If you follow my content on Lords of Limited or Twitch, it’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of Adventures in Forgotten Realms Draft. AFR is essentially a Core Set in Dungeons and Dragons clothing, which is actually not the issue for me – I normally really enjoy Core Sets as a back-to-basics style of draft format. What really made AFR turn stale quickly for me is that the balance between deck, mechanic and color power levels is extraordinarily heinous, to borrow a word from LSV.
Don’t worry – this isn’t going to be an article for me to vent about AFR. Rather, I want to take a look at the flaws in the format and how cards could have been tweaked slightly to make the format much more balanced. Having perfect color and deck balance isn’t necessarily the goal, but having the decks and colors relatively close in power level certainly helps the longevity of the format, especially when there is a lower complexity level like we have in AFR.
Before I dive into how I’d fix AFR, I want to recap what I believe the balance issues are in the format. First and foremost, blue as a color is significantly weaker than the other colors. In my opinion, blue is weak enough that you should never willingly draft blue except for opening a few select rares like Mind Flayer or Mordenkainen. Sometimes you’ll get pushed into drafting blue from your neighbors cutting the other colors, but you should do your best to not end up there.
On the opposite side of things, red and black are both significantly stronger than the other colors, especially red. In addition to having a deep roster of commons that are intrinsically powerful, both colors’ commons have strong synergies with sacrifice and Treasure themes woven throughout. White and green are stuck in the middle of the pack with both colors being solid, while not quite able to match the consistent synergy and power of red and black.
As for mechanics, venture/Dungeons and dice rolling both ended up significantly weaker than the Treasure and sacrifice synergies in Rakdos. Even the life gain in Selesnya or the Equipment theme in Boros left venture and dice rolling behind in power level. Venture and rolling a d20 falling slightly flat also meant that several of the gold uncommon signpost cards didn’t end up mattering much in the format.
Now that you have an idea of my perspective on the power imbalance in AFR, I want to go through cards that I would tweak to make the format better and why the changes on the cards would help. I’ll attempt to majorly power up blue, slightly buff green/white, and slightly nerf red/black. Many of the tweaks will involve changes in power and toughness to help stats line up better in the format. It’s important to know that four toughness is the magic number in the format to help cards be able to block three-powered aggressive creatures such as Hobgoblin Captain or survive a Dragon’s Fire.