Hi guys it’s Marcio again and today I’ll talk about my first impressions of the new set: The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth.
Later on, I’ll give you some insight into what I think it’s good to do in this format if you have any tournaments ahead of you or just to play at your local store.
The Ring Tempts You
We will start taking a look at the new ability “The Ring Tempts You”.
I thought this was gonna be a bonus ability that you wouldn’t chase much and be happy when you get some but wow…I was completely wrong about it.
I think the good to very good decks and what breaks them much is your ability to get fast and consistent to tempting the second level of the ring where you actually make your creature a 《Merfolk Looter》 for the rest of the game. You also can maneuver in a way that sometimes you manage to make your creature unblockable depending on the board state.
The player that is doing that, has a huge advantage on the game, as he keeps filtering through their deck and you keep your card flowing much better, playing more spells than your opponent. Who would know playing more spells than your opponents can make you win Limited games right?
If you can get all the way to level 4 of the ring, you just turned your creature into a must-kill threat otherwise it will get the game over in no time. But keep in mind, what really makes the ability shine is level 2 as I commented before.
Another bonus that some people tend to forget is that your Ring Bearer becomes a legend. That is very relevant as there are a lot of cards in the set that cares about legendary creatures, such as 《Nasty End》, legendary instants, 《Errand-Rider of Gondor》, and others.
Now that we broke the most important ability let’s go through some colors and see what’s good in Lord of the Ring Limited:
We start with the King of the format: Black!
Black’s strength is uncontested, with a lot of depth on the commons and uncommons, making it by far the best color in the format. The problem is that the cat is out of the oven: Everybody is aware of its strength. So be aware if you are drafting it because it might be hard to support too many players in a draft pod.
Here are some highlights of the color:
A 《Murder》 at sorcery speed is already a fine card but making you tempt the ring pushes this card to one of the best commons of the format if not the best!
Do you remember 《Eldrazi Skyspawner》 or the 《Preening Champion》 from March of the Machines? Well, they were all stars there, and this card is the best creature you can get at common: A 2B for a 1/1 flyer that makes a 2/2 body or pumps an already Amass creature is exactly what you want on your black deck.
Well…at the pre-release, I started calling this 《Grief》 of course is an overstatement but wow this card delivered and more. I had it as a very good card but now I’ve put it even above because this card is just bonkers: 3B for 2 power that takes your opponent’s best card plus gives you perfect information is just premium so, don’t sleep on this one!
Another card that tempts the ring. At first sight, I had him as a whatever 3/2 now knowing that my decks succeed or break if I can consistently tempt the ring or not. The card keeps growing on me.
Perfect 2 drop that gives you a fine body to trade and leave an army token behind.
A sleeper in my opinion. At the beginning of the format, I was not a fan of a 1 mana trick. But it’s perfect to ambush ring bearers or trade up your small creatures against your opponent’s best ones.
All land cyclers are very good but this one I’m particularly fond of: An almost unblockable creature that comes in the color that has another common (《Sam’s Desperate Rescue》) that can get it back after you already cycled it: Sign me up.
And talking about 《Sam’s Desperate Rescue》…This is a card that I wasn’t playing much until I understood how high I should be prioritizing getting tempted by the ring.
《Lash of the Balrog》 is another card that in another set maybe would be just a serviceable removal spell. But there are so many creatures that you don’t mind sacrificing on black that is a must-include in all decks.
As you can see I could go on and on with black commons and I’ve already mentioned a lot of cards that I don’t mind having in my decks. That’s how high I’m valuing it on this set, and I believe it will pair well with any of the other colors.
Let’s dive into Red now, a color that goes perfectly with black and might be the best color combination in this format. Red has 2 very good combos: Red White Humans and Red Black Amass so, let’s break it down!
This card seemed like sorcery 《Raise the Alarm》, fine but nothing special. But it’s a powerhouse in the R/W humans deck and probably your most wanted common.
Giving haste to all humans make some nasty one-shots in this format with 《Erkenbrand, Lord of Westfold》 or with 《Théoden, King of Rohan》, making the card good in both early or late game. By far the best red common for this archetype.
Here we have an example of another card that without the words tempt by the ring would only be mediocre, but as it has, it’s one of the best 4 drops in red. Remember that all my card evaluations will go toward things that make you tempt the ring consistently.
Just a premium removal the clause of removing the creature is very important and making a creature lose indestructible can be one of your only shots against a very lucky opponent that opened a 《Witch-king of Angmar》!
A card that is mostly under the radar but has impressed me is this 5 drop that leaves Amass 2 behind, making all your creatures with 4 power or more do the same.
The land cycler of this color is also a very good creature, paired with black it just stomps the competition literally.
