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Analysing the Commander Decks from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms

Magic: the Gathering

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Analysing the Commander Decks from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms

This article brings an anlysis regarding the preconstructed Commander decks from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms.

By FELIPE, 07/16/21, translated by Humberto, with help from our readers

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Spoiler season is over, and I'm going to discuss here about the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms preconstructed deck lists, which are decks that come pre-assembled and come out of the box ready to play. The lists come with cards that feature the new set's mechanics like venturing into dungeons and the dice rolling, and have fun new cards to use at your tables. I separated the cards considered by me as the most interesting, strong and curious of the four decks released in this set, in addition to the more than necessary reprints.

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Planar Portal

This deck has as its commander Prosper, Tome-Bound.
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As you can see, this commander generates virtual card advantage in the form of exiled cards and generates treasure tokens when you cast cards that were exiled. It seems pretty synergistic to me with mechanics like Rebound, Suspend, and other spells that exile and allow you to cast what has been exiled.
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The list looks pretty good to me for a pre-built deck, it has a lot of card advantage, and for the most part, they exile the cards and let you cast them, which is very synergistic with Prosper; it also has a good number of removals, there are ten rocks on the deck, which is a nice number of ramps for a pre-con.

Interesting Cards - Planar Portal

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Starting with black, we have the Death Tyrant that manages to return from the graveyard and generates tokens whenever an attacking creature dies, or an opponent's blocking creature dies, being a good source of tokens. The Grim Hireling is a great source of treasure, and even has a way to use it if necessary. The last of the interesting black cards is the Hellish Rebuke, a card I see potential, allowing you to clear the board and deal damage to opponents at the same time.
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On the red cards we had an interesting reprint and two new cards that are synergistic with the deck, Wild-Magic Sorcerer adds more value to the first cards of each turn that are cast from exile. On the other hand, Disrupt Decorum is a key piece in decks that use the strategy of goad their opponents' creatures to avoid attacks. Reckless Endevavor is a somewhat expensive board wipe, but with an interesting proposal and if you are a little lucky it can even be cast for free, or generate more treasure than the mana you spent to cast it.
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In the multicolored cards, we had some new and interesting cards. Hurl Through Hell is a removal that exiles a creature and allows you to cast it until the end of your next turn. Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant lives up to his name, he slowly stirs up the menacing creatures of his opponents while guaranteeing more cards in your hand, but unfortunately not only in your hand. Fevered Suspicion is one of the deck's endgame spells, 8 mana seems a bit steep, but with rebound it generates even more value, which exiles cards from the top of opponents' library until a nonland card is exiled; you can cast these cards without paying their costs, and that grants you enough value to try to end the game when this card's rebound is cast. One point to praise about this deck is its mana base. Even having many lands, it has a good density and amount of mana stones, which together with the effect of generating treasure from some cards in the deck and the commander, considerably increases its mana available per turn. Some good artifact reprints for this deck were Talisman of Indulgence, the only deck in this set that came with a talisman, and it was very welcome as it hasn't received a reprint since Archenemy. Another interesting reprint is the Fellwar Stone: as this deck uses exiled cards from your opponents, there's nothing better than a rock that can generate mana that they can produce.

Dungeons of Death

As we can see, Sefris of the Hidden Ways is synergistic with creatures that have ETB (effects that trigger when they enter the battlefield) and creatures that have a trigger when they die. Its main effect can occur on your turn and on your opponents' turns, which increases the amount you can take from the commander. If together with a sac-outlet of creatures, it is possible to make a dungeon per turn cycle.

