Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Set Review - Gold
Hey You, You're Finally Awake
...Wait, what do you mean that's not from D&D? Goodness, I can't keep all these crossovers straight!
Anyway, hello, everyone! It’s your friendly neighborhood Jesguy here, and welcome to the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Gold Set Review! While I have merely dabbled in Dungeons & Dragons in the past, I am a huge fan of The Legend of Drizzt and Dragonlance series, and as such, this set has sent my heart soaring with all of the wonderful references and depictions of familiar creatures and characters.
Today, I'll be taking you through all of the gold cards from this set, most of which also happen to be all legendary creatures! With a whopping 24 cards to get through today, let's not waste any time! Time to venture deep into the dungeons of Faerûn and see who we can convince to join our humble party!
Minsc, Beloved Ranger
There is nothing more I could have asked for than starting this review off with the most beloved creature ever printed. And also Minsc, too, I suppose.
Despite the cuteness and flavor, Minsc is fairly straightforward (get ready to hear that a lot in this review). Aside from creating Boo when he enters the battlefield,ends up being a glorified sac outlet/pump spell in the command zone.
Thanks to Minsc's ability to modify your creature's power and toughness, there are a number of interesting cards that can be included in his deck. Eggs, to turn your creatures into value!doubles the damage of any creature that Minsc modifies, since it becomes a Giant in addition to its other types. You can even pay zero mana to turn a creature you control into a 0/0, causing it to immediately die! This works as a pseudo-sacrifice outlet by turning a creature into 0/0. Not only that, but you can add creatures with death triggers, like or and her
is a fun, linear Naya commander whose appeal is in part due to Boo's incredible token. I don't believe he provides anything new to this color combination aside from his power/toughness modification, but that itself can be a draw for some people. Overall, I'm pretty favorable about , and if you do decide to build him, don't forget: go for the eyes!
Tiamat, First of Her Name, Stormborn, The Queen Across the Sea, The Silver Queen, The Dragon Queen, The -
Wait, wrong crossover again? Dang it.
Dragon Tribal commander. Do I think she will surpass it? No. However, I do think she is the next best option for a strict Dragon tribal build. The Dragon Queen is straightforward, letting you tutor through your deck for five Dragons with different names if you cast her. Hand-picking five Dragons is incredibly strong and scary.is a powerful commander, a popular character, and one that could have the ability to rival 's yet-uncontested spot as the most popular
Aside from being able to tutor , it seems like the best way to utilize is with just some good old-fashioned value.for one half of the
is a high priority tutor target, as you can play her, untap your lands, and play another Dragon or two. helps spawn more Dragons the more we play. ramps up our... well, ramping. gives all of our Dragons haste. can provide additional combat steps. And of course, can make a bunch of them cheaper! Your suite of Dragons is a toolbox with at the helm, so use it to your full advantage!
While she's admittedly simple, I think or into decks, because her tutor ability only triggers when she enters the battlefield if you cast her, so keep that in mind!a worthy alternative to should you be looking to delve into Dragon tribal, so make sure to check her out if you're interested! Just be wary of including
Xanathar, Guild Kingpin
As someone who enjoys utilizing my opponents'
hubris cards against them, is right up my alley.
The worst thing I can say about Xanathar is the fact that the turn he comes down, he's equivalent to a vanilla 5/6. This means you won't be able to cast him without some kind ofbackup very often.
Aside from that, I think Xanathar is an absolute blast, and is a much healthier version of. The Triplets give you access to a third color, but they often cause incredibly unfun game states, since they exhaust the table's resources, making it harder and harder for them interact with you as you snowball. While that's obviously more powerful, Xanathar's restriction to casting spells from the top of an opponent's library not only prevents you from soft-locking players out of the game, but it also gives you a potentially larger pool of cards to access.
By usingand other cards that can give you multiple upkeeps, as well as clones that let you copy legends (like ), you can target multiple players a turn, giving you multiple decks to steal from all at once. Along with those, cards that can fiddle with the top of other players' libraries will be imperative, such as and . You can even add in a to tutor things up to the top of the deck, causing you and the opponent you target to get into a veritable blinking contest (ba dum tss)! Along with these, thanks to Xanathar's even mana value, is a potential companion to the Guild Kingpin, giving you an extra way to churn through the top of enemy libraries while stealing their prized cards.
