Adventures in the Forgotten Realms might be a relative power-down when it comes to Standard, but that doesn’t mean it lacks great Commander cards. Join Kristen as she goes over her favorite pickups from the set.
It’s already that time again — let’s review my favorite picks from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. If you didn’t catch my Modern Horizons 2 review, feel free to have a gander.
I’ll be sticking mainly to the cards with the broadest appeal, so chances are I won’t cover everything, but if I omit something, feel free to let me know afterwards. Without any further ado, let’s jump into it.
First up, Clerics are getting hooked up. In fact, a lot of tribes are getting hooked up in this set, and there are some great little commons and uncommons that you’ll want to grab, if you’re so inclined. One of these is Cleric Class, which’ll fit into not only Cleric builds, but also lifegain decks of many styles. Getting a free resurrection stapled to both an increase in lifegain and a redundant Heliod, Sun-Crowned is bonkers good. Dawnbringer Cleric is a sweet new utility creature for white, offering some good options on a relevant creature type and an even more relevant mana value.
Moving over to the battle-priests, Paladins look to be similarly strong. Guardian of Faith is my pick for one of the best new white cards in a while, and you can read my thoughts behind why designing for Arena is actually a boon to EDH here. In short: being able to keep Auras, Equipment, and counters on a creature, while simultaneously being able to dodge -X/-X, bounce, and exile wraths? Excellent.
There’s not much I can say about Oswald Fiddlebender that won’t be said in a couple-thousand more words as brewers around the world get excited by this incredible new white option. A Birthing Pod for artifacts, Oswald is sure to make a splash. While he makes a great option in the command zone, he’s bound to show up in Osgir, Teshar, and Koll, at the very least.
Another of my favorites from the set, The Book of Exalted Deeds, is a fantastic new payoff for lifegain decks. Lowering the requirement to make an Angel token to three life means the Angel will be slightly smaller, but a 3/3 flyer is still a great body.
Don’t miss the interaction with Mutavault and Faceless Haven; plus, Darksteel Forge and Sterling Grove can help an Angel’s Tomb or Answered Prayers make it a lot more difficult for you to lose the game once you’ve activated the Book. Remember that the enlightened counter is just a reminder, though — you can’t use The Ozolith to keep the counter going, as it’s the creature the counter is put on that gains the rule, not the counter itself.
Teleportation Circle is a brilliant addition to white’s options without bringing in other colors. While flicker decks have historically been better for adding blue, it’s now increasingly possible to get away without doing so. Being a mana cheaper than Conjurer’s Closet does mean you lose the ability to steal creatures (they come back under their owner’s control, boo!), but it’s still great to have this card. God-Eternal Oketra might be next on my build list.
Demilich is a spellslinger’s dream. Reminiscent of Living Lore, Demilich asks a lot less to get some spell recursion going. The fact it can be recurred from the yard by exiling spells makes it a cut above Living Lore, for sure. It’s also a Skeleton Wizard, which is kinda gnarly.
Flicker decks are indeed looking exciting, and although Trickster’s Talisman makes tokens, I’d still say those are the sorts of decks that want to take advantage of it: decks with lots of powerful ETBs. At one mana to play and two to equip, it’s at that magic cheap end of the scale. What’s more, if you clone a Sun Titan with this, you can bring it straight back.
If Wizard Class only offered no maximum hand size for one blue, it still might be playable in Enchantress builds. But since it also gives you the ability to cast Divination when it’s convenient and turn cards drawn into +1/+1 counters, I’d say it’s quite the catch.
Wizard’s Spellbook is a seven-mana spell, so I realize it isn’t for everyone. But, for those who enjoy their EDH with splashy spells and big moments, I can’t think of a better card in the set. The upside of note is being able to exile cards from an opponent’s graveyard to fuel the recursion. In a dedicated dice rolling deck, this is gonna be nuts, but it’ll do some work in Spellslinger builds, regardless.
As Scott pointed out in his article last week, the modal cards in this set are pretty darn good. You Find the Villains’ Lair is one of the better ones, at that. Being able to hold up interaction or the option to see more cards has always been good in Commander, and it’s why Mystic Confluence sees so much play. This is competition for your tertiary counterspell slots, and likely makes the primary role in decks that play with the graveyard.
Hey, it’s Grisel-potence. Necro-brand? I think I like Necro-brand, let’s go with that.
Asmodeus (Amadeus!) is the product of twisted debauchery between the banned Griselbrand and popular card draw engine Necropotence. This is thankfully a lot slower than Griselbrand, and can’t sustain itself. It also doesn’t have evasion or trample. It does help with getting through Narset and other card draw denial, though. I expect this card to do a lot of work in the right deck, and the Cabal Coffers reprint couldn’t have come at a better time. If you’re afraid of removal, activate the ability to return the cards to your hand first, and then activate the ability to draw seven before it resolves.
Lolth is a cleverly designed planeswalker when it comes to Commander. The decks she’ll see the most play in are no doubt going to be Aristocrats builds that sacrifice a lot of creatures. As that’s the way to get loyalty counters onto her, she should stick around to draw you cards for quite some time — especially making tokens with reach.
Sphere is a really cool board wipe. Exile-based removal is usually pretty expensive or hard to cast, and this does give some warning to the other players. I love that it exiles graveyards, too.
