Last week, three new card previews showed how iconic characters from Forgotten Realms will appear in their Magic adaptations. Forgotten Realms will remain canonically distinct from Magic, meaning there won’t be any planeswalkers from Magic in the set, and we won’t see any surprise Phyrexians. Because of this, some of the more powerful characters from the Forgotten Realms universe will be treated as planeswalkers. Lolth, Spider Queen isn’t a planeswalker in the Magic lore sense, but the card will mechanically play as one. And while Lolth is a lesser god, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the most powerful wizards are also upgraded to planeswalker status.
Let’s start by taking a look at Bruenor Battlehammer.
A 5/3 for four mana needs to have some pretty impressive text to have a chance in Constructed because you’re not very likely to untap with it. Fortunately, Bruenor does have an immediate impact on the battlefield. Any equipped creatures you control get two extra power, so you can attack for extra damage the turn you cast it. Unfortunately, you’re much less likely to control a large number of equipped creatures than, say, red creatures, putting Bruenor substantially behind Torbran, Thane of Red Fell in terms of immediate impact, but Bruenor has another ability. Bruenor allows you to equip any Equipment for free.
How good is that?
If you’re getting an eight-mana discount, it’s pretty good. Even if Bruenor dies before combat, he gave you value. If you’re getting less than than, well, it scales down pretty quickly. Colossus Hammer isn’t legal in Standard, but even if it were, it’s hard to build a deck around it and Bruenor, because you need each card to function without the other, so you need to both have other ways to equip Colossus Hammer and other Equipment that’s worth cheating onto a creature. There are other ways to cheat Equipment onto creatures in Standard, such as Resolute Strike and Armed and Armored, so if we get multiple good pieces of Equipment that are expensive to equip but near game-winning when equipped, Bruenor has a chance.
This is a roundabout way of saying Bruenor is almost certainly a Limited signpost uncommon that will have roughly no Constructed application.
Next up is Drizzt Do’Urden.
Drizzt Do’Urden is a 3/3 double striker that grows to the size of the largest creature that’s died. While that scales pretty well into attacking for a lot of damage, all that text converts fairly directly to a creature with a lot of power and some toughness. No trample, evasion, haste, or hexproof, just a body. There’s a limit to how good “just a body” can be in Constructed. At three mana, a huge body like this would be a fairly pushed card, but ultimately, not that substantively different from Woolly Thoctar. At four mana, people might hype it up a bit, but it wouldn’t really do anything, so I’d say we’re getting around three mana worth of value for Drizzt, but it comes with a 4/1 trample Cat.
A 4/1 trample Cat is definitely worth exactly two mana, in that there’s no way we’d see that for one mana, but it wouldn’t be especially exciting at two, though it could see play. All together, I think you’re getting a reasonable amount of value for five mana with Drizzt, but I don’t know who really wants it.
If the Cat weren’t legendary, it might be a sweet follow-up to Esika’s Chariot, since the 4/1 conveniently crews the Chariot by itself, and maybe that’s good enough even though the Cat isn’t particularly good to copy.
This card offers an enormous amount of power. For five mana, you’re threatening to attack for ten damage the following turn. Your opponent needs multiple removal spells to answer it, and if they kill either one, you’re still threatening a good amount of damage. If you have a way to give all your creatures haste, this becomes a really scary threat.
I think its best historical analogue is Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves. Tolsimir offers much less threatening bodies, but gives you life and removal up front. Personally, that sounds more appealing to me, since I like to know that I’m getting my mana worth right away, but where Tolsimir can be entirely held back by a 4/4, Drizzt is a lot more likely to dominate a battlefield.
I think overall, Drizzt is playable, but won’t be a Constructed staple. The moderate interaction with Esika’s Chariot even without copying Guenhwyvar is pretty appealing, as both cards play well at just presenting large numbers of threats that overload removal and Guenhwyvar makes a great pilot.
Throne of Eldraine cards create a really high barrier to entry in Standard, but the more I think about Drizzt, the more I think it has a small chance to see play now, and a pretty good chance post-rotation. Incidentally, it’s also a pretty awesome follow-up to Kolvori, God of Kinship, since it offers two legendary creatures with one card to immediately buff Kolvori to 6/6.
