Building with the One Ring in Modern

Building with The One Ring in Modern

Mason ClarkModern

It’s release week for The Lord of the Rings, and somehow we haven’t talked about The One Ring in the context of Modern since we first saw it previewed months ago. In some ways though, it’s like saving the best for last. 

While a card like stern scolding is more likely to see tons of play, I think The One Ring is the most impactful for specific decks. Let’s take a minute to talk about the strength of this card before we dive into the deck lists.

The One Ring’s Protection 

There’s a lot going on with The One Ring, and it can already take time to think about how the card actually plays to realize its strength. For starters, it is essentially a four mana Time Walk if you build your deck in a way that maximizes the protection from everything clause. 

One notable weakness about this clause, however, is that it doesn’t protect your planeswalkers. That is a problem, but does that make the ring a nonstarter alongside cards like Wrenn and Six?

Well, given any deck built around The One Ring will have a lot of extra turns to play out, it’ll be important to hit your land drops. And when it comes to filling that role in Modern, nothing comes as close as Wrenn and Six. 

You’ll be casting five, six mana spells no problem even if The One Ring leaves them out to dry. This surge in card advantage from this artifact also means we can aggressively trade early so that Wrenn and Six is not under a ton of pressure. 

Other planeswalkers, like Teferi, Time Raveler, work equally well alongside The One Ring. For starters, opponents won’t be able to counter this pivotal card when you cast it, which is key against decks like Murktide and Creativity.

Teferi also bounces the ring, which not only lets you reset the burden counters but also give you another turn of protection. We’ll go over this more, but just know that having a way to reset the ring is pivotal for success. 

Finally, when it comes to planeswalkers, we have Karn, the Great Creator. Karn is a great reason to run extra copies of the ring, since some can go in your deck while others go in your sideboard. 

This can be important for finding the first copy or legend ruling your first ring that has too many burden counters on it. At the same time, a funny upside of Karn is he’s great in the mirror if The One Ring manages to take off.

The One Ring’s Card Draw

Moving on, all of that only touched on The One Ring’s protection clause. But with that out of the way we can dig into what really puts this card over the top: the card draw. 

The important thing to remember about The One Ring is you always get the card before paying the cost. That will come up later, but let’s first explore how many cards you can draw before you start taking a ton of damage.

The first turn you play The One Ring, you get one card for zero life. On the second turn, you get two cards for one life. At that point, you have drawn three cards for one life and four mana — plus no one could kill you for a whole turn.

That is great value, but on turn three we double it by getting three cards for two life. Again, we’re at six cards for three life and four mana. That’s a really great exchange.

With that math laid out, it’s probably clear that The One Ring gets out of hand very quickly. And it is important to note that losing life is a real drawback here. After all, beyond this point, your life to card ratio starts to balance out and become a bit less worth it.

Resisting The One Ring

Given that fact, it’s important to have a way to reset The One Ring or win the game with your major influx of new cards. This is why I reference Teferi and his ability to bounce artifacts earlier. If you do the play pattern we talked about (draw three, lose one), then you can cast Teferi, reset the ring and start going again. 

This process requires you have blue and white mana, but that’s not a huge ask in Modern. But there is actually a more simple way to deal with this problematic artifact once the burden of using it becomes too great: use the legend rule to your advantage. If after drawing three cards with the ring you cast a second copy, you have subverted the compounding life loss while still more cards. 

There are a few more cards that help mitigate The One Ring, but it’s all about finding the best option for your deck. Cards like Otawara, Soaring City or Felidar Guardian can reset your counters and protection, or Sheoldred, The Apocalypse can gain life through the damage. 

Whatever method you choose, it’s easier than it seems to carry the ring safely. And once you see the decks that are built around The One Ring, you’ll be even more tempted to try your hand with one.

Turns Ring

This might be my favorite of all of the decks today simply because of how cool it is to finally see a Turns deck have a real shot in Modern. 

The taking turns deck has often played Howling Mine type cards to help enable the need for card draw and consistent land drops. The ring here archives all those goals while effectively time walking your opponent. 

This deck also has a built in win condition of Wrenn and Six plus Time Warp. As a result, winning is actually a fairly trivial thing to do once you get to the taking turns part of the game. 

A question I have gotten a lot is why not use Nexus of Fate? While that card is strong, I found I wanted to have a cheaper Time Walk, and the birds off Alrund’s Epiphany actually come in handy as a backup way to win. It’s really easy to go from the ring into Time Warp into Epiphany. 

This deck is also full of ways to get to the mid game, and The One Ring is great when your deck is full of one for ones. Due to that fact, we have permission in the form of counterspells and spot removal.

Cat Combo Ring 

The cat combo has been a fringe Modern deck for a while. This deck looks to assemble Saheeli and Felidar Guardian to create infinite cats and win the game. 

The ring works well in this deck for a few reasons. It offers the benefits we have already talked  about with multiple ways to reset the burden counters (Teferi, Felidar Guardian and Otowara, but you can also -2 with Saheeli to make a copy of the ring and legend rule it).

The big thing about this deck is it’s often trying to buy that one more turn to get its combo going and has a ton of interaction — much like the deck above.

A quick aside, though. This deck also is trying Delighted Halfling as a mana dork. Playing a turn two Saheeli and then copying the mana dork and playing turn three cat for the win is hard to pass up, let alone the potential for a turn two Teferi, Time Raveler. 

This list has a lot going on right now, but I think it’s fertile ground for exploration.

Coffers ring 

This archetype has been on the fringes of Modern for years. Players have found success with the deck’s ability to whittle the opponent down and eventually find a way to take over. 

This was a prime spot to try The One Ring since Karn, the Great Creator is already a staple of the deck. We also added Sheoldred to help mitigate The One Ring while also being a win condition in her own right. 

That said, there are two underrated things about The One Ring in this deck. The first is taking a turn where you can’t get hit to just make land drops in your Cabal Coffers deck is much stronger than most. A single land drop can be two to three mana depending on your set up. 

The other big benefit comes alongside March of Wretched Sorrow. This spell lets you pitch cards to do two more damage and gain two more life. This is a great way to mitigate the burden of The One Ring. 

It’s worth noting this card also can be overpaid. That means you can turn dead cards in hand into extra life. Honestly, it’s very easy to just spend four or five mana in the mid game and pitch a discard spell or two to essentially convert them into more cards later with the ring. 

This archetype has often been memed in the past, but I think this new addition of The One Ring might be the card advantage card this deck was looking for! 

End step

That is all for today when it comes to The One Ring, but I could easily do three or four more articles like this on The One Ring. So, stay vigilant. Cards like Pithing Needle and Haywire Mite are good places to start if you are seeing a lot of this card in the meta.