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

Nick Wolf • June 16, 2023

White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands | Allied Colors and Shards | Enemy Colors and Wedges | cEDH | Reprints

Wizards Are Always Troubled about the Future

So much talk about rings, one would think there's a blue hedgehog involved. But alas, it's only The Lord of the Rings. 

I'm going to illuminate you on this fact right here at the top: I am not a fan of The Lord of the Rings. Never have been, and now here in the twilight of my 30s, it's likely I never will be.

And that's okay. I encourage anyone to pursue their interests in whatever healthy way makes sense to them, even if that interest involves hobbits. Luckily, here in the regularly scheduled Reprint Review, we're not so much concerned with the flavor as we are the ingredients. In terms of reprint distribution, we're going to be drawing heavily -- if not exclusively -- from the Tales of Middle-earth Commander collection of cards, as the offerings in The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth main set features a grand total of eight reprints, and five of them are basic lands.

The other three are Knight of the Keep, Goblin Assailant, and Trailblazer's Boots. That last one is important to note, as it's a glimpse at a theme we're going to discuss later. It's Trailblazer's Boots, but it's also now Lórien Brooch -- something between a true reprint and a functional reprint. Technically a different name, but the same card. We've seen this with a lot of Universes Beyond cards, printed a second time as "Universes Within" counterpoints. Quartz Spacegodzilla and Brokkos, Apex of Forever are good examples, and I will always grab at an opportunity to say "Bio-Quartz Spacegodzilla" in an article.

"Bio-Quartz Spacegodzilla" - there, I did it again.
I'll also take every change to share Daniel Warren Johnson art.

While there's only those three reprints in the main set, there are 30 promo box toppers that can be acquired in any Draft, Set, or Collector Booster of the main set, referred to as Realms and Relics. All packs have one, and there are some real bangers in terms of reprints. The problem is they're not just "reprints," but "reskins." Getting a copy of The Great Henge is awesome, but is it still awesome if it's "The Party Tree"? I know what I would say, but I'm just one person. You'll have to decide for yourselves how you feel about these Realms and Relics. We'll go over all 30 at the end of this article.

First, however, we have some actual reprints to discuss. And remember, all money numbers are in American dollars, and all references to deck statistics are borrowed from our less cool cousins at EDHREC.

Mythics and Rares

Toxic Deluge

Did we need it?

As of this printing, a regular version of Toxic Deluge will run you a shade under $20. Thankfully, that's down from its all-time high seen by the original printing in Commander 2013 of $38, largely thanks to reprints in Eternal Masters, Double Masters, and Commander Collection: Black. It's a highly sought-after card, especially for Commander, and for good reason, and that reason is Toxic Deluge kills stuff dead with extreme prejudice and efficiency. With the card now seeing its fifth printing, the price is already starting to dip. The Lord of the Rings version is $12-ish. So yes, we needed it. It's the preeminent sweeper for any deck with black (sorry Damnation, but you're still more badass overall in my eyes).

Did we want it? 

In total, roughly 1.3 million decks can play Toxic Deluge, and of those, 15% do. That's 201,000, which is a very large number. It's not really a secret that Commander players like to rain acid down on their opponents' creatures (not to be confused with Acid Rain), and truthfully the only thing about Toxic Deluge that's surprising is the fact that it's ten years old. Still, in that decade, it's propelled itself into being the fifth-most popular black card in Commander, behind only Demonic Tutor, Vampiric Tutor, Dark Ritual, and Feed the Swarm (with the latter also reprinted in LotR Commander). I remember a time before Toxic Deluge, when we senior citizens had to use Hellfire to accomplish the dual tasks of killing everyone's creatures and melting our life total so we could lose quickly and go get pizza.

Sylvan Offering

Did we need it?

Here's a weird one. Before now, Sylvan Offering has been printed three times: Commander 2014, Commander Anthology, and New Capenna Commander. None of those printings are more than $1. But apparently, if you throw a treefo- sorry, "Ent" on the card, then it becomes the second-most-expensive reprint in the Tales of Middle-earth Commander decks, coming in at around $12 at the time of this writing. That's probably just a quirk of the release of a new set, but I think it would be hilarious if it truly was demanding a roughly 1500% price jump because of a slathering of Middle-earth paint.

Did we want it? 

