The Impact of Forgotten Realms on Constructed Formats

Adventures in the Forgotten Realms in Constructed

How the new set changes existing archetypes and create new ones

Author: Ricardo Silva

Like most sets nowadays, the release of Adventures in the Forgotten Realms this September 23, 2021, has brought along new toys for several decks across a variety of Eternal formats.

Albeit the number of constructed playable cards in AFR seems to be rather scarce in comparison to other sets in the past few years, there are still plenty of interesting things to explore.

Most of these new cards will have to settle for seeing play in Limited, Standard or Commander, but a select few may actually be strong enough to compete in other eternal formats. In this article we will take a brief look at what I consider to be the best constructed playable cards of the set, the new Standard 2022 format and two nifty new infinite combos made possible due to a couple of Adventure in the Forgotten Realms cards!

Best constructed playable cards

Portable Hole in Modern artifact-based decks

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My pick for the most impactful card of the set is actually an uncommon, Portable Hole fills a similar role to Prismatic Ending in Modern but has several other things going for it besides being a very efficient removal spell.

Whir of Invention, Lantern Control and other artifact matters strategies of the past have historically lacked cheap early artifact-based interaction – the printing of Glass Casket in Throne of Eldraine was the first release of such a cheap artifact-based removal spell but was ultimately too weak for eternal formats.

Another flaw of these decks has been their inability to destroy problematic permanents such as Rest in Peace and Stony Silence, Portable Hole now offers them a cheap solution and is even tutorable with Whir of Invention or Karn, the Great Creator.

Treasure Vault in Modern artifact-based decks

Don’t pay much attention to Treasure Vaults’ activated ability, it might as well just be flavour text. This card’s real strength lies in its artifact type, and Modern Affinity decks will be interested in trying it out alongside Darksteel Citadel. A relevant distinction between these two lands is that Treasure Vault lacks indestructible, making it susceptible to artifact destruction

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Demilich in UR spell-based decks

As Magics’ history has proven, free spells tend to be amongst the most broken things one can be doing in magic and as such also end up being a recipe for success in constructed. Demilich has eerily similar deck building requirements as Arclight Phoenix, and a deck featuring both of these cards is bound to eventually see play in Modern or Historic.

When comparing Demilich to Arclight Phoenix, the former is harder to enable and crucially lacks haste, but in turn can also be cast for free from the hand and will flash back a spell upon attacking ala Dreadhorde Arcanist.

Notably, bringing Demilich back from the graveyard also has the steep additional cost of exiling four spells from your graveyard, making it hard to recur multiple times consistently.

For anyone interested, the Magic Online streamer Evart Moughon has already put together a promising list which can be found here.

Tasha’s Hideous Laughter in Modern Mill

Tasha’s Hideous Laughter thrives in formats with a low mana curve, making it a strong option for Mill in the right metagame. For instance, current iterations of a popular modern deck, Rakdos Delirium, have a total converted mana cost of only 51, making two copies of Tasha’s Hideous Laughter enough to mill the opponent out.

Creature Lands

Cave of the Frost Dragon, Den of the Bugbear, Hall of Storm Giants, Hive of the Eye Tyrant, Lair of the Hydra

The first ever cycle of creature lands which enter the battlefield untapped arrive with Adventures in the Forgotten Realms! The opportunity cost of playing these lands is low and whilst some activation costs on them are rather steep, the payoff is there. Den of the Bugbear, Hall of Storm Giants and Lair of the Hydra stand out as the best of the cycle and Den of the Bugbear even has a very relevant creature type.

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New Infinite Combos

With Adventures in the Forgotten Realms entering Magics’ ever-growing card pool, along come new possibilities to find new synergies to exploit!

Two new infinite combos are now available in several constructed formats, courtesy of Shambling Ghast and Acererak the Archlich.

