Magic: The Gathering’s latest Commander product is a set of four decks to accompany Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, each led by a different hero.
Magic: The Gathering usually confines itself to one Commander product release each year, but all of that changed with last year’s “Year of Commander,” which saw seven preconstructed Commander decks, along with the draftable Commander Legends set. 2021 doesn’t have a premier set like Commander Legends but has continued the pattern of releasing preconstructed Commander decks alongside every Standard-legal set. Adventures in the Forgotten Realms is no exception and features four different Commander decks to accompany the main set.
While previous Commander companion decks have taken the form of two decks with only a few new cards, the Commander decks for Adventures in the Forgotten Realms bear more resemblance to a traditional Commander product release. Each of the four decks has three new commanders and over a dozen new cards. Commander product architect Gavin Verhey has mentioned this is intended to capture the feel of a classic adventuring party. The face commander for each deck is a brand-new character, similar to the kind a Dungeons & Dragons player might roll up to play with.
Aura of Courage
Aura of Courage is helmed by Galea, Kindler of Hope. She’s an elven Oath of Ancients paladin dedicated to protecting the natural world and the joy and wonder within it. Her color identity gives the deck access to green, white and blue, alongside an effect that synergizes with Aura and Equipment. It also incentivizes playing Equipment with high equip costs since Equipment played from Galea’s effect doesn’t need to be equipped. All of this adds up to a “Voltron” deck, stacking a boatload of Auras and Equipment onto Galea in the hopes of knocking opponents out with commander damage.
The deck’s alternate commanders are Storvald, Frost Giant Jarl and Catti-brie of Mithral Hall. Catti-brie is the wife of Drizzt Do’Urden in the world of the Forgotten Realms and synergizes with Galea’s Equipment subtheme. She gets stronger for each arrow in her quiver (mechanically represented here as Equipment) and can remove them to “shoot” at another creature in combat. Storvald is a frost giant from Storm King’s Thunder and makes other creatures harder to target while also altering their base power/toughness. Overall, Aura of Courage is a powerful but fragile deck. It’s at its best when stacking buffs onto an individual creature but can leave itself open to retaliation if those creatures are removed.
Draconic Rage is helmed by Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients. He’s a dragonborn Ancestral Guardian barbarian, going into a rage and summoning the ghostly forms of his dragonborn ancestors to aid him in battle. This is represented on his card by the Enrage mechanic, which triggers every time he takes damage. It creates 5/4 Dragon Spirit tokens, which pack a punch but vanish after a single hit. He can also trigger his own ability whenever his controller rolls dice. It’s also a “may” ability, so they don’t have to worry about accidentally killing him.
The deck’s alternate commanders are Klauth, Unrivaled Ancient and Wulfgar of Icewind Dale. Each of these commanders takes a different tack but are still highly aggressive. Klauth is a massive red dragon from Storm King’s Thunder and produces huge amounts of mana that scale with the number of creatures his controller attacks with. Wulfgar is another of Drizzt’s companions from Icewind Dale and doubles up triggers that result from attacking. This encompasses his own melee keyword and a host of other unkeyworded triggered abilities, including Klauth’s attack trigger. Overall Draconic Rage is a pretty straightforward deck. It uses green’s high mana production to ramp out large threats and then turns them sideways, swinging in for massive damage.
Dungeons of Death
Dungeons of Death is helmed by Sefris of the Hidden Ways. Although the white in her color identity suggests she leans more towards a Neutral or Good interpretation of the dark art, she’s a human necromancer. Her card makes use of Adventures in the Forgotten Realms’ new venture mechanic, which lets her controller progress through one of three different dungeons. She also has an ability that triggers whenever the player completes a dungeon, reanimating a creature from their graveyard. This means her controller will want to use the Tomb of Annihilation, which features the shortest path to completion out of the three available dungeons.
The deck’s alternate commanders are Minn, Gnome Illusionist and Nihiloor. Nihiloor is a mindflayer who appears in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, working for the beholder Xanathar. It can take control of an opponent’s creatures, although with a restriction of only one creature per opponent at a time. This can be bypassed with a sacrifice outlet to get rid of the old creature before blinking Nihiloor to take new ones. Minn creates Illusions whenever her controller draws their second card each turn and can use the death of any Illusion to cheat out expensive permanents. Overall, Dungeons of Death is a control deck with a graveyard focus, requiring careful management of resources to stay ahead.
Planar Portal is helmed by Prosper, Tome-Bound. He’s a Tiefling Warlock with a Pact of the Tome, although his exact patron is unknown. His card stretches the definition of the “Mystic Arcanum” ability, which usually refers to a warlock spell of 6th level or higher. Instead, it gives Prosper’s controller an extra impulsive draw each turn. His other ability synergizes with this, creating a treasure token every time his controller casts a spell from exile. This is meant to represent Prosper’s connection to strange, otherworldly planes and triggers off of plenty of red impulsive draw effects.
The deck’s alternate commanders are Lorcan, Warlock Collector and Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant. Lorcan is a half-devil from the Forgotten Realms who amuses himself by “collecting” warlocks to make pacts with. This is represented on his card by his reanimation ability, which lets him steal opposing creatures by paying life. This ability can only trigger once per creature but is still plenty powerful. Karazikar is a powerful beholder who appears in the Out of the Abyss adventure, trying to seize the powerful reality-warping abilities of the Maze Engine. He can goad enemy creatures and incentivize his controller’s opponents to fight amongst themselves. Overall, Planar Portal is a slow, value-oriented political deck with lots of card and mana generation to support its weaker color identity.
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