Adventures in the Forgotten Realm Spoilers: Daily Roundup for June 24, 2021 – Dungeons Revealed!

Wizards of the Coast has given us a few previews of Adventures in the Forgotten Realms and there have been a couple of leaks here or there, but today marks an important milestone as we get closer to the daily reveals which begin on June 29. On the official Daily MTG page, Wizards published an article this morning detailing the mechanics of Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, which gave us some new previews we hadn’t seen and finally explained the much discussed Dungeon mechanic. Interestingly, there are no mechanics described in the article other than Dungeons, so there’s not much to talk about here. Let’s dive in!

The Dungeon Mechanic

The dungeons of Adventures in the Forgotten Realms have been a source of major speculation since a card that was leaked included the rules text “venture into the dungeon.” Today, Wizards finally revealed how the new mechanic works, along with all three of the dungeon cards. The dungeons that we’ve been shown today are the only dungeons in the set- no more will be revealed.

So how do they work? Dungeons start outside of the game, and do not go directly into decks. Wizards suggests players keep their dungeon cards “with your sideboard,” but they do not take sideboard slots, and as such are not actually a part of your sideboard. In an actual game of Magic, dungeons do not become a part of the game until a player resolves the new keyword action “venture into the dungeon.” This keyword will be on regular Magic cards that are cast or played as normal. When a player ventures into the dungeon, that player chooses one of the three dungeons and places it into the command zone.

When a player enters the dungeon, they place a “venture marker” on the first room, which will be used to keep track of where they are in the dungeon throughout the game. Each room, including the first, has an effect printed on it which triggers when the player ventures into it and has an impact on the Magic game. For example, if you venture into the dungeon and choose the Tomb of Annihilation, you place your venture counter on the first (top) room and each player loses 1 life. Each time you trigger the venture into the dungeon keyword, you advance your venture counter farther down the dungeon card. Some rooms offer players a choice of which room to go into next; simply follow the arrows on the card as you advance and it should be self-explanatory. On Arena, the client should handle dungeons and present decisions automatically. Arena players probably won’t need to worry about the logistics of the actual dungeon cards as they will likely be brought into the game automatically when needed, and are not a part of deck construction.

If a player reaches the final room of a dungeon, the last ability goes onto the stack. When the ability resolves or otherwise leaves the stack, the dungeon card is removed from the command zone and leaves the game. The action of removing the dungeon from the game is considered “completing the dungeon,” which will be relevant to the text of some cards in the main set. That player is then free to start a new dungeon the next time they “venture” via a Magic card in the game. Players can only enter one dungeon at a time, but they may complete the same dungeon multiple times. It is not necessary to choose a different dungeon each time one is completed. There are some cards which check to see if their controller has completed a dungeon to activate an effect- these cards do not need to be on the battlefield when the dungeon is completed. The player only needs to have completed a dungeon at any point during the game for the ability to be active.

The dungeons have varied complexity and difficulty to complete. The Tomb of Annihilation, for example, may be completed in only three ventures, but only if the player chooses to enter the Oubliette- a room which has only negative effects for its controller. Most of the effects are relatively small, but there are some that are quite strong as well, most notably the final room of the Dungeon of the Mad Mage which allows the player to draw three cards and cast one of them without paying its mana cost. It will be interesting to see the effect that these dungeons have on existing formats, but it seems likely that their strength in constructed will largely depend on the strength of the regular Magic cards that interact with them.

Ellywick Tumblestrum, Nadaar, Selfless Paladin, and Gloom Stalker- Venturing into the Dungeon

Along with the actual dungeon cards, Wizards has given us a couple of previews featuring cards that use the new “venture into the dungeon” keyword.

  • Card Name: Ellywick Tumblestrum
  • Mana Cost: {2}{G}{G}
  • Card Type: Legendary Planeswalker – Ellywick
  • Rarity: Mythic
  • Starting Loyalty: 4
  • Card Text:
    {+1}: Venture into the Dungeon.
    {-2}: Look at the top six cards of your library. You may reveal a creature card from among them and put it into your hand. If it’s legendary, you gain 3 life. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.
    {-7}: You get an emblem with “Creatures you control have trample and haste and get +2/+2 for each differently named dungeon you’ve completed.”