Shambling Ghast + Liliana, Untouched by Death + Goblin Bombardment

Liliana, Untouched by Deaths’ -4 ability in combination with a sac outlet, lets you loop Shambling Ghast, generating infinite ETB triggers. The easiest way to exploit this loop in Modern is with Goblin Bombardment – in Historic the best options are either Blood Artist, Mayhem Devil or Ayara, First of Locthwain with Woe Strider acting as the sac outlet.

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Acererak the Archlich + Aluren / Omniscience / Rooftop StormLost Mine of Phandelver

Swiftly after Acererak the Archlich got spoiled, the ingenious Magic Community discovered that Acereraks’ wording is exploitable, and it is possible to bounce Acererak indefinitely by never completing the Tomb of Annihilation. Once you get to replay Acererak infinitely for free with Aluren, Omniscience or Rooftop Storm, you then simply have to venture into the Lost Mine of Phandelver and stroll through the room which reads “Each opponent loses 1  life, and you gain  life” a couple of times.

Forgotten Realms in Standard 2022

Many other cards of Adventure in the Forgotten Realms are also bound to see constructed play, particularly in Standard, after this coming rotation. We can already get a glimpse of what the next Standard format has in store for us by looking at the best performing decks of Standard 2022, a transitional format available on Magic Arena which excludes the sets soon to be rotating out of Standard.

The sets currently legal in Standard 2022 are Zendikar Rising, Kaldheim, Strixhaven: School of Mages and Adventures in the Forgotten Realms.

In the formats’ short lifespan Wizards of the Coast has surprisingly already issued a first ban, the combination of the new card The Book of Exalted Deeds and Faceless Haven was deemed too hard to interact with and ended up creating tedious stalemates, prompting Wizards to feel the need to act.

The Book of Exalted Deeds is not the only new card having an impact in Standard 2022, most of the top decks of the format feature some AFR cards, let’s have a look at some!

Izzet Dragons –  Iymrith, Desert Doom / Dragon’s Fire / Inferno of the Star Mounts

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A control deck featuring a variety of big dragons as finishers, what’s not to like? Iymrith, Desert Doom is reminiscent of an old Standard all-star Dragonlord Ojutai, and is the finisher of choice in current iterations of this deck alongside another dragon, Goldspan Dragon. Once the deck manages to stick a threat in play, it looks to resolve Alrund’s Epiphany and ride the flying menace to victory.

Another new card Dragon’s Fire also fills an important role as the best cheap red removal spell of the format.

Dimir ControlMordenkainen & Hall of Storm Giants

The new AFR cards Mordenkainen and Hall of Storm Giants are basically the only win conditions this archetype plays – this deck is a great option for anyone who enjoys making their opponents’ life miserable by repeatedly wiping the board with Blood on the Snow, Crippling Fear, Shadows’ Verdict and finishing the job with Dog Illusion tokens from Mordenkainen.

Mono Green Stompy  Ranger Class & Werewolf Pack Leader

Ranger Class and Werewolf Pack Leader both fill a similar role in this mono green stompy deck by being a 2 mana threat which can snowball out of control and provide card advantage if left unchecked.

This deck consists of a selection of the most efficient green creatures in the format and plays snow basic lands to enable Blizzard Brawl, a contender for best removal spell in the format.

White Weenie – Monk of the Open Hand & Portable Hole

Monk of the Open Hand, Clarion Spirit and Codespell Cleric all reward playing multiple spells a turn, setting the theme for this deck. With Skyclave Apparition and Portable Hole, this iteration of White Weenie even gets to play excellent removal.

The absence of good mana is noticeable in this iteration of Standard, and players will have to wait for the release of the next set, Innistrad: The Midnight Hunt to hopefully remedy that – as is, it is hard to build a consistent three coloured deck.

Consensus seems to be that the apparent reduction in power level of this upcoming Standard should create a more interesting and replayable format, something which would be a welcome change after the past years of Standard.

For anyone interested in the D&D lore on which Adventures in the Forgotten Realms is based as well as some insight on the set from an experienced D&D players’ perspective, be sure to check out Davids most recent article!

Until next time!

Ricardo Caetano da Silva