Will Orc Tribal Finally Get Its Due in Forgotten Realms?

Now first of all, this is a speculation article not a spoiler. I have no new info about the upcoming MTG set, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Unfortunately. What we have plenty of here in the Magic Tavern is opinions and speculation. Lots of it. And we’ve had a discussion recently about some possibilities of new creature types coming out of this set.

Now, I do not believe nor do I think that Wotc will unload a ton of new creature types in this set. But they do have a tendency to do special things in sets that have either never been done before (or again) or bring back things that have been long missed in MTG. I think both of these are at work here.

First of all, let me reiterate an opinion that I touched upon in our GOD speculation article a couple of weeks back.


Now, I’m not insinuating that Orcs haven’t been done by Wotc, nor do I assume that there haven’t been any recently. Because there has. The funny thing is MTG has been dropping a good number of Orcs in many of the sets from the last year and we haven’t taken much notice. For Urza’s sake, you drop a new elf and the fandom looses its shit. But we’ve been given a baker’s dozen of Orcs this last year and we don’t even notice. That’s telling.

What that says is that Orc tribal is either dead or in hibernation or never was. Because there have been many Orcs in past editions. Hell, there’s over 60 of those bad boys. But what these murderous bulldozers of doom are REALLY lacking is leadership.


Leadership. It’s what a tribal deck needs. Either in standard or in EDH, without good leadership it’s just a bunch of riotous morons. Now, once again, there have been a few Orc Legendries dropped that could make a commander. There have even been a few dropped in the last year that could have definitely lead a standard deck. But we just haven’t gotten that LORD of Orcs that rallies them to any kind of decent victory.

Strixhaven went beyond that and created educated, magic slinging Orcs. Cool cards, but no flag to rally behind.

Commander Legends last year brought us Captain Vargus Wrath (Cool name). But he only ramps Pirates. Now that includes 13 other Orc Pirates. So, you can build a decent commander deck around that. But still.

I mean, any Orc Legendary with red in its mana can rally an Orc. Let’s be honest. There’s just not a Orc Lord to be seen.

Our only other options are Sek’Kuar, Deathkeeper and Zurgo Helsmasher.

Sek’Kuar, Deathkeeper is one of those cards that does things with death. This is befitting an Orc, believe me. But this creature isn’t leading Orcs. No, the Deathdealer is creating a GRAVEBORN army aka undead hoard. And Zurgo? He’s not much of a leader as he ramps himself for every creature he dies. Very flavorful, but what about all of the grunt orcs out there? They need someone to follow; someone to inspire them. How about someone to empower THEM?

So, I hear you asking me, ‘Hey, BDC, why the hell do you think things are going to be any better for orcs in the upcoming Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set?’

Well, I’ll tell ya…




Now, for all of you who know nothing about Faerun (the setting of The Forgotten Realms), let me introduce you to the best shot MTG has at an ORC LORD!

This setting or plane has its own ORC GOD. His name is Gruumsh and he’s everything you would ever want in Orc leadership. He is the ‘one who never sleeps’, the one who watches and he’s not afraid to go toe-to-toe with any elf ESPECIALLY their god. In fact, he did go mano a mano with said elf god and survived; although he lost an eye in the exchange. My point is that this character, more than any in MTG’s history, is THE best example of an Orc LORD. It’s their best opportunity to build us the Orc Lord we deserve.

Gruumsh is the leadership the Orcs need. And all of us players who are tired of Elves hogging the limelight will finally have the general that will not fear them.

Since Wotc seems to be unwilling to do much in over two colors for standard, the best color combination for Gruumsh would be Gruul (red/green). If they don’t include black, they will loose a few, but, for the most part, you’ve got around 40 orcs to chose for your army.

The other problem is that they will need to include a good group of Orc grunts to follow Gruumsh into battle in standard. There are a few in standard, but not many. And I’m afraid Wotc will not invest enough in this set to bolster orc tribal.


We’ve already had Lolth, Spider Queen spoiled as a Planeswalker. Now, although this is a great way to represent the planeswalking demon goddess, it puts a proverbial fly in our ointment.

Lolth being a planeswalker is great and gives a lot of options dealing with death and spider tokens, but the only down side is she hasn’t been given the ability to be your commander. SO, we have to assume that many of the ‘god cards’ we were expecting may serve as this sets planeswalkers.

So, bottom line, if Wotc DOES decide to print a Gruumsh card, it has a good possibility of also being a planeswalker that can’t be a commander. And THIS invalidates him completely as an ORC LORD. So, although I have lofty dreams of all this coming to pass, Wotc has already crushed my dreams and probably all hopes of having an Orc Lord in the days to come. We can only hope that they reserved characters like Gruumsh to publish as actual legendary ‘god cards’ and not planeswalkers or we will not be getting that Orc lord we so desperately need any time soon.


Something I missed while creating this article was the fact that Wotc is drawing heavily upon the legend of Drizzt. That being the case, I was remiss in the fact that I missed a powerful Orc contender for Tribal Lord.

Obould Many Arrows, antagonist in the Hunter’s Trilogy and also showing up in The Orc King and Gauntlgrym as well as the video game, Neverwinter, may be a perfect replacement for Gruumsh as Orc Lord!

It doesn’t hurt that he later was an exarch of Gruumsh himself.

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