Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth has been fully spoiled, and there are a lot of juicy cards in this set. It’s clear that this is one of the most flavorful sets in recent memory, but the set also has a lot of powerful cards for a wide range of formats. From efficient cards for eternal formats to EDH all-stars with unique abilities, this set has a lot to offer. Every card has a story behind it, and getting to see them in action in formats beyond just Limited should be a really nice to see. Without further ado, here are the top 10 MTG best Lord of the Rings cards!
#10 Council’s Deliberation
Starting off this list we have an efficient draw spell. This card is certainly not the flashiest card in the set, but it does its job rather well. At face value, this card replaces itself at Instant-speed for two mana. Then, if you scry and control an Island, you can exile it from the graveyard to draw another card.
Long gone are the days of Think Twice in Modern control decks, but this card is an enormous step up. There are plenty of ways in Modern to scry in blue that already see fair amounts of play. For example, almost every Blue-based control deck has access to Castle Vantress, which provides an easy way to trigger Council Deliberation’s graveyard ability at very little cost.
Beyond Castle Vantress, Opt is a very cheap cantrip that scries, and Council’s Deliberation may actually provide a good reason to play Opt over Consider. Speaking of Consider, Council’s Deliberation is also great if you can get it into the graveyard without paying its casting cost. Even if you mill over the card, for example, it will stay in your graveyard ready to generate free value anytime you scry. There’s a lot of potential for this card in decks that care about card advantage in Modern, and we are just getting started.
#9 Lost to Legend
Lost to Legend is a lot less narrow than it looks for eternal formats. Most notably, this card is a great card answer to Urza’s Saga, one of the best cards in Modern and Legacy. At two mana, it answers Chalice of the Void, which can be quite problematic for a deck like Modern Hammer Time when put on x equals one. While it may be difficult to beat out a card like March of Otherworldly Light for this role in Hammer Time, this card does answer Planeswalkers as well. Given the prevalence of Wrenn and Six in Modern, its worth consideration.
In Legacy, this card trades up on mana nicely against 8-Cast payoffs like Sai, Master Thopterist while still being a clean answer to the Artifacts mentioned above. Still, competition is steep for cards like this. Putting cards back in your opponent’s library fourth from the top is very effective, and Lost to Legend does hit a lot of important cards. Unfortunately the card does miss on non-Legendary Creatures though, which contributes to why it isn’t higher on the list.
#8 Boromir, Warden of the Tower
Boromir has a lot going for it. Most importantly, it’s a mono-white Creature that shuts off free spells like the Evoke Elementals from Modern Horizons Two. This also means it shuts off notable Cascade cards such as Living End. In Modern, this is super important for white-based Creature decks. Boromir is also a decent threat on its own and can protect your other Creatures from board wipes or targeted removal, which is especially important when trying to win with a Creature equipped with Colossus Hammer.
The main issue with the card is that it costs three mana. This means that the card may be too slow at effectively stopping your opponent from resolving Living End or Crashing Footfalls when you are on the draw. Compare this with a card like Lavinia, Azorius Renegade which costs two mana and it’s tough to envision the card seeing play outside of mono-white decks.
However, some Modern Hammer Time and Humans players choose to play mono-white to have access to a more consistent and less painful manabase, and this card could shine in these decks. In Legacy, Death and Taxes decks running Yorion, Sky Nomad as a Companion may have enough room to run this card too. There aren’t a lot decks that want this card, which is why it sits only at number eight on this list, but it’s still a good consideration for the decks that do want its effects.
#7 Stern Scolding
Stern Scolding is an efficient Counterspell that hits a lot of MTG’s best Creatures. Being a Counterspell for Creatures only is definitely restrictive, especially given the fact that removal spells can answer Creatures as well. However, where this card really shines is against Creatures with good enters-the-battlefield effects, and there are plenty. Typical removal is not very effective against Grief or Solitude, whether Evoked or cast normally. Being able to stop a Stoneforge Mystic from ever hitting the board even when on the draw can be a big deal in Modern too.
Typical removal spells are simply not at their best against Creatures that can generate immediate value. This can even include cards like Dryad of the Ilysian Grove[/tooltips} that would allow your opponent to play an additional land before you even got priority. Against Titan decks, Countering Dryad could be a huge tempo swing. This card is at least a consideration for Izzet Murktide, Merfolk, and any other tempo-based blue decks, and I look forward to seeing how it performs.
#6 Spiteful Banditry
While the other cards so far have focused mostly on Modern and Legacy, Spiteful Banditry is almost solely focused on Commander. Boy, it’s a good Commander card though. The first part of the card is a little reminiscent of [tooltips]Toxic Deluge[/tooltip] in that it can be a board wipe but lets you dictate how much of the board you want to kill. This can be great if you have a lot of bigger Creatures, then you can make this card feel closer to [tooltips]Plague Wind than a typical board wipe. Obviously, Deluge letting you pay life instead of mana like Banditry is typically better, but thankfully Banditry’s real power comes from it’s second triggered ability.
