The Great Adventures In The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck Update

Sheldon Menery updates his Commander decks with Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Where will The Book of Exalted Deeds land?

Evolving Wilds, illustrated by Brian Snoddy

Adventures in the Forgotten Realms brings some spice to the Commander table and I’m going to get my fill of it.  After building decks with it last week, now it’s time to find spots in my ever-expanding suite of 58 Commander decks for some of these great new cards.  I’m including Forgotten Realms Commander cards in this update, since I consider it inextricably linked to the main set.

I was on again/off again about the old D&D module treatments for the lands, but after seeing them in person when I opened a box of Collector Boosters, I’m all in.  I got four of the Evolving Wilds in the box, so I’ll figure out which decks to swap them into. 

As always, finding room in existing decks is the toughest part of this exercise.  There are cards that I really love playing, but there’s only so much space.  Taking something out isn’t an indictment of the card so much as just getting excited about the new thing.  Additionally, for those of you who haven’t seen me engage in this exercise before, I put only one copy of any new card into my existing suite of decks.  These new cards will still be available for any decks I build in the future (and as you’ll see with two cards, decks that I’ve build from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms commanders), but for now I’m limiting myself to just one, regardless of how good the card is.



Into:  Purple Hippos and Maro Sorcerers

This card must be cast, and people must attack into it.  My initial temptation was to put it into Marchesa, Long May She Reign, but that deck discourages players from attacking.  I don’t want anyone twitchy about running their Solemn Simulacrum into my Flumph.  Instead, it’s just going into the deck that likes to draw cards all the time.

Guardian of Faith

Into:  Breena Will Do It to You

Unlike a card that gets back creatures from a Wrath of God, like Faith’s Reward, Guardian of Faith importantly preserves the counters on the creatures—which is supremely important in a Breena deck. 

Paladin Class

Into:  Ruhan Do Over

The deck likes to attack with the commander leading the charge, so the increasing investments in attacking make total sense.  There are many times when that Ruhan himself will be the target of the Level 3 ability, leading to a potential one-shot commander damage kill. 

The Book of Exalted Deeds

Into:  Trostani’s Angels

The deck gains life nearly every turn, so adding another Angel to the celestial army is going to happen all the time.  I’m not sure how often I’ll actually use the activated ability; I’m curious to see how relevant it’ll be during play. 



Into:  Purple Hippos and Maro Sorcerers

As I have said, Phelddagrif enjoys drawing cards.  Mordenkainen’s +2 ability does just that, triggering all kinds of stuff (mostly Psychosis Crawler).  What it really does is march towards that ultimate ability.  In a deck that has a bunch of creatures with power and toughness based on hand size, it’ll be something.

Rod of Absorption

Into:  You Did This to Yourself

What I’m counting on is Rod of Absorption letting me recast a number of damage prevention or redirection spells at the same time for maximum self-doing.  The additional upside is that decks which like to recur their instants and sorceries can’t do so.  The corner-cast play here is someone casting an extra turn spell, it getting absorbed into the Rod, and then me being able to activate the Rod, generating an extra turn before theirs.

Sudden Insight

Into:  Gisa and Geralf Together Forever

Everyone’s favorite pair of Zombie-lovers (please parse that phrase correctly) enjoys a fair amount of self-mill.  The graveyard will be relatively full enough for Sudden Insight to provide a great deal of value.  If someone eats my graveyard in response, I probably have bigger problems anyway.


Asmodeus the Archfiend

Into:  Yidris Rotisserie Draft

This deck has become a bastion of cards that I just want to play around with, and Asmodeus is certainly one of them.  I might need to slip an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth into the deck as well to make sure that I can always generate the black mana I want in order to get max value out of everyone’s favorite new Devil God. 

Feign Death

Into:  Halloween with Karador

The more I see this card, the more I love it.  It costs only one mana, it’s a common, and it works for so many kinds of strategies.  Even in a non-graveyard deck, it brings back a creature when someone sweeps the battlefield.  In my Karador, Ghost Chieftain deck, it’s there alongside a number of sacrifice outlets in order to get an additional iteration of whatever cool enters-the-battlefield triggers that I have on creatures.  Best use is on Woodfall Primus or Puppeteer Clique, wiping out the -1/-1 counter.

