LotR ‘Ring Tempts You’ Emblem’s Problems Explained

Frodo Consumed by The One Ring

Magic: The Gathering players and The Lord of the Rings fans alike are excited for the upcoming Universes Beyond crossover set, Tales of Middle-Earth. The set is packed with MTG cards inspired by Tolkien’s legendary saga, many of which are interesting, powerful and bursting with flavor — but the One Ring is a topic of contention.

MTG fans aren’t keen on The Ring’s effects; its has no downsides and introduces an emblem to the game that just isn’t fun. Its ability doesn’t match the flavor of being a powerful but corrupting artifact, and it bends MTG‘s tried-and-tested ruleset. Worst of all, the emblem is completely non-interactive and boring to play against. Wizards of the Coast would be wise to avoid printing more cards like this in the future.


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The One Ring’s Emblem Cheats MTG’s Established Rules

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Emblems have existed in MTG for years now as non-spell, non-permanent cards that influence the game in unique ways. They are always created from spell or permanents’ own effects, and tend to be fairly simple, like Planeswalker emblems or Ixalan‘s Ascend emblem. However, Tales of Middle-Earth takes things too far with the One Ring’s temptation, a beneficial effect printed on several new cards like Frodo, Sauron’s Bane. This emblem occupies all-new design space, functioning loosely like a saga enchantment without ever being a spell itself.

The One Ring’s temptation is an intangible force, which fits the flavor, but because the emblem is purely beneficial and can’t be interacted with, it doesn’t feel enjoyable to play. By its nature, MTG needs cards to be interactive to facilitate fun gameplay, like removal spells, powerful boardwipe effects, blocking creatures, countering spells and more. Even cards with protective abilities like hexproof, indestructible, or immunity to countermagic are still interactive in other ways, creating a fun challenge that leads to MTG‘s typical back-and-forth gameplay. The One Ring’s temptation emblem goes contrary to all this, as players can never counter or destroy it.

Players can still interact with the assigned Ring-bearer creature, but that’s not enough to make The One Ring’s emblem feel like a fair part of the game. It’s far too intangible — an aloof effect that will never go away once the player resolves a spell that involves the Ring’s temptation. Universes Beyond like Warhammer 40,000 are accepted for bending the lore and gameplay rules occasionally, but The One Ring’s emblem feels like cheating in ways that even a non-canon Universes Beyond product can’t justify.

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MTG’s Intangible Effects Are Better as Neutral Cards, Like Planechase

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>MTG March of the Machine Planechase Spatial Merging

One-sided, intangible effects like The One Ring’s temptation emblem feel like cheating, giving one player a weapon that the other player can never counteract. Emblem cards do work in some contexts; MTG‘s Planecase cards are neutral, intangible cards that are beloved by fans. They aren’t spells or permanents and can’t be negated, and have passive effects that benefit or hinder all players equally. Planechase is popular not just because it flavorfully portrays players journeying across MTG‘s multiverse as Planeswalkers, but also because it’s a balanced and fun addition to the game. Wizards of the Coast should’ve considered implementing The One Ring’s temptation similarly to Planechase, in a way that doesn’t purely benefit one player.

Overall, The One Ring’s temptation feels like an off-flavor weapon that breaks the rules for player interaction. It helps that other players can still interact with Ring-bearers, which makes the The One Ring feel somewhat fairer, but the idea still feels off and fails in its execution. Players are hoping future MTG releases, including non-canon ones like MTG Secret Lair Drops, won’t introduce more one-sided emblems that give players an unfair advantage and skirt the game’s established rules.


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