Commander Deck Of The Week: Sauron, Lord Of The Rings

Bennie Smith rallies an Orc Army behind Sauron, Lord of the Rings in his latest Commander Deck of the Week.

Sauron, Lord of the Rings
Sauron, Lord of the Rings, illustrated by Alex Brock

When The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth and Tales of Middle-earth Commander came out, as a huge fan of the books and movies, I knew I wanted to build several decks around the new legends. One of the new decks was going to feature as its commander the main villain from the story—Sauron!  The version from the main set, Sauron, the Dark Lord, seemed a bit oppressive to the style of Commander I typically enjoy playing due to that tough ward cost as the commander, so instead I chose to build around the version from the Commander preconstructed deck: Sauron, Lord of the Rings!

Sauron, Lord of the Rings

I especially enjoy building around more expensive legends to fly in the face of the narrative that Commander has gotten too fast and efficient these days to play something that costs eight mana, especially outside of green. It makes for a fun deckbuilding challenge, and you just have to make sure your opponents are not bringing their fast and efficient decks to the table when you play this version of Sauron.


What’s fun about Sauron’s design is it gets the bulk of its abilities as a cast trigger, so even if someone is rude enough to counter your eight-drop commander, you still get to amass Orcs 5, mill five cards, and then return a creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield. Even without the 9/9 trampling Sauron, that’s still likely to be a fair amount of presence on the battlefield.  Especially given how many other cards I’m playing that amass Orcs, the Orc Army is likely to be even bigger than a 5/5.

My original thought as I began brewing up this deck was to play nine copies of Nazgul, but given how expensive each of them ended up being, I decided to go a different route.  Instead, why don’t I lean into the amass Orcs mechanic, and also play a bunch of Orc cards too?  In the earliest days of Magic, Orcs were quite weak, but in recent years – especially given the Dungeons & Dragons-inspired Magic sets – there have been decent choices to round out an Orc deck. Now, granted, Orcs don’t have nearly as much support as Goblins, Zombies, Elves and other creature types, but a Sauron Orc deck sounds perfect flavor-wise.  And as time goes on, there are bound to be decent Orcs printed to juice up the deck in the years to come.

Let’s dig in!

Amass Orcs

Barad-dur March from the Black Gate Moria Scavenger Grishnakh, Brash Instigator Fall of Cair Andros Saruman, the White Hand Widespread Brutality Corsairs of Umbar Gothmog, Morgul Lieutenant Foray of Orcs The Mouth of Sauron Sauron, the Dark Lord Summons of Saruman Assault on Osgiliath

I’m pretty sure I have nearly all the playable amass Orcs cards available in Grixis. March from the Black Gate is a fun way to get the Orc Army action started as soon as Turn 2. I really like Moria Scavenger as a way to grow your Orc Army or create a new one at instant speed, and discarding a creature card is a great way to ensure you’ve got something to bring back later with Sauron.

I wasn’t sure about Fall of Cair Andros since I don’t have too many ways to deal noncombat damage to creatures, but since I’m aiming at casting a commander that costs eight mana, I expect to be able to use its activated ability once or twice during a game. Besides, if I can cast Blasphemous Act with an Orc Army that’s already above 13/13, the size of the Orc Army when the dust settles is going to be glorious!

Corsairs of Umbar isn’t an Orc, but its ability to make a massive Orc Army unblockable is highly desirable. And I’m incredibly excited to potentially close out a game by casting a big Assault of Osgiliath and giving all my Orc creatures double strike until the end of the turn!

Sauron, the Dark Lord is grossly powerful, but I figure having it in the 99 makes it much fairer, and it serves as a lightning rod for removal before my commander hits the battlefield.

Orcs Matter

Mauhur, Uruk-hai Captain Gorbag of Minas Morgul Orcish Siegemaster Ugluk of the White Hand

It’s fun that there are some new legendary Orcs with Mauhúr, Gorbag, and Uglúk to help rally the troops for Sauron (though I know two of them are technically fighting for Saruman in the story).

Orcish Siegemaster is the perfect card for this deck, giving other Orcs trample, including a hopefully gigantic Orc Army token trample… and if Siegemaster is attacking too, it could also get that huge power boost and it also has trample.  Smash!

