With the imminent release of the new D&D: Forgotten Realms set, we’re meeting in a grimy tavern for some ale and to review the set’s new cards. In this article – the third of four in our series – we’ll examine the multicolored and colorless cards and talk about what they mean for the game. Note that while typically our coverage is focused on Commander (and to some extent Conquest), we’re expanding our view just a little bit, and as part of that we’re joined this week by new author and Pro Tour player David Inglis, who will be writing regular content for the site moving forward.
BPhilipYork: So if you’re going to make a dungeon deck for some reason, and the most obvious way to do it is with creatures blinking into and out of existence, then this guy is an auto include. Otherwise he’s a 2/3 for 3 that doesn’t do anything.
FromTheShire: You know if you want this or not. Goes in the venture deck and nowhere else.
BPhilipYork: Level 1 -> this second spell thing, this seems neat but what are you really doing with it? If you’re doing some kind of funky Unwinding Clock with Alchemists Refuge and Vedalken Orrery and maybe Seedborne Muse then I can see this mattering for you, especially if you’re using it to drop lots of 2 mana rocks and things like that. Level 2 -> okay pay 2 mana to bounce something, that’s not so bad. Level 3 -> okay so now you’re exiling castable cards, but only once you’ve cast another spell, so the spell cost reduction makes more sense. We’re paying WWWUUU and 1, so 7 mana to get here. I guess potentially this is playable in a stax deck, I even have an Estrid, the Masked deck that does something similar, but, there are frankly better cards that do similar things. So I’d say pass, generally speaking.
FromTheShire: I’m out on this one. Only reduces the cost of your second spell per turn, bounces one thing, and then gives you a little bit of card advantage, but…. you’re already in blue. Just play one of the many, many better ways blue has to gain card advantage.
BPhilipYork: This is a badass rogue, a potential commander, but more likely an enabler to swing through. The biggest thing I can see enabling is commander damage, and ignoring his triggered ability. Milling 1 off a utility creature can be really nice though just for jacking someone’s tutors to the top. He’s also a human and an elf and a rogue, hopefully, he’ll dual-class soon, but in any case there are a lot of rogue triggers and this fits in well with them.
FromTheShire: I agree that this is more likely a roleplayer than a commander, it’s a good one though. Rogues has already been tearing up Historic and Standard and this could be a good addition to those decks as well.
FromTheShire: Another really solid piece for Rogues, every level of this is good for you. Deny your opponents cards, make your small threats more evasive, then steal their cards? I’m about it.
BPhilipYork: To be honest I’ve never quite “gotten” beholders. Like I know, it’s an iconic D&D monster but it’s just a floating eyeball/head thing with eye stalks coming out of it and they all can cast spells, and it’s one of those completely over the top monsters that really makes no sense whatsoever to me. Anyway, this guy is a guild kingpin, and apparently what that means is you can make other players hate you, by playing off their deck. But it costs 6, so I’d think you’d be reanimating it. And it’s only on your turn. Even so, as a frustrating enabler for Thassa’s Oracle + Demonic Consult I can totally see it, if you shut down the deck with interaction or loaded with counterspells, GG.
FromTheShire: Shockingly from the kind of monster who enjoys Sen Triplets I think Xanathar the Friendmaker is fantastic. Load your deck up with cards like Paradox Haze, Strionic Resonator, Sakashima of a Thousand Faces, and Gonti, Lord of Luxury and go to town. If you’re feeling extra fun you can go for a kind of Commander-ized Lantern Control deck with effects like Lantern of Insight and Codex Shredder plus a bunch of tutors and counters. Just pick your favorite nasty Dimir control cards, stuff them in the deck, and enjoy having all of the fun at the table for yourself. I can’t wait.
BPhilipYork: So creating a single treasure isn’t bad, and giving a +1/+1 for each treasure used to pay is quite useful. The colors it’d be the most useful with would be green and blue though, so as a Rakdos guy this is kind of funky. It’s a neat ability but I just don’t see it really going much of anywhere in commander, all the best treasure generators are in other colors. Maybe could pair it with pirates in a Grixis deck.
FromTheShire: This is interesting, and red has a pretty decent number of Treasure creators. It’s not powerful enough to really get there though in my opinion.
BPhilipYork: A 5/3 flying trampler for 4 is no joke. With powerfully linked enters play abilities, one to board clear, another to mass reanimate, there is a lot of potentials there. As a weird enabler for say a sacrifice/kobold deck this guy could be right on par. If you’re saccing a lot of 0 cost creatures to draw and generate mana I could see this being game ending or even going infinite, once you put the pieces together right. However, it’s Rakdos so you won’t have the best spell interaction or silences to protect your relatively vulnerable combo. But in most Rakdos or Mardu decks focused on the graveyard this guy is easily worth a look, if not as commander then just as a powerful utility piece.
