Hello and welcome to A Seat at the Table, the column where I pick a commander and talk about what I’d include in the 99. This week, I’m taking a look at the Riders of Rohan preconstructed Commander deck from The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set. A Human typal deck with a lot of overlap with the Ikoria Jirina Kudro deck.
Let’s take a look at five cards to put in and five cards to take out in this new A Seat at the Table sub-series. If you like this, please let me know and I’ll do the other precons, too!
Let’s begin with the decklists. All the precons can be found here: https://magic.wizards.com/en/news/announcements/the-lord-of-the-rings-tales-of-middle-earth-commander-decklists
I don’t want to bloat the article too much, but I will say there are some dope reprints in this one: Combat Celebrant, Path to Exile, Swords to Plowshares, Supreme Verdict, Talisman of Progress, Thought Vessel, Herald’s Horn, Door of Destinies, Vanquisher’s Banner, Shared Animosity, Clifftop Retreat, and Glacial Fortress! Look at these reprints!
For this precon, there are two eligible commanders. Which one will we build around? Let’s take a look at them.
The face commander is Eowyn, Shieldmaiden, a legendary 5/4 Human Knight for 2URW and a whole lot of value!
At the beginning of combat on your turn, if another Human entered the battlefield under your control this turn, create two 2/2 red Human Knight creature tokens with trample and haste. Then if you control six or more Humans, draw a card.”
A token swarm with card draw in the command zone and she’s a beater to boot. Who else we got?
Aragorn, King of Gondor is a 4/4 legendary Human Nobel for 1URW with a textbox that says aggro is back on the table!
When Aragorn, King of Gondor enters the battlefield, you become the monarch.
Whenever Aragorn attacks, up to one target creature can’t block this turn. If you’re the monarch, creatures can’t block this turn.”
Unbelievable. No blocking! Monarch! Vigilance and lifelink!
(Here’s what happens when the Ring tempts you: https://scryfall.com/card/tltr/H13/the-ring-the-ring-tempts-you)
This deck is going to be a Jeskai Human typal deck with a monarch subtheme. Let’s make some cuts. There are only 12 monarch cards and I think I’d prefer to lean into the Human theme with Aragorn as a finisher.
Time to pick five cards to put in and five to remove. When it comes to precon deck upgrades, there are quite a few cards you can remove without worrying. I’ll cut five and give brief reasons and then talk about what to add.
- Gimli of the Glittering Caves
I’m starting controversial. Gimli is not a Human, doesn’t forward your game plan, you don’t have enough legends to justify keeping him in here. Does he make two Treasures when he hits an opponent? Yes. That’s amazing, but it doesn’t synergize with the deck and he won’t shine as well in this deck as in other decks, I promise. If Aragorn were the commander, maybe better!
You’re a creature deck, so board wipes aren’t really what you want but if you have to have one, you should pick one that hits flying creatures too. Especially since your deck isn’t filled with them either.
- Sunset Revelry
In this deck, this is likely only going to be a card draw, but that’s basically like cycling this card. I’d rather a more consistent draw source.
- Banishing Light
This effect is available on human creatures or just better like Brutal Cathar or Grasp of Fate.
- Dearly Departed
You need this in your graveyard and you don’t have discard effects like crazy in this deck and then you need to cast your Human creatures for an extra +1/+1. If you really want this, play an anthem. Flowering of the White Tree just came out and is one of the most pushed anthem effects ever printed.
Warning – There are a lot more cards I want to include in this deck and would love to recommend more than just five so here you go!
- Flawless Maneuver
You’ve got a creature deck and you’re going to need to protect them from a board wipe. This is the best protection besides a Counterspell. Pick it up if you can. Fingers crossed it’s reprinted in Commander Masters. You can run Selfless Spirit too if you’ve got Sun Titan or anything to bring it back.
- Kessig Malcontents
A finisher on a Human body. Do you like Eomer, King of Rohan? Here’s something similar for less mana, basically. You have Gilraen, Dunedain Protector in the deck and I have more recommendations for you to keep snapping the Malcontents into your opponents’ faces.
- Haste enablers
You want to attack and do it right away. Crashing Drawbridge is super flavourful and comes down early. Rising of the Day is a Fervor with a little extra zest. Urabrask the Hidden makes sure your opponents are delayed on their blockers.
Even with as man legends as you’ve got, a healthy amount of them have ETB abilities. Molten Echoes lets you double dip and make tokens, giving you more bodies for Eowyn to draw you a card. Mirage Phalanx is another sleeper I enjoy just like Mirror-Style Master. If you’ve got Cathars’ Crusade, your board is doubled up every combat. Copy your ETB effects with Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines or the more affordable artifact Panharmonicon. Don’t forget Strionic Resonator for your non-ETB triggered abilities too.
- Kindred Discovery / Mana Echoes
Kindred Discovery naming Humans is a good way to make sure your hand is stacked, but be careful not to deck yourself out! You draw for ETB and attack! Greed is good! On that same tip, Mana Echoes is a little pricey, but worth the inclusion. Play a Raise the Alarm and get four colourless mana and two creatures? That’s just counting the creatures you made and only on your board! You can count your opponents’ creatures too when yours enter and we already know that Humans are by far the most common creature type.
Nahiri’s Resolve and Brago, King Eternal are cards I would slap into this deck if you’re going heavier into ETB effects, but Brago blinks your artifacts and mana effects for the same turn. Nahiri’s Resolve keeps your creatures safe from sorcery speed board wipes your opponents might have. All in all, these cards rip and deserve your attention.
That does it for this edition of A Seat at the Table. Let me know what you think @mikecarrozza!