30, May, 23

Newly Spoiled LOTR Card Showcases Multi-Format Potential!

Article at a Glance

Within the last few hours, there have been a plentiful number of spoilers from the upcoming MTG set The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth. Digging through all these newly previewed cards can be exciting but can also feel a bit overwhelming when evaluating each card. When evaluating spoilers for various Constructed formats, it is important to ask yourself a few questions. How easy is each card to cast? What unique qualities does each card have that put it on your radar? What previously printed cards could pose as competition that could prevent these new cards from seeing play? Many powerful cards will get spoiled, but a lot of them will not find a home in formats like Modern or Legacy, that already feature a plethora of effective cards to choose from.

One particular card really caught my eye during this wave of spoilers. The card is cheap and easy to cast. It is similar to some cards that have previously seen Pioneer play but brings a lot of additional bonuses to the table. This card is none other than Orcish Bowmasters. Bowmasters has a lot going for it, and I am excited to see how it plays out.

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A High Floor

Orcish Bowmasters
Lazotep Reaver

The first part of Orcish Bowmasters is unassuming, but the ability to make two bodies in one card can be useful for a lot of different archetypes. A deck like Yawgmoth, for example, could utilize the token created by either sacrificing it to Grist, the Hunger Tide to destroy an opponent’s creature or Yawgmoth, Thran Physician to generate additional card value. It even has Flash, giving it some additional finesse, such as allowing it to act as a surprise blocker. In a format dominated by Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, this is a pretty nice tool to have.

What sets Bowmasters apart, however, are the two added bonuses the card gets. First, when the card enters the battlefield, you get to deal one damage to any target, which is a huge boon against a lot of top decks in Modern and Legacy right now. Further, the ability to ping something and Amass Orcs one not only triggers when entering the battlefield, but also when the opponent draws an additional card not in their draw step. As such, the card has a high floor to begin with but also a much higher ceiling than typical token-makers would.

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One Damage is a Lot

Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer

Modern is currently a very linear format featuring a multitude of combo decks. As a result, many decks are forced to play to the board early and often in order to provide enough pressure to the opponent. This means there are a LOT of high-potency one-toughness Creatures in Modern, and the difference between having an answer quickly and not can be the difference in the game.

The phrase “Bolt the Bird” has been used to describe the necessity to answer cheap mana dorks like Birds of Paradise in short order. This card is amazing against Esper Sentinel as well. Having a removal spell for it that doesn’t trigger it’s card-drawing ability is fantastic. Between Ragavan, Esper Sentinel, and mana dorks, having early removal is quite important.

The problem for some decks, however, is that adding additional removal dilutes their gameplan. Take Yawgmoth, for example. The deck is built around getting Yawgmoth onto the battlefield quickly, and to maximize the power of Yawgmoth, most of the rest of the deck features Creature cards that synergize well with it. The only removal in the maindeck comes from Grist, which gets a pass because it is an army in a can that can be Tutored from the deck via Eldritch Evolution and Chord of Calling.

Bowmasters helps mitigate this issue by leaving behind two relevant bodies. This makes the card a nice Tutor target at two mana. Bowmasters itself can also be sacrificed to Eldritch Evolution to find Yawgmoth itself. Ragavan’s dominance in the format alone should get Modern players thinking about Bowmasters, and the synergies that can go along give it real potential.

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Even More Potential

Baleful Strix

If the added damage ability of Bowmasters wasn’t enough, the damage and Orc-making abilities trigger again each time an opponent draws multiple cards each turn. In Modern, cards like Fable of the Mirror-Breaker make these bonus triggers super relevant. You can even surprisingly take down a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria that ticks up to five by flashing in Bowmasters in response, letting you ping Teferi twice, grow the Orc, and attack it down.

This ability becomes even more potent in formats like Legacy that feature tons of powerful card selection spells like Brainstorm. While saying the cards could see Legacy play sound ambitious, Legacy also features a lot of one-toughness Creatures that are must answer threats, such as Cephalid Illusionist. Combine that with being able to constantly keep Baleful Strix decks in check, and you at least have a consideration. All of Bowmaster’s abilities add up and give the card enormous potential.

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Finding a Home

The hardest part of evaluating the card’s potential is simply finding a home for it. Black decks, outside of Yawgmoth and Rakdos decks featuring Grief and Fury, aren’t super prevalent at the moment. This does make it difficult for Bowmasters to find a home. Even still, providing two bodies and killing a one-toughness Creature may be enough to have Bowmasters see play in the sideboard of black decks at minimum, and maybe this card is powerful enough to help shape new archetypes too. The card certainly has high upside, and I can’t wait to see people explore with Bowmasters and other spoiled cards in the coming weeks.

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