After looking through the spoiler list for AFR, I’ve come to the conclusion that Modern is in fact the Forgotten Realm the name is referencing. It’s clear that Wizards of the Coast wants to power down Standard after Throne of Eldraine rotates out of the format this fall. Unlike many recent Standard sets, AFR is unlikely to yield any breakout Modern staples.
But don’t worry — there are still some solid role players in this set. Here are my Top 5 Modern picks from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms.
When I started putting together this list, Wish seemed like a no-brainer. Combo decks that are soft to discard spells can gain a lot of redundancy by slotting in a few copies of Wish, and having a copy of their relevant pieces in the sideboard. This is common practice in Legacy Storm decks, where all but one of the deck’s win conditions are found in the sideboard. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see Modern Storm decks adopt the same strategy.
Storm is likely the best home for Wish — the deck makes an excess of mana and wants to cast additional spells to win the game. I suspect that we may also see other combo decks begin to adopt Wish in the future.
Scrooge McDuck’s swimming pool, better known as Treasure Vault, has made its way into Modern, where it will surely slot right into Affinity. Untapped artifact lands don’t need to be game-breakingly powerful in order to see play — just ask Vault of Whispers! Having more zero-mana cards with the word “artifact” on them plays well with “affinity for artifact” cards, plus Urza’s Saga, Cranial Plating, and Nettlecyst. Plus, if you don’t need another artifact on your board, it can explode like some kind of Treasure token pinata to piece together some surprise kills with the aforementioned cards.
Treasure Vault is also quite nice with Urza, Lord High Artificer. Not only does Urza let Treasure Vault tap for blue, but the Treasure tokens do a good Seat of the Synod impression. Normally, making those Treasures would be pretty expensive with the XX rate, but Urza makes sure you have all the mana you’ll need. You know what they say — you need mana to make mana.
Phasing, why does it always have to be phasing?
I’m not exactly sure which faith is being guarded here, but guarding other Spirits seems likely. Flash? Check. Spirit creature type? Yup. Enter the battlefield effect? Got it. Flying? Absolutely. Guardian of Faith has checked all of the boxes required to be on the Spirits Squad.
Guardian of Faith can be a versatile life saver, blanking both targeted removal and board wipes alike — which is a big deal for a tribal creature deck. I would also expect to see Guardian of Faith show up in most of the white-based Aether Vial decks, as those decks are usually forced to commit to the board, leaving themselves vulnerable to a timely Supreme Verdict.
Varis, Silverymoon Ranger is sneakily powerful. A three-mana 3/3 is a fine body, but having Elf and Human in the type line is a boon for Varis‘s playability. Both Elves and Humans tend to be built with somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 creatures, so Varis‘s triggered ability will have you speed running dungeons with ease. Humans’ bread and butter are creatures with reasonable bodies that stack up value over the course of the game; getting a bonus on each creature cast is right on plan. That doesn’t even account for the Wolf token that you get at the end of each dungeon! Elves makes its money by casting multiple creatures early in the game, and with Realmwalker, you can keep the value train rolling. Both Elves and Humans have the ability to pump Varis into a formidable attacker, too. We may also end up seeing a copy in the various Chord of Calling and Eladamri’s Call toolbox decks.
Asmodeus the Archfiend is what your mom was talking about when she said that you have Griselbrand at home. Though, honestly, “Griselbrand at home” may have legs of its own. Or, now that I think about it, Necrotic Ooze may make good use of Asmodeus‘s legs.
Using Stitcher’s Supplier, Grisly Salvage and other assorted self-mill cards, you can bin Asmodeus, Skirge Familiar, Viscera Seer, Walking Ballista, and Endurance. Once you’re there, you have access to infinite mana by using Persist to pick up Ooze, if you need one to start. You can also bring back Endurance and sacrifice it to Viscera Seer‘s ability with the Endurance ability on the stack targeting yourself. Once you have that loop going, you can use Walking Ballista‘s ability to put counters on Necrotic Ooze, and then remove them with Walking Ballista‘s other ability to kill your opponent.
This may sound like a lot, but really all you need is a Necrotic Ooze in play with an Asmodeus in the graveyard, and you’ll have a lot of looks at finding the rest of the setup pieces. It is worth noting that Unmarked Grave can put everything except Asmodeus into the graveyard, so that is a worthy inclusion.
It’s always nice to see a set bring along some supporting members to the party, as well as some more obviously powerful cards like Asmodeus. Adventures of the Forgotten Realms is chock full of flavor and cool cards, so before I depart for a Long Rest, I’d love to know what your favorite AFR card is! Be sure to let me know on Twitter at @RappaciousOne.
Michael Rapp is a Modern specialist who favors Thoughtseize decks. Magic sates his desire for competition and constant improvement.