Has Adventures In The Forgotten Realms Changed Standard At All?

Looking to play Standard with Adventures in the Forgotten Realms? World Champion PVDDR and other SCG creators share their decks of choice.

Korvold, Fae-Cursed King, illustrated by Wisnu Tan

Welcome to What We’d Play! With the arrival of Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, many are unsure what they’d play in Standard. That’s where we come in and let you know what we’d play and why we’d play it. Hopefully this advice aids in your decision making for your next Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Standard event.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa — Sultai Ramp (Yorion)

This is probably the most boring answer possible, but my pick for Standard right now would be Sultai Ramp (Yorion). The deck hasn’t changed much in the last couple of sets, but neither has the format, so it stands to reason that if I thought it was the best deck before, it’s still at least close right now.

The most appealing thing to me regarding this deck is that it just goes over the top of most things, so it doesn’t truly matter what your opponent is doing unless they’re doing something very hostile to you (such as Dimir Rogues). This makes it particularly good versus “cool new things” such as, for example, Ranger Class. Ranger Class is a super-powerful card, but its power is more of the slow, grindy variety, and that’s what Sultai Ramp preys on. A regular control deck might be buried under the card advantage, but Sultai Ramp will just cast Emergent Ultimatum and kill you.

This applies similarly to most new things you can be doing, such as Treasures or even Dungeons. I’ve seen some new Treasure-based builds (Jund/Rakdos/Mardu) and they all look cool and exciting, but they also all look like they’re just dead to Emergent Ultimatum.

The one card from the new set that gives me pause is Burning Hands. I believe that, if that card is widely adopted, the Elder Gargaroth + Koma, Cosmos Serpent plan will become a lot weaker. It’s tricky, because the card is quite bad against Sultai Ramp outside of these two targets (so it’s not like you’re playing it to kill Lovestruck Beast but you’d also be happy to kill Edgewall Innkeeper or Clarion Spirit), but I think the green beaters were such an integral part of your gameplan versus red decks that them getting a clean answer is going to change things.

Right now, however, I’m betting that it won’t change things enough that Sultai Ramp leaves the number one spot for me. Basically, before this set I felt that Sultai Ramp was the clear best deck — right now it’s not so clear and it’s gotten worse relative to the other previously existing decks, but it should be good enough versus any new decks that I’d still play it in an upcoming tournament. 

Autumn Burchett — Mono-Green Aggro❄

I would be lying if I said part of my motivation for playing Mono-Green Aggro❄ was not just simply that I’m kind of done with current Standard, done with Throne of Eldraine and Ikoria, and just want to play the exciting new deck on the format’s way out. Give me anything that isn’t the same old Adventures decks fighting the same old Yorion, Sky Nomad decks.

That said, I also do think Mono-Green Aggro❄ is kind of just great and a very powerful choice for what to register. The deck had quietly been putting up reasonable numbers ever since the release of Faceless Haven, but the printing of Werewolf Pack Leader has added a lot to the deck’s ability to put on remarkably fast early pressure whilst in the same breath helping the deck grind too. Ranger Class performs a bit worse in Standard than it does in Standard 2022 where this format is quite a bit faster and there are so many Bonecrusher Giants hanging around, but it’s still a solid addition that really helps with pushing through damage also.

One thing I will say is I keep seeing lists going around with only three copies of Faceless Haven, and that’s bizarre to me. Sure, Faceless Haven doesn’t help you cast Werewolf Pack Leader on Turn 2, but you can just play more lands if that’s your concern. Sneaking an extra land into the deck means you’re less likely to stumble early, and it’s really very hard for you to actually flood when Faceless Haven is in your deck. Faceless Haven is also just one of the best cards you could possibly have for keeping up pressure through sweepers which is vital in an aggressive deck like this. Never leave home with fewer than four copies.

