Commander Deck Of The Week: Friends Forever Playing D&D

Bennie Smith is throwing it back to the 80s! See how he mixed Saturday morning cartoons, Stranger Things, and their MTG crossovers into one great Commander deck.

Eleven, the Mage, illustrated by Pauline Voss

I’m a huge Stranger Things fan.

The nostalgic appeal is perfect for me. I, too, was a child in the 1980s; I was also a bit nerdy and loved to play Dungeons & Dragons.  So when Wizards of the Coast (WotC) released two particular Secret Lairs, I immediately pulled the trigger on them:  Saturday Morning D&D from the All-Natural, Totally Refreshing Superdrop from June 2021, and Secret Lair x Stranger Things from the October 2021 Superdrop.

It wasn’t until early this year, when I finally got Stranger Things, that it occurred to me these would be perfect to make a five-color deck using all the Stranger Things characters, and surround it with D&D cards from the Saturday Morning D&D Secret Lair and cards from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms.  

To make this happen, I had to use Eleven, the Mage and Mike, the Dungeon Master as the commanders, using the friends forever mechanic.

Eleven, the Mage Mike, the Dungeon Master


If you don’t have the Stranger Things character cards, WotC did print reskinned Magic character versions that you could use in their place:

Cecily, Haunted Mage Othelm, Sigardian Outcast

If Stranger Things just doesn’t float your boat, but you still wanted to use my list as the base for your own D&D-themed Commander deck, you could swap Eleven and Mike for Tiamat from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms as your five-color commander, and swap out the other Stranger Things characters in the deck for more D&D themed cards.

The Evolution of the Deck

I first built this deck before Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate came out, and tried to keep the theme pure—all the nonland cards needed to be from the two Secret Lairs or from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. It was a lot of fun to build and a lot of personal fun to play, since I loved the themes. But after playing it a few times, I realized keeping on-theme left strategic holes in the deck, most notably when it came to creature control and other interaction. So I decided to let myself play a few cards off-theme if they filled those holes and made for better gameplay.

After Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate came out, I was thrilled to see the cycles of Dragon cards with Adventure modes I could use as spells early on, and later cast the creature side to increase the density of Dragons.  I was also thrilled that we got more dungeon adventures, with the initiative mechanic introducing the most powerful of dungeons, Undercity, designed specifically for multiplayer.  More dungeons, more Dragons, more D&D fun for our Stranger Things friends!

Let’s dig into the decklist.

Friends Forever

Eleven, the Mage Mike, the Dungeon Master Will the Wise Lucas, the Sharpshooter Max, the Daredevil Dustin, Gadget Genius Chief Jim Hopper Hawkins National Laboratory

The Stranger Things crew (and the Hawkins National Laboratory land) doesn’t particularly scream D&D mechanically, but I do appreciate the Clue theme that many of them have. This provides a nice measure of card draw to keep the deck moving along, and Dustin even provides mana for cracking Clue tokens.

Eleven also provides some card draw if you are able to attack with her safely, and Mike’s ability can help save Eleven or any of your other creatures from an untimely death.  But most of the time Mike is going to be saving a dungeon creature or a big Dragon.

D&D Classes

Wizard Class Cleric Class Barbarian Class Ranger Class

A big part of D&D is your character’s class, so I wanted to represent that here.  Many of the character classes are rather narrow and niche, so I picked ones that are more generically good. Since I’m playing some dice-rolling D&D cards in the deck, Barbarian Class’s passive ability is well worth the slot.  On a side note, I feel like these four character classes provide a nicely well-rounded classic D&D party: you’ve got your mage, your healer, your tank, and your rogue (some Rangers are more stealthy scouts than warriors).

Delve into the Dungeon

Dungeon Descent Yuan-Ti Malison You Find a Cursed Idol Varis, Silverymoon Ranger Nadaar, Selfless Paladin Ellywick Tumblestrum Midnight Pathlighter Barrowin of Clan Undurr

One half of D&D is dungeons, so I’ve included most of the best venture into the dungeon cards from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms.

Midnight Pathlighter in particular is hugely powerful by giving your creatures a sort of evasion that will usually mean you can’t be chump blocked by tokens or small disposable creatures. You Find a Cursed Idol provides some much-appreciated on-theme removal for a problematic artifact or enchantment, and if there’s nothing you need to destroy, you can get a Treasure and venture into the dungeon!

Take the Initiative

White Plume Adventurer Stirring Bard Sarevok's Tome Undermountain Adventurer Seasoned Dungeoneer Rilsa Rael, Kingpin Tomb of Horrors Adventurer

I made room for most of the best initiative cards to broaden the dungeon theme, with an eye towards trying to get one of these cards on the battlefield first since Undercity provides the strongest room abilities.  It’s wild that White Plume Adventurer and Seasoned Dungeoneer have been making waves in the Legacy format lately, making them a bit pricey to pick these up these days, but there are certainly some other, cheaper options available.

I do really like Rilsa Rael, Kingpin in conjunction with Eleven, the Mage; you do want to attack with Eleven to draw the card, and Rilsa’s abilities make it more likely that Eleven can attack and survive even in the later turns.

