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

Mike Carrozza • June 12, 2023

Gandalf the White by Magali Villeneuve

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

We're Off to See the Wizard!

Okay, I'll be honest: I've never seen nor read The Lord of the Rings. (I'm just not interested!) HOWEVER! I have played a ton of Magic: the Gathering and can evaluate these cards for you, dear reader! And maybe I'll learn some funky names along the way! Let's have fun, this set is really crazy so far!


Dawn of a New Age

Okay, starting off with a card I can't quite decide if I like or not.

Dawn of a New Age draws you a card at your end step and all it asks for is a hope counter. How do you get hope counters on this enchantment? By having a board of creatures! The closest comparison I can think of is Phyrexian Arena, but Arena doesn't whiff just because you have no creatures. This is most definitely white's Phyrexian Arena though, that's for sure.

So how do you take advantage of it? Play it later! Proliferate decks will love a cheap way to keep their hands stocked. Enchantress decks usually have a few Mesa Enchantress-type creatures in play to take advantage of casting and granting hope counters. I see those decks and token swarm decks as the likeliest of homes for Dawn of a New Age, but I'm not sure I've got room for it!

Gandalf the White

I really love this version of Gandalf. A flash-speed Vedalken Orrery on legs for your legendary and artifact spells is enough to love him, but to add that Panharmonicon-meets-Drivnod, Carnage Dominus-esque ability to artifact and legendary permanents is wild.

I have a Will the Wise and Mike, the Dungeon Master deck (or Wernog, Rider's Chaplain and Othelm, Sigardian Outcast deck, if you're nasty). Will triggers on ETB and leaves the battlefield, so Gandalf the White is going to double my massive investigations.

Be wary of the wording on this card, though! The permanent entering or leaving the battlefield must be an artifact or a legendary permanent for it to trigger an additional time. For example, if you have Purphoros, God of the Forge in play with Gandalf and you make a ton of nonlegendary Goblin tokens, Purphoros will only trigger once for each of them. However, in the same scenario, if you had Yoshimaru, Ever Faithful enter, then Purphoros will trigger twice.

The same goes for leaves-the-battlefield triggers. If Vraan, Executioner Thane sees a Zombie token die with Gandalf on board, that won't trigger it twice. However, if Vraan died and Zulaport Cutthroat sees him, Gandalf says go for the double!

All that to say, artifact decks will just love this all the same. Reckless Fireweaver and Ingenious Artillerist are already fantastic, but with Gandalf in play, it's going to rush the game to the finish.


The Battle of Bywater

Retribution of the Meek is a board wipe on the reserved list for three mana that destroys all creatures with power four or greater. I don't see it very often. The Battle of Bywater asks "how low can you go?"

Clearly geared for white weenie or Halfling builds, The Battle of Bywater can take down beefy boards leaving behind your little guys with healthy appetites. I think this will be solid in Food decks that need a themed board wipe, but after looking at the reconstructed Food and Fellowship deck, those creatures get pretty big so you might lose a few there too.

That said, Heroic Intervention into this means that you keep your board, get a ton of Food, and however that fits into your theme, I hope you enjoy this card. It's nice!

Boromir, Warden of the Tower

What a beautiful example of a card absolutely packed and bursting at the seams with value. For three mana, you get a 3/3 with vigilance, which is already fine on-rate, but Boromir packs a much bigger punch than that. The first ability shuts down your opponents' Omniscience effects that allow them to cast spells without paying for them, such as Cascade or Suspend or Deflecting Swat and its cycle, on top of  a whole list of cards that enable this.

Even with all that text, designers of this set decided to tack on that sacrifice ability to give your board indestructible AND have The Ring tempt you.

This last ability is what gives Ratadrabik of Urborg enough to work with for an infinite with Boromir. Pair with Sméagol, Helpful Guide for a funny way to end a game.

I believe this will be making the rounds in cEDH circles, but also, what do I know! I don't play cEDH. This just seems really powerful. Soldier commanders, Human commanders, token swarm decks. They can all benefit from a bit of Boromir!

Flowering of the White Tree

A two-mana anthem enchantment that gives a little extra protection and power for legends is really solid. I would say Jodah, the Unifier or Dihada, Binder of Wills are probably the right spots for it, and Kethis, the Hidden Hand isn't far behind it on that list, though Flowering doesn't benefit from the cost reduction.

Legends matter is a fun theme that we're seeing more and more support for. Unfortunately, I don't see much to pumping a board slightly unless you're running anthem.dec. White weenie or token swarm will benefit from here, but the ward 1 tax is what makes me happy to see it. Talk about power creep, by the way! Honor of the Pure has come a long way.

