The One Ring Revealed And More! - LOTR MTG SpoilersSpoilers
Genoslugcs · March 16, 2023 · 7 min
We've had the LOTR set on the horizon for a while now and at long last, we have some official spoilers to look at. Amongst these spoilers, we have some very familiar faces like Frodo, Gollum, Samwise, Gandalf, Tom Bombadill, The One Ring, and Mount Doom. If you're a fan of the LOTR books you'll like these spoilers! Let's take a look.
Gandalf, The Grey
Let's start off with the man himself - Gandalf. He's a five-mana 3/4 Wizard in Izzet colors. Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery you'll get to choose one of four options that you haven't already chosen. They are:
- You may tap or untap target permanent
- Gandalf the Grey deals 3 damage to each opponent
- Copy target instant or sorcery spell you control. You may choose new targets for the copy
- Put Gandalf on top of its owner’s library
Some are more interesting than others but they're all pretty good. Let's break them down some. Dealing three damage to each opponent is nothing to scoff at. If you're playing a multiplayer format like commander, it's nice to damage all your opponents. Perhaps the most versatile of the abilities is copying your instants and sorcery spells. Considering the ability itself triggers when you cast either one, there is some nice synergy here.
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Tapping and/or untapping things might not be flashy but there are a plethora of ways to make use of effects like this. You can simply tap down would-be blockers or untap a key creature after attacks. In formats like commander, you can use it to untap mana producers like Sol Ring and even lands likeGaea's Cradle, or Cabal Coffers.
The final ability is interesting - Gandalf puts himself on top of the library. Considering you have to choose an option that hasn't been chosen yet, this is a way to essentially reset Gandalf. If you hold up instants you could also use this to dodge removal spells.
The One Ring
The One Ring is one of the concepts players were most curious to see come into the MTG world. I'm happy to report that WOTC didn't disappoint. We have a four-mana Legendary artifact that is indestructible. I really love that they made it naturally indestructible here. Moving on, when it enters the battlefield you gain protection from everything until the end of your next turn.
This sorta encompasses the invisibility that the ring grants those who wear it. Protection from everything isn't perfect but it's the best way I can think of to bring this into a playable concept and is very on flavor. From a gameplay perspective, this is very good as well. Once you cast this, you've got at least one turn where you and whatever board you have will be untouched.
The third text block says that at the beginning of your upkeep, you lose 1 for each burden counter on The One Ring - More on Burden counters here in just a second. This portion of the card is pretty amazing. To me, this represents the madness that slowly takes hold of those who use the ring. The more you use it, the more it costs you. 10/10 on this from me.
Now we come to the tap ability and here's where the burden counters come into play. When you tap The One Ring, you put a burden counter on it and then draw a card for each burden counter on it. Pretty insane. The first time you tap this you'll draw one card, then two, then three. And that's assuming you don't find a way to up the number of burden counters or tap/untap it.
Frodo, Sauron's Bane
Now we come to the Frodo card. As an avid Orzhov (Back, White) player, I couldn't be happier with it. At face value, it's a one mana 1/2 Halfling Citizen. For two mana (in combination of B or W) he upgrades to a Halfling Scout with power and toughness of 2/3 and gains lifelink. Once you've achieved this level, you can pay an additional three mana (all black) and make him into a Hafling Rouge that eliminates a player when they are dealt damage by him if "The Ring has tempted you four or more times", if not the ring temps you instead.
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So, there are quite a few hoops to jump through to get Frodo into to his "wincon" stage. It would take a total of six mana and you'll have to have had the ring temp you at least four times. If you're relying on Frodo alone to get you there, you're looking at having to pump nine more mana into the ability, which isn't great.
As of now, there is two other card spolied that can contribute to the ring tempting you and we'll cover it next. Simply put, I think how good this is is going to depend on how many ways there are to have the ring temp you - If there are ways to reliably get up to three or four in a timely fashion, this may be cool. If not, Frodo will likely be too slow for any sort of competitive play.
