Welcome back to Cube of Force, the article series where we build a Dungeons and Dragons themed Magic: The Gathering Cube step-by-step. This series has been a deep dive into the various cards and mechanics in Magic’s history that tie directly or indirectly into concepts from DND, be it the concept of forming a party, leveling up, or investigating for treasure. What we have been building up to, however, is the release of Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, as well as its tie in Commander product.
I personally feel like this set was a homerun for the cube, locking in on archetypes we were already establishing. You might recall that I added a dice roll subtheme in the last article, and it turns out that is an entire archetype of cards in both the set proper and the commander set. After excluding creatures outside the four types supported by the cube, there were still 22 cards that featured a dice roll mechanic for our consideration. Whether you’re drawing cards with Arcane Investigator or Contact Other Plane, returning creatures to the battlefield with Revivify or Danse Macabre, or removing problematic creatures with Farideh’s Fireball or Reckless Endeavor, dice rolls add a splash of DND flavor to the cube’s lines of play. If you find one deck in particular will be rolling a lot of dice, you can even consider Barbarian Class to get the most value out of it.
The class cards themselves are another flavor win, providing incidental value to our gameplay while allowing us to represent other Dungeons and Dragons classes not represented by the four creature types from the party mechanic. Cleric Class adds a life gain payoff, which combines well with Druid Class, the new cleric Trelasarra, Moon Dancer, and our cleric themes in general for a potential Selesnya life gain archetype. The third level of Paladin Class is an anthem that boosts attacking creatures for anyone on the team, and not just the ones you control. Fighter Class directly supports the equipment archetype we established in an earlier article!
This set is brimming with flavorful equipment, too. Dancing Sword is a unique equipment that gives you a creature if the equipped creature dies, while Plate Armor is an equipment that cares about other equipment. There are also solid colorless options like Greataxe, Leather Armor, and Spare Dagger. I think the most exciting equipment card from this set, however, is a creature that cares about equipment: Bruenor Battlehammer. If you find you’re playing a boros deck, you’re probably the most equipment heavy member of your team. Bruenor will make your equipped creatures bigger, while saving you mana each turn on equip costs.
We also established a treasure subtheme for the cube early on, and that was thankfully a theme within the set as well. Cards like Treasure Chest, Bucknard’s Everfull Purse, and Grim Hireling serve primarily to introduce treasure, while there are also incidental sources like Unexpected Windfall, Deadly Dispute, and Improvised Weaponry. Overall, these all make for just solid additions to an established cube archetype.
However, the most flavorful design in this set has to be venturing into the dungeon. Having scaled down three of the most infamous classic Dungeons and Dragons Dungeons to fit within the set, venturing into the dungeon lets players accumulate a number of incremental advantages while advancing their board state. I would advise having all three players progress through the same dungeon together, rather than venturing separately, so it feels like they are working together to complete it. With the help of repeatable venture triggers like Delver’s Torch, Fly, Yuan-Ti Malison and Yuan-Ti Fang-Blade, our party should have no trouble venturing through each dungeon to completion.
Adventures in the Forgotten Realms and the corresponding commander set brought the cube up to 592 cards. All that remains is to actually look at the balance of the cube- which colors and color combinations need the most support so the play environment is an enjoyable one. At this time, Blue has almost twice the support of any of the other colors with 144 monoblue cards. We may actually need to make some cuts, but the other colors will need some cards added as well. There is less imbalance in the two-color combinations, with Golgari being the least supported color pair. You can check on the status of the cube here. Our ultimate goal is for the cube to have 750 draftable cards.
In my next article, we will try to bring that needed balance to the cube by expanding on our archetypes further, and possibly adding flavorful and mechanically relevant creatures outside of the warriors, wizards, clerics, and rogues. What do you think about the cube so far? Are there any cards you would have included that I did not? Let me know in the comments! Until next time, rock on!
Paul, The Rocking Bard