What’s the Best AFR Commander Preconstructed Deck?

full review of AFR Commander precon decks in Magic the Gathering

What’s the Best AFR Commander Preconstructed Deck?

Wasn’t it only a couple months back when we had our annual Commander preconstructed (aka precon) deck reviews? It’s not your memory failing, but rather Wizards of the Coast ramping up support for the popular format that is enthralling Magic players all over, and drawing new players in. It’s so successful that they’ve decided to have precon Commander decks accompany every new expansion set release in 2021 (and possibly beyond)!

So instead of that yearly affair where one looks forward to a Valentine’s Day or Christmas, Magic players are now getting holidays all year round. Whether that dilutes the momentous joy when new decks are released, it’s still a little early to tell. For now, Tap & Sac is just happy to present the full review for the Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (AFR) Commander decks!

As with past linked precon decks, they’ll include new cards only from AFR Commander, and some even focus exclusively on the set’s new mechanics, such as “venture into the Dungeon” and Treasure synergy.

Here’s a breakdown of our rating system:

Playability – How likely the deck is to hold its own against other non-precon decks in the format

Upgradability – How easily the deck be torn apart and upgraded

Beginner Friendliness – How easy are the mechanics of the deck for a beginner to learn

Value – How good is the deck in terms of financial value and inherent value of cards present

Accessibility – How easy is it to get a hold of the deck at MSRP at your local game store

For each rating, I will give a score out of 5 stars, which will ultimately culminate in an overall rating out of 25 stars total.

Aura of Courage: Equipment Aggro

Galea, Kindler of Hope is one of four AFR Commanders in the Magic preconstructed decks.
Galea, Kindler of Hope is the Commander for Aura of Courage preconstructed deck.

Main Commander: Galea, Kindler of Hope

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Aura of Courage will synergise very effectively because Galea promises two things once she’s on the Battlefield – the ability to look and cast Equipment cards right off the top of your Library, and getting a free equip when it enters the Battlefield. That’s two busted abilities with no conditions and can grow your board state super fast.

For example, cast Belt of Giant Strength for just 2 Mana and sidestep its high equip cost by attaching it for free to a Creature you control. The same goes for Colossus Hammer, and now you have huge 10/10 attackers!

This preconstructed deck also comes with Puresteel Paladin, arguably one of the best Equipment-focused cards in Magic. Drawing cards to refuel your hand is always important in Magic, and with a deck like this with lots of Equipment, you can stay ahead of your opponents by drawing more Creatures or interactive spells to deal with threats.

But if there’s a downside to such a heavy focus on Auras and Equipment, it’s you don’t have many Creatures to work with. The deck only has 17 Creatures, including Galea, so there’s a good chance you won’t draw even a single one of them in your opening hand. Sure, you could cast Galea on turn four, but be prepared to have her targeted as the value she generates is just too great.


Because Aura of Courage already has a lot of synergy and a few Commander staples such as Heroic Intervention and Sword of the Animist, there isn’t that much you need to do to raise its power level. You also don’t have to tear into your wallet to buy Fetchlands such as Flooded Strand or Misty Rainforest so that you have an easier time playing three colours. The Filterlands are very affordable and help to sort out any Mana producing problems you might encounter.

It’s also worth considering to increase the Creature count a little just to up your odds of having one in your opening hand. Slippery Bogle is a nice one-Mana Creature that has the critical Hexproof ability, so your opponents can’t directly target it. Kor Spiritdancer is another cheap must-include because it serves as another outlet for card draw, representing the side of Auras while Puresteel Paladin triggers off Equipment.

Now that we’re feeling Auras, do consider slotting in All that Glitters and Ancestral Mask as these will give a massive power boost to your enchanted Creature. To protect the few Creatures you have, putting in multiple cards with Totem Armor such as Hyena Umbra and Spider Umbra and give your opponents a bigger headache. There are so many choices for good Auras that it’ll be easy to upgrade this deck.

