Lord of the Rings.
Over 95% of you reading this will know what that refers to, but let’s say you don’t. All you know based on the title is that there are multiple rings, and there is a Lord of them. How many rings you might ask? It could be two; it could be three; it could be an entire Kay Jeweler’s worth of wedding bands. We all associate it with the franchise, but really it could apply to any franchise. I could be the Lord of the Rings when I get Arby’s in the Baltimore airport and demolish a large order of onion rings.
My point, which I have reached with flying colors, is that Lord of the Rings is ambiguous, and in a setting like Magic: the Gathering that has near limitless possibilities, that means there could be many lords of many rings that already exist. Today, we’re going to find out if these lords are chumps or champs.
Today I’m going to take a trip back in Magic history in celebration of the Tales from Middle Earth set releasing this coming June. We’re going to review and rank all of the rings from Magic’s history.
Well…basically all of them. The specific criteria I’m using for this will be that it must be a ring (like, literally in the art and flavor) and have “ring” in the name, and must be an artifact, since I’m not sure you really want to be the Lord of the Oblivion Ring.
Here’s my general ranking scale:
S: The only reason you wouldn’t include this is personal choice, other synergy, or budget.
A: Always a solid choice, can’t go wrong taking up a slot.
B: Generally a good pick, can work well in most decks or very well in others with synergy.
C: Good in niche situations, but might be outclassed by other picks.
D: Generally outclassed by other picks. Only playable in extreme niches or if you just like the card/it fits your deck’s theme.
Now, let’s…uh…ring ’em in?
We’re starting off with a real powerhouse here. Aladdin is here to ask you one question: are you drowning in mana? Do you want to run a card that’s bad removal even by the standards of Colorless commanders? Are you playing 8-cost Tribal? If you said yes to any of the above questions, boy, do I have the thing for you. On the plus side, it can at least hit players. There probably is some silly-goofy way you can combo with this, and I’d pay money to see it.
Rating: D, but if you play it my respect level for you skyrockets.
Actually, I think this card would be really cool if it wasn’t gated by the absurd mana costs of early Magic-era artifacts. Being able to flip your topdeck to something else for a fee every turn isn’t the worst effect. It would also be neat if it didn’t have to tap: obviously the design intent was to use it at the start of your turn, but being able to filter through cantrip draws with this could have utility if it wasn’t so gated off by it’s costs.
Rating: D. The background on the art is kinda sweet though.
This card is hilarious in group slug decks, I swear it. Have I ever run it? Of course not, but this card is surprisingly good in a multiplayer format with politics and general shenanigans happening regularly. Being able to get this in play for the low cost of 2 mana to basically force any players that have big boards or aristocrats strategies to throw it away immediately can just be a big pain to deal with.
Realistically though, the downfall of this one is that it’s so easy to get rid of for the type of decks that it would hit the hardest. At the least, I think it’s hysterical to put it into play and just be obnoxious.
Come on look they’re all there it’s literally all 9 rings right there I don’t even see why we need a new set for this.
This card is one of the cards in the game.
Rating: D, and if I see you running this in a constructed deck in person I will eat my shoe.
Ok, now we have something. In lifegain decks (especially of the mono-color variety), this is a fantastic way to get some incremental lifegain and is obviously a great inclusion there. Where I think this shines is other mono-color decks that spend a lot of life, like Zombies or any deck that does significant self-damage. The best way to offset self damage is just to gain life as you play the cards you’d normally play, and this has a super low barrier to entry. I don’t think it’s a superstar card or anything, but I think most decks could use a little extra life here and there.
Rating: B in Mono-Color, C in everything else.
I have mixed feelings on this one, but in general I think it’s fine. It’s one in the list of Manalith/Commander’s Sphere variations, but this one plays the long con. If you can keep it on the board for 8 upkeeps, it makes 8 more tokens of it. First off, if you run Paradox Haze or Sphinx of the Second Sun, this card is actually quite good since you can get the tokens pretty quick, and even sticking an extra 8 mana/8 artifact tokens late game can help you finish strong. In other decks, I think it’s fine. If you want to hit the late game anyway, this can sometimes fly under the radar pretty well. Bonus points if you can Proliferate it as well.
The first of the colored buff-ring cycle: these cards give +1/+1 counters at the start of your upkeep to creatures of a certain type and carry a keyword with them to boot. While this one gives hexproof, it only lasts for a turn at 2 mana a pop. I think it’s not too bad if you’re in a counter deck though. It’s flexible enough to both spread some counters as well as provide some spot protection. Overall, it’s alright. I wouldn’t run it over other hexproof artifacts, but if you’re in need of more redundant effects it’s here for you.
Rating: High C, can be solid in the right deck, but is pretty bad in others.
Remember what I said earlier about cards that are gated by early Magic costs? This one is one of them. The effect isn’t bad, but has just been severely power crept over the years. It also is a slightly less valuable effect in multiplayer magic vs. 1v1 games where you can really manipulate the game’s tempo.
Rating: D, unless your Commander is Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor.
Colorless counterspells are sick. This one is…slightly less so. Since it sticks on the board, people will usually see it coming. It can’t hit most board wipes either, which is a pretty big hit to it. Worst of all, it costs literally as much mana as Eldrazi Conscription, which most colorless decks could use to solve their problems by whacking someone to death.
Rating: D, the most mortal immortal ring ever created.
Well, that’s a good chunk of the rings out of the way, but we still have some more to cover. Tune in soon for the rest of the list!
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