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Ten New Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Brews!



The decks you are about to see are mostly untested first drafts! They were played during the Early Access Event and release day of Adventures In The Forgotten Realms on MTG Arena and are my first stabs at the new Adventures In The Forgotten Realms Standard format. Most are brews jam packed with Adventures In The Forgotten Realms cards, while there are also a few updates to previously established archetypes, but it's important to note that these are the first steps and not finished products! Use them as stepping stones for your own deck brewing process, but play them card for card at your own risk!

Savor the flavor!

I don't personally play Dungeons and Dragons, but it's not hard to see all the flavor oozing out of the new Adventures In The Forgotten Realms crossover set. Venturing into dungeons, cool legends, fun top-down designs. Unfortunately, the shadow of Throne of Eldraine looms, but when brewing these decks I was extremely impressed with the variety of different things there were to try. We may need to wait a little bit longer before they make a major impact on competitive Standard, but there's a lot of awesome stuff happening here!

Today we are going to go over all ten decks I played as part of my Ten New Brews on YouTube and stream, briefly going over each list and my thoughts on how it was, giving it a letter grade, and talking about what kind of potential it has going forward. I played five games with each deck in best of one so the deck's record will also be included.

Let's go!

Deck's Record: 4-1

Deck's Grade: B+

Deck Potential: Reasonably High

Our first deck took the deepest dive possible into the dungeon.

Lost Mine of Phandelver
Tomb of Annihilation
Dungeon of the Mad Mage

Venture is the big new flagship mechanic of Adventures In The Forgotten Realms and it's a wild one. I gave my full rundown on the mechanic in a previous article so I won't get all the way into it, but making your way through dungeons is a brand new avenue to card advantage that is unlike anything we've ever seen before, in some ways similar to Strixhaven's lesson/learn mechanic. It's not quite "draw a card" every time you venture, but on average it's very close.

Ellywick Tumblestrum
Yuan-Ti Malison
Nadaar, Selfless Paladin

As such, this deck is built to venture as much as humanly possible. Repeatable outlets like Ellywick Tumblestrum, Yuan-Ti Malison, and Nadaar, Selfless Paladin are key, as this deck needs to get big dungeon payoffs to win. Whether it's making 4/4s or drawing a bunch of cards and playing stuff for free, that's a reasonable path. It's also super nice that Nadaar can pump the team, which plays great with the token making dungeon rooms as well.

The interactive suite probably needs to be tuned up a bit, as well as finding the right mix of venture cards, but the core of the deck felt quite good. It's not that hard to venture, and venturing over and over is just a never-ending cascade of good grindy effects.

I liked this one!

Deck's Record: 5-0

Deck's Grade: A+

Deck Potential: A

Holy moly we've got a winner!

Bard Class

Bard Class is an absolutely filthy Magic: The Gathering card.

This was by far the most exciting of all the decks we played, as it was the perfect mix of absolutely explosive, reasonably resilient, and having a solid fail-state.

Targ Nar, Demon-Fang Gnoll
Klothys, God of Destiny
Radha, Heart of Keld

There is currently an abundance of powerful Gruul legends in Standard and while they may not be individually powerful enough to want to play without any synergies, Bard Class is an amazing reason to want to play them. A Bard Class on turn two that's activated on turn three allows you to cast your Gruul legend 2-drops for free with +1/+1, and your 3-drops for only one generic mana and also with the buff. This allows you to put an absolute ton of power on the battlefield very quickly, and with haste creatures and indestructible creatures like Klothys you can beat removal as well.

Magda, Brazen Outlaw
Jaspera Sentinel
Bonecrusher Giant

And holding this all together for the games you don't draw Bard Class are the dynamic duo of Magda, Brazen Outlaw and Jaspera Sentinel. They can help accelerate out your threats regardless, and the any colors of mana produced also allow you to cast the back side of Esika, God of the Tree!

This deck absolutely ran people over and there's something very real here.

Deck's Record: 2-3

Deck's Grade: C+

Deck Potential: Medium

Since War of the Spark, they've (rightly so) really turned the power level knob down on planeswalkers, to the point where you rarely see one in competitive play in Standard any more. Well, the walkers of Adventures In The Forgotten Realms are a little more like pre-War of the Spark planeswalkers.

Lolth, Spider Queen
Ashiok, Nightmare Muse

Lolth, Spider Queen is definitely better in a deck with more creatures, but Mordenkainen is everything you could ever want from a six-mana planeswalker. Huge card advantage as well as a durable frame and a threat making ability that can win the game. These join the planeswalkers already in Standard, including probably the best one in Ashiok, Nightmare Muse, to form a more traditional planewalker control deck.

