The Lord of the Rings tales of middle earth riders of rohan precon upgrade guide

The Lord of the Rings Tales of Middle-earth Riders of Rohan Precon Upgrade Guide

Jacob LacknerCommander

Humans matter decks are one of the most popular themes among Commander players. I have good news if you’re a fan, because not only are we going over the new, powerful Human matters Commanders (and accompanying cards) in the Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle Earth’s Riders of Rohan precon, but we’ll also be showing you how to upgrade it. 

Riders of Rohan: Reviewing the New Cards

Let’s start with the Commander. Éowyn, Shieldmaiden loves it when Humans enter the battlefield. If at least one has, she cranks out two 2/2 Human tokens at the beginning of combat. Then, if you have six or more Humans in play you also draw a card. 

This is great, because she is really good at making sure you reach that threshold. After all, Éowyn’s ability triggering just a single time will usually mean you have at least four Humans in play. When that’s the case, getting to six isn’t a very big hurdle.

This all means that Éowyn is particularly good in a deck that wants to go wide with Humans. She works particularly well alongside Human tokens and mass pump effects.

As usual, the precon also features another legendary creature who can serve as your Commander. 

Aragorn, King of Gondor makes you the monarch when he enters the battlefield, which plays off the deck’s sub-theme. This mechanic has proven to be very strong over the years, as it results in you drawing extra cards. His ability to shut down blockers can also allow you to get in for absolutely massive amounts of damage, potentially against multiple players. 

While I think Aragorn is great and he should certainly stay in this deck, I prefer to leave Éowyn as the Commander, as she is better at taking advantage of the deck’s Human synergies.

Speaking of human synergies, let’s take a look at the new cards and explore exactly why you’ll be happy to play them. 

Beregond of the Guard buffs your entire board any time a Human enters the battlefield. This pairs particularly well with Éowyn, who will often be making two Human creature tokens. If you can ever keep the two of them in play together, it will be near impossible for your opponent to win.

Éomer, King of Rohan loves it when you have a bunch of Humans in play, as he can be absolutely massive — and this is extra important because he also does damage equal to his power to any target when he enters the battlefield. 

This makes Éomer a great removal spell, and he can also finish off an opponent with that ability on occasion. He also happens to be one of the only cards in the deck that deals with both of the deck’s themes, because he also makes a player into the monarch when he enters the battlefield.

Oath of Eorl is a powerful saga that ends up giving you 6/6 worth of stats spread across four human tokens. Then, chapter III makes one of your Humans indestructible while also making you the monarch. Éowyn will often be the most attractive target for that counter, as making her more difficult to deal with is a real problem for your opponent.

Boromir, Gondor’s Hope makes sure you keep your hand stocked with Humans, which means you can keep on triggering your Human payoffs, including Éowyn.

Lossarnach Captain taps down a creature every time a Human enters the battlefield, and it also cranks out a 1/1 Human during your upkeep. Combined with Éowyn, he can be incredibly absurd, as you’ll end up tapping down several creatures every single turn and wreak havoc with your army of humans.

Riders of Rohan brings two 2/2 Human tokens along for the ride every time it enters the battlefield, and because it has Dash, you can choose for that to be the case every single turn. This is, of course, another ability that works incredibly well with Éowyn, since she wants Humans entering the battlefield every single turn — and she loves it when there are six or more of them.

Now let’s take a look at the cards in the deck that involve The Monarch 

Champions of Minas Tirith makes you the monarch and forces your opponent to pay a tax in order to attack you. While this seems a little bit off-theme for a deck that is this aggressive, these Ghostly Prison-like effects do tend to play really well in Commander, as your opponents are often forced to choose between developing their board or attacking you.

Crown of Gondor will often offer a massive stats boost in a deck that is this good at going wide, and it becomes very cheap to Equip if you’re the monarch.

Denethor, Stone Seer can give himself up to Bolt something while also making any player the monarch. Obviously, you’re usually going to want to choose yourself, but this does allow for some fun political shenanigans in some situations.

Faramir, Steward of Gondor cranks out two 1/1 Human Soldier tokens every turn, provided you’re the monarch. Unfortunately, he does wait until the end of your turn to do this, so he won’t be able to trigger Éowyn’s ability all on his own. Still, any card that helps you go wide with Humans is amazing in this deck.

Fealty to the Realm offers a powerful, new, Monarch-based Mind Control effect. While you won’t always control the creature (since it is unlikely that you’re always going to be the Monarch), the fact that the creature can’t attack you makes this a lot less of a problem.

