The Best AFR Cards in Standard and Decklists
D&D: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (AFR)
Hello everyone! Today I’m going to go over the Dungeon & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (AFR) cards that I think will have the most impact in Standard and decklists featuring most of them! Unlike Strixhaven, there’s a lot more powerful cards that are ready to take Standard by storm with some that are more obviously good and some that are flying under the radar. Whether it’s immediately or later on in it’s life cycle, I believe all these cards are going to make their way into tier decks. Lastly, just because I exclude a card, it doesn’t mean I think it isn’t good, I’m just pointing out the ones I believe are the best. Let’s dive right in!
GRAND MASTER OF FLOWERS
On the surface, Grand Master looks a bit underwhelming. It’s first plus stops one creature (with restrictions) from attacking per turn which is a very solid ability. Planeswalkers that can defend themselves always feel significantly better than those who can’t. The second ability though, is very underwhelming. Even if you happen to be playing a Monk of the Open Hand in the same deck as this (which I wouldn’t recommend), a turn 5 Monk isn’t exactly a power play, even if it a free card.
So why do I think Grand Master of Flowers is good then? It simply can’t be ignored. Three turns after entering, it can turn into a 7/7 Dragon that will kill your opponent extremely quickly or defend itself even more adequately. Creature decks will have a hard time killing this with it’s +1 and Control decks can only afford to ignore it for a few turns. The power level for this card is probably a little low right now, but should almost certainly see play at some point.
Mordenkainen is not messing around. Although the bar for plays this expensive is prohibitively high (you can thank Emergent Ultimatum for that), this is a very powerful card that will definitely see play after rotation.
It comes in with 5 Loyalty which is a decent starting rate and has a +2 that’s significantly better than just Draw a Card. Secondly, ticking him up puts him to a massive 7 loyalty which would be extremely hard for creature decks to realistically attack down.
Although the plus is great, I’m actually more excited about the -2. Making a token that’s power and toughness is double the amount of cards in your hand is pretty nuts and as I said before, planeswalkers that can protect themselves are great. Even with only a few cards in hand you can make massive tokens that can defend well or end the game quickly. Better yet, since his plus ability is plus 2, you can double tick down then alternate between the plus and minus until he’s dealt with.
Finally, you have the ultimate ability which I’m actually not a big fan of. Sure having your whole library in your hand is going to be helpful, but it also puts a clock on yourself too, especially if you don’t have many cards in hand. You’ll likely piece together a win with a 30 card hand, but it is something to be wary of. Realistically I’m probably making dogs more often than going for the Ultimate, but it’s nice to have.
LOLTH, SPIDER QUEEN
There’s a lot of good Planeswalkers in this set, and Lolth is no exception. My main contention with Lolth is she’s pretty mediocre when you’re behind, but if you’re at parity or ahead, she’s going to close out the game very quickly in the right deck.
Her first ability is very solid. Drawing a card, even at the cost of a life, is a classic ability on expensive walkers and is always welcome. As I’ll keep reiterating, her second ability is quite good because it allows Lolth to defend herself. The Spiders are pretty small, but making two is a great deal and is good insurance against one removal spell.
Her ultimate is very weird as for how expensive it is, it isn’t always game winning, but it’s still pretty strong. Making just your combat damage always deal at least 8 is decent and likely had to just be really good instead of game winning just in case it’s easy to pump Lolth to 8 loyalty quickly.
With that, Lolth is going to excel in sacrifice shells and similar small creature decks where you have a lot of fodder sitting around ready to be an offering to the Spider Queen.
IYMRITH, DESERT DOOM
I don’t know what’s going on but I feel that there’s so much less excitement for this card than there should be. It seems to be that not enough of you played with Dragonlord Ojutai, but don’t worry, his little brother is here!
What makes Iymrith so scary is that it’s such a powerful proactive play no matter what deck you’re playing. It’s extremely hard to kill with ward 4, it blocks super well as it’s a 5/5 flier, and you can accrue a great deal of card advantage when you feel safe enough to attack! Furthermore, Iymrith rewards you for having very few cards in hand as you can draw up to 3 when it hits a player!
A common issue with Control is that it lacks meaningful proactive plays, but this is a card you can afford to tap out for as it’s going to be so hard to naswer most games. Sure this isn’t as good as Dragonlord Ojutai, but it’s monocolored and also significantly more fair as Ward 4 isn’t Hexproof. This card is going to see a good amount of play, doubly so when Mystical Dispute rotates out, and I believe Dimir Control is a great shell for it.
Alright, this card is bananas. A 4 mana 5/2 Flash Flier? Sign me up. Yes it does have a downside in coming into play tapped, but it can bring itself back when ANY creature that isn’t an Ebondeath dies. This makes this card extremely versatile in both aggro and control shells alike as it’s so hard to get rid of permanently.
I could see this being a staple in Control sideboards as most opponents are going to board out their removal and then you have this insane blocker that you can just keep recurring if you trade with something else or you could just pressure their life total! Bonecrusher Giant makes this card sad, but I still think it’s going to see a decent amount of play now and then a huge uptick in play post rotation barring something like Magma Spray gets printed.
I’m most excited about this in Control sideboards, but with the help of this and some other new goodies like Dungeon Crawler and Wight, Monoblack Aggro may be strong enough to be a real contender!
INFERNO OF THE STAR MOUNTS
Carnage Tyrant this is not, but I’m still a big fan of this card. A huge uncounterable threat is always a nightmare for Control and still has great applications against other decks.
To start with, a 6 mana 6/6 Flier is pretty reasonable. Add haste into the equation, then you have a great finisher. However, it also has uncounterable AND fire breathing? You have a threat that’s going to kill your opponent in short order. This will obviously shine against the Blue decks as a way better Inescapable Blaze, but I think it’s just powerful enough on it’s own to warrant main deck play.
