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 Hosts of Mordor preconstructed Commander deck from The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set. It’s helmed by the big bad villain of the story, Sauron, Lord of the Rings.
Let’s take a look at five cards to put in and five cards to take out of the deck 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 so I won’t copy it here but I will say here are some dope reprints in this one: Treasure Nabber, Anger, Scourge of the Throne, Consider, Reanimate, Living Death, Blasphemous Act, Dragonskull Summit, Drowned Catacomb, and Underground River.
For this precon, we have two potential commanders: Sauron, Lord of the Rings and Saruman, the White Hand. Let’s see what they do and determine which is going to be our commander for this quick precon upgrade.
Sauron is a Legendary Avatar Horror 9/9 for a whopping 5UBR with a truly nutty textbox:
“When you cast this spell, amass Orcs 5, mill five cards, then return a creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield.
Whenever a commander an opponent controls dies, the Ring tempts you.”
Saruman, the White Hand costs much less at 1UBR for a Legendary Avatar Wizard 2/5 with:
“Whenever you cast a noncreature spell, amass Orcs X, where X is that spell’s mana value. (Put X +1/+1 counters on an Army you control. It’s also an Orc. If you don’t control an Army, create a 0/0 black Orc Army creature token first.)
Goblins and Orcs you control have ward 2.”
With the deck favouring noncreature spells in both quantity and construction (like Lord of the Nazgul, Fiery Inscription, Goblin Dark-Dwellers, and Guttersnipe), I think Saruman, the White Hand might be better to include, unless we chop a bunch of noncreature spells for creature spells. I think to make that better, we’d need to take ten cards out and put ten in, which I’m not going to be doing today.
This deck is pulled in two different directions and that makes it really difficult to overhaul in one little article. There are reanimation spells and Sauron reanimates on cast, there are big creatures that get themselves into your graveyard, but there are also a bunch of noncreature spell focused stuff that I think is more interesting.
Let’s 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.
- Siege-Gang Commander
There isn’t a strong enough Goblin theme to justify keeping this in here. Sure Saruman gives them ward 2, but it’s just not enough for Siege-Gang to stick around in this list.
- Goblin Cratermaker
Another seed for the Goblin part of the deck for some reason. It’s decent mana rock removal and can Shock a creature for cheap, but it’s not enough for a deck that wants noncreature spells.
- Troll of Khazad-Dum
While this can fetch any Swamp from your graveyard, including a Xander’s Lounge when you upgrade the land base, it’s just a land tutor for one that you might reanimate later and get a beater that’s removed a little too easily. This is a limited card, I’m afraid. Not really impressed with it in Commander.
There are other ways to goad and ramp that aren’t an Aura that you can’t recur. The only synergy here is that it helps you amass Orcs 3 when Saruman is I player.
- Voracious Fell Beast
Merciless Executioner is enough and if you really want another one, get Plaguecrafter, Demon’s Disciple, or Fleshbag Marauder instead of Fell Beast.
- Past in Flames / Mizzix’s Mastery
You’re playing a lot of instants and sorceries in this deck, and so why not get a double dip. Past in Flames allows you to replay a few spells from your graveyard and if you’ve got Dark Ritual and Seething Song type of cards, they’ll get you a beefy Orc Army and then some. Mizzix’s Mastery lets you cast all of the instants and sorceries from your graveyard if you overload it. I think getting to double dip is important in this deck. Run these with Mesmeric Orb and self-mill cards to let you cruise through your deck.
- Kess, Dissident Mage
So important in fact that Kess, Dissident Mage is a solid include in this deck. A flying 3/4 that lets you cast an instant or sorcery from your graveyard on each of your turns – there’s a reason this was one of the breakout star commanders from Commander 2017 precon decks.
- Mana Geyser / Jeska’s Will
I mentioned rituals when talking about Past in Flames. I think they’re important to run in a deck like this. Mana Geyser and Jeska’s Will are top notch rituals that supercharge a turn. Dockside Extortionist is the only one I can think of besides these two that I think could rival the ceiling on these.
- Bothersome Quasit
Who needs Shiny Impetus when Bothersome Quasit cares about noncreature spells and helps push through an attack? Quasit goads whenever you case a noncreature and goaded creatures can’t block. Turn your Disrupt Decorum into an unblockable swing and decimate some life totals with a cute little guy.
- Treasure Cruise / Dig Through Time
These are high mana value cards that you never cast for their mana cost, really. Get an 8/8 for drawing three cards. Get a 8/8 for choosing the best two from the top seven. Continue with this trend and Saruman will keep making bigger and bigger Army tokens. Vial Smasher the Fierce would be proud.
That does it for this edition of A Seat at the Table. Let me know what you think @mikecarrozza!