In case you’ve somehow missed all the hubbub about it, The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth is the next major MTG set to release. As MTG’s first Universes Beyond Draft set, it’s safe to say Wizards is going all out for this momentous release. With powerful MTG spoilers, valuable collectibles, reprinted promos, and stunning art, LotR: Tales of Middle-earth has it all.
Beyond having plenty of components to get MTG players excited, Tales of Middle-earth has another, more uncommon kind of promo. Released by Wizards to promote this crossover set, it seems Tales of Middle-earth has quite the advertising budget. As, more than just showing off the set, these new promos star Lord of the Rings actor, Elijah Wood!
Considering Unvierss Beyond’s potential for expertly acquiring new players, this casting seems like a great choice. After all, these videos may dramatically boost the set’s reach. Unfortunately, however, as much good as they may do, there could be some problems with their reception…
Frodo, Determined Hero
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past twenty years, chances are you’ll know exactly why Elijah Wood has been cast in the new promo videos. Having played Frodo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Elijah Wood is synonymous with the franchise. Due to this connection, having them promote the Lord of the Rings crossover MTG set seems like an obvious decision.
Currently, Wizards of the Coast has released two major videos featuring Elijah Wood talking about the set. The first of these was released as part of The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth’s Set Debut video. Here, Elijah Wood got their hands on cards from the set, much to their visible delight. Excitedly reeling through character names while showing off cards, Elijah Wood’s excitement for the set was utterly infectious.
Unfortunately, this cameo does have some potential to cause confusion which we’ll get to later. For the most part, however, MTG players were nonetheless loving it. Some users on Twitter, for instance, emotionally lauded this promo as brilliant work by the marketing. “This was so exciting to see, for real, I was almost into tears… He feels like an old friend… good job WOTC”
Following this wonderful cameo from the beloved actor, Wizards went on to release a second video starring Elijah Wood. Titled “Elijah Wood Cannot Pass,” this video partially addressed some of the controversy surrounding the set. Showcasing You Cannot Pass Wood demonstrated how the supposed misquote was actually correct by reading from the book. Sure, everyone might know “You Shall Not Pass” however, there’s no arguing with Tolkien’s written words.
A Contentious Controversy
Unfortunately, for Wizards of the Coast, this apparently divergence from the lore is only half of the controversy surrounding the set. This is thanks to The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth being a new retelling of Tolkien’s story. Setting itself apart from past versions, Tales of Middle-earth features race-swapped characters and unexpected quirks aplenty.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, considering the love for Peter Jackson’s film franchise, many potential MTG players aren’t fans of the new look. Heavily criticizing all the changes made, disgruntled players have embroiled Tales of Middle-earth in quite a controversy. So much of one, in fact, that Wizards of the Coast even spoke out in a rare statement.
Despite the statement from Wizards, this controversy has continued to plague the set throughout its spoiler season. This has resulted in numerous locked Reddit threads, as some players seem unable to get over the character’s new looks. Thankfully, this negative reception is far from universal, however, it nevertheless taint’s the set’s reception.
Due to the negative reactions online, it may seem sensible to steer well clear of the film franchise’s influence. Obviously, however, Wizards has done the opposite of this in their recent Elijah Wood promos. On the surface, this may seem to be poking the bear while potentially causing confusion among new potential MTG fans. Alternatively, however, this marketing decision could be just what Tales of Middle-earth needs.
Addressing the issue head-on in a new video, Elijah Wood discussed the rather familiar but ultimately different Frodo, Adventurous Hobbit. Initially highlighting the Hobbit’s lore, Wood went on to praise the card’s art, despite it not looking like them. “This is amazing, it’s incredible to see and the art is beautiful. It feels both familiar and altogether its own thing.”
Elijah Wood, the Voice of Calm
Unfortunately, considering the amount of vitriol online, it’s unlikely this new promo will completely change everyone’s tune. What it should do, however, is help somewhat, as Elijah Wood is undeniably an important voice in the Lord of the Rings community. Subsequently, having their support and endorsement for the set’s art direction should hopefully curb some of the controversy.
While this is definitely good news, there may be another untinted consequence of this promo. As we alluded to before, potential new players may be somewhat perplexed by this marketing decision. After all, none of the Frodo cards look anything like Elijah Wood. Even after being endorsed by Wood, this may still turn away some players, as Lord of the Rings is synonymous with the film franchise.
Thankfully, judging by the reaction to these promos across social media, this concern may just be hypothetical. For the most part, MTG players are seriously enjoying the short videos LotR from Elijah Wood. Subsequently, it seems Wizards may have knocked it out of the park with these marketing promos.
Now if only we could get Viggo Mortensen doing a promo to show off Aragorn, the Uniter.