Sylvan Offering is only played in 1% of decks that utilize green, or 11,000 out of more than 1.2 million. People are just loathe to give opponents anything, whether that's Treefolk or Elf Warriors or emotional honesty. As one might expect, decks that do use the card care a lot about either tokens or table manners, with Gluntch, the Bestower, Grismold, the Dreadsower, and Kitt Kanto, Mayhem Diva heading up the majority of decks. None of those are Elf decks, which is somewhat peculiar in my opinion, but what do I know. Well, I'll tell you what I know, and that's we didn't need another Sylvan Offering.

Swan Song

Did we need it?

This might be influenced by formats other than Commander, but Swan Song has always been one of the more expensive counterspells on the market since it debuted in Theros in 2013. Unlike Treefolk or Elf Warriors, players are very keen to gift opponents with blue Birds. It's true that giving someone a Bird is a punishment in Magic, and it's also true in real life. Today, the original version of Swan Song is around $10, and that's the cheapest, with the Commander 2016 version coming in at $13 and the vastly superior Secret Lair edition being $20. The one you'll get in the LotR Commander deck will also be around $10, and it also features new art.

Did we want it? 

People love to dump bBirds on opponents. There are 1.3 million decks on EDHREC that have blue, and nearly one in five play Swan Song. That puts it as the eighth most popular blue card there is (it's funny to note that of the seven cards more popular than Swan Song, three of them counterspells, and of the top ten blue cards overall, five of them are counters, because blue players are monsters). People just want a one-mana way to ruin someone's day.


Did we need it?

Another year, another Reanimate, this time featuring some wizard-babble in the flavor text. This'll be the 11th reprint of Reanimate, and the fifth in five years. Even with all those appearances, the price has always held steady with an average of $16 for any version outside of the FNM Promo ($48) or the Ultimate Masters: Box Topper ($80). Reanimate is as close to a staple as there is for black, and even if a deck doesn't have anything to do with the graveyard, it can still be improved with a little Reanimate action. Obviously, as is often the case, the original printing is the best. The version from Tempest is a touch more expensive ($22), but the Robert Bliss art, the retro border, and the awesome Volrath flavor text are leagues better than what we're getting with this most recent reprint. That reprint, though, is half the price, so you can't sneeze at that.

Did we want it? 

We already mentioned that as per EDHREC, 1.3 million decks play black. Of those, 13% include Reanimate. That's good for sixth most in the color. We've seen it played regularly since Commander was a format about bad Dragons, and it'll be a popular card until Commander is a format about Dracula teaming up with Dr. Who to battle Decepticons and Chun-Li.


Did we need it?

For when you really want your creatures left alone, there's Asceticism. The new version is only the third time it's seen printing, and the first one that actually says the word "hexproof" instead of "creatures you control can't be the target of spells or abilities your opponents control," a term that I still think should have just been called "Trollshroud." Originally seen with a tiny Thrun, the Last Troll in Scars of Mirrodin, the only other printing was in Mystery Boosters, which doesn't really count. Scars came out in 2010, so we definitely needed a new version, and the reprint will probably lower that $10 price point. Plus, the art of a guy snoozing in the forest with a bunch of deerlings is a mood toward which I strive.

Did we want it? 

Asceticism isn't the most popular card, and scarcity might be a factor in that. Outside of that Mystery Booster inclusion, the only copies were from 13 years ago, so many newer players might not even know the card exists. As a result, it's only played in 3% of the 1.2 million green decks on EDHREC. So while technically we didn't want a new Asceticism, I think we'll actually see that number rise as newer players discover the joys of ignoring targeted removal and napping in moss.

Combat Celebrant

Did we need it?

Without looking, if someone were to offer you a crisp $5 bill for your copy of Amonkhet's Combat Celebrant, would you be getting ripped off? The answer is yes, which is surprising if you, like me, forgot this card even existed in the six years since Amonkhet released. It makes sense, I suppose, that a mythic creature that only appeared once would be $13. Plus, the card does say "attack more" on it, which many people seem to enjoy. With a new version featuring a sword-swinging hype man for wanton violence, the price will probably dip, which is good, because Combat Celebrant is not a $13 card in function.

Did we want it? 

I may have forgotten all about Combat Celebrant, but 28,000 Commander players have not. Granted, that's only 2% of the decks that could play it, with 1.2 million red decks logged on EDHREC. But like Asceticism, perhaps its inclusion in what is sure to be widely opened Commander decks will propel the card to new levels of popularity. And if you're wondering, that person offering you $5 for your Combat Celebrant is trying to rip you off in order to (statistically speaking) put it in their Winota, Joiner of Forces deck, to the surprise of no one. 