Dungeons Matter

Dungeon Delver Hama Pashar, Ruin Seeker

Both of these cards are awesome, considering all the dungeon delving this deck should be doing.  I particularly love the Dungeon Delver background since we have two commanders, so the chance of this staying active is better than normal.

Spell Dragons

Young Blue Dragon Sword Coast Serpent Emerald Dragon Sapphire Dragon

I love having these “spell” Dragon cards in the deck. The Sand Augury Adventure of Young Blue Dragon is a perfect early-game spell for two mana, scry 1 and then draw a card.  Capsizing Wave from Sword Coast Serpent is a great tempo play that’s especially good against Voltron decks. And I love that Psionic Pulse from Sapphire Dragon gives you another copy of Negate, and the Dragon side of the card is solid value for seven mana with a sizeable body and a good combat trigger.

Dissonant Wave from Emerald Dragon is a really cool effect to have in green, but it’s really narrow and three mana is a lot to hold up for the chance to counter an activated or triggered ability. Most of the time I just cast the Dragon and beat down with it, but I still appreciate having the option available.

Other Dragons

Dragonborn Champion Adult Gold Dragon Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm Ancient Silver Dragon Acolyte of Bahamut

To build out the Dragon theme, I’ve peppered in a bunch of sweet Dragons from the two D&D sets.  Miirym, the Sentinel Wyrm is an absurdly good card, and it makes me glad I was able to up the Dragon count with the spell Dragons.

Ancient Silver Dragon is the deck’s big bomb, and if I get to deal combat damage to an opponent once or twice, it will really turbocharge Eleven’s attack trigger.

The Dragon theme had me make room for another Background card, Acolyte of Bahamut!

Dice Rolling Goodies

Pixie Guide Bag of Tricks Treasure Chest Contact Other Plane The Deck of Many Things Diviner's Portent

It’s not D&D without rolling dice, so I’ve squeezed in as many good dice-rolling cards as I could! 

Treasure Chest is such a great D&D trope: will you find gold, or knowledge, or a relic of great power?  Or is it trapped?  Let’s roll and find out!  The Deck of Many Things is a powerful artifact from the earliest days of D&D, and even though the Stranger Things gang never mentioned it in the show, I can totally envision them getting excited about it around their D&D table.

Other D&D Goodies

Eye of Vecna Hand of Vecna Mimic Sword of Dungeons & Dragons

The Eye and Hand of Vecna are also powerful artifacts from the earliest days of D&D, and I had them in this deck before the Season 4 of Stranger Things came out and the “big bad” was nicknamed Vecna, but now they’re must-includes.  Hand of Vecna in particular is an awesome piece of Equipment to make Eleven a potent attacker once your hand size is big enough.

Mimic is a beloved D&D creature, and I have a foil version with the rule book frame so that it looks ripped right from the old Monster Manual. This card actually won a game because I had totally forgotten about it being a creature until the last turn before I died. I needed to make an alpha strike but needed one more creature, and scanned my battlefield over and over before noticing that I had a Treasure I could animate!

Note that Sword of Dungeons & Dragons is a silver-bordered card from Unstable and thus not legal for Commander. However, it is so on-theme for this deck – and I happen to have a foil copy that’s lovely – that I ask my opponents during the Rule Zero conversation if they mind me having it in the deck. No one has had an issue with it so far!


Swords to Plowshares Terminate Reality Shift Hero's Downfall Time Wipe Sylvan Reclamation Exterminatus

Here’s one area that’s not very much on-theme, but a functional Commander deck needs to have some removal cards in the 99.  The Hero’s Downfall is from the Saturday Morning D&D Secret Lair, so that’s a flavor win!


Arcane Denial Negate Unbreakable Formation

Not on-theme, but since I have access to blue, I think it’s helpful to have a couple more counterspells available.  Unbreakable Formation is also from the Saturday Morning D&D Secret Lair!

Mana Ramp

Blighted Woodland Sol Ring Arcane Signet Nature's Lore Three Visits Commander's Sphere

It’s especially important in a five-color deck to have good color-fixing, so I stepped outside the theme for most of these cards.  That being said, Commander’s Sphere is also from Saturday Morning D&D!

You know, it occurs to me that I should get the non-theme cards altered with D&D or Stranger Things art to get them on-theme.  Do you know any alterists who do D&D-themed alters?

The List

Okay, here is the full decklist:

Magic Card Back

Here are the deck stats from our friends at Archidekt:

What must-have cards might I have missed including in my Friends Forever Playing D&D deck?  Are there any off-theme cards that I should find room for?

Talk to Me

Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter!  I run polls and get conversations started about Commander all the time, so get in on the fun!  You can also find my LinkTree on my profile page there with links to all my content.

I’d also love it if you followed my Twitch channel TheCompleteCommander, where I do Commander, Brawl and sometimes other Magic-related streams when I can.  If you can’t join me live, the videos are available on demand for a few weeks on Twitch, but I also upload them to my YouTube channel.  You can also find the lists for my paper decks over on Archidekt if you want to dig into how I put together my own decks and brews. 

And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy. 

Visit my Decklist Database to see my decklists and the articles where they appeared!