Maybe we can build a deck around that…
- 1 Kogla, the Titan Ape
- 4 Selfless Savior
- 4 Skyclave Apparition
- 4 Tangled Florahedron
- 1 Yasharn, Implacable Earth
- 4 Kazandu Mammoth
- 1 Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider
- 4 Kolvori, God of Kinship
- 4 Jaspera Sentinel
- 3 Reidane, God of the Worthy
- 2 Shaile, Dean of Radiance
- 3 Drizzt Do'Urden
This deck could probably use some more interaction, but it does have a lot of threatening cards. Kolvori pushes you to build decks that are full of creatures like this, but it’s likely that Drizzt shines with a bit more removal, since it does so much heavy lifting itself when it comes to ending a game.
Lolth, Spider Queen
Finally, we have Lolth, Spider Queen.
Lolth can only gain loyalty through the static ability, which means that if you’re not playing other creatures you’ll be able to -3 once, and then if both of the Spiders die before Lolth takes any damage, you can -3 again, but you’ll lose Lolth. Outside of that, you’ll just be using the 0 ability.
Lolth follows the Ob Nixilis Reignited template, including having an identical cost and first ability, except that the first ability doesn’t add loyalty, though it does in a roundabout way if you’re drawing creatures. The -3 doesn’t directly kill a creature, but it might impact that battlefield roughly as much as killing a creature, and like Ob Nixilis Reignited, it has an ultimate that doesn’t impact the battlefield, but does make it likely that your opponent will take a lot of damage.
Despite being a fairly old card at this point, I think Ob Nixilis Reignited holds up as a solid baseline for a planeswalker at a roughly appropriate power level, and I think Lolth is in a comparable power band, meaning the rate is roughly correct.
If you’re not playing creatures, I think Lolth is quite a bit worse than Ob Nixilis Reignited, which means it wouldn’t be good enough to play. If you have a fodder deck, one with a lot of creatures that you’re sure will die, Lolth looks like a pretty good top-end if your deck is in the market for that. Adding loyalty to planeswalkers is pretty important, and the fodder deck likely benefits more from making two Spiders.
Lolth is noteworthy for arguably having the best token-making ability of any planeswalker, so if creatures are dying enough that you can activate that ability frequently, it’s probably pretty good. Fortunately, decks like this are strong at the moment, so Lolth might have a place.
An ideal deck for Lolth would look something like Andrew Cuneo’s deck from the last League Weekend:
- 1 Rankle, Master of Pranks
- 2 Woe Strider
- 3 Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger
- 4 Serrated Scorpion
- 3 Extus, Oriq Overlord
- 4 Eyetwitch
Andrew’s deck didn’t play any five-mana spells. I consider Lolth a better fit than all existing five-mana options, so it might be worth playing despite increasing the curve.
Given the higher casting cost, it might fit better in a green deck, where it could be cast early. Such a deck might also benefit from another card previewed from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, Prosperous Innkeeper.
- 2 Korvold, Fae-Cursed King
- 2 Woe Strider
- 4 Magda, Brazen Outlaw
- 4 Jaspera Sentinel
- 4 Eyetwitch
- 4 Prosperous Innkeeper
Between Prosperous Innkeeper and Bastion of Remembrance, Lolth has the potential to gain a lot of life, and Lolth helps with blocking flying creatures, something decks like this can struggle with. Trample and Questing Beast could still pose a problem, but reach is a welcome addition.
Overall, I think Bruenor Battlehammer, Drizzt Do’Urden, and Lolth, Spider Queen do more to show Magic’s treatment of iconic D&D characters and attract attention from fans of R.A Salvatore than to show us the most powerful offerings from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. It feels a little weird to see characters I’ve known about for decades as Magic cards. After seeing so many custom cards from brands outside of Magic, it’s strange to see characters from another setting as real cards. Still, I imagine we’ll get used to it and it’s likely for the best for Magic’s growth. These characters and this world certainly feel close enough to the scope of Magic, which certainly took a lot of inspiration from D&D, that it’s not as jarring as a Standard-legal The Walking Dead set would be.