Treasure Nabber

Did we need it?

Treasure Nabber has only been printed once before, in Commander 2018. Since then, for me at least, it's always been one of those cards that ends up being the 101st card in a Commander list. In the times that I have managed to keep it in a deck and not cut it, it's hilarious. Maybe that's why the C18 version is nearly $10. We've got new art with the reprint, though I'm partial to the original depicting a visual reminder of how to actually use the card, which is to steal Sol Rings, and for a set centered around a story about rings, you'd think that theme would have carried over. Not only that, they changed the flavor text, with the original flavor text mentioning "The Law of Givesies Backsies" -- what, was Tolkien not familiar with the concept?

Did we want it? 

I'm probably not the only one who can't seem to make room for Treasure Nabber, with the card only appearing in 17,000 of the 1.2 million red decks that can play it, or roughly 1%. Of those decks, Treasure Nabber's most popular commander is Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, while Norin the Wary is hilariously the second most popular. Oh, and shoutout to the 59 people who put Treasure Nabber in their Starke of Rath decks. I see you, and I like it.

Birds of Paradise

Did we need it?

If Buzzfeed were about Magic and not turning over all its content creation to AI, there'd be a "Which Birds of Paradise are You?" quiz, where you'd answer ten questions to find out that yes, you're actually an Ed Beard BoP (you got that answer because for the "How much do you love the renaissance festival?" you answered "Very much so, thanks.")

If you count the gold-bordered Championship decks versions of Birds of Paradise, the newest reprint is the card's 43rd version. That's a lot of targets for Lightning Bolt, and a lot of opportunity for price variation. Being a card that has existed since the dawn of Magic, you can drop anywhere between $5,000 for an Alpha BoP all the way down to the $6 that the LotR Commander version currently demands. That new version also provides us with the seventh different art for the card, this time painted by Ben Wootten, who also gave another reprint, Unbreakable Formation, a new coat of paint. If you like Wootten's art, then sure, we could always need new copies of BoP floating around out there.

Did we want it? 

As established, there are more than 1.2 million green decks logged in EDHREC, and Birds of Paradise is in nearly a quarter of them. It's the 37th most popular card in all of Commander over the past two years, and 11th most popular green card overall. People love Birds of Paradise, and it's behind only Llanowar Elves in terms of raw usage of mana dorks in green. So the only question becomes whether a Bird of Paradise still subsists on the rare everyberry, which tastes different every time.

Shared Animosity

Did we need it?

A favorite in aggressive red decks since it debuted in Morningtide in 2008, Shared Animosity has been as expensive as $22 in the not-too-distant past, and the foil still commands a $58 price tag. That second number is unlikely to change thanks to the fact that despite what is now three subsequent printings, the Morningtide foil is still the only one that exists. The LotR Commander version we're getting now does provide new art by Magic newcomer Veli Nyström. Of course, the Finnish illustrator Nyström's art will probably be more recognizable for another card he painted for the new set. All told, we could make use of a new version of Shared Animosity, as it's one of my favorite cards and in my opinion, underplayed. Maybe if it's not $10, more players will give it a shot.

Did we want it? 

I wasn't kidding that Shared Animosity is underplayed. Of the 1.2 million red decks on EDHREC, only 3%, or 40,000, make use of it. Granted, it's only good in creature decks, but red's pretty good at that theme. That's probably why you see Shared Animosity represented in nearly three-quarters of all Jirina Kudro decks to buff some Humans, or in a whopping 5,172 Krenko, Mob Boss decks (41%). I play it in my General Ferrous Rokiric deck, and it's never disappointing. I'll also probably stick with the original version, since I'd rather the flavor text mention some nonsense about Elementals over whatever a Dúnedain is.

Sanguine Bond

Did we need it?

Once again, we get another reprint of the perennially $3 Sanguine Bond instead of its rarer, cooler, more handsome cousin, the $30 Exquisite Blood. The latter only has one printing in a regular set to go along with Jumpstart, The List and a Secret Lair inclusion, while Sanguine Bond has now eight printings, with half coming in Commander releases. So no, we didn't need another Sanguine Bond, though the silver lining here is that the new version is the first with new art. That silver lining is quickly erased, however, with some flavor text about a "Morgul-knife." It's worth mentioning though as a fun fact that the original printing of Sanguine Bond, from Magic 2010, once hit an all-time-high of over $12. Pretty good for a card that has since been printed as an uncommon in Iconic Masters. 

