Welcome to my set review of The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth Commander!  

Given that the set also comes out with a set of preconstructed Commander decks, we get a whole bunch of new cards to talk about. This set is very heavy on the legendary theme and adds a ton of new legends eligible to be a commander. I’ve already covered those. Now it’s time to get into to the non-legendary-creature cards introduced in the Commander set. There’s a lot of them but because they’re made specifically for the format I cover, I’m going through all of them! There are 80 non-reprint cards in the precons so I appreciate your continued reading!

Here are my favourites!

  1. Cavern-Hoard Dragon

The consensus online is this is the “Dockside Extortionist at home” of the set. Make no mistake, this is definitely not Dockside Extortionist, but it is still pretty freaking sweet. It won’t always come down for two mana unless there’s an artifact deck at the table, but when it does it can do an impression of Dockside come combat step.

That’s right, it’s not an enters the battlefield ability. It’s a combat damage to a player ability that gives you Treasures for each of their artifacts effectively saying that most of the time, you’ll play this, get your mana back and smack a player for six in the process. Do you like double strike? I hope you like money because you’re about to make it rain if you give the dragon two swings.  Use all your mana for extra combat spells! The effectiveness of this relies entirely on a single player having many artifacts and getting through to them. It’s not like Dockside at all, but it is very cool and pretty strong.

  1. Field-Tested Frying Pan

This is pretty solid! It’s a life gain payoff that can lead to more life gain if you’ve got a lifelinker for it. Give that sucker double strike and you’ll quickly put yourself out of reach! Even in an aristocrats deck filled with drain effects you can make this work well. I love it with Extort especially. Karlov of the Ghost Council decks get a bit of a turbo boost with the right set up.

I’m surprised at how much I like this card. Evra, Halcyon Witness is another case of Voltron with this, but really this is flexible given how much white has in terms of instant life gain and mass life gain. You can pump before combat, forcing some blocks. You can do it after sneaking past. All while gaining life which in itself is already a good thing!

  1. Prize Pig

There’s something about Prize Pig that feels like it can be broken and that’s exciting. The obvious synergy seeded in the preconstructed deck it’s in is that Sam, Loyal Attendant makes food cost one mana to use, so when you sacrifice a Food token, you can untap the Pig and sacrifice another, and so on and so forth.

However, cards like Balefire Liege exist and cards that let you gain “that much life plus one” stack with one another to turn your single life gain into three life. It’s a bit of a puzzle at the moment but Prize Pig feels like an accelerator with sneaky upside in the right deck and that’s super fun.

  1. Champions of Minas Tirith

Monarch is one of the most fun mechanics in multiplayer Magic. Getting more and more Monarch cards is a good thing. Having one as strong as this was bound to happen. Champions of Minas Tirith turns your opponents’ hand size into a drawback if they want to come take the crown from you, making them choose between spells or attacking you. Then, if their hands are full, they just can’t attack you or their shields are down if they manage to pay and that’s when you get to play your shenanigans worry-free!

All this for six mana, yes. But five of that mana is colourless and can be reduced! Let’s say… Heliod, the Warped Eclipse? The commander that wants your opponents to have a ton of cards and can play at instant speed? I am so into this!

  1. Raise the Palisade

This is going to be short and sweet. I picked it because it’s strong. It’s no Cyclonic Rift and won’t be great in creature type decks around popular types like Humans since lots of creatures incidentally are Human, but in a deck that wants to get through for a ton of damage or get rid of problematic creatures, five mana is a great rate for a creature type mass bounce. I assume Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver will be looking at this serious along with all the Kraken, Leviathan, and Octopus decks out there.