Every turn a Creature controlled by one of your opponent’s dies, you get to make a Treasure token. Obviously, Banditry’s first ability can help create the first Treasure. But even if you were to ignore that ability and simply play Banditry for two mana, it is quite likely to pay you off over time. This makes combat a nightmare, as no one else wants Creatures to die in combat otherwise you get more Treasures. It’s quite easy to imagine this card generating Treasure most turns if you build your deck around it. We all know how effective Smothering Tithe is, and while I wouldn’t go that far when describing Banditry, it can still do a good impersonation in some games.
#5 Rosie Cotton of South Lane
On its own, Rosie is a relatively unassuming card. However, it has introduced a cool two-card combo to Arena that could be very effective in Historic or even Explorer moving forward. The combo involves Rosie and Scurry Oak. With a Scurry Oak in play, if you cast Rosie and create a Food token, Rosie’s other ability will trigger. You can then put the counter on Scurry Oak, causing you to generate a squirrel token. This will trigger Rosie’s second ability again, and you can make infinite squirrel tokens and an enormous Scurry Oak.
What’s cool about this combo is that it can be found off of Collected Company on your opponent’s end step, meaning your opponent has to play scared once you have four mana, even if your board is empty. This is a huge step up from the three-card Scurry Oak combos of the past that required some mediocre cards like Soul Warden to work, and will be cool to see if it lives up to the hype.
#4 Forge Anew
Forge Anew is yet another card with implications for Hammer Time in Modern, but this time it is a bit more obvious. Forge Anew functions very similarly to Sigarda’s Aid at minimum. This card lets you attack with multiple Creatures, and if you have a Colossus Hammer in play, you may equip it to any Creature in combat for free at instant speed. This is already a nice effect, though it may be a bit steep at three mana.
This card does that and more though. It gets to bring back an equipment when it enters the battlefield too, meaning if one of your copies of Hammer gets destroyed via Artifact hate from the opponent, it’s easy to get it back. This doesn’t even mention the potential with Goblin Engineer, which can search up a Hammer or even something bigger like Kaldra Compleat for Forge Anew to bring back the next turn. There’s a lot of room for exploration with Forge Anew, and it seems like a great addition to the deck.
#3 Mirkwood Bats
This may seem a bit high for Mirkwood Bats, but this is another card that seems great in EDH and something that is fairly easy to abuse. First of all, Mirkwood Bats triggers every time you create OR sacrifice a token. This means that when paired with cards like Something Tithe or Dockside Extortionist that make lots of Treasure tokens, you essentially will get to drain each opponent for two with every Treasure you make. This leads to another important point: Mirkwood Bats hits each opponent rather than targeting a single player. This is quite easily abusable with Treasure tokens especially, but it doesn’t end there.
Any cards that Create lots of Tokens at a time can be extremely deadly for your opponents. For example, when paired with Ghave, Guru of Spores, you can continuously drain the life of each opponent by sinking mana into your Commander’s abilities. There are so many ways to make use of Mirkwood Bats in Commander, and this versatility is why I put the card high on this list.
Read More: Top 10 Best MTG Artifact Cards (June 2023)
#2 Delighted Halfling
Delighted Halfling appears to me as one of the best mana dorks ever printed. In Commander, this card is absolutely fantastic. It’s an early source of ramp that helps fix colors for Legendary spells, which obviously includes your Commander. The most important part of this card though, and what sets it so high on this list, is the “can’t be countered” clause. Making your Commander uncounterable is a huge deal, especially if your deck is truly built to maximize your Commander. Making Legendary spells uncounterable goes deeper than just Commander as well.
In Modern and Legacy, there are plenty of Legendary spells that are super important to the gameplans of lots of different decks. What comes to mind first is Modern Yawgmoth. This deck runs lots of Creatures, including mana dorks, to power out Chord of Calling and the namesake card Yawgmoth, Thran Physician. One of this deck’s weaknesses is that it is so heavily built around Yawgmoth that Counterspells can be quite effective. Delighted Halfling can singlehandedly change that, and once Yawgmoth hits the board, it’s quite easy to get a ton of value.
Halfling also works incredibly well with cheap Planeswalkers. In Modern and Legacy, the curve of turn one Halfling, turn two Teferi, Time Raveler could be quite infuriating for the opponent. Not only will Teferi be uncounterable, but so will your spells after as long as Teferi is in play. In Legacy, there are even more three drop options like Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath that are capable of taking over a game on their own. With Force of will being a primary source of interaction in the format, Delighted Halfling could really shine. Halfling has a ton of potential with the plethora of Legendary spells in Magic and could definitely become a multi-format staple.
#1 Orcish Bowmasters
Orcish Bowmasters is absolutely insane. Right off the bat, you get two power across two bodies at instant speed, and get to deal one damage to any target. In Modern, this already lines up very well against Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, and can ping down mana dorks, Esper Sentinel, and more. What is really crazy about this card is that the amass Orcs 1 ability and the ability to deal one damage to any target trigger again whenever an opponent draws a card besides their first card each turn. This is a great way to punish opponents for casting cantrips in Legacy and large draw spells in Commander.
Notably, this card triggers for each card drawn after the first, so if an opponent cast Brainstorm in Legacy, you will get three more triggers of both damage and amass. In Commander, this works amazingly well with cards like Windfall that can create tons of triggers off each of your opponents. Bowmasters has enormous potential across multiple formats could even warp play patterns in these formats considerably if the card truly takes off. That gives Orcish Bowmasters the clear number one spot on this list.