Hello! Welcome to my set review of The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth, where I will pick five cards of each colour and discuss my favourite cards from them.

Given that the set also comes out with a set of preconstructed Commander decks, I’ll also be  covering my favourite new cards from there in another article.

Without further ado, here are my favourite Black cards!

  1. Mirkwood Bats

My favourite card of the bunch for Black is Mirkwood Bats, which should come as no surprise for anybody who’s read my stuff before because I am an aristocrats player through and through. Mirkwood Bats says tokens hurt your opponents on the way in and when sacrificed – that should be alarm bells for all of us!

The format is overrun by Treasures everywhere! Two damage per Treasure with these Bats out! Clue tokens and Food tokens, same!

If you make a board of Zombie tokens, they’ll do damage when created and then again when you take them to your Altar of Dementia.

This card shakes the sand of an hourglass like an earthquake in the right deck and I am HERE! FOR! IT!

  1. Orcish Bowmasters

This card has had cEDH rumblings and been causing quite a stir. People have been calling for it to be banned and usually that’s such an eye roll moment… but maybe this time they’re right? Two mana at instant speed for two bodies plus a ping for anything is pretty sweet already, but add to it that one of the bodies grows or returns over time and you can continue to ping away at anything at the low low cost of your… opponents drawing cards anytime other than their draw step?

This card absolutely is bananas. There’s no doubt about it.

  1. Call of the Ring

Call of the Ring isn’t crazy, but it is useful. If you’ve got a repeatable way to make a creature a Ring-bearer like with Call of the Ring, you can focus on creating an engine or a combo with this ability. I’ve covered Ratadrabik of Urborg with Boromir, Warden of the Tower and being able to tack on draw for two life to dig for the final piece of the puzzle isn’t a bad rate.

Once the Ring is powered up to its fullest form, it stays there, so being able to pick a new Ring-bearer every turn to keep the Ring around, or even just to draw a card, is pretty sweet. It’s solid but doesn’t make me scream with excitement.

  1. Gollum, Scheming Guide

Such a wild and weird little guy that captures the flavour of riddles and duality without sacrificing power. Gollum, Scheming Guide is begging to be at the helm of your deck as a really, really strange Voltron commander. Load the deck up with some Equipment and signature black spells like Hatred and go ham. Having your opponent guess is such a fun mini game. The kicker is that it doesn’t even need to be the opponent you’re attacking who needs to guess, so you can have another player try their hand and flub the guess especially if you’ve got some information to share, like having just activated Haunted Crossroads.

I love that Gollum either gets through with unblockable or gets removed from combat altogether, entirely mitigating the danger of combat altogether.

Time to find some weird black cards that say “when you attack” to fully take advantage of this…

  1. Lobelia Sackville-Baggins

My last pick has been called a little underwhelming to some and to them I say okay whatever! I think she’s way stronger than she looks. The big goal for me is killing a Consuming Aberration and then turning it into Treasure with Lobelia. There are so many kill spells and incidental deaths in Magic that Lobelia is likely to basically cost less than three no matter when you cast her with the Treasures paying you back.

As someone who plays graveyard shenanigans, I hate this because anybody can have this. If I see her in play with a flicker effect somewhere, I am weary! Eldrazi Displacer and Emiel the Blessed, stay back!

Graveyard hate and ramp on a weird lil creature that comes back with Sun Titan and other white recursion restrictions, there’s a lot to like here.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Claim the Precious – Sorcery speed Murder with a Ring temptation. It’s not amazing but this set is definitely going to have its flavour fans.
  • Gollum, Patient Plotter – An aristocrat or blink way to get the Ring to tempt. A solid blocker who comes back. Sorcery speed so you can’t just pay and sacrifice multiple creatures with its ability.
  • Gollum’s Bite – A quick little Dead Weight effect that you can turn into a four mana tempt effect.
  • Gorbag of Minas Morgul – I think this guy is sneaky good! Rakdos Goblins get a ton more utility. I wish he was more colours because I would probably try this out!
  • Grima Wormtongue – Your opponents can’t gain life plus some drain and token creation can be fun, but this is a little weak.
  • Isildur’s Fateful Strike – Too weak for so many hoops. I don’t get why they think this was the move. I guess somebody has someone in their playgroup that gets greedy with Reliquary Tower.
  • Mordor Trebuchet – I love the story here. It’s so silly.
  • Morgul-Knife WoundGhen, Arcanum Weaver gets a solid little taxing Aura that your opponents will dread more than you think.
  • Nasty End – A Deadly Dispute without the Treasure that rewards you for sacking a legend.
  • Nazgul – If you can have any number of copies of cards in a deck, they’re worth hanging onto. If you open Nazgûls, start a pile and thank me later.
  • Oath of the Grey Host – This is a Saga that feels innocuous and takes too long for not much of a pay off. There are tokens at every step so many Thalisse, Reverent Medium can take advantage of it, but otherwise, eh.
  • Ringwraiths – Removal on a body that comes back to hand when tempted. At six mana, less spicy, but still tight.
  • Sauron, the Necromancer – A really cool mono black commander who deserves a fair shake despite me being averse to exiling my own creatures from my graveyard.
  • Shadow of the Enemy – Okay so I said I’m averse to exiling creatures from my graveyard, but this lets me do that so I can cast them again. That said, I’d rather reanimate what’s mine and cast what belongs to my opponents. Excellent top end for a mill deck that has tons of mana.
  • Uruk-hai Berserker – ETB Ring temptation.
  • Voracious Fell Beast – An edict effect in the air on a good body that gives you Food for each one sacrificed this way. Lots of bang for your buck, but that buck is high when you get the removal for half that in Fleshbag Marauder.
  • Witch-king, Bringer of Ruin – This only hits the opponent you’re already attacking. It’s just not amazing. I expected more.
  • Witch-king of Angmar – The templating on this is strange but it takes into account Two-Headed Giant format which allows a team to attack together. It’s No Mercy lite on a body that also gives you a Ring temptation. With the ability to pitch a card to give it indestructible and not being a bad target for reanimation, I expect to see this come up in those shells.

That does it for Black, keep an eye out for Red!

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