Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth is, by far, the biggest crossover that Magic: the Gathering has ever attempted. Excitement for this set is high, and spoiler season starts next week! Of course, just because next week marks the start of the spoiler season doesn’t mean that we haven’t seen cards from the set already. Its standard nowadays to have a “First Look” for the set so that Wizards of the Coast can premier the product to various parties. Akin to these are MTG teasers from various creators.
Also considered a tradition at this point is MTG creator Mark Rosewater’s teasers that release right before the beginning of a spoiler season. These outline some of the most interesting pieces of card text available in the upcoming set. Rosewater released his teaser for the Lord of the Rings set last night. Here are some of the most interesting things featured!
“Copy any Number of Target Instant or Sorcery Spells”
This particular MTG teaser appearing in Rosewater’s hints is sure to get the attention of many EDH players. The amount of value presented in copy and double effects, when included in a shell that can properly take advantage of them, is absolutely ludicrous.
My first take on a card like this is that it’s some form of massive Fork effect. Sometimes, effects like this are seen as activated abilities on creatures (it could be a Gandalf effect as a result), but its unlikely to be the static ability of a card like Lucky Clover. This is due to the ‘target’ word found in this text, which suggests that this is either a spell or an activated ability. Long story short, a mana investment is likely needed at the time the spells are being cast. Either way, a huge amount of potential is definitely here.
“A Mechanic Returns but now References a Different Creature Type”
This particular MTG teaser will discuss unofficial leaks. If that’s not your cup of tea, I suggest you skip to the next section. Otherwise, consider this your spoiler warning.
Ironically, due to a ‘leak’ that surfaced on Reddit, we already likely know what this is. Of course, especially when recent events are taken into account, there is a chance that this leak is a fake, so do keep that in mind.
For now, the expected mechanic that fits Rosewater’s MTG teaser is the Amass Orcs mechanic. This, seen on one of the cards spoiled, is similar to the Amass mechanic seen in War of the Spark but, instead of creating Zombies, this mechanic creates Orcs. Honestly, this seems very on-flavor for Mordor, so this would be a welcome mechanic should it prove to be true.
“A Card that makes a Smaug Creature Token”
Many comments over Reddit anticipate that this MTG teaser may be alluding to a saga. Potentially representing the story of “The Hobbit,” players hope that the Smaug token will be something impressive gameplay-wise:
“I bet the Smaug creature token is created from a saga. Could even be from “There and Back again””
“Getting in Hobbit references via sagas is actually really clever.”Blaze_1013
The one thing that this MTG teaser does confirm, however, is that there will be some references to The Hobbit in the upcoming Tales of Middle-earth set. Because this set is focused on the Lord of the Rings in particular, many players were not anticipating that The Hobbit would get many, if any, mentions. Regardless of where Smaug appears in the main set, this is a welcome surprise.
Also mentioned in Rosewater’s teaser is a card named There and Back Again will appear in the set. This could be the name of the Saga that creates the Smaug token, which also happens to be the name of the book that Bilbo wrote depicting the adventure he experienced as a result of The Hobbit’s events. Alternatively, some players expect this to be a reference to something within the Lord of the Rings events as well.
“Target Opponent Gains Control of Target Horse you Control”
What a bizarre line of text! Honestly, this gives some heavy Trojan Horse vibes, but this is such a bizarre ability that its tough to figure exactly where its going to make an appearance. Since you’re giving control of one of your resources to an opponent, there is likely a massive benefit to doing this. While there are not a ton of Horse creatures available in MTG, this will, hopefully, signal the appearance of some Horse tribal support?
Is the Legendary Avatar Demon the Balrog?
We know for certain the Balrog is appearing in the Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set, and this creature type spoiled by Rosewater has many players expecting that this is what will appear on the Balrog card. That said, there is also a subset of players who do not want this to be the Balrog, mainly because its Legendary (there are supposed to be multiple Balrogs).
“I hope Balrog isn’t a Legendary Creature there were many.”Gado_De_Leone
What is more interesting is that Wizards of the Coast, in the printing of the Balrog, may be forced to add to one of the most meme-worthy debates in the LOTR franchise: whether the Balrog has Flying or not.
“But does it have flying???”SuperVillageois
“Haha it’s kind of funny that wotc will be forced to take a stance on that debate by printing a balrog card”RickTitus
This debate relates to a Balrog being able to fly. Balrogs are supposed to have wings, yet the Balrog that appeared in the LOTR cinematic died due to falling to its death.
Will Entwine Return?
One of Mark Rosewater’s teasers states that one mechanic will return that he had to fight “Tooth and Nail” for. This doesn’t necessarily mean that this was a reference to the Tooth and Nail MTG card. We partially already expect that this may be a mechanic referenced on a potential leaked Lord of the Rings card. This could, however, be exactly a reference to the Tooth and Nail card, in which case, the mechanic being referenced here is likely Entwine!
Many Characters Referenced!
One thing this MTG teaser, well, teases, and confirms, is that a lot of characters that did not pop up in early spoilers for the Lord of the Rings crossover have a strong chance of appearing in the full set. Many may not have expected Smaug to appear in the main set since this is focusing on Lord of the Rings and not The Hobbit. Legolas, Aragorn and Gimli’s names also appear in these teasers, but, to be honest, those major characters not appearing would be quite the miss.
Otherwise, the creature types spoiled also hint at the appearance of some other characters who play significant, but smaller roles in the Lord of the Rings story. Here is a list of predictions from Redditors in regards to all of the creature types provided by Rosewater:
“• Legendary Creature – Avatar Demon (likely Balrog)
• Legendary Creature – Bird Noble (likely Gwaihir)
• Legendary Creature – Halfling Knight (likely Merry)
• Legendary Creature – Halfling Soldier (likely Pippin)
• Legendary Creature – Horse (likely Shadowfax)
• Legendary Creature – Kraken (likely Watcher in the Water)
• Legendary Creature – Nymph (likely Goldberry)
• Legendary Creature – Spirit Noble (likely King of the Dead)
• Legendary Creature – Spider Demon (likely Shelob)
• Legendary Creature – Wraith Noble (likely Witch King)”youarelookingatthis
All of these are rather exciting and, with all the room added to this set in its Commander preconstructed decks, I hope to see many more LOTR characters make their appearance in this crossover!
Of course, this isn’t everything that the MTG designer teased in his LOTR spoiler. If you want to see everything that Rosewater had to say about the upcoming set, you can find that here.