FromTheShire: Rakdos Reanimator is a tried and true archetype and this is a solid Commander for the deck. Black is pretty good at making the big mana needed to power him, giving the creatures you reanimate haste is excellent, and having a board wipe in your Command Zone when you need it is very nice. Really nice to see such a big D&D name be threatening in Magic as well.
BPhilipYork: So I guess bards are Gruul, who knew. I always would’ve thought… well yeah that sort of jives. Bards are kind of chaotic, sometimes into nature, sometimes more just into sort of chaos generally speaking. So cost reduction can be really big. And it costs GR to reduce your legendary costs by GR, potentially being mana neutral on the turn you power it up. The cost reduction, linked to the +1/+1, linked to drawing as a cast trigger when you cast legendary spells really has all the pieces you’d need to go infinite in some weird way. So this definitely seems like it’ll see play, potentially as an enabler or even a wincon. Temur Sabertooth still exists. It’s a bit wonky, but Radha, Heir to Keld, Heartstone, and a haste enabler, say Concordant Crossroads, and you can draw out your deck.
FromTheShire: This is just kind of fine if you’re not trying to abuse it with a combo. All of the effects are useful but you can probably find better ways of doing them.
BPhilipYork: Well this guy is clearly kind of just scary as a Gruul commander who can basically easily one-punch people out. GR for a 2/2 that can double his power and toughness over and over. Giant Growth and a couple of doubles and someone is dead, and red has a lot of haste enablers now, and that bard class we just talked about giving +1/+1. Other than as a punching face commander I don’t see a lot of utility in Targ Nar.
FromTheShire: Gruul smash? Gruul smash! Decks like this are great for when you want to turn your brain off and turn big creatures sideways at people until they die or you do. I would be much more inclined to slot this into my Xenagos, God of Revels deck than to build it as the Commander but that’s a personal choice thing. However you want to build it this will be fun.
BPhilipYork: Yeah oh, yeah he dual wields. He turned from a fighter into a ranger… wtf? His ability to gain +1/+1 counter is actually kind of scary, he could easily get out of control really fast just by sitting on the board and blowing up your opponents creatures, but that relies on your opponents dropping big creatures. The obvious synergy with Guenwhyvar his stupid cat is obvious and redundant. Also if there ever was an artifact that should turn into a creature (territory WotC has explored before) it would be the cat that is a direct representation in the story of a magical item that is exactly that, an artifact that turns into a creature. Instead, you get a cat creature token with trample. Some things in this set make me angry, tired, or old. Or all 3.
FromTheShire: This card suffers from needing creatures larger than it to die while not dying itself which can be awkward in Commander where frequently the larger creatures are going to be dealt with by a board wipe. If you build it I think you will get the best mileage by putting in a bunch of green fight/deal damage cards so you can actually control when this triggers.
BPhilipYork: Clerics are generally black and white, and so it’s really a bummer that Trelesara, Moon Dancer isn’t Abzan, because with that ability and black in the color identity this would be a rocking commander. As it is you can definitely do some interesting kind of Selesnya life gain beat down deck here, and having a pay off for your life gain triggers in the command zone is really nice I would say the issue with this is that a commander that is constantly getting +1/+1 counters is actually kind of scary, you kind of wish you could put the counters on target creature you control, because once you have a 10/10 or so people are seriously going to consider just exiling your commander, driving up that commander tax and slowing you down.
FromTheShire: Selesnya has an absolute ton of life gain and counter synergies so this can slot in in a bunch of places or be its own deck. It serves as both a serious threat and a value engine which is very solid.
BPhilipYork: This guy is cool. Fit him in the dungeon deck. He fits right into whatever this wonky 5 color deck I’m clearly going to force to work will be.
FromTheShire: I think the mini Sun Titan impression Barrowin does makes it a worthwhile include in Cleric decks with probably a scry 1 attached as an extra bonus.
BPhilipYork: I don’t like this guy because he’s a 1/1 with deathtouch who ventures as an attack trigger. For 2 mana only getting 1 butt is a tough sell. Okay, he has first strike and death touch, which is nice, but it’s pretty common to be able to ping for one, or earthquake for one, or rolling earthquake for one, or well the list goes on. Just seems too vulnerable to invest 2 mana into. The dungeon payoffs just don’t seem worth it.
FromTheShire: I actually really like this card BECAUSE of the fact it’s a cheap first striking deathtoucher that gains you value every turn. I still would probably only put this in a tribal deck in Commander but in other formats this is going to be a good engine that is super annoying to deal with.
BPhilipYork: This guy is boss, it seems like almost all the dice roll triggers are in Izzet colors, not that shocking since all the coin flip colors are in, you guessed it, Blue and Red, and this is the logical commander if you’re desperate to make a deck around rolling d20s, or dice, in general, unless you’re looking to run Golos and just go 5-color. Either way, drawing a card off of every 10 or higher is potentially quite a powerful ability.
