7, Jun, 23

MTG Lord of the Rings Leaks Hint Return of Chaotic Political Mechanic!

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Even though Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth is deep into its spoiler season, Commander players are still waiting with bated breath. Commander reveals start tomorrow but, in typical fashion, someone leaked a few details ahead of time. The perpetrator, this time around, seems to be a pack opening from Whatnot. It’s not too long of a wait for those who want the official reveal, but the returning mechanic in one of these decks, in my opinion, is a really big deal.

These leaks look pretty legitimate, but they are unofficial. For that reason, there’s a chance these cards are fake, and that’s something we’ll likely know for sure tomorrow. In case you do want to wait for the official spoilers, consider this your warning. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the return, and the reimagining, of one of the wackiest Commander mechanics ever!

Politics in Commander

Unlike most other MTG formats, Commander is a multiplayer game. Well, every MTG format requires two people, but Commander is multiplayer in the way that there are four. This means that, depending on the board state, not all of your opponents are necessarily enemies. Sometimes, you need to put your differences aside to deal with the one obvious problem at the table who probably had a T1 Sol Ring and is threatening to steam roll the rest of the table.

Because of the political dynamics present at a Commander table, there is a lot of room for unique card design. Maybe a card like Loren of the Third Path, which is capable of removing powerful threats repetitively in a Blink theme, gets to survive a lot longer because of the promise of her drawing cards for your opponents. With this in mind, consider the return, and innovation, of this incredible Conspiracy mechanic!

The Return of Conspiracy’s Conspiracy

Should these leaks be true (and there’s a pretty good chance they are), Will of the Council will be returning to Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth. Will of the Council is a voting mechanic that gives players, generally, two different options to vote for at the table. Players, generally starting with the one who triggered Will of the Council, will vote in clockwise order as the card depicts. Depending on who voted for what, various effects will occur to various players.

Take the above leaked card, for example. Sail into the West has players, starting with you, vote for return or embark. Should return get more votes, the table gets to return two cards from their graveyard to their hands. Should embark get more, or if the vote is tied, this is basically a four mana Wheel of Fortune.

A Secret Council Appears

The return of Will of the Council seems to go a bit further. Notably, this is not the first time that the Secret Council mechanic was leaked, making these leaks much more credible. Previously, the box contents for the Elvin Council Commander showcased a Secret Council card, but we could not see all of it. Well, that card has now been spoiled in its entirety.

The big difference between Secret Council and Will of the Council is that players get to, well, keep their vote a secret. With Will of the Council, because players get to vote in turn order starting with the player who triggered it, so previous votes can influence later ones. This does not happen with Secret Council since players’ votes are kept to themselves until the end.

Cirdan, the Shipwright

Cirdan the Shipwright has players secretly vote for one-another or themselves. After the voting has resolved, every player draws a card for each vote they received. If a player receives no votes, that player gets to cheat a permanent from their hand onto the battlefield.

That, therein, lies the minigame that Secret Council creates. You don’t want to vote for the same player too many times since they will draw a lot of cards, but players who receive no votes may get to cheat something into play. This creates a scenario where players who have a lot of cards in hand are likely to draw even more cards since no one really wants them to drop a gigantic win condition at no cost. Players who have an empty hand, however, may get stuck since players don’t have to worry about them cheating anything out. You can just vote for yourself in that scenario, of course.

Here’s where the politics come in. Most of the time, the most harmless way of resolving this trigger is just to get everyone to vote for themselves. Everyone draws a card, which also benefits everyone equally, meaning that this card is good for everyone, meaning that the chances to remove it are minimal.

Once you decide you want to start cheating permanents into play, however, players need to really think twice about who they are voting for. Everyone may vote you to prevent this, but you then get to draw multiple cards! Its an incredibly interesting minigame that engages the entire table.

Read More: Final MTG LOTR Box Toppers Reveals Niche $60 Reprint!

Elrond of the White Council

Elrond of the White Council offers yet another fascinating minigame for the table to consider. Unlike Cirdan, this effect only occurs when Elrond enters the battlefield, and for a good reason. Opponents have a tricky decision here, and, should they get it wrong, it can result in them losing game in two different ways.

At face value, Fellowship is the more problematic vote here. This allows the person triggering Elrond to steal an opponent’s creature. The caveat is that the creature cannot attack you, but, should they steal your Commander, it can be very difficult to get it back. Of course, should this be the vote you want to go forward with, some table politics may be in order.

While the second vote can essentially turn Elrond into a win condition, a large board is needed for the impact of this vote to match the other. Voting for aid simply gives Elrond’s board a +1/+1 counter. Should your board be sufficient, having every opponent vote for aid means a +3/+3 buff across the board, which can easily end the game. Therefore, in order to put opponents in an awkward position with Elrond, this card should be played in decks that want to go wide. Otherwise, you may just end up with a five mana 8/8, which, while great value for mana, is not quite what many Commander decks want to be doing.

Read More: Final MTG LOTR Box Toppers Reveals Niche $60 Reprint!

A Mechanic that Engages the Entire Table

Let’s be honest. Because of how long Commander games go, a lot of decks that aren’t trying to shut the door early on are trying to set up some inevitable value engine that builds over time. This means late game Commander can have some very long turns. It’s not uncommon, as a result, for players to start checking out of the game and onto their phones while you wait for each player to take five minutes worth of game actions. I’ve both done and caused this.

Mechanics like Will of the Council are fantastic ways to keep players engaged during your turn because there’s something in it for them just as much as there’s something for you. Sure, anyone who is playing effects like this will have the effects favor them the most, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the votes can heavily influence the game, and can even let opponents pull ahead in unexpected ways.

For that reason, Will of the Council effects are great for long Commander games. It demands the table’s attention, and offers opponents a reward should they play the minigame right. It allows the political aspect of Commander to thrive as players have the opportunity to create unique answers to problems that lie on the table. Hopefully, this won’t be the last we see of effects like Will of the Council!

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