How AFR’s ‘Class’ Cards Will Impact Standard and Commander Play in 2021
There’s nothing more iconic in Dungeons & Dragons than classes. They are the basis of your character’s background and guide what will happen throughout your adventures.
It wouldn’t be fitting for Magic’s first D&D-themed set, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (AFR) to arrive without paying homage to classes. Fortunately, players can look forward to 12 different cards, each themed around an iconic D&D class.
These cards range from uncommon to rare and feature the “Level Up” mechanic that was first introduced in Rise of the Eldrazi. From a flavor standpoint, they do a great job of capturing the essence of D&D’s classes.
Although not all of these cards will see play, several of them have the potential to make a splash in formats like Standard and Commander. Let’s take a look at the 12 classes we’ll see in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms.
How Do AFR’s Class Cards Work?
First, it’s important to touch on how these cards work, especially for newer players that might not be familiar with the level-up mechanic.
Essentially, these cards work similarly to sagas, except you pay a specific cost to advance them rather than it happening automatically each turn.
When a class card first enters the battlefield, its first effect becomes active. Then, you can pay its specified “Level 2” cost and advance to that level. You’ll then get access to that effect as well as the first one. The same is true for the third level.
Each level comes with a higher cost, but also gives you greater benefits as the game progresses.
Paladin Class AFR
The worthy Paladin. A staple of D&D. This looks like a card that will fit perfectly into a mono-white aggro deck’s sideboard for matchups against control decks.
For a single white mana, it makes spells your opponents cast during your turn cost 1 extra. Its second level costs 2(W) and gives all your creatures +1/+1. That’s a nice anthem effect at a fair cost.
Finally, you can advance the Paladin Class to Level 3 and give an attacking creature you control +1/+1 and double strike until end of turn. That is perfect for quickly pushing damage through in the late game.
This card probably isn’t good enough for a main slot in aggro decks since it is a bit slow. However, it will likely see play in standard and Commander.
Druid Class AFR
Druids are known for their connections to magic and nature. The Druid Class captures that essence well. Its first level lets you gain a life whenever a land enters the battlefield. Then, for 2(G), you’ll be able to play an extra land on your turn.
Its third level is expensive at 4(G) and makes a target land you control become a creature with power and toughness equal to the number of lands you control.
This feels like a fair power level given that this card is uncommon. That said, it could definitely have an impact in limited, giving you a powerful creature in the late game and a way to spend extra mana.
Ranger Class AFR
The second green class is the beloved Ranger. It is much more powerful than the green Druid Class. At 1(G), it creates a 2/2 wolf creature when it comes into play. Then, for 1(G), its Level 2 effect lets you put a +1/+1 creature on a target attacking creature.
It’s worth noting that you can do this each turn. That’s a big upside, albeit a bit slow.
The Ranger Class’ third level lets you look at the top card of your library and cast creature spells from the top of your library for 3(G). That’s similar to Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate’s passive ability.
The fact that this card creates a body out of the gate makes it one of the best Class cards since it helps stabilize your board in the early game. It’s also really nice to see WotC giving the Ranger class a powerful card for once.
Wizard Class AFR
Another staple of D&D, the Wizard Class is making an appearance. For a single blue mana, it gives you no maximum hand size when entering the battlefield.
When you pay 2(U) to advance it to Level 2, you draw two cards. Then, for 4(U), advancing it to Level 3 lets you put a +1/+1 counter on a creature you control each time you draw. That’s at least one counter per turn, but likely more if you’re running a blue-heavy deck.
In Commander, an interesting interaction with Fathom Mage (which lets you draw a card whenever you put a +1/+1 counter on a creature) lets you go infinite.
Aside from that, this looks like a really strong card in Commander, even if just for the unlimited hand size. It also feels like a decent card in limited due to the card advantage it gives you and the ability to pump your creatures for extra damage in the late game.
Cleric Class AFR
With Heliod, Sun-Crowned rotating out in the fall, standard players will need a new way to pump their creatures when gaining life. Cleric Class looks like an effective, albeit more expensive, way to do so.
For one white mana, it lets you gain 1 extra life each time you gain life. That’s pretty solid in lifegain decks.
Then, paying 3(W) brings you to Level 2, allowing you to put a +1/+1 counter on a creature you control each time you gain life.
Finally, you can pay 4(W) to move to Level 3. This lets you bring a target creature from your graveyard to the battlefield. You also gain life equal to its toughness.
It’s worth noting that this card isn’t legendary so you can have more than one on the battlefield at a time.
Until standard rotates, this card seems like a major addition to lifegain decks with things like Heliod, Daxos, Alseid, and Selfless Savior. Things will change slightly after rotation, but lifegain still looks strong.
