3, Jul, 23

LOTR Cards Break Potentially Problematic Archetype

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Article at a Glance

Four color decks featuring Omnath, Locus of Creation are nothing new to Modern. The strategy of utilizing Wrenn and Six to help fix your colors for Leyline Binding and generate a consistent flow of mana into the late game is a strong strategy. However, thanks to two specific Lord of the Rings cards, the deck now has an even stronger late game and has shored up some of its weaknesses.

All the cards in the deck are extremely coherent and work well with each other, and these new Lord of the Rings cards seem to have put the deck over the top. In Saturday’s Magic Online Modern Challenge, the top three decks were all similar variations of Four-Color Control, and the deck does not seem to be slowing down. In fact, players are beginning to gun further for the mirror given the deck’s recent success. How much better did these Lord of the Rings card make this already tier one strategy? To understand, it’s important to look at the core of the deck outside of these LOTR additions first.

The Core

Wrenn and Six

The most important card the deck has access to is certainly Wrenn and Six. Wrenn and Six provides the deck with early interaction against opposing copies of Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer as well as a way to continuously buy back Fetchlands. These Fetchlands let you curve out without fear of missing your land drop, while also fixing your colors to let you to cast Omnath and Leyline Binding. By having access to lots of colors, this deck gets to make use of some of the best cards available in Modern.

Teferi, Time Raveler is a great card on its own, but it’s especially good at guaranteeing that cards like Omnath resolve. While it may sound difficult to play Wrenn and Six and Teferi, Time Raveler in the same deck, the mana fixing available between Fetchlands and various Triomes and Shocklands cannot be overstated. Having the requisite colored mana to cast the cards in this deck is usually trivial, especially with Wrenn and Six involved.

Not only that, but all of this fixing makes your interaction better. Leyline Binding can be consistently cast for only one mana. Prismatic Ending is a good answer to early threats and problematic permanents for most decks, but this deck is capable of removing almost anything thanks to the range of colored mana available. Solitude provides the deck with both early interaction as well as a threat that can help close the game later on. The whole goal of the deck is to win with incremental advantage by generating value with Creatures and Planeswalkers, and having access to interaction that is both efficient and versatile is a huge boon for the deck.

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LOTR Additions: Delighted Halfling

Delighted Halfling

Delighted Halfling is a fantastic mana-dork that is appearing in multiple strategies already. Halfling may be at its absolute best in a shell like this though. First of all, there are a ton of Legendary permanents that can be cast off this card. Not only does Delighted Halfling fix your colors for casting Wrenn and Six or Teferi, Time Raveler, but it also makes these cards uncounterable. The curve of Delighted Halfling turn one into Teferi turn two that cannot be countered is extremely problematic for the opponent. This basically forces the opponent to have to answer Delighted Halfling immediately or risk falling behind quickly to a sea of uncounterable threats.

If that wasn’t enough, unlike almost every mana-dork out there, Delighted Halfling has two toughness, which makes it survive through opposing copies of Wrenn and Six. This makes the card extremely powerful in the mirror. If your opponent does not have Prismatic Ending, they either have to exile a card to Solitude and fall behind in the card advantage battle, or fall behind on board as you curve out. Of course, the deck also has one more card from Lord of the Rings that works extremely well with Delighted Halfling.

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LOTR Additions: the One Ring

The One Ring

The One Ring is not just a gimmick to sell the set. The card is extremely powerful and can win games that almost no other card can. Right off the bat, the card gives you Protection from everything for a turn. This means that the time and mana invested into getting the One Ring on the table is way less risky than it otherwise would be. You essentially get to, at minimum, prevent your opponent from dealing you damage for a turn while you charge up the Ring with counters. The counters add up fast, and so does the card advantage.

Omnath helps a lot in keeping your life total high enough to maximize the number of cards you get access to while also giving you extra mana to make use of the excess cards. Ironically, the One Ring also works well in multiples, allowing you to essentially reset the counters on the One Ring by using the Legend Rule to get rid of the copy with more counters. This stops you from taking extra damage from the One Ring and gives you Protection from everything for a turn again.

Because of the Protection that the One Ring gives, it puts a lot of pressure on the opponent to deal with the card while it’s on the stack. Cards like Spell Pierce would be good answers under normal circumstances, but Delighted Halfling can throw a wrench in those plans. As such, it’s quite easy for this deck to stall the game and generate lots of card advantage. The deck can have some difficulty closing the game though, and that issue only gets exacerbated in the mirror.

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Winning the Mirror

While Omnath, Solitude, and Wrenn and Six may be enough to close out the game against a lot of decks, it may not be that easy against the mirror match. With both players having access to The One Ring and Omnath, both players will have access to tons of mana and cards as long as the game goes long. This can make actually winning these long games a bit awkward. Given the deck’s popularity, it’s important to have a plan for them going forward.

While the plan could be as simple as adding a way to prevent yourself from decking, there are other late game trump cards that have been run in the past. For example, the list that won the Modern Challenge, winning the mirror in the finals, ran a copy of Emrakul, the Promised End in the sideboard. Cards like this that are capable of breaking a game wide open and winning on their own are absolutely worth considering.

The One Ring truly demands a range of narrow answers, making it a potentially hostile card for the format moving forward. Sometimes the best way to fight the card is with copies of your own, which is typically not a good sign of a healthy environment. One thing is for sure, and that’s that if you want to play Modern, you better have a plan for the One Ring, because the card is everywhere.

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