The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Review, Part 4 of 4: The Colorless Cards

For the first time since the announcement of Universes Beyond, we have a fully draftable, Modern legal set on our hands. The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth explores and re-imagines the book version of Tolkien’s fantasy epic. A new set means new cards, and we’re continuing our review with the monocolor cards. 

Last time we covered the monocolor cards, and this time as usual we won’t be looking at everything, and we’ll be doing this primarily but not exclusively with an eye for Commander play.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Anduril, Flame of the West

FromTheShire: I love me a good Voltron deck, or a good tribal deck, and I don’t think this actually really works for either. It’s not a big enough buff and you don’t really care about the tokens much in Voltron, and it’s a good bit of setup for not all that much payoff in a tribal deck either. It’s not like outright bad or anything but unless you have a game plan that really needs the tokens I think you can almost always do better. In draft this is probably a house though, sticking around through creature removal to keep churning out flyers.

Marcy: This is like Geist of Saint Traft but Bad, in that it’s 5 mana and really needs to be on a legendary. That said, a token based aggro deck in Commander can probably find a great use for this (Honestly, maybe in an actual Geist deck?) would be interesting. I think the fact they come in tapped when not on a legendary is a little weak, though.

BPhillipYork: For 5 mana you’re getting 4 stat points and then 2 1/1s a turn attacking assuming you’re dropping it on your Commander. If you’re buffing them or leveraging them in some really useful way, that’s great. Otherwise it’s just probably not really worth the cost and complication of equipping when there are better swords out there.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast


FromTheShire: Is it worth a card slot to run this in your Equipment deck on the off chance you need to ward off a Blightsteel Colossus? Almost certainly not, but you sure could if you wanted, or were on a pretty serious budget.

Marcy: Boy this sure is an equipment card that exists.

BPhillipYork: I can’t see a usecase for this card, maybe, maybe if you had a … uh no.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Bilbo’s Ring

FromTheShire: It’s a little pricey for most of the decks that want this, hopefully you’re in colors that give you access to Puresteel Paladin. Once you actually get it equipped, this is actually pretty solid for Rafiq of the Many style Voltron decks. They can’t interact with your Commander on your turn and if they don’t before then they’re in a lot of trouble. Whispersilk Cloak sees a lot of play in that kind of deck for a reason, and in general I’m probably okay with paying the extra equip cost if it draws a card or two.

Marcy: Initially this card seems… kind of weird. It’s like a bad Swiftfoot Boots without haste, but I actually think that in the world of The Ring Tempts You mechanics, there are some ways this could be really annoying. A single level of Ring Tempting makes it hard to block your carrier, this makes them unblockable, and it really isn’t hard to build up the temptation benefits. 1 life for a card, also? Pretty good!

BPhillipYork: Hexproof and unblockable with draw a card and lose a life isn’t terrible if you have a Commander that you a) have to attack with and b) need to connect also. Other than that players are liable to just kill your Commander before your turn.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast


FromTheShire: My immediate thought for this is Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest or a similar style deck. There aren’t a ton of lists that want to both spellsling and also go Voltron, this isn’t a bad piece in the few that do though.

Marcy: Like a lot of the LotR cards I am having a hard time telling if this is a win condition card or absolute junk. The fact that it is is /+0 and doesn’t give any evasion means your carrier might still get walloped easily or removed. The cast cantrip is the part that tilts this towards maybe a win condition, but I feel like if you’re hitting someone for 5+ damage unmitigated, you’re probably already winning without help from whatever expensive spell you’re holding.

BPhillipYork: This could be a really powerful enabler, especially in red, where you could use it to keep attacking with extra combats (or blue with extra turns). 2 mana +3 later isn’t bad for the ability to generate off infinite turns or attacks.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Horn of Gondor

FromTheShire: In Commander, anything that doubles things is wildly popular, especially tokens. There are whole decks built around this game plan, and while being limited to Humans does narrow things a bit, the fact that it’s an artifact opens up a bunch of Unwinding Clock / Clock of Omens style shenanigans instead. Really, really powerful if left unchecked for less time than you’d think.

