It’s been a long wait but finally the Lord of the Rings Commander deck lists have been spoiled and it’s time to check out the bad guys. The Hosts of Mordor has it all, Spiders, Demons, Dragons, Orcs, Goblins, Wraiths and the BBEG to rule them all, Sauron, Lord of the Rings.
One Commander Choice to Rule Them all
The choice is clear. You could play the secondary bad guy in Sarumon, the White Hand who gives you pretty good value on all your non-Creature spells by Amassing an Orc Army each time you cast. At only four mana, Sarumon also gives your Orcs and Goblins Ward two. Certainly he’s a solid choice.
However, the entire deck definitely wants Sauron at the helm and there is a compelling reason beyond the fact that he’s a huge 9/9 with Trample, that amasses Orcs five, and has a Ring temptation trigger on opponent Commander deaths.
Because Sauron mills five cards then returns a Creature to the battlefield, you can get a total of 22/22 Power/Toughness for only eight mana! The deck runs some big Creatures, many of which have Haste and ETB abilities. Furthermore, the deck runs Reanimate. For one mana and eight life, bringing Sauron back also brings another Creature back…and generates an Orc army. The deck features other Graveyard recursion in the forms of Too Greedily, Too Deep and Extract From Darkness. Not enough reason to play an eight mana Commander? Well here’s more to consider!
Board Wipes, Lots of Board Wipes
Call him a really inconsiderate host, Sauron has a lot of ways to clear the board at a variety of mana values. Blasphemous Act commonly only costs one mana and 13 damage kills pretty much everything. Languish is a very effective wipe only costing four.Decree of Pain looks like it costs a lot of mana at eight, because it gives you card draw for each Creature you kill. However, it also can Cycle for only five. Keep in mind that this is ultra flexible because you can give the board -2/-2 at Instant speed and it’s not a spell so normal counter magic does not stop it.
On top of that we have Living Death which has additional synergy with, you guessed it, Sauron, Lord of the Rings. With Sauron in your graveyard you cast Living Death, get Sauron back into play, and then return a Creature you lost. This deck has both the quantity and quality of board wipes it needs to keep other decks in check, and then can refill the board with a credible amount of power, quickly.
How Does Sauron Conquer Middle Ea…Commander Games?
Combat, glorious combat! Hosts of Mordor is all about turning your literal army sideways and killing an opponent in two big combat steps, especially if you play Sauron. Orcish Siegemaster becomes a 9/5 while it’s attacking with Sauron. Add in the Orc army token, and you cut down a player from full life in just two attacks. You can get those two attacks via either Scourge of the Throne or Monstrosity of the Lake. Dealing damage with the deck will not be the problem, it’s mostly about controlling the board until you’re ready to start taking out the other players.
Luckily, the other half of the deck that isn’t an army goes with the Sarumon, the White Hand plan and gives you exactly the tools you need. There’s plenty of single target removal like Feed the Swarm and even a counter spell in the form of Arcane Denial. You can build up a board state that grants extra value from cards like In the Darkness Bind Them and Summons of Sarumon.
It’s not a control deck, or a control plan. It’s just enough interaction to make sure you don’t die early, and enough to prevent another player from going off for free. From there, you board wipe and rebuild faster than the other players. Once you’re established, kill the most threatening player before they become a bigger one.
Thematic Card Design
Stop me if you’ve seen this one. Corsairs of Umbar is a 3/3 Human Pirate for four mana. That’s Hill Giant territory but it does have a couple of abilities. Or does it?
You see it has two good Tribal types, and it interacts with two other types that are in the deck. Of course, it also has the capability to continually attack and be unblockable, thus sailing in a steady stream of Orcs to amass an army.
So really, it has four abilities when you look at the totality of the card. This card works on multiple levels and it’s one of the better cards on a thematic and design level. Sure, it’s not a power house and on a completely different level like Orcish Bowmasters but it is a card that could see play in a much wider variety of decks.
Rating Hosts of Mordor
This deck looks good and is solidly in the more powerful half of the pre-cons. There’s more than enough card draw to ensure you will hit the cards you need and even a few discard outlets in case you want to go for an early Reanimate play.
On top of that, there are several Cycling cards with decent abilities like Rampaging War Mammoth or The Balrog of Moria. With the number of Instants, Cycling cards and even Flash Creatures like Notion Thief you should not feel pressured to commit too much to the board and merely hang back until everyone else has overplayed their hands. One board wipe, one Sauron and one Ring later and you’ll be ruling Middle E…I mean winning your Commander pod!