Last updated on July 22, 2021

Klauth's Will - Illustration by Olivier Bernard

Klauth’s Will | Illustration by Olivier Bernard

Commander is a lot like Dungeons and Dragons sometimes. You spend hours and hours brewing your deck or curating your character sheet. You tweak it until it’s just right so that it fits your tastes but also plays well with what the other players have made. You like it a lot and can’t wait to play it. Then you spend months unsuccessfully trying to get your friends together because getting a table of four to six people to do something on a regular basis is near impossible.

Jokes aside, I do think they have a lot in common. Brewing a deck and making a character sheet can be really similar. You get to put a lot of yourself into them, and even if you take a precon deck or you a premade character and modify it to your taste, there’s still going to be a lot of yourself in the final product. But I’m not here to talk about homebrewed decks today.

With Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (this set is a mouthful to say every time), we’re also getting four new Commander decks based on old and new characters from D&D. There’s a bunch of new cards based on the TTRPG’s lore, characters, spells, and items.

So let’s see what we’re getting with this new Commander release!

Sale
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Commander Deck Bundle – Includes 1 Draconic Rage + 1 Planar Portal + 1 Dungeons of Death + 1 Aura of Courage
  • Bundle of 4 Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (AFR) Commander Decks
  • All 4 ready-to-play MTG decks contain 100 Magic cards (2 traditional foil + 98 nonfoil)
  • Each deck comes with 1 Display Commander, 10 double-sided tokens, 1 life tracker + 1 deck box
  • Beloved Dungeons & Dragons heroes and monsters have ventured into Magic for the ultimate crossover!
  • English (Publication Language)

Overview: AFR Decks vs. Other Recent Commander Precons

Diviner's Portent - Illustration by Lie Setiawan

Diviner’s Portent | Illustration by Lie Setiawan

This set comes with four Commander decks. Considering that we already got Commander 2021’s release, this is a pretty nice surprise. Most secondary Commander products, like the Zendikar Rising or Kaldheim decks, consist of only two decks. The fact that we’re getting four, very distinct decks this time even though we’ve already gotten this year’s main Commander product is pretty cool.

It’s worth noting that these decks will still be around the $40 mark. This means they’ll be closer to the prices of the Commander 2020 and 2021 decks. I can’t say that this is the best step Wizards could take since the lower priced decks are a great way to get new players into Commander, and they’re still pretty solid decks even for more experienced players. At least the higher prices tend to mean we get better reprints and a more balanced strategy.

This particular set also has a couple special online offers. You could buy one of the precons and add the Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook to your cart, or you can buy the four decks and add a D&D Essentials Kit. The single decks can also be bought with a D&D gift pack that includes the main three books for the game: the Dungeon Master’s Guide, the Player’s Handbook, and the Monster Manual. This is a great deal if you’re a fan of both games, or an amazing gift for someone who is.

Bundle of 1 AFR Aura of Courage MTG Commander Deck + 1 Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook (D&D Core Rulebook)
  • Bundle of 1 Aura of Courage AFR Commander Deck + 1 D&D Player’s Handbook
  • Aura of Courage Commander Deck – 1 ready-to-play 100-card Adventures in the Forgotten Realms MTG Commander Deck, 10 double-sided tokens, 1 life tracker, and 1 deck box
  • Assemble a party and battle your friends with a D&D-themed Magic: The Gathering Commander deck
  • D&D Player’s Handbook—includes a guide for creating and leveling up D&D characters, a selection of spells and equipment, and everything you need to know to start playing Dungeons & Dragons
  • The cornerstone of D&D’s three core rulebooks, the Player’s Handbook is the essential rules reference for both players and Dungeon Masters

The only downside is that these combos don’t really have a special price. It’s basically paying full price for the book and deck, but all in one single product. I think making it even just a bit cheaper would’ve been an amazing way to use this set’s crossover to introduce Magic players to D&D, or vice versa. At the very least the decks could’ve had a lower price mark like those from some previous sets so the combo felt a bit more accessible.

Two of these decks are tri-colored, while the other two are dual-colored. I like this variety. It adds another layer to deciding which deck is best for you and how focused you want it to be.

Another thing worth noting is that all the decks have cards using the new D20 mechanic. This makes perfect sense since this is a Dungeons & Dragons set, but we’ll go into the decks themselves in a little bit.

