Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, while a sweet set from a flavor perspective if you’re into Dungeons and Dragons, has gotten a lot of buzz for being a weakly constructed set. I don’t disagree, but there are some diamonds in the rough to find.
I’ve played a lot of Limited of Forgotten Realms and have yet to dip my toes into Standard or Historic, but I’ve kept my eye out while drafting for cards I think will make an impact in constructed formats.
I’m going to go over my list of the best eight cards from Forgotten Realms and five sleeper cards that aren’t on too many radars, mostly after Standard rotation.
TOP 8 CARDS FROM ADVENTURES IN THE FORGOTTEN REALMS
Loyal Warhound is a callback to Knight of the White Orchid, but in a rare turn of events, nerfed instead of power creeped. While a 3/1 Vigilance is a fine body, it’s a downside that Loyal Warhound only gets basic and puts them into play.
The card is still a nice creature for a White midrange deck, if those are ever to exist, as ramping up to something more expensive is what Loyal Warhound will want to do, as opposed to playing two spells in the same turn like Knight of the White Orchid. I can see Loyal Warhound playing nicely as a role player in a Yorion-based deck until rotation, and after that we’ll have to see if White midrange is a thing, and if so, Loyal Warhound is sure to be involved in some capacity.
7)Power Word Kill
A boring two-mana removal. This is unable to kill dragons, but it’s an effective replacement for a card like Heartless Act post-rotation. I could be wrong if Dragons are heavily played post-rotation (spoiler: I think they might be), but general cards like this see play for quite some time and rotate in and out with each other, like Eliminate, Heartless Act, and Cast Down. It’s a solid run-of-the-mill removal spell but nothing special and will have its issues.
6)Orcus, Prince of Undeath
The first time my opponent cast this in Limited, I was astonished that I hadn’t seen this card yet. Orcus fits the theme of Rakdos in Forgotten Realms perfectly. Something to sink all your excess mana into for value, either to catch up when the board blows everything up and leaves behind a big flyer or a way to bring creatures back with haste and close quickly.
While the card is expensive to do anything too absurd, it’s good at five and six mana against aggressive decks and, like Hydrois Krasis, beyond that can scale with the game. Post-rotation this card will be a player and has a chance to see some play before that, even in a Rakdos shell.
5)Iymrith, Desert Doom
Iymrith is like a fixed single color Dragonlord Ojutai but a bit worse. Its exceptionally high Ward cost when untapped makes it appealing. The biggest strike against Iymrith is Mystical Dispute. It’s hard to play five-mana, sorcery-speed cards that get Disputed.
I expect this one to see more play post-rotation, but it may show up somewhere beforehand. Iymrith will play best in a controlling-style deck where you can hold up counter magic while attacking with it to protect it and accrue value. It would seem nice in a deck that has hand disruption to empty both hands, force it through, and maybe draw multiple cards off the trigger, so a Dimir Control deck would seem like a nice fit for how the card plays out.
Solid-rate Green creature that grows and draws cards. This is a nice creature with a mildly prohibitive cost. This card looks great but is a little worse than it looks, as you’ll be winning a high number of games when attacking with six-power creatures regardless, but it’s still a good-rate creature that will close fast when unchecked. Definitely a staple creature in any aggressive deck with enough early Green sources to consistently cast it on two.
Burning Hands is my vote for the card with the most immediate impact on Standard. I may be biased having registered Mono Red Aggro the last three Standard events I played, but this is exactly the kind of card the deck was missing, as well as other Red-based decks like Izzet Dragons or Gruul.
Lovestruck Beast and Elder Gargoth were difficult for Red decks to deal with to the point that people were registering Purphoros’s Intervention. Burning Hands provides a two-mana answer to these cards while also filling roles elsewhere as a cheap removal spell potentially in other aggro match-ups. Burning Hands is the rare Forgotten Realms card that may see more play pre-rotation than post.
