“This set is an amazing love letter to Tolkien fans” was the sentence that started off the First Look Stream for Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set. Hosted by Blake Rasmussen, this incredible crossover features a fully draftable Modern-legal set that many players have been heavily anticipating. A few significant spoilers even dropped yesterday evening. You can find those here.
Once you have taken a look at the new Gandalf, the Grey and The One Ring, there are even more spoilers that “bring Tolkien’s words to life.”
Lord of the Rings Characters
Kicking off the First Look Livestream is the introduction of Frodo, Sauron’s Bane. Notably, this spoiler confirms recent unofficial leaks that appeared on the internet earlier this year. Rasmussen mentioned that the new ‘Tempting the Ring’ line of text is a new mechanic in the coming set, but we do not yet know what it does.
Rasmussen highlighted the storytelling elements when looking at this halfling who was designed using similar techniques to create the Mono Black Standard Staple Evolved Sleeper. This card tells the story of Frodo’s character arc as he becomes increasingly tempted by The One Ring during his journey.
“The showcase ring treatment is meant to showcase characters when they’re at a point of uncertainty,” states Rasmussen. For Frodo, this highlights when the character had to put on the ring to hide from the Ring Wraith near the beginning of the story.
The last image showcases a Borderless Scene Bundle promo variant. These cards can combine with one another to create a larger scene. These, according to Rasmussen, can be found in Collector’s Boosters and special bundles that will be coming out with the set. Notably, this full scene will be available for anyone who buys the appropriate bundle, meaning those who want access to The One Ring have a straightforward way to find one. That said, if you’re looking for more premium versions of the card, read on.
Multiple Versions of Each Character
This uncommon version of Samwise was introduced during the Livestream. Rasmussen points out here that, similar to The Brothers’ War, we will have multiple cards that depict significant characters in Tolkien’s story. While this is the uncommon version of Samwise, there will be other variants of the character. According to Rasmussen, one of these is a Commander card interacting with the Food mechanic from Throne of Eldraine. This card was spoiled later in the Livestream and appears in the Commander section of this article.
Famous locations in Tolkien’s IP will be appearing across the set, with The Shire being a fantastic introduction. If you control a Legendary creature, the Shire immediately enters untapped and can tap an untapped creature to create a Food for two mana. This will likely see experimentation in Asmo Food shells in the Modern format.
Mentioned with Mount Doom is that this card does not represent a Legendary dual land cycle. This is, instead, a very flavorful representation of one of the most important locations in the story. The seven-mana ability is absolutely fantastic on a Legendary land like this one, and makes the card an absolute slam dunk in Rakdos Commander decks.
Gollum looks fantastic in any sort of Aristocrats deck that cares about having multiple creatures and sacrifice payoffs. As mentioned earlier, there are other variants of this character that have yet to be introduced.
Not a New Modern Horizons
Rasmussen mentions, alongside this incredible white Remand, which completely breaks the color pie, that, while this set has cards meant to shake up the Modern format, it is not intended to be at the power level of a Modern Horizons set. Instead, the reason why this set was determined to be Modern legal, according to Rasmussen, is so as many MTG players can play with the cards from this set as possible. Do note, however, that these cards are not legal in Pioneer or Standard, but will be coming to Alchemy.
A New Saga Commander!?
Of all the cards Rasmussen had the privilege to introduce, Tom Bombadil is the one that excited him the most. For reference, according to Rasmussen, this God Bard was a character that appeared throughout the story that was completely unfazed and unaffected by The One Ring’s power.
Tom Bombadil introduces a new five-colored archetype that could come to Modern but will definitely see some Commander interest: Sagas. Once the God Bard has finished his epic telling of a Saga, that story concludes, and the Bard goes through your deck to start another one. Do note that this only triggers once each turn.
Five mana can be a lot to invest in a card, especially in Modern. As such, Tom comes with some protection. As long as four or more Lore counters among Sagas are present, Tom gains Hexproof and Indestructible, making the card very difficult to interact with. Most Sagas only have three steps, so you will likely need three to four sagas to get this effect consistently. With four Sagas, however, Tom should theoretically be protected until multiple Sagas leave the battlefield at the same time. Urza’s Saga is, notably, a Saga so powerful that it warped the Modern metagame.
The Partner mechanic has been confirmed to return with this Lord of the Rings set. Samwise is one of the Partner Commanders for the new decks, but his partner, the face card of the deck, has not yet been revealed. This seems, however, to offer a Food themed Commander deck, which could be incredibly fun to play.
Radagast also sees an appearance in the Commander portion of this set. Radagast is one of the wizards, like Gandalf and Sauron, but focuses on interacting with nature. For four mana, Radagast, honestly, seems very powerful. This card has some built-in protection, offers protection as a tribal incentive, and rewards players for casting massive spells. This card appears fine-tuned to match many Commander players’ favorite aspects of the format. I am expecting Radagast to be quite popular as a result.
The Starter Kit cards reveal another card from the spoiled ones seen earlier this past month. These are the only iterations of Aragon, Arwen and Sauron that we have seen so far.
Serialized Sol Rings
We will be further discussing Serialization practices in a future article, but, for now, here is our first look at Serialization for Lord of the Rings Collector Boosters. All of these cards are written in the Elven language in the story and will all be rare iterations of the Commander super staple Sol Ring. Three different arts represent the Rings of Power given to Dwarves, Humans, and Elves. These will have both Serialized and Non-serialized iterations.
This Serialization was nailed in a predictive article we covered previously that highlights the lore behind these cards in more detail.
The One Ring to Rule Them All
Perhaps the most shocking thing revealed is that The One Ring has a special Serialized variant… with only one copy in existence. This will be distributed in one random English-language Collector Booster available in the first wave of product. This means that, while it could be in a Gift bundle, it will not be in a holiday release. There is a much better chance, however, that you will find it in a Collector Booster. This is the first time we’ve ever seen a confirmed one-for-one MTG card. No one really knows how much it will be worth, or even if it will ever be found. It will, however, likely be worth at least a Million U.S. dollars. Notably, if you do not have access to English-language Collector Boosters, you will not be able to open this card.
Box Topper Reprints
Box-Toppers for the Lord of the Rings set takes a bit of a different approach than the rest. These will feature stylized versions of Modern, Legacy, and Commander staples like the cards shown above. The Great Henge is one of the best Green Commander cards in history. Ensnaring Bridge sees some Modern play, but is not running the format. Wasteland is not Modern legal, but is absolutely everywhere in the Legacy format.
We won’t discuss these dates and products in detail here, but here is most of the information dump from the Lord of the Rings First Look. Let this represent a quick reminder that this is only the beginning of what the Lord of the Rings set has to offer, and as we delve into these topics, we will be sure to explore the absolute deluge of news in further detail.
Read More: First MTG Lord of the Rings Cards Officially Revealed!