There’s a new Tales of Middle-earth product coming out this holiday season: the Lord of the Rings Scene Box. Four variants release Nov. 3: Aragorn, Galadriel, Gandalf and the Witch-King.
Each box contains six brand-new LOC cards — legal in the Commander format — along with six art cards, a display easel and three set boosters of Tales of Middle-earth.
There are also five new LTR cards being included in a Lord of the Rings Jumpstart product, which are also entering Modern.
Whether you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, a seasoned Commander player or both, you’ll no doubt be interested in what’s on offer. Without further ado, let’s get into the nitty gritty and see what’s in each scene box.
Are they hot new tech or filler?
SCENE BOX: ARAGORN
If you weren’t keen on building four color or Selesnya Aragorn, then you’re in luck, because Aragorn, Hornburg Hero meets you halfway. Aragorn is a bit of a machine and can cause your deck to snowball in power quite quickly.
Tracking renown can be a little fiddly, but it’ll be worth it when you start to double all of your counters. Otherwise? Slots nicely into Shalai and Hallar, it has to be said.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the main-set Andúril. This one, though? It kinda slaps.
Equip 3 is a little steep, but the effect is well worth the mana. Achieving the City’s Blessing has never been easier, and dropping two counters on your team for attacking is quite the deal.
I’ve been noodling around with a Tadeas, Juniper Ascendant deck for a while now, and Legolas’s Quick Reflexes pinged my radar. Granting hexproof with split second is powerful, but getting other utility on top?
This makes for quite the staple. I like it a lot in a Lathril, Blade of Elves deck, but really any Commander
with a tap ability in green should be considering this.
Gimli’s Reckless Might asks a lot for granting haste, but it makes up for it by granting you a bonus Formidable trigger to initiate fights when you attack. Gimli will have no pointy-eared elf outscoring him, but I’ll leave it to you to decide who fared better here.
It’s been a while since we got a new way to prevent damage in red, and stapling it to a triple damage effect is certainly something. Is this better than Fiery Emancipation?
Perhaps, but it’ll depend heavily on how much mana your deck can generate and how reliant it is on curving out. The flashback is nice, though, and ensures it has a home in burn decks that fill the yard (like Neheb, the Eternal and Nekusar).
Most of the time, Rohirrim Chargers will not affect exert on anything but itself. So, just looking at this as a four mana 4/4 that can take a turn off to dig for an Equipment? That’s not bad.
It gets better having relevant creature types and if you can also reliably grant Vigilance. Either way, the art is incredible and one of my favorite pieces in the collection.
SCENE BOX: GALADRIEL
Galadriel, Light of Valinor is going to be quite the popular Commander. Getting free value for creatures entering — and that includes through token production, flicker, or any other means, not just casting — is a recipe for success.
Even if you’re not trying to do anything cute with her, she unlocks a variety of cool builds. I’m mostly hype to see a Bant flicker contender that isn’t Roon, I’ll be honest.
Arboreal Alliance is one of those forgettable enchantments that looks pretty mid but will actually put in a lot of work. Sure you have to be squarely in Elves for it to work, but that justifies the potential two mana to have repeatable populate on the field.
It’ll most often be cast for two to six mana, but the ability to make a huge blocker if you need to is handy.
Rally the Galadhrim is another four mana clone-your-stuff spell. They all offer something a little extra, and Conspire is going to be worth it most of the time if your deck goes wide enough. The format skews Legendary, though, so Irenicus’s Vile Duplication may be better – and See Double is something I’m taking first either way.
Potentially my favorite card from the lot of these new ones, Galadriel’s Dismissal kinda does it all. Sure, it protects your creature, or your whole board if kicked, but think outside the box a little.
It also removes a Voltron or combo creature across the table for a rotation, and it can remove an entire board of blockers, granting you a free attack. Did I mention how much Sunforger decks are getting hooked up?
Mists of Lorien is a cool bounce spell. It’s selective, which is always nice, and it’s hard for opponents to properly interact with owing to Replicate needing a Whirlwind Denial to stop.
Heroic Intervention doesn’t even work, really, because they can target someone else’s permanent if they suspect it – or even their own.
Elf decks are always getting new toys, and Galadhrim Brigade is just another one to consider. Or is it?
I’d say it should be pretty high on your list. Squad is powerful, especially on a lord. Just keep in mind you only get the tokens on enter-the-battlefield, so it’s prime Mana Drain fodder.
Scene Box: Gandalf
Gandalf of the Secret Fire is the second interesting Universes Beyond Jeskai suspend Commander we’re getting this year, which isn’t unusual, but it’s weird that it happened twice.
Gandalf essentially lets you reuse your instants and sorceries by putting them into suspend. On the surface, he’s not busted-broken, but with the right tools, you’ll be ampping up the speed at which you get to recast those spells.
Tap and goad seems to be an elegant shorthand for “and they can’t block etc.” Giving the opponent the choice is never good, but I could see this accruing value as it comes back from Suspend in a Gandalf deck.
Let’s face it: Fateful Hour isn’t really a Commander mechanic. Most of the time this’ll be an unblockable cantrip for three in white, which isn’t terrible (and no doubt quite good in decks like Feather).
