Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Set Review - Green

Instrument of the Bards - Randy Gallegos
(Instrument of the Bards | Art by Randy Gallegos)

It's... Pretty Easy Being Green

Hello, everyone! My name is Travis, and I’m a writer at Commander’s Herald! This week I’ve been asked to take a look at the green cards from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Every card in this set has been injected with so much flavor that I wouldn’t be surprised if the card stock was thicker than usual! Let's venture into this dungeon and see what treasures we can find!


Mythics


Ellywick Tumblestrum

This is my favorite card of the set. Maybe of all time, really. Ellywick Tumblestrum is full of flavor, and the perfect planeswalker to accompany players in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms.

However, as much as I love her, I don’t foresee her being played a whole bunch. Her first ability to venture into a dungeon is fun and all, but it doesn’t protect her in the slightest, which is usually important to help keep planeswalkers alive. Her next ability to fish for creatures seems pretty generically green. Since there are other planeswalkers that already have similar abilities, such as Vivien Reid, Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate, and Garruk, Caller of Beasts, and most of those planeswalkers do this ability better than Ellywick (some even going up in loyalty to use that effect), so this doesn't seem to offer a whole lot to EDH, either.

Her last ability does look very powerful, because trample and haste is a very good combination, but it also requires that you're reliably able to complete dungeons, which may be more trouble than it's worth.

Bards do their best work in groups, playing the support role to help make sure the party doesn't falter. Superfriends decks are packed to the gills already, so they may not reach for ol' Ellywick, and dungeon decks look like they're fixing up to be in Esper colors rather than in green, so Ellywick may struggle to find a home. Perhaps a green legends-matter deck could make the most of her, but overall, Ellywick may end up singing the praises of other planeswalkers more than she goes on those adventures herself.

Old Gnawbone

Wow. Just wow. The Ur-Dragon, say hello to your new best friend. (Well, that and Tiamat!)

This effect is bonkers. We've all seen how good a Sword of Feast and Famine can be when it refunds mana. Nature's Will is pretty crazy in the right decks, too! But this ability could supply way more mana, and it creates artifact tokens to boot. Korvold, Fae-Cursed King would love to have another old Dragon friend adding fodder to fuel Korvold’s greed and power (literally). Oddballs like Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest or Ich-Tekik, Salvage Splicer are excited too.

Oh, and let us not forget famous combos like Savage Ventmaw + Aggravated Assault/Hellkite Charger. Dragons that add mana are famous for creating infinite combat steps in red-green decks. Dragonlord Atarka approves.

If you're playing Old Gnawbone as a commander, you can happily add Thorn Elemental-like cards, such as Siege Behemoth, to guarantee the combat damage yields dozens of Treasure tokens. Big mana sinks, like Genesis Wave, will be downright easy to pull off. Most of all, though, the door is open for a mono-green artifact deck. Academy Manufactor is hilarious, Kuldotha Forgemaster is primed to tutor out a colossal creature or two, Darksteel Juggernaut gets real huge real fast, and Grinding Station gets so many ETB triggers when all those tokens enter the battlefield, and since you can tap and sacrifice a Treasure in between each of those untap triggers, you could attack one player for lethal while milling out another.

This Dragon is immensely powerful and is definitely here to stay. I wouldn’t be surprised if Old Gnawbone (or 'Claugiyliamatar', as she's otherwise called) becomes a green staple for years to come.

The Tarrasque

Being one of the most powerful monsters in all of Dungeons and Dragons sets the bar for its cardboard interpretation very, very high. Giving a 10/10 creature sorta-hexproof and haste when you cast it is pretty okay for nine mana, as well as the ability to fight a creature when it attacks. There are some Apex Altisaur vibes going on here, and the Altisaur appears in over 6,000 decks, but it's mostly showing up for commanders that can cheat it into play, like Atla Palani, Nest Tender and Gishath, Sun's Avatar.

It's fun to have a 10/10, especially when you cast spells like Rishkar's Expertise, but that's also true of a lot of bigger and cheaper green creatures out there. Perhaps non-combo Selvala, Heart of the Wilds will be most interested in The Tarrasque, or a fight-centric commander, like Neyith of the Dire Hunt. As has been pointed out many times on the internet, a small Sedge Scorpion or a Baleful Strix can take down this behemoth of behemoths with no downside, because The Tarrasque doesn't even have trample. Is this a good card? Yes. Is this a powerful card? Sure. Is this a really scary card? Meh. The jury’s still out. If a Squirrel token is ready to face off against this monstrosity, then I’m sure your opponents will be.


