Five The Lord of the Rings Moments We Want on Magic Cards

Five Non-Movie The Lord of the Rings Moments We Want on Magic Cards

Kristen GregoryStandard

Tales of Middle-earth is Magic: the Gathering’s premier The Lord of the Rings expansion set. As a fresh adaptation of the books, it’s not beholden to Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy, and we’re excited to see moments and characters missing from the previous adaptation. Join us as we delve into the lore and get hyped for Tales of Middle-earth moments we hope to see that never made it to the silver screen.

Faramir Should Not Be Tempted By the Ring

Perhaps the most contentious change between the source material and the Peter Jackson movies was to Faramir’s character. 

In the books, Faramir is a stark contrast to Boromir. Where Boromir succumbs to the power of the ring, Faramir resists, and in him Sam sees the same strength of character and steadfast courage that he sees in Gandalf. What’s more, Faramir extends a welcome to Frodo, Sam and even Gollum. 

Boromir & Faramir, The Two Towers: Extended Edition (2003), New Line Cinema

In The Two Towers (2002), Faramir wrestles with the temptation of the One Ring. His treatment of Gollum is pretty brutal and he takes Frodo’s party prisoner. This is a big change, but it could be argued one that was made to strengthen the narrative. 

The power of the One Ring needed to be demonstrated on screen, and to have it slowly corrupt each character in its vicinity and then have Faramir immune would have severely hampered the storytelling and the character development of not only Frodo, but of Gollum and even of Faramir. 

It’s only in watching the Extended Editions that we see the setup with Faramir needed to fully realize his character arc; a shame, but definitely a reason why it felt like the change to his character was all the more dissonant for fans of the books. 

In the Wizards of the Coast adaptation of the source materials, we aren’t beholden to telling the story in the same way. As such, it would make no sense for Faramir to have the infamous line of text “The Ring tempts you.” Instead, his card should reflect his noble strengths and clear pathway to Stewardship of Gondor, and eventually Prince of Ithilien. 

We’d love to see a card depicting a more pleasant meeting between Frodo’s company and Faramir’s Rangers, or for Prince Imrahil’s sortie that allowed Faramir’s defense forces of Osgiliath to retreat. 

Battles in Rhovanion

Another huge change that Jackson made in his movies was to have the elves of Lothlórien present at the Battle of the Hornburg (The Battle of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers movie). 

Again, if we look at this from a narrative perspective, it’s clear that the decision was made in part to honor the idea of the disparate races of Middle-earth coming together in the fight against Sauron’s tyranny. It’s a callback to the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, shown in the prologue of The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), where the two forces came together to fight Sauron in the Second Age.

The Galadhrim at Helm’s Deep, The Two Towers (2002) New Line Cinema

By mirroring that historical alliance, Jackson’s intention was to provide an avenue of hope for Middle-earth, show the Elves roused from (apparent) passivity, and further echo the bonds between the Three Hunters (Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli). 

What some might not know is that in early drafts, it was Arwen who led the Elves to Helm’s Deep. I’m going to assume this was partly to give her a greater role in the movies, and to make an attempt at diversifying it with more strong female characters (a product of the time they were filmed. Jackson’s movies have aged poorly with how little diversity they have). 

Map of Rhovanion, Lord of the Rings Online

 These changes were made to adapt the books into a film. But in the books, the Elves that remained in Lothlórien — and their cousins in Mirkwood — had plenty to be getting on with. Assaults from Dol Guldur (Sauron’s base of operations in southern Mirkwood) sought to weaken the people of Rhovanion so he could march northward and bypass Gondor entirely in his conquest of Middle-earth. 

Gandalf’s machinations during the events of The Hobbit were in part to strengthen that region. In removing Smaug and reinstalling Dwarves at Erebor, Sauron’s assault could never overwhelm the combined defenses of the Elves, Dwarves and Men of Dale. 

We’d love to see some signs that the War of the Ring took place throughout Middle-earth, not just at the locus point in Gondor. Getting cards for Haldir, Celeborn, Thranduil and the Beornings in their defense of Rhovanion would be sweet. 

The Grey Company

Thus Came Aragorn by Ted Nasmith

The absence of the Grey Company in the movies was pretty sad given how badass they were in the books. The party comprised some thirty Dúnedain of the North, descendants of the Númenóreans, led by Aragorn’s OG ride-or-die, Halbarad. 

Halbarad was one of the Rangers who helped guard the Shire prior to the War of the Ring, rode out with his kinsmen to join with Aragorn and deliver a banner made by Arwen, and even accompanied Aragorn when he revealed himself to Sauron in one of the palantíri. 

