Guide to the Shards of Alara
Updated: Jan 1
The five shards of Alara are each an experiment in what would happen if a plane existed which excluded 2 of the five colors in its construction. As it turns out this has a fundamental effect on each of the shards and its inhabitants. Every combination can be interpreted in many ways but in the case of Alara and its five shards we will have to frame our discussion around how it was intended. Let me lay it out for you so you know what I mean.
Each shard focuses on a primary color, that color informs much of the plane. In that a shard consists of a primary color, it’s two allied colors and then lacks its two enemy colors. This composition with a core color in mind is truly what makes the shards of Alara what they are. This guide is intended to give you a brief understanding of each Shard and its composition.
Bant is a shard with white as its focus meaning that it will have an emphasis on order, law, and the structures that those ideals facilitate. Its allies in turn take on some of these traits. Meaning green adds tradition to Bant and blue adds a levelheaded logic. Bant is interesting in that it is the on shard that does not consist of red and black, which means there is no focus on self on Bant, it is unique in that it is a plane that truly is one for all and all for one. With all these things in mind Bant is a shard of order, structure, peace and tradition, a place where everyone works together toward one way of life.
Esper is a shard with its focal point being blue, meaning it will be a plane of progress, and perfection; ideals that will never cease to escalate. This influences its allied colors to be colder and more calculating in regard to achieving flawlessness. White in this context is now order through perfection, meaning it will strip away its humanity for progress. Black in this context is the mechanism that removes any moral qualms about what is right or wrong on the path to perfection. Esper also lacks any Green or Red meaning there will be nor reverence for the wider world as well as a lack of compassion for others. With all of this considered we can see why Esper is the Shard of cold efficient progress, a place with no room for anything that does not conform to its ideal.
The shard of Grixis’ core color is Black and as you could imagine this focus leaves little room for anything that does not suit the individual. It is a place where there is no right or wrong, a place where death has no meaning and power is the only truth. Of course, this focus means that its allies take on their more selfish sides. Red loses compassion for rage and Blue loses perfection for uncaring manipulation. The reason why Grixis gets so out of hand is not just because Black is the core though, it also has to do with a complete lack of both Green and White. The loss of these colors means that this shard has no grander vision, no respect for those around them or the world they inhabit. It just consumes and consumes until nothing else remains.
Jund is the shard whose identity is centered around Red and everything that comes with that color: unrestrained emotions like anger, passion, and pure unstable impulse. Jund’s focus on Red means that its allies then will be a purer version of themselves. Green, who easily taps into its more primal side becomes everything that nature intends, and Black instills the one law into this shard, only the strong survive.
Like we have discussed before it is also that lack of Red’s enemy colors which pushes this further. With no Blue Jund does not care about progress and everything is slow and old on this shard. With a lack of White there are no artificial structure of order, simply just the law of the jungle and nothing more. All of this combines to create a plane where only those strong enough to take what they want to get anywhere, and this natural selection of sorts has caused its inhabitants to evolve in kind.
The Shard of Naya is one with Green at its core, shaping much of what makes it what it is. This means that Naya has a focus on the bigger picture and its place within, it is a place of balance and purpose. White in this context is then the application of this purpose and of a respect and reverence for nature and all its lessons. Red in this context is ideas such as loyalty, tribalism, and adventure. On the flip side, a lack of Green’s enemies means that Naya is not a selfish place, nor is it a place where cold efficiency is welcome. With all these factors in mind we can see that Naya is a shard of balance, a shard with a focus on a traditional culture.
This was but a brief reflection on the shards of Alara a set which defined our understanding of shards. That said this is but a fraction of the potential philosophies of each of these three-color combinations, as by leaning more, or less, into different colors new ideas can be created. If you want to learn more then be sure to join me over on Youtube. With that friends, I’ll catch you in the multiverse bye!
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