Lightning Round

  • Grey Host Reinforcements – Ward is nice on a graveyard hate piece you might blink. Spirit decks are probably what’ll want this, but otherwise it’s just okay.
  • Lossarnach Captain – Introducing my pick for what goes into every single Human and Soldier deck from now on. This is a ludicrous ability to have on a creature that hangs out while you make a ton of little tokens!
  • Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit – This is a simple Saga that gives you a few Food tokens and a few Halflings while drawing you a card and bringing in lore counters and +1/+1 counters. It’s okay and will probably stick to theme decks. Tom Bombadil, enjoy!
  • Archivist of Gondor – This turns the monarch draw into an extra card for them. Likely to avoid being removed unless you prove you can keep the crown too effectively.
  • Corsairs of Umbar – Keep an eye on this card for when we go back to Ixalan. Giving a Pirate unblockable is already good for Admiral Beckett Brass. I’m sure we’ll see more.
  • Fealty to the Realm – I love this card. It’s a Control Magic that follows the monarch and goads the creature away from you. It’s like the Vow and Impetus cycle but changes hands with the monarch. It’s so fun and silly!
  • Subjugate the Hobbits – Seven mana is a lot. You better hope there’s a lot of tokens or those creatures are engine pieces because usually it’s not going to do too much.
  • Trap the Trespassers – This gets worse at the end when it’s just stun counters but if the table can come together, this can nullify an attacker for a few turns.
  • Rapacious Guest – I like this card more than most. There are lots of Food being made and we’re going to get more. Sacrificing Food makes this bigger but so does a pump spell. Point is, if you start blinking or reanimating this in and out of the graveyard, you’re going to take chunks out of an opponent and I’ll call that bite size.
  • Call for Aid – An Insurrection for one opponent’s board but you can’t sacrifice them or attack their owner. It’s just mainly to alpha strike another player. Saskia the Unyielding decks are the best place for this if you’re going up against a lot of creature decks.
  • Orcish Siegemaster – Goblins are usually small so the trample is kind of funny. This is definitely an Amass Orcs card at heart but really not much else in my opinion.
  • Rampaging War Mammoth – I guess cycling this gets you a card and destroys an artifact on an ability, so it’s less likely to be countered while putting a beater into your graveyard. It’s just a steep cost on both ends.
  • Assemble the Entmoot – Witherbloom decks and Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice decks, go off.
  • Feasting Hobbit – A pay off for having a ton of Food with what I’ll assume will most often be pretty much unblockable. Be sure to have something ready to protect the big guy because it’s vulnerable.
  • Galadhrim AmbushArachnogenesis for Elves is amazing. They realized how good it was at three mana and bumped it up by one which is still great considering how many dorks are Elves.
  • Mirkwood Elk – A non-Elf Elf card at six mana is rough. It brings back Elf cards on ETB and attack, but there are so many Regrowth effects. And the upside to the Regrowth making it cost so much is gaining life equal to power. From Elf cards? Notoriously puny Elves? Pass.
  • Motivated Pony – Coming down with haste makes this a surprising anthem and pseudo-vigilance if you made a Food, that’s alright. It’s a new Horse which is also cool. Not too impressed, but not upset.
  • Travel Through Caradhras – Six mana to ramp four basic lands in classic pod sizes. If you play in bigger pods, consider this. Either option being selected isn’t going to be mind-blowing unless you have a small graveyard and even then, there are better options.
  • Windswift Slice – I am really into bite spells as green creature removal. The upside of excess damage at instant speed creating tokens that can be surprise blockers or creature type payoffs is fantastic. I’m way up on this card!
  • Banquet Guests – This gets bigger with how many Food tokens you have. Flavour is great. It’s got a way to have indestructible and it has trample. This is a great pay off.
  • Forth Eorlingas! – Introduce the monarch with a bang of X 2/2s or by just paying RW and swinging into an open opponent. Nice flexibility.
  • In the Darkness Bind Them – This will get your Ring tempted all the way and get you 9/9 worth of Wraiths plus a Threaten for each opponent. This rips real hard, but it’s pretty telegraphed. Remember, if you make an opponent’s creature your Ring-bearer, they stop being your Ring bearer when you lose control of them.
  • Lidless Gaze – Excellent set up card. No notes. Prosper, Tome-Bound is pleased.
  • Mirkwood Trapper – This card gives you a surprising amount of power. You automatically pump a creature of yours every time you attack and if an opponent dares to come your way, you can blunt the offence on a creature coming your way or toward another opponent. It’s political but you’re making a lot happen.
  • Moria Scavenger – This is one of the funkiest blockers in the game. Rummage and get an Army or decide to cash in the Scavenger’s deathtouch on a worthy attacker, still get a rummage out  of it? Solid. Anje Falkenrath reminiscent but very different. Love seeing this design.
  • Oath of Eorl – This Saga creatures four Human and gives you an indestructible counter and the monarch. This is juiced for a Human deck out there. Jirina Kudro, let’s party!
  • Riders of Rohan – Another juiced Human for Human decks.
  • Sail into the West – Instant speed wheel effect in Simic isn’t something I expected! Regrowth for everybody is also solid at that rate. Pretty great card all in all, but it’s pretty meat and potatoes.
  • Song of Eärendil – Doesn’t play nice with your Luminous Broodmoth but it can get your whole team in for the kill. The rest of the card is kind of just good stuff on a Saga. Nothing extremely impressive but overall good.
  • Summons of Saruman – The only commander I could think of is Kess, Dissident Mage for this card. Maybe Mizzix of the Izmagnus if you’ve got Mizzix’s Mastery not far off. Simply a strange card that’s doing a lot.
  • Taunt from the Rampart – A fixed Disrupt Decorum that gets damage through instead of acting like a blocking party.
  • Too Greedily, Too Deep – This is my favourite board wipe printed. It makes me want to build a Grixis mill deck. It’s like if Corpse Explosion knew you cared about getting the big creature.
  • Wake the Dragon – Populate decks or spellslinger decks strict on the no creatures rule might consider this more than others, but I’m not into it personally.
  • Crown of Gondor – An equipment that brings in monarch and is a better Pennon Blade in every way is great for Equipment decks.
  • Hithlain Rope – I wish this could be forced around the table instead of at the whim of the player who has it because then it’d be great. Instead, it gets to the player who doesn’t want to keep the party going or who doesn’t run basic lands and then nobody’s stoked. I want to play this in every deck. I think the game should start with one in play. I love this card.
  • Lothlorien Blade – This Equipment is great but it’s heavily tilted toward Elves which isn’t where I’d focus Equipment personally? It gets rid of a potential blocker and plows through. It’s a good Blade, but five mana equip for non-Elf? Yikes!
  • Model of Unity – Reward your opponents for following your lead in your Tivit, Seller of Secrets decks and other voting environments.
  • Relic of Sauron – Dare I call this a better Hedron Archive? Taps for two of any colour for Grixis decks and draws two and discards without sacrifice. This is awesome for reanimator decks but what a disappointment that it’s stuck in three colours minimum.
  • The Black Gate – It’s time to go for the throne. Reminiscent of the Zendikar Rising mythic MDFC lands, it can enter untapped for 3 life and tap for one colour. Getting unblockable against the person highest on the throne for ANY creature is wonderful. Political land that’s also a freaking Gate? Why didn’t I pick this in my top 5? Because I had to start writing and I had to make difficult decisions.

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