Shaheen Soorani — Esper Control (Yorion)

Standard will be a bit more interesting with Adventures in the Forgotten Realms.  I welcome the second powered-down set in a row, but there’s a cost that all competitive players will still face.  Even with card strength trending in the right direction, we will have to endure a broken Standard until rotation occurs.  Luckily for the control family, this new set has brought us renewed hope in the form of a win condition.

Iymrith, Desert Doom is very close to Dragonlord Ojutai, especially considering the drop in card strength with this set.  It checks all the right boxes and costs a manageable five mana, where Dream Trawler missed the mark by one.  There’s a huge difference between plopping down a win condition two turns after a sweeper and one turn after.  The other big advantage is its single color, giving all breeds of control a valuable win condition that it was sorely lacking.  I’m not sure if Esper or Dimir Control is the way to go, but this is the list I’m embarking with this week.

Dom Harvey — Naya Adventures (Jegantha)

A week is a long time in Magic. My Standard experience has mostly consisted of the Magic Online (MTGO) Challenges every weekend, which have been consistently dominated by Sultai Ramp… until now.

Adventures in the Forgotten Realms is not a deep set but its few hits have carried their weight, vaulting Mono-Green Aggro❄ into the top tier of Standard. The rest of the format has rushed to adapt in their card and deck choices — Burning Hands helps any red deck keep up with the green machine, while decks like Rakdos Sacrifice that line up well against creatures have seen a resurgence. Sultai Ramp is back in the squeeze of preparing for grueling mirrors without dying in the blink of an eye against aggro.

In this context, Naya Adventures (Jegantha) may be a smart gamble. The Adventure creatures have stifled the potential of aggro decks for almost two full years now and the go-wide focus of this deck dodges the increased density of spot removal that decks are forced to play to handle Mono-Green Aggro❄. The Akroan War is fantastic in any creature mirror and pairs well with a new pickup in Minsc, Beloved Ranger, a strong card in its own right that can ‘sacrifice’ the stolen creature by making it a 0/0.

Sultai Ramp is still a struggle for this deck but that may finally be a fine risk to take. For a format perceived as so stale that Standard 2022 has eclipsed it in popularity, that’s a glimmer of hope.

Michael Majors — Jund Treasure

My co-workers, Bryan and Gerry, have been singing praises of various Treasure strategies emerging from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Standard.  I’ve gone a slightly different route personally, splashing Korvold, Fae-Cursed King into my Rakdos base. Korvold happens to really love Treasure (and Shambling Ghast in particular).  

This deck has some really sick nigh-unbeatable draws involving Shambling Ghast and Deadly Dispute curving into Goldspan Dragon.  You can also just play the Rakdos Sacrifice base game with some interaction, two-for-ones, and mopey creatures putting sufficient pressure on your opponent to close.  

I’ve found Ebondeath, Dracolich to be excellent so far as a bridge threat that is difficult to remove and helps scale all of your removal and Woe Striders later into the game, while being a thorn in Rogues’s side and effectively clocking Sultai Ramp.

Speaking of which, the sideboard is another area where this Treasure package shines.  We’re effectively splashing Korvold for free in the maindeck, but with little effort we can also incorporate Mystical Dispute, a massive upgrade from traditional and often unreliable Duresses that these types of strategies have traditionally employed to fight Sultai Ramp.  Instead of being forced to clock those decks, we can now legitimately go toe-to-toe with them.  That gives a whole new context to how these midrange engine-based strategies can place themselves in the new Standard metagame.

Ari Lax — Sultai Ramp (Yorion)

This Standard format actually looks really interesting and I wish I had a good reason to play a lot of it. There are a ton of eight-set format tools that make a bunch of unique aggro decks look good.

That said… I’m still on Team Evil here. Too many of those cool things like The Blackstaff of Waterdeep are constrained by Gemrazer out of the Mono-Green Aggro decks, and if the decision is Swarm Shambler versus Extinction Event, I know which fighter I’m choosing.

I don’t think Sultai Ramp (Yorion) is unassailable by aggro, especially in closed-decklist events. If I were going to attack people, I would likely choose Flourishing Fox or Giant Killer as a next level to green monsters.