While I think .can be a bit clunky to start, once his deck gets moving, I think it'll be a powerful one. There is a lot of politicking and manipulation involved in a deck like this, and will often lead to interesting and varied gameplay experiences when compared to its
Tune your lyre and make sure those voice lessons your parents got for you 20 years ago didn't go to waste, because you need to get ready for your!
Nowadays, there are a few things I look for in cards: if they can support an archetype, if they are fun, and if they are niche, and Legends-Matter is a popular theme on the site, consisting of over 2,200 decks on the site at the time of writing, and that strategy is exactly where this Class fits.(along with all the other classes I am about to talk about) check off all three boxes.
Since over 1,400 of these Legends decks are five-color, that givesquite a few homes, even if the two mana it produces every turn can't always be fully used. This means that Level 1 and Level 3 of this Class will do most of the heavy lifting, making all of your legendary creatures bigger while also accruing card advantage over time.
is really neat, and a welcome addition to decks revolving around legendary spells. Most often, you will want to level it up as quickly as possible in order to get its full effect! Don't let the increasing mana cost of each Level fool you - if Flashback has taught me anything, it's that paying in increments is not only easily doable, but is powerful, so get singing!
I've been wanting WotC to cool it with all the W/R Equipment support over the past few sets since they've been printing so much of it, but I'll make an exception for. This card is a banger.
Not only is this card's baseline a budget Equipment decks some desperately wanted removal, reminiscent of .and , but its also has built-in Equip reduction and built-in removal, all on a single card. That is incredible. The best part about is that each mode of it actually feels like a bonus. For two mana, I am happy to simply tutor an Equipment out of my deck, period. If that's all the card does that game, that's fine. It served its purpose. But it only gets better! While Level 2 costs three mana, it immediately refunds two of it on your first Equip cost, meaning you have realistically only spent one mana! Level 3 is just gravy if you ever get to it, giving
12,027 decks that shows up in, only 1,304 of them cannot play , meaning that there are over 10,000 Equipment decks that will happily include this card. Decks that include tell a similar story: there are over 8,500 decks using the Gift, and only 1,088 of them would be unable to use , which is still a total of 7,412 decks! Those are some impressive numbers!is cheap, strong, and it pulls a lot of work in the decks that want it, and a lot of decks want it. Of the
Along with this, there are even homes in certain niche Enchantress decks, like , too. Ghen can use this to tutor a pair of or out of the deck, then use as sacrifice fodder to reanimate a bigger enchantment! I'm super stoked about and its incredible utility. Great addition to the format. A+
Now just stop with the Boros Equipment theme, WotC. We've already seen it in four of the six sets this year. This card is nice, but give it a rest.
is cute. It's a combination of a conditional mana rock, an , and a... ...Wait, what was that last one?
None of these effects on their own are worth the total seven mana, but all of them being on a single card, and being able to pay in installments, goes a long way. Early game, it makes double-spelling easier while also having a one-shot bounce effect to interact with nonland permanents. Then, with Level 3, having a consistent source of card advantage on each of your turns is great. Getting access to card advantage similar to 11,768, and 46,136 decks, respectively. Those do cost a whole lot less mana, though.or the aforementioned , can be wonderful, which is why they're in
Two decks that I think will take full advantage ofare , and . Vega is always looking for new cards that cast spells from places other than the hand, while Raff is always looking for easier ways to play spells on other player's turns, and 's cost reduction and card advantage will allow him to do just that. While not overtly powerful, has a handful of different smaller pieces that make it better than the sum of its parts.
If there is one thing in Commander that I love, it's stealing spells and playing other people's decks, andfacilitates that splendidly.