Hellish Rebuke

Into:  Queen Marchesa, Long May She Reign

Although the deck provides plenty of incentives to not attack, it still happens enough to want to offer someone a very stern Hellish Rebuke.  The cost of the card is low enough that if you really want to cast it for just one really important creature, you can. 

Wand of Orcus

Into:  Zombies of Tresserhorn

This one’s pretty simple.  Zombie card for a Zombie deck.


Delina, Wild Mage

Into:  Kresh Into the Red Zone

This one goes with everyone’s favorite Warrior because of the phrase “except it’s not legendary.”  Who doesn’t want a second Kresh for all kinds of tomfoolery?  There are enough sacrifice outlets in the deck that the copy is unlikely to get exiled.  Alternately, there are enough good enters-the-battlefield triggers that it doesn’t matter if it does. 

Minion of the Mighty

Into:  Karrthus and His Dragons

Attacking with six power worth of creatures is ridiculously easy in this deck. If it means Minion of the Mighty is getting chump blocked, then it’s a price well worth paying.

Vengeful Ancestor

Into:  The Threat of Yasova

Even though I put Vengeful Ancestor into that Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant deck last week, I don’t think it’s a violation to put a copy into an existing deck.  Putting a goad thing or two (there might be more coming) into Yasova Dragonclaw changes the dynamic slightly in a positive way.  Goaded creatures aren’t around to block. 

Zariel, Archduke of Avernus

Into:  Angry, Angry Dinos

Gishath, Sun’s Avatar hasn’t gotten an update in a while, and I didn’t want it to feel lonely.  That and extra combat steps, especially with Etali, Primal Storm, seem worth generating.  There was definitely some thought about putting Zariel into Pako and Haldan instead, but I think I play the Dinosaur deck a little more often. 


Belt of Giant Strength

Into:  Zegana and a Dice Bag

The deck with a bunch of +1/+1 counters is the right home for Belt of Giant Strength, since base power and toughness are figured out first and then counters are added on top.  Beatings will ensue. 

Druid of Purification

Into:  Muldrotha, the Gravetide

I find myself playing this deck a little less since it can be somewhat grindy and not that pleasant to sit at a webcam table with; once we amp up in-person play more, that might change.  Putting in Druid of Purification may also lead me to put in Strionic Resonator and/or Lithoform Engine as well.


Into:  Brokkos, Apex of Mutate

The laughs will be great when Brokkos is mutated onto Froghemoth for big damage and big graveyard removal.  Alternately, Froghemoth is just a single-card strategy for keeping graveyards empty of things that are scary.

Ochre Jelly

Into: Zegana and a Dice Bag

I almost put Ochre Jelly into Animar for the obvious reasons, but there it seemed like a win-more card.  In Prime Speaker Zegana, it can get additional counters after it enters the battlefield, so the split will often be bigger than it might have been. 

Old Gnawbone

Into:  Animar’s Swarm

This one does go into Animar, Soul of Elements for easier casting and lots of Treasure tokens.  Even if it’s cast normally (fairly?), dropping it pre-combat means there’s likely something else coming afterward.  Maybe it’s time to swing Hellkite Charger into the deck and try to do something super-silly.


Bruenor Battlehammer

Into:  Marchesa’s Knights

Though he’s not a Knight himself, Bruenor is well-known for giving them a hand with their swords.  Marchesa herself might even pick up one and do battle.  A commander damage kill might be unusual for her, but not out of the question.

Dragonborn Champion

Into: Karrthus and His Dragons

Card draw, here we come.  What I also enjoy about Dragonborn Champion is that it’s an earlier drop than much of the deck, meaning I can get into combat sooner.  The card draw in the deck has been at times a little sketchy and I expect Dragonborn Champion to be a big help. 

Drizzt Do’Urden

Into:  Rin and Seri

The main feature is Drizzt bringing along Cat friend Guenhwyvar, but the Elf himself can get rather large if other creatures start dying.  But really, he’s just the kitty support team.

Fevered Suspicion

Into:  Adun’s Toolbox

Like Vengeful Archon, this one is also already in Karazikar.  This Adun Oakenshield deck has a really low mana curve, so I thought it’d be nice to toss in one big, splashy thing into it.  I think I’ll wait until not playing via webcam to cast this one, though. 

