cards in a working deck – and that is a big “if” – I will probably never get to play it, much less win anything. I simply don’t have the funds to build a streamlined, good deck, and I probably won’t have the time to participate in any Alpha40 tournaments.
But for me, this is not about winning – or even playing with the deck. This is about making something truly special. It is a project. A journey.
It is also rather irrational.
Many of the cards I need to build these decks are incredibly expensive just because they are Alpha. The basic lands alone, I need for one of the decks would be about €350! Most of the cards, I already own in Beta or other newer expansions. Therefore this is a rather absurd use of money, and it is one of those times where I have to remind myself that not everyone is as absurdly privileged as I am.
So I have decided to make the journey even more difficult, or at least more expensive. I have set up the following rule: Every time I buy an Alpha card that is stupidly bad, that I already own other Swedish legal copies of, or that I will never play in anything but Alpha40, I will donate half the cards’ price to charity helping less fortunate children.
I will keep you updated, but don’t expect this to be a short journey. It will take a long time to finish. I expect to use a lot of my cardboard money in 2021 on this project. But still.