From the moment you cast, it begins doing work, as long as you have creatures on board. Creatures with flying, deathtouch, or other evasive keywords work best here, since they can immediately get in for damage and start pilfering our opponents' spells. If you lack ways to get in for damage, worry not! Level 2 will give your entire team menace, increasing their evasiveness considerably and then netting even more cards. Then finally, Level 3 is our big payoff, letting us play any cards that we've exiled through combat for as long as is in play. Gosh, this card is great.
Despite all the praise and application, there are two downsides to this class. First, unlike any of the Classes that we've talked about before,provides no inherent advantage the turn we play it, since the cards we exile can't be played until Level 3. Second, is not worded like or . If is ed, we lose all the cards we had exiled beneath it. Due to the raw amount of card advantage this Class can provide, it is imperative that your s and s protect to keep the cards flowing. It won't be out of the realm of possibility that the stack of cards exiled with will dwarf the amount of cards in your hand, so defend it accordingly.
I'm not sure if it is just because I am a bit of a kleptomaniac, but I thinkis incredibly fun, and incredibly strong, even if you have to put a bit more work into it than the other Classes. It lets us use opponent's goodies against them, and also provides oodles of card advantage. What more could you want?
Spellslinger enabler and payoff!is solid, and while it doesn't do anything new for U/R, it is both a great
This classs upon entrance, turns all of our creatures into mana dorks for your spells, and then does a great impression to burn out the table. Seems great!
Bothand can take full advantage of . Both of these decks include a mass of cards that create tokens when you cast spells, things like , , and , which allow this Class's Level 2 ability to produce a ton of mana to help us cast spells. Level 3 gets out of control with Veyran in particular, since she'll make Class trigger twice per spell cast, cutting in half the total number of spells you need to cast to obliterate the table!
Spellslinger decks everywhere.is solid, straightforward, and powerful. Not only is it an enabler, but it provides redundancy to game-enders like and and is an incredible inclusion to
Adult Gold Dragon
s a big ol' beater with a handful of keywords akin to something like .
As fun of a design as "keyword soup" is, I don't think it does much for thehere. It's best at home in decks, where it only costs four mana, or for decks that include red where it gets an extra three power and toughness, but I don't think it has many other places in the format. Even those spots are a bit dubious. Beaters are easy to come by in Commander, and while this has a handful of attractive keywords, it doesn't really do a whole lot. I think will end up relegated to bulk bins.
WHEEEEEEW, LAD, HERE COMES MY BOY. WE FINALLY HAVE A DRIZZT CARD!!! 🥳🥳🥳
I don't think Voltron decks, Drizzt only needs to get to 11 power to threaten a K.O., making him very deadly very fast.is a groundbreaking design, but I think he can be quite the backbreaking commander. Double strike paired up with the ability to get bigger is a potent combination that can easily end up knocking players out with commander damage. Unlike most
There are a few different ways that you can build Drizzt. The first is with +1/+1 Counters, utilizing cards like and to quickly turn our Drow into a one-shot machine. Another kind of tool for this deck are sacrifice effects like and . With them, we can sacrifice creatures that are bigger than Drizzt, such as Guenhwyvar or , to pump our Ranger and also accrue additional value. Another cheeky piece of tech is . We can cast this on an opponent's creature mid-combat, pumping their power, dealing a boatload of damage, and then granting Drizzt a ton of counters when they lose the ed creature, priming us for an alpha strike on our turn!
There are other interesting inclusions to a Drizzt deck, like his page on the site! While plays around with themes that are often associated with G/W, he twists them on their ear, providing a very different play experience when compared to other +1/+1 counter commanders., , and , just to name a few, so make sure you check out
Orcus, Prince of Undeath
is a big ol' Demon who wants to helm a big late-game B/R control deck, but I'm not sure if he's worth the effort.
The biggest issue plaguing Orcus is the fact that his mana cost is a lie. There is almost no situation where you will end up casting him for four mana, since he will end up as just a 5/3 flampler. Orcus wants to be cast for 8+ mana, utilizing rituals likeor + to either wipe the board or get a handful of creatures back from your graveyard. If his second mode got back each creature from the graveyard with mana value X or less, we'd be having a different conversation, but since it can only get back creatures that all total to X or less, it's a lot trickier.
