There is always a lot of buzz in the MTG community regarding spoilers. Many people want to find out what new toys await them as quickly as possible. As such, leaks are extremely common. Despite LOTR spoilers not officially starting until May 30, we have seen multiple unofficial spoilers already. Sometimes, these leaks end up being fake, but other times we as a community get access to the real thing ahead of time. Spoiler alert: this morning, some potential MTG LOTR Pre-constructed face Commanders were spoiled. At first glance, there is a good chance these are real, and the Commanders themselves provide some interesting options for anyone looking to build a new Commander deck.
Why These Commanders Seem Real
Here we get to see three new potential Commanders, all with very interesting mechanics and gameplay style. Based off Mark Rosewater’s teaser for the upcoming LOTR set, we get some clues on designs to speculate on and look out for. Notably, each of the three Commander cards spoiled allude to at least one of the points raised In Mark Rosewater’s teaser. This includes his mention of an old mechanic with a new Creature type, a lot of one-of “Creature-type matters” cards, and the return of a mechanic he had to originally fight to get it into the set it premiered in. To see how each Commander resembles at least one of these points, let’s dive into each Commander individually.
Legendary Creature – Elf Noble
Will of the Council – At the beginning of combat on your turn, if another Elf entered the battlefield under your control this turn, starting with you, each player votes for dominion or guidance. If dominion gets more votes, the Ring tempts you, then you put a +1/+1 counter on your Ring-bearer. If guidance gets more votes or the vote is tied, draw a card.
As the name suggests, this Commander absolutely cares specifically about Elves, hitting the “Creature-type matters” point right off the bat. Additionally, this Commander has a very under-utilized mechanic, Will of the Council, that could potentially be the mechanic Rosewater had to fight to get premiered in Conspiracy. Voting cards, in addition to being specifically designed for multiplayer formats, add a political element to many Commander games. Back when Conspiracy was released, it could make sense that adding Voting cards could be a bit ambitious or difficult to design. After all, not every card involving voting has been a slam dunk. Just ask anyone who has had Expropriate cast against them in a four-player Commander game. Yet Magic has come a long way, and as such, it wouldn’t surprise me seeing more cards featuring Will of the Council.
This card has a lot going on but is a super cool spin on an Elf Commander. The Will of the Council ability only triggers if you played another Elf before entering Combat, obviously incentivizing you to put a lot of Elves in your deck. Rather than doing something generic such as simply pumping your other Elves, Galadriel provides a nice sub-game, where between you and your opponents, you get to decide whether you draw a card or get Tempted by the Ring. While the Ring tempts you may end up receiving criticism for its playstyle in one-vs.-one Constructed formats, just like the Initiative did, it does seem excellent for Commander play. Being able to make your Legendary Commander into an even bigger threat in combat as the Ring-Bearer is both very flavorful and also incentivizes attacking in Commander in general, something I believe is good for the format.
Sauron, Lord of the Rings
Legendary Creature – Avatar Horror
When you cast this spell, Amass Orcs 5, mill five cards, then return a creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield.
Whenever a commander an opponent controls dies, the Ring tempts you.
Sauron is a much bigger and flashier Commander with a lot going on. Once you pay eight mana to cast this, you get a multitude of benefits. First, you get to Amass Orcs 5. This very likely alludes to Rosewater’s teaser related to an old mechanic with a new creature type. Amass is a relatively simple mechanic that is easy to bring back, but given that we are moving to a set specifically centered around LOTR, changing the Creature type to Orc makes perfect sense. My guess is that, just like with normal Amass, whenever Sauron’s ability triggers you either put a creature with zero power and zero toughness onto the battlefield with five plus-one plus-one counters if you don’t control an Orc token. Otherwise, you put five plus-one plus-one counters on an already existing Orc.
In addition to this new mechanic, Sauron also mills you for five and returns a creature from your graveyard to the battlefield. If that wasn’t enough, Sauron is also a nine power Trampler with an added bonus of having the Ring tempt you every time an opponent’s Commander dies. This card is super powerful and seems great in any deck focused on big creatures and ways to Reanimate them. Once you have the mana to cast Sauron, as long as you have big creatures to Mill over, the world is your oyster.
Éowyn, Virgin Warrior
Legendary Creature – Human Knight
At the beginning of combat on your turn, if another Human entered the battlefield under your control this turn, create two 2/2 red Human Knight creature tokens with Trample and Haste. Then if you control six or more humans, draw a card.
Similar to Galadriel, this card incentivizes you to play a lot of Creatures of a specific type in your deck. It triggers every combat as long as you played a Creature of the requisite type beforehand that turn. This is yet another example of a potential one-of “Creature-type matters” card in the set. This time though, the Creature type is Human. Also, rather than having players vote on which ability you get to make use of, this creature gives you the second bonus in addition if you control six or more Humans. Notably, this includes the Human tokens created from the first trigger, so getting to six Humans is relatively easy as long as your deck is chock full of them.
From there, any Commander staple for go-wide Tribal decks becomes a great addition. Cards such as Coat of Arms and Shared Animosity pair excellently with this Commander. Eowyn acts like an army in a can. As long as you play a single Human in your first Main Phase, you will get two more on the way in Combat. The fact that they also have the bonus of having Trample and Haste means, when paired with Coat of Arms or Shared Animosity, blocking becomes a nightmare for your opponents, and you threaten a huge amount of damage right away.
Each of these Commander cards seems very plausible for Wizards of the Coast to create. They fit well into the LOTR set, they align with Mark Rosewater’s teasers, and they provide Commander players with cool new options to build around. Personally, I really hope these leaks become proven real, as these Commanders, especially Sauron, seem super cool. The other two Commanders also feel like they strike a good balance between having a Creature-Tribal theme while not being too generic, and I am excited to see them in action.