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Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Set Review

It may not look like it at first glance, but Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms is perhaps the most important Magic the Gathering set in a long, long time. Bridging the gap between the table-top behemoths that are Dungeons & Dragons and MTG, this set features beloved characters, new mechanics, and some really, really exciting cards!

Despite both being produced by Wizards of the Coast, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (AFR) is the first time Dungeons & Dragons has crossed over into a standard, black-bordered Magic the Gathering set. Set in D&D’s most popular world, the Forgotten Realms, the set explores everywhere from Neverwinter to the Underdark and features famous faces like Boo the Hamster, the Demon Prince Orcus and the Tarasque. For D&D players AFR is chock full of references to the worlds they love, while for MTG players it’s a brand new world to be introduced to.

Key Mechanics

There are three main new mechanics introduced in Adventures in the Forgotten realms. You couldn’t have a D&D set without dungeons, and so the biggest mechanic by far is Venturing into the Dungeon. The set comes with three Dungeon cards, which sit outside your deck and are always available to you (like Emblems). Whenever you Venture, you can choose to either progress through the rooms of a dungeon, or start a different one instead. Each of the three dungeons have considerable benefits, like the Dungeon of the Mad Mage letting you draw three cards and play them for free, or the Lost Mine of Phandelver making tokens and counters. There are lots of ways to Venture throughout the set, making this well worth something building your deck around!

The second mechanic is one we’ve seen in the Silver-bordered Un-sets, but never in a main set: dice rolling! Many cards in the set ask you to roll a d20 (which comes in the bundles and prerelease packs for those who don’t have them!), and reward you to greater degrees depending on how well you rolled. There are some really powerful effects up for grabs in these rolls, such as The Deck of Many Things’ reward for the famous Nat 20, which allows you to put a creature from a graveyard under your control. When that creature dies, its owner flat-out loses the game. Did someone have a Stonecoil Serpent out earlier on? It’s now a ticking timebomb waiting to take out their owner!

Finally, aggro decks are being supported with the introduction of Pack Tactics. If you’ve attacked for at least six damage in combat, and one of those creatures has Pack Tactics, its effect will trigger. Some of these creatures are already making their presence known in Standard, with Werewolf Pack Leader’s draw ability in particular making waves. There’s also Targ Nar, Demon Fang-Gnoll, which gives your attacking creatures +1/+0 whenever its Pack Tactics ability triggers decks that like to go wide and swing with swarms of creatures will definitely benefit from it!

Cards to look out for

Outside of the three new mechanics, there are some other really exciting cards. One of my favourites is Old Gnawbone, a green Dragon that makes treasure tokens equal to the combat damage creatures you control deal and is perfect for mono-green Stompy decks. There’s also Lolth, Spider Queen, one of the most powerful Planeswalkers printed in a long, long time. Perfect for sacrifice-heavy decks, Lolth’s Loyalty counters increase with each of your own creatures that dies, and her ultimate guarantees your opponents will at least lose eight life each turn if you keep swinging with your creatures.

After a brief break in Strixhaven, Showcase Frames are back in full swing, with some fantastic new art treatments available that D&D veterans will love. First are the Monster Guide cards, which render the set’s creatures in a similar way to the old D&D Monster Manual illustrations. Depicting Volo’s inky sketches on parchment, these are visually striking and represent one of D&D’s most iconic art styles really well!

The second are the Module Lands. Ten lands, including the ever-popular Evolving Wilds, all given art reminiscent of the old D&D module books. Featuring flat, bold colours, they look unlike any Magic cards ever printed, and will be a great way to bling out your decks (I’m already cheekily running one in my Hamza Commander deck)!

Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms launches July 23, 2021. You can buy it in the usual Draft, Set and Collector’s Boosters (and Booster boxes), the Draft Bundle with an included d20, or one of the four accompanying Commander preconstructed decks. Remember to pre-order your favourite cards or packs through Magic Madhouse today!

If Adventures in the Forgotten Realms has whet your appetite for Dungeons & Dragons, but don’t know where to start, why not try one of Dungeons & Dragons’ own Magic the Gathering crossovers? Between Mythic Odysseys of Theros, the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica and the upcoming Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos (due out November 16), there’s lots of adventures for you and your party to have in planes you already know and love!

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