After taking the Paths of the Dead with the Three Hunters and defeating the Corsair forces of Umbar, the Grey Company helped lead the forces of the Fiefdoms that Aragorn rallied on his southern path to Minas Tirith. Sadly, Halbarad fell at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, where he bore Aragorn’s standard. 

Elladan and Elrohir from Games Workshop’s Middle-earth Strategy Battle Game

That’s not all, though. The Grey Company also rode with the twin sons of Elrond in their ranks: Elladan and Elrohir. Elladan and Elrohir fought tirelessly with the Rangers of the North in the time before and during the War of the Ring, and accompanied Aragorn to the Battle of the Black Gate.

It would be very cool to see these staunch defenders of the Free Peoples on Magic cards. There’s a lot of opportunity for badass depictions, Sagas, or Enchantments, and personally I’d love to see Elladan & Elrohir as partner Commanders. Maybe in the Set Booster exclusive slot, if they do some?


I’m a bit of a simp for the heroic Elves of Tolkien’s mythology, and on that note, I’d recommend you read the posthumous stand alone books The Childen of Húrin (2007) and The Fall of Gondolin (2018), edited by Christopher Tolkien, if you want some more novel-like content that expands on the mythos of The Silmarillion and the exploits of Elves and Men before the time of The Lord of the Rings

Glorfindel, by Magali Villeneuve for The Lord of the Rings LCG by Fantasy Flight Games

One elf who stands out has always been Glorfindel. In early drafts, there were two separate Glorfindels. One of Gondolin and one that resided in Rivendell during the events of The Lord of the Rings. 

Later on, Tolkien decided they were the same elf, and that Glorfindel had been allowed by the Valar to dwell in Valinor, granting him corporeal form once more for his valorous deeds. Eventually, he was sent back to Middle-earth as an emissary of the Valar.

By all accounts, Glorfindel is pretty OP. Among his great deeds, he slew a chief Balrog of Mortgoth’s forces in the First Age, though he fell doing so (a poetic callback later made in Gandalf’s fight with Durin’s Bane). When he returned to Middle-earth later, his power was more or less on par with the Maiar (angelic-level beings that include Saruman and Gandalf, Sauron and Balrogs). His involvement in the Battle of Fornost was decisive in pushing back the Witch-king of Angmar.

Though he was a shoe-in for the Fellowship — being the one who sought out Frodo and rescued him to Rivendell in the books — it was decided against. His power would be of no use in their quest of secrecy. There’s also the fact it would be against the themes of the story to have someone of Glorfindel’s power along with them. 

Seeing Glorfindel on a card would be sublime, especially if he’s a powerful Legendary Creature with some indications of his innate power. Seeing the rest of Elrond’s house (like Glorfindel, and Erestor) would help with the overall worldbuilding, and help Tales of Middle-earth stand apart from the cultural colossus that is Jackson’s Trilogy. 

Come, Sing Me a Song

One aspect of The Lord of the Rings I didn’t appreciate as a kid was the poems. I picked up the books after seeing The Fellowship of the Ring at the cinema, and I’m not gonna lie — at 10 years old, those books are dense, even for someone with a reading age of at least a few years above that. 

At that age, I couldn’t appreciate the lengths Tolkien went to craft his world, or the beauty in some of his prose. I also got halfway through the first poem and resolved to skip the rest of them to get to the good bits.

On later re-reads, I came to appreciate some of them, and in doing so, realized how they contribute to Tolkien’s goal of creating a fictional history (as opposed to historical fiction): oral traditions, of stories, song and poetry are pivotal cultural artifacts of the peoples that carry them forward. 

At the Falls by Ted Nasmith

I’d love to see some of Tolkien’s poems on cards. Whether that’s as grand a gesture as having them lend their title and themes to an Enchantment — Saga, or invoking the name of Elbereth on a white combat trick or removal spell; or, merely in flavor text as a way to enhance worldbuilding. Favorites of mine include A Drinking Song, Lament for Boromir, Lament for the Rohirrim and the stellar Fall of Gil-galad.

The Road Goes Ever On and On 

I’m going to struggle to not use that subheading to close every article this season, but yes, we draw now to the end of this piece. What you now have to decide is whether to let me know which deep cuts you’d love to see in the set over on Twitter. And if you want to keep up with all of our Tales of Middle-earth coverage, you can always sign up for Card Kingdom’s email newsletter!