Reviewing a set in the aftermath of Modern Horizons 2 is a bit odd. Not only was that set designed to make an impact on formats like Legacy, but it has only been roughly a month since the set came out and I don’t think the depth of it has really had time to be explored. That being said, the reality is that a new set is upon us and Adventures in the Forgotten Realms has already been released for online play. Unlike Modern Horizons 2 though, this set was not designed with eternal formats in mind and it does not look like it will have a substantial impact on Legacy. After the impact that MH2 had, this is largely a good thing, as it will provide players with more time to continue exploring it. While overall there are far fewer cards that will impact the format, there certainly are some exciting cards in Forgotten Realms. Today, we’re going to take a look at everything that might have a place in the format and see if Legacy is going to have a greater D&D feel going forward in the Forgotten Realms Legacy Set Review.
Guardian of Faith
For a long time, phasing was considered one of the more bizarre mechanics in Magic. Even though they streamlined some rules characteristics with the mechanic, it’s still a little weird to see it show up so commonly these days. While it is a functional mechanic these days, it’s a lot worse than blinking a creature, so Guardian of Faith is not a particularly strong card. It can save your creatures from wrath effects with an Aether Vial in play, but that’s pretty much the extent of its utility, so I don’t think this will frequently see play.
Relative to the average power level in Legacy these days, I don’t think Ingenious Smith quite gets there. There are some white artifact decks, such as Bomberman, that might be interested in this effect, though. In order for this card to be good, I think the body has to be relevant, so being a 1/1 in an archetype that doesn’t usually care about random creatures on the board, I don’t quite think this has what it takes.
Monk of the Open Hand
I think this is worse than Clever Lumimancer overall, since that card has a lot of explosive potential, but it isn’t too difficult to make this into a 2/2 or a 3/3 early. Compared to cards printed recently, like Dragon’s Rage Channeler, this is lacking though, so I don’t think we’ll be seeing too much of the Monk show up.
While this is a slow card, it’s a very unique effect, as being able to Birthing Pod chain artifacts is something that hasn’t existed before. Legacy is full of powerful artifacts to tutor into play, so building a white-based artifact deck, perhaps one akin to Bomberman or a white prison strategy, is appealing. A 2/2 for two that doesn’t have an immediate impact is a tough ask though, which is going to limit how much play this will actually see. Pairing it with Chalice of the Void might make it more resilient, so I would recommend looking towards that if you need a starting point.
Early on in preview season, Portable Hole looked like it would be a major boon to white decks in Legacy. With Prismatic Ending just being printed, Portable Hole doesn’t have quite as large of a gap to fill. It’s still a very cheap and efficient answer though and might be a little bit better in monocolored decks such as Death and Taxes, so I fully expect this card to become part of the repertoire of efficient white removal spells going forward.
The Blackstaff of Waterdeep
Ensoul Artifact is a powerful effect that has never really seen play in Legacy. This is a much slower and more resilient version of the card, which does make it more likely to be played. This is likely not worth pursuing as it is probably worse than Affinity-style decks while being weak to the same type of cards.
Probably the card that’s receiving the most press from this set, the Demilich is an extremely powerful card. This works extremely well in a deck designed to cast as many cantrips as possible, especially cards like Manamorphose which by itself gets this down to one mana, and the Demilich is not particularly challenging to recast from the graveyard. Arclight Phoenix feels like the natural pairing for a card like this, but in any deck that’s trying to cast spells, the Demilich could be a potent threat. It bears some similarities to different cards, like Dreadhorde Arcanist, but not being able to get cast early without some other assistance is a knock against it. That being said, it’s hard to keep it away forever, so I do anticipate seeing this card show up a fair amount.
Tasha’s Hideous Laughter
Mana costs in Legacy tend to be pretty low, so this card has the potential to mill opponents for a lot of cards. There are some decks, like Lands, where this might just be a one-shot kill. That being said, milling out opponents can be a difficult ask, especially on a three-mana blue spell. If a dedicated mill deck exists, I anticipate this being a pretty strong option, but could also see it being potent as a sideboard card against decks like Lands that don’t play a lot of spells.
