Magic: The Gathering is getting a full-blown Universes Beyond crossover set, The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth, to explore Tolkien’s famous fantasy universe like never before. Fans’ hopes are high, but Wizards of the Coast recently cautioned players about what to expect from the set.
Wizards explained on reddit that Tales of Middle-Earth is based on the original three LotR books, not director Peter Jackson’s beloved movie trilogy or extraneous material like The Silmarillion or The Hobbit. For this reason, Tales of Middle-Earth features numerous story and aesthetic differences that will stand out to players. While some die-hard fans of the LotR movies might be disappointed, MTG has seized the opportunity to introduce innovative, fun and flavorful portrayals of iconic characters like Frodo, Aragorn and Gandalf, opening the door to exciting new possibilities for gameplay and card art alike.
Tales of Middle-earth Introduces Novel Portrayals of LotR Characters and Settings
The Lord of the Rings is far more than just a trilogy — it also spans the three Hobbit movies from the 2010s, The Silmarillion and the broader Legendarium. Given the sheer breadth and depth of the IP, Wizards of the Coast spoke up to clarify what Tales of Middle-earth will contain and what it won’t. In particular, the set includes content from the three main books: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and Return of the King. Nothing featured exclusively in The Hobbit or The Silmarillion will appear in Tales of Middle-Earth.
The biggest implications are for the set’s lore and aesthetics; Tales of Middle-Earth will not resemble Peter Jackson’s movies, which are their own canon. They’re excellent movies, but they took their own liberties with the source material. Instead, Tales of Middle-Earth will introduce new interpretations of the original three books with MTG‘s own interests at heart. Casual LotR fans should be ready for Tales of Middle-earth cards to look very different to Peter Jackson’s movies, from character appearances to lore — like the elves being absent from the battle of Helm’s Deep and Saruman not dying at Isengard.
Only a small handful of Tales of Middle-Earth cards have been revealed so far, but they offer a valuable glimpse into the set’s exciting new interpretations of classic characters. A notable example is Aragorn and Arwen, Wed. This legendary green/white creature depicts a very different Aragorn to actor Viggio Mortensen’s portrayal, and saw MTG fans countering a few unfortunate racist responses with lusty reactions. On top of this, Tales of Middle-earth is a fantastic opportunity for MTG to introduce characters from the books that don’t appear in the movies, like the enigmatic Tom Bombadil.
Tales of Middle-earth Leaves Room for More Tolkien-inspired Sets
The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth is quite selective about which content it features as cards. At first, dedicated fans might be disappointed that so much content will be left out, as it’s likely Tales of Middle-Earth won’t include every major LotR character or setting that fans know and love. But with so much source material, Wizards had to draw the line somewhere — and even still, a MTG expansion set is the perfect place for the LotR saga’s expansive fantasy lore to truly shine.
Best of all, the set leaves space for more LotR cards and products, meaning players can likely look forward to more Tolkien-inspired sets in the future. Tales of Middle-earth was never meant to be an all-in-one product, and Wizards may release Secret Lair drops or even another Universes Beyond expansion set based on The Hobbit, The Silmarillion or even more content from The Lord of the Rings. Secret Lair products are incredibly popular small, flavorful releases that focus on quality over quantity, with interesting new artwork and powerful cards, so fans are hopeful to see more LotR content in the future.
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