Beginner Friendliness

Playing in three colours isn’t the worst, but neither is it the best for beginners. Generally we would recommend having a maximum of two colours for beginner decks. These preconstructed decks are also less forgiving with the Land base simply because it doesn’t include the more efficient and expensive Shocklands (like Hallowed Fountain) and they do not even include Checklands (Glacial Fortress) even though they are of lower market value.

There’s also a learning curve involved with how to protect your precious Creatures while attaching an Equipment. Even knowing which Equipment to use ahead of others is also a tricky business that beginners will find challenging. While of Aura of Courage offers a nice competitive deck that will generate a ton of value for the player, it only comes together if there is a good pilot behind it.


It’s hard not to give Aura of Courage the highest marks for value. Multiple cards such as Puresteel Paladin and Sword of the Animist are popular cards used in many Commander decks. This kept their market price relatively high. While it’s pretty much certain that prices will fall a little as these decks are released to players, these cards can and will retain decent value simply because they’re good and highly playable cards.

Unfortunately there are no Talismans included in this particular deck, otherwise the value would be a perfect 5. Commander Galea, Kindler of Hope is also a highly competent Commander and we wouldn’t be surprised to see her in new, high-powered builds – the price could steadily grow but it will take time.


According to preorder prices, Aura of Courage had the highest expected value among the four AFR Commander decks. Although this has shifted slightly because high-value cards such as Heroic Intervention have fallen, it’s no surprise that this is the most sought after preconstructed deck due to those exact cards. Thankfully, these are early days in the release and should be widely available in big-box stores such as Walmart or even Amazon.

Some local game stores might sell this particular deck at a higher price than the best, simply because they recognise the inherent value of the cards and also to entice players to buy the other decks rather than focus on just this one. But this shouldn’t affect stock levels too much this early into its release.

Final Rating

Aura of Courage would be our choice pick out of the four AFR Commander precon decks, as it combines high playability plus the inclusion of multiple staple cards that will continue to see play in the format for years to come. If you’re a new player willing to tough it out a little, this is a great deck to get. Seasoned players will no doubt see the appeal of Galea as the next iteration for Aura and Enchantment focused decks, and will add to its demand. If you see one on the shelves at regular retail price, try not to hesitate!

Draconic Rage: Dragonborn Tribal

Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients is one of four AFR Commanders in the Magic preconstructed decks.

Main Commander: Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients

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This deck’s all about getting big scary dragons onto the board, with a little twist. Since this is a Dungeons & Dragons precon deck, Wizards has opted to include the D&D creature class Dragonborn for their first ever appearance in Magic. One clear distinction between Dragonborn and dragons are that the former do not fly, and as such the tokens that Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients also lack the Flying ability.

The inability to evade blockers and their one-time use (you have to sacrifice the tokens when the dragon spirit deals damage) feels more like a drawback than a threat. Since these 5/4 dragon spirits do not have Trample, opponents will be happy to make one-to-one trades using their little 1/1 weenies.

Another worry is that the big dragons that come inside this deck are all of pretty high casting cost, with nine Creatures costing 6 Mana or more. You might think Green would include plenty of ramp spells but it is sorely lacking in this aspect, with only Cultivate, Rampant Growth, and Explore available in the entire deck. With so many high costing cards, players will find themselves off to a very slow start. That might not be an issue against the other preconstructed decks, but in the open field, it’s likely you’ll face the rage of the opponents’ Creatures rather than dishing them out.

Vrondiss needs dice rolls to trigger his ability and create more dragon spirits, but the precon deck list doesn’t actually have that many cards that facilitates die rolling. There’s the Instant Berserker’s Fury and just a few other Artifacts that require either spending Mana or dealing combat damage to a player for you to roll that die. The new Chaos Dragon will be your Commander’s strongest ally, so make sure to cast it early on turn three if possible.