Fighter Class

Into:  Marchesa’s Knights

The Knights will go to school and learn their trade by equipping up.  Along with Bruenor Battlehammer’s ability to equip for free, it might be time for one of the Knights to start carrying Colossus Hammer.

Gretchen Titchwillow

Into: Yarok Energy

I have some thoughts on how healthy generic good-stuff cards are for the format, which is a longer conversation for another time.  Briefly, they’re like extra-turn spells or Mindslaver effects.  A small number is fine; when that’s all you do, it gets pretty boring.  The Yarok, the Descrated deck could use a little boost in the card draw category, so Gretchen seems fine here.

Klauth, Unrivaled Ancient

Into:  Karrthus and His Dragons

The amount of updating in Karrthus makes me wonder if there are now enough Dragons for two decent tribal decks.  I’ve done it with Zombies (Lord of Tresserhorn / Gisa and Geralf), so the move isn’t unprecedented.  It would give me room to play Klauth’s Will, which I really don’t think I can squeeze into the existing deck.  The real question is who would lead such a deck—maybe even Klauth. 

Krydle of Baldur’s Gate

Into: The Millmeoplasm

This card is kind of sneaky good (which I suppose is Rogue-appropriate).  In the Mimeoplasm deck, which is built around mill, Krydle gets the graveyard action going early.  The bigger part is paying only two to make a creature unblockable.  In most cases in this deck it’ll be the commander, but it also has Consuming Aberration and Lord of Extinction for some pretty big shots.

Midnight Pathlighter

Into:  Aminatou’s Demons

I love this card so much.  It’s all about the unblockable part, and the dungeon is just the extra sauce.  Sure, there are plenty of legendary creatures running around the format, but many of them are turning sideways.  Further, if they’re not battle-ready, people won’t want to block with them except in dire circumstances.  In the Aminatou, the Fateshifter deck, the dungeon I’m most likely to run is Lost Mine of Phandelver.  It’s straightforward and has a simple payoff.  There’s no need to get too tricky.

Ride the Avalanche

Into:  Dreaming of Intet

The Intet deck (which sometimes gets played as Riku of Two Reflections or Surrak Dragonclaw) is the deck I’m most likely to be holding up interaction mana, so Ride the Avalanche is a nice addition.  When no one has cast anything that needs to be interacted with, I can cast a big creature and make another creature extra-plus-size.

Rogue Class

Into:  Jorn Snow Rogues

Once it gets started, the Snow Rogues have had some trouble getting damage through, so we’re going to school.  Exiling others’ stuff is really good, even if you don’t get to play it later.  Overall, the big part of the card in this deck will be giving the creatures menace, making sure single chump blockers don’t happen.  Then big creatures like Abominable Treefolk will be smashing into faces.

Volo, Guide to Monsters

Into:  Animar’s Swarm

Faerie, Kavu, and Homonculus are just a few of the odd creature types in this Animar deck. While a copy of Fblthp, the Lost isn’t going to do much (unless Rage Thrower is also on the battlefield), a pair of Flametongue Kavus or Thragtusks will do just fine, thanks.  There are a few creatures, like the aforementioned Rage Thrower, that we won’t be able to get copies of because they share a type with Volo himself. Still, the upside value on the card will be strong.

Xanathar, Guild Kingpin

Into: Lazav, Dimir Mastermind

This is a deck I haven’t updated or played much recently, so I wanted to give it some love.  Xanathar is just the right thing and feels like a good thematic fit.  Primarily, Xanathar will shut down the permission player.  Casting stuff off the top of their library is kind of gravy, although it’d be really cool to use one of their counterspells on a third player trying to stop you from doing stuff. 


Temple of the Dragon Queen

Into:  Karrthus and His Dragons

When I first looked at Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, I thought that I’d put a lower-than-average number of cards from the set into my deck suite.  It turns out that more than 30 got my attention, which is way above average.  Continuing the trend set by Strixhaven, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms inserts quite a few cards into the format that are simply healthy for it—there are lots of cards that are compelling to work with because of their relatively narrow applications, as opposed to those which are generically good. 

Commander is a format about self-expression; the more interesting the individual cards, the more interesting decks that get built.  These cards will be a great deal of fun, and that’s what I want out of Commander. 

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