The Fateful Hour bonus is mostly flavor text, as the Venn Diagram of games where you’re not just dead but at 5 life and also have Courageous Resolve in your hand is slim indeed.
Now this is a card I can get behind! Olórin’s Searing Light is a Boros edict that exiles. This hits all manner of game-winning threats straight through hexproof. And if you have Spell Mastery (not too difficult to pull off), you get to dome them for the creature’s power too.
An “Aikido” card, sure, but also generally strong and a boon for Sunforger decks.
Sorcerous Squall is ostensibly a mill card, especially if you’re self-milling. If you can’t Delve to help pay for it, it’s probably worse than Spelltwine most of the time. It’ll excel in a few decks, but otherwise I’d rather have Mnemonic Deluge.
Rammas Echor, Ancient Shield feels surgically pointed at defender decks, from Treefolk to Arcades. It’s also just a solid roleplayer in a spellslinger deck; Azorius control decks in particular will leverage the card draw and blocking capabilities on this one. Will likely overperform.
SCENE BOX: WITCH-KING
Up last is the Witch-king, Sky Scourge Scene. It’s expensive at seven, and Wraith is a pretty thin creature type to build a deck around right now. That said, you’re always at minimum seeing five cards with the Witch-king himself.
Lord of the Nazgúl is the better Commander to be sure, but you can probably build a cool Rakdos deck with this anyway.
I have been a big fan of Volcanic Torrent for a while now, and it’s great to see that space explored further with Call Forth the Tempest. Rather than working off of storm count, it counts up the total mana value of other spells you’ve cast this turn.
At eight mana, it’ll be tricky to cast more than one or two outside of the two you get from double Cascade, but I imagine most of the time this will raze your opponents’ armies to the ground.
Nazgul Battle-Mace is expensive but strong. Initially it’s easy to dismiss Annihilator 1 as weak, but it’s the rule about sacrificing that makes this equipment so strong.
Some of the time people are going to pay that 3 life, but when it comes to fetch lands, Sakura-tribe Elder and other utility creatures? Maybe they won’t, and anything you get is pure value. It also stops graveyard decks from looping or playing Living Death, which can be a lose-condition for Voltron builds.
Mordor on the March is, dare I say it, the kind of fun spell that red seems to have a monopoly on. In isolation, it’s a one-shot way to make a tempo swing that doesn’t burn through your entire yard. It’ll see most play, though, in builds looking to capitalize on that Storm keyword.
Genuinely interested to see what shenanigans are afoot here.
Fell Beast of Mordor is a nice bit of reach for B/x token builds. Orzhov tokens in particular is usually focused on death-by-one-thousand-cuts (if it isn’t looping Gary), but Fell Beast quickens the clock considerably, doming an opponent for a chunk on entry and sticking around to keep going. I like this kind of design.
Minas Morgul, Dark Fortress was once the tower of Minas Ithil, but no longer. A tapped black source is kinda eh, and Wraith typing is narrow, BUT…
Granting a creature shadow is very strong. Minas Morgul is a flexible card. It can essentially grant a permanent Trailblazer’s Boots for five mana, but it can also target your opponent’s creatures, making it a perfect political tool.
BONUS LOTR JUMPSTART CARDS
Finally, before we sign off, there are some cutting-room floor cards that have made it into Jumpstart.
Eagle of Deliverance isn’t just white card draw; it’s using that most hard to interact with tech, indestructible counters. At six mana, you’re usually getting a hand refill with this in token decks, but leveraging that counter is where the brain starts to tick.
Is this a beautiful curve-topper for Agrus Kos, Eternal Soldier? Hell yeah it is.
Human decks that go beyond Boros or Selesyna are usually in blue (if not all colors), and don’t tend to struggle for card draw. That said, a four mana repeatable hand refill is decent, and it’s a Human Soldier which fits nicely into the Azorius Soldiers decks emerging after Brothers’ War.
Warg Rider is largely uninteresting until you hit that repeatable Amass trigger, at which point everyone sits up in their seat.
Riders of the Mark is a powerful swing, and it reminds me of Thopter Assembly, sort of. It asks more of you, but the ceiling is of course higher. It’s a pretty good token producer – if it survives combat.
Mirkwood Channeler is a nice repeatable buff for Elf decks, especially those that like to go tall and sacrifice themselves to Greater Good. Golgari Elves didn’t really need any more help — and Lathril is more reliably buffed in other ways — but it’s nice that it exists, especially if you play Ashaya, Soul of the Wild and/or Yedora, Grave Gardener.
More Tales of Middle-earth cards, eh? Well, I can’t say I’m complaining. There are a bunch of sweet pickups for my decks here, and some intriguing new choices to build a deck around.
My top three are Galadriel’s Dismissal, Legolas’s Quick Reflexes and Call Forth the Tempest. What about you?
Kristen is Card Kingdom’s Head Writer, and member of the Commander Advisory Group. Formerly a competitive Pokémon TCG grinder, she has been playing Magic since Shadows Over Innistrad, which in her opinion, was a great set to start with. When she’s not taking names with Equipment and Aggro strategies in Commander, she loves to play any form of Limited.