MTG Spoilers Confirm Tales of Middle-Earth Isn’t Just For Die-hard LotR Fans

MTG official Bilbo's Birthday Party artwork from LotR Tales of Middle-earth

Magic: The Gathering‘s upcoming crossover set, The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, is the biggest and most exciting Universes Beyond release since MTG‘s fan-favorite Warhammer 40,000 Commander decks. Tales of Middle-Earth is an enormous tribute to LotR that dives deep into the original books’ extensive lore, but despite its depth, casual fans don’t have to feel left out.

So far, Tales of Middle-Earth is shaping up to be a fun and flavorful non-canon set that focuses more on introducing fun and interesting Tolkien-inspired cards than on creating powerful new staples for constructed formats. That said, recent Tales of Middle-earth spoilers assured fans on reddit that the set will be accessible to MTG players and LotR fans alike, with a few powerful cards that will likely see mainstream play. Here’s why MTG‘s upcoming LotR crossover set, Tales of Middle-earth, will be great fun even for players unfamiliar with Tolkien’s fantasy saga.


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Tales of Middle-earth’s Delighted Halfling Is a Delight For All MTG Players

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The latest Tales of Middle-earth spoilers revealed six new cards in various colors, mostly featuring the hobbits and Gandalf attending Bilbo’s birthday party at the start of The Fellowship of the Ring. Most of these cards put The Lord of the Rings flavor and lore first, meaning they’ll likely appeal most to LotR fans who also happen to play MTG. This will undoubtedly lead to some great casual games focused on the cards’ theme and story. Players who care more about MTG and less about LotR aren’t being left in the dust, though, as among the new cards is a formidable hobbit that makes a fantastic addition to many decks.

Delighted Halfling is an incredible mana dork — a small creature with abilities that focus on generating mana. It’s a Halfling Citizen that costs just one green mana for a 1/2 body, and it can tap for one colorless mana, which a powerful ability for any green deck. The second ability is the best part, with Delighted Halfling tapping for any color of mana, just like Birds of Paradise, with the condition that players can only spend the mana on a legendary spell. However, in return for this restriction, the spell cast cannot be countered.

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There are plenty of legendary creatures in Tales of Middle-Earth, including the mysterious Tom Bombadil and icons like Frodo and Sam, so players can be sure that within the Tales of Middle-earth set, Delighted Halfling will see frequent play as a mana fixer for color-heavy decks using all of Tolkien’s best characters. Best of all, simple, generic abilities like these tend to be useful in almost any deck across multiple formats, as color fixing and mana ramp are fundamental parts of MTG that aren’t tied to a particular strategy or archetype.

Mana dorks like Birds of Paradise are widely played in any deck that runs green cards, and Delighted Halfling does the same for decks that casts lots of legendary spells, from legendary creatures like commanders to the legendary sorceries in Dominaria and MTG‘s legendary Planeswalker cards.

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Wizards of the Coast Always Designs MTG Sets With Broad Appeal

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Borderless MTG cards Gollum and The One Ring from LotR Tales of Middle-earth set

It’s a good call for Wizards of the Coast to make Tales of Middle-Earth a balanced blend of lore-heavy cards for devoted LotR fans and mechanically relevant cards that MTG fans will want to play, regardless of flavor. This is hardly a new strategy, though, as most MTG sets are printed with a wide variety of players in mind. Even special, unique sets like Tales of Middle-Earth can’t afford to offer just one gimmick, or appeal to just one market — they must have at least a few cards for every type of MTG player out there, from casual players to competitive Modern and Legacy players to Commander players, as well as dedicated collectors who like having something of everything.

MTG is designed to be many games in one, and sets like The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth are a great example of this design philosophy being good for the players. These sets have lots to offer a diverse range of fans, with many types of cards jostled together that still feel cohesive. Most expansions pull this off quite well, with cards that create a consistent theme while also offering goodies for MTG‘s Commander players, competitive players and casual players alike. This is just one more factor that could make Tales of Middle-Earth one of the best sets ever printed, both as a Tolkien tribute and a full-blown MTG expansion that’s worth opening packs for.


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