Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Set Review - White

(Icingdeath, Frost Tyrant | Art by Matt Stewart)

Dungeons, or Done-geons?

Welcome to the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms white set review! Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (henceforth AFR) is the Dungeons & Dragons totally-not-Universes-Beyond (or is it?) replacement for the summer Core Set. If you're here for epic D&D storytelling, references, and lore tidbits, then you've come to the wrong place. I've only a passing knowledge of D&D, I'm afraid. What I do have is the ability to evaluate Magic cards in the context of Commander, so we're halfway there. In the spirit of livin' on a prayer, I'll be reviewing the white cards. If you're at all familiar with my work, you'll know I'm pretty big on playing white, so you're in safe hands.

Oh, and one more thing: while this is a set review, I'm only covering what's relevant to us as EDH players. In short: mythics, rares, a few uncommons, and notable commons. I'm sure some of the unplayable cards have nice art, but that's not what we're here for.


Grand Master of Flowers

Grand Master of Flowers isn't the best, is it? In a 1v1 format, I can see the attraction: protecting itself, drawing a Monk of the Open Hand, and hopefully finishing as a 7/7 beater. It doesn't cut it in Commander, though. The amount of hoop-jumping to get this 'walker to work—Deepglow Skate, Doubling Season, et al—is better spent on payoffs that'll win you a game. I could see some niche use in Monk tribal if the creature it fetched had the Shadowborn Apostle ruling, but you're better off just picking up Monastery Mentor instead. You could rule 0 it, but any card that needs rule 0 to be played is either a bad card or utterly busted, and I know which line Grand Master of Flowers sits on.

Icingdeath, Frost Tyrant

I have a real issue with four-drops in Commander, and if they're not your Commander, you're probably playing too many of them when you should be playing five- or six-drops instead. The only exception to this of course is when you're playing a low curve with powerful cards at stronger tables. Thankfully, this only strengthens my opinion that Icingdeath, Frost Tyrant is pretty forgettable. Given the option between this and Halvar, God of Battle, or even a Gisela, the Broken Blade with Bruna, the Fading Light backup, I don't think there's much competition. While I do like evasive flyers, there are so many better options that this feels more vanilla than Adult Gold Dragon. Still, it could find a home in Dragon tribal decks. Tiamat will be its forever home, but it's sure to crop up here and there for The Ur-Dragon, too.

The Book of Exalted Deeds

Given that the other two white mythics aren't really that exciting, I'm going outside of my lane a little and stealing a white artifact to talk about instead. The Book of Exalted Deeds is a mono-white card through and through, and one that looks pretty great. My love for Lyra Dawnbringer is no secret, and I'm excited to add another token factory to the already stellar options in lifelink-based Angel tribal builds.

Three life is a lot easier to get to than four or five, and all it takes is a cheeky Blind Obedience. While the Book might be harder to splash in multicolor decks, it'll still be worth consideration in other lifelink decks, like Trostani, Selesnya's Voice, Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim and Liesa, Shroud of Dusk. The 'Platinum Angel counter' it can generate is pretty neat, and though it's at sorcery speed, it's still something I'm happy to have access to. Pair it with Answered Prayers or a Mutavault, and you're cooking with gas.


Nadaar, Selfless Paladin

Nadaar is pretty attractive to those who have a Sylvia Brightspear & Khorvath Brightflame deck. Lost Mine of Phandelver looks to have the most synergy with that deck, offering a Treasure or Goblin, a +1/+1 counter for Sylvia, and drawing a card. Beyond that, it seems like a lot of busywork for an anthem; Thraben Watcher is a card.

Oswald Fiddlebender

If you thought the set looked pretty pedestrian so far, this one'll get you fired up. Say hello to a sweet new commander and an addition to artifact decks everywhere. As Birthing Pod is to creatures, Oswald is to artifacts. This little Tinker-pod is pretty dang exciting. While the sorcery-speed-only clause will prevent some amount of shenanigans, there's still a lot to love here.