There’s plenty to salvage here, but most importantly is to put in cards that can either ping Vrondiss for 1 point of damage, and also any that create die rolls. The AFR set has a few cheap Uncommons and commons you can add in that consistently trigger die rolls. Hoarding Ogre is a nice add, and Loathesome Troll lets you roll dice as many times as you want as long as you have the Mana.

The other dice-related new card that is turning heads is Treasure Chest. Although you have to sacrifice it, the value you generate is immense. There’s a chance to gain 5 Treasures, draw 3 cards, or even search for any Artifact from your Library and put it into play. There’s still a 5% chance you’ll lose 3 life, but even so at least you’ll get a trigger off Vrondiss’ ability!

If the plan is still to go big and bashing, do consider adding more ramp spells or Mana-generating Artifacts into the deck. Kodama’s Reach and Farseek are affordable additions, and even Creatures that add Mana such as Grand Warlord Radha can help to cast your flying beasts.

To fully utilise the creation of 5/4 tokens, there are cheap cards that can easily ping Vrondiss to build your army. Cast Arcane Teachings on Vrondiss and he can ping itself for a consistent supply of tokens. Close Quarters can also help to generate more tokens when the preexisting tokens are blocked, and you can potentially hit Vrondiss three times without him dying.

Beginner Friendliness

The strategy out of the box is so simple that it’s perfect for beginners. The goal is to make big bad Creatures and there’s no way easier and more fun than rolling those d20 dice. Even if that doesn’t pan out as well, there are so many ominous dragons in Draconic Rage that one can play the long game, build up the Mana base, and start casting them directly.

Holding off the early onslaught of attacks might be trickier, as there’s only Magmaquake and Chain Reaction that serve as mass removal. Beginners can play the noob card, keep a quiet board and let the other players duke it out for awhile as you build up the Land count.


Even though many of giant Creatures are ironically shrivelled in value, there are a couple of cards that show promise. You get the first reprint of Kindred Summons, a powerhouse that lets you cheat out more big Creatures when you have similar Creature types in play. In Vrondiss, that’s easy. Its value comes from being an Instant, and even though it costs 7 Mana, it’s a sweet surprise defence or attack spell that can easily turn the tide. Expect to see Kindred Summons keep its value over time.

The other card with value potential is the new sub-Commander Klauth, Unrivaled Ancient. Another expensive card to cast, at 7 Mana, but because it has Haste and can attack immediately, it can claw back at least 4 Mana just by itself. It is really similar is potential to Old Gnawbone from the AFR Standard set, and that green dragon is already generating a lot of excitement for its ability to create Treasures.


Draconic Rage sits nicely in the mid tier among the AFR Commander precon decks. Unless the money cards like Kindred Summons and Klauth, Unrivaled Ancient go to the moon on price, this deck should be easily obtainable as an individual purchase.

Final Rating

Draconic Rage reminds us of the Lathril, Blade of Elves precon deck – straightforward, fun and great for beginners. Right of the box, the deck will need some luck to win the table, but it’ll be a fun night out especially if you are familiar with the D&D universe – after all, it’s dragons! You might also find swapping in Klauth as your AFR Commander a nice alternative way to ramp more dragons onto the Battlefield!

Dungeons of Death: Venture for Value

Sefris of the Hidden Ways is one of four AFR Commanders in the Magic preconstructed decks.
Sefris of the Hidden Way is the face Commander of Dungeons of Death

Main Commander: Sefris of the Hidden Ways

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Sefris’ ability to bring back any Creature from the Graveyard to the Battlefield is indeed a power move, but you have to jump through multiple hoops to achieve this. First, you have to complete a Dungeon, the new flavour mechanic in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set. Seeing that there are only 3 possible Dungeons available, completing one will still take multiple steps.

Luckily Sefris also has her own built-in ability to venture into the Dungeon, but because of the wording “one or more Creatures,” you only get a single trigger whenever, for example, you mill yourself and two or more Creatures happen to fill your Graveyard. This brings down her power level considerably, probably a wiser decision from a game designer’s perspective as they want to keep all four precon decks more or less evenly matched.