FromTheShire: The obvious dice deck Commander. Not super powerful but solid evasion and the card draw is always nice.
BPhilipYork: I think this card is actively scary. It fits into what Izzet has gotten so good at, card draw and selection and reusing the graveyard to cast instants, and turning various things into sources of mana to cast instants and sorceries. I see this card in a lot of decks because the level 3 ability is easily a potential win con. It’s quite expensive, 11 mana in total, but it turns all your creatures into mana dorks that can pay for class abilities, instants, and sorceries so…
FromTheShire: Ok, but what if we made slightly different Storm this time? That should be fine right? Oh it DOES hit each opponent though. Also it ramps you. So uhh, good luck we guess.
BPhilipYork: Strong utility card in Abzan and Golgari decks of the appropriate flavor, generating card draw, but the 4 casting cost and only on your end step limiters make it fairly expensive. Could see some play, especially in deathtouch themed decks, forcing someone to block so you can kill off an important commander or hatebear.
FromTheShire: Black and green both have way better and more repeatable ways to draw cards. Pass for me.
BPhilipYork: Maybe skeleton tribal will be a thing, but for now this isn’t doing a lot in my opinion. It’s a cool card, but not very good at 5 mana, there are lots of skeletons that recur in really useful ways, but they don’t really scale up or play that well with each other.
FromTheShire: I don’t think this is outstanding in the current state of the game, when was the last time you saw someone play an Assemble the Legion? That being said this has definite potential to drop down and kill someone with its Coat of Arms impression. Currently Skeletons are a pretty bad tribe, but we have been seeing some better cards recently and the more support they get the better this card gets as well.
BPhilipYork: Mmmmm this has flying lifelink and haste. Who cares.
FromTheShire: If you needed another demonstration of power creep look at Serra Angel, then at this, and then think about how it’s almost never getting played outside of Standard. That deck with this, Icingdeath, Inferno of the Star Mounts, Dragon’s Fire, and Grand Master of Flowers does look fun as hell though.
BPhilipYork: I think this is definitely a scary possible commander or punchy equipment Boros deck enabler. Throw a Colossus Hammer on him, double strike, and it’s gg. There’s a lot of Boros cards with similar abilities, reducing the cost of equipping, equipping, gaining bonuses for equipping, so having more options in the mix is always really valuable.
FromTheShire: Nothing new here, but this is a very good card for Boros. Makes your Equipment even more deadly and equips it for free, perfect for your game plan.
BPhilipYork: I think this is totally playable in Boros equipment decks, generally you’d either want to fetch your win-con equipment or else a value-piece and then just get to level 2 so you can equip easier. The level 3 ability will let you use creatures to hulk smash utilities and stuff, which is nice.
FromTheShire: The tutor for 2 is worth the price of admission alone, and a 2 mana reduction in equip costs is quite significant. Either getting annoying blockers out of the way or killing off utility creatures will come in handy as well.
BPhilipYork: Card draw is good. Then a land drop is good. This is potentially, uh, really really good. Like Simic card draw and land abilities are crazy, and you can set up combos with something like this, like with Omnath, Locus of Creation, your 2nd land drop is paying for the draw, and then you blink Omnath, and you get a land drop and a draw, then you place a land, and get your 4 life and then you need another way to generate a drop but… anyway drawing cards and playing land is always good, especially if you find ways to synergize them. Probably not a commander type, but possibly.
FromTheShire: I could absolutely see this being a commander if it weren’t for the fact that Thrasios, Triton Hero exists. The effect is nearly identical and Thrasios has a long track record of being extremely good, but crucially they also have Partner so you can splash whatever other colors you would like. I think that relegates Gretchen to backup status in the 99 most of the time.
BPhilipYork: Anytime you’re copying something that’s potentially a big deal. You can combo this with various cards, like Peregrine Drake and Faerie Imposter, drop your drake, get 2 copies, untap 10 lands, drop your imposter, first returns your drake, second faerie sacrifices, lather, rinse repeat. Can also be used with things like Deceiver Exarch or just double your creatures, or use sacrifices, just lots of potential (Simic has a sideline in sacrifice a creature to search cards)
FromTheShire: The flavor of needing different creature types is outstanding and the effect is super super powerful, and that’s before you start adding in all the ways green has to double the number of tokens created. It’s also worth noting that this is a cast trigger not an ETB, so you still get your copy even if the original creature is countered.
BPhilipYork: Yeah, hamsters are cute, and he has a cute hamster, and he makes it big. Great. Yawn.
FromTheShire: This is a bit of a lore deep cut but a beloved one (see what they did there), and they nail the Miniature Giant Space Hamster.
