Standard 2021/22: Delve Into The Dungeon with an Orzhov Dungeon Deck

If you’re a fan of Magic The Gathering, chances are you’re the sort of person who has at least a passing interest in Dungeons & Dragons as well. If so, you’re in luck this season, as you can combine both loves and build a deck of adventurers who get richly rewarded for venturing into dungeons.

The Point Of The Deck

The point of this deck is to venture into the dungeon as frequently as possible, leading to greater card selection, control and card + board advantage. A range of decent bodied creatures, buffed by the completion of the dungeon are then in a position to finish off the opponent.

The Core Cards

Triumphant Adventurer

Triumphant Adventurer (027/281 R): Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (AFR) – Rare. (Source: Scryfall).

The combination of Deathtouch and First Strike on Triumphant Adventurer makes it a lot more resilient than you might initially expect, based on it’s 1/1 body. This self-protection, coupled with it’s venture on attack ability means you can be quite aggro with the card and move through dungeons quickly. The cheap mana cost makes this one of the most efficient and valuable cards in a venture deck.

Precipitous Drop

Precipitous Drop (115/281 C): Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (AFR) – Common. (Source: Scryfall).

Because most cards in this deck have a venture effect, you’ll be moving through dungeons very quickly. This means that by turn 3 to 5 you’ll likely have completed the first dungeon, elevating cards like Precipitous Drop (and also Cloister Gargolye) quickly to their ceiling.

The ceiling on Precipitous Drop is pretty darn good. It’s either going to be a straight up removal, or else will significantly weaken whatever you play it on. The fact that this is an enchantment instead of a sorcery or instant means you’re getting that debuff on an opponent’s creature for longer than just the current turn.

Getting the above removal/weaken in addition to venturing into the dungeon is fantastic for 3 mana. It’s also plays a very important role as the only removal spell in the deck. The fact that you can prevent enemies from attacking or reduce their power with dungeon room abilities means that you’ve often got just enough control elements available to protect your venturing creatures.

Nadaar, Selfless Paladin

Nadaar, Selfless Paladin (027/281 R): Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (AFR) – Rare. (Source: Scryfall).

It’s hard to pick a favourite card in this deck because there are so many really solid plays. But if I was pressed, I’d probably pick Nadaar, Selfless Paladin. There is just so much to love about this card.

For a start, you’re building off a decent body of 3/3 for 3 mana. On top of that you’ve got vigilance and once you complete a dungeon (which as mentioned before, you will be doing very quickly) you’re giving all your other creatures a +1/+1 buff.

What really pushes this card into the number one spot for me though is the fact that you get a venture, not only on attack (which is great), but also when entering the battlefield. This means that even if your enemy removes it instantly, at the very least you got a venture for your 3 mana.

Cloister Gargoyle

Cloister Gargoyle (007/281 U): Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (AFR) – Uncommon. (Source: Scryfall).

Until you finish your first dungeon, Cloister Gargoyle acts as a decent wall in addition to a providing a venture on entering the battlefield. As soon as you do finish a dungeon though (which you will be doing very quickly), it becomes a real threat. A flying 3/4 for 3 mana? Yes please.

The only downside I’ve experienced with Cloister Gargoyle is that due to being classified as an artifact, there are some spells and abilities (I’m looking at you Cathar Commando 👀) who can remove it, where they wouldn’t be able to if it was any other type of creature.

This is a pretty minor downside though, and in play I’ve found Cloister Gargoyle to be a consistently high performing card.

Delver’s Torch

Delver’s Torch (010/281 C): Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (AFR) – Common. (Source: Scryfall).

Delver’s Torch is a bit slow in what is essentially a fairly aggro deck. But nonetheless, it gives you something to play in the 2 drop slot if you don’t have a Triumphant Adventurer available.

While it only gives a +1/+1 buff, this can elevate creatures like Cloister Gargoyle to a serious finisher level. It can also turn Triumphant Adventurer into a 2/2 first strike, deathtouch with double venture which becomes a serious engine for dungeon crawling.

It’s also useful having some equipment on your board so if you are wiped, you can make up ground again by adding a venture ability to a new creature. While it might not look amazing on paper, I’ve found Delver’s Torch to be a bit of an overperformer.