The first venturing card that we have to look at is a Mythic planeswalker, Ellywick Tumblestrum. Ellywick follows Lolth, Spider Queen as the second planeswalker that has been revealed from AFR, and is also a preexisting character in the Dungeons & Dragons lore. It’s an interesting design that uses the +1 loyalty ability to initiate or advance its controller through dungeon cards, while the -2 functions as a card advantage source for creature decks and the -7 ultimate is an Overrun effect based on how many different dungeons its controller has completed.

Look, in all honesty this card is extremely difficult to evaluate when we haven’t had the chance to see the dungeons themselves in action. The dungeon mechanic is something that is completely new to Magic. On its face, it might seem similar to Saga enchantments (see Elspeth Conquers Death), but in practical terms the mechanics are quite different. Sagas are cast once and trigger automatically after the draw step on each of its controller’s turns. Dungeons, on the other hand, enter the game based on the venture into the dungeon keyword which must be triggered repeatedly to advance through the modes.

Concerning Ellywick, I will say that none of the first rooms in any of the three dungeons have any board impact, and are all very small effects on their own. In fact, less than half of the room abilities have a board impact at all, and many of those that do are quite small. With that being said, Ellywick is probably best cast when you already have a board presence to protect it, or perhaps if you have already triggered venture into the dungeon from other cards in the same game. On the other hand, the effects of the dungeon cards are varied and offer a lot of interesting choices and toolbox-like effects; the flexibility of the mechanic may make up for some of its limitations. The -2 ability on Ellywick does draw more creatures which definitely helps the card as a whole. The -7 is virtually impossible to evaluate when we don’t even know for sure how viable it will be to complete dungeons, but in fairness, trample and haste are pretty strong on their own. If you can complete even one dungeon and create this emblem, the +2/+2 is going to do a lot of work- provided of course that you can keep Ellywick around long enough to get to 7.

  • Card Name: Nadaar, Selfless Paladin
  • Mana Cost: {2}{W}
  • Card Type: Legendary Creature – Dragon Knight
  • Rarity: Rare
  • Card Text: Vigilance
    Whenever Nadaar, Selfless Paladin enters the battlefield or attacks, venture into the dungeon.
    Other creatures you control get +1/+1 as long as you’ve completed a dungeon.
  • Power/Toughness: 3/3

Next up we have Nadaar, Selfless Paladin, a more straightforward white beater that triggers venture into the dungeon both when it ETBs and when it attacks. It also has a +1/+1 pump effect that triggers if its controller has completed a dungeon.

This card seems pretty solid to me. This is probably wild speculation when we’ve seen so few cards from the set, but I suspect that if there is a powerful constructed deck in Standard built around dungeons, this card will probably be included. A 3/3 body with vigilance for 3 is already a pretty good rate, and the fact that it ventures into the dungeon when it ETBs means you’re always going to get some value out of it even if it gets removed before you untap. The Vigilance is also nice, especially if your dungeon deck also needs protection for planeswalkers like, say, an Ellywick?

The attack trigger is both easy to achieve and also relevant to what white aggressive decks already want to be doing. Cards like Selfless Savior and Alseid of Life's Bounty make it trivial to make safe attacks with Nadaar especially when paired with Lurrus of the Dream Den, although all three of those cards will be rotating out in the Fall. It’s also possible that this card would be playable in constructed just for the value of the venture triggers, even if there are no other dungeon-related cards in the deck.

It’s also a Dragon Knight, which is pretty sweet.

  • Card Name: Shortcut Seeker
  • Mana Cost: {3}{U}
  • Card Type: Creature – Human Rogue
  • Rarity: Common
  • Card Text: Whenever Shortcut Seeker deals combat damage to a player, venture into the dungeon.
  • Power/Toughness: 2/5

Our final “venture into the dungeon” card for today is Shortcut Seeker, a draft common.

