The best cards in Tales of Middle-Earth, Magic: The Gathering’s Lord of the Rings set, don’t just include the characters we all know and love from the films, which is always good. We’ve also got a common card in the mix - which feels fitting, because if The Lord of the Rings is anything, it’s a tale of how something unassuming can change the world.
There are definitely a lot of cards in Tales of Middle-earth that might be great for specific Commander players, but we’ve kept our list a little broader to make sure we’re not just talking about Commander and consider a more format-agnostic appeal.
Best Tales of Middle-Earth cards MTG LOTR
- Flowering of the White Tree
- The One Ring
- Gandalf the White
- Moria Marauder
- Delighted Halfling
- Mirkwood Bats
- Sméagol, Helpful Guide
- Frodo, Determined Hero
- Orcish Bowmasters
- Stern Scolding
There’s no doubt that MTG’s Lord of the Rings set is an exciting one, and part of that is because the power level feels fairly high across the entire set. It’s made whittling the best Tales of Middle-earth cards down to just ten a little bit trickier. It also means that some powerhouse cards, like Witch-king of Angmar, who can force your opponents to sacrifice creatures and even become indestructible, didn’t quite make the cut.
With that in mind, let’s get stuck into this meaty stew of a list.
1. Flowering of the White Tree
One for all
First up we have a tree, which has taken us by surprise, but hey, that’s just fantasy. This White enchantment only costs two mana, and could well be the strongest anthem effect we’ve seen in Magic: The Gathering to date. An anthem is a card that boosts the power and toughness of your creatures, and is usually an enchantment.
Flowering of the White Tree gives all non-legendary creatures you control +1/+1, and also gives legendary creatures you control +2/+1 and also ward 1. Ward means that any spells your opponents control that target the creature with ward are automatically countered unless the caster pays one mana. It’s easy to see why this is going to be good.
2. The One Ring
All for One
The One Ring had to be on the list of the best Tales of Middle-earth cards - and not just because it’s tempting us. This four-mana artifact has a few interesting effects that can help players end the game quickly, but at a cost.
For starters, it’s indestructible, which is great against artifact-breaking Red decks. It also grants you protection from everything until your next turn when it enters the battlefield, which makes it a good target for blink effects that can trigger that multiple times.
Along with that, you can tap The One Ring to put a burden counter on it before drawing a card for each burden counter on the card. These counters cause you to lose one life per counter during your upkeep, so you need either life gain or a fast win condition to get the most out of this. Alternatively, blinking the card will remove the counters, which can be another good reason to do so.
3. Gandalf the White
He’s back at it again
There are a few Gandalfs in MTG now thanks to Tales of Middle-earth, but this is our favourite. Gandalf the White is a five-mana White 4/5 with flash, which means you can cast it at any time you could cast an instant. Along with that, it also gives your other legendary and artifact spells flash, which is incredible.
The final bit of text reads: “If a legendary permanent or an artifact entering or leaving the battlefield causes a triggered ability of a permanent you control to trigger, that ability triggers an additional time.” Basically, Gandalf the White can do a lot of good stuff, and being a 4/5 isn’t bad either.
4. Moria Marauder
Nasty card draw
Moria Marauder is a two-mana Red 1/1 with double strike, which means it hits twice: once at first strike speed, and once at normal speed. It also means that if it hits an opponent, it deals two instances of combat damage, which is important.
Moria Marauder’s ability reads: “Whenever a Goblin or Orc you control deals combat damage to a player, exile the top card of your library. You may play that card this turn.”
Even if all you do is attack once with Moria Marauder and nothing else, you could basically be drawing two cards. This thing is going to be a powerhouse in Goblin decks.
5. Delighted Halfling
Telling tall tales
A good mana dork - a creature that can be tapped for mana - is worth its weight in gold, and probably evil gold rings too. Delighted Halfling is a one-mana Green 1/2 that can be tapped for one colourless mana. While coloured mana is generally better, it’s still not bad at all.
That’s especially true because Delighted Halfling can also be tapped for one mana of any colour, as long as that mana is being used to cast a legendary spell. It also stops the spell you cast using that mana being countered, which is always a relief when facing off against a Blue deck.
6. Mirkwood Bats
Tokens = death
Here we have a common card that might have one of the most obscene abilities we’ve seen recently. As a creature, Mirkwood Bats is a little underwhelming: a four-mana Black 2/3 with flying. It’s not the worst, but it’s not the best by a long way either.
What makes this card so good is that whenever you create or sacrifice a token, each opponent loses one life. That’s literally any kind of token, including treasure tokens - which are really easy to create thanks to the popularity of the mechanic, and cost nothing to sacrifice, too. This thing is going to easily win a lot of Commander games, so get used to seeing it.
7. Sméagol, Helpful Guide
Your land is mine
Sméagol, Helpful Guide is a three-mana Black and Green 4/2 that is built to work with Tales of Middle-earth’s new “the Ring tempts you” mechanic. The set’s new mechanic allows you to make one creature into a powerhouse that can make everyone lose extra life, stop them being blocked and even turn them into a legendary creature. This particular card makes the Ring tempt you at the beginning of each of your end steps, which can trigger a lot of other cards.
Not only that, but it reads: “Whenever the Ring tempts you, target opponent reveals cards from the top of their library until they reveal a land card. Put that card onto the battlefield tapped under your control and the rest into their graveyard.”
Being able to mill an opponent to not only remove their best cards, but also steal their lands, is an awesome ability.
8. Frodo, Determined Hero
An impressive attacker
This two-mana pint-sized hero is a White 2/2 that’s perfect for decks with a lot of equipment cards, no matter what MTG format you’re playing. For starters, Frodo can’t be dealt damage during your turn, which makes him a powerful attacker.
What boosts this power even higher is that when Frodo enters the battlefield or attacks, you can attach an equipment card you control to him as long as it has a mana value of 2 or 3. That means that if you play Frodo, Determined Hero when Swiftfoot Boots is in play - which grants hexproof and haste - you can attack straight away and it can’t be targeted, and the attack will trigger the effect again, allowing you to put another equipment card on the Ring-bearer.
9. Orcish Bowmasters
Damage and tokens in one place
Orcish Bowmasters is a two-mana Black 1/1 with flash. Being able to cast it at any time is important, because of the big chunk of text attached to it: “When Orcish Bowmasters enters the battlefield and whenever an opponent draws a card except the first one they draw in each of their draw steps, Orcish Bowmasters deals 1 damage to any target. Then amass Orcs 1.” Amass is a returning mechanic that was originally introduced in War of the Spark, and it creates something called an Army token.
Basically, when Orcish Bowmasters enters, or an opponent gets greedy when it comes to drawing cards, you get to deal one damage to something, and then also create an Army token or make that token stronger. Given how important card draw is, this is an ability you’ll get a lot of mileage out of.
10. Stern Scolding
Fool of a Took
Finally we have Stern Scolding, a one-mana Blue instant. This spell can counter a target creature spell with power or toughness 2 or less. While this is unlikely to stop a game-ending threat, being able to stop irritating early-game plays for just one mana is not to be underrated.
It’s also potentially good later on in some games too, because some creatures have a high power but low toughness or vice versa. Plus, keeping one mana up as a Blue player is a completely natural thing to do, and just the threat of this card will have your opponents reconsidering their life choices.