This idea may be gimmicky, but between this and Orb of Dragonkind, I think a Monored Dragons deck may be viable in Standard. This deck has a lot of early plays and plenty of late game fat to get you across the finish line.
THE BOOK OF EXALTED DEEDS
There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding this card and there’s no surprise why. Prison isn’t a strategy that’s been playable in Standard since Magic Origins in 2015, but it may be time for it to come back. Why? If you use the activated ability on a Faceless Haven and your opponent can’t kill it immediately or kill the land afterwards with something like a Field of Ruin, you have a functional Platinum Angel emblem. Haven doesn’t need to stay a creature to retain the ability!
I’ll be the first to admit, yes this combo is a bit clunky, but considering it also wins you the game against most decks, I don’t think it’s too unreasonable to accomplish. The secret to any good combo deck though, is that you ideally want the combo cards to be good in abstraction as well. Beyond the game winning activated ability, the Book is a better Griffin Aerie, so I think it’s prudent to build with that in mind. I don’t have just one, but two different decks that you can utilize the good book in: Monowhite Yorion and Monowhite Lifegain.
Demilich is another card everyone been talking about, and for good reason. This threat kind of does it all. It’s well statted, gets cost reduction, accrues value by rebuying spells, and can even be brought back from the yard! This is likely going to be a staple in older formats, but I think it could see play in Standard as well.
Since it gets rid of a Blue pip per spell cast, you don’t even need to skew your mana base that hard towards Blue as long as your off blue mana is casting spells. You can even live the dream if you have multiple in hand by casting a bunch of spells then resolving multiple Demilich’s in the same turn! If any shell is going to house it, it has to be Izzet Spells.
Boy oh boy I am loving this card. It’s not anything super special or anything, but we haven’t had Knight of the White Orchid in Standard for quite awhile.
Loyal Warhound is such a powerful effect as it’s one of the few cards that actively rewards you for being on the draw. The 3/1 Vigilant body is worse than the 2/2 First Strike, but since it only requires a single White to play, this can be played in any and all White decks rather than being pigeonholed to just Monowhite.
You’re going to see this powerful pooch in a lot of my builds, but it can’t hurt putting it in the shell where it’s most obvious: Monowhite Aggro.
NADAAR, SELFLESS PALADIN
I talked about Nadaar in my article about Venture in Standard, but I’ll quickly recap. I’m not sure if venture is going to be a strong enough archetype in Standard, but if it’s gong to be, this is why. Nadaar’s stats are fine for the cost, but having an ETB trigger, an attack trigger, and a permanent buff once you clear a dungeon is very powerful for one card.
When you look at the power level of the Venture cards, the deck naturally gravitates towards Orzhov as you can get access to this, Triumphant Adventurer, and Acererak the Archlich along with a bunch of other powerful cards. I’d love for this to be a competitive archetype as it’s super cool and different from your classic aggressive midrange deck.
WEREWOLF PACK LEADER
Monogreen has been on the cusp of breaking into Standard for quite awhile now (discounting Rumti who is always Rank 1 with it) and this seems very solid there. Monogreen already happily played 4 Scavenging Ooze, but having that be the only 2 drop wasn’t ideal on the curve. Although I don’t think you want 4 of these in the current build either, filling out your early plays is only going to help you in an aggro deck.
TASHA’S HIDEOUS LAUGHTER
Most of the discussion centered around this card is for Modern Mill, but I believe it has Standard applications as well. Realistically, playing Mill that isn’t Rogues doesn’t make that much sense right now, but this could be a real option to keep Mill alive once rotation hits.
Assuming you’re not facing bombs the deck, you’re rather likely to hit a good amount of cards with this which in conjunction with Ruin Crab and Maddening Cacophany could put in serious work. There may not be enough support for this to be viable post rotation, but it would also be pretty weird of them to print just one mill card and then not print anymore in the future. Keep an eye on this one, Mill has generally been a meme archetype but this card is quite strong.
POWER WORD KILL
There’s not much to say here, 2 mana conditional kill spells are really good. Right now I think Heartless Act has still has this beat as there’s so few cards that have counters, but this may be better than Eliminate and will almost certainly be the kill spell of choice post rotation.
I already talked about this card at length in the Class article, but I’ll reiterate quickly. Monk Class is a build around that rewards you for casting a bunch of spells, something that most decks want to do anyway. With the first level making that easier, the second being some nice interaction, and the third just constantly providing you with card advantage, this card is not to be messed with.
Unfortunately for Azorius, the mana for it leaves a lot to be desired so you really need to be base one of the colors and splash for Monk Class. With that, I think going base White makes more sense and also gives you access to a lot of strong one drops including the new underrated Monk of the Open Hand.
Once again, already talked about this in the Class article, but recap time! This card is quite good, but it’s going to be pushed out by the established Gruul deck. Why play a synergistic deck where the pieces are a tad underwhelming separately but good together when you can play Adventures which are insane together or separate? Despite that, I expect for this to put in some work with Kolvori, God of Kinship at some point after Eldraine rotates out.
ORCUS, PRINCE OF UNDEATH
Orcus has a lot of text, and all of it good. A 4 mana 5/3 body is solid, definitely a little sad in the face of Frost Bite, but join the club. If that’s all it did we wouldn’t be talking about it obviously.
It’s first X ability is just Toxic Deluge, which not ideal attached to a creature, it can be devastating in the late game. The second ability to bring back X creatures with a total of X mana value is pricey, but insanely powerful. I don’t see a shell that would want Orcus yet, but this is a powerful midrange card that will likely be BFFs with Valki, God of Lies in the future.
Thank you for reading! What cards are you most excited to play? Let me know in the comments!