September 4

Thoughts on Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Draft Format (Magic the Gathering)

I love Magic the Gathering and I love Dungeons & Dragons. Wizards of the Coast has made some controversial bussiness decisions lately that I don’t really know what to think about, but Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (AFR) was one of my most anticipated sets in a long time.

Since we’re still in a pandemic there haven’t been much physical play but I’ve spent numerous hours drafting AFR in Magic Arena and feel like I’ve gotten a good grasp of the format. This is mostly for future reference, but I thought that it would be fun to document some of my thoughts in a public place. If someone should be interested.

There are as always a multiple of themes in the set. There are also some new game mechanics and card types.

Class cards is a new type of enchantment. Most of these are really strong in a draft format. Good build arounds are the Barbarian, Cleric and the Druid class. Classes that are always good are Paladin, Ranger, Wizard and Warlock. Ranger probably being the strongest one overall since at worst it’s a 2/2 for 2. There are some pretty decent enchantment removal in the set though, so you shouldn’t bank on getting to keep your class each game. They are also pretty slow (except for Ranger) so can be suceptible to aggressive decks.

Dungeon cards is another new type of card that exists outside your deck and have separate rooms that you go through as cards tell you to “venture into the dungeon”. The rewards you get from travelling the dungeons are by themselves pretty small, but when you reach a critical mass of triggers it grows quite powerful and can take over the game. At worst its like a Scry 1, and that’s at least decent. White and black make a good combo for dungeon focused decks, and also blue if you get the right cards.

Another more controversial feature implemented into Magic is to roll the D20 to get a random effect on a card. On most cards the effect is basically the same but with four different power levels. There are also cards that care if you roll dice and trigger effects when you do. When evaluating the card you should calculate a moderate result, most of the cards are pretty good.

Below I’ve listed my favourite commons in each color and also some runner ups.

White: Minimus Containment

Not much to say here really. There are a lot of powerful removal spells in this format, but what makes this great is that it can deal with anything. It has a real drawback since it ramps the opponent, making this weaker especially in the earlier turns. Still, removal is removal, and this is the good stuff.

Runner ups in white for best common is probably Celestial Unicorn and Planar Ally. Both are really strong win conditions in the right deck. Also shout out to Delver’s Torch which is a powerful equipment but a bit slow if you can’t cheat the equipment cost.

Blue: Soulknife Spy

The only non-removal spell on the list. This is one of the scariest creatures in the format. It hits hard and easily gives card advantage. Blue is overall probably the weakest color, so it is often under drafted, leaving a lot of Soulknife Spys to go really late. I often start hedging on these when they start showing up in the last five cards.

A strong contender for best blue common is of courses Charmed Sleep, which is an excellent removal spell. Also the Djinni Windseer is an awesome beater that would be a decent rare in other formats with weaker commons in the pool.

Black: Grim Bounty

Black has a lot of good creature removal, as they should. This is really powerful. A big drawback is of course that its sorcery speed and that its hard to splash, but the treasure you get from it is so powerful in this format. Not only is there a lot of creatures and spells that cares if they’ve been paid for by treasures, it also makes it so much easier to splash.

Red: Dragon’s Fire

Extremely efficent instant removal that can hit over its weightclass if you happen to control or hold a dragon. It’s a pretty fast format, so cheap removal spells is even better than they usually are. Not many creatures have more than 3 toughness anyway, so this takes care of most things. A good spell to splash in most decks, esepcially if you got some dragons to power it up.

Green: Spoils of the Hunt

Another removal spell. Not very exciting, I know. This an excellent instant punch spell of course with the upside of getting better if you get to splash it with treasures. Green generally are pretty bad at generating treasures compared to black or red, but this is still extremely powerful removal.

Overall Thoughts

I reall liked this format. There are a lot of fun strategies to play around with, I love the UB Rogues deck, the four-five color treasure decks as well as the WG life gain deck. All colors have a lot of interaction and powerful creatures with black or red being at the top of my tier list with blue on the bottom. Blue is however very under drafted and you can usually pick up very powerful cards pretty late. There are a lots of interactions in the matches and they are seldom won by powerful mythic bombs but rather by having a consitent strategy and a strong curve. There are so many powerful removal spells so you often see them go pretty late, so keep a lookout for them as it easy to kinda get numb to it. Don’t be afraid to take off color cards, its really easy to splash since three colors have access to treasure generation.

Hope that I get to play this in physical form at some point.