There’s not too much to say about this one; a four mana casting cost paired with the fact that it must deal combat damage to a player to trigger means it almost certainly won’t see play in constructed, although it may be relevant in limited. It does have the rogue subtype, but this card is far below the power level of the rogues deck in any format.

Gloom Stalker- Dungeon Payoff

AFR 016 Gloom Stalker Main
  • Card Name: Gloom Stalker
  • Mana Cost: {2}{W}
  • Card Type: Creature – Dwarf Ranger
  • Rarity: Common
  • Card Text: As long as you’ve completed a dungeon, Gloom Stalker has double strike.
  • Power/Toughness: 2/3

Our final new card is Gloom Stalker, another draft common, although it seems like a reasonably powerful one if completing dungeons turns out to be a attainable goal in limited play. The main purpose of this card’s reveal today was to showcase the cards which will act as payoffs for completing dungeons. Gloom Stalker will have double strike if its controller has completed a dungeon at any point in the game, regardless of whether Gloom Stalker was on the battlefield at the time.

We should expect to see more cards that check to see if players have completed a dungeon as spoilers continue, and I would expect to see them at higher rarities as well. The ultimate ability of the aforementioned Ellywick Tumblestrom also includes a payoff for completing dungeons, but getting a planeswalker to ultimate is a significant challenge on its own. It seems likely we will see more payoffs that are easier to access, similar to Gloom Stalker.

Update: Cloister Gargoyle and Dungeon Crawler

Later in the evening, Wizards of the Coast also officially revealed two additional cards on the Weekly MTG show on Twitch.

  • Card Name: Cloister Gargoyle
  • Mana Cost: {2}{W}
  • Card Type: Creature – Gargoyle
  • Rarity: Uncommon
  • Card Text: When Cloister Gargoyle enters the battlefield, venture into the dungeon.
    As long as you’ve completed a dungeon, Cloister Gargoyle gets +3/+0 and has flying.
  • Power/Toughness: 0/4

One of the two reveals was Cloister Gargoyle, although it had already been leaked earlier in the month. Cloister Gargoyle is a card which both advances you in the dungeon and also pays off if you manage to complete one. This doesn’t read as an aggressive card to me since a 0/4 for 3 isn’t going to do much, and it seems as though completing a dungeon is typically going to take a few turns even under the best circumstances. It is a decent blocker in the meantime though, so perhaps more controlling decks looking to use the dungeon mechanic would be interested in trying it out.

  • Card Name: Dungeon Crawler
  • Mana Cost: {B}
  • Card Type: Creature – Gargoyle
  • Rarity: Uncommon
  • Card Text: Dungeon Crawler enters the battlefield tapped.
    Whenever you complete a dungeon, you may return Dungeon Crawler from your graveyard to your hand.
  • Power/Toughness: 2/1

Dungeon Crawler is another in a long line of zombie cards that are capable of reanimating themselves from the graveyard in one way or another (even the name seems to be a nod to Gravecrawler in addition to the dungeon wordplay). This one works as a payoff for completing dungeons, but it feels like it might be a little underpowered compared to some of its past iterations. We don’t know exactly how easy it’s going to be to complete dungeons, but it doesn’t seem completely trivial. It’s worth noting that Dungeon Crawler does synergize nicely with the Tomb of Annihilation dungeon which is largely focused on sacrifice.

Bonus: Module Cardframes

Lastly, we got to take our first official look at a land that features the special “module” cardframe. Most Magic players are familiar with Evolving Wilds, a land that has been printed dozens of times. What’s new here is the frame design, which is based on old-school adventure module books from Dungeons & Dragons.

We’ll be continuing to cover ongoing spoilers for Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, so stay tuned and be sure to check out our full spoilers page in the meantime.

Paul

Dude from Vermont who likes to play Magic and Escape from Tarkov. Musician, writer, and gamer. Submit feedback or corrections to @Paul on the Discord.