Every Lord of the Rings fan knows that, in order to take down Sauron, using the One Ring isn’t the answer. After all, it drives the bearer to madness and in its never-ending attempt to reunite with its master. Magic: The Gathering's version of the One Ring is a bit more user-friendly, and it can certainly win you a war (er, match) instead of destroying you.
The MTG set Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth introduces a mechanic that’s referred to as “the Ring tempts you.” Once the One Ring has tempted you, it comes into play and does a few different things.
The One Ring’s Mechanics
When you're first tempted by the Ring, you’ll choose a creature to be the Ring-bearer. Even if you don’t have a creature, then you’ll still gain control of the One Ring, and its effects will trigger like normal. Each time you’re tempted by the Ring, you can choose a new creature to be the Ring-bearer or keep it the same. Each player can have one active Ring-bearer and one Ring.
There are four tiers to the One Ring, and each tier offers a new effect. You progress through the tiers the more you’re tempted by the Ring, and the abilities stack together. The tiers are as follows:
- Your Ring-bearer is legendary and can’t be blocked by creatures with greater power.
- Whenever your Ring-bearer attacks, draw a card, then discard a card
- Whenever your Ring-bearer becomes blocked by a creature, that creature’s controller sacrifices it at the end of combat.
- Whenever your Ring-bearer deals combat damage to a player, each opponent loses three life.
These abilities are enticing, and they can easily change the sway of a match in your favor. However, it’s important to keep an eye on your deck size and health – you can easily mill yourself out or kill yourself if you’re not careful. It’s pretty similar to the temptation to use the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings in the fact that it’s a double-edged sword.
Luckily, there are other cards in the same set to help with this, whether you let Sauron have the Ring or keep it in the Fellowship’s hands.
How Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Supports the One Ring
Many of the cards in the Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set directly support the Ring-bearer (as if having the One Ring wasn’t enough). Here are just a few of the cards that synergize well with the Ring.
Different parts of these cards cover different weaknesses that being tempted by the One Ring creates. Running some of these together should be pretty effective at managing the admittedly low stakes of being tempted by the Ring.
On the other hand, some cards work in tandem with the Ring. Both Sauron and Aragorn get stronger with the One Ring (although we won’t think about how that works for Aragorn too hard). The Ring is strong on its own, but these cards make it almost impossible to not want to use the Ring mechanic.
There’s also the holy grail of Ring-bearer cards: Frodo, Sauron’s Bane.
This card seems like it’ll be a bit difficult to use, but its potential to cause the enemy to immediately lose the game could be disastrous.
If you’re centering a deck around the Ring mechanic, then Frodo, Sauron’s Bane is a natural choice. However, this is again a double-edged sword — you’ll need to be wary of enemies who have him as well. The power behind the Ring is tempting, but it comes with risks from cards like this.
It’s a fun little reminder that one little Hobbit can alter the fate of Middle-earth (or your MTG game) at the drop of a hat.
Overall, the One Ring Looks Busted
While being tempted by the Ring does have its downsides, they’re pretty easy to manage. With the support from other cards in the Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set, it has almost no downsides. It may not dominate the meta, but decks focused on the Ring will definitely be viable. It’s the one time you may want to follow Boromir’s advice and just use the blasted thing.