Did we want it? 

Sanguine Bond only sees the 99 of 5% of all black decks, most commonly in Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose, a commander that is literally the same thing with a power and toughness. It's also a common sight in Liesa, Shroud of Dusk and Oloro, Ageless Ascetic decks. Of course, Sanguine Bond is also paired with Exquisite Blood 57% of the time, so those numbers might be skewed somewhat by the availability of its $30 counterpart. This is all just a long way of saying that they reprinted the wrong card again.

Blasphemous Act

Did we need it?

Blasphemous Act is a perfect example of a card that is insanely popular, but is reprinted frequently and with enough variety that the price remains suppressed. In the 12 years since it debuted in Innistrad, there have been 19 versions created. Most feature Daarken's art of the dead dude leaning against the altar in Avacyn's church, the symbol of her religion, but we've got a few other versions to choose from, as well as several border options. As long as they're doing something new with it, there's no reason to be upset at a 19th printing of Blasphemous Act. Otherwise, it would be Zetalpa, Primal Dawn, which serves as a cautionary tale in the world of reprints. Oh, and despite all those reprints, the card still averages about $2.50.

Did we want it? 

Blasphemous Act isn't just one of the most popular red cards, it's one of the most popular cards overall in Commander. Of red, it's in 32% of 1.2 million decks, making it the second-most popular card in the color behind only Chaos Warp, and over the past two years, it's 14th overall. I wonder how many times it's been cast for nine mana to just annihilate one annoying creature?

Heroic Intervention

Did we need it?

We've seen nine printings now of Heroic Intervention, and still it's hovering around $20. The newest version in LotR Commander is starting off cheaper than that, at $13, but will it stay that way? It seems that despite already appearing in on Commander release, people clamor for a card that gives green a middle finger to use against sweepers. We clearly need more of them floating around to depress that pricetag further.

Did we want it? 

Even though it's unreasonably expensive, it's still played a ton in green decks, with Heroic Intervention making an appearance in the 99 of nearly one-third of the 1.2 million green decks on EDHREC. That's good for sixth most played in green, and it even cracks the top 25 cards used in the past two years across all colors and decks. And if you want to get even more granular, Heroic Intervention is the ninth-most popular instant in Commander over the past week. How's that for up-to-the-minute statistics that impact nothing and are almost utterly useless? If it continues to be so popular, we'll probably need several more printings before that price comes down.

Uncommons and Commons

Sol Ring

Did we need it?

But which one? We like to joke around here about the sheer number of reprints that Sol Ring sees, but it's truly getting pretty absurd. There are four versions of the card just in this Lord of the Rings release, and yes, I get that Magic's second-most-famous Ring would be featured in a set dedicated to a story about rings, but come on. We've already had three Sol Rings printed in 2023 before this, by the way.

So there's one uncommon Sol Ring that'll be in every Commander deck as usual, but there's also three discrete serialized and nonserialized rings, all with different art and printed in what I'm told is Elven script. Two of the three are more than $200, and the other is around $70, which is a discrepancy I simply do not understand. Please illuminate me in the comments. And if you open a serialized version of these, just go ahead and cash in; some of them have already been cracked, and the prices they're demanding are nothing to sneeze at.

This one is the "cheap" Sol Ring, only running you $70 if you bought it right now.

As I'm sure I've already annoyed you with plenty, I am not a Lord of the Rings fan in the slightest, and thus I know very little about the lore. But I do know how to Google, which has informed me that these three Sol Ring treatments represent the rings given to humans, dwarves, and elves. So did we need all these Sol Rings? I would say absolutely not, but these aren't printed for someone like me. If you like them, then we needed them, simple as that. It's when everyone in every corner of fandom collectively groans at the prospect of yet more Sol Rings that we know we're wasting our time here.

Did we want it? 

I mean, Sol Ring is the single most popular Commander card of all time. It's in more than 2.2 million decks, or 84% of all decks on EDHREC. It's a Sol Ring.

Herald's Horn

Did we need it?

The creature-centric doot machine has been a mainstay in a lot of decks since it showed up in Commander 2017, and even though it's seen nearly a dozen printings since then, the price has remained in the $5 range for some time. That's an improvement, as its all-time high hit nearly $18 in 2019. It's nice to see it getting more printings, as it's a solid card of which many decks out there can make use.

Did we want it? 