Extinction Event
Check for Traps
Heartless Act

Kill things, make your opponent discard key cards, stick a planeswalker and ride it to victory... or at least that's the plan anyway. The deck probably was a bit heavy on the upper drops, as we took two losses to White Weenie, with Redaine, God of the Worthy being very problematic.

These decks can be a bit difficult to build in a new format because you aren't always sure what cards you need to play around, but what was happening here was a bit medium. I'd imagine after rotation when the power level of the format drops significantly that this sort of deck will be a lot better. In small formats power tends to trump synergy, but Standard right now is huge and powerful.

Deck's Record: 2-3

Deck's Grade: D

Deck Potential: Low

Searching for treasure left us with perhaps our biggest dud of the bunch.

Devour Intellect
Hired Hexblade
Kalain, Reclusive Painter

One of the new mechanics in Adventures In The Forgotten Realms is based around getting benefits when you use treasures to cast things. Devour Intellect is a Thoughtseize, Hired Hexblade is a 2-drop Phyrexian Rager, and Kalain, Reclusive Painter can make your creatures bigger.

The issue is that making treasures at a good rate isn't easy! Ramping mana is already really powerful, so these sort of extra treasure payoffs just add another layer to a puzzle that only needs to be as complex as "have more mana equals play cards faster."

It's a trap!

Deck's Record: 3-2

Deck's Grade: B-

Deck Potential: Medium, Very Format Contextual

The "life gain synergy cards" have been a floating part of Standard for years now, but for the most part never really came together into a full deck. Well, we've got a new one that is not only a great enabler but also part of a lock combo in Standard.

The Book of Exalted Deeds
Griffin Aerie

The Book of Exalted Deeds joins Griffin Aerie as a really good reason to want to gain some life in Standard. Getting an army of flying tokens is a very appealing thing both defensively and offensively, as they block super well and then can also close out a game quickly. The Book of Exalted Deeds really ups the ante as 3/3 flyers are the real deal, but having all eight enablers helps to ensure that you see one ever game.

But the real kicker is the hard lock.

Faceless Haven

Sacrificing The Book of Exalted Deeds to put an enlightenment counter onto a random angel token is a risky way to lose your Book and your angel, as well as perhaps the game, but because Faceless Haven is also an angel, you can put the counter on it and never activate it again, and unless your opponent can kill a land they will eventually deck and lose.

It's not the main plan, which is to be a board control deck that gets down a token maker and then kills creatures while gaining life, but it is an excellent backdoor option to have that cleanly won us one of the five games we were never winning otherwise.

While it will certainly struggle with Yorion and Emergent Ultimatum decks, this deck could definitely be one to watch post rotation.

Deck's Record: 4-1

Deck's Grade: B+

Deck Potential: Surprisingly High!

I absolutely am in love with the "second spell" mechanic we've seen in White in the last few sets.

Monk of the Open Hand
Clarion Spirit

It's a cheap way to give White a recurring advantage that feels White, without just resorting to prowess or other mechanics often seen in other colors. White needs cards like Clarion Spirit, which can provide card advantage and board advantage at a reasonable rate, and the only cost is to play more cheap spells which White is happy to do anyway! Monk of the Open Hand fits perfectly into this theme while being an awesome 1-drop.

Clever Lumimancer
Leonin Lightscribe
Defiant Strike

Add this to the magecraft duo of Clever Lumimancer and Leonin Lightscribe and you have a deck that gets on the board fast and can close a game out really quick, with protection at times. And you get to be a Lurrus of the Dream-Den deck too!

This one was mighty impressive and we only lost to an Azorius Yorion deck that cast three copies of Portable Hole in the first five turns of the game while helplessly at our hand full of Fight As One.

Deck's Record: 3-2

Deck's Grade: C

Deck Potential: Cute But Lacking Raw Power

I always build one really out there deck for my Ten New Brews and you're looking at it.

Oswald Fiddlebender
Ingenious Smith
Emry, Lurker of the Loch

Oswald Fiddlebender has quite the look about him. Birthing Pod is banned in Modern, and Oswald is essentially a cheaper Birthing Pod for artifacts - arguably the most broken card type in the game. That just feels like a recipe for success! Couple this with some pretty powerful artifact enablers like the new Ingenious Smith and the already proven Emry, Lurker of the Loch and we've got something cooking.