Forth Eorlingas! generates a ton of hasty Human tokens and also makes you the monarch when you do combat damage to your opponent that turn. In the later stages of the game, it will be able to generate enough bodies to be a major concern for your opponent.

Finally, the deck features several new cards that are not related to either the Human or Monarch themes of the deck.

Call for Aid offers a mini-Insurrection effect that is really interesting. Five mana to gain control of so many creatures is an incredible deal, and while you can’t use those creatures to go after their former controller, you can certainly make use of them to take out another player.

Gilraen, Dunedain Protector is a fairly unique take on a flicker effect. You can choose to exile the creature and return it immediately, or you can wait until your end step to get it back. If you wait, the creature comes back with both a vigilance and lifelink counter. 

This is a really neat design and will make for an interesting choice any time you use this ability. It also happens to work well with Éowyn because blinking a Human is enough for her to give you two tokens when you go to combat.

Gimli of the Glittering Caves is a good card, but he feels very out of place here. While the deck has its share of legendary creatures, meaning Gimli will get quite large, the fact that he isn’t a human and doesn’t do anything with the monarch mechanic makes him stick out quite a bit. If you’re looking to upgrade this deck, I think Gimli is probably going to end up on the chopping block.

Grey Host Reinforcements has a similar problem. It can enter the battlefield as an absolutely massive flier that also hates on graveyard decks, but as it is neither a human nor a card that interacts with the monarch in any way, I think this is another card that you end up cutting to make the deck more synergistic.

Taunt from the Rampart is a mass goad effect that also shuts down blocking. Casting this and forcing all of your opponents to go after one another while you’re fairly safe is going to be a great feeling. There’s a pretty good chance that by the time it is your turn again, one of your opponents will have fallen and the others will be wide open, since you forced them to attack..

Riders of Rohan Budget Upgrades

Now let’s look at some of the Human payoffs you’re going to want to get your hands on. 

Champion of the Parish loves it when humans enter the battlefield and doesn’t care whether or not they are tokens, so you can bet it will get absolutely massive in this deck! 

Meanwhile, Thalia’s Lieutenant is a must-have in any human deck. One of the best things about it is that it is great whether you play it before or after you have a bunch of Humans in play. It can buff the heck out of a really wide board, but it also makes all of your future Humans good, too.

Vigilante Justice needs for a deck to be making a lot of human tokens to really thrive, and I certainly think this deck gets there. Pinging any target every time a human enters the battlefield can allow you to build a massive advantage by either damaging your opponents or picking off their creatures.

After that, Horn of Gondor is a great fit for the deck. It’s a bit of a bummer this card wasn’t included in the deck alongside some of the other Human payoffs from the main set, but acquiring one isn’t very pricey. In this deck it is capable of spitting out an endless supply of tokens, making your board go wider and wider.

Sanctuary Lockdown buffs all of your humans, but it also allows you to take further advantage of all the bodies you have in play to tap down opposing creatures. Riders of Gavony can grant protection from a specific creature type to all of your humans, and Angel of Glory’s Rise can swoop in and rebuild your human army!

There are also some nice budget cards that generate tokens and pay you off for having tokens.

Outlaws’ Merriment adds a new Human token every turn, Cemetery Protector lets you hate on the graveyard while generating creature tokens and Neyali gives your tokens double strike while also ensuring you’ll be able to keep up your momentum with all the extra cards she gives you.

To make room for this power up, cut the following cards:

You can find the upgraded decklist here.

Riders for Rohan Non-Budget Upgrades

If you’re looking to upgrade the deck and you aren’t concerned about the price tag, there are some other cards you’re going to want to consider. 

One of these is Rick, Steadfast Leader. He offers two keywords and +2/+2 to all of your Humans, provided you have four or more Humans in play. That’s not a big ask for this deck, so Rick is often going to come down and drastically improve your board. Side note: ten years ago I never would have imagined that you would have a deck where Éowyn and Rick Grimes are fighting side by side!

Mondrak, Glory Dominus is one of the best cards around for multiplying tokens, making the deck’s token-based attack even more potent. Otherwise, Purphoros, God of the Forge allows you to even more rapidly damage your opponents as you continue to generate humans on the battlefield. Not only does he do two damage for every creature that enters, he can also buff your entire board.

End Step

That does it for me this time. If you want some more Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle Earth Commander content, my fellow writers have it covered with more deck upgrade guides!