This is it, my friend: the end. Our final piece tackles the flotsam of D&D: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms and tries not to drown. Artifacts and lands usually are responsible for shoring up mana or adding niche/weak effects, as they slot into most decks. As such, there’s one mythic bomb and cards you’re moderately excited about. Wee!
Bag of Holding
Back in Core Set 2020, Bag of Holding felt like too much work to get back cards you were, on balance, happy to discard in the first place. There’s some slight synergy with Tomb of Annihilation, but not enough to get me excited about Bag in an aggressive deck. I’m happy to sideboard this in control mirrors, as the card advantage is very real.
The Deck of Many Things
I keep staring at this card like a tarot reading because I also know nothing about tarot. This card is about tarot, right? The Deck of Many Things is expensive, yes, but it also spirals out of hand quickly, giving you massive card advantage or battlefield presence. I can’t help but think most decks are going to be delighted to include it.
I’m happy to play Dungeon Map in ramp or controlling decks that are mana-hungry and completely ignoring it in others. However, having to main phase your venturing takes a lot of fun out of the whole activity, like going on vacation with someone who plans your activities in 15-minute intervals. What this lacks in fixing, it makes up for in regularly helping you determine your destiny later in games.
Eye of Vecna
This isn’t a rate we should be pleased with, as two mana and two life per card is as sustainable as the United States’ oil consumption. If you’re assembling Vecna or a highly aggressive deck that’s worried about burning out too early, there’s a window. I would rather open a door.
Fifty Feet of Rope
Now that’s a pricey manipulator! As soon as you can stabilize, Fifty Feet of Rope can do the actual work of Rappelling Down. Since you don’t need to worry about Walls slowing down your aggressive decks, save this for more controlling builds. Most decks in search of this sort of effect would rather find a Dungeon Map.
Have enough ways to reduce equip costs? I can’t stop you from Greataxing. Bruenor is the obvious combo here, hopefully netting you at least one free swing, and this is an absolute beating with a Ranger’s Hawk or Armory Veteran that will force a double block. May it take out a Dragon, my planeswalker.
Hand of Vecna
In decks aggressive enough to pay the alternate equip cost, you’re not thrilled about holding a bunch of cards. That said, giving a two-drop +4/+4 demands a quick answer when you’re on the play, so I just hope you draw Hand of Vecna early, as it’s a garbage topdeck.
I can see a vigilant Juggernaut doing well in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms if Iron Golem wasn’t required to block. For decks trying some risky business with their mana bases, this is a guaranteed four-drop. Sadly, it often trades with your opponent’s three-drop, if not their two.
Dwarfhold Champion coming down as a two-mana 3/4 with ward 1 seems like a strong opening salvo, but without other equip bonuses outside of cost reduction (-2 doesn’t do a lot for me on equip costs), I think you’ll be better off looking elsewhere most of the time. There are fifteen other pieces of Equipment in this set, you know.
Technically, you can use Mimic as a Treasure token for the low, low price of two mana and an actual card. On the flip side, you can pay mana for a generic 3/3 when you need it. I feel like a multi-level marketing company should sell these.
When you get so far down into the bottom of the Equipment barrel, you often wind up pricking your finger on Spare Dagger. Black decks don’t care much about equipping in this set, yet there you’ll find the bulk of your deathtouch (and Manticore). Add to the fact this needs to be sacrificed as you attack (and not after or any number of more useful times) and I can’t say that this is a solid play.
Spiked Pit Trap
This is a trap card, as you see a reasonable amount of damage and think, “I could?” You need a card that rolls and you consider Spiked Pit Trap. You want a cheap artifact for The Blackstaff of Waterdeep and mull it over. I don’t think anyone will truly be starved enough for removal in any deck to trap their food, so avoid the pitfall.
I’m dumb and like gambling; what can I say? Oddly, I think that you’re hoping to include Treasure Chest in ramp/three-color decks and hit those Treasures more often than not. Paying seven to draw three and gain three isn’t a solid deal.
Cave of the Frost Dragon
My favorite of the creature-land cycle, getting an evasive threat to end games is exactly what you’re looking for in every white deck.
Den of the Bugbear
If you can keep your Goblin token alive, Den of the Bugbear is a boon for Boros, where you always need more bodies to equip, but again, you’re playing these lands in every deck you can reliably animate them in, as they amount to a free creature.
I can’t recommend sacrificing mana consistency to tap down what will often be the best creature on your turn in the pursuit of dungeon completion. Dungeon Descent makes Ranger’s Hawk look like Insectile Aberration.
Without any duals to speak of for the first time in a long time, you’re wise to value Evolving Wilds in the event you have something too good not to splash.
Hall of Storm Giants
Ward 3 is pretty nice here, as any activations on your turn put Hall of Storm Giants out of the range of most instant-speed answers.
Hive of the Eye Tyrant
There isn’t much worth exiling from graveyards here, but menace is just fine when you’re looking for a finisher in your aggro decks.
Lair of the Hydra
For most of the game, Lair of the Hydra is flat-out bad, creating a vanilla creature while losing access to another land when it attacks or winds up dead. In Simic, this will wind up winning more games than you’d expect.
Temple of the Dragon Queen
If you’re in a multicolor Dragons deck, Temple of the Dragon Queen is a slam dunk, as you’ll be wanting ways to splash while still making early plays. If you’re in the other 99% of decks, it’s a great way to ensure you always have the color you need the most with minimal downside. Flexibility is key.
Save it for Modern? Sacrificing lands for temporary resources is a bum deal, and once you can actually cash it in for significant Treasures, you should be casting anything you draw.
That’s it! You did it!
I can’t wait to dive into this extremely flavorful set and see how all of these predictions play out, which I’ll be covering in my next column: Everything I Whiffed on in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Good luck with your drafts, sealed decks, and ventures!