Forge Anew

Forge Anew does a thing we've seen more and more lately, which is taking two amazing effects and capping them but putting them together on one card: Leonin Shikari as long as it's your turn and Puresteel Paladin for the first equip of each of your turns. It doesn't let you do anything too sneaky by only allowing it on your turns, but what it lacks in sneakiness it makes up for in reanimation.

Bringing back an Equipment your opponents thought they were rid of is a wonderful feeling, especially if it was a pain to deal with and costs a ton. You can Entomb an Argentum Armor and get it into play for a two-mana reduction and equip it for free as long as you haven't equipped anything yet. I can see this predictably in Nahiri, Forged in Fury, coming for the crown as top Boros Equipment commander, the flagship pairing for the theme.

Frodo, Determined Hero

I don't really want to spend much time on Frodo, Determined Hero since we just talked about Equipment decks. He wears Equipment well and gets a free equip on ETB and per attack from smaller Equipment. What falls under this? About 270 cards. Are they all worth it? No, but here are some hits:

Swiftfoot Boots, Sword of Feast and Famine (and its nine friends), Sword of the Animist, Blackblade Reforged, Nettlecyst, Dowsing Dagger, Mask of Griselbrand.

A lot a really solid Equipment fall under this. However, Frodo's narrow window of eligible Equipment makes me believe that he will be best suited for the command zone. Otherwise, take your pick of Boros Equipment commanders, check how many Frodo can carry for free and have at thee.

Gandalf, White Rider

A lot of token swarm deck cards this set! Gandalf, White Rider rewards you for doing what you'll already be doing: casting spells. Scrying 1 for every spell is pretty awesome, especially if you've got this in an Azorius shell with a Future Sight effect or Selesnya with Augur of Autumn. Elminster will find ways to use Gandalf, I'm certain. The scry plus the buff of the Faeries, I have no doubt the two famous Wizards will get along well.

If you're casting creatures, be aware of the order they enter the battlefield! Not all creatures get the buff if you're casting them one after another!

Minas Tirith

I like to think of this kind of card as almost free. It's a land, a type of card you need in basically all your decks. It can draw you a card for essentially three mana when you've attacked with two creatures, something you're probably already doing if you included this card in the deck. Minas Tirith is like a repeatable Clue token that you can use for mana when you need it. I think this belongs in most if not every mono-white deck and probably in most if not all Selesnya decks. Token swarm decks that just pump out token after token to attack are going to eat this up!

Saradoc, Master of Buckland

Speaking of token swarms (again), Saradoc, Master of Buckland can hit like a truck if your deck is built to handle the friends of Mentor of the Meek. A deck that wants The Battle of Bywater is probably going to be stoked with Saradoc. Even at the helm of a deck, white boasts a ton of two-or-less-powered creatures that are excellent inclusions, like Esper Sentinel, Solemn Simulacrum, Academy Manufactor, Mother of Runes, Karmic Guide, Welcoming Vampire, and Mirror Entity. That's a solid build already, but Saradoc turns them all into pseudo-Attended Knights. Pretty fun! As far as the 99 goes, slam Saradoc in a Hobbit-themed Halfling deck and you'll have yourself an enabler and a haymaker all in one.

War of the Last Alliance

A Saga that tutors two legends to hand then gives your creatures double strike.

Hey, that's great! I don't care for it, honestly. It's a tutor. It's great for people who like tutors, and I am not one of those people.

If you've got a secret commander in a deck, I'd go with Search for Glory first over this unless your secret commander is an unofficial Partner pairing, then awesome! If you've got a legendary-creature-heavy build of a blink or enchantress deck, then this is pretty great too. If you need board-wide double strike, True Conviction, Akroma's Will, and Rage Reflection are all options I'd prioritize if I had no use for the tutor effect.

Uncommons & Commons

Bill the Pony

A little horsey for your command zone! Bill turns Food into a temporary Assault Formation for a single creature, which is most likely going to be himself because he's such a good, sweet boy, but when he bucks, it hits hardest. This is an innocuous-looking Voltron card that can get in thanks to Skulk and other pseudo-unblockable abilities before having a snack and kicking back.

Eastfarthing Farmer

Hey, it's Shivam Bhatt!

It's not a bad creature for Food token decks either. If you've got loads of Food, this can come seemingly out of nowhere.

Éowyn, Lady of Rohan

Odric, Lunarch Marshal decks gain a little bit of flexibility and Equipment decks get a more generous Danitha Capashen, Paragon.

