Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Everything You Need to Know about The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth MTG Set

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Originally announced all the way back in 2021, The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth is one of the anticipated MTG sets in years. This is despite the Universes Beyond brand having previously been mired in controversy and subject to constant complaints. Now that the dust has had time to settle, however, MTG players are widely supportive of MTG’s crossover brand. So much so, in fact, that many players can’t wait for the upcoming crossover with one of the world’s biggest fantasy franchises; The Lord of the Rings. 

Since its initial 2021 announcement, Wizards have kept their Lord of the Rings-themed cards close to their chests. For two years, Wizards only teased players with the occasional tidbit or reference to the product, steadily building up hype. Now, in 2023, the release of The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set is finally drawing near. Subsequently, the hype for the upcoming set is at an all-time high, especially after Wizards finally revealed some all-important details!

So, now that the set’s release is only a few short months away, here’s everything you need to know about The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth MTG set! 

What is The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth?

Even if you’re not familiar with the Universes Beyond sub-brand, thankfully, the set’s products are fairly self-explanatory. For instance, as the name suggests, The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth set is MTG’s crossover with the Lord of the Rings franchise. As a set in Magic’s Universes Beyond series, it is non-canonical and won’t be Standard legal. Instead, The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth will be a direct-to-Modern set. This, of course, means the set’s cards will also be playable in Eternal formats such as Commander, Legacy, and Vintage.

Unlike previous direct-to-Modern sets, such as Double Masters 2022, digital MTG players aren’t left out this time. Alongside the set’s paper release, The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth is also coming to MTG Arena. Launching as an Alchemy set, thankfully, the cards will not be subject to any rebalancing or changes. 

With The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set, it’s important to note that it’s not based on the blockbuster film franchise by Peter Jackson. Instead, The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth is set in its own universe based on the J. R. R. Tolkien books. That being said, however, there are some notable differences between the original books and the Magic: the Gathering set. For instance, within The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, Aragorn II Elessar is black.

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Release Dates

The Balrog
The Balrog | Tales of MIddle-Earth

Almost two years after the product was first announced, Wizards of the Coast has finally confirmed the release dates for The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth. This information was recently delivered in a monumental monthly Livestream, which was chockablock with announcements. Thankfully, after literal years of waiting, there isn’t long left to go, as the Lord of the Rings set launches in just a few months. 

Here are all the exact dates you need to know for The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth! 

  • First Look: March 14th
  • Debut: May 30th
  • Prerelease: June 16th
  • MTG Arena Release: June 20th
  • Tabletop Release: June 23rd

Alongside the concrete release dates to look forward to, Wizards also announced a surprising extra edition. Mysteriously referred to as the “holiday release,” this extra product is set to launch on November 3rd, 2023. Currently, very little is known about this extra holiday product, with Wizards only stating more details are to come. It’s possible this extra product could be similar to Phyrexia: All Will Be One’s Bundle: Compleat Edition, however, there’s really no telling at the moment.

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Mechanics

Call of The Ring
Call of The Ring | Tales of Middle-earth

With the Debut video for The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth still months away, players still have a short while to wait before mechanics are officially revealed. That being said, however, thanks to some recent leaks, we have been given our first taste of what’s to come. Namely, following some dumpster diving, we know that the “tempted by the Ring” mechanic exists within the set. Unfortunately, being seen on only Frodo, Sauron’s Bane, there’s currently no telling what this mechanic actually does. On the one hand, it is possible this mechanic may only be a ticking clock for this one card. On the other hand, however,  the “tempted by the Ring” mechanic could be somewhat similar to The Initiative or Monarch mechanics. For now, sadly, we don’t know. 

Alongside revealing a mechanic, Frodo, Sauron’s Bane also gives players a glimpse at the set’s creature types. Curiously, rather than leaning into The Lord of the Rings lore, it appears Tales of Middle-earth is using preexisting MTG creature types. This means rather than the set having Hobbits, characters will instead be depicted as Halflings instead. With Elves, Orcs, and Wizards already being preexisting creature types in MTG, this will likely be the only change to the established order.

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Leaks & Spoilers

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth leaks
The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth leaks

As we already mentioned above, The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set has already been leaked. Thankfully, unlike what we saw with Phyrexia: All Will Be One, this leak only revealed three upcoming cards. Reportedly being found in the garbage at a secretive location, this leak has given players a brief first look at what’s in store. For better or worse, players aren’t too excited about what they’ve seen so far across the trio of leaked cards. While one card Gollum the Conspirator, was missing their mana cost, the other cards, Aragorn and Arwen, Married, and Frodo, Sauron’s Bane aren’t much to write home about. 

Considering many MTG players don’t want Modern to essentially become a rotating format thanks to direct-to-Modern sets, this may not be a bad thing. Ultimately, however, it’s far too early to tell if these cards are actually indicative of the set’s power level. Following the First Look Livestream on the 14th of March, MTG players should know more. Until then, however, we’ll just have to wait and see.

As tantalizing as the leaks that we’ve seen so far are, it’s important to remember, they are leaks. Because of this, there’s a not insignificant chance these cards are cleverly crafted fakes. Subsequently, it’s best that you keep some skepticism about you to prevent yourself being fooled.

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Products

The Battle of the Pelennor Fields
The Battle of the Pelennor Fields | The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth

As is typical of a modern Magic: the Gathering set release, The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth will be comprised of multiple different products. Since the set is aimed at new players, the product lineup is even more extensive than usual. While this should mean everyone can purchase what they want, unfortunately, keeping track of it all may be rather tricky. Unfortunately for players, both new and old, it also appears that the set is going to be rather expensive. The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Collector Booster Box pre-orders, for instance, have been seen selling for upwards of $519! For comparison, Collector Booster Boxes for Phyrexia: All Will Be One typically sell for around $218 on TCGplayer. 

Considering that The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth is being aimed at new MTG players, it’s safe to say many aren’t happy about these exorbitant prices. Nevertheless, here are all the products available for the set and a little bit about them courtesy of Wizards. 

Starter Kit

Tales of Middle-earth Starter Kit

“Gear up for your first game! Starter Kits come with two themed decks from The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth.”

Jumpstart

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Jumpstart Boosters

“Quick, fun, and easy with five unique themes from The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth. Just mix and match two packs, shuffle, and you’re ready to play!”

Prerelease Pack

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Prerelease Pack

“Play the new set at your local game store! Fun for both new and seasoned players.”

Draft Boosters

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Draft Boosters

“A favorite for playing Limited. Draft with your friends and play straight out of the box!”

Set Boosters

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Set Boosters

“Tear into boosters and set off on your own adventure.”

Collector Boosters

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Collector Boosters

“Join the Fellowship! Collector Boosters are a shortcut to the coolest cards in a set, with boosters full of rare cards, shiny foil cards, and special alternate-art and alternate-frame cards.”

Bundle

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Bundle

“Grab the ultimate fan kit to set out on an adventure through Middle-earth.”

Gift Bundle

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Bundle: Gift Edition

“The perfect present for fans of Magic and The Lord of the Rings alike!”

Commander Decks

Read More: Fan-Favorite MTG Card Styles May Be Returning

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