Adventures in the Forgotten Realms is upon us, and that means new Standard cards! It’s been a while since Standard has been shaken up, so some new cards are a welcome sight. Today I’ll take a look at 10 of the more aggressive ones I think have the potential to see some play.
Starting off the list with a sweet one! 《Ebondeath, Dracolich》 hits hard. Having flash is excellent, as you can avoid it dying to sorcery-based removal before you swing in for 5. Flying is super relevant as well. Some of the best aggro cards I’ve played with have unique ways to punch through damage, and this fits the bill.
When you tack on a recursion ability, things get truly exciting! This card will be very annoying for players up against it unless, of course, they can exile it. Either way, it will likely have gotten in for at least one hit. It’ll be pretty obvious when you’re holding this card, but it shouldn’t matter too much.
Maybe the deck it’s played in will have something to do with its mana to add flexibility when you suspect your opponent is waiting for it to come down, but either way, this card should make a splash in Standard. Rakdos Sacrifice is the obvious fit for it, given the ease it should have in activating its ability, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see it in other aggressive strategies as well.
《Flameskull》 is a strong three-drop that could see some play. Like 《Ebondeath, Dracolich》, it has flying plus an ability that provides some excellent value even after it leaves play. It gives you the choice of recasting it or another card, which will always be a great place to be.
Aggro has always been susceptible to early removal, dwarfing its explosive starts, which often leaves it drawing off the top of a deck that primarily contains cards with little late-game impact. Having the ability to stick around mitigates this, as well as flood.
Not being able to block shouldn’t matter too much in decks this wants to slot into as things probably aren’t going so well for you anyways if you need to block. I expect good things from this card eventually. The key will be making sure your deck is aggressive enough to warrant its inclusion.
This card seems right up Mono Green’s alley. The deck has played 3/3s for 3 with upside before, like 《Barkhide Troll》, and I think this one is a lot better than that card.
It plays nice with pump spells and pump effects, which green usually has a plethora of. Triggering its “Pack Tactics” ability doesn’t seem hard at all. This + basically any three drop will get things rolling. The second ability is just extra upside, even if it won’t come up all that much.
I know this a Standard article, but interestingly enough, this card plays well with 《Pelt Collector》 and 《Gruul Spellbreaker》 in Historic. Tarn 1 《Pelt Collector》, Tarn 2 《Werewolf Pack Leader》, Tarn 3 Three power creature growing 《Pelt Collector》 will trigger this upon attack as will tarn 2 this + 《Gruul Spellbreaker》 (Haste). So be on the lookout for this card. I expect a bright future for it!
This makes the list because it’s a 1-drop, and decent 1-drop creatures are rare nowadays in Standard (especially since 《Embercleave》 entered the format). It makes sense as to why WOTC would be hesitant to print them right now.
I always suspected 《Runaway Steam-Kin》 held back Red Standard one drops in the past, and I think 《Embercleave》 is playing that role now. The fact that 《Fireblade Charger》 and 《Fervent Champion》 are good enough for Standard in combination with the 《Embercleave》 is a testament to that.
It’s possible 《Monk of the Open Hand》 could turn out to be a dud, but when paired with 《Clarion Spirit》, things suddenly get interesting. White Weenie featuring 《Clarion Spirit》 already saw some play this past year, and I think this card is worth trying in that double-spell type strategy. Look for decks that afford to play many low-cost creatures or spells to maximize the potential of this.
It’s unclear how relevant these lands will be as long as 《Faceless Haven》 is in the format. Still, I’m inclined to include them because creature-utility lands in Standard have historically been influential, especially in aggro decks.
I do think 《Faceless Haven》 is better, however. 《Faceless Haven》 had arguably the most significant impact on Standard aggro decks in a LONG time, protecting them from sweepers and flood while only taking up a land slot. These new lands coming into play tapped is a pretty steep cost for aggro (I always hated having to play 《Fabled Passage》 in my two-color aggro decks just to be able to cast my spells reliably), but it’s an easier cost to accept when the tap land comes with a creature attached to it.
