17, Jul, 23

Unexpected LOTR Cards Create Powerful New Archetype!

Article at a Glance

Unsurprisingly, The One Ring and Orcish Bowmasters continue to dominate Modern. While not every deck currently utilizes them, if you are not playing The One Ring or Orcish Bowmasters, there should be a very good reason for it. The One Ring provides a tremendous source of card advantage, and it’s enters-the-battlefield effect helps buy you time to utilize that card advantage. Bowmasters is a reasonable card on its own, efficiently checking cards like Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, but it also is quite good against The One Ring.

Modern Yawgmoth, Thran Physician combo and mono-black Cabal Coffers are quite effective at utilizing both these cards in the same deck, but they are not alone. A relatively new archetype has been gaining a great deal of traction in Modern, making use of more LOTR cards than just Bowmasters and The One Ring. Dimir Control has been putting up results more and more over the last couple weeks, and for good reason. This deck has a solid gameplan that maximizes a lot of powerful LOTR and Modern Horizons cards. The efficiency of the cards in the deck helps relish all of the card advantage, and the deck has the tools to fight a lot of other powerful strategies in the format.

Lord of the Rings Upgrades

Orcish Bowmasters

While The One Ring is obviously powerful in a lot of shells, it shines in a deck like this. This deck has a lot of cheap interaction that can be played efficiently after gaining card advantage. This deck even gets to play Minamo, School at Water’s Edge, which can untap The One Ring to generate more card advantage! For decks that aren’t ramping, it’s important to make sure you can use all of the card advantage gained in a timely manner. As a control deck, the “Protection from everything” clause is also extremely important, letting you tap out and not feel pressured on the crackback. Outside of The One Ring, this deck almost never taps out on its own turn.

Orcish Bowmasters is a great card, but the fact that it has flash makes it easy to hold up Counterspell and Bowmasters on the same turn and cast whatever is necessary depending on the game actions your opponent takes. As mentioned, Bowmasters is great against opposing decks with The One Ring too. Bowmasters’ effects have a high floor and a high ceiling. This means that the card is useful in plenty of scenarios. It can even help act as a win condition for this deck as the game goes long.

Read More: Lord of the Rings Is Saving a Deeply Unpopular MTG Format

Beyond Bowmasters and the Ring

Sauron's Ransom

While Bowmasters and The One Ring are the stars of the show, another secret powerhouse has popped up in this archetype. Sauron’s Ransom has solidified itself as a premier card-draw spell in Legacy and is starting to see more play in Modern as well. The card, similar to Fact or Fiction, involves having cards put into piles. While one of them is face down in this case, you still get to choose a pile. Based on what cards you need, you can get a pretty good grasp on which pile you should take. While the Ring Tempting You won’t come up very often, if you cast two copies of Sauron’s Ransom, you can now start “looting” with an on-board Bowmasters or Orc Army token. These LOTR cards are great additions to this deck, and they also work super well with their Modern Horizons counterparts.

While three LOTR cards have been mentioned thus far, there is one other card in the mix: Lorien Revealed. This card plays a couple roles here. First, it has Islandcycling for one mana. This provides an easy way for the deck to run a slightly lower Land count than normal. While you still have the option to cast Lorien Revealed for five mana, the biggest reason why this is important is because it adds to the density of blue cards in the deck to pair with two specific Modern Horizons cards. Let’s take a look at the role these two cards play in the deck.

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Modern Horizons “Free” Spells

Force of Negation

As stated previously, this deck’s card quality and efficiency really puts it over the top. Well, it’s difficult to get more efficient than zero mana. This deck gets to use two different cards that can either be hard cast normally, or can be cast for free by exiling a blue card from your hand. These cards work unbelievably well with The One Ring. The One Ring does require you to often tap out on your turn to cast it. However, you have access to four copies of Subtlety and four copies of Force of Negation. Force of Negation protects you from problematic non-Creature spells, including opposing copies of The One Ring. Even though exiling a card from your hand is card disadvantage, The One Ring can draw you so many cards that it makes up for it.

On the flip side, Subtlety helps ensure that a problematic Creature or Planeswalker doesn’t hit the board after tapping out. Importantly, Subtlety can be cast for free even on your turn, but Force of Negation can only be cast for free on the opponent’s turn. This means it does not help at actually resolving The One Ring on turn four. In this sense, it may not be correct to jam The One Ring on turn four if your opponent potentially has a Counterspell of their own at the ready. Given that almost all of your other cards can be cast at Instant speed, this isn’t a big deal. Casting Force of Negation for three mana is perfectly acceptable, and casting Subtlety for four mana is a fine price to pay, especially if your opponent cast a Creature or Planeswalker spell into it.

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Cheap Spells and Win Conditions

Fatal Push

This control deck would not be complete without cheap ways to interact with the opponent. The most important cards here are certainly Counterspell and Fatal Push. Fatal Push helps deal with cards like Delighted Halfling that would otherwise make your Counterspells much more awkward. Counterspell, as well as Spell Pierce, combine well with Subtlety and Force of Negation to prevent the opponent from resolving any of their big haymakers. In a format dominated by The One Ring, having a gameplan to push your copy of The One Ring through and prevent your opponent from resolving theirs can be quite effective.

Beyond Bowmasters and Subtlety, the deck can also win by either casting Sheoldred, the Apocalypse or Murktide Regent. This deck does not typically provide a fast clock, so it relies on its removal and Counterspells to keep the game going. Playing a deck with lots of cheap Counterspells can be super effective in this metagame, but it still does have its weaknesses.

Decks that go way over the top and utilize cast triggers, such as Mono-Green Tron with Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, could pose a bit of a problem. Given this deck’s reliance on Counterspells, cards like Cavern of Souls or Aether Vial that help other strategies get around them can be quite effective. Still, Subtlety and Bowmasters can help keep Creatures in check. This deck really is prepared for a lot of what the metagame has to offer, and if you enjoy Modern, you should definitely be prepared for Dimir Control.

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