Rares


Circle of Dreams Druid

They finally stapled Gaea’s Cradle onto a creature, and it’s an Elf to boot! All of the Elf commanders out there, like Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury, Ezuri, Renegade Leader, Marwyn, the Nurturer, and Lathril, Blade of the Elves (among a dozen others) will immediately throw this card into the 99.

The amount of mana this creature can generate in token decks will also be quite impressive. Rhys the Redeemed, Emmara, Soul of the Accord, the new Chatterfang, Squirrel General, and even random commanders with mana sink abilities like Nemata, Grove Guardian or Slimefoot, the Stowaway can really abuse this ability. Seeing that Gaea’s Cradle and its reincarnated form, Growing Rites of Itlimoc, appear in approximately 17,000 and 24,000 decks, respectively, I expect this card to see very similar numbers. The one thing that holds it back is the three green pips in the mana cost, which does restrict it from decks that have three or more colors. That said, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and Karametra's Acolyte love to see those pips.

Froghemoth

At a base level, this five-mana 4/4 with trample and haste is a decent creature, and growing by eating enemy graveyards is a great bonus. We even get to select the cards to exile, like everyone's favorite Scavenging Ooze!

Unlike the Ooze, Froghemoth doesn't have to pay mana to exile cards from the grave, but it's also restricted to that ability on our turn only. One of the strengths of cards like Scavenging Ooze and Scavenger Grounds is the ability to use them at instant speed, especially since those graveyard players fill their graveyard on their own turns with stuff like Buried Alive so they can extract value right away with their Merens and Muldrothas. I suspect you'll want to already be in a stompy list if you want to use the Froghemoth, especially a list that will pump it up to huge amounts so that it can devour an entire graveyard in a single attack. Other than that, the instant-speed utility of other well-established green grave-haters may still be more worthwhile.

Instrument of the Bards

A cross between Aether Vial and Yisan, the Wanderer Bard, this legendary artifact is... interesting. Kethis, the Hidden Hand and Sisay, Weatherlight Captain decks might like it as a tool to search things up over time, and Reki, the History of Kamigawa can even cantrip off of it. If you're able to Proliferate the counters, that could get fun, too, but ultimately, this card just looks way too slow to make a proper impact in EDH.

Long Rest

Long Rest is immediately comparable to Seasons Past, except that it has a big downside: it costs a lot more mana, and it also exiles itself. Resetting to the starting life total if we pay a total of 11 mana seems just okay. Top-notch flavor, but green can already do this sort of thing a lot more efficiently, so Long Rest is probably destined for a long rest, itself.

Ochre Jelly

Slowly but surely, Wizards is providing the pieces for a black/green Ooze deck, and I am here for it. With Aeve Progenitor Ooze, Slurrk, All-Ingesting, and Umori, the Collector all coming out within the last year, this slots quite squarely into those decks. There's a pretty neat interaction with this card if it has four +1/+1 counters on it and you have either Doubling Season or Primal Vigor in play. The tokens just keep coming back, over and over. That's a lot of jelly. Bonus points if you have The Ozolith.

Ranger Class

Ranger Class introduces us to a new enchantment subtype, Class, a mash-up of Sagas and the Level Up mechanic. This iteration grants a 2/2 for two mana, the ability to minorly pump one creature when we attack for four mana, and, for a total of eight mana, gives us green's version of Future Sight, as seen on cards like Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate and Vizier of the Menagerie.

This enchantment doesn't do quite as much as the Vizier, and costs more mana anyhow, so it likely won't make much of a splash compared to its contemporaries, but keep your eyes peeled for other Classes out there, because these new enchantments are pretty dang cool.

Varis, Silverymoon Ranger

Speaking of Rangers, here we have Varis, Silverymoon Ranger. All around, this is a solid creature, but the limitation of triggering the ability once per turn really hurts this card's playability. I don't think I can even advise playing it in an Elf tribal deck, because of how stacked those decks tend to be already, but green-inclusive Human decks might have more fun with it, and it might show up for decks like Yeva, Nature's Herald, who can trigger the effect multiple times per round by casting creatures at instant speed.

Werewolf Pack Leader

This attack trigger is pretty easy to achieve in green, but it's also small beans compared to most of green's output in EDH. This card is probably waiting at least a few more months until the upcoming Innistrad sets give us new legendary Werewolf decks to play around with before it has a proper pack to lead.