As a 3-Mana AFR Commander, Sefris can be out on the board early and start generating value through multiple Venture triggers. Several Commander exclusive cards will help you get through those Dungeons, such as Immovable Rod, Midnight Pathlighter, and Radiant Solar. Sadly many others play around with another new AFR mechanic – rolling a d20 die – that doesn’t aid Sefris’ cause at all.

The main deck of reprints also doesn’t play into the self-mill strategy, though there are plenty of reanimate options such as the tried and trusted Sun Titan, Unburial Rites, and Victimize. What it does do well are typical Esper (black, white, blue) traits – controlling the board with strong removal options and generating value. Utter End and Despark are excellent answers to any threats your opponent might have. Once you’ve completed a Dungeon and Sefris is still alive (say thanks to Lightning Greaves), you can bring back one of the big boys such as Ashen Rider or Meteor Golem.


Since Dungeons of Death is already so potent in removal, it can improve other aspects such as self-mill effects to get more triggers from Sefris, plus swapping in one or two more cunning Creatures to truly get the most value from completing a Dungeon.

Stitcher’s Supplier is a great card for self-mill, as its ability generally triggers twice each game. Also get other cheap cards like Cathartic Adept, Court of Cunning or Enter the God-Eternals that all help to generate value amidst recurring milling effects. Fan-favourite mill card Hedron Crab will also be extra useful here, as you can choose to mill either yourself or the opponent. Since you’ll be playing plenty of Lands, it’s a great cheap way to trigger off Sefris’ Venture into the Dungeon ability.

From a budget viewpoint, you can bring in Agent of Treachery to reanimate and permanently steal an opponent’s Permanent (pun intended). This could be his or her Commander or even a Planeswalker that is close to unleashing its ultimate ability. Another affordable option is the recent Archfiend of Cruelty, a really high cost Creature but immediately generates value when it enters the Battlefield. Gyruda, Doom of Depths even does double duty, putting four cards into your Graveyard and bring an additional Creature back into play.

Beginner Friendliness

Dungeons of Death resembles the other precon Aura of Courage in the sense that a player must go through multiple steps to fully maximise their Commander’s potential. In the case of Sefris, it’s a three step process of self-mill, venturing into dungeon rooms, and finally returning a big Creature back from your Graveyard. It sounds like a lot, but it is probably not too difficult even for a beginner.

One reason beginners won’t find this as daunting is because Creatures dying by good old combat will also trigger Sefris. Combined with multiple Venture triggers from other cards, it shouldn’t be too difficult to finish at least one Dungeon per game. If the goal for a beginner is to learn how to fully utilise his or her Commander, then this deck doesn’t do a bad job, even if some upgrades would make the deck flow more smoothly.


While Dungeons of Death may not hold the title of most priciest deck list, it does offer several nice reprints. As stapes in the Commander format, cards such as Swords to Plowshares, Lightning Greaves, Propaganda and Hostage Taker should hold good value over the long term.

Sadly, nothing else gets us excited enough to fork out cash to buy this deck if one is looking at resale value. The cards exclusive to this deck don’t tickle in the slightest and cards such as Sun Titan have been reprinted so many times that it sits in the same ballpark as an Uncommon card.


Dungeons of Deaths dwells in middling water, much like Draconic Rage. The lack of card value makes it unappealing, thus this deck should be easy to find on the shelves even long after release date. The exciting reprints like Lightning Greaves can all be accessed easily through other sets or decks – they essentially wont be enough to sustain a strong demand for this precon deck.

Final Rating

Sefris is the only AFR Commander in these precon decks that focuses specifically on a new mechanic (the Dungeons), and being a low-costing Commander in Esper (white, blue, black) colours makes it fairly competitive straight out of the box and upgradable with other cheap and powerful cards. If you’re neither new nor highly competitive, Dungeons of Death is a good jack-of-all-trades option.

