The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth - Pauper EDH Set Review

Shadowfax, Lord of Horses by Valera Lutfullina

Just Like the Humble Hobbits, We're Looking at the Lowly Commons and Uncommons

What's up, y'all? There's a lot to be excited about in this Lord-of-the-Rings-themed set, but unfortunately, not everyone's thrilled about the crossover. I myself am a pretty big fan, as I think that the fantasy themes from the classic books are the perfect thing to be represented by Magic's mechanics. But even if you dislike the idea of anything but the MTG universe being printed, I'd highly encourage you to check this set out. Ignoring the flavor, the cards are very well designed, and I think they're going to be a blast to play with. Even in the lower rarities, these cards were crafted with an incredible attention to detail and flavor. For this Pauper review, I'll be going over the cards that are legal in pEDH (commons and uncommon creatures), sometimes for the subformat, or sometimes just for EDH in general. Let's get into it!


Shadowfax, Lord of Horses

Horse tribal is pretty unique, and it's nice to see a small tribe get some support. I've got no doubt that some fans of the equine will jump at the chance to play Horses with a solid commander, but Shadowfax's real power is going to come with its second line of text. There's no shortage of value creatures that can be gotten with its ability. I can see blink decks with Flickerwisps and ETB creatures, or extra combat decks, getting the most value possible. You can make a powerful deck with creatures power three or less, or you can buff Gandalf's steed to cheat out whatever you want. Heck, there's even a combo with Combat Celebrant and Cloudstone Curio, once you do. I imagine that it'll play like a slightly watered down version of Winota, Joiner of Forces, which isn't a bad thing. 

Legolas, Counter of Kills

It's a bit hard to figure out what to do with Legolas, as he seems to have three unrelated themes. If you scry, you can untap him, which makes me want to play tapping shenanigans, but what are you going to do with that? Activate Springleaf Drum twice? Without the once-a-turn limit, you could really go off, but as it is, I can't think of much that's exciting. He's an archer right? Maybe you equip a Viridian Longbow? With deathtouch, you can get some triggers on his final ability. But at that point, you're cramming scry cards, untap payoffs, and deathtouch-enablers into one deck, and I don't know how you're going to make those three work together. Maybe it has some cool potential, but I don't see it yet. 


Bill the Pony

This is really just a cute Pauper version of Doran, the Siege Tower, but that doesn't mean it's not a fun budget commander. Run Giant Ox and Tasseled Dromedary, then fill it with all the cards you have in your collection. Yeah, they're vanilla, but it's not like Silklash Spider has any synergy with Doran, and that card still sees play. With some food cooks to enable Sam's faithful steed, you'll be set. 

Now for Wrath, Now for Ruin!

This seems to serve as anOverrun effect, but I don't think it's going to see play for the same reasons as Banners Raised and other variants. Firstly, this isn't a game-ending spell: +1/+1 isn't significant enough to knock out a full table. Rather, this spell is going to send a lot of damage one way while keeping blockers up for the crackback, thanks to vigilance. Of course, that's still not a spell worth including in any deck. What it really does is make your creatures cost nothing with Hamza, Guardian of Arashin, or trigger Shalai and Hallar ten times. Sometimes the true value of a card can be hidden. This card appears to be an overcosted anthem effect, but in reality, it's made to enable cards that care about +1/+1 counters. 

Westfold Rider

Does Reclamation Sage still see play? I know it's pretty outclassed as a strict removal spell, but with blink or graveyard synergies, or just in a deck that cares about creatures, it's still good, right? Well, Westfold Rider doesn't function in a blink deck, but in a graveyard deck, like Karador, Ghost Chieftain, or even Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim, this card is so much better. It's one mana less, and it sacrifices itself. Say hello to difficult to remove graveyard loops.


Arwen's Gift

This is a fine card on its own, but what's interesting is the influx of legendary matters cards in March of the Machine and Tales of Middle Earth. Nasty End, Gimli's Axe, Great Hall of the Citadel, the list goes on. And there's even been some great uncommon commanders for the strategy. Frodo Baggins, Gold-Forged Thopteryx, and General's Enforcer could all lead a potent pauper legends deck. The only thing you need now is the legends to fill your deck... Oh. Right. Legendary cards aren't printed at common. Oh well. I guess Arwen's Gift is still fine if you have your commander on board. 

Ioreth of the Healing House

Due to the reasons mentioned above, I'll have to talk about Ioreth as a standard EDH commander. That's fine though, because this card has some crazy potential. Before we even get to the combo territory, let's see what she can do fairly. There's a good number of legends who tap themselves, such as Jacob Hauken, Inspector and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. Then with some extra untappers, like Vizier of Tumbling Sands, you can untap Ioreth and repeat the process as many times as you can turn her sideways. If you want more than just loads of value, however, all you need is a clone that avoids the legend rule; Sakashima of a Thousand Faces or Spark Double will work. Just tap the original Ioreth to untap the clone, then tap the clone to untap Ioreth and another legend. Using a legendary looter, you can draw through your entire deck and win with Thassa's Oracle

Surrounded by Orcs

Is there a self mill Amass deck? I know that most Amass decks are going to be in Grixis, with one of the Saurons at the helm. Those are graveyard colors. That being said, I don't think there's much that Amass wants to do with the graveyard. So what are you doing? Milling your opponent for thirty? If you have a 30/30 Army, I don't see what milling that much is going to do when you could just be attacking. This is a weird case where the card has absolutely no synergy with the mechanic printed on it.


