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Analyzing venture into Dungeon mechanic potential for constructed play

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In today's article, we take an initial look at the Dungeon mechanics, speculating what it needs to succeed on constructed!

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This past week, we've been graced with the revelation of a new card type and mechanic in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms: The Dungeons.

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You can check, in a simplified way, how Dungeons work herelink outside website, but I'll point out the most relevant parts to elaborate some of the ideas I want to share.

The first thing to note is that Dungeons are neither part of the deck nor they belong in the sideboard. They are extra cards, which can be presented at the beginning of the game and will stay on the sideboard until they are placed in the Command Zone for some venture ability.


When you use a card that says, "venture into a dungeon", you have two options:

First, if you're not in a dungeon, you'll take a dungeon card of your choice from the sideboard and put it in the command zone, placing an adventure counter in the first room.

If you're already in a dungeon, you'll move the adventure counter to the next room, following the arrows shown on the card. If the arrow points to two different rooms, you choose one of them to enter.

For each room you enter, an effect described in the room will occur in the game.

A player can only be in one dungeon at a time. To enter another dungeon, the player needs to complete the one they're in first.

On completion of a Dungeon, its last effect triggers and then the card is exiled.

So, in summary: Dungeons are cards that are out of the game and can be brought into the command zone through cards that tell you to venture into them. And for every venturing trigger you have, you'll move between rooms in the dungeon until you complete it, performing an effect for each room.

Before we go any further, I'd like to leave a disclaimer: I'm writing this article the day after the mechanics were revealed. We have access to very few Adventures in the Forgotten Realms cards, and all viability of the mechanics in the format will depend solely on the quality of the cards where the adventure mechanics are or the advantages that completing a dungeon may have.

That said, the first guess I can think of about dungeons is that they can either create one of the best limited formats in years or one of the most boring we've ever had.

On the one hand, we will have an interactive mechanic, which generates the most diverse effects in the game, which adds an even greater decision factor and does not compete for draft slots between maindeck and sideboard as was the case with Lessons in Strixhaven.

On the other hand, if dungeons are the best mechanic in the set, draft games will be standardized between players trying to complete the best dungeons in the shortest amount of time to get more value throughout the game, creating repetitive effects and fueling a kind of sub-game, a competition between players on who completes the dungeons first.

However, I'm not the best Limited expert and prefer to leave a broader view of this subject to Migucheras, who commonly features draft articles here on Cards Realm.

Therefore, I will try to analyze it from the perspective of constructed. And I think the best way to start this analysis is to take a closer look at what each dungeon does.

As we know, each room in the dungeon can only be accessed by one venturing trigger, which even allows us to count how many triggers are needed to get all the desired effects.

It's also worth noting that there are only three Dungeons in the set, and that you can reuse the same Dungeon after completing it if you wish.

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Number of triggers to complete: 4

Lost Mine of Phandelver looks like the generic version of Dungeons. With medium effects, which for the most part aren't good if you need to invest a lot of mana to use them.


It's quite acceptable to start with a Scry 1, create a Goblin token to increase the pressure on the board or Treasure to speed up your game plan, and then be able to choose between dealing damage to your opponent or strengthening your creature/weakening your opponent's creature and finishing the cycle by drawing a card, but none of these effects are really exceptional.

On the other hand, out of the three cards, this one offers a relatively quick and beneficial way to complete a dungeon, which can mean a lot if completing a dungeon greatly favors the cards you use.

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Number of triggers to complete: 3 or 4, depending on the route.

This dungeon offers two routes: one, with 3 rooms, gives you the opportunity to complete it quickly and still have a 4/4 Deathtouch body on the board in exchange for a significant card, board, and mana disadvantage.

This may be relevant, again, if the cards that reward you for completing a dungeon are good enough to make up for the significant loss that the shorter route offers.

The second route, with 4 rooms, works much more as a disruptive effect than specifically a disadvantage, especially if you are the beatdown of the match. One less card for the opponent, one less creature for the opponent, and one more 4/4 creature for you at the end of the process for 4 life seems like a fair trade if you're the aggressive deck, where the 4 opponent's life will make a difference in the match.

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Number of triggers to complete: 7

This, undoubtedly, is the best dungeon to complete and to gain value, but it is the worst if the objective is to complete a dungeon quickly.

While the other dungeons seem to have medium effects intended to be completed quickly, Dungeons of the Mad Mage seems to be the dungeon you want to get the most value out of it as you venture through its rooms.

Altogether, considering only board advantage and card advantage, this card gives you 1 life, Scry 6, a Treasure token, and draws five cards, in addition to allowing you to cast one of them without paying the cost.

