23, Jun, 23

MTG Lord of the Rings Draft Chaff is Topping Tournament Play!

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Article at a Glance

It’s no secret that The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set may not have been as powerful as some expected. For being a straight-to-Modern set, the power level for most of this set’s cards is rather middling, especially when compared to the last Modern sets we released, which were powerful to a fault.

That said, it appears that there are more Modern playable cards than players thought. This even extends to cards that were initially discarded as draft chaff. These actually fulfill a pivotal role in one specific archetype that, to the dismay of many players, may push it over the top.

Draft Chaff Tops a Tournament

Finding events to play with the new Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth cards, at least in paper, has not been easy. These cards were technically legal for tournament play as of last Friday but, since that was Prerelease weekend, a lot of stores were running those events instead of tournaments.

That said, one list popped up in a Japanese tournament running fifteen lands and some of the stronger Common cards that Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth had to offer. After a top eight showing in a 73-player event, the deck went on to finish well in a series of Modern preliminaries on Magic Online. These landcyclers may revolutionize the Living End archetype!

Living End

Living End is a pretty common Modern archetype nowadays. Thanks to the reprinting of Shardless Agent in Modern Horizons 2, Living End got access to enough Cascade spells that share a color to make the archetype a lot more doable.

For reference, Living End is an archetype in Modern that uses the Cascade mechanic to try and cheat out a Living end, turning it, essentially, into a three mana spell. Past that point, the deck uses a bunch of Cycling creatures (that are above two mana for Cascade reasons) to fill the graveyard. One Living End reanimates all those creatures and tends to close the game in a couple turns.

Up to this point, Living End decks have, primarily, consisted of eight Cascade effects, a bunch of Cycling creatures that get themselves into the graveyard to find your Cascaders, the namesake card and, finally, some disruptive effects to help get your Living End to resolve. These are generally Grief and Force of Negation among some other options like Brazen Borrower.

This deck is incredibly consistent thanks to all the pieces naturally trying to find the combo card. Any deck that doesn’t have graveyard hate prepared will likely get rolled over by this archetype since, unless it draws really poorly, this deck is going to get a turn 3-4 Living End and kill you most of the time.

Read More: New MTG LOTR Deck Turns Historically Hated Combo Infinite!

Lord of the Rings Commons are Modern Playable

The other cards seeing a good amount of Modern play, you know, besides the plague that is Orcish Bowmasters, are actually some Common all-stars in Limited. Landcyclers have proven to be a powerful addition to Living End.

The Red and Green landcyclers Oliphaunt and Generous Ent are seeing play over, well, lands. This enables the deck to consistently get big bodies into the grave before casting a turn three Living End to reanimate them.

While these cards only tend to get Basic Lands in Limited, they can actually find nonbasic lands too. Not only can these cards immediately get a body in your graveyard, they can even fix your mana! Should you need Basic Lands to play around Blood Moon, these guys can do that too.

Since there is a lot of Cycling effects in the deck already, Living End does not tend to play a lot of lands. Running these creatures over Lands should actually make the deck even more consistent. Your nonland Cyclers should be drawing into gas more consistently, and you should be finding the colors you need on a consistent basis.

Think of it this way – if you already have all the lands you need, drawing a Landcycler is much better because you get to put an additional card in your graveyard to reanimate. This also help get lands out of your deck, hopefully making it even harder to Cycle into lands in the future.

Read More: Lord of the Rings MTG Set Has an Infinite Combo in Limited?!

Is this the Right Direction?

Either way, early experimentation with the new Lord of the Rings cards demonstrates that even though this set isn’t the third Modern Horizons (and that is, honestly, probably a good thing), the set still has massive potential to shake up the format.

As for Generous Ent and Oliphaunt, should this iteration of Living End prove to be a stronger take than the lists before it, calling them draft chaff may non be an accurate description anymore.

Read More: MTG’s The One Ring May be Better Than Expected

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