About the Deck and its Strategy
The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth is one of the most anticipated sets of recent years, realizing the long-awaited meeting between the universe of Magic the Gathering and Middle-Earth, part of the fictional world of J. R.R. Tolkien. New mechanics and powerful cards make up the set full of references, being a real temptation for Commander players.
We will analyze the Commander Deck: Riders of Rohan (), noting its new cards, strategies, strengths and pointing out suggestions for improvement.
Riders of Rohan is themed around the heroes among humans of Middle-earth, featuring many legendary characters such as our commander Éowyn, Shieldmaiden, her consort Faramir, Steward of Gondor, Théoden, King of Rohan among many others, being legends a possible secondary theme.
The Kings of Men are represented in this deck with the return of the Monarch mechanic, this being yet another possible theme, and in this line we have the secondary commander Aragorn, King of Gondor, one of the highlights of the entire set
Riders of Rohan Precon Decklist
Riders of Rohan follows the trend of generating value through combat, so we're talking about a very aggressive deck. The ease of passively generating tokens and the large number of available amplifiers makes it very similar to a "go-wide".
The tactic of flooding the field with an abundance of tokens and using amplifiers to create big threats here generates a greater advantage by triggering draws, new tokens and other resources, extracting maximum value. This purpose is clear in our commander, Éowyn, Shieldmaiden.
We grouped the cards by dividing them by functions within our list: Ramp, Card Draw, Interactions and Amplifiers, for a better understanding of this article.
The Commander: Éowyn, Shieldmaiden
Éowyn, Shieldmaiden possesses a unique set of traits capable of making a huge impact on the game from the moment she enters the battlefield.
Its robust attack and resistance allow her to survive most combats, especially since it is allied with the First Strike keyword. Although its ability to create tokens depends on previous input from other humans, we must consider the fact that this deck is focused on humans and has great capabilities to generate tokens; therefore, we must see Éowyn's card as a total o f three bodies - two of them having Haste and trample.
In ideal situations, we can already trigger an extra draw in the premature round 4, imposing a strong pace in the game. Her fragility can be seen in her dependence on creatures. However, we should anticipate that the commander's skill set quickly recovers the battlefield if targeted by removals. Another quality consists of recovering the quality of cards in hand through recurring draws, replenishing the position of each human played on the battlefield.
Tribal decks draw benefits from creatures that share one or more types, and in this case, our creatures are grouped by the Human subtype. The design team added some great non-subtype support creatures such as Gimli of the Glittering Caves, Grey Host Reinforcements and brought in the reprint of Dearly Departed, which could remain in the deck without prejudice, but as we seek to increase synergies, I recommend the replacement.
The entry of Captain Lannery Storm, Blade Historian and Adriana, Captain of the Guard grants high offense and preserves functionality. Following the same premise, a group of cards is destined to amplify the Humans' force:
Among the possible changes, I chose to remove cards with higher price and rarity to make it easier for new players to obtain. Inclusions such as Myrel, Shield of Argive, Adeline, Resplendent Cathar, Drannith Magistrate, Serra Ascendant, among other stamped stickers are free if you have access to them.
Another important point is the constant entry of creatures of the chosen type on the battlefield, and for this feat the Wizards team resorted to the use of tokens - a linear and efficient strategy combined with the mechanics and style of the deck.
Forth Eorlingas! is insane, only two mana plus to create tokens with trample, haste and a 2/2 body and claims the crown, being one of the best cards of its kind.
Oath of Eorl is strong in the deck as it repeatedly triggers our Commander's ability, similar to our addition Outlaws' Merriment which creates new human tokens with different abilities and haste every turn.
Sunset Revelry is a very interesting card, its potential is immense: two mana to draw, create tokens and gain life points is not bad at all.
The Increasing Devotion and Visions of Glory reprints are welcome, however their high costs and high dependence on factors to be relevant makes these cards questionable. Those who opt for tokens multipliers or other ways to amplify its effects, like Divine Visitation, can make much better use of it.
