Despite being powered down compared to some of 2020’s top sets, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms still boasts some fantastic cards for all formats, with nods not only to Dungeons and Dragons, but to Reserved List classics and to Innistrad!
There’s a guard line in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, “Why. Won’t. You. Die!” Expect to say that a lot if you play against Flameskull. It’s got enough power to take significant chunks of life and take down early-game flying blockers, and it can not only recur – it offers you the choice of recursion or potentially a better card. Why won’t it die?
9. Lair of the Hydra
Creaturelands have a tendency to be big players in many formats. Think Creeping Tar Pit, Raging Ravine, Mutavault, even Needle Spires had its day in the sun, so this and its partner-in-crime, Den of the Bugbear, give players a powerful, versatile way to spend late-game mana and close out tight matches.
8. Guardian of Faith
Commander players already know how strong phasing permanents out of play can be. This card offers that ability on a decent vigilance body. Flashing it onto the battlefield in response to removal spells, boardwipes and even as an answer to your bad blocking decisions give it a lot of flexibility.
7. Hobgoblin Bandit Lord
Goblins love a good lord, and this one is a fine addition to the genre. The +1/+1 to other Goblins is standard, but the second ability, to deal damage equal to the number of Goblins that entered the battlefield under your control this turn, has potential to be a game-winner, a way to punch past a big creature or just a repeatable source of damage.
6. Werewolf Pack Leader
Kalonian Tusker in M14 was one of the prototype 3/3 green creatures for two mana. Werewolf Pack Leader is quite an evolution. Creatures this cheap once had drawbacks, now they can fit into the mono-green aggro strategy, drawing cards to reward you for doing what you were going to do anyway. The added ability to gain an additional two power and trample is icing on the cake.
5. Lolth, Spider Queen
Five mana for a planeswalker is expensive, but Lolth is almost certainly worth the investment. Not only can you draw a card without spending loyalty (or gaining it, but I digress), Lolth gets a loyalty counter every time a creature you control dies. Since Lolth creates creatures too, this is a perfect top end for any deck looking to sacrifice creatures for an advantage, though the ultimate is a bit disappointing, admittedly.
4. Circle of Dreams Druid
Gaea’s Cradle is pretty good, so why not stick that ability on a creature, and make it a creature type that can power it out insanely fast and generate huge advantage? It adds mana for all creatures, not just Elves, so it allows more diverse deckbuilding than say, Elvish Archdruid, and has plenty of combo potential for formats that allow it.
3. Portable Hole
Removal that costs one mana is always worth a look, and while the two-mana value limit will push this into sideboards for Standard, in Modern and Legacy this could see main deck play, where it deals with a huge number of threats without the drawback of Path to Exile ramping your opponent or Swords to Plowshares giving them life.
2. Treasure Vault
Sometimes it’s really simple to see how powerful a card is. Treasure Vault slots into any artifact deck because of that “artifact land” typing. The ability to flood the board with artifacts, powering up cards such as Urza’s Saga, make it very nearly an auto-include in the right deck, but even paired with something like a Crucible of Worlds, there’s a lot of potential in the Vault.
Potentially a free spell for instant and sorcery heavy decks, you can pair this with Serum Visions, Brainstorm, Lightning Bolt or whatever else for a cheap threat, similar to Arclight Phoenix. Demilich though does even more. Once you have a full graveyard of spells you can then cast them again from the graveyard when you attack, and if it dies, it can come back again. Why won’t it die?