MTG players are eagerly awaiting the first look Livestream of the upcoming Universes Beyond Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set occurring tomorrow. Tolkien’s IP is right at home with the fantasy setting accompanying MTG storytelling, so players being excited about MTG’s straight-to-Modern set is unsurprising. What players did not expect was that some Lord of the Rings Cards would be officially spoiled before the first look! These cards look absolutely incredible!
The One Ring
Revealed in an IGN exclusive this afternoon was two new Lord of the Rings MTG cards with some full-art basic lands. This article also accompanies an exclusive interview with Wizards of the Coast.
The One Ring represents the Ring to rule them all from the Lord of the Rings franchise. This is, obviously, a massive part of the storyline, as it puts the entire chronicle into motion. In MTG terms, this Ring looks like a promising Commander piece. That said, it may fall flat in Modern.
For four mana, you get an Indestructible draw engine that mitigates its biggest drawback: tempo loss. These expensive draw engines become a lot less valuable in competitive 1V1 formats because players, generally, cannot afford to make expensive plays that don’t immediately impact the board or close out the game. Fortunately, upon entry when cast, The One Ring gives its owner Protection from Everything until their next turn. This ability is even more massive in Commander with larger turn cycles. While this may not be enough to make the card viable in Modern, it’s also coming to Alchemy on MTG Arena.
This artifact, alongside being difficult to remove and offering tempo neutrality, looks to be an incredible draw engine in Commander. The downside of this card involves life totals, which EDH has an abundance of. You can also stack your advantage over each turn, ensuring that you never run out of cards.
A Blink Player’s Dream
Unfortunately, The One Ring’s protection ability only occurs if you cast it and it enters the battlefield, but utilizing the card in Flicker decks can help you control the downside present on this card. Teleportation Circle is a Commander staple that, when used alongside The One Ring, can ensure that the card is drawing you three cards every turn for the cost of only one life each upkeep.
The Eternal Wanderer from Phyrexia: All Will Be One can also be fantastic alongside The One Ring. Both this and Teleportation Circle essentially accomplish the same thing.
If you’re more interested in recurring the Protection effect, you must recast The One Ring. This can easily be done with Hullbreaker Horror loops.
Cards like Phyrexian Metamorph and Sculpting Steel may be able to do a fantastic Ring impression. Since this card is entering the battlefield as The One Ring and was cast, it should be able to replicate the protection effect. This interaction has been confirmed by a Judge in the card’s Reddit discussion.
Mind Over Matter may be getting a whole lot more expensive. Because The One Ring damages you in the upkeep, the card is absolutely absurd in decks that can untap it repetitively. Mind Over Matter can literally draw infinite cards combined with The One Ring.
Admittedly, four mana for The One Ring may be a tad bit expensive for the Modern format. Counterspells are big, and losing your Ring to a Counterspell may be a bit tough. Since it’s pretty tricky to recur the Protection effect that this card offers, it may be too weak for the Modern format in most scenarios. That said, many MTG players are convinced that The One Ring will be more than good enough for even Legacy because of the absurd amount of card draw it provides. Do note that Modern has some fantastic exile removal, like Leyline Binding, that may put this card out of contention.
Gandalf, the Grey
Gandalf, the Grey is the literal definition of an Instant/Sorceries matter Wizard in MTG. Any casual Izzet Spellslinger Commander deck is going to want this. While the card looks powerful in an Alchemy setting, five mana is quite the investment for Modern formats. Gandalf has poor stats for his mana value, putting the importance of this card in its activated abilities.
Interestingly, you can only choose each mode of Gandalf’s abilities once. This makes his final ability somewhat awkward since, on the fourth spell, Gandalf will essentially remove himself. This has another use, however. You can protect your Gandalf in response to an opponent’s removal spell by putting him back on top of your deck. This could be accomplished by something as simple as a Consider.
Gandalf’s other abilities are interesting. Namely, his ability to copy an instant or sorcery you control. This can create massive blowout potential with larger payoffs in your deck. The other abilities are also acceptable, but this one is where most of the value is to be seen.
Honestly, Gandalf seems ok, but is a bit underwhelming for a Modern-only set. That said, this card will definitely find a home in casual Izzet Commander decks.
The last thing revealed in the IGN article that dropped today are these fantastic full-art Basic Lands. These highlight key locations from the Lord of the Rings IP that embody the mana that they represent in MTG. The Plains showcases the Shire, Island focuses on the Belegaer Sea, Swamp looks towards Sauron at Mordor, Mountain showcases the… White Mountains and the Forest looks towards Murkwood. Although these cards, and previous leaks, do look more tailored towards Commander than Modern in early opinion, the cards look incredibly fun to play!