A basic draft & sealed guide to MTG's The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth

The new Lord of the Rings Magic set crossover is finally out and it’s quite a banger! 

The flavor is through the roof, but what I love the most about it is the limited format. Lately, drafting, and sealed especially, could feel a bit high variance at times. March of the Machine packs had a special slot for a legendary card, battle card, non-battle double-faced card and three to five uncommons. In addition to a rare or mythic card. This made sealed a very wild format and even in draft you usually played against decks with five or more bombs on the regular. 

LOTR:Tales of Middle-earth is nothing like that and feels more like a return to the good old days of limited Magic where you constantly battle for little edges and small advantages with cards of low-to-average power level. There are a few bombs, sure, but almost nothing feels unbeatable.

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It is more of a "save your Doom Blade for their Serra Angel or Shivan Dragon" type of format with some good uncommons and rares, but nothing a removal spell couldn’t take care of. There are plenty of good ways to deal with creatures, so as long as you save them for the right targets, it is mostly about small edges, synergy, using your cards at the right time, a timely combat trick or double-block, and executing your archetype’s game plan correctly. 

I personally enjoy this type of Magic a lot more because it makes the drafting and deck building process more interesting, and you have to really work hard for your wins as opposed to leaning on your bombs doing all the work.

LOTR: Tales of Middle-earth: Tips for limited

Here are some general tips I can give you as a starter before you play your first draft. For reference, you can find the full spoiler here.

  • Try to focus on drafting a deck with a good curve, synergy and removal. I know this is a very general tip, but you honestly don’t really need much more than that in this format. Phyrexia was incredibly fast, MOM was about bombs. LOTR is more about just basic approach to the limited format like you would do in a core set. 
  • "The Ring tempts you" is a very good ability that generates a lot of value and plays a big role in the format. The most important ability is the second one where your creature loots when it attacks. This means that you almost always have a play to make on your turn and flooding out is much less of an issue than usual. 
  • The first ability means that 1/3 creatures are actually a lot better than 2/2s in this format. Remember that your Ring-bearer cannot be blocked by creatures with bigger power. That makes 1/3 stats much better because your creature is going to be very hard to block, and at the same time it is good at blocking other Ring-bearers. Keep that in mind when evaluating two-drops and creatures in general.
  • Take a close look at what each of the archetypes do to make sure you know what cards to prioritize for your color combination. For example, Blue/Green is an archetype that revolves around scrying, so you will want to prioritize cards with that ability. Green/Black is a typical midrange deck with good removal and creatures, so you don’t have to focus too much on synergy. This archetype overview will help you realize that cards like Pelargir Survivor fit into Blue/Black and Blue/Red, but should never find their way into Blue/Green or Blue/White builds. 
  • Take the land-cyclers highly, especially Troll of Khazad-dum and Generous Ent. Think of them as a good creature/land split card. That is a very valuable card because it is good both early and late in the game. 

LOTR: Tales of Middle-earth: Limited archetypes

These are the set's main draft archetypes of the ten two-color pairs according to Wizards of the Coast.

  • White-Blue: An evasive midrange deck with a "draw a second card" theme.
  • Blue-Black: A controlling amass deck with a milling aspect and a light Human typal element.
  • Black-Red: An aggressive amass deck featuring a sacrifice component as well as an Orc and Goblin (as a batch) typal element.
  • Red-Green: A ramp "power matters" deck pairing larger red creatures with green Treefolk and diping into the wild creature element of the set.
  • Green-White: An aggressive Hobbit deck that makes use of Food tokens.
  • White-Black: A "legendary creatures matter" deck that makes use of the Ring tempts you mechanic and has a sacrifice component.
  • Blue-Red: This control deck leans on a Wizards theme and has an "instants and sorceries matter" center.
  • Black-Green: A deck with a life and death theme that sacrifices and regrows cards and makes major use of Food tokens.
  • Red-White: A go-wide Humans deck that ranges from aggro to midrange.
  • Green-Blue: A tempo Elf deck with some Elf typal elements that rewards for scrying.

My favorite color so far is black because of all the good common removal spells, but every color combination felt fine to me. This is a set that rewards cohesive drafting, good deck building and solid play. Competitive players will appreciate that it's a set where hard work pays off, and casual players will appreciate the flavor and a very easy-to-understand concept of the format. 

Shout out to the game designers and play testing team for this one and a big thumbs up from me!

Autor: Martin Juza

Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame, Member of Team CFBUltimateGuard

Martin learned to play Magic at a young age after he saw some of his classmates playing it. Once he learned, he built a beginner deck and ever since then, he’s been hooked. Considered one of the top players in the world, his busy travel schedule made him become a real Magic Globetrotter, representing the game worldwide. Learn more about Martin.

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