Acererak the Archlich
This card is getting a lot of press because it combines perfectly with Aluren. In the past, you would have to see up a somewhat involved loop with Imperial Recruiters. With Acererak in the mix, you just need to resolve Aluren and then you can repeatedly complete one of the Dungeons that’s not Tomb of Annihilation (preferably the Lost Mine of Phandelver, as that will just deal drain them for one with every completion) and win the game this way. I don’t know if this is what Aluren was missing to become a big player in the metagame, but it’s absolutely going to have an impact on the archetype going forward.
Cards that can recur from the graveyard always have to be considered in Legacy. That being said, this is a tough way to do it, since four mana is a lot of these decks. All-in-all, I don’t think Ebondeath will get there, but it’s worth keeping in mind, at least.
This card has a beefy body and a relevant creature type, which is definitely worth something. Goblins doesn’t generally want this type of card though, and the cost to cast it is relatively high, so I don’t think Grim Wanderer has a home as it stands right now.
Power Word Kill
This is a pretty versatile removal spell. Two mana to kill something in Legacy is a lot these days, but there aren’t too many cards that escape the range of Power Word Kill, so if Legacy slows down a bit at some point, I could see this having a home as a one-of in a deck with Snapcaster Mage.
Sphere of Annihilation
This is a pretty powerful, but slow, wrath effect. Overall, I think it’s a bit weaker than Engineered Explosives, but there are definitely decks that might be interested in this kind of effect. Exiling a couple of Delvers or even an Uro could be really powerful though, and the value of this card does go up a bit with the fact that creatures are more powerful than ever before, so I could easily see this being a sideboard card, as well.
I think this is worse than the newly printed Unholy Heat, but if you desperately need to kill a huge green creature, this will at least be a relevant option going forward (potentially best in Mono-Red Prison that might want to kill Delvers and Tarmogoyfs with a Chalice out).
Recursive threats are powerful, but the body and blocking restrictions are pretty weak, so I would leave this on the sidelines.
Hobgoblin Bandit Lord
While this doesn’t have the same immediate impact that Goblin Chieftain or Goblin Warchief has in Goblins, it does do something quite a bit different than those creatures. The fact that this gives you a repeatable way to kill small creatures is pretty excellent and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this show up as at least a one-of in Goblins going forward.
Minion of the Mighty
This card has some combo potential, which is always worth considering on a one-mana card. With Scale Up, you can cheat a huge Dragon into play as early as turn two, which will normally be enough to win a game. That being said, this card is weak to just about every removal spell under the sun and with Ragavan in the mix, every deck is packing heat for cheap creatures. A deck taking advantage of this seems like it would be a bit high on the variance side for Legacy, but would certainly be fun to play.
An interesting take on the original wish cycle, Wish is quite a bit different than what exists at the moment. The fact that this requires a more intense mana requirement up front is a bit costly, but being able to get any card, with Lion’s Eye Diamond being the frontrunner for best target, could be a big game. Losing the ability to cast a wish effect in advance to set up a future turn greatly limits this card’s versatility, but I could see Mono-Red Storm or TES being interested in this card.
You Find Some Prisoners
Another solid sideboard card to add to the mix, the fact that this card has a failstate of potentially casting one of your opponent’s spells makes it a pretty solid sideboard card against artifacts.
Varis, Silverymoon Ranger
Outside of Aluren combos, this is probably the best way in the set to venture into the Dungeon. I think this card (and the dungeon mechanic overall) is a bit too underwhelming to have an impact in the average Legacy game, but the effect can certainly be powerful, so Varis is worth considering as an option.
The effect of this card is kind of underwhelming, but it is an artifact land that has the potential to do something later in the game, so it’s going to be an option to consider going forward for the various artifact aggro/combo decks out there.
And that’s it! As I said, this set doesn’t have the same pedigree that Modern Horizons 2 had so there are way less cards, but there’s still some cool stuff going on. It’s already been out for about a week online and it hasn’t shaken things up too much yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it starts having a decent impact once people explore Modern Horizons 2 a bit more.
Rich is a Legacy lover from upstate New York who loves to cast Brainstorm, normally pairing it with Delver of Secrets. He has two SCG Open top 8s, with a win in Syracuse in 2019, and numerous high-level Magic Online results. He offers Legacy coaching and frequently posts about Delver decks on twitter @learntolove66.