If you’re loaded up on the same mana cost of a creature which can happen in certain aggro decks, then this isn’t as bad since you can go 2 drop tarn 2 into 2 drop tarn 3 + ending with this or 3 drop tarn 3, into 3 drop tarn 4 + ending with this. Players will have to figure out how many of these lands they want to play alongside 《Faceless Haven》, but I think it’s more likely than not the answer will be non-zero.
This card will work well in Mono-Green alongside 《Werewolf Pack Leader》. I’m pretty high on this card in general. It’s nice that Mono Green already has two strong two drops from this set alone; increasing the deck’s viability and the chances this sees some play.
I like that 《Ranger Class》 puts a 2/2 onto the board immediately while creating some card advantage down the road as well. When playing aggro, getting on the board the first couple turns should be priority number one, and it’s nice when some added value comes attached to that.
Its third level gives you something to do with your mana later in the game and mitigates against flood and diminishing card value well. It also should allow you to close out games that have otherwise stalled out by flooding the board with creatures and eventually pushing through with a lethal attack.
《Wight》 is admittedly medium as it’s pretty clearly underpowered in today’s Standard formats, but I include it here in case the format powers down in the future. The rotation of 《Bonecrusher Giant》 and other adventure cards should help immensely, but it’s unclear whether that will be enough.
This card is solid, though, and maybe could see some play in a Mono-Black aggro strategy. Entering tapped shouldn’t matter too much if you’re beating down. It’s possible this shouldn’t even be on the list, but I think good aggressive, early drop creatures are hard to come by nowadays in Standard, so this gets the nod.
The question will be whether this card packs enough punch to be worthy of Standard play. If you can keep an opponent on the defensive or zombies somehow end up mattering, this could have some potential.
《Bard Class》 is hard for me to evaluate. It plays well with 《Targ Nar, Demon-Fang Gnoll》, and many of Gruul’s legendary creatures, but I’m not too fond of the fact that it doesn’t do a whole lot right away. Levels one and three should potentially be impactful, but I’m not as high on the second one. The third level could certainly take over a game.
This card’s viability will hinge on how many legendary creatures and spells are available to Red and Green in the future, but I think it’s a card worth keeping on your radar at the very least.
My concern is it leads you into a situation where you are playing legendary creatures that aren’t very good in their own right just to make 《Bard Class》 good, and then when you don’t draw 《Bard Class》, you are left with a very underpowered deck.
Perhaps 《Bard Class》 will be worth it in the right deck, though. It’s an exciting one to try out. It has a lot of potentially strong things going on, so I think it’s OK to include it in the list.
This card makes the red mage in me happy. It’s a powerful sideboard card and one I would have certainly used this past year. It provides a clean answer to 《Lovestruck Beast》 and other green creatures. Big green creatures have always been problematic for red aggro decks and aggro decks in general – so a card like this is always great to see.
In addition, I like the fact that it deals two damage to non-green creatures adding even more flexibility. For example, 《Burning Hands》 is a card that I wouldn’t mind bringing in against Cycling or White Weenie. It’s what you want out of a sideboard card and will make the current Red deck’s sideboard immediately.
These are definitely questionable and will require a lot of future support, but maybe if enough tools (Goblins/Lifegain) are printed, they could find their way into a deck.
《Ajani’s Pridemate》 isn’t great, but if you have a recurring source of life gain, being able to scry every turn might warrant the 《Trelasarra, Moon Dancer》 inclusion, as you’d have some pretty strong card selection off the top of your deck. Unfortunately, GW/W life gain-based decks historically haven’t been good enough in Standard, but I guess you never know.
《Hobgoblin Bandit Lord》 is interesting as well. It’s not the strongest, but a lord is lord. If we see another lord in the next set, goblins could be a contender. Perhaps now it could go into a shell that can make goblin tokens and utilize 《Raid Bombardment》 or something similar. Again, these two aren’t strong enough yet, but they might be worth keeping in mind down the road.
That’s all I’ve got for today. Hopefully, something on the list caught your eye. Have fun trying out the new cards!
John Rolf (Twitter)