This card has been finishing a lot of games for me. 4 damage to the face is a lot and you have a lot of random things you can sacrifice especially in black as we said before.
Tiny 1 drop carries the ring better than anything you could imagine and it got the plus side when it dies tempts the ring for you making it very desirable.
This one gets the honorable mention because it fits in the 2nd most successful archetype for me which is Blue Red spells, the most important 2 drop in that deck is obviously this one.
This set has a lot of cards that reference older ones, and this one I called 《Fable of the Mirror-Breaker》. I’m obviously joking, not being near the powerhouse of that card but just a very solid 3 drop that ramps you by giving you a treasure and a fine body.
With this one, we’ve finished the red color. I think it’s also very good in the format and goes well in 3 of the best-performing archetypes Black Red, Red White Humans, and Blue Red Spells.
Moving to white we see less card quality but still some good interactions when you pair it correctly with some of the other colors.
This one goes from good to very good (when it becomes a 《Rogue Refiner》), either way, is by far the best white card from my experience.
This is a card I thought would be good and has been very disappointing. First of all, making the creature a spirit makes it worse to put on a amass creature as the player will just start a new army with the next amass spells. Second, there are a lot of sacrifice spells as we talked about, making the extra body very desirable.
Not as great as the other 2 land cyclers but still very serviceable: a 3/3 fly that gives +1/+0 and first strike can make some headaches to your opponents in combat, making it impossible to trade profitably.
Another passable removal is that you play 1 to 2 at most, becoming very clunky after the first copy. But it does have some very good upside on exiling, especially against some of the format’s best cards.
This two drop is my creature of choice for that point of the curve, I only do not have it higher for not being a human. Still, being tempted by the ring when he dies makes it up for it.
As you can see the commons and card quality got worse as we have less commons to talk about. White is almost never your main color but it’s a good support color.
Blue is a tricky color and I think is one of the worst ones, being mainly a support color too. It pairs well with green on the Scry deck and black…but let’s be honest: Everything goes well with black.
One of the best commons in Dominaria (《Cloudreader Sphinx》) was just a massive disappointment in this set. Playable but not really close to the power level it was in Dominaria unfortunately.
The best blue common for me escaped my initial eye because I thought tempting the ring wasn’t too important. Only costs one mana, cycling through your deck, and plays great in multiples.
Another card that is good in the blue-red spells or just a blue-black deck: a decent body in 1/3 that makes mana to your spells a fine card plus you get a mill 3 ability I’ve never milled anyone but who knows!
Again a super fine one-mana trick in the Blue Red Aggro spells deck. This format can be really fast sometimes and this one just gives a lot of the lost tempo back.
I prefer this one to 《Soothing of Sméagol》, even with soothing tempting the ring. Not bouncing an Amass army is a huge problem for the latter.
Another land cycler that plays very well when you are on parity or ahead making this a brutal 《Concentrate》.
A card that could have been awesome but 1 toughness in this format is hard, so I’m not as high on it as I would be in other formats.
All the other blue cards are underwhelming but have their spots. I will give you a list of cards that impressed me more than I initially expected 《Dreadful as the Storm》 and 《Hithlain Knots》. Both cards have good spots for them but aren’t premium or high picks.
Last but not least we go green!!
People say it is the worse color, I’m still trying to understand it correctly. The only archetypes that have been successful for me with this color are Green White Foods or Green Black.
If you know me you all know I love big beefy creatures, and a 3G 4-4 is already fine stats. Adding its ability to become a bigger creature in a legendary format and sign me in! The good thing about green is the creatures are big and large and normally in all other colors the creatures are kinda tiny.
Another beefy creature with land cycling, reach and even making food, makes it the perfect stabilizer.
Again we continue the theme of big guys 4G for a 4-5 trample may not be impressive, but…It got me tempted.
The best 2 drop in green is a mana dork that helps you ramp to a beefy 4-5-6 drops and helps you get through the last points of damage with the second ability, making it premium in any green deck.
Do you know what’s good with big creatures? A fight that gives you a +1/+1 counter and a temporary boost. One of the only removals in green the other being an uncommon.
Last but not least, a 2G 4-2 that tempts the ring when it dies, and believe me he will die! On the contrary of its counterparts in white and red, this one can’t be ignored for long.
That’s it about green, you mostly want to curve out with bigger creatures and not letting time for your opponent to block profitably.
So my fellow companions, this is the end of our journey in the lore of Lord of the Rings and brutally honestly I’m having a blast with this set!!
I am an “aficionado” of the movies too so hope you guys are enjoying it too!
Good luck to you all and may the One Ring be with you!!
Marcio Carvalho (Twitter)