Acererak the Archlich
– D&D: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms
Date Reviewed: August 3, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 4.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Acererak is a good lesson in reading the fricking card. For one thing, I assumed that you could only complete a dungeon once, because that’s usually how it’s played in D&D – I have rarely been part of a story that led back to a dungeon that was already cleared. Of course, there’s no reason why you can’t make the story like that, and this is reflected in the insane combo that Acererak is already part of. Even if you’re not using him for that, though, he’s a very interesting card. I consider dungeons to be quite strong in theory, because the effects on their rooms are available to your deck as long as you have cards with the venture ability, and they don’t even take up space in your deck (not to mention some of them likely being off-color for your deck). That means a way to repeatably venture into them is good, too. If you do complete the Tomb of Annihilation and get him permanently, he can dominate combat with both his stats and his trigger – and note that the trigger scales to multiplayer settings! I think Acererak is another suitably powerful card for a famous Forgotten Realms character (and Legacy may feel he’s even more than that!).
I’m sure there are plenty of jokes about what liches are, but Acererak has already made waves for a particular combo, so let’s start with that. It turns out that Aluren from Tempest pairs perfectly with our legendary zombie; so long as you decide not to venture into the Tomb of Annihilation, you can frolic through the Lost Mine of Phandelver or the Dungeon of the Mad Mage to your heart’s content, as Aluren lets you keep casting him for free after he bounces back to your hand…and, it turns out, Lost Mine of Phandelver has an effect to drain each of your opponents for 1 life. Basically, if you can get Aluren out with Acererak in your hand, the game is over, and this is potentially doable as soon as turn 1 or 2 in Legacy if you believe in yourself hard enough.
(The combo also works well with Innistrad‘s Rooftop Storm, but 6 mana is harder to scrounge together, and Aluren also has cards besides Acererak.)
Outside of Aluren-based combos, which are held somewhat in check by Force of Will in Legacy and timely kill spells if you don’t have blue, Acererak is interesting as a way to repeatedly frolic through dungeons. Once you have conquered the Tomb of Annihilation, he sticks around as a 5/5 with a pretty rude attack trigger. He doesn’t really have any abilities of note besides that; he’s an interesting threat to build an army of undead or chew up opponent’s blockers, and with an efficient mana cost to boot. But his main attraction is his combo with a now-$100+ card to end the game on the spot, which I’m sure is completely unintended somehow. I think he’s decent in his own right if you can support him, but he’ll make waves in Legacy (and Commander) until one half of the combo gets the boot.
Constructed: 4.5 (for Legacy, as the deck is quite vicious; probably closer to a 3.25 in Standard, and Rooftop Storm is not a Thing in other formats)
Limited: 3.25 (slow to get going, but he’s a decent boss monster once he sticks)
Commander: 4 (Aluren/Rooftop Storm + Acererak works just fine here)
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