Let’s take a look at what each pack brings:

  • 1 foil-etched display commander card
  • 1 regular foil commander
  • 99-card deck
  • 10 double-sided tokens
  • 1 cardboard deck box
  • 1 life wheel

Out of the 99 cards in the list, you get:

  • 1 foil secondary commander
  • 1 new, non-foil legendary creature
  • 17 new cards
My top pick
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Aura of Courage (Green-White-Blue)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Draconic Rage (Red-Green)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Planar Portal (Red-Black)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Dungeons of Death (White-Blue-Black)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Aura of Courage (Green-White-Blue)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Draconic Rage (Red-Green)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Planar Portal (Red-Black)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Dungeons of Death (White-Blue-Black)
Competitive + Value
Coolest Flavor
Most Competitive
$38.97
$36.31
$33.95
$33.39
My top pick
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Aura of Courage (Green-White-Blue)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Aura of Courage (Green-White-Blue)
Competitive + Value
$38.97
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Draconic Rage (Red-Green)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Draconic Rage (Red-Green)
$36.31
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Planar Portal (Red-Black)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Planar Portal (Red-Black)
Coolest Flavor
$33.95
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Dungeons of Death (White-Blue-Black)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Dungeons of Death (White-Blue-Black)
Most Competitive
$33.39

AFR Commander Decklists

These four decks have pretty distinct strategies. Two of them focus on the titular synergies for the set. First there’s dungeons with the new “venture into the dungeon” mechanic. Then we have dragons with a first-ever Gruul deck. The other two have an equipment-enchantment theme and a warlock theme that thematically uses exiled cards.

That’s enough talk, though. Let’s get to the decks!

Aura of Courage

Galea, Kindler of Hope - Illustration by Johannes Voss

Galea, Kindler of Hope | Illustration by Johannes Voss

You’re gonna be focusing on putting enchantments and equipment cards like Belt of Giant Strength and Mantle of the Ancients on your creatures to make sure they grow stronger and stronger with Galea, Kindler of Hope as your commander. There are also several aura cards that can stick to your opponent’s creatures. If you’ve been playing Standard for the past year or so I probably don’t have to introduce you to cards like Kenrith’s Transformation.

Storvald, Frost Giant Jarl works as this deck’s secondary commander. Its abilities aren’t related to auras or equipment at all. It gives all your creatures “ward 3,” which is pretty amazing, and it also turns one creature into a 7/7 and another into a 1/1 whenever it attacks. These abilities give your deck both solid defensive and offensive values so you can focus on building it into an even more combat-oriented strategy.

Aura of Courage Deck

Money Cards and Notable Reprints

Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Aura of Courage (Green-White-Blue)
  • 100-card ready-to-play Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (AFR) Commander deck
  • Deck includes 2 traditional foils + 98 nonfoil cards
  • 1 foil etched Display Commander
  • 10 double-sided tokens + life tracker and deck box
  • Reduced-plastic packaging

Dungeons of Death

Sefris of the Hidden Ways - Illustration by Ryan Pancoast

Sefris of the Hidden Ways | Illustration by Ryan Pancoast

We get our first delve into the titular dungeons with this list. This deck’s strategies are a little all over the place in my opinion. There are three main ideas that are applied to your two commanders.

You get the first two with Sefris of the Hidden Ways: venture and reanimation. There are cards in the deck to support both of these strategies, like Hama Pashar, Ruin Seeker and Dungeon Map for dungeons or Grave Endeavor and Murder of Crows for the sacrifice/reanimation mechanics.

The other focus of this deck comes with its second commander, Nihiloor. Here you’re focusing on stealing creatures from your opponents to use against them. Cards like Extract Brain give this strategy some support, but it’s not a great match with Sefris’ strategies.

Dungeons of Death Deck

Money Cards and Notable Reprints

Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Dungeons of Death (White-Blue-Black)
  • 100-card ready-to-play Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (AFR) Commander deck
  • Deck includes 2 traditional foils + 98 nonfoil cards
  • 1 foil etched Display Commander
  • 10 double-sided tokens + life tracker and deck box
  • Reduced-plastic packaging

Draconic Rage

Klauth, Unrivaled Ancient - Illustration by Andrew Mar

Klauth, Unrivaled Ancient | Illustration by Andrew Mar

There’s one thing in particular I want to point out about this deck before anything else: it’s the first ever red and green Commander precon. There’s never been a Gruul Commander deck before this. And I think there’s a good reason for that. This isn’t a combination of colors that sees a lot of play in EDH. Ultra-aggro creature decks aren’t particularly strong against three or four players at a time.

This deck does what Gruul does best, though: putting a worrying number of giant creatures and crushing anything in its way. This deck’s commander, Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients, lets you create large tokens pretty easily. They can’t repeatedly damage your opponent, but they make for great blockers and threatening attackers.

I’m more fond of this deck’s alternative commander if I’m being honest. Wulfgar of Icewind Dale doubles anything that triggers when you attack. There’s plenty of amazing ways to really take advantage of this ability with some sweet payoffs, especially considering dragons like Atarka, World Render and Savage Ventmaw in your list.

Draconic Rage Deck

Money Cards and Notable Reprints

Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Draconic Rage (Red-Green)
  • 100-card ready-to-play Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (AFR) Commander deck
  • Deck includes 2 traditional foils + 98 nonfoil cards
  • 1 foil etched Display Commander
  • 10 double-sided tokens + life tracker and deck box
  • Reduced-plastic packaging

Planar Portal

Prosper, Tome-Bound - Illustration by Yongjae Choi

Prosper, Tome-Bound | Illustration by Yongjae Choi

I don’t want to play into stereotypes around heavy metal fans and all that, but I love warlocks and characters who make deals with otherworldly beings for power. I don’t think this is a particularly strong deck, but it is interesting. Wizards managed to perfectly capture the feeling of what a warlock is in a single deck. And it’s not a tribal deck or anything even close to it.

