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Adventures in the Forgotten Realms’ best gameplay mechanic isn’t new to Magic: The Gathering

Treasure decks are stronger than ever.

Magic: The Gathering’s latest set Adventures in the Forgotten Realms is a love letter to Dungeons & Dragons and everything you might associate with the tabletop RPG behemoth.

There are class cards that allow you to play as druids, clerics and the like, as well as the chance to level them up for additional benefits. There are abilities that let you roll a d20 for different effects, including critical hits if you manage to roll a 20. There’s epic loot, fan-favourite characters from D&D lore and, as you can probably imagine, dungeons and lots of dragons.

All these new mechanics are a real joy to play with, dripping with theme and winking at D&D in-jokes - including splitting the party and beloved Baldur’s Gate duo Minsc and Boo. But despite all these brand new additions to the MTG meta, it’s something old, the humble treasure token, that stands out as Adventures in the Forgotten Realms’ crown jewel.

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For those not in the know, a treasure token is a pretty mundane object on its own. You can tap it to generate a single point of mana in any colour of your choosing in exchange for the treasure destroying itself. That makes them handy for two reasons. First, they generate magic to cast spells with, but they’re not lands - meaning you can have as many of them enter the battlefield as you like per turn. Second, because they can make any mana colour they can be great for getting cards on the board that you just don’t have the lands to support, meaning a deck built around them doesn’t need to worry if a card outside of its main colours is useful to have.

While treasure tokens were first introduced to Magic: The Gathering way back in 2017’s Ixalan block, it was only during the Norse-mythology themed set Kaldheim released earlier this year that their strength started to really catch the eye of deck-builders. With Norse mythology came dwarves and and a whole lot of treasure, including the legendary dwarf berserker Magda, Brazen Outlaw - who generates a new treasure token every time she or any other dwarf is tapped, and can sacrifice five treasures at once in exchange for searching your deck for any dragon or artifact to immediately put on the battlefield. A pretty potent engine if your deck is full of things that generate treasure and dragons lying in wait.

Kaldheim's Magda, Brazen Outlaw made for a fearsome treasure-sacrificing machine.

Although treasure was given some strong support in the Kaldheim set, it wouldn’t really become feature complete until two sets later when Adventures in the Forgotten Realms’ Dungeons & Dragons-themed cards started to hit circulation.

Adventures in the Forgotten Realms let a true treasure deck finally announce itself.

Before we got to the Forgotten Realms, we were treated to a Hogwarts-esque school of mages in the form of Strixhaven. Lo and behold, one of the five magical colleges, the blue-and-red Prismari, started to bolster those looking to build their decks around treasure, including spells that could generate a treasure token in exchange for being discarded and, most importantly, Galazeth Prismari. The legendary elder dragon not only generated a treasure token when it spawned but also allowed you to use magic from your treasures without destroying them whenever you cast an instant or sorcery. Suddenly you could have an entire table full of treasure tokens that were effectively any-colour land cards as long as you were casting instants or sorceries with them. Not to mention Storm-Kiln Artist, a creature that generated a new treasure token with every instant or sorcery cast and gained +1/+0 for every artifact under your control - which of course included treasures themselves. Tasty.

This was the point where I started to see the numbers adding up in favour of a shiny treasure deck, especially after pulling Galazeth Prismari from one of my Strixhaven packs. I started tinkering with treasure decks, trying to figure out how to make one work. While I had some fun interactions in the deck and there was definitely some promise in it, it proved just a little too difficult to get the engine up and running. I just wasn’t producing enough treasure fast enough. Enter Adventures in the Forgotten Realms.

Strixhaven helped make treasure decks a little more viable, but it wasn't until Adventures in the Forgotten Realms that they really found their full potential.

The new set has brought a flood of new treasure-themed cards to build with. The Hoard Robber generates a treasure every time they deal damage to a player. Xorn adds an additional treasure to each token you generate. The Hoarding Ogre generates one, two or three treasure tokens every time it attacks based on the roll of a d20. Players suddenly have the ability to generate treasures out of thin air with almost every card in their deck, letting a true treasure deck finally announce itself.

There’s no greater addition in the set for treasure decks than the grandaddy treasure dragon Old Gnawbone. A seven-mana Green dragon with flying, Old Gnawbone generates a treasure token for every single point of damage you deal to your opponent. Outrageously powerful, he’s the cherry-tinted ruby on top of the treasure trove for making this deck shine. At seven mana, it’s quite a pricey card to play, but with Magda on the field early you can play him in exchange for sacrificing five treasures - which can happen before you’ve even hit your seventh turn.

Old Gnawbone - one of Adventures in the Forgotten Realms' many dragon cards - generates treasure every time you deal damage to an opponent.

I’m having a whale of a time with all these new treasure token-themed cards, and I recommend you give them a look as well. If you’d like to try out my deck for yourself you can find a complete deck list below. Just do me a favour and hit the ‘Concede’ button if you ever get matched against me in ranked. Seems like a fair price if you ask me.

  • 3 Storm-Kiln Artist (STX) 115
  • 2 Unexpected Windfall (AFR) 164
  • 2 Grim Bounty (AFR) 106
  • 2 Galazeth Prismari (STX) 189
  • 2 Plundering Barbarian (AFR) 158
  • 2 Thieves' Tools (AFR) 122
  • 2 Hoard Robber (AFR) 110
  • 3 Hoarding Ogre (AFR) 146
  • 3 Magda, Brazen Outlaw (KHM) 142
  • 2 Xorn (AFR) 167
  • 1 Seize the Spoils (KHM) 149
  • 2 Goldspan Dragon (KHM) 139
  • 1 Orb of Dragonkind (AFR) 157
  • 2 Goldvein Pick (KHM) 239
  • 2 Kalain, Reclusive Painter (AFR) 225
  • 1 Feed the Serpent (KHM) 95
  • 1 Eat to Extinction (THB) 90
  • 1 Meteor Swarm (AFR) 155
  • 2 Old Gnawbone (AFR) 197
  • 1 Shambling Ghast (AFR) 119
  • 10 Swamp
  • 13 Mountain

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