Marcy: There are a lot of go wide Human decks that this card would probably slot into really well. The fact that you even get a free Human just for having it show up on the battlefield for 3 mana is great value; imagining this stacked with something like Wedding Announcement and Katilda, Dawnhart Prime is honestly scary.

BPhillipYork: The use case I can see here is decks that want to go extremely wide, there’s a lot of Soldier support, there’s also things like Halo Fountain as a win con, and the ability to double your tokens with a Commander like Rhys the Redeemed.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Horn of the Mark

FromTheShire: This is a pretty interesting way to dig in creature heavy decks, even more so if you have a bunch of disposable tokens to do the attacking with. I think most of the time I’d probably rather have a straight up draw spell, but if I cracked this in a pack I wouldn’t feel bad about slotting it into a deck.

Marcy: And then we come to this, which is just sort of like only useful in Commander situations I think. And even then, I’m not sure how good this is over a lot of other cards that filter or put things in your hand or battlefield. It is only 2 mana, though, so at least it is cheap for what it does, but the cost of having to attack with two creatures means I can imagine a lot of bad trades here.

BPhillipYork: In creature heavy decks this is kind of pseudo-draw, if that is what you need. 2 Mana isn’t bad at all, and this is also a cheap legendary permanent with only colored mana to enable casting legendary sorceries if that is a concern for you (though given the nature of Commander you generally will have a legendary permanent available).


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Mirror of Galadriel

FromTheShire: In theory this is pretty sweet in something like a Kethis, the Hidden Hand deck, it really depends on if you can stick enough creatures reliably in your meta to get enough cost reduction though. I suspect more often than not it will cost too much and be too slow.

Marcy: I recently tried to make this card work in limited draft with scry elves and I really was not impressed with it. The cost reduction by legendaries means this might be easier to find value in Commander, but even then it means your deck needs to run a lot of legendaries and have some pay off for scrying (not that filtering your deck is ever bad) to include it.

BPhillipYork: So the ceiling here is an artifact that costs 2 and has tap, scry 1, and draw a card. If you have 5 legendary creatures. If I knew 100% I’d have this in every game I would play this card, but at tap and pay 1 the answer is no, which means this card is kind of a no all around.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Mithril Coat

FromTheShire: I run cards like Rootborn Defenses fairly often because they’re incredibly useful in warding off the biggest weakness of creature decks and this is the same idea except it only saves one creature. In an equipment based Voltron deck I can definitely see it since you should have other effects that care about equipment and it sticks around on the board to keep protecting your Commander. Like this is a flash speed Darksteel Plate that equips for free the first time, in exchange for costing 1 extra in the subsequent times you need to pay for it, and that’s pretty damn solid.

Marcy: I mean 3 colorless mana that stops destruction effects at instant speed sounds good to me! Quite literally a ‘does what it says on the box’ card.

BPhillipYork: This is a solid card in my opinion for decks that need to have their Commander in play. Given it’s flash and auto-equip, it can save from a board clear or just be dropped before your turn, also really solid for any Commanders that inherently have hexproof.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Palantir of Orthanc

FromTheShire: Love this in self mill graveyard style decks. Comes down quick to start filling your yard and escalates as turns pass, while damaging them at the same time. Alternatively this is a colorless Phyrexian Arena that doesn’t cost you life and lets you scry 2 before the draw, which is excellent.

Marcy: You ever start reading a Magic card and immediately feel like you’ve gone blind? This card is so convoluted that it feels people are going to just remove it out of spite. It does become an interesting trade-off over time: is it worth letting you have a card after you’ve scried? Maybe when this thing has like 1 or 2 counters on it, but me losing life while you mill yourself might be deck dependent; it’s a lot easier to gain life than it is to put cards back in your library.

