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Treasure Chest Art by Dan Scott

Breaking Down the Complicated Rares and Mythics of Forgotten Realms Draft

Hey everyone! I’ve found that even after weeks of playing a format, I often struggle with evaluating the power level of the more wacky rares and mythics of the set. Since you see these cards so infrequently, it can be difficult to come to concrete conclusions about their power level. I’ve done my fair share of DND drafts, so today I wanted to help break down the more complicated rares of the format and explain whether they should be taken highly, board cards, or just ignored.

Modern rares have become more complex over time in order for them them to serve the dual purpose of having interesting limited play patterns while also being able to cut it in powerful formats like Standard and EDH. Explaining my findings for these weirdo cards can help you make better use of them, which will improve your limited win rate.

Even more important, it will also give you more general limited knowledge which will help drastically improve your understanding of how to evaluate rares in limited. That way when Innistrad: Midnight Hunt comes around, you’ll be better at snapping up those untested powerful rares and ignoring the ones that end up being traps!

As I’ve stated in a previous article, I like to use my experiences with each card as well as Quadrant Theory in order to evaluate how a card performs in limited. Here’s an article by Marshall Sutcliffe going into detail about the concept: Quadrant Theory

Ellywick Tumblestrum

Planeswalkers are incredibly difficult to evaluate in the context of standard, but they’re usually pretty busted when it comes to Limited. However, this hasn’t been the case for me with Ellywick Tumblestrum. Her – 2 is pretty underwhelming since most of the time it draws a creature but sometimes it straight up whiffs. Green also doesn’t venture too well into the dungeon so her +1 will often start as a Scry 1, which is pretty anemic. 

She’s obviously still a good card and something I would take early, but the power level of the common and uncommon creatures of the format make it pretty difficult to keep a planeswalker in play unless they protect themselves like Grand Master of Flowers or Zariel, Archduke of Avernus do. Her saving grace is that her ultimate is game winning, but without being able to protect herself I would definitely value the good uncommons and removal like Lurking Roper or Dragon’s Fire over her.


Not really a surprise that Demilich would flop since there’s no cheap cantrips in the format. Being a 4/3 with no evasion makes it so even if you do get to cast it, it’ll probably never connect and get value. Might be a novel on a card but don’t be fooled; it’s definitely not worth jumping through hoops to play.

True Polymorph

This card is quite baffling. It’s been cast against me plenty of times for some reason, but for six mana you’re gonna need way more out of a card than upgrading your worst creature. Unless you’re after 20 gems, don’t take this.

Long Rest

Most sets tend to have some version of Restock at rare, and Long Rest is this set’s version of that. However unlike Restock, Wildest Dreams, and Praetor’s Counsel, Long Rest has been incredibly awkward because you’re pigeonholed into taking cards with different mana values instead of what you actually need.

Not being able to get multiple of the same card is especially brutal since when you take a turn off to draw a bunch of cards, you often want to be getting back cheap creatures and removal so that you are able to catch back up next turn. The life reset part is also just nonsense because you’ll never be able to pull it off in limited.

I would avoid main decking Long Rest and would stick to bringing it in only if you’re in a super grindy matchup and have a nice distribution of mana values.

Asmodeus the Archfiend

This card was really daunting to open in the first pack of my first DND draft. The immediate comparison is Griselbrand, except Asmodeus lacking Lifelink and Flying makes him way less threatening on the battlefield. Furthermore, having to pay life and mana just to have a draw step can be very risky. 

I’ve overall come to like Asmodeus, but playing him can be incredibly swingy. If you’re ahead or at parity and have a high live total, you pretty much win the game by paying four black. However, when you’re behind, having to spend mana and life just to draw for turn is incredibly brutal, especially considering that sometimes you’ll be forced to play Asmodeus for the 6/6 part just so you won’t die.

I like taking Asmodeus relatively early and then building around him. This can be done in two ways, both of which are necessary in order to prevent Asmodeus being stranded in your hand. Most importantly, you need to prioritize cheap removal as well as sources of lifegain like Reaper’s Talisman, Vampire Spawn, Herald of Hadar, etc. These will protect your life total so that you’ll be able to safely fire off a draw seven, which should be enough to take over the game. Secondly, you need to prioritize cheap spells like Shambling Ghast, Improvised Weaponry, Prosperous Innkeeper, etc which all ramp and impact the board. They’ll be essential in ensuring that you cast Asmodeus early stages of the game when your life is higher while also still playing to the board and emptying your hand out. What’s great about picking up Asmodeus early is that even if you don’t end up having the setup to main deck it, he’s still a top notch board card against really slow decks.

