Odd as it is that publisher Wizards of the Coast waited nearly three decades to smash its two biggest games together, the upcoming Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set for trading card game Magic: The Gathering received its first dose of solid information - including a few card reveals. The information was delivered via stream and branded the next several product releases as part of the Summer of Legends event.
Taking the place of the annual core set normally released in the summer, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms lets players travel to the eponymous world that serves as the current fictional setting of ultra-popular tabletop RPG Dungeons & Dragons. Plenty of friendly - and not-so-friendly faces will grace cardboard alongside a likely horde of deep cuts and references to game night staples. Box and booster artwork shows the ranger Drizzt and panther companion Guenhwyvar, as well as the dragon god Bahamut in human form, likely meaning fans will see them grace dedicated cards in the following months.
Instead of beginning in a tavern, Wizards of the Coast began by showing off a series of Basic Lands from each of the game’s five Mana colours. Sporting fantastical artwork that looks as if it could grace the interior of an official adventure book, the cards feature something new - flavour text. The prompts address an ostensible party in the second person and describe the landscape in the tone of a Dungeon Master at the beginning of a session. This is the first time flavour text has appeared on Basic Lands and fits to the roleplaying theme of the set quite well.
Not content to leave fans with just beautiful landscapes, Wizards also previewed five cards that further sell the sword and sorcery theming. Portable Hole will be familiar to any veteran players as a neat combat trick and cheap storage for cumbersome loot. As a card, it exiles low-mana value creatures for as long as Portable Hole sticks around the battlefield. Power Word Kill is a lethal spell in Dungeons & Dragons that can instantly send targets under a certain hit point threshold to the afterlife. While the card translation doesn’t punch tickets with quite the same prowess, it still serves as a cheap removal spell at instant speed - always useful in decks that use Black mana.
Prosperous Innkeeper actually does a couple of neat things beyond introducing a very affable looking proprietor. The card provides a treasure token that can be used as Mana and gains its controller life when they play more creatures. A happy innkeep is one whose dining room and purse are both full, after all. This reveal also adds Halfling as a new creature subtype, where the game historically used plane-specific terms like Kithkin. This aligns with D&D parlance and points to the likelihood of seeing other specific typing, such as Dragonborn or Arakocra.
The storied Vorpal Sword will also enjoy a card adaptation in the upcoming set, introducing a wicked new win condition that hangs over opponents head like that other metaphorical sword. Excellent as a cheap source of Deathtouch and boosted power, Vorpal Sword can also cause a player to instantly lose the game if they take damage from it while powered up by its secondary ability. It’s costly and inefficient at eight mana - including three dedicated Black mana - but enticing enough to tempt daring card slingers.
The final spoiled card revealed the dragon god Tiamat as a legendary creature at mythic rarity. The queen of chromatic dragons takes a bit of all five Mana colours to summon but immediately lets a player fish five other dragons from deck to hand, playing into her lore as a harbinger of draconic doom and feared despot. Dragons have been a mainstay of Wizards of the Coasts’ two main games, so Tiamat’s headline inclusion here makes a lot of sense.
As players have seen in several past sets, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms will feature a set-specific border treatment that can be found in the various sealed booster packs. Called “classic rulebook frame”, the alternate art paints cards to look like entries in old bestiaries and monster manuals. While the publisher held back the text for the moment, it used the new card Baleful Beholder to showcase the effect. It’s likely that celebrated foes - dragons, beholders, mind flayers, etc. - will be used to show off this new style.
Adventures in the Forgotten Realms will initially hit Magic: the Gathering Arena and MTG Online - the two digital clients - on July 8th, with the physical release arriving at local game stores July 23rd. Prerelease events will take place prior to that, from July 16 through the 22nd.