Gollum, Helpful- wait no, Scheming Guide: No, I'm wrong again. This is Gollum, Patient Plotter

Does anyone else think that having four versions of some characters is a bit much? It's not that I don't like the cards on their own. It just gets a bit confusing trying to figure out which Sauron your opponent is playing. Is it the one where I have to sacrifice my commander to interact with it? Or is it the one that steals all my stuff? Wait, is that one even a Sauron? Minor gripes aside, Gollum, Patient Guide seems pretty fun. I imagine that it's going to be pretty easy to get him into sacrifice loops. Gravecrawler, or Reassembling Skeleton plus a few sacrifice outlets and you'll get loads of death triggers every turn. Add in Blood Artist and you'll have a deck full of value engines. On top of that, the flavor is spot on. He's going to impossible to get rid of. 

Troll of Khazad-dûm

There's a few commanders who want cards with high CMC, such as Volrath the Fallen and Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow. Of course, the problem is, if Volrath's in the command zone, or Yuriko's already triggered, what are you going to do with your Draco? Troll of Khazad-dûm solves this problem by having Swampcycling. It's not the highest mana value, but when building those decks, you want to make sure that you're not stuck with three six-drops in your opening hand. 

Morgul-Knife Wound

Augh, this card frustrates me. I'm absolutely certain that there's a way to break it. There has to be some way to prevent your opponent from exiling the card and forcing them to drain their life. The problem with this card is that if you target something important, two life is such an insignificant amount that they'll almost always choose to pay it. To get them to exile the thing, you'd either have to make it so that two life is high stakes, or put it on some mana dork. And even if you did figure out how to break it, all you do is drain one opponent for two life every turn. I think this card is really cool and flavorful, but it's simply not going to put in any work. 


Warbeast of Gorgoroth

4+ power is an archetype by now, really. Warbeast, Furious Rise, Anax, Hardened in the Forge, and of course, every Ferocious card. I doubt anyone's going to be making a 4+ power theme deck, but it would be cool. This is mostly going to see play in Amass decks. Amass can be built like a weird Voltron deck where you focus on making one big creature, but the mechanic also says make a token, which can be sacrificed repeatedly, and that's where Warbeast comes in. If you can get that token to 4 power, you can sacrifice it and have it replaced immediately. Combine that with Corpsejack Menace, and you have infinite sacrifices.

Breaking of the Fellowship

Is this a good removal spell? Red doesn't have a lot of ways to kill creatures, so it's worth consideration. The requirements to kill are that your opponent has two creatures, and the one you want dead must have toughness equal to the other's power. That's already a bit complex. If your opponent only has one creature, or your target is just too big, this spell does nothing. Along with this already mediocre effect, being tempted adds very little to this card. A bit of a dud. 


Peregrin Took

At first I thought Peregrin Took could be used like Chatterfang, Squirrel General. Chatterfang provides a win condition to Treasure decks, doubles your tokens from Tendershoot Dryad, and in turn, makes twice as many things to sacrifice to Ashnod's Altar. An all-around workhouse, even ignoring the fact that he's a Squirrel tribal commander. Unfortunately, you'll notice that Food tokens aren't going to attack your opponents, or trigger Blood Artist. This doesn't mean that Took is useless, it just means that you have to work harder to make him work, especially if he's your commander. Luckily, Treasure decks already have all the tools needed to make those Food tokens function. Academy Manufactor, Deadly Dispute, and Mayhem Devil will all dine on the feast that Peregrin provides. 

Bombadil's Song

Bombadil's Song is far worse than either Tamiyo's Safekeeping or Tyvar's Stand, but it has one small upside: the Ring tempting you. Obviously, in a Ring deck, it's a good inclusion, but what about a normal deck? Is the Ring tempting you once worth it? Assuming you don't have a single other card in the deck that mentions the Ring, Bombadil's song grants a creature you control legendary and skulk. Legendary should only matter if you're in a legends deck, but skulk is relevant. It's evasion. Do you need to get Fynn, the Fangbearer through? Skulk can do that. Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow is another commander who will love being tempted by the Ring. I do think that some decks will find the dual utility of evasion and protection useful, but otherwise, the better protection spell belongs to Tamiyo. 

The Hobbits Return Home

Whether you're playing pauper, or just looking to use the loads of commons that you pull from packs, you'll find that every card has a use somewhere, and this is just as true in Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth. Next time you open a pack, check out how many of those commons are worth putting in your decks, and you may be pleasantly surprised. Do you have a deck for Warbeast of Gorgoroth? Do you think the Ring tempting you once is worth it? Let me know what your thoughts on this set are in the comments!

Alejandro Fuentes's a nerd from Austin Texas who likes building the most unreasonable decks possible, then optimizing them till they're actually good. In his free time, he's either trying to fit complex time signatures into death metal epics, or writing fantasy novels.