Faramir, Field Commander

A delayed Morbid Opportunist for creatures you control for four mana isn't that crazy, but add in the token-generation for getting tempted and you might get more out of this than you think in aristocrats decks.

Landroval, Horizon Witness

Five mana for a conditional Jump that requires two creatures to attack is pretty sneaky since it doesn't specifically require those attackers to have flying. I thought there'd be some "creature with flying" tech, like for Donal, Herald of Wings or something, but really it's a lot of Plummets. Not sure where I'd look at this beyond theme decks or Bird decks.

Lost to Legend

Bring back the tuck rule!

Seriously, though, this is sweet. Some decks are happier to have their cards in their graveyards (like my decks), and sending them back to hand isn't so great; enter Lost to Legend. Tucking a card can be effectively a full removal spell if the game is almost over or if your opponent just cracked a fetch land. Historic is excellent batching and we need more!


White Remand is going to be more important in 60-card formats and cEDH. Returning a big, expensive spell to your opponent's hand when they can't cast it again that turn is brutal. Not to mention, this doesn't actually counter anything, so it gets around "can't be countered" text. Plus it draws a card? This is a mythic uncommon if I've ever seen one.

Rosie Cotton of South Lane

I like Rosie Cotton of South Lane more and more every time I read her. Three-mana 1/1 that enters with a Food and buffs another one of your creatures when a token is created is pretty fine! Even if the tokens you make are 1/1s that enter effectively enter with a +1/+1 counter, that's still not a bad gig! Rosie turns all your instant-speed token-creation into combat tricks! I think she seems really fun as a commander or in somewhere like Rhys the Redeemed.

Samwise the Stouthearted

A Regrowth for a permanent that hit your graveyard from play this turn on a blinkable body that also has The Ring tempts you on it feels right at uncommon. Not too powerful but something about it feels like it could combo but not in a way that feels nasty? I don't quite know! Not huge on it, but don't hate it. Seeing Samwise appear alongside Saffi Eriksdotter in combos at Commander's Spellbook - no matter how few there are currently - feels right.

Second Breakfast

Cute! LOTR theme decks, enjoy. I only know about this because dorks love brunch! Brunch rules!

Shire Shirriff

Shire Shirriff is interesting because at two mana, you don't get a lot of unconditional targeting for this type of effect, especially on a creature.

Circle of Confinement, Silkwrap, and Glass Casket let you do it to only creatures with power three or less. Suspension Field does it to three toughness or greater. On Thin Ice, Ossification, and Chained to the Rocks require a snow land, basic land, or a Mountain, respectively. Seal Away needs them tapped, and Portable Hole cares about permanents at lower mana value.

These are all artifacts and enchantments though.

This is the first creature (I checked Scryfall real hard) at two mana to exile an opponent's creature temporarily, and it only costs a token, a thing that gets made incidentally. I think this is stronger than it looks at first glance, but also I don't think it'll make many ripples in Commander. I think it's just an interesting piece of information to have!

Slip On the Ring

A new blink card with upside that's great for decks that care about The Ring tempting them.

Tale of Tinúviel

I really like this Saga, it's great for enchantress and blink decks. The reanimation on the second chapter rather than the third is pretty big. Every Saga that reanimates a creature does so at its final chapter, therefore triggering the Saga to sacrifice. Not Tale of Tinúviel! This one sticks around, unlike Elspeth Conquers Death or Kardur's Vicious Return, and therefore can be blinked for further value, which means giving your new creature indestructible for as long as you have the Saga. I think this one is neat! Brago, King Eternal will be annoying with it, Aminatou, the Fateshifter creature-focused decks will love this, Tuvasa the Sunlit loves being indestructible and bringing back Nylea's Colossus at the beginning of the turn. It's a really great uncommon.

You Cannot Pass!

Not a good card, but it joins the ranks of You Are Already Dead as a card to name when you Demonic Consultation after Thassa's Oracle. Iconic moment for sure!

Universes Beyond: Another Hit!

Whereas Warhammer 40K precon decks had me curious enough to watch lore videos about them on YouTube, I feel fine knowing little about LOTR because of how rich this set has been. It's so clearly designed with love and admiration. I still do not care and that is such a freeing feeling, but that doesn't meant I won't be jamming a ton of these cards come launch.

What's your favourite? Am I wrong about any of these? Is Shire Shirriff less cool than I think?  Let me know!

Mike Carrozza is a stand-up comedian from Montreal who’s done a lot of cool things like put out an album called Cherubic and worked with Tig Notaro, Kyle Kinane, and more people to brag about. He’s also been an avid EDH player who loves making silly stuff happen. @mikecarrozza on platforms