BPhillipYork: Kind of fun political card, can go double if you want to mill, 3 mana for an auto scry 2 and draw one isn’t terrible but it’s pretty slow. Would be nice if you scryed equal to the influence counters.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Phial of Galadriel

FromTheShire: 3 mana rocks are mostly bad these days, and the bonus conditions are not aimed at Commander – if you’re in either of these situations things have gone horribly wrong and you’re about to die, and the game plan of your deck should not be to get some slight upside when that happens.

Marcy: Something that strikes me about this card is that at 3 mana it is an expensive mana rock, and also, do the benefits of the card actually… pay off in any way? If you’re the type of deck that wants to have no cards in hand, then this messes with that, and if you want to be at low life, it also messes with that. It feels like maybe it’s just not that deep, I guess, and if you’re only playing in LoTR it could maybe be a mana-fixer.

BPhillipYork: If you have some kind of hellbent and discard deck I could see playing this card, 3 for 1 mana fixer isn’t going to move the needle unless the hellbent thing or the life gain thing is really going to move the needle for you.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Sting, the Glinting Dagger

FromTheShire: 2 mana equip 2 for +1/+1, haste, and vigilance isn’t bad, primarily the haste and vigilance. Haste is incredibly useful for Voltron decks since they need to start smashing as soon as they hit the table if they’re going to be able to win, and while Swiftfoot Boots and Lightning Greaves are inclusions 1 and 2, I could easily see myself including this for that redundancy alone.

Marcy: Funny that this card exists in the same set as the Barrow-Blade. Yes, the Barrow-Blade does something weird about abilities but this is just GOOD value at a decent price. I could see this in a slot of limited, but I could see shenanigans with some parts of this card for sure.

BPhillipYork: The untap thing is neat, that’s probably the unique upside, the haste is decent as well, but for 4 mana, at best you’ve already got it and then need to pay 2 more mana to equip, so that is a lot of mana. The untap thing could be used to untap a powerful Commander with a tap ability, like say Rhys the Redeemed or something like that that gets out of control.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Stone of Erech

FromTheShire: Solid piece of graveyard hate for a format that frequently treats the graveyard as a second hand and is full of reanimation effects. More often than not creatures are what are going to be looped requiring you to stop them, and better yet this leaves your own creatures untouched. In a pinch you can activate it in response to a non-creature graveyard issue, and it even draws you a card when you do. Really nice.

Marcy: At first this seems like More Expensive Relic of Progenitus, but slightly different. I actually like this MORE for Commander, because it is targeted hate, where Progenitus is just a graveyard nuke button. I also like the exile effect on death; honestly you can run both of them if you’re really big on graveyard hate and I don’t think you’d be lesser for it.

BPhillipYork: If you want to strip your opponents yard this is a solid stax piece.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

The One Ring

FromTheShire: This is at its best in decks like Brago, King Eternal where you can continuously bounce it to keep giving yourself protection. If I can’t I’m still happy to have it in decks like lifegain/drain, suicide black, etc.

Marcy: This might be one of the most hotly debated cards I’ve seen from pre-release content and discussions. The Ring is pretty powerful, and in Historic Brawl I have faced a few decks combining it with multicolor Sauron that was miserable, but overall the card is kind of situational. The protection from everything on cast is fun, but afterwards it becomes an increasingly dangerous Phyrexian Arena. In decks that you can run multiple copies of cards, the Ring seems tempting (ha!) for stacking the initial cast effect, but I haven’t been super impressed by the card.

BPhillipYork: So the play pattern here is drop this draw a card, then lose 1 life, then draw 2, so 4 mana for pro everything and draw 3 isn’t bad at all. There are ways you could loop this, which of course is currently breaking some metas, if you’re not looping this then it’s straight card draw, and if you’re slowing the game somehow or staxxing it out it’s fairly solid card draw. Honestly I’m pretty disappointed with the flavor of this card, though [[Coveted Jewel]] already exists. Also the ring doesn’t tempt you. I dunno.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Minas Tirith

FromTheShire: Great piece of repeatable draw for white which can still use the help, and it’s on a land so it’s not likely to be blown up either.