Planar Portal: Extra Cards, Extra Cash

Prosper, Tome-Bound is one of four AFR Commanders in the Magic preconstructed decks.

Main Commander: Prosper, Tome-Bound



Alongside Aura of Courage, Planar Portal could be the deck that gels the most among all the AFR Commander decks. There is truly an amazing assortment of cards with Exile effects in the main deck, and with Prosper only costing 4 Mana, you’ll be generating lots of free Treasures easily. 

The triggers and free Treasures aren’t game breaking though, as you’ll still need to calculate Mana resources carefully in order to cast as many spells as possible. Prosper also cannot win the game on his own, but relies on a culmination of chaos and disruption to unsettle the opponent’s strategy. 

Cards such as Death Tyrant, Disrupt Decorum and Karazikar, Eye-Tyrant all makes combat frustrating for your opponents, and you can sit back, dig through your Library for the bigger spells such as Apex of Power and Fevered Suspicion to see their own cards against them. 


The best way to improve Planar Portal is to just go in hard on the Exile effects to drive maximum value from Prosper. There are a few stray cards in the precon deck with Sacrifice synergies such as Chittering Witch and Piper of the Swarm that just don’t feel like they’re hanging in the right gothic group.

Unfortunately, black and red colours are poor at dealing with Enchantments, but there’s an abundance of cheap Creature removal spells that you can add in for pennies. Feed the Swarm is a Common, and even Vraska’s Contempt is just US$2. If you must have ways to deal with Enchantments, Pharika’s Libation would be a recommended add on. 

If you’re allowed to splurge a little on upgrades, Jeska’s Will is an excellent card as it does two very important things – Exiling cards and creating Treasures to cast them!  

Beginner Friendliness

Planar Portal is fairly straightforward – Exile cards as much as possible, and cast them so that you can get Treasures to make future plays even cheaper. Prosper, Tome-Bound makes this even easier as he exiles a card on each of your turns. 

To make it even simpler and smoother for beginners, there are at least 10 cards in the deck with Exile effects to get your strategy up and running. The deck also runs a nice bunch of direct removal cards such as Bedevil, Hurl Through Hell and Terminate which should make gameplay more straightforward for new players. 


Planar Portal has the lowest deck value among the 4 AFR Commander decks. Its top card – Disrupt Decorum – is way below $10 on MTGGoldfish. 

That said, there are a couple of cards that should hold good value over time. This is the only precon deck with a Talisman reprint – Talisman of Indulgence. Talismans are better than Signets because they can immediately tap for colourless or coloured Mana, and even though many were reprinted in the new Modern Horizons 2 set, Indulgence was not one of them so these are harder to get. 

The sub-Commander Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant could also see a steady climb in value if more players build decks around him. He’s decently costed and creates the kind of chaos that Rakdos (black red) decks thrive on. 


Because of its low paper value, Planar Portal should be widely available in local game stores. It draws less attention than the Sefris and Galea precon decks. Recently we’ve seen it as low as US$24 but that really is dependent store by store. 

Final Rating

With strong showing in playability, beginner friendliness and accessibility, Planar Portal is the perfect cross between ease of play and power level, pretty much a perfect gift for a friend just starting in Magic or the Commander format. 

Longtime Commander players might stay away from this precon deck, but all the more that paves the way for cheaper prices and higher accessibility for Planar Portal.

End Step

Based on final ratings, all four AFR Commander precon decks are evenly matched, ranging between 3.4 to 3.7 points out of 5. Some have noticeable strengths over others, but the balanced overall rating shows that the design team has put considerable effort to make any deck a win. 

As with past precon deck releases, these are best played against each other out of the box, and is a great entry point for new Magic players, or as an introduction to the Commander format. Want to see past precon deck reviews? Check out the our review for Lathril and Ragnar from Kaldheim.

After playing from Tempest to Urza's Saga block, Ted took a 20 year break from the game before returning to the classic Plane of Dominaria in 2018. His favourite formats are Commander, Draft, and, grudgingly, Standard.

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