Other Orcs

Orcish Bowmasters Orcish Settlers Rootha, Mercurial Artist Merciless Executioner Frenzied Saddlebrute Orcish Squatters

I’ve looked at Rootha, Mercurial Artist a dozen times or more, but it didn’t register to me that this cool legendary Prismari Shaman is also an Orc! And since I’m planning on having a bunch of mana available in the course of a game, Rootha’s special ability will provide some massive turns.  And I didn’t even know that Frenzied Saddlebrute from Commander Legends even existed until I saw it in my database search for Orcs; it definitely belongs here, but I’m considering it for other red Commander decks too!

I was very lucky to crack open a copy of Orcish Bowmasters in a random booster pack, so I’ve got my one copy riding here in my Sauron deck to punish those who get way too enamored with their card draw.

Orcish Settlers and Orcish Squatters are here for nostalgia’s sake. That Pete Venters artwork for Orcish Settlers is so funny, and I think Sauron would appreciate the destruction. I don’t plan on ever using it except to destroy a problematic land like Maze of Ith or Cabal Coffers, or maybe take a mad land ramp deck down a peg or two. I definitely will not use it to screw someone out of the game if they’ve been missing land drops. Similarly, if I can somehow attack someone past blockers with my five-mana 2/3 Orcish Squatters, I plan to only steal problematic lands.  And I won’t be at all mad if either Orc eats removal spells.


Mount Doom Witness Protection Heartless Act Terminate Go for the Throat Feed the Swarm Toxic Deluge Damnation Rampaging War Mammoth Blasphemous Act

Grixis has no shortage of good removal spells, and I’ve got a bunch of them here. I love Rampaging War Mammoth in this deck since it can cycle to destroy one or more artifacts, and then it hangs out in the graveyard waiting for Sauron to come along and reanimate a 9/7 trampling Elephant!

Mount Doom is in the deck mostly for flavor reasons, and I’m certain that the damage I take from drawing it early will be responsible for my death at some point, but I can’t not put it in the Sauron deck. While I don’t run The One Ring in this deck, I did make sure I’m running some legendary artifacts so that I can potentially activate the last ability of Mount Doom to destroy all creatures but two—say, Sauron and a huge Orc Army!


Wasteland Shadowspear The Black Gate Nihil Spellbomb Swan Song Arcane Denial Blackblade Reforged Crystal Shard Whip of Erebos Gix's Command Embercleave

Speaking of legendary artifacts, here we can find Shadowspear and Whip of Erebos, which will help offset life loss, and Embercleave to help push through damage from a huge Orc Army. Blackblade Reforged is another legendary artifact, and there are enough legendary creatures in the deck that can easily wield it before Sauron comes along and picks it up to make Sauron even more terrifying.

Crystal Shard is a little spice that can pull Sauron back to your hand to cast again and get those sweet, sweet cast triggers!

Card Draw

Rivendell Skullclamp Night's Whisper Painful Truths Relic of Sauron Stinging Study In the Darkness Bind Them

Card draw helps me make a land drop every single turn, which is crucial!  Stinging Study is particularly amazing in a deck like this with a high-cost commander—five mana, draw eight cards at instant speed is going to lead to some big turns! Sure, it’s a nine-point life hit, but that’s why we’re running some lifegain.

In the Darkness Bind Them isn’t exactly “card draw”, but if it runs through all its chapters, it will fully charge up the ring tempts you mechanic, which includes looting when your Ring-bearer attacks. The Nazgûl are here in spirit with this Saga.

Mana Ramp

Myriad Landscape Mines of Moria Sol Ring Dark Ritual Arcane Signet Fellwar Stone Thought Vessel Skyclave Relic Relic of Legends Worn Powerstone Seething Song Marshland Bloodcaster Geode Golem Mana Geyser The Balrog of Moria

And here we go: a ton of mana ramp!  Granted, we’re going to be hurting if someone casts Vandalblast with overload, so I do try to sandbag one if I can afford to.  Marshland Bloodcaster and Geode Golem break a bit from the Tolkien flavor, but when you have an eight-mana commander, they are very much worth running