This deck’s commander is Prosper, Tome-Bound. Your strategy here consists of playing as many cards as you can from exile to create a lot of Treasure and generate some strong mana advantage to play even more cards. Sometimes you’ll even use your opponents’ cards to your own advantage.

 Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant is this deck’s secondary commander. Its strategy leans more towards a more traditional Rakdos aggro theme. It also adds a small layer of politics since it rewards your opponents for attacking each other instead of you. It synergizes really well with Commander classics like Disrupt Decorum.

Planar Portal Deck

Money Cards and Notable Reprints

Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Planar Portal (Red-Black)
  • 100-card ready-to-play Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (AFR) Commander deck
  • Deck includes 2 traditional foils + 98 nonfoil cards
  • 1 foil etched Display Commander
  • 10 double-sided tokens + life tracker and deck box
  • Reduced-plastic packaging

Top Picks: The Best of the Best

The Best Investment

My safest bet would be Aura of Courage as the best investment. Just to give some perspective, only four out of the 18 artifacts in the deck cost less than $1. There’s quite a few cards that exceed the $2 mark, and Puresteel Paladin alone costs around $8.

Aura of Courage Deck

The Most Competitive

If I had to choose one of the decks to upgrade to a competitive level, it’d be either of the tri-colored ones. While I like the other two decks a lot, I don’t think they have that much competitive potential without completely tearing them apart.

Dungeons of Death has a lot of potential if you focus on the two mechanics that Sefris of the Hidden Ways brings as your commander.

Dungeons of Death Deck

Aura of Courage is the “safest” of the four precons. Lists that try to place as many enchantments and equipment on your creatures as possible aren’t exactly new to Commander. It’s a strategy with a fair amount of support and can be pushed to a competitive level pretty easily if you look into it.

My Personal Favorite

The easiest way to put this is that I’m 100% an edgelord. I knew from the start that Planar Portal was going to be my favorite out of all the decks. I think the whole warlock theme works extremely well without becoming a tribal deck. I love the new legendary cards that come with the precon and I’m a big fan of everything Rakdos, so I don’t have much choice other than to love this precon.

Planar Portal Deck

It’s probably not the strongest out of the four decks, but it can get into some absurd shenanigans with some upgrades. it synergizes well with an old precon that I also really like. Commander 2019’s Merciless Rage uses the madness mechanic a lot, and it turns out that cards cast with madness are technically cast from exile. So there are a lot of ways to mix these two decks together and come up with some really fun combos.

My top pick
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Aura of Courage (Green-White-Blue)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Draconic Rage (Red-Green)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Planar Portal (Red-Black)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Dungeons of Death (White-Blue-Black)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Aura of Courage (Green-White-Blue)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Draconic Rage (Red-Green)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Planar Portal (Red-Black)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Dungeons of Death (White-Blue-Black)
Competitive + Value
Coolest Flavor
Most Competitive
$38.97
$36.31
$33.95
$33.39
My top pick
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Aura of Courage (Green-White-Blue)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Aura of Courage (Green-White-Blue)
Competitive + Value
$38.97
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Draconic Rage (Red-Green)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Draconic Rage (Red-Green)
$36.31
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Planar Portal (Red-Black)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Planar Portal (Red-Black)
Coolest Flavor
$33.95
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Dungeons of Death (White-Blue-Black)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in The Forgotten Realms Commander Deck – Dungeons of Death (White-Blue-Black)
Most Competitive
$33.39

Wrap Up

Song of Inspiration | Illustration by Lie Setiawan

I’m really excited for these Commander precons. Wizards has taken a road that involves making more and more Commander decks that allow new players to get into the format and older players to explore new strategies and deck ideas, which I think is a great way to go. I do miss the lower prices of the Zendikar Rising and Kaldheim decks, even if it meant sacrificing some power. It was a lot friendlier for a lot of players, especially those who can’t afford to or don’t want to invest a lot into a single deck.

And just a heads up, if you buy all four decks in a bundle, you can save quite a bit of money:

Sale
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Commander Deck Bundle – Includes 1 Draconic Rage + 1 Planar Portal + 1 Dungeons of Death + 1 Aura of Courage
  • Bundle of 4 Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (AFR) Commander Decks
  • All 4 ready-to-play MTG decks contain 100 Magic cards (2 traditional foil + 98 nonfoil)
  • Each deck comes with 1 Display Commander, 10 double-sided tokens, 1 life tracker + 1 deck box
  • Beloved Dungeons & Dragons heroes and monsters have ventured into Magic for the ultimate crossover!
  • English (Publication Language)

I really like this crossover as a whole. I think it was well handled (for the most part), and the new mechanics that were introduced with this D&D set are super fun.

But what do you guys think? Did any of these D&D-themed precons catch your attention over the others? Have you ever built a Commander deck around the lore of one of your own D&D characters? (I actually have!) Let me know in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out our blog and follow our Twitter for more amazing content.

Until next time!

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