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Set Prospective

Forgotten Realms Commander

July 25th, 2021Parker LaMascus

Forgotten Realms Commander, the multiplayer-focused companion to Magic’s first Dungeons & Dragons expansion, is a new frontier for Cube curators. We surveyed 35 Cube designers, with results from 33 designers with cubes not restricted by rarity (Unrestricted) and 2 designers with rarity-restricted cubes. We have respondents from backgrounds as diverse as a completely colorless cube, a Halloween cube, and everything in between.

See where our respondents for AFC fall on the Cube Map.

This article is one of our set prospectives, a series in which we survey the Cube community about the cards they intend to play in their cubes from a particular set. Our survey is conducted between the set’s full-spoiler and official release and is meant to measure and document Cube designers’ first impressions of new cards.

Results

Forgotten Realms Commander was largely overshadowed by its Standard-legal cousin. Unrestricted cube designers are testing a median of 3 cards from this set, a lackluster performance compared to Standard-legal sets. AFC is on similar standing with Commander ‘21 (3 median) and Commander Legends (6 median). Most of these tests are speculative, with no card earning an average rating above 2.5. The maximum number of cards tested by any respondent is 9. And perhaps the biggest marker of the set’s lack of appeal is the total number of respondents — only 35 Cube curators responded to the AFC survey, compared to 210 for AFR and more than 270 for Modern Horizons 2.

The processed data from the survey is available on Github.

Filter by rarity:
Card TestersRank 
Phantom Steed12/331.9
Ebony Fly9/331.8
Death Tyrant9/332.1
Hurl Through Hell7/332.0
Minn, Wily Illusionist6/332.0
Rod of Absorption5/332.0
Clay Golem4/331.8
Cards being tested by fewer than 4 respondents not shown.
Single Card Discussion
Phantom Steed
Death Tyrant
Ebony Fly
Phantom Steed is the blue restoration angel.
joan2000

Phantom Steed is the most tested card in AFC with 12 respondents, proportionally less than half as popular as the most-tested cards from the main set . Phantom Steed epitomizes contemporary Commander designs — a haymaker at a higher mana value whose effect wasn’t previously available in the color. In that design mold, the Steed has a slightly below-vanilla statline, but makes up for it with Flash, a relevant enters-the-battlefield ability, and the potential to snowball into a cascade of attacking tokens. The trick for making the Steed shine will be mitigating the card disadvantage after the Horse enters and clearing a path for the Horse to safely gain attack triggers.

The second most popular AFC card, Death Tyrant, can also generate absurd amounts of passive value during the combat step. Although at first the Tyrant looks like it fails the “Vindicate Test”, it really offers two key forms of value insurance: first, it can generate card advantage when played pre-combat, and second, it “draws” a copy of itself upon death. These factors stack up to make the Tyrant appealing to combat-focused cubes whose aggressive decks want a 5 mv curve-topper.

Ebony Fly rounds out the top three most tested AFC cards, the first dice-rolling card to see any amount of testing among Cube designers. I suspect its 9 testers are largely interested in it as a cheap mana rock with slight upside along the lines of Guardian Idol, which is at a premium in cubes which support Wildfire or colorless ramp strategies. But the Fly’s activated ability is no slouch, representing 2 flying attackers for an affordable 4 mana.

Reprint Alert
Basilisk Collar
Bedevil
Utopia Sprawl
Baleful Strix
Dire Fleet Daredevil

Here’s my hot tip for Cube designers who build on a budget: even if you’re uninterested in the new cards of a Commander set, the prebuilt decks almost always include juicy reprints. Even better, the reprints are often known quantities (if you didn’t already know, Baleful Strix is quite a good card), and the newest version is often several times cheaper than the old printings. This is a great way to save money on Cube upgrades, or to fill out a trade binder with Commander staples that will soon rise in value to match their old prices.

Conclusion

Forgotten Realms Commander doesn’t offer any obvious slam-dunks for the majority of Cube designers, similar to past Commander releases such as Commander 2020 or Kaldheim Commander. Despite these shortcomings for the Cube community, there are some hidden gems and hot reprints sprinkled throughout these decklists that make the set worth a look!

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Phantom SteedBrian Valeza