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 Blue cards!
I really love this card. It costs two mana and replaces itself to give you a surprise Vedalken Orrery. I see some folks talking about this with Isochron Scepter but at that point, might as well go with Leyline of Anticipation or Vedalken Orrery.
That said, there’s a reason not all cards can be played at instant speed! Being able to staple two mana to any spell to turn it into a cantrip and have it come down in a surprise is wild. Need to wipe the board to null an attack? Two extra mana please. Want to play your big scary enchantment on the end step before your turn, after your opponents have tapped out so you can guarantee they won’t counter or remove it? Two extra mana please!
This card is definitely a more competitive card than what I normally go for, but I’d say instant speeding your commander and cantripping as a baseline seems pretty sick.
I feel conflicted about blue getting what is essentially an Alliance ability on this creature, but I really like him, so I’ll give it a pass. Talk about wishing Choose a Background or Partner was on a card! Elrond, Lord of Rivendell is a solid scry enabler for your Eligeth, Crossroads Augur decks or Elminster decks, but ultimately the space for scry matters is still being carved out.
Smoothing out your draws is very useful in this format and I appreciate incidental scrying. But that tempting of the Ring is great with creatures in blue – evasive guys who will get through and start hitting each opponent for 3 life when they connect and getting a loot. There are also fun cards that are printed in this set that care about when you select your Ring-bearer.
As far as potential monoblue commanders in the set go, it’s going to be very difficult to beat The Watcher in the Water. A 9/9 for five is a lot of value. Sure it can’t untap until it untaps nine times first, but it sits and generates value for drawing cards on your opponents’ turns – a thing blue loves doing already.
The Tentacle tokens become amazing rattlesnake blockers that can come out of nowhere. Not to mention if you’ve got Intruder Alarm, you’ll speed run your way to having the Watcher untapped. With the Tentacles dying, you get to stun nonland permanents and get through for big damage. This is a hell of a control piece. Really, really wild.
In the 99 of decks, I can see Phenax, God of Deception players getting really happy about this or any decks that love Burning Anger, Fiendlash, and some pingers. In the end, we’re going to see this in the command zone most often.
Spark Double is busted already but copy Ioreth and have a legendary permanent with a good tap ability and it’s infinite whatever that is. Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx? Infinite mana. Alaundo the Seer decks get to dump their decks. Arcanis the Omnipotent and Chromatic Orrery say draw your library. Drafna, Founder of Lat-Nam can copy an artifact spell you cast infinite times, finally making Meteorite useful. Those are just a few of the 414 cards I found in Scryfall that are legendary with tap abilities.
Add to Ioreth’s fun the fact that the Ring tempting you means you can turn a creature you control into a Ring-bearer and therefore into a legendary creature. Let’s see what we can make work with this nonsense.
Four mana to draw four cards, discard two cards, and then get two mana back while shuffling cards you never wanted to dump back into your library makes this a pretty solid Saga. It’s a little slow, but Proliferate is a mechanic we’ve seen return with lots of support. Reanimator decks don’t mind tossing a creature into the graveyard and decks that don’t have any means to Regrowth will be satisfied with the deck shuffle. Enchantment decks might want this to fuel Replenish effects or maybe this is just a good card for Tom Bombadil. I really like it.
- Bill Ferny, Bree Swindler – Having to become blocked to get any value out of Bill Ferny is tough, so you’re going to want to make him worth blocking with either a good changeling to give to your opponents or making him irresistible.
- Birthday Escape – One mana to essentially cycle and have the Ring tempt you is very niche but worth mentioning.
- Council’s Deliberation – Two mana draw at instant speed isn’t crazy, but mill this in a self mill deck then scry turn it into a draw. I see this in 60-card formats self-mill strats, but it’s interesting design space.
- Elvish Mariner – Scrying to tap things down? Elrond, Lord of Rivendell, get in here!
- Gandalf, Friend of the Shire – Wizards of Thay without the discount and cares about temptations from the Ring. The worst Gandalf, but a Gandalf nonetheless.
- Glorious Gale – An Essence Scatter that tempts if it’s countering a legendary creature.
- Goldberry, River-Daughter – I have no idea how to build her or how to use her but her abilities are strange. Maybe untap her with Ioreth?
- Lost Isle Calling – People will see take an extra turn on this card and decide it must be busted, but I really don’t see this card being incredible anywhere but in dedicated scrying decks that can muster a ton of mana.
- Meneldor, Swift Savior – Monoblue blink gets a muted Brago and it’s just fine!
- Press the Enemy – Reinterpret wants to have a word! This can bounce a spell OR permanent then lets you have a free spell off of it. Imagine bouncing a suspended Greater Gargadon and getting an Expropriate off of it for four mana?
- Rangers of Ithilien – Dungeon Geists with a Ring temptation. Five colour Humans get a new toy.
- Saruman the White – I was so disappointed when I saw this the first time and I remain disappointed.
- Scroll of Isildur – Solid value for a three mana Saga. Lots of value here and you can turn almost anything into an artifact with Liquimetal Torque.
- Soothing of Sméagol – Boomerang with a tempt.
- Stern Scolding – Counter a Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer!
- Storm of Saruman – This will make sequencing interesting for some players. It’s not limited to a spell type which I really like. Keep your eye on this one.
That does it for Blue, come on back for Black!