Marcy: Man now this is a good card. White aggro decks are going to love this card, and I think it’s an easy include for sure. I like that it doesn’t nuke itself for drawing you a card either, or have some weird ‘can only be used once’ effect like some of the other draw lands.

BPhillipYork: This is really nice for mono-white weenie decks or any other kind of decks that know they are going to attack consistently since it enters untapped most of the time, you can just sub it for a Plains to get some midgame recovery. Pretty solid for battlecruiser type decks.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast


FromTheShire: It’s a shame that this is an expensive effect meant more for something like Limited because it’s flavorful and the art is rad as hell.

Marcy: And then there’s this land, which is just. Not good. Unless you’re running a deck that will focus on sacrificing, I have a hard time seeing the extra effect on this card paying off in amazing ways.

BPhillipYork: Token generation on a land is definitely useful. 3 mana for a 1/1 isn’t terrible, it’s not the best.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Mines of Moria

FromTheShire: Even in a Treasure deck I think most of the time you’re going to have better things to do with your mana.

Marcy: Four mana to eat your own graveyard to only get 2 mana out of it feels…not great unless you’re using this as some way to filter in other colors for cards that you’re splashing into your deck but aren’t a majority of your color pie.

BPhillipYork: So potentially this could be a piece of setting up a combo, or just having extra Treasure for when you need it. The ability to store up extra mana to go off is really solid, and since it will generally enter untapped once your Commander is in play, seems solid.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast


FromTheShire: Much better. In blue you are much more likely to be holding up mana for counterspells or other instant speed plays, and if you make it back to your turn without needing to fire one of those off, this is a great little mana sink. Generally Scry 3 is seen as equal to drawing a card so the rate is okay not fantastic but the opportunity cost is very low and again this is much more likely to stick around than a random enchantment, plus it lets you manipulate the top of your deck repeatedly for lists that care about that as well.

Marcy: This is maybe the 3rd best mono-color land in the set, especially for Scry Elves, this feels like a no brainer. 2 mana to Scry 2? Sure. The Legendary tax on it is a bit awkward, but in Commander or LotR limited formats, I think it’s a must-take.

BPhillipYork: This is okay, but scry 2 is mostly useful if you really need to know land or non-land or something like that.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

The Shire

FromTheShire: This is another one that is pretty easy to activate on the end of someone else’s turn with your spare mana and grind out more value. Nothing flashy but really solid.

Marcy: This land is so good. I am going to warn you: Food Tribal is real, and it is coming for you. The idea of just getting a token for 2 mana and tapping some dork should scare you, because there are a lot of ways Food Token synergy is going to shake things up in a lot of decks, and having their creation on an easy to use stick is going to be nuts.

BPhillipYork: So useful for decks that care about Food or tokens, otherwise not much going on.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Mount Doom

FromTheShire: I mean it’s a boardwipe on a land, what’s not to love? Play it as a regular old land at any point, and then late game you can detonate it as necessary without needing to devote another card slot to it. There are almost 200 legendary artifacts, you can definitely have one around when you need it. Also the flavor on this is just magnificent, as is the artwork.

Marcy: How many Rakdos players work at WOTC, do you think? My word, this is the most Rakdos land of all time. A shockland that can ping opponents and isn’t a cast trigger, and a 7 mana selective board wipe? Yeah, alright. Probably one card I’m glad is not legal in most formats where it would be frustrating as hell.

BPhillipYork: This is really solid, a red black painland with multiple extra modes, 7 mana and a legendary artifact to board clear possibly one way is a lot of mana but kind of funny to just have ready to go, and dealing damage to your opponents when you need to to generate triggers is also really solid. This will see a lot of play purely as an enters untapped dual land with upside.



That wraps up our look at the set’s colorless cards. Join us next time as we begin our Unstable Mutation on the companion preconstructed decks. In the meantime, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at