Another card that screams mono-black, Vorpal Sword is the kind of weapon that’ll have your Voltron commander unable to resolve or last a rotation of the table. I think this’ll be better in non-Voltron builds, personally — you can already make a player lose the game with combat damage in Voltron. I’m eyeing it up for Liesa, actually, where I play Manascape Refractor and Cabal Coffers.
Speaking of Liesa, I do love a good Wound Reflection. Whether Warlock Class will see play outside of Virtus & Gorm and other decks that use Quietus Spike is debatable, but again — I like it for Liesa because it comes down early, and levelling it up won’t cost me life.
Inferno of the Star Mounts is a pretty spicy card. If you like rituals, you’re going to like this one. It’ll find homes in Neheb, the Eternal and Drakuseth, Maw of Flames, for sure. Flying and haste are some of the best keywords in casual EDH these days.
Treasures has been a win condition for a while now with Revel in Riches, but when you add in MH2’s Rise and Shine and Xorn to the mix, things get even easier. Whether you’re going Pirates, Dwarves, or straight up Treasure, I like Xorn quite a bit.
Aside from the Dragons themselves, the tribe is getting a lot of love in the set — but that was to be expected. I like all three of these in both Dragon decks and changeling decks (decks that play “Tribal” tribal). Minion does its best Ur-Dragon impression, Dragon’s Fire rewards going big, and Orb of Dragonkind is just sweet value on a rock. I loved Cursed Mirror, and I love this, too.
Another Elf mana dork, this time with the sought-after Gaea’s Cradle text. Elf decks already have Priest of Titania, but other go-wide builds that aren’t Elf tribal will be interested in this, especially if they don’t go tall enough for Selvala, Heart of the Wilds.
Scavenging Ooze grew up! Trample and haste make Froghemoth viable as a wrecking ball. I actually really love this little card, and I think it’ll do a lot to curb graveyard decks. It’s definitely a proactive value card as opposed to surgical removal, so it’ll be build dependent. Think Neyith, or Xenagos.
This harp is no Survival of the Fittest, and it’s also no Yisan, The Wanderer Bard. Coupled with ways to get extra Treasure and the right assortment of legendary creatures, it’s perfectly viable, though. It’s a lot more viable than Long Rest, which I think is a little too magical-Christmas-land.
Ah, finally, a good green card.
Old Gnawbone is one of the strongest cards in the set. Converting creature combat damage into Treasures is something that never should have been given to a color that can give those same creatures trample and deathtouch so easily, but here we are. Even the seven mana is more than achievable in green. Just make sure you have something to spend that Treasure on — I do love a cheeky Squall Line.
Most effects that let you look at the top of your library and cast creatures from it in green are already at least four mana. Paying a little along the way for a Wolf token and a way to make attacking creatures bigger isn’t too shabby. Ironically, I expect Ranger Class to see a lot of play in Werewolf tribal builds.
As someone who doesn’t play much D&D, I can be mostly indifferent to people thinking The Tarrasque is underpowered. Sure, it doesn’t have trample, but I think that’s fine. Not every green creature needs it. It seems like a sweet piece of tech for my Neyith deck, and that makes me happy.
Varis is an interesting one to me. Green loves to cantrip from playing creatures, and Varis doesn’t quite do that, but he does offer some incidental value by venturing into the dungeon and eventually popping out a 2/2 token. Combined with an easily searchable legendary 3/3 body with reach and ward 1, Varis might just be worth passing up a cantrip for in the right decks.
I don’t really think I can say much more when it comes to Werewolf Pack Leader than “Hello, Werewolf Tribal card draw!” It’s still good outside of tribal, though, requiring only power six or greater of creatures attack — not a big hurdle at all.
Boros has gotten a lot of love when it comes to Equipment lately, and AFR continues that trend. Bruenor is another source of free equips, something that makes more expensive Equipment a lot better. Fighter Class gives discounted equips and a way to go grab whatever Equipment you need, which is honestly giving Stoneforge Mystic a run for its money.
We’ve got some sweet two-drops to slot into your existing builds, or just put in the command zone if you’re feeling frisky. Anowon, Ruin Thief will slap Krydle straight in, and a two-drop with high synergy that makes Anowon unblockable is just what the deck wants. Trelasarra slots into lifegain strategies well, too. Putting a scry on an Ajani’s Pridemate is a marked improvement.
There’s some great new Commander options for Simic and Rakdos here, too. Orcus is pricey, but in the right deck, he can do a lot of work, particularly if you opt to fish him out of the graveyard. Volo, on the other hand, gives Simic another option that isn’t strictly playing lands and drawing cards, which is always good to see.
Rounding things out is Treasure Vault. Don’t skip the fact this is an artifact land. It can be taken advantage of with Osgir, for starters, and it’s just a generally sweet way to accrue value for later turns. This is probably going to see a decent amount of play.
Adventures in the Forgotten Realms has a surprising amount of viable Commander cards, and some, like Teleportation Circle, that I expect to see reach staple status one day. The class cards are all great, and I’m sure you can find one for your build.
All that, and we’ve not even touched on the dice rolling synergy and myriad tribal cards in the set like Hobgoblin Bandit Lord, Plundering Barbarian and Acererak (better with Rooftop Storm!). Let me know what your top picks are for the set on Twitter. Did I miss anything?
Kristen is a lover of both Limited and Commander, and can most often be found championing the Boros Legion when called upon to sit down and shuffle up. As a member of the Commander Advisory Group, Kristen lives and breathes Commander. When she’s not playing Magic, she works as a freelance writer and editor in the UK.