Instrument of the Bards

This card has a mountain of text, but I’ve actually been rather happy to include it in most of my green decks. The fact that you don’t need to tick up the Harmony counters means that Instrument of Bards will always be a great mana sink in the late game that doesn’t really take much set up early on. Not to mention that once you have a creature bomb like Iymrith, Desert Doom or even just two-three Owlbear’s in your deck, it becomes pretty easy to bury your opponent in card advantage after only a few activations. Being able to plan when to get your legendary creatures and net a treasure is also nice since it makes it easier to plan a turn where you activate the instrument and also cast a spell. Having the ability to activate at instant speed is also huge.

What’s interesting about Instrument of Bards and other complicated rares is that they are often very difficult to play optimally. That means that the win rate data that’s associated with them could be inaccurate, so definitely keep that in mind when you’re evaluating cards like this.

Wizard’s Spellbook

Seven mana is a lot, even in limited. Context is huge when it comes to cards like this, because if there is a plethora of powerful removal, then its activated ability can consistently be backbreaking, which will pull you ahead in a game where you are behind or at parity. However in DND: Forgotten Realms, Blue has pretty much nothing good to flashback besides more card draw, which is not what you need after taking turn seven or eight off to cast this.

I’ve only ever liked Wizard’s Spellbook in decks that are loaded to the brim with efficient removal, but even then it rarely feels fantastic. I’d mostly avoid expensive effects like this, especially in a format like this where the two drops are great and most of the decks you’ll face will be aggressive. Wizard’s Spellbook really needs Repulse and the like in the format before it even comes close to becoming a bomb.

Zalto, Fire Giant Duke

Surprisingly worse than it looks. Being a 7/3 means that Zalto will pretty much always trade down, so you’ll need either loads of combat tricks or a bunch of Reaper’s Talisman’s before an attack from it is worth it. I’d honestly consider Zalto (when not built around) to be nearly the same power level as other replaceable, but solid five drops like Swarming Goblin.

Oswald Fiddlebender

I’ve never seen this be anything but a 2/2 for two so definitely don’t take this gnome even remotely early in a draft.

The Blackstaff of Waterdeep

I was scammed early on in the format when I thought this card was busted because I thought that it could animate treasures. Having to animate real cards makes this unexciting and not something that I plan to prioritize early in a draft. I’m sure a Blackstaff deck could be built, but the games where you don’t draw it and you’re left playing a bunch of crappy cards like Bag of Holding, Spiked Pit Trap, and Spare Dagger is going to feel really underwhelming.

Treasure Chest

Played it three times just to make sure, but boy did I hate it each time. Every mode besides the 10-19 one is pretty awful, and the risk of hitting those isn’t worth it when the best possible payoff is seven mana to draw three and gain three.

Eye of Vecna

The format is just too aggressive to safely make use of this sort of effect. Two life is a lot, and this sort of reminds me of Greed from Modern Horizons II, which was one of the worst cards in the set from a power level perspective. Imagine paying two mana and two life only to draw a sweet play for turn from your second draw, only to be unable to cast it because you wasted mana during your upkeep.

The Deck of Many Things

The jury is still kind of out on this one. At the moment I’m leaning towards grouping it with Wizard’s Spellbook since both are so expensive and slow before they even start drawing cards. There’s just a ton going on here and I have yet to play much with it, but it only seems good in the extreme late game or when you are very ahead, which is not a good place to be.

Orb of Dragonkind

God awful card, but if you’re playing a Tiamat deck then I’m kind of in. Fixing to cast your busted dragon as well as being a way to find it is pretty neat!

Sphere of Annihilation

I tried to get this one to work and had slightly high hopes for it, but it’s so slow and expensive. It’s not like Perilous Vault where even though it’s slow it can be activated at the end of the opponent’s turn, which at least helps regain some of the tempo from playing an expensive wrath. Sphere also only hits creatures, so it’s not even like you can board it in if you see a bunch of Classes or something. 

Tasha’s Hideous Laughter

There’s no mill support in the set and this simply isn’t good in a format where every player is playing six and seven mana spells. I ain’t interested in Mill in limited unless it’s based around Ruin Crab or Ashiok, Dream Render.

These were some of the most confusing Rares and Mythics of the set and hopefully explaining why I liked or disliked them helped improve your Limited card evaluation abilities. I’m still enjoying DND drafts but I can’t wait for Innistrad: Midnight Hunt to come out so I can try to figure out more of these sweet and super weird rares!

Thanks for reading!

Iroas, God of Victory Art


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Chris Kvartek
Chris Kvartek

While Chris Kvartek technically kicked off his career in 2012, he burst onto the scene in 2019 like few before him. With an early season Top Finish at Mythic Championship II and narrow miss for his second at Mythic Championship IV, Kvartek earned invitations to two more Mythic Championships through online qualifiers. He secured his second Top Finish of the season at Mythic Championship VII, and now this rising star must prove he can stay among the elite of professional Magic.

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