Few cards being released with Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth were expected to have a big impact on competitive play. Wizards of the Coast stated repetitively that this set was not intended to be a Modern Horizons 3 in disguise. As a result, very few new cards are truly powerful enough to see play in that format. The set being legal in Modern was instead an attempt to grant as many players an opportunity to engage with this set, regardless of how they engage with Magic: the Gathering.
That said, there are definitely a few cards created with Modern in mind. Everyone is losing their minds over the new Commander and (likely) Legacy staple Orcish Bowmasters. Reprieve is a non-blue Remand, and The One Ring is seeing play absolutely everywhere.
The One Ring is so good, in fact, that it may be even better than players initially thought. Besides creating some really weird financial patterns, this may be upending some formats. Whether its Modern or one of the digital formats on MTG Arena, The One Ring may be the One thing worth doing.
The One Ring
For four mana, The One Ring does a heck of a lot of things. One of the more overlooked things may be the temporary protection it grants. Sure, you can’t flicker this card to provide you protection from everything over and over, but the initial turn of Protection simply helps you resolve The One Ring without dying. Without this, the biggest downside to The One Ring would be that it doesn’t immediately impact the board, giving your opponent an opportunity to pressure you.
The One Ring is also Indestructible, which forces players preparing for it to bring specific hate to deal with it. Force of Vigor and Nature’s Claim won’t do much here.
Otherwise, in exchange for a tap and a burden counter, The One Ring draws you cards equal to the burden counters on it. In exchange, you’ll take damage equal to the number of burden counters on The One Ring on your upkeep. In this case, The One Ring’s reward far outweighs the risk. This is especially true since The One Ring, in multiples, mitigates its own risk.
An Unflavorful Exploitation
Interestingly, the one thing that takes The One Ring to the next level is the fact that it’s Legendary. In multiples, the downside of the The One Ring is completely mitigated. Because of The One Ring’s protection ability, replaying multiple copies of them is hardly detrimental. This will also reset the Burden counters on your card, enabling you to avoid the downside of The One Ring. Of course, this also means resetting the number of cards you draw, but chances are, you got so much value off the first Ring that it doesn’t matter.
Either way, the fact that The One Ring’s Legendary subtype somehow makes The One Ring even better is pretty bizarre. Most of the decks using this card currently are brews, but there are a few homes where this card seems to do a lot of work.
Decks that Want The One Ring
At the time of writing, Urzatron seems to be the deck that benefits the most from The One Ring. Offering a card that buys the deck time, draws into its threats, or missing Tron pieces, The One Ring is capable of doing everything the deck wants.
Some discussion surrounding The One Ring in Tron also discusses how it makes the Creativity matchup a bit better. The One Ring granting the Tron player temporary protection from everything makes the Archon of Cruelty a lot worse on that turn, regardless of whether it enters play or is already there.
Alternatively, The One Ring being an artifact is also an indirect nerf to the Creativity menace since that deck likely cannot run The One Ring thanks to it messing with the namesake of the deck.
So Many Options
Honestly, The One Ring just seems to be really good in a majority of decks right now. These brews from Twitch streamer Aspiringspike demonstrates that The One Ring is powerful enough to see reasonable play in almost everything. From another Twiddlestorm deck to Gruul Saga using Wrenn and Six, The One Ring seems to be a strong option in any deck that can either power it out consistently ahead of turn four, or has some sort of synergy with it.
The card seems particularly interesting alongside Urza, Lord High Artificer. Back when Oko was still legal in Modern, this pair ruled the entire format. Since then, however, Urza has struggled to keep up. The card is still viable in Affinity strategies, but those have taken a back seat in the current metagame.
While The One Ring may just go in a variety of strategies, hopefully, this card creates some new ones, or gives rise to some strategies that have fallen off in the format.
The One Ring on MTG Arena
Because Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth are coming to MTG Arena, cards are making a constructed impact there as well. Samwise Gamgee has already turned up Cat combos to an 11, and The One Ring is also shaping up to be pretty powerful.
As pointed out by Twitter user Stalpno, The One Ring and Fragment Reality is a potent combination. You can protect yourself for a turn, draw cards and when The One Ring’s burden becomes too much to bear, you can Fragment Reality your own Ring and turn it into a value-based creature. The above example references Snapcaster Mage.
This is just the start of what the card is capable of in MTG Arena’s digital formats but admittedly, a lot more testing for this card has been done in Modern than MTG Arena.
How to Beat The One Ring
Fortunately, many Modern decks already have the tools able to best decks that are trying to abuse The One Ring: counterspells. Spell Pierce is such a clean answer to this card, and Force of Negation can be used to stop this from touching down if you feel you cannot best it.
Narset control is definitely a niche archetype (but does put up results), but this Planeswalker offers another angle to compete with The One Ring. The benefit of this card is the amount of cards it draws. Only drawing one extra card per turn is still strong but, with Narset on the board, the downside of The One Ring will outweigh the upside.