Tales of Middle Earth: Assorted Thoughts

Published: 06/14/2023

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I'm really excited to play this set. It looks like a lot of fun. I'm actually playing a prerelease for the first time in 6 years because my brother in law is really into lord of the rings and also into mtg. And the weekend after I'm going to play my quarterly RCQ. So I figured I'd prepare by organizing my thoughts.

The Ring Tempts You

I like the design of the mechanic. The first level is flavorful, encouraging you to give the ring to your sneakiest soldier. At first I was confused why the third mode wasn't merely deathtouch but it makes sense that they wouldn't want it to be broken with first strike or work as a combat trick. There are a few ways to move your ring at instant speed but only the last mode is really relevant for this.

The mechanic is pretty dense, 19 out of 108 commons tempt you, so I'd guess almost all games will involve a ring bearer on both sides. But I feel in general the commons that tempt you aren't the most tempting. I think the only ring tempts you common that I'd consider premium is Claim the Precious image. It's possible I'm underrating the mechanic though because Uruk-hai Berserker image and Took Reaper image look pretty bad to me.

Another thought is you're going to want to play a lot of 1/3s. Both to bear your ring and block their ring bearer. For that reason I think Nimble Hobbit image, Pelargir Survivor image and Lothlorien Lookout image will all be slightly more desirable.

Power Level

Is it just me or does this set seem slightly lower power level for limited than we've seen for a while? My most concrete examples are Fog on the Barrow-Downs image is worse than Pacifism image and Ent's Fury image is worse than Rabid Bite image. They print a Demolish image (Fire of Orthanc image) which they didn't for the last two sets. But just in general it seems like there are a lot of below rate cards that are leaning on their niche to be good. It's possible I'm simply undervaluing "the ring tempts you". Like I mentioned in the last section cards like Took Reaper image, Uruk-hai Berserker image and Mirrormere Guardian image don't seem very good to me.

The combat tricks also seem worse than in the last few sets.

I'm excited to combine Surrounded by Orcs image and Treason of Isengard image so hopefully the format will let me get away with playing a bunch of 4 mana 3/3s and 3 mana 2/2s.

This observation extends to rares. There are no planeswalkers. Many of the mythics are unplayable. There are certainly some good rares but it seems a lot less bomby than the last two formats. I want to say the best rare is Witch-king of Angmar image. Which is certainly a giant step down from the last two formats.