The Lord of the Rings has taken over Magic: The Gathering, and it has been quite the search to find the best cards and create the best decks that are set to take over. The same can be said for MTG Arena.
Banning season is nigh, and before it arrives on August 7th, 2023 (prior to any Wilds of Eldraine previews), here’s a glance at the metagame that’s mostly to be affected: Historic.
The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth [LOTR] was released nary a month ago, and while it was not Standard-legal, it was a bevy of fun and tomfoolery down in the eternal formats like Historic, Explorer, Modern, and Commander.
Standard itself was recently hit with a meta-defining ban announcement, with Fable of the Mirror-breaker finally ending its tyrannical reign of value-driven power, along with the brutally black Invoke Despair, and the fun-for-all-decks Reckoner Bankbuster. They joined The Meathook Massacre in Standard’s short list of disallowed cards.
While I do not expect any more cards to be hit for Standard and with its meta probably running at its healthiest in quite a couple of years, the release of LOTR for Historic was a bit of a precise but staggering change for the format.
With Historic having so many more sets and cards available to it (including Alchemy), it’s no surprise that only a few cards from the newest set break into the competitive mold – but boy did they leave a mark. So much so that I’m thinking at least ONE of these cards is a shoo-in for a ban next month. Let’s look at what cards from LOTR broke into the scene with Middle-Earth-shattering kaboom.
MTG Arena – The Best The Lord of The Rings [LOTR] Cards in Historic
The One Ring
This is it, this is the list. Just kidding – but I almost could’ve been real serious. The One Ring is the penultimate Ring in LOTR lore, and it’s far from being a macguffin, and its MTG equivalent is none the weaker. Its power, unmistakable; its effects, subtle.
For 4 of any color mana you are now entitled to more cards than your opponent per turn, with more to be drawn after every turn you take. The side-effect is nearly inconsequential, especially with flicker effects, but the coup-de-grace is the Protection from everything it grants momentarily. It’s just too much value (again) for one card to have, even if it’s not a flashy kill-opponent-now combo card.
For something so simple yet so powerful – it really is The One Ring. It might be banned soon and see itself treated like Oko, but it will be the safest craft in MTG Arena as you’ll get your wildcards back anyway if it is. In the meantime… why aren’t you playing it in almost ANY of your decks?
Again with the innocuous but very relevant value. This card can kill Kethis and other combo decks from T2 – that damage racks up to counter any deck that tries to outdraw you, and like Narset, Parter of Veils it’s only bad for your opponent. Unlike the blue anti-blue mage though, the Orcish Bowmasters present a great tempo swing with their Flash and Amass, along with the residual damage.
While I don’t think this will be enough to merit them a ban, they will be a staple for most decks bearing black for the foreseeable future; Rakdos Midrange and Rogues come to mind. I won’t be surprised to see them fit a few more archetypes, with that single pip of black not stopping them from doing so.
Flame of Anor
The Flame of Anor deals with Shelly cleanly, and if you control a Gandalf (a Wizard in general, really) it also draws you two cards.
The artifact destruction is a cherry on top of this made-for-Izzet piece, giving you an out against an opposing The One Ring. It’s narrow in terms of archetype and color, but it pays out in its flexibility in the deck it does fit in on. With the Historic Wizards deck packing the Arcanists, Symmetry Sages, and the newly-returned Snapcasters, we’ll keep seeing multiple Flames of Anor each game against them.
She’s adorkable! This mana-dork is a godsend for Kethis Combo, fixing both mana and the vulnerability to counter-magic to lay down your combo kill at least 1 turn faster.
There’s really nothing more to it, and for a mana dork, sometimes, it just takes a little extra above adding G to take the dork to the next level. The 2 toughness is nothing to complain about either. I’m just happy there’s a new key card from green aside from the next and last one on this list (because he’s gold).
Oh Sam, plain ole Samwise. He doesn’t have as many versions of himself as Frodo, Aragorn, or Gandalf, but he can boast of having a deck archetype named after him. Samwise Cat is the Abzan Mayhem Devil deck, instead relying on our reliable halfling’s food generation synergy to either bring back Yawgmoths or Hapatras, or power the A-Witch’s Familiar engine, or both.
You’ll see him often in these WBG decks that have, at least for the moment, taken its place atop the throne of the usually Jund 1-pt-ping Cat shenanigan decks. Yawgmoth and Bolas’ Citadel love him too, and with his incredible utility, I think there’ll be more he can enable when Wilds of Eldraine comes.