The floor for Oswald is the ability to swap an artifact land or Treasure token for a Sol Ring or Shadowspear, but there's a whole host of powerful artifacts worth tutoring for. Teshar and Osgir love putting artifacts into the graveyard for value. Turning a Signet into a Basalt Monolith in Zirda, the Dawnwaker decks has to be good, as does finding a combo piece in a deck like Koll, the Forgemaster. If you're interested in combo-ing out with this card, chances are you already know the lines. No doubt there'll be an article on this very site (or on Commander's Herald!) diving in deep in due course.


You like Group Hug? Sure, be my guest. Jam Flumph and have some fun with it. With the rate that we've been getting white card draw recently, I doubt it'll be too long before we see something else more exciting, though, so if you're just wanting some draw in white and can't afford to pick up Esper Sentinel, then just wait it out a little longer. Most white decks are capable of using lifegain or attacking to draw cards with the wide range of payoffs that include Well of Lost Dreams and Mask of Memory, and I'd rather stick to those. Flumph has some legs as a political card, given you can fog attacks by threatening to give another opponent cards, but I don't think there will be many tables where it's safe to give a bigger bully cards to stop a smaller one. Arcades, the Strategist decks may end up as Flumph's best home.

Guardian of Faith

If you want to read my extended thoughts on this nugget of gold, check them out at Card Kingdom. In short: Guardian of Faith is fantastic. It offers selective protection that doesn't interrupt Auras and Equipment and counters, but still helps you dodge bounce wraths, exile wraths, and -X/-X wraths. While you won't get the immunity that Teferi's Protection offers, it's still a solid option for creature decks at three mana. There are even corner cases where it has more utility than Teferi's Protection, since it will leave your Smothering Tithe and Aura of Silence in play. Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale wants it, and not just for the Knight synergy, and Sigarda, Host of Herons loves the phasing. Really, though, it'll see a lot of play regardless. Selfless Spirit shows up in nearly 10,000 decks, after all.

Loyal Warhound

There's an upper limit to how much catch-up you can fit in a deck, and I'm not sure this good boy makes the cut in the average focused or optimized build. Archaeomancer's Map is obviously smashing, but I think I'd still rather play Knight of the White Orchid for the nonbasic Plains and for it to come in untapped. Definitively a pet card.

Paladin Class

At its floor, one mana for this effect isn't the worst. Getting it to level two unlocks an anthem, but level three is where we get to the good stuff. Any go-wide deck that has some level of evasion is going to love this card. Outside of those builds, I think I'd rather take Duelist's Heritage for the double strike and one of the plethora of other options for anthems and protection.

Teleportation Circle

It's always sad when they 'fix' a card, and Teleportation Circle does indeed lose Conjurer's Closet's ability to steal creatures permanently. In exchange, you get this effect on an enchantment in white(!) for one mana cheaper. That's enough to get me excited, that's for sure.

While most flicker decks tend to add blue for access to Thassa and Momentary Blink, this card opens up value plays in non-blue decks, which is really sweet. God-Eternal Oketra is getting some massive pickups this set, including Priest of Ancient Lore, and the Circle fits well into this kind of deck. Any deck that plays plenty of ETBs is going to enjoy this one. Don't forget that Teleportation Circle can target artifacts, too. Even bouncing the occasional Ichor Wellspring can be good fun!

Uncommons & Commons

Cleric Class

Along with Moon-Blessed Cleric, it looks like someone's really been fighting in the tribe's corner over in R&D this year. Out of the non-rares, Cleric Class is easily my favorite pick. For any deck wanting to run the Heliod, Sun-Crowned & Walking Ballista combo, this gives you a nice bit of redundancy that also magnifies the abilities of your soul sister effects. Lifegain decks in general will be excited to run this, particularly as an extra Resurrection effect is always nice, especially when it doesn't take up a card slot on its own.

Divine Smite

Floor = temporary targeted removal, which is already worthwhile.

