Lord of the Rings Early Impressions

Mason ClarkModern

It’s finally here! Our first look at the new Universes Beyond Lord of the Rings set! Players have been waiting with bated breath; Is this the new Modern Horizons 3? Will it have any good cards? How will this straight-to-Modern set change things? Well today we are going to take a look on the wild side and see what are some things we can do with these new tools shown so far. 


This card is the one that has gotten the most hype so far for actual Modern play, in decks we already understand. This card is functionally a white Remand, though in practice it plays a little differently. 


The first thing you need to note is that it doesn’t say “counter target spell.” This is actually a huge upgrade in some spots, as cards like Supreme Verdict can now be answered by this card. Which means white decks will now have an out to the best wrath in the Modern format. 

The other is a bit more obvious but still important: this card costs white mana to cast. This means now while holding up cards like Solitude, Leyline Binding, and more, you could be holding up a soft permission spell. This is a dramatic difference for players who have decades of experience of short cutting to only worrying about counters when an island is up. While eventually players will learn, in the short term it will add a whole new wrinkle to playing against these white-based decks in Modern. 

You might be wondering what deck even wants this card? Well I have three suggestions that are not just a straight up combo deck. 

The first is Mono White Hammer Time. Some might call this a combo deck, but I would say it’s an aggressive deck with combo elements. I could see the mono-white build playing this card as it’s very effective versus both cascade decks and combo decks. We see Hammer playing some Spell Pierces in the blue builds, while some white builds do play Mana Tithe right now. 

It’s worth noting that two mana to hold up Reprieve is a huge difference, but you’re also making sure they have to recast the spell, which will often cost more than the 1-2 mana that these other permission spells ask of you. This probably means this card is a one-of in that deck, potentially two if the meta really becomes a lot of cascade and combo decks like Belcher, Creativity, etc. 

The next is a similar deck. The Mono White Humans deck that recently did well in challenges. This deck has some really spicy tech in Shining Shoal, which helps solve cards like Fury, currently a card that destroys this deck. Now I know we haven’t covered this deck on the website, but just trust me, this is a blossoming tier 2 deck that could be even higher! Ultimately this is very similar to Hammer in application of Reprieve. 

The last spot is the Emeria, the Sky Ruin control decks. These are solid tier 3 decks in Modern, however they do have some good matchups and having access to an on-color Remand variant could change the dynamic of some matchups. I am no Emeria connoisseur and I won’t act as one, but this is a spot where the difference in mana color sticks out the most. Despite the fact that many of those decks lightly splash blue, the consistency of Reprieve is a huge buff. 

The One Ring

Probably the most iconic part of Lord of the Rings is here in Magic, and it’s a very unique card.  

The One Ring

If you don’t know, this is the ring in the title The Lord of the Rings. This card asks a very unique and interesting question: What can we do with scaling card draw that punishes us for using it repeatedly? 

The first and most obvious place is in Karn wish boards, where you’re able to just have this as a thing to wish for in matchups where your opponent is light on pressure. Decks like blue-white control and four-color jump out, but sometimes you just need more cards. 

One idea players have had is creating a fog control deck, one that can abuse the card draw mode on the One Ring with untapping cards like Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset and Kiroa, Behemoth Beckoner. That way you can activate it multiple times in a turn. Combine that with some threats and you have yourself an interesting deck. You really just need a way to mitigate the life loss, but ultimately we are talking about a really experimental deck. 

The “One of One” Ring

The One Ring is a card that screams “break me,” but players are going to have to experiment with cards that can abuse the drawback of the Ring. It’s going to be exciting to see just how powerful the One Ring is when it meets the rest of the multiverse 

Samwise the Stouthearted

Samwise the Stouthearted

So this last card has a small wrinkle. We don’t know what the ring tempting you does. This causes a lot of what-ifs and potential problems. I am going to assume that it won’t directly clash with Samwise here, as Wizards has shown they don’t make cards that “just don’t work” any more in modern design. That’s a 1990’s design philosophy. So with that “what if” hurdle cleared, I am going to say that if the Ring tempting you is a purely bad thing then having any Samwises could be a problem but for the most part I am suggesting playing one Samwise. 

It’s worth noting that if the ring tempting you is really powerful, that Samwise can buy back other copies of Samwise, meaning you can easily do it over and over again. But we just don’t know yet. Regardless, Samwise is a card I could see Hammer playing in its sideboard as a way to fight through artifact hate and in grindy matchups you can use him to return an Urza’s Saga. A lot will depend on what the ring tempting you does but ultimately this card seems like it could easily have a place in this deck. 

End Step

Lord of the Rings is our first Universes Beyond set coming to Modern. So it will be exciting to see the power level of the other cards, but so far I am excited by our quest to Mordor and not dooming Modern.