BPhilipYork: This is what it is. With sufficient ramp and a bunch of bigass dragons, this is the most battlecruisery of decks. I made a deck around it, expect an article to come out soonish.
FromTheShire: Love it. We’re not here for any of that fancy spell slinging nonsense, we’re here to slam big dragon after big dragon and make our opponents either answer them or die.
BPhilipYork: Yeah, this does what it does. Not a horrible 3 mana rock, if you’re venturing. The Lost Mine of Phandelver has a generically good path, though at 3 mana per turn that’s spicy. In a weird stax deck I could see using this for a long-term value plan, and also kind of knowing how to use the dungeons to counter things. For example, preventing things from attacking can be extremely powerful.
FromTheShire: In general I don’t play 3 mana rocks these days, but if you’re going to play one it should definitely have some kind of additional upside like this. Venturing probably isn’t worth changing that policy, but it’s fine.
BPhilipYork: I like it, effectively an egg with continual card draw attached. Just, great.
FromTheShire: If you think I’m scared of putting colorless Greed in every deck, you’re dead wrong.
BPhilipYork: So a 3 cost artifact that has “Equip – pay 1 life for each card in your hand” but then gives the creature +X/+X where X is the number of cards in your hand is actually pretty scary. So I think this is totally playable. Also it has equip 2, which is rather cheaper for that much +power. So this actually seems really really strong to me.
FromTheShire: Empyrial Plate already sees play, and this has the upside of being able to equip for life, and of trying to assemble Vecna Voltron. The only downside is that the boost is only until the end of turn.
BPhilipYork: To be honest the deck of many things is kind of disappointing, I don’t know how they could’ve done it, but many things is not 3 things. 3 is 3, not many. It’s suitably kind of random and influenced by your hand, I like the interaction, and the 20 is of course hilarious. There are some ways to usefully discard your hand and some cards that force discarding your whole hand and reward you with more card draw, such as Song of Creation enough such pay offs for an empty hand and you could definitely work something out.
FromTheShire: I do like that it’s very possible to completely bone yourself with the deck, which is extremely on brand. Some more possible results would have been cool, but there’s a limit to how much text can be put on a card. This would have been perfect for the Urza, Academy Headmaster treatment.
BPhilipYork: It’s neat, I like that they included a trap, but 3 + 4 is a lot for a pseud-egg that only nets you treasures half the time, and card draw 45% and an amazing tutor 5% of the time.
FromTheShire: This is another one with outstanding flavor that doesn’t really get there in game.
BPhilipYork: This man land is boring and no utility.
FromTheShire: I think most of these are never seeing a commander table unless someone is going deep on a relevant tribe. The vast majority of our turns are played with 2 or more other lands in play, and a monocolored tapped land with an expensive animation is not where we usually want to be. Dragon is at least relevant on this one.
BPhilipYork: 7/7 ward 3 is respectable but 6 mana is too much.
FromTheShire: At least nobody is bothering to blow your land out with removal.
BPhilipYork: This utility ability is worth just throwing in to decks to disrupt graveyard decks.
FromTheShire: Now we’re talking, we have an actually relevant ability not just a vanilla creature.
BPhilipYork: For goblin decks this is an awesome card, turning into a goblin that creates goblins is amazing.
FromTheShire: Goblins can definitely end up with an empty hand looking for a way to get back in a game, in formats other than Commander that ETB is still brutal though.
BPhilipYork: This don’t impress me much.
FromTheShire: Even more expensive than the others to be worth it, and it doesn’t even trample.
BPhilipYork: So this is like the artifact but quite a bit worse, still it’s another venture into dungeons, potentially if you’re going to slam through dungeons and over it’s a piece for that.
FromTheShire: This is way too expensive, if you get to the point in a game where this is your best available play things have gone terribly, terribly wrong.
BPhilipYork: I think this is potentially playable in some decks, maybe Kaalia of the Vast and other dragon decks, mana fixing with a downside of ETB tapped isn’t the end of the world.
FromTheShire: In the decks that want this most of the time it will enter untapped. Only making one color of mana is a definite downside but this still goes in 5 color Dragon decks.
BPhilipYork: I think this is potentially really strong, for cards like Galazeth, Prismari and Urza, Lord High Artificer and treasures are doing so many interesting and neat things, imagine if you had an Academy Manufacturer
FromTheShire: No major downsides, always enters untapped and makes mana, then later can make a whole mess of Treasure tokens, I like it.
Dinglis Side Note: The creature lands are all great for constructed. Seriously go pick them up. My favorites are the Green and the Blue one.
Next Time: Commander Decks
That wraps up our look at the set’s multicolored and colorless cards. Join us next time as we do a deeper dive into the Commander decks released alongside the set, picking out our favorites, and talking about the future build-arounds. In the meantime, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.