Ceiling = exile removal, the best kind.

Celestial Purge, admittedly, only shows up in 210 decks, though.

Ingenious Smith

If Board the Weatherlight shows up in only about 900 decks, I don't think the odds favor the Smith, no matter how ingenious she might be. Repeatable effects like Armored Skyhunter probably oust that card slot, and that's perfectly fine.

Keen-Eared Sentry & Portable Hole

On the more competitive end of things, I think both Keen-Eared Sentry and Portable Hole are on the radar. Having cheap permanents with relevant effects is always good, and it wouldn't surprise me to see either of these cards tested in cEDH metagames.

Moon-Blessed Cleric

Sorcery-speed Enlightened Tutor that only gets enchantments, but that's attached to a body? I like it. Idyllic Tutor will always have the better numbers, but this is still great for budget-minded players. Siona, Captain of the Pyleas probably likes it the most, to help find her Shielded by Faith combo piece.

Plate Armor

I'm dubious about Equipment that only provides a buff, since most Equipment-focused decks are pretty good at getting extra stats just by accident, and usually like their Equipment to provide extra benefits, such as combat keywords or on-hit effects. Sheer power increases are usually reserved for card slots like Colossus Hammer. Still in Equipment decks, this is almost always free to attach. That's not usually a problem for those decks either, since Puresteel Paladin and friends have that base covered, but there are sure to be Akiri, Fearless Voyager and Wyleth, Sculptor of Steel players out there who like the ease of use that Plate Armor grants them.

White Dragon

Tapping down a Voltron commander for an extended period is nice, but six mana is a tough price to pay for a benefit you might be getting next turn.

Celestial Unicorn

Nothing to write home about, but big beater in a lifegain deck isn't nothing. Ajani's Pridemate shows up in nearly 6,000 decks, as it turns out. You'd probably rather play Serra Avatar, but there are an increasing number of creatures out there that get bigger when we gain life, and there's no reason this card won't show up right with them. Trelasarra, Moon Dancer and Lathiel, the Bounteous Dawn look like the most natural homes for our new Unicorn.

Delver's Torch

Venturing into the dungeon seems like it'll be a difficult strategy to pull off in Commander, especially if this card ends up as one of the more reliable ways to do so. If the dungeon deck turns out to be good, this will likely be a consistent part of it, but that's about all.

Minimus Containment

Ignores indestructible, and it gets any nonland permanent. That sounds nice, but the problem is, if you target a commander, the opponent can just sac it and send it to the command zone. We'll probably stick to our Darksteel Mutations for now.

Priest of Ancient Lore

I wasn't originally going to talk about this one, but you know what, it's nice in Blink decks. Most of those decks already contain blue, though, so they may not need tons of extra help, but Wall of Omens effects are nice. Admittedly, Wall of Omens is best-known in Arcades, the Strategist these days, but even so, the Priest is nice to have around, and decks like God-Eternal Oketra are happy to have it.

Encounter Complete

As we bring things to a close today, it's important to be aware that Adventures in the Forgotten Realms is both replacing a Core Set and also attempting to power-down an out-of-control Standard environment. As such, not all of the cards will be hits, which is all the more apparent coming straight out of Modern Horizons 2, which is a higher-power level in general. That said, I much prefer my EDH when fewer cards are pushed on the format and there are fewer 'must includes' from each set.

That said, there are still some very solid cards to consider here, and I like where white card design is headed right now. And look at that, I even managed one D&D pun before we finished!

Let me know your picks below, and whether you think I missed anything. Personally, I can't wait to jam The Book of Exalted Deeds in Lyra, and I'm probably going to end up building a God-Eternal Oketra deck with all these new white cards we've gotten recently.

Kristen is a seasoned writer in the Magic sphere, with articles at Card Kingdom, Commander's Herald, EDHRec and Hipsters of the Coast. When she's not turning creatures sideways in Boros brews, she loves to cube, walk the dogs, and eat steak.

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