While I am usually a fan of modal cards, I think all of Orcus's collective costs are too prohibitive. The ability to pivot between aor a flexible is neat, but I don't think it's worth all of the set-up, especially since it costs you so much time and life to do it. If you're looking to play a slow, grindy Rakdos deck, fill that role, instead, letting you pack your deck full of interaction so you can utilize your opponent's own threats against them. If you like Rakdos reanimator, is already doing that job really well.
While I like's design, I think he asks too much of you for not enough payoff. Black and red have a bevy of interesting and fun commanders, and I would suggest slotting Orcus into the 99 of one of them as opposed to building a deck around him. In particular, throw this into , who loves the extra wipe and enjoys one of his underling fetching back a fallen Demon from time to time.
While it's really cool and flavorful, I think the embodiment of The Skeleton War ends up being more of a Skeleton Skirmish.
There are two things that hold there are only 59, and most are bad), in one round after we cast this, we're getting the equivalent of two s. Not great. The second issue is that we don't have a dedicated Skeleton Tribal commander yet. The two upcoming Innistrad sets may remedy this problem, but until then, our skelly-bois are going to be unimpressive 3/1s most of the time, without much synergy in the rest of the deck. With all this said, if your playgroup is not known for playing a lot of creatures, may be a consideration to potentially overwhelm some tables.back. The first is that it triggers only on our end step. Without outside help from other Skeletons (of which
I don't dislike, and it can be an interesting inclusion in decks like , but overall I think Golgari has more powerful things it could be doing than swinging with easily-chumped attackers. I think this is a card that could put in some work in the future if the power commander is printed, but for now, I say pass.
1/1s for two mana aren't usually impressive, butkicks it up a notch by having the tried and true combination of 's signature first strike and deathtouch.
I'm going to level with you. Despite this adventurer having some of my favorite combination of keywords, there aren't a whole lot of decks for this happy little fellow. The most obvious spot is a Dungeons deck helmed by Knight Tribal decks as a potential home for him either., where you can try and speed-run dungeons and accrue a satchel full of value very quickly. The Adventurer also carries Equipment like and quite well, too, so don't count out
Overall, I like's design, but I think it's pretty niche and falls pretty short in terms of application for our format. I always love peppy little Knights like this, though, so at least it has that going for it.
Volo, Guide to Monsters
Yep. I woke up today and chose violence.is a really neat build-around in theory, but I have a huge issue with him.
While he's being touted as an "anti-tribal" deck, he still doesn't do anything that breaks rank from traditional U/G commanders. Sure, Volo's input may be different; instead of playing a land to draw cards, like in, or instead of self-milling to ramp and draw with , he has to play differently-typed creatures. Either way, his output is the same: generic value.
Yeah, it's really cool thatis the only Dryad in your deck, but the really cool reward you get for that is... two of them. was already the only Illusion in the deck, and wasn't competing with other Salamander Pirates in the 99. There aren't exactly a lot of other Boars we're losing out on in order to make multiple , you know?
The biggest restriction is that Volo's a Human and a Wizard himself, so anwould be just a regular . That's the level of value we're talking about; we'd only get one , and that's not good enough for the Simic shenanigans. We should also avoid , since the sequencing means we'll have the token in play already by the time the regular creature enters the battlefield, but when we're making two es and we weren't going to play any other Sphinxes anyway, even that doesn't seem like much of a cost.
There are some neat tools in Volo's arsenal to get around his restriction, like exiling cards from your own graveyard with, or shuffling them back into your deck with . You can even change some creature types you already have in play with . In other words, if you wanted to play both and , you can probably get away with it.
Importantly, Volo copies the creature spell. He's not creating any tokens. Just likeand , token-doublers like do not create more tokens from Volo's ability, because the copies of the creature spells become tokens, but that's not the same as creating a token. This means it does work with , though.
I thinkasks you to build a deck with a restriction that turns out to be pretty minimal, and ultimately provides us with the same thing Simic was already going to do, which is to say, he's very very good. Having a singleton of every creature type sounds like an interesting challenge, but at the end of the day, the result will look no different than other decks of this color combination.
