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MTG Lord of the Rings release date, card spoilers, and news

Here's what you need to know about the Universes Beyond Magic: The Gathering Lord of the the Rings release, from products to new cards.

MTG Lord of the Rings release date - artwork of Frodo holding the One Ring

Magic: The Gathering had a landmark crossover with Lord of the Rings in 2023. The MTG Lord of the Rings set, Tales of Middle Earth, featured all the classic characters and events you know from the fantasy book series, reimagined with iconic MTG LOTR artwork and Magic gameplay.

MTG Lord of the Rings was a Universes Beyond project, another big success story after the roaring success of the MTG Warhammer 40k EDH decks. Wizards of the Coast created a whole Magic set based on the Lord of the Rings IP, along with four Commander decks, and some MTG Secret Lairs for good measure.

Wizards had high hopes that Lord of the Rings would outsell its normal sets – which were vindicated when it became the second best-selling set up to that point.

MTG Lord of the Rings - a list of key release dates for the MTG LOTR set.

MTG Lord of the Rings release date

The MTG Lord of the Rings release date was Tuesday, June 20, 2023. Tales of Middle Earth arrived on MTG Arena first on June 20, followed by a tabletop release on June 23. Paper players who attended a Lord of The Rings pre-release event got early access to all the cards on June 16 – June 22.

Lord of the Rings filled the summer slot in the MTG 2023 release schedule, on the coat tails of the divisive Phyrexia: All Will Be One and well liked March of the Machine.

MTG Lord of the Rings release date - The balrog preparing to fight gandalf.

MTG Lord of the Rings cards

Spoilers for MTG Lord of the Rings cards began with Gandalf the Grey and The One Ring, an Izzet creature and a powerful legendary artifact. More spoilers revealed Frodo, Gollum, and even more named characters.

In fact, pretty much everyone who’s anyone has at least one card in this Universes Beyond set, and in some cases several, to reflect how they changed throughout the adventure.

MTG LOrd of the rings cards

For sheer number of variants, the Nazgûl take the cake with nine different art treatments for the same card – there are nine riders after all.

The First Look stream (below) opened up the spoiler flood gates in April 2023. Iconic creatures like Aragorn and Arwen, seen getting hitched, and Sauron, with finger stubs smarting, all appeared here. These rather simple cards are from the Lord of the Rings starter kits, designed to get new players on board.

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This was also where we first saw Gollum, Patient Plotter and Frodo, Sauron’s Bane. And then there are two Sam cards, Samwise the Stouthearted (who can save you from the grave) and Sam, Loyal Attendant (who loves food).

Most significantly, this was where we first saw Tom Bombadil. He’s a five color commander who cares about sagas: so much so that he caused price spikes for recently printed sagas, from fans keen to build a deck with him at the helm.

The flavor wins make it onto the interesting sorceries and instants, including Reprieve, which is (almost) a two-mana white counterspell, and You Cannot Pass that can destroy blocked creatures. If that quote sounds wrong, well… check the book.

MTG Lord of the Rings - island card

There are lovely basic MTG lands featuring the map of Middle Earth – while legendary lands represent famous locations. For instance, The Shire can tap creatures for food; Mount Doom, a red-black land that hurts you when it makes mana, can also hurt your opponents and act as a board wipe if you sacrifice it and a legendary artifact (like The Ring).

MTG lord of the rings release date - MTG card Mount Doom

Some of the full art cards come together as an 18-card collage that forms one piece of artwork, depicting the Battle of Pelennor Fields.

MTG Lord of the Rings card collage

This isn’t the only Lord of the Rings collage in the set: versions of the One Ring, Samwise, Gollum, and Frodo cards combine to form a scene, showing the Ring being cast into Mount Doom. And there’s another collage showing Bilbo’s birthday party.

MTG Lord of the Rings - MTG card collage

MTG cards come in Elvish now. There are a bunch of Sol Rings, reskinned as Rings of Power, that feature Elvish text. Designed as collectors items, these come with numbered stamps to show off their scarcity. And there’s just a single Sol Ring card featuring One Ring art – only one was printed in total….

MTG Lord of the Rings One Ring card

Wizards of the Coast released a single, serialised, variant Sol Ring, with art of the One Ring and flavor text using the elvish inscription found on the ring itself.

The so called One of One Ring became the subject of much speculation. Though initially people suspected the revered card might have ‘pringled’, a feverish search soon started as fans around the world tried to get this golden ticket. Stores and collectors started offering bounties for finding the card; a football star offered $150k, which was soon bumped to $500k, then $1 million, before rising to $2 million dollars and a paella.

It was eventually found and sold to MTG collector Post Malone.

MTG Lord of the Rings release date - Gandalf at Bilbo's birthday party

MTG Lord of the Rings set details

Like all other Universes Beyond cards, the MTG Lord of the Rings set was not in Magic’s Standard format. However, the cards are legal in Modern, and of course Commander.

The set was not designed specifically for Modern. Instead, it’s primarily considered a Limited format intended for MTG drafts – but both the One Ring and the innocuous Orcish Bowmasters made waves in eternal formats, becoming staples. Other cards had price spikes driven by eternal play, including Lorien Revealed and Sauron’s Ransom

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle Earth set is playable in MTG Arena’s Historic format, and in eternal formats on Magic Online. Sadly there’s no MTG Arena code for LotR cards – but check out the guide anyway, there’s always a lot of fun stuff in there.

As well as the main Lord of the Rings set, WotC launched two Starter Kit decks, designed to bring new players to the game. There were also Jumpstart packs, Collectors Boosters, Set Boosters, and two bundles, one regular, one gift edition.

Then, in time for Christmas, Wizards released card collections themed around specific battles from the Lord of the Rings, with full art cards that came together to form mosaic illustrations, and new collector booster products with new and reprinted cards. These were unpopular with stores and collectors because they tanked the price of cards with rare art treatments from the first printing.

MTG lord of the rings release date - lotr commander deck riders of rohan

MTG Lord of the Rings Commander

There are four Lord of the Rings Commander decks, each with 20 brand new cards, as well as a whole load of reprints. Some lucky fans actually received these decks ahead of the set release date.

Name Colours Playstyle Commander
Riders of Rohan Red/White/Blue Humans/Tokens Éowyn, Shield Maiden
Elven Council Blue/Green Elves/Votes Galadriel, Elven Queen
Food and Fellowship White/Green/Black Food Frodo, Adventurous Hobbit and Sam, Loyal Attendant
The Hosts of Mordor Red/Black/Blue Renimate/Amass Sauron, Lord of the Rings

MTG Lord of the Rings Secret Lair

The first Lord of the Rings Secret Lair, ‘More Adventures in Middle Earth’, was deeply unpopular. It consisted of four, valueless cards from the main Lord of the Rings set, with stills from Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 animated Lord of the Rings movie for art.

While we stan that weird movie, there was neither the card value nor the innovative art that makes Secret Lairs appealing.