Ok, Tavern mages, we at The Magic Tavern know that most of our frequent visitors love everything tabletop. The top two habits we all have are Magic The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons. So, when they announced that they were going to be introducing the first bit of D&D into MTG, the Tavern was in full on celebration. ESPECIALLY since it was FORGOTTEN REALMS. But seriously, it could have been Greyhawk, Dark Sun or even Ravenloft (although we already have Innistrad coming in duplicate at the last part of the year). We just love the idea of mixing the two things we love so much.
They teased us early with a card that had the mysterious text ‘VENTURE INTO THE DUNGEON‘. And suddenly you had all of us and our Patrons attention. As you can see on the card, Cloister Gargoyle when it enters the battlefield you venture into the dungeon. It also gets +3/+0 if you have completed a dungeon. This left people scrambling trying to think of what this new mechanic could possibly do and what it would mean for the game. This honestly feels like an “un-set” king of mechanic, where the cards didn’t affect standard and thus could do all sorts of crazy stuff! But, obviously, it wasn’t.
So, fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long to find out what ‘venture into the dungeon’ actually meant. Maybe Wotc could feel our giddy anticipation and didn’t want to burn us out wondering. Whatever their reason, this past week, they spoiled the three cards that would be our dungeons in the next MTG set, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms!
But, first, let’s look at the mechanic.
As stated above, Gloister Gargoyle has the text ‘venture into the dungeon’ which triggers any of the three dungeons you own outside the game. These can be placed in your sideboard, but do not count toward its card limit. When triggered, it is placed in the ‘Command Zone’ which, I believe is the first time that term has ever been used in conjunction with Standard. Obviously it’s a term we who play Commander are familiar with. Even the whole COMPANION mechanic, although played from your sideboard outside the game, they were automatically played into the battlefield.
The only other times that the Command Zone is mentioned in a standard set (as far as I can find) happened in the PLANECHASE and CONSPIRACY sets. They both included cards that were played to the Command Zone that affected game play in new and exciting ways much like Companion and the new Dungeon mechanic.
ONCE YOUR DUNGEON IS IN PLAY, you place a ‘venture marker’ onto the top room. To move your marker down or go deeper into the dungeon, you will need more cards with the trigger phrase ‘venture into the dungeon’. Each room has its own triggers and you simply play those out. Once completed, the dungeon card is removed from the game. But don’t worry. The next time you play one of the aforementioned trigger cards, you can play the same dungeon card or any of the other two. It’s up to you.
Now there are handy cards that also trigger to the completion of dungeons; either simply completing ONE dungeon or ramp to the number of times you complete them. The planeswalker, Ellywick, has in her ultimate a trigger that ramps to each DIFFERENTLY named dungeons completed. Which kinda limits her to, at best a +6/+6, but, come on, with trample and haste, that could be devastating. The spoiled Dragon Knight (Dragonborn flavor FTW!) triggers the dungeon upon both entering and attacking and ramps all other creatures +1/+1 ‘as long as you’ve completed a dungeon’. I believe this card and any others like it will be much sought after to drive the dungeon mechanic.
TOMB OF ANNIHILATION
This is a great dungeon to begin with. The TOMB OF ANNIHILATION was published in 2017 in 5E, but it was inspired by an original Gygax dungeon named TOMB OF HORRORS. And the setting of Chult hasn’t been explored since 2E. So this dungeon is steeped in foundational modules that made D&D what it is. I mean, it debuted in 1975 at the Origins 1 Convention.
I almost wish that, since they are played outside the deck, there would be special Dual Modal cards with the artwork to either the old school Gygax dungeon or the new 5E artwork.
It has the flavorful constant loosing of life and sacrifice and reminds us of old-school dungeons full of traps and danger. It would be a great dungeon to repeat as many times as possible pairing it with great standard cards that cost your opponent life while bringing more life to you. It would be short lived in Standard, but I could see pairing it up with Vito. But we would have to see what other ‘venture’ trigger cards come to the set, of course. Since the dungeons are not color coded (thank goodness), maybe Nadaar, Selfless Paladin (seen above) could drive this dungeon and ramp your party.
And that final room of the dungeon allows you to create THE ATROPAL, a HORROR GOD token AND it’s 4/4 AND it gets DEATHTOUCH. Now that’s spicy and could be of great service in many decks.
THE LOST MINE OF PHANDELVER
And, speaking of great dungeons to start out in, LOST MINE OF PHANDELVER was published as an entry level dungeon to take a part from level 1 to 5. It was set near the city of Neverwinter which we speculated should be a land card or any card in the set.
This dungeon was part of D&D’s 5E starter set published in 2014. Not only was it a great starter for D&D, but maybe also for MTG Standard. It has shades of Red Agro Goblin which is going to need help once Renewal hits later this year.
DUNGEON OF THE MAD MAGE
One of the most celebrated settings in all of Forgotten Realms is the city of WATERDEEP which we also speculate will get a lot of love for this set. The first evidence of this is the inclusion of DUNGEON OF THE MAD MAGE in the trio of dungeons. This adventuer was actually set in the nearby location of the Undermountain. This dungeons was touted as ‘THE GREATEST’ and ‘A MEGA-DUNGEON. So, it stands to reason that it would be a part of this groundsbreaking set.
This is definitely the deepest of the dungeons, taking seven triggers to complete. But it has its rewards as all dungeons do. The DEEP MINES allow you to scry 3 and the lowest level, Mad Wizard’s Lair, allows you to draw 3 and cast one without paying its mana cost. NICE!
The only problem is it’s SO long. It will be fun to play, but never useful in the quest to Mythic. I may be wrong, but most of you out there don’t have the patience to hang for that long. Most of the META decks are built to win or set up to win in three to four or a good many of you don’t bother.
There’s a lot of scrying, so white and/or blue could benifit here. There’s also the best of treasures in this dungeon. Treasure Tokens, lifegain, lockdown, exile and even skeleton creation make this an alluring delve. I know I’ll spend some games digging deep into this dungeon.
Obvously, this mechanic will take some getting used to. Hopefully, it will fare better than last years COMPANION. But we have to expect, as Wotc continues to experiment with more ways to enhance play, that there will be a few bumps in the road. As said before, I don’t think this mechanic will EVER reach the META, but I don’t think that was Wotc’s intentions. These side experimentations are testing the waters. We’ve seen this in every set; something that was fun to play, but never hit the fastlane. Let’s be honest, Wotc is learning as much as we are. They may have playtested it, but their experience is nothing like releasing it to the wild. If it can be broke, we will break it. Combos Wotc never dreamed of rise to the top and cause some unfortunate bans.
Suffice it to say, have fun breaking the meta. Let us know anything we missed. What possibilites do you see? Drop it in the comments below or hit us up on social media.