Gollum, Patient Plotter
Here's the other card that mentions having the ring temp you and it's fitting that it's Gollum. Whenever Gollum leaves the battlefield, the ring tempts you. I like the fact that it doesn't say die. So, this means it works with flicker effects like Ephemerate, which is cool. That said, it also works with sacrifice effects or if it dies in combat.
Then, you can pay a single black mana and sacrifice a creature to return it from the graveyard to your hand. This makes him a sac outlet as well as something you'd value from scarifing. Given that he's a 3/1 recurring and attacking with him several times a game could represent a steady stream of damage.
Samwise the Stouthearted
Samwise is interesting to me. Having a 2/1 with flash is nice for surprising people in combat. Then there's the enter the battlefield ability - It allows you to choose a permanent card that was put into your graveyard this turn and return it to your hand. I like effects like this personally. It works well for returning fetch lands to your hand and can put you up on mana. If you want to get really spicy, you could flash samwise in as your sagas leave the battlefield and get another round of activations.
There's also the last bit of text - The ring tempts you. This means it'll likely see play alongside Frodo, which is cool from a flavor perspective. You can also use this as a way to buy back Gollum, mentioned above and rack up on ring tempts.
Commander players are getting a brand-new five-color Legend; And he's a God who loves sagas. So much so, that if you have four or more lore counters on sagas you control, he gains indestructible and hexproof, which makes him very hard to get rid of. Which is a problem for opponents, because his next ability is quite good.
Whenever a saga you control reaches the final chapter, Tom will reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a saga and put it directly into play. So, each saga replaces itself with another one. If you could chain your sagas together in such a way, you could powerout free spells each and every turn. You also have the possibility of trading way up.
For example, if you cast a Kumano Faces Kakkazan // Etching of Kumano and have Tom in play when it ends you could land a The Horus Heresy, The Kami War // O-Kagachi Made Manifest, or The World Spell for free.
Rakdos gets the honor of having Mount Doom. It is, of course, a Legendary Land. It taps for both Rakdos colors (black, red) at the cost of one life. So far you basically have a Legendary version of Sulfurous Springs. However, moving along, you can pay three mana and have Mount Doom deal one damage to each opponent. Then, for seven mana, you can tap and sacrifice it and a Legendary artifact (meant to pay homage to The One Ring being destroyed here) to choose two creatures and then destroy the rest.
Overall, I like the effects here. They're quite flavorful and what amounts to a somewhat onesided boardwipe has to be taken seriously, especially when it's on a land. However, I think they're overcosted. Three mana (four considering you have to tap Mount Doom as well) to deal between one and three damage isn't great and eight mana for the boardwipe also feels high.
That said, both do come as upside on a land that you could slot into anything with Red/Black and as long as it's only a single copy, you're not out much and you always have those options available to you.
You Cannot Pass!
I don't know why WOTC changed this iconic line from "You Shall Not Pass" to this but they did. And as a LOTRs fan, it's pretty irksome. Aside from that, it's not great outside of perhaps Limited. After all, this set is going straight to Modern. And with things like Path to Exile and Prismatic Ending in the format I can't see too many decks making room for this in their 75, but you never know. Maybe someone would slot it into a Jodah, the Unifier build in EDH though... Almost everything has a home somewhere in MTG.
This is by far one of the most interesting cards of the set so far. It's essentially a white version of Remand but even better. It has the same ability to send a card from the stack back to someone's hand and replaces itself with another card. This is a great tempo play and often leaves opponents feeling like they wasted their entire turn.
Where Reprieve one-ups Remand is that it doesn't use the word "counter." This means it gets around cards that can't be countered. Some examples include: Mistcutter Hydra, Rending Volley, Dovin's Veto, or anything cast with Cavern of Souls. Overall, this is an improvement on an already good card and that's not something you see all the time. I for one am going to be playing this in Modern and Commander and I'm sure I won't be the only one.