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Interesting Cards - Dungeons of Death

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Starting with white cards, we have a nice removal receiving a reprint, the Swords to Plowshares which exiles a creature, which prevents it from being reanimated in the future. Cataclysmic Gearhulk is a sweeper in creature form that can handle the board well, as it forces cards to be sacrificed.
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In blue, we start with Arcane Endeavor which has the potential to change the course of the game as you draw one to eight cards and allows you to cast an instant or spell costing one to eight instantly. Phantasmal Image was a heavy reprint on the deck. It makes it possible to generate ETBs effects and value from creatures that are already on the field. It also reprinted a great Stax piece, the Propaganda, which is very useful to prevent opponents' attacks from being directed at you. The last of the blue cards is Rod of Absorption which has the potential to stop decks that cast cards from the graveyard and even serves as an additional resource to generate value.
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Looking deeper into the list, it's noticeable that its reanimate line is much more consistent than its Dungeons line, and Doomed Necromancer keeps this line pretty consistent as it's synergistic with the commander while reanimating a creature. Thinking along this line of reanimating and sacrificing creatures, cards like Wand of Orcus have a great potential to generate tokens to fuel this strategy. The black color in this deck seemed to me to be very focused on reanimate and Grave Endeavor is a new card that reanimates while increasing the creature, taking life from opponents, and giving you life.
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On multicolored cards I'll start with the secondary commander of the deck, the Nihiloor, who enters tapping a creature from each opponent and stealing a creature from each of them, in addition to draining opponents' life if you attack with the creature you stole. Baleful Strix, 2 mana, flying, deathtouch, and if that wasn't enough when it enters the battlefield it gives you a draw. It's a powerful card that can handle other larger creatures. Now Extract Brain has a curious premise, you use a card of yours to see and cast a card of your opponent without paying its cost, and this will be, at least, interesting in a multiplayer game. An honorable mention is the Necrotic Sliver card, which I honestly didn't understand why it's on this list, as it's the only Sliver there.
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Let's start with Lightning Greaves which is great protection as well as a good staple. Fellwar Stone is another good mana stone for the deck, mainly because it costs 2 and can generate mana of the opponent's colors in a deck that can use opponents' stuff. The last card in the deck, Wayfarer's Bauble, is with a beautiful new illustration and was a much-needed reprint.

Draconic Rage

The red-green deck has as its main commander Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients.
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This commander is a 5/4 that every time it takes damage, it creates a 5/4 dragon that is sacrificed when it deals damage, and every time you roll a D20, Vrondiss deals one damage to itself. He is very aggressive and can grow the board to defend or attack; but despite that, I don't see as much potential in it as in the ones we've already discussed here. But that depends on the rest of the deck.

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This deck is very aggressive, its idea is to generate value using creatures and generate dragons. Like the other decks it has a pretty absurd number of lands, 39 is a lot, while the deck still has 10 ramps. It has a fair number of removals and have some important reprints for EDH players, many players really liked this list.

Interesting cards - Draconic Roar

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Starting with red, we have a reprint that's here not because of its strength, but because the deck's idea is to be aggressive and deal massive damage, and a card like Anger that gives haste to all of your creatures, making it possible for you to attack with your dragons the turn they enter the field. Thunderbreak Regent is a very fascinating card, every time someone targets a dragon of yours, the person will get a Lightning Bolt in the face, a simple and practical effect that will make your opponents think twice before targeting your dragons. Skyline Despot needed a reprint as it only came out in "Conspiracy: Take the Crown" and its price was already a bit high, its effect is important for the deck: when it enters you become the monarch and while you if you are the monarch you will get a 5/5 dragon token with flying at your upkeep, which adds a lot of value to the deck.
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Dice mechanics are not new to Magic, they are only new to valid tournament cards. The silver-bordeded sets have been using this mechanic for a long time, and it's always been fun and the Neverwinter Hydra reminds me a lot of the Hydradoodle which also has its power and toughness defined by dice rolls. Kindred Summons is an excellent card for tribal decks with great value-generating capacity, and it needed a reprint as it only came out in Commander 2017. As forReturn of the Wildspeaker, I really like this one card because it can solve 2 problems of an aggressive deck at once: if you have big creatures, but not enough, you can use it to draw many cards, if you already want to finish the game you can give +3 /+3 to all your creatures and deal damage in the combat phase. Also in this line of thought of drawing cards in an aggressive deck, Rishkar's Expertise guarantees you the same number of cards and even gives you the opportunity to cast a card with a mana value of 5 or less without paying its cost.
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Starting the multicolored by this deck's secondary commander, the Klauth, Unrivaled Ancient. He's just wonderful, even though it's 7 mana 4/4 he attacks the same turn he enters and makes me think twice before using Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients as a commander, as he generates mana equal to the total power of your creatures and on a dragon deck, this is a lot of mana, and you don't lose it until end of turn. He has a lot of potential to grow your board even more, because in the worst case he will give you 4 more mana if you just hit with him, which is rare in a deck full of creatures and ways to make big tokens. Dragonborn Champion is a 5/3 creature that every time a damage source you control deals 5 or more damage to a player, you have another great way to draw cards in a deck full of creatures with 5 or more power. Wulfgar of Icewind Dale, another of the deck's minor commanders, a Panharmonicon for effects that occur when your creatures attack, in addition to being excellent in this deck, other Gruul decks that rely on effects during attack will like this card in their lists.