Acererak the Archlich

Acererak the Archlich (087/281 M): Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (AFR) – Mythic Rare. (Source: Scryfall).

This is a weird card in practice. I say that because even though it’s attack ability is good and the card has a great body at 5/5, I’ve almost always played Acererak the Archlich as a sorcery rather than using it as a creature.

What it ends up being most often in this deck for me is a repeatable way to venture into the dungeon at 3 mana a pop. While this may seem expensive, in the late game this can be crazy powerful.

If you have 6 mana open, and 2 creatures on the board with venture on attack, you can play Acerak twice and then attack with your two creatures, progressing you through 4 dungeon rooms and triggering 4 abilities in one turn.

That’s enough to completely clear the shorter dungeons and if you’ve already started the Dungeon Of The Mad Mage, can be enough to take you to the Mad Wizard’s Lair and get your free card onto the battlefield.

What Order Should You Take The Dungeons In?

(Source: Scryfall – Mad Mage, Phandelver, Annihlation)
  • 1st – Lost Mine of Phandelver: Your main goal in the early game with this deck is finishing a dungeon as quickly as possible. It doesn’t matter which one. Once you’ve finished your first dungeon, you’ll upgrade your Triumphant Adventurer, Nadaar, Selfless Paladin and Cloister Gargoyle which will improve your board immeasurably. That being the case, it makes sense to choose Phandelver. You could also go for Tomb of Annihilation, but if you do, you’ll lose the option of using Acererak the Archlich to power delve through further dungeons.
  • 2nd – Dungeon of the Mad Mage: This is probably the most valuable dungeon out of the three as far as room abilities go. Especially the last three rooms: Being able to create two skeletons, scry 3, draw 3 and then play a card for free is an insanely powerful finishing combo.
  • 3rd (or never) – Tomb of Annihilation: In most games I don’t even bother finishing this dungeon. The reason being that as the game progresses, I’m simply getting two much value out of my Acererak to risk losing it’s delving ability. That being said, this can be a great strategic option if you’ve got your opponent down to 1 or 2 life and are struggling to finish them off. The guaranteed life loss in the first room and the conditional life loss in the next two can be useful to drive home a game if you’re already winning but struggling to finish someone off.

Honourable Mentions and Variations

I’ve played around with a lot of variations when choosing additional cards outside of the core set in this deck. What I’ve settled on for the time being, and found helps me the most are cheap removal and mana fixing.

Removal comes in the form of Poison The Cup, one of my favourite black removals in the current format. Not only does it destroy any creature without exception, you can also preload it with a cheaper Foretell cost, which then gives you a bonus scry when you execute the spell in a future move. You can read more about Poison the Cup in my deck guide for my main mono black deck at the moment, where I also use it:

In the 1 drop spot I also want to give a special mention to Shambling Ghast. I’ve found this to be a bit of an overperformer. It’s on death abilites of either producing a treasure or casting -1/-1 on an opponents creature means you’re always either ramping up or destroying a low toughness creature. Both of which are really useful, especially in the early game.

As far as variations go, you could definitely try this deck with pretty much any of the other white and/or black venturing creatures, such as Veteran Dungeoneer, Planar Ally, Yuan-Ti Fang-Blade, Clattering Skeletons, Zombie Ogre or Barrowin of Clan Undurr.

Of these, Barrowin of Clan Undurr is the creature I’ve used the most. He seems quite strong at first glance, due to his resurrection ability. But his mana cost at 4 is a bit steep for his 3/3 body, and I’ve found that there’s generally no shortage of new creatures coming up in this deck, so the resurrection wasn’t providing as much value as I thought it was going to.

If he was a 3 drop and wasn’t legendary, meaning you could play more than one at a time, Barrowin would be a definite inclusion. But as it stands, I find I get more value out of a lower curve and using his spot in the deck for an extra 3 drop.


Note: The curve of this deck isn’t as backwards as it looks at first glance. When you take into account the 2 mana foretell cost of the 3 mana Poison The Cup. It becomes functionally a 4 (1), 16 (2), 16 (3) deck rather than a 4 (1), 12 (2), 20 (3) as it appears below.


Published by Jazzua Andrews

Writer. Caffeine Enthusiast. Digital Creative. Crazy Cat Guy.

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