2)The Creature Lands
While they all have their place, the best of the bunch in my eyes are Den of the Bugbear and Hive of the Eye Tyrant. Both provide some value beyond just attacking and have the cheapest activation cost. While these lands are good on their face, they do suffer from drawing too many of them, as it’s obnoxious to play lands that come in tapped on later turns. All of these lands will for sure see some play.
This card is just incredible. While Bonecrusher Giant will keep it in check right now, it’s going to be unbelievable post-rotation. It will still be playable in Bonecrusher Giant Standard, but this is a two mana 2/2 that leaves behind two value engines — one that grows creatures and one that finds them. This is the set’s best card, and I’ll be surprised if we look back and say otherwise.
These next picks are cards I’ve seen very little or no mention of in other content and conversations. I found them playing Limited and wondered if they would be impactful in Standard.
TOP 5 SLEEPERS IN ADVENTURES IN THE FORGOTTEN REALMS
Comparable to Thassa, Teleportation Circle, this is an interesting card because it blinks both artifacts and creatures. In Limited you can blink Potion of Healing or various ETB trigger creatures. While this card has obvious applications, it can stretch a little further than Thassa, and will be played in a less powerful Standard, giving it more of a chance to shine in the format. I don’t have high hopes, but if it gets some support it could be the focal point of a deck post-rotation.
This can be a scary card to play against on an empty battlefield. Froghemoth has haste and trample, grows, exiles graveyards, and gains life. It’s about-rate for a big haste creature with flying (think Goldspan or Stormbreath Dragon). Froghemoth is a playable card in a powered-down Standard where it’s not going to run into Lovestruck Beast and Bonecrusher Giant every time it’s cast.
Innistrad is the next set that has a lot of graveyard synergies so having some way to exile cards in graveyards may gain more value. This one might be good enough in a deck that can play instant speed removal to clear its path before its cast or even after it’s blocked.
3)Xanathar, Guild Kingpin
Expensive to cast and doesn’t provide too much value off the bat. What makes this card good? If you untap with it, the game is basically over. You get to Experimental Frenzy your opponent’s deck and leave them drawing nothing but lands for the rest of the game.
This card will certainly have its issues, and seems to be more of a sideboard card for specific match-ups where your opponent can’t interact well with it, but it seems like a high-impact sideboard card that can swing games when the conditions are right. I hope and expect to see this at some point in Standard during its life cycle.
I’ve seen some people onto this one, but this card is a situationally amazing card. Mind Control with a body is generally going to be a drawback as the creature is easier to interact with than the aura, but these circumstances are not when it will shine.
I mostly see Mind Flayer as a sideboard card for creatureless or creature-light decks to bring in when removal gets sideboarded out. Additionally, it could be used in a deck with sacrifice outlets. Either way this is the kind of card that if it stays in play, it’s going to demand an answer or run away with the game. As far as immediate impact, it works incredibly well with Thassa, Deep-Dwelling.
I haven’t seen any mention of this card elsewhere, but its body is solid and its drawback is negligible if used in a tempo deck or for a defensive game plan. If played on the opponent’s turn, this will untap before the opponent’s creature taps, leaving it to play defense quite well.
One of the biggest draws to this card to me is its Dragon type. Cards like Orb of the Dragonkind, Temple of the Dragon Queen, Lymrith, Desert Doom, Inferno of the Starmounts, and Dragon Fire make it seem like Dragons might be an archetype moving forward, and Dragon Turtle is a solid playable card in that archetype. I think we may see the Dragon Turtle in action post-rotation once we lose all the overpowered Throne of Eldraine cards.
Adventures in the Forgotten Realms is a unique set with a fairly low power level, but I think that makes for a more fun Standard moving forward. Fun games and interesting decks are created when cards are constantly churning because no cards are clearly above the rest.
I’m looking forward to the future of Standard, and Adventures in the Forgotten Realms is a good start towards a more interesting, ban-free Standard.