8, Jun, 23

Jeskai Lord of the Rings Commander Deck Threatens Multiple Combat Steps!

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Article at a Glance

Finally, the long wait is over, and we get to check out the fully revealed Lord of the Rings Commander decks. Let’s take a look at the red, white and blue shard for Riders of Rohan and size up what the deck does well right out of the box and where it could use a little help.

Eowyn or Aragorn?

This is one of the more interesting but also simple choices that any pre-con Commander deck makes; who is the better Commander? From where I stand, it’s definitely Aragorn, King of Gondor. Certainly Eowyn, Shieldmaiden is no slouch as a 5/4 First Striker with the ability to add another two 2/2 tokens with Trample and Haste for only five mana. Five mana for, effectively, nine power, and eight toughness is a good rate, and you get abilities too. Not only that, but if you have six or more Humans (and you probably just added three) you draw a card. So with all that, why is Eowyn better in the deck than the Command Zone?

Unfortunately, her ability triggers at the beginning of combat, but only if another Human entered the battlefield under your control this turn. That means tapping out to cast Eowyn only gives you a 5/4 First Strike. Another way of looking at that is she needs setup time to be good.

The deck features plenty of two and three mana Humans but few for one mana. Dropping a Weathered Wayfarer and Eowyn in the same turn is six mana, or setting up Eowyn with an Oath of Eorl Saga ticking down can give you immediate value, but those situations are going to be somewhat uncommon.

Meanwhile, Aragorn, King of Gondor ETBs and gives you the Monarch, so he’s giving you immediate card advantage. Red and white typically struggle with card draw but are great at making tokens and having great attack steps. Therefore, Aragorn shores up a weakness while being one mana less, does not rely on other conditions, and is a fantastic attacker as he makes your entire board unblockable. His Vigilance and Lifelink are just gravy on top.

Combat Combos, Extra Attacks

Combat Celebrant is the best card in the deck, by far, and has not had a reprint since Amonkhet. It soft combos with many cards in Riders of Rohan. Look at Gimli of the Glittering Caves and notice how it has Double-Strike and makes a Treasure each time it deals combat damage to a player. Well, if you have Aragorn attacking, you can’t be blocked, so you’re guaranteed two Treasures from Gimli. If you have Combat Celebrant? Two attacks, four Treasures. This extra mana is incredibly useful for protecting your board with something like Unbreakable Formation.

Innocuous Creatures like Village Bell-Ringer will give you another attack step that your opponents won’t expect in the following turn. But with some in-universe inclusions to the deck, you can easily get arbitrarily high attack steps with any Haste effect like Rising of the Day or Rally at the Hornburg with Gilraen, Dunedain Protector. Once you have declared your attack and triggered exert, you can flicker it with Gilraen and get another attack step. If you gave Gilraen Vigilance, and the pre-con can do it, you can then activate her flicker ability, and she will untap in your next combat step so you can continue to attack as long as you can generate two mana to activate her. Remember your Gimli? It’s also a given that Eomer, Marshall of Rohan will be another easy, automatic in-universe include.

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Other Notable Cards

One thing that hampers decks that revolve around combat tends to be that once you achieve “critical mass,” you might get board wiped. From there, it’s a struggle to re-establish board presence and win the game. Riders of Rohan allows you to add eight power toughness to the board for five or six mana and play around wipes by using Dash. With the Riders safely in your hand, you can quickly rebuild your board. With Riders, Eowyn, Increasing Devotion, or Forth Eorlingas! you can build a considerable army quite quickly. Additionally, Riders of Rohan features many staple tribal cards like Door of Destinies and Vanquisher’s Banner so your 1/1s and 2/2s will rapidly become huge on their own.

Furthermore, another struggle for combat based decks is that by attacking every turn, you make enemies quickly. Having a lot of cards that give you the Monarch can make you a target as well. Fortunately the deck has a ton of cards to constantly retake the Monarch and when you do get big enough, you should be killing one to two players per turn until the game is over. Getting a little bit of a board state and then attacking just a few times to win will require decent sequencing but Riders of Rohan has the right cards to get it done. It’s likely that you will leave the strongest player alone until you can just kill them and this will make you a little less likely to be targeted.

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My Favorite Card

How many times have you needed help in your Commander games, but the table refused to assist you! Sure, cards like Insurrection exist, but that’s eight mana! For only five mana, you “borrow” all of the creatures from one opponent and use them to delete another player. Once again, Aragorn makes the best of this situation since your entire field becomes Unblockable. All of the attack and damage triggers from unimpeded combat should be enough to swing the game your way. Call for Aid has the built-in clause that you cannot kill a player with their own Creatures, and you cannot simply sacrifice them to something like Ashnod’s Altar, but you can still kill them with a variety of effects. A hilarious play will be to steal everything, get a free attack step and then use Minsc, Beloved Ranger to turn each Creature into a 0/0 after combat, but there are far more ways to get huge value off of this card.

Rating Riders of Rohan

The deck looks good, very good. Wizards has been doing all they can to power up and make pre-con decks functional right out of the box, and this deck is no exception. It’s got the usual staple cards, enough mana rocks and ramp to be functional, board wipes, and protection.

It features some of the best removal ever printed in Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile but has even more removal on top of that! Certainly, the deck does have a few includes that don’t make a lot of sense at first, like Harsh Mentor, but then in a set with piles of Food, it actually is cool tech! With just a few tweaks, this looks like a solid deck you can take with you to a Commander game night and have a good time, or you can easily amp it up with infinite combat steps if you need more power.

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