I'm not crazy about the new art of what I imagine would be the most annoying resident of the village, but Herald's Horn sees play in 5% of all decks on EDHREC, so it stands to reason that eventually, I'll have to see someone using this new version. And 5% might seem low, but if you're playing a creature deck, you're using Herald's Horn, so the true popularity of this and other theme-specific cards is somewhat obfuscated by the top-level data.

Palace Jailer

Did we need it?

I'm singling out Palace Jailer for three reasons: one, I feel obligated to mention at least one white card in 5,000 words about reprints; two, it's an awesome card and I love it; and three, it's an uncommon that has managed to maintain a price above $1 since it showed up in Conspiracy: Take the Crown. With the reprint, it's the first time over four printings that we see new art. I would argue the original art is more like what I would imagine a "jailer" would look like, as opposed to the new art's depiction of a "guard," but I'm not an expert in medieval incarceration. By the way, while the regular version of Palace Jailer is around a buck, the foil will cost you $20.

Did we want it? 

It's only played in 1% of all white decks, or 15,000 out of 1.1 million. Shamefully underutilized. The Monarch mechanic is the best one they've created in a decade and it should be played more.

Reprint Lightning Round

  • Genesis Wave (third printing, and first with new art)
  • Scourge of the Throne (sixth printing, and the first that formats flying and Dethrone on the same line, a tidbit that is completely irrelevant)
  • Lightning Greaves (we've seen the go-fast shoes almost 30 times, and don't look now but they're whole pants this time, less in line with what "greaves" actually are)
  • Vanquisher's Banner (sixth printing, and first with new art, though it's still just a tattered flag sticking out of a battlefield)
  • Overwhelming Stampede (seventh printing, and first to not include the rhino)
  • Door of Destinies (fifth printing, and it's still a door)
  • Anger (nothing will ever replace the angry lava baby)
  • Banishing Light (10th printing, now with art that actually makes me want to squint)
  • Seeds of Renewal (first printing since it debuted in Commander 2016)
  • Inscription of Abundance (sixth printing, but to be fair four of those printings were from the same set, its debut in Zendikar Rising)
  • Arcane Denial (10th printing, now with art that if I cross my eyes could be Ashiok, which I would prefer)
  • Elvish Piper (11th printing, now with five times the number of enthralled woodland creature)
  • Chromatic Lantern (15th printing, and first with great art ruined by the presence of hobbits)
  • Guttersnipe (13th printing, and second version with a bald Goblin)
  • Learn from the Past (second printing, and first since Dragons of Tarkir in 2015)
  • Anguished Unmaking (eighth printing, and first that is both readable and doesn't feature Sorin in the art)
  • Bastion Protector (sixth printing, still featuring a foreground shield)
  • Unbreakable Formation (11th printing, and outside of a Secret Lair, the first with new art)
  • Living Death (14th printing, and nothing will ever top the Tempest version)

We're also getting reprints of Command Tower, Arcane Signet, Exotic Orchard, Swords to Plowshares, Evolving Wilds, Cultivate, Mind Stone, Beast Within, Commander's Sphere, Terramorphic Expanse, Rampant Growth, Rogue's Passage, Path to Exile, and Farseek, because in a card game that features 25,220 cards legal in Commander, we only ever see roughly 200.


So about those Realms and Relics reskins. First off, here are the 30 cards that are reskinned -- not official reprints, mind you, but new names for old cards:

As you probably noticed, there are some really good, and really expensive cards on that list. It's tough to say that these reskins will do much to the price of the in-universe Magic versions of the cards, but speaking solely for myself I would likely never seek out any of these reskins to use in my own decks.

There's also the argument of cognitive overload. Commander is already an extremely complicated format, with a massive pool of legal cards compounded by the fact that there are four players in the average game. Reprints with new art are one thing, as most players will ask what a card is, be told that "oh, it's the Secret Lair version of Misty Rainforest," nod, and move on with the game. With reskins, it's another layer of needless complication. What's that? It's obviously Shards of Narsil, oh and by the way, you can't cast that unless you pay an extra one mana.

As I've mentioned several times now, there's a fan for every set and every set will have its fans. I am not a fan of this set. But perhaps there are those out there who love getting a chance to crack an $80 card like Ancient Tomb, and the fact that it's a Lord of the Rings reference called Balin's Tomb is a feature, not a bug.

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Are you excited to see these reskins? What about what they might represent going forward, with Wizards doubling-down on Universes Beyond releases in the future?