Uncommons and Commons
- Esper Dungeon deck, I think there are better commanders in these colors that do similar things. , , and are just a few examples of commanders that can recur our creatures. I'd add her into a dungeon deck, but I wouldn't use her as a commander. is a neat little Dwarf, but I'm not sure she's worth the effort. While she slots right at home in the
- Boros Equipment commanders over the past few years that I'm unsure Bruenor can keep up. He doesn't seem better than , , or . Much like Barrowin, Bruenor seems best in the 99. is one of my favorite characters from The Legend of Drizzt, and I'm super happy he got a card, but while he isn't bad, we've had such an influx of
- has the inverse problem of the two legends above. While there are no other legendary creatures in Izzet that deal with dice rolling at the moment, there isn't yet a whole lot of dice rolling to support Farideh. She seems interesting, and having a commander with two forms of evasion and card draw is neat, but I'm just not sure this deck can reliably come together so far. With so few dice cards in black border, this deck will build itself a little bit. She may need a future set with dice rolling cards to fully come into her own.
- is boring and uninspired, and does nothing new. , , , , it's the same stuff with a different name, and I don't want to spend anymore words on it. Pass.
- , like Barrowin, is better in a dungeon deck, but having a dungeon-harmonicon in the command zone is an interesting thought... a thought that can be entertained until you realize there are only about 21 venture cards that can go into her deck. If there were more venture cards, Hama Pashar could be a really neat commander, but for the moment, I think she will be relegated to the 99 of Esper dungeon decks.
- Treasure Decks, and if we get enough Rakdos Treasure-makers in the future, cards like and can turn her deck into something really special. is such good flavor, but just like most of the other commanders here, I'm not sure she can pull her own weight when she's the one in the command zone. Treasure and +1/+1 counter synergies is really interesting, but both of these things are mechanics that Rakdos only dabbles in. That said, both of these mechanics get support quite often, so Kalain should get an influx of usable cards every few sets, which will up her power over time. For now she's very committed to powering up just a few creatures like and . She's a great inclusion in
- Rogue decks, but don't worry too much about seeing him elsewhere. isn't very good as a commander. He's inefficient, only triggers on combat damage to a player, and doesn't reward you enough for doing so. Making creatures unable to block is an interesting line of text, but I don't think that's worth it for two mana per creature, either. Not unless we're doing secret commander , anyway. Put Krydle in your
- is...a card... and not one that Golgari particularly wants or needs? -ing a creature is cool, and drawing a card is never unwelcome, but these colors have so many other ways to kill creatures and accrue card advantage that she seems super underwhelming, even in the 99.
- is the latest version of and , i.e., a legend that cares about attacking, and does it worse than or . There could be an argument for a go-wide deck with Targ-Nar at the helm, but does that better, too. Targ-Nar is simple, and not in a good way.
- Lifegain is a very popular archetype, and it's always nice to see the new ways that gaining life can be weaponized. I think this one may be overshadowed by other Selesnya lifegainers, like or , but Lathiel can't power itself up, so Trelasarra will have to go for a lifegain Voltron route to help set herself apart from the crowd. is a legendary , and I like that.
I Used to Write Articles Until I Took an Arrow to the Knee
Whew. With that, all of the gold cards from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms are in the books! This was a lengthy review, so I appreciate y'all sticking it out with me.
Despite the number of cards I expressed a lukewarm reception to, or even downright disliked, I think there are plenty of cards from this set that are great additions to the format, particularly the Classes. It is also incredible to see beloved characters I've read about years ago get Magic cards,in particular.
What about you? What are your thoughts on this set and this review? Anything you like more or less than I did? Anything you think I was completely off-base about? Any character you'd like to teach me the lore of? Make sure you let me know down below!
Until next time, never stop venturing!
You can reach me on Twitter (@thejesguy), where you can always hit me up for Magic- or Jeskai-related shenanigans 24/7. Do you have any comments, questions, or concerns? Please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! Stay safe, wear your mask, and keep fighting the good fight. I support you. No justice, no peace.