Expect to see this played in both standard and Commander moving forward.
Warlock Class AFR
Warlock Class brings some classic mono-black flavor to the concept of this card. For one black mana, it causes your opponent to lose 1 life each time a creature dies on your turn.
Paying 1(B), bringing it to Level 2 lets you look at the top three cards of your library, bring one card to your hand, and put the others into your graveyard.
Finally, paying 6(B) to activate Level 3 makes your opponent lose life equal to the life they lost during your turn.
This is expensive, but it is a powerful effect that can help you finish a game quickly. That said, it will likely see play in Commander decks that also run Wound Reflection. It could also see play in limited where you’ll have turns with lots of mana and nothing to do. That said, it’s probably a bit too clunky for standard.
Barbarian Class AFR
Barbarian Class rounds out our mono-colored classes as well as our uncommons. For one red mana, it lets you roll a second dice and ignore the lower roll whenever you’d roll a die.
The second level gives a target creature you control +2/+0 and menace until end of turn each time you roll a die.
Finally, the third level gives all your creatures haste for 2(R).
Overall, this isn’t a great card since it’s a little expensive for aggressive red decks. That said, it’s an interesting addition to decks that care about rolling dice and could be useful in Commander.
Monk Class AFR
There are five multi-colored Class cards to go along with the mono-colored ones. They are also all rares. Of course, they come with more powerful effects that are very flavorful for the color pairs they come in.
For (W)(U), Monk Class makes the second spell you cast each turn cost 1 less. Paying (W)(U) brings it to Level 2, allowing you to bounce a non-land permanent back to its owner’s hand.
Finally, the third level, which costs 1(W)(U) lets you exile the top card of your library at the beginning of your upkeep. You can cast it from exile as long as you cast another spell that turn.
This is certainly a nice combo piece in decks that care about casting multiple spells per turn. It’s a very interesting pairing with Vega, the Watcher from Kaldheim. It also seems to run well with Clarion Spirit.
Flavorfully, this perfectly captures the essence of the Monk Class, including its flurry of blows, patience, and Astral Projection.
Rogue Class AFR
What would Dimir colors be if not rogues? This (U)(B) card synergizes well with the rest of the rogue cards we know about but isn’t necessarily the most powerful.
When entering the battlefield, it lets you exile a card off the top of your opponent’s library when you deal combat damage to them. You can look at it, but it remains face down for your opponent. When you get this card to Level 3, you can play cards exiled this way, using any color of mana to do so.
This is a very expensive effect, especially since you still have to pay to cast those cards. That said, you have several turns to determine if paying for the effect is worth it based on the cards you exile.
Still, this card doesn’t seem to fit perfectly with most rogues. It probably won’t see much play but could find a home in certain Dimir Commander decks like Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow.
Sorcerer Class AFR
Izzet has been gaining serious traction in standard lately, both with treasure tokens and prowess cards. Sorcerer Class lets you draw two cards and discard two cards when it enters the battlefield.
Paying (U)(R) for its second level lets you tap all your creatures for either (U) or (R) to cast instant/sorcery spells or advance a Class level. That’s a powerful effect on its own that lets you churn out larger creatures.
Level 3 is a bit underwhelming, letting you deal damage to your opponent equal to the number of instants/sorceries cast that turn after paying 3(U)(R). That effect does get better in Commander when you can rip off a long run of spells on your turn.
That said, it could see play in standard decks like Izzet Dragons or the Sprite Dragon prowess deck.
Fighter Class AFR
As has been the trend recently, Boros has been very focused on equipment. Fighter Class is no different. For (R)(W), it lets you tutor for an equipment card from your library and put it into your hand. That’s already a lot of value for two mana.
Level 2 is a bonus at 1(W)(R), reducing the cost to equip creatures by 2. It’s easy to see this spiraling out of control if more than one Fighter Class hits the battlefield or when combined with a commander like Stoneforge Mystic or Danitha Capashen, Paragon.
In standard, this could become a key piece in a Boros equipment deck after rotation this happens this fall. We’ll have to wait and see how that shapes up, though.
Bard Class AFR
What’s the point of going on an adventure if there isn’t a bard to tell the tale? For (R)(G), it gives all Legendary creatures an additional +1/+1 counter when they enter the battlefield.
Paying another (R)(G) to advance it to Level 2 reduces each Legendary spell by (R)(G). It’s worth noting that this only applies to colored mana, making it less effective for creatures in non-Gruul colors.
The Legendary theme fits with bards, giving this card pretty good flavor. It could see some janky play in Commander decks like Esika, God of the Tree // Prismatic Bridge and Xenagos, God of Revels. That being said, it doesn’t necessarily fit with most Gruul themes so will probably be more of a niche piece.