Jeskai identity mana ramp is almost always artifact-based, and this time is no different. The deck features a simple and efficient selection based on some of the best mana rocks in the format. I missed the Boros and Azorius signets, given their high reliance on white mana, as well as the ever-good Fellwar Stone.
The amount of land is right, although we have a reduced number of blue cards, and therefore we reduced an Island to give input to 3 new mana sources, two of them capable of generating to adjust the curve.
I strongly recommend that, in the opening hand, you choose to keep when you have access to all colors, be it through lands and mana rocks, as the absence of green greatly reduces quick access to color corrections.
In this deck, we find two primary forms of card advantage.
The first are draws and card selection, using creatures and artifacts as a way to generate a significant advantage through combat. Éowyn, Shieldmaiden provides an extra draw per turn, and we can similarly see Boromir, Gondor's Hope and other triggered abilities of selected cards.
An excellent recurring draw is Folk Hero which triggers whenever we play a creature of the same type as our commander. Even adding tricks like Commander's Sphere and cards that add Tempo like Verge Rangers, we still run the risk of running out of steam after a clear board.
We addressed this issue with a Crown, the Monarch mechanic, which at the end of each turn grants an additional draw.
Tricks and Draws
This deck draws great strength from interactions with Monarch, receiving numerous resources whenever we have the Monarch Emblem in our possession, extra tokens, removals, additional draws and much more.
Aragorn, King of Gondor is a revised and improved version of Keeper of Keys, and can even be the main commander without major changes. To complement, I added the good old Keeper of Keys and removed Humble Defector, which in this deck causes more problems than solutions.
Maintaining the monarch often requires evasive maneuvers, and the deck counts some evasion in addition to Aragorn, King of Gondor. In creature form we have Frontier Warmonger and the aforementioned Lossarnach Captain, and in the spells Taunt from the Rampart and Call for Aid.
The use of removals is crucial when playing against multiple opponents, and their number needs to be vast. The development team paid special attention to choosing the removals for this deck.
Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile were reprinted, two of the best creature removals in Magic. The unprecedented Lost to Legend that has its place reserved on all white decks. Strong examples are also the permanents Court of Ire and Banishing Light in the form of enchantments, in addition to excellent creatures such as Palace Jailer and Cemetery Protector, this being added for this article.
To add new cards, some draws are needed. Harsh Mentor is one of my favorite cards, however, depending on the game, it turns out not to be as efficient, making room for other more synergistic cards such as Coppercoat Vanguard, same for the Marshal's Anthem recursion, which can be replaced.
Riders of Rohan Upgraded
Alternate Commander: Aragorn, King of Gondor
Aragorn, King of Gondor has usurped the throne for many years defended by Queen Marchesa, being the new holder of the Crown of Best Commander for the Monarch mechanic. Since Conspiracy, the mechanic has been seeking its place in the sun in Commander, having a narrow relevance, and few commanders.
Aragorn could be the top synergistic commander option, and here's a list following the Monarch line.
Aragorn claims the Crown upon entering the battlefield. We can see his tactical dominance through the way his abilities interact on the battlefield, sending scouts who can't be blocked or on an unstoppable offensive when he holds the royal title.
His vigilance plus lifelink allows for successive attacks to pressure foes, creating ever-increasing value as you deplete your opponents' resources - right up to the final moment of a lethal strike, which can easily win the game.
Aragorn, King of Gondor Commander Decklist
Éowyn, Shieldmaiden is an imposing commander, who well portrays the idealistic and courageous young woman with a strong spirit, capable of vanquishing those who could not be harmed by men.
Its importance and representativeness in the work of J. R.R. Tolkien was very well expressed by the development and creative team. We can see her evolution through the visual narrative proposed in three powerful cards; the evolution of this character's complexity can be symbolized by the increasing rarity and number of colors:
The return of the Monarch mechanic has been a source of great joy for many players, including this writer who is nostalgic for his Boros Monarch on Pauper, who insists on trying to bring the Crown to Commander as well. The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth Commander set brought interesting reinforcements to the archetype, expanding the list of possible Kings and Queens.
Choose your nation and join the Fellowship on an adventure, leave your suggestions, comments and good journey after the second breakfast!