The Lord of the Rings Updated Decks for Modern

The Lord of the Rings Tales of Middle-earth Updated Decks for Modern

Mason ClarkModern

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth is just one week away, which means it’s time to get to brewing decks for Modern! As an incredibly wide format, this set offers many powerful options to build around and opportunities to improve existing archetypes. 

Mono White Legends 

White Aggro has been a staple of lower power formats for years. Looking at Standard and Pioneer, you often find decks like this doing fairly well. They’re low to the ground and fast. 

Modern has been historically incredibly hostile to this type of deck. The format is incredibly fast and brutally efficient. Decks like Storm, Splinter Twin and Amulet Titan have all made it incredibly hard for decks like this to succeed. Meanwhile, newer additions to the format like Solitude, Fury, Unholy Heat and Omnath are punishing for creature decks. 

These answers demand brutal efficiency from your cards. However, one need only look at Merfolk to find a low to the ground archetype that has done well lately. Merfolk has shown that getting on the board early and playing creatures with decent stats alongside minor disruption is a good enough plan in Modern. 

Today’s Legends deck is looking to do a similar thing thanks to Flowering of the White Tree. This list is filled with legendary creatures to get on the board early and capitalize off this new anthem. 

I started with Mono White just to make things simple, but a blue/white build might also be very impactful. Typically with new decks, I want to start with cleaner mana, and for this deck I wanted the Zendikar spell lands to up my white card count and my mana sources. 

This deck looks to mimic some of the strengths of Merfolk by getting on the board early and having ways to convert access cards in the hand into free spells. Force of Virtue, Shining Shoal and Solitude will undo some of the inherent flaws of running multiple legendaries by letting you pitch the extra ones. 

This deck does make some weird concessions to the Flowering of the White Tree, however. It has a large number of legendaries to really try maximizing those fast early starts. So while Kytheon and Isamaru don’t have effects on the game, they do get on board early and start applying pressure. 

We can also run some great, early disruption in the form of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Thalia Heretic Cathar and Esper Sentinel. While the latter might not be a legendary creature, it does make curving out with spells harder on our opponent and directly benefits from the small buff that Flowering gives non-legendary creatures. 

Both Thalias also do a great job of keeping the opponent on the back foot. Spells are cheap in Modern, and players often look to double spell. As a result, Thalia, Heretic Cathar is at worst a thorn in players’ sides — but given the right hand she can render entire decks non-functional for the early turns. 

Meanwhile big Thalia is incredibly back breaking for most Modern decks when it comes to playing on curve, as most decks don’t have more than two or three basics. So if you’re curving out early into her, your opponent will definitely not be playing on curve. That is exactly what we want in a deck like this, because a little time can go a long way. 

This deck is out there when it comes to what we know works for established Modern lists, but it might be just the pivot the format has been looking for. I am excited to see where players end up with this archetype. 

Samwise Food

We have seen this deck at various points in Modern. Popular streamer Aspiring Spike was promoting this as an answer to Four Color last summer. Since then, the deck has had some devoted players but no astounding developments since then. Players who like this deck have just been puttering along until now! 

Sam adds more explosiveness to the deck, letting it get off the ground sooner. He also adds a lot of consistency for Asmo, as one food is now two. This means cards like Witch’s Oven and Underworld Cookbook are going to generate enough food on their own to allow Asmo to start shooting down opposing creatures with just a single activation. 

That is huge for this deck. Asmo is a real threat, but it takes a fair amount of time to set up the engine, which opponents can often abuse. You now have an easier time pulling it off.

Otherwise, Sam’s last ability should not go underappreciated in the late game. Getting to rebuy some of your key cards like Asmo, Cookbook and more opens up a lot of possibilities. Just think about a line using Cookbook to buy back Sam, then using the excess food to rebuy the Cookbook. 

This deck is winning via redundancy and attrition, combined with very big constructs. Sam helps with all of that. So, while adding him creates a small stretch in the mana, I think it’s a worthwhile one. 

With these changes, you should be able to out attrition anyone given time, meaning you will see this deck excel in the fair matchups in Modern while suffering against Combo. Luckily for food players, Combo is at an all time low outside of Creativity which is actually fairly weak to the Asmo plan.

Izzet Scam

This deck popped up during the past week before the Lord of the rings cards started being previewed. This deck is looking to mimic the Rakdos scam set up of playing a Midrange game and have the ability to scam out an early evoke creature using Slip out the Back and Essence Flux instead of the Undying effects that Rakdos uses to take over. 

This has a few big implications for the way the deck plays out. For starters, since you have Subtlety instead of Grief, you’re not mulliganing as aggressively to find the turn one scam play. You’re just not as good at taking over early since Subtlety is a more reactive than proactive card. 

That said, this deck is still quite impressive, and many people have been piloting it to solid finishes. However, while playing the deck a fair bit myself, I saw how the deck really wanted some more early interaction. Unfortunately, since the list is not very good at enabling delirium, it was hard to fit in the format staple Unholy Heat. 

The Lord of the Rings fixes that with my pick for the best card in the set: Stern Scolding. This card is the blue fatal push. I wrote about it last week, and we talked about everything this can hit. Despite that, I don’t think I spent enough time highlighting how you will almost always trade up on mana with this card and at worse be trading even. 

That mana differential can be back breaking as the game progresses. We have seen this with Spell Pierce, where players go and spend three or four mana on a card for you to only spend one and instantly swing the game. Stern Scolding is that but for creatures, the most popular card type.

This deck can play the fair game incredibly well while also being able to cheese the opponent out. Every Izzet deck is going to consider Stern Scolding, but this deck loves it more than anyone else. 

End step

These are just three ways to go about building with Tales of Middle-earth cards, but I could spend the next month going over different decks this set supports and creates. If you’re a brewer in Modern, this is your time to get out there and explore!