Glass Casket
Icebind Pillar

The artifacts are there, but they aren't necessarily worldbeaters. Our pod-chains with Osward were passable but nothing special, while Ingenious Smith was the real gem. The deck had some cool board control elements and there's no doubt that Shimmer Dragon is a phenomenal curve topper, but overall it felt like the juice just wasn't worth the squeeze. Lots of things were happening, but they weren't things that it felt like we should be going out of our way for.

The deck was cute though and maybe something to watch for in the future.

Deck's Record: 0-5

Deck's Grade: C

Deck Potential: Not Nearly As Low As The Record Would Suggest

Our only 0-5 of the entire run and boy was it a surprising one!

Dragon's Fire
Dragon's Disciple
Orb of Dragonkind

Cards like Goldspan Dragon and Galazeth Prismari are already excellent Standard cards, so getting some powerful removal upgrades like Dragon's Fire as well as early plays like Dragon's Disciple and Orb of Dragonkind seemed like it would be a no-brainer path to respectability. Dragon's Fire in particular seems like an excellent card, as the floor of Scorching Dragonfire and the ceiling of dealing five damage is awesome.

Of course, you do play the games for a reason.

I will say I think we ran pretty bad in this set of games, but the deck also felt off too. Icingdeath, Frost Tyrant was essentially useless, as the equipment it makes serves almost no purpose in the deck. However, Iymrith, Desert Doom was about as good as expected.

It's probable that the White is unnecessary and that the deck should just stay straight Prismari, but either way Dragon's Fire is a huge pickup.

Deck's Record: 5-0

Deck's Grade: B+

Deck Potential: Medium To High

Just the casual 0-5 into 5-0!

Much like the last deck didn't feel like it should have 5-0ed, this deck also didn't feel like a rock-em-sock-em 5-0 either. It felt quite good, but not obliterate the world good.

Werewolf Pack Leader

The only actual new card in this deck besides the creature land is Werewolf Pack Leader, but what a card it is. Almost a strict upgrade to the very playable Barkhide Troll, Werewolf Pack Leader is every aggro deck's dream - a well costed aggressive creature that has the potential for velocity and card draw by just doing what you want to do anyway... attack!

Arni Brokenbrow
Impending Doom
Brushfire Elemental

As such, the deck is built with drawing a card on your first attack with Werewolf Pack Leader as often as possible. Arni Brokenbrow is the easiest one to curve into, but Werewolf Pack Leader can also trigger off of just itself with both Impending Doom and Infuriate, helping to mitigate the potential card disadvantage those cards can provide.

Syr Faren, the Hengehammer
Snakeskin Veil

Mix this up with other cards that like to pump things, as well as a collection of great aggressive haste creatures that stand well on their own and of course Bonecrusher Giant, and you've got a really interesting take on Gruul Aggro in Standard!

This deck would kill for a Stomping Ground however, as Cragcrown Pathway can be somewhat awkward with your gg 2-drop and Red spells. Either way, this was a fun one!

Deck's Record: 3-2

Deck's Grade: C+

Deck Potential: Underpowered But Scrappy!

Where my boomers at?


Ophidian used to be a world championship level Magic card back in the day; now Scroll Thief is a joke. But there are new Ophidians, highlighted by Grazilaxx, Illithid Scholar.

Grazilaxx, Illithid Scholar
Toski, Bearer of Secrets
Sea-Dasher Octopus

Grazilaax joins Toski, Bearer of Secrets and the much-maligned Sea-Dasher Octopus to form a trio of card drawing engines. So, what do we with all this card draw? Build a really scrappy tempo deck of course!

Silver Raven
Maraleaf Pixie
Lofty Denial

This deck is super scrappy and I was very impressed we were able to beat both Mono-Red Aggro and Mono-White Aggro, while also being somewhat amused and confused that we lost to Sultai Ultimatum and a Black/White board control deck. It's got super low curve of evasive creatures, a great bounce suite headlined by Brazen Borrower, and a very good counterspell in Lofty Denial. It even puts Snakeskin Veil to great use!

The power level is a bit low, but we've seen decks like Mono-Blue Tempo win Pro Tours in recent years, so it's not entirely outlandish that something similar could succeed.

Pleasantly Surprised

There's no doubt that Standard will still be living under the shadow of Throne of Eldraine until it finally rotates in September, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised by both these brews and the gameplay. I went into deck-building somewhat unenthused about the set, but the more I brewed the more things I found that I wanted to explore.

The "power down" period after a few broken sets is a tough one, because it feels like the new cards don't always make an impact and you're stuck with the bad sets. But the good news is that the last few sets have felt very interesting, and I think once we hit rotation in the fall, we may be on track to rediscover what we all loved about Standard in the first place.

The outlook is good!

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