Alara is a plane present in the Magic: The Gathering. Originally it was split up into 5 separate "Shards", which eventually merged through the plot of the block. Each of these Shards were centered on a mana color and lacked the two "enemy" colors of the main one. Each shard had an associated Planeswalker and game mechanic. This means that Alara produced five different types of decks named after the five Shards, with the names still being in use to describe decks that have those particular colors.
Shards of Alara
Shards of Alara was the first set, describing the five Shards as they were just before the Conflux hit.
Land of knightly virtue. Centered on White with Blue and Green. Associated with the planeswalker Elspeth and the Exalted mechanic, which encouraged you to only attack with one creature at a time while powering up that creature.
Land of artificers and replacing body parts with metal. Centered on Blue with Black and White. Associated with the planeswalker Tezzeret and focused on colored artifacts.
Land of death, zombies and demons. Centered on Black with Blue and Red. Associated with Nicol Bolas and the Unearth mechanic that let you bring back creatures with haste from your graveyard for a single turn, then exiling them.
Land of might makes right, ruled by dragons. Centered on Red with Green and Black. Associated with Sarkhan Vol and the Devour mechanic that let you sacrifice creatures when you summon some creatures to power them up.
Land of cat people and elves who worship enormous beasts. Centered on Green with Red and White. Associated with Ajani Goldmane and a quirky mechanic referred to as "power 5 matters" by the creators. Basically, there were different things that activated on creatures with over 5 power.
The Conflux was the cataclysmic event that merged the five Shards into a single plane. Lots of stuff went down during this time hard, with the cards focussing on these events.
After the Conflux settled down the peoples of the five Shards adapted to what had happened. Many of the cards here are crossovers between elements from the various Shards.
|Settings of Magic: The Gathering|
|Pre-revisionist:|| First Magic Sets - First Urza Block - Arabian Nights |
Legends - Homelands - Ice Age - Mirage
|Weatherlight Saga:|| Portal Starter Sets - Second Urza Block |
Tempest Block - Masques Block - Invasion Block
|Post-Weatherlight:||Otaria Block - Mirrodin - Kamigawa - Ravnica - Time Spiral|
|After the Mending:|| Lorwyn - Alara - Zendikar - New Phyrexia |
Innistrad - Return to Ravnica - Theros - Tarkir
|Two-Block Paradigm:||Kaladesh - Amonkhet - Ixalan|
|Never in a standard set:||Fiora (Where the Conspiracy sets take place)|