Uncommons and Commons


Choose Your Weapon

The second mode of this spell is basically irrelevant, but the Unleash Fury mode is very, very cool. Unleash Fury has only shown up in a little over 3,000 decks since its release, and I'd argue that's pretty low. Spellslinger decks, especially commanders like Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest or Feather, the Redeemed, have made great use of that surprise double-up.

Green isn't hurting for power buffs, but this is a buff that makes other buffs even better. It amplifies Rishkar's Expertises and Pathbreaker Ibexes, it increases the mana output of Selvala, Heart of the Wilds, and it makes commanders like Ghalta, Primal Hunger lethal with just a single swing. Since it also bumps up the toughness, it can even help get your most important creature out from underneath a Toxic Deluge. Don't underrate this uncommon; this effect is great.

Druid Class

This uncommon Class will likely have more success than the rare Ranger Class. The lifegain is relevant for commanders like Dina, Soul Steeper and the new Trelasarra, Moon Dancer, and the additional land drop at level two is very nice for Landfall decks. Optimized decks may already be flush with Explorations and Dryad of the Ilysian Groves and Wayward Swordtooths, but those cards can be pricey, so an uncommon version is way, way kinder to budget-minded Landfall players.

Find the Path

This card will probably end up relegated pretty exclusively to Enchantress strategies, but it's still noteworthy there. It doesn't color-fix, like Gift of Paradise or even Sheltered Aerie, and the Aerie itself appears in only about 600 decks, so Find the Path may not find a ton of homes, but enchantment-based ramp is noteworthy for the decks that care about it.

Lurking Roper

This card is mostly relevant in the context of combo. For instance, with an Essence Warden in play, and a Presence of Gond attached to the Roper, we can gain infinite life and infinite 1/1 creatures. If you see this card in a deck, it's not there as a simple beater, but rather as a combo piece, so watch out for those scary-looking stalagmites.

Neverwinter Dryad

Diligent Farmhand has a new buddy! The Farmhand shows up in under 3,000 decks, but it's a fun pick for weird ramp, especially in decks that care about sacrificing creatures. It's a bit niche, but still pretty fun. Neverwinter Dryad can only find basic Forests, so it may not even reach the same low-level popularity as the Farmhand, but these are fun budget ramp pieces, especially if your deck cares about recycling lots of little creatures. I'd especially recommend it for Yedora, Grave Gardener.

Scaled Herbalist

Omnath, Locus of Creation and Tatyova, Benthic Druid decks have made use of tiny creatures like Sakura-Tribe Scout, leading to the Scout showing up in over 6,000 decks in the EDHREC database. Combined with things like Retreat to Coralhelm and a bounce land like Simic Growth Chamber, there's even the occasional infinite combo potential with all those Landfall payoffs out there. This isn't a card for just any Landfall deck, but there's a big density of tiny creatures that tap to put lands into play, and a decent number of commanders who abuse that type of ability, so the Herbalist happily swells those ranks.

Prosperous Innkeeper

Essence Warden this is not, but it still has homes. Beledros Witherbloom is the most obvious commander that will want to make use of some lifegain goodness, with Dina, Soul Steeper right behind it. Dina loves all those little individual instances of lifegain, while Beledros is happy to refund its hefty life payments. Notably, the Innkeeper doesn't specify 'nontoken', so an Avenger of Zendikar or other such token-maker will net quite a lot of lifegain triggers. You probably have to be pretty dedicated to a lifegain theme to make use of this card, but it's quite good in those places.

You Happen On a Glade

I'm not confident this card will see a lot of play - it doesn't put lands into play, so it's not technically ramp, and it's also only limited to returning permanent cards from the graveyard. Still, this is a really broad range of abilities to see on a modal spell, with one half helping the early stages of play, and the latter half favoring the late-game. Don't overlook it, is all I'm saying. Heck, it's even an instant! Kalamax, the Stormsire decks love to see that! Borborygmos Enraged, Azusa, Lost but Seeking, Sasaya, Orochi Ascendant... I feel like those commanders will really appreciate this little role-filler, but they don't have to be the only ones. I suspect this card will go underappreciated, so I wanted to give it a little spotlight here, because it's very, very cool.


The Adventure Begins!

This set oozes with flavor, really bringing Dungeons & Dragons to Magic, and green provided some powerful additions to our format. If You Meet in a Tavern, and the Prosperous Innkeeper says "It's dangerous out there", make sure to carefully Choose Your Weapon, fight the Green Dragon and enjoy the Spoils of the Hunt!

What are your favorite green cards from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, and where are you most excited to play them? Let us know!