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This is the only deck that I directly mention a land of the list because Desert is an old land that came out in Arabian Nights and the original Time Spiral and didn't have many reprints. I found it interesting that after such a long time, they reprinted the card in a Commander deck, and it's probably the card that hasn't been reprinted for the longest time in this entire block. Dragon's Hoard is an interesting way to draw extra cards in your deck and if you need mana it works for that purpose too.

Aura of Hope

The white-blue-green deck is an Auras/Equipment-themed deck, with Galea, Kindler of Hope as its main Commander.
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This commander is strong: 4 mana for a 4/4 that allows you to cast cards from the top of the library if they are auras or equipment, and equipment cast this way (from the top of your deck) is equipped when they enter the battlefield. She is a voltron that grows very fast and doesn't leave you out of cards.
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This deck looks spectacular, very synergistic and with good new cards, plus some interesting reprints. It has a good amount of card draw, which makes it difficult to be empty-handed, has good removals for a casual deck, has plenty of protections, and the list also has good ramps, but it only has 8 in the deck.

Interesting Cards - Aura of Hope

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We have some interesting reprints in this deck, like Purestell Paladin and Sram, Senior Edificer, which are excellent on the deck and totally synergistic, and still help keep your hand full. The Fey Steed also guarantees some extra cards in the hand and manages to protect the commander. The last white card is the Mantle of the Ancients, which is a great finisher to use, as it returns the auras of the graveyard and even grows the commander.
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In blue, I'll cover an effect that, I believe, is essential for this deck, which is top manipulation, ensuring you can cast equipment from the top of the deck and avoid paying for its equip costs. The list has a few, and you might want to add one or two more in the future for consistency. About the cards I found interesting, we have the Winged Boots which gives flying and guarantees a certain protection for the commander, whereas the Diviner's Portent was a very intriguing way to make a card that can draw many cards, it's good, but if you're lucky, it gets much better because before you draw your X cards you scry X and you can select what you want or don't want to draw.
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On green the good reprints came in heavy, Heroic Intervention a great way to protect your board from sweepers and removals, Utopia Sprawl a great enchantment that enters turn one and generates additional mana, as another much-needed reprint. And finally, we have Greater Good, which is another way this deck has to keep its hand full.
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Ride the Avalanche is good for two mana, you can flash your next spell, and when you cast it, you put your mana value on +1/+1 counters on a creature of yours. If you cast a spell with a mana value of 7, you put 7 +1/+1 counters on your creature. Storvald, Fros Giant Jarl, the minor commander of the list, a 7 mana 7/7 who has

ward

3 and grants

ward

3 to your other creatures. When he attacks, he can change one creature's power and toughness to 1/1 and turn another into a 7/7, this will totally change the way your opponent blocks your creatures.

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This card generates a lot of value, an equipment that puts basic lands into play regardless of whether you've dealt damage to a player or not, and it even reduces the number of lands in the deck, increasing the chances that you'll draw other relevant cards.

Conclusion

All decks are well set up, but there's always room for improvement. The Wizards of The Coast team kept this reference to Dungeons & Dragons strong and created interesting cards that involve the new mechanics in all Commander decks, including cards that have not been reprinted for many sets and building the lists with a good manabase. All lists seem strong to me within their strategies. I hope this article will help you decide which of the 4 decks is most interesting to you, and which lists are most worthwhile for your playstyle. See you next time!
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FELIPE

Started playing Magic on M20 in 2019. Prefers control decks and seeks to improve his deckbuilding.

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