2, Jun, 23

LOTR Spoiler Threatens to Overhaul EDH's Most Competitive Table

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Article at a Glance

Gandalf Cannot Compare to This…Orc?

Who would have thought that a lowly Orc would be the most hype card of the latest LOTR spoilers? That’s just one of several powerful cards from the upcoming LOTR set that look like they were designed with a cEDH mindset, first and foremost. Let’s take a look at some of these very powerful and clearly meta influenced cards.

You Will be Fighting in the Shade

If Orcish Bowmasters said, “when an opponent draws one or more additional cards,” we would have little to talk about. However, the fact that it triggers not only on ETB but also for each card outside of an opponents first draw step is what sends the card into orbit. It’s no secret that cEDH loves card draw, and many of the most played cards feed the Bowmasters pure value. Giving this card Flash makes it effectively zero mana to commit to the board or the option to hold in hand as a response. Both options are good.

Adding a one-damage tax to Mystic Remora and Rhystic Study adds a tangible drawback to those cards. Brainstorm incurs the tax of a Lightning Bolt. But the absolutely king is Windfall, which becomes a game swinging event. This card loves to hate on the same cards as Sheoldred, The Apocalypse and it’s a hard counter to Esper Sentinel.

Another thing that is absolutely wild is the “any target” clause for damage. This hits Creatures, but if you don’t happen to have any Creature targets, you can also hit Planeswalkers. Furthermore, you can always hit an opponent if there are no other targets! This is crazy value when you consider how many one toughness Creatures are in the EDHREC Top 100. If you expand that to include Commanders and Creatures that have two toughness, Bowmasters easily defeats many, many common and valuable targets. On top of that, another player can effectively use their draws with your Bowmasters to deal with something they cannot. That’s right, maybe they don’t have removal, and they need to kill a pesky Creature that stalls them out. This leads to interaction and diplomatic situations.

If this card were printed in the first ten years of Magic, it would have the built-in restriction of only being able to hit Creatures, which would mean it might have to target itself eventually. You would have to be choosy on when you cast this. But nowadays? Pure gasoline. As it’s not Legendary, you can copy it and get double triggers, and, of course, it combos with all the ETB and trigger doublers that already exist. Keep in mind that merely making copies of this Creature can be a wincon.

We haven’t even talked about the fact that this makes or grows a token, each time it triggers. On top of that, if you can sacrifice your Orc Army token to something like Village Rites or Deadly Dispute, you get free value! Repeated sacrifices to Ashnod’s Altar or Phyrexian Altar can generate an amount of mana that makes Dockside Extortionist jealous. So yes, this is potentially a huge amount of mana, free card draw, and at worst, one massive Creature that can simply attack.

I applaud Wizards for expanding a Creature type that has existed in Magic since day one with very little functional support. Furthermore, I enjoy the return of the Army mechanic from War of the Spark, it makes perfect sense. This, though, is pretty dang powerful for a mere two mana Orc. On a flavor angle, this is a little ridiculous; they’re more like Orchish Machineguns than Bowmasters. Ultimately, this is a more fair, black version of Hullbreacher that is still absurdly powerful in the current meta. Winds of Change will see a huge boost in play as it will generate an absurd number of triggers for just one mana, so it’s very easy to re-cast it. This card will see cEDH play on day one and it is going to make waves and return multiple cards from obscurity to meta choices.

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Tricksy Hobbitses

Abzan is a bit underplayed for a shard, especially at competitive levels. The lack of blue is certainly a problem when it comes to cEDH. However, with cards like Reprieve coming there will be more reason to consider non-blue options. While Tymna, The Weaver is a proven cEDH level Commander, the partner options for the shard are a bit less good.

Pippin, Warden of Isengard partnered with Merry, Warden of Isengard look extremely good. They add a massive value engine to a deck, so your wincon needs zero help. Meanwhile, they will play the stax game as they assemble a combo. Academy Manufactor, Chatterfang, Squirrel General and general token generation power like Parallel Lives or Annointed Procession are all huge value plays. Flooding a board will be trivial, so all the deck needs to do is keep opponents from winning, and white, in particular, has a lot of low mana tools to accomplish that.

Additionally, commonly played cards that are just good like Smothering Tithe combo as well. Each time an opponent draws, you make tokens. As they say, quantity has a quality all its own. For just two and three mana you can sneak in your Commanders, sit back, and watch the rest of the table figure out the board. Meanwhile, you make tokens. Lots of tokens.

Read More: Newly Spoiled LOTR Card Showcases Multi-Format Potential!

Speaking of Stax and White

Boromir, Warden of the Tower, seeks to stop free spells, well, your opponent’s free spells, that is. Fierce Guardianship and Deflecting Swat are must have cards, and blue has a pile of free counter magic that is run in many decks. Boromir beats them all but wait, there’s more!

Two good Creature types, Vigilance, and board wipe protection, are also printed on the card. Oh, and it has a ring tempting effect as well. This card does everything and is only three mana!

One thing to note is that the ability to sacrifice Boromir is built into the card. On the flavor level, Boromir does get tempted by the ring and does try to take it from Frodo and has to sacrifice himself to protect his companions, so the card is there on a thematic level. Building a game piece that has a unique flavor aspect while also making it a usable card is definitely tough, and Boromir is fairly well done. All the abilities make sense besides the best one, stopping free spells, so it seems like this was tacked on later to make the card have competitive appeal. Well, it works!

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Last but not Least

Samewise Gamgee is another take on Saffi Erikdotter and obviously has just as many potential combos, both infinite and simply powerful. Look to Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh, as an exciting enabler to a sacrifice outlet, but there are plenty of viable targets that cost one or two as well. The entire LOTR set is full of Food generation, so the ability to recur valuable targets is virtually free.

Outside of value, Samwise can also turn your Food into mana via Artifacts like Lotus Petal or Lion’s Eye Diamond with no further assistance. But with help? Samwise enables multiple, different loops. At only two mana, it’s yet another value piece that allows you to further your plans but still leave mana open for interaction. Every card that generates Food combos very well with both Clock of Omens and Unwinding Clock, and you can expect to see them more in the future.

This is only Half of the Set

We’ve already seen several top cards that are viable for competitive play. With many more cards to come, it’s likely there will be even more cards clearly targeted for Commander play. The interesting thing, though, is that many of these cards are clearly designed along the cEDH axis and have a slapped-on mechanic to interact with many of the meta cards. From punishing draws, to shutting down free spells, it’s clear that Wizards has watched the format closely. With another hundred cards still to be spoiled, there’s much more to come, so be ready to see some truly bonkers cards to round out the set.

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