The time has come where we can start to get a grasp on what this new Standard format will look like, with the addition of Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. I'm going to highlight 10 cards today that I recommend getting your hands on in order to be fully ready to tackle Standard, and some will see even more play once we hit the next set rotation.

This is not a ranking of the 10 best cards in AFR, so they are in no particular order.

#1: Lolth, Spider Queen

Of the planeswalkers in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms I am most impressed with Lolth, Spider Queen. This card is quite underrated at the moment. Being able to tick down and create two Spider tokens with reach is a very big deal, especially because you don't care if they die. In fact, them dying is usually a good thing as long as Lolth, Spider Queen remains on the battlefield, because you get to add back loyalty to your planeswalker and do the whole thing again.

Remember this is a five-mana planeswalker, which makes it more likely a deck can play more copies. We rarely see six-mana planeswalkers in large numbers because of their mana cost, but honestly Lolth, Spider Queen is powerful enough that most people wouldn't have looked too closely if it actually cost six. We can recoup cards with Lolth, and it does a great job protecting itself from opposing attackers because of the Spiders. The most common scenario is likely Lolth dies to a removal spell, but you still have two spiders left over in the exchange. I don't think the emblem is the reason to play the card, so I wouldn't focus on it too much.

#2: Loyal Warhound

Loyal Warhound is an exciting card. It reminds me a lot of Knight of the White Orchid, which certainly saw use during its time in Standard. The good news here is that Loyal Warhound only costs a single white mana to cast, so you will be able to cast it on turn two reliably in almost any white-based deck. Loyal Warhound could for instance slot in as a two-mana ramp spell alongside Showdown of the Skalds. It will go well in decks that have ways to use the extra mana later on in the game.

Being that this is a reasonable creature in its own right based on its stats, I think it could fall into the Elite Spellbinder category of cards that white decks almost always want to play. Keep in mind Loyal Warhound works best if you are on the draw, as it becomes easier to set up the ramp trigger. However, you do have the option of intentionally missing your land drop as well, in order to have less lands than the opponent. It won't always be possible to get the ramp out of Loyal Warhound, but it should feel very good when it does happen.

#3: Monk Class

Monk Class has a lot of potential in decks that are able to cast a lot of spells each turn. The bounce part of the Class is quite nice, and then on level 3 you get into some very real accumulation of card advantage. I really want to see the classes in action in order to be able to accurately evaluate them, but I think Monk Class stands out from the rest.

The real question will be finding the right home for this card. It does not slot right into a current top Standard deck, but I have a feeling the format will start to change significantly, though it might be that Monk Class won't really shine until the next Standard rotation.

#4: Ebondeath, Dracolich

Ebondeath, Dracolich is going to be a nice top-end play for black aggressive decks. This is the type of card that feels really bad to kill with a normal removal spell. Casting it an additional time out of the graveyard seems like it will come up fairly often, especially because it can also trigger from opposing creatures dying as well.

Ebondeath, Dracolich could fit quite nicely into Rakdos sacrifice decks that constantly have creatures filling up the graveyard. Also, you are quite happy to put this directly into the graveyard via self-mill or other means. We are talking about a 5 power flying creature with flash. The fact you can cast it on the opponent's turn is going to give black aggressive decks a whole additional dimension to fight on. This one should see plenty of action.

#5: Werewolf Pack Leader

There is a very good chance we'll see Mono-Green Aggro decks in Standard once more, and that's going to be the best home for Werewolf Pack Leader. Due to Pack Leader being a two-drop that costs double green it's going to be difficult to add it into two-color decks, though it's certainly good enough to see play in those decks if the mana can support it.

Werewolf Pack Leader has good stats, the ability to draw cards, and an activated ability to boot. If there aren't four copies of Werewolf Pack Leader in Mono-Green aggressive strategies I would personally be absolutely shocked. This is another one that may shine more after the next set rotation, just because mono-green strategies aren't super popular at the moment.

#6: Lair of the Hydra/Den of the Bugbear

Of the new rare cycle I have Lair of the Hydra and Den of the Bugbear as the two I'm most excited about. I'm including them here together though, as they have mostly the same application in their respective decks. This new cycle of lands I think will fit best in monocolored aggressive decks.

Monocolored decks care most about the lands that are in their opening hand, and play fewer lands in general over the course of a game, which makes it more likely you will be able to play these lands untapped on turn one in these decks. Also, the multicolor decks in Standard may care about basic lands for a Snarl or Fabled Passage, while monocolored decks don't have that concern. This leads me to believe there will be a push back toward monocolor decks with this land cycle. The biggest dilemma will be if you can afford to play these alongside snow-covered lands and Faceless Haven, and I do believe that's a possibility.

Lair of the Hydra slots nicely into Mono-Red Aggro. I think we will see these lands as a two-of so that you can still run Snow lands plus Faceless Haven—and you don't really want to draw multiple copies of Lair of the Hydra anyway. The reason I'm including Den of the Bugbear as well is because I do think mono-green is going to gain some traction. The other lands in this cycle should also see play, these are just my two favorites.

#7: Ranger Class

Ranger Class has a lot going for it. The fact that you can cast it on turn two and impact the board means you aren't going to be too unhappy with it regardless of what point in the game you draw it. The ability to sink your mana into it later and get some value is really nice. This is the sort of class I expect green decks will want access to, especially ones that play primarily creatures.

Ranger Class could go straight into a deck like Naya Adventures. I don't expect the full four copies to be played, because there is some redundancy here, as having two copies of Ranger Class on level three isn't what you want. The key is creating a balance so that your deck has enough creatures to really incentivize getting to that third level. Shuffle effects like Fabled Passage play nicely alongside cards that allow you to look at the top card of your library.

#8: Burning Hands

Assuming that green-based creature decks stand to gain momentum, Burning Hands starts to look like a really important sideboard card. This is the type of card that allows you to trade up nicely on mana. Burning Hands is a card you could maindeck depending on what the format looks like. This is an answer to Koma, Cosmos Serpent for only two mana. Burning Hands is one of a cycle of spells that specifically target a certain color, and they all should see some use, specifically in sideboards.

#9: Drizzt Do'Urden

Drizzt Do'Urden is pretty self-explanatory, and definitely makes sense in the right deck. We are talking about two legitimate threats from a single card. The token is definitely the less impactful threat, but it's still nice to have a 4 power trampler. Then we have Drizzt itself as a big double striker. This isn't a format-defining five-drop like Goldspan Dragon, but it should definitely see use as a curve topper for decks that can cast it.

#10: Flameskull

Red Aggro decks just got another really good three-drop creature. Right now, Flameskull will be competing with Bonecrusher Giant and Anax, Hardened in the Forge, but the next Standard rotation isn't too far away, and things can change quickly. Flameskull is only good in a pure aggro deck because it has no defensive attributes, but that's okay, because Mono-Red Aggro doesn't play defense well.

This is a recursive threat, and is another one of the creatures that will make opponents really want a removal spell capable of exiling a creature. Keep in mind that when Flameskull does die you can either recast it, or the card you exile from your library. This can also be done on your next turn, so there should be plenty of time to make sure you get some value off it.