It's a lot of value divided into seven rooms, seven venturing triggers, but it starts with triggers that are not relevant before they start accumulating value.

So how much is it worth venturing into Dungeons, especially Dungeon of the Mad Mage?

For me, it depends on how much investment in mana and/or resources you need to achieve the desired effects. Let's use an example:

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As I've mentioned a few times, the value of dungeons depends solely on how many times you manage to venture. The more triggers you can make, the more value dungeons can give you.

Nadaar is a great example of this: a 3/3 creature with Vigilance for 3 mana isn't exceptional, but it's acceptable. But since it creates a trigger as soon as it enters the battlefield and can create subsequent triggers every time you attack and rewards you for completing a dungeon, it makes a great engine for dungeons because it can complete all the necessary steps on its own for a small mana investment.


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Compare it to Cloister Gargoyle. Gargoyle is essentially the opposite of Nadaar: With the same mana cost, the card creates only one trigger on an ireelevant body and doesn't accumulate any other value over the course of the game. This is the type of card that, in Constructed, should be avoided because it relies on your dungeon progress to be good, and its cost and body don't make up for the slot because most of the time it will create an overpriced effect.

But we can compare Nadaar to other cards with similar effects, such as:

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All creatures above create some good effect every turn. Venturing into a dungeon has a mix of worse and better effects than creating a 1/1 Goblin or a Clue token every turn. If you constantly venture into a dungeon, on average, your effects will compare to those cards that have seen a lot of play in their respective Standard cycles.

So, should we look for venturing effects that can accumulate and be repeated?

Not necessarily:

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Shortcut Seeker can even accumulate value with repeated triggers as long as you can keep your opponent's board clean. But a 2/5 for 4 mana body that has no evasion and no other means of accumulating value doesn't do enough to be worth a slot, after all, you'll need to spend other resources to get value with this card.

In my opinion, for a card with the ability to venture into a dungeon to work, it needs:

1) If it's a single trigger effect, it needs to have a low cost and/or perform another effect along with it such as having a body on the board, drawing a card, dealing damage, or anything like that.

2) If it's a cumulative effect, the card must have a reasonable cost and/or the card must have other effects attached to it.

3) The card needs to be good enough on its own so that the Dungeon is a bonus and not a concession.

4) Have cards that support the mechanic a lot, as they did with other mechanics before. Basically I'm saying that Dungeons will need their own version of Edgewall Innkeeper.

And when does a card specifically have the four necessary qualities?

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What would be of your party in a dungeon without a bard, right?

Jokes aside, Ellywick is the perfect example of a card that has the three elements needed for the new mechanic:

Its cost is relatively quite reasonable for its effects, it comes in with a good number of loyalty counters, and in addition to being a card that interacts very well with Dungeons, it has a second ability that essentially functions as a Once Upon a Time which occasionally gains you 3 life.

Its only weakness is its +1 ability.

See the following planeswalkers who played Standard and compare their +1 to the bard:

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Venturing into dungeons suffers from the variance factor: a +1 to gain one life is a worse version of Ajani Goldmane, but a +1 to exile two cards from the top of the deck and be able to cast them this turn is a potentially better version of Chandra, Torch of Defiance.

This mix of good effects and bad effects that dungeons have makes Ellenwick a balanced Planeswalker, as her -2 compensates for any less relevant effects the dungeon might create.

Finally, one last point that, I think, is important to emphasize is that, since the effects of Dungeons occur for each trigger, if there are ways to accumulate these triggers to the point of having even three or more triggers in a single turn, and given that you can always enter a new dungeon when you finish the one you are in, and you can even repeat the same dungeon, it makes me consider that they have a strong way of creating snowball effects against the opponent, accumulating effects quickly throughout the game.

Now, whether these snowball effects will be any better than the effects we have today at the Standard is a story we'll only know in the future.


This was my analysis of the future potential of Dungeon mechanics, which will be present in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, and promises to create new dynamics for the game.

In my view, the Dungeons will depend a lot on the quality of the cards presented with the venture ability. If these cards are good, either synergistically or individually, then Dungeons might see play even in a deck that is not fully dedicated to this, as it will always be a way to get some additional value.

The preview season starts next week, and that's where we'll know how far it's worth venturing into Dungeons in Constructed formats, or whether we should focus our attention on the Dragons.

Bad pun, I know,

Adventures in the Forgotten Realms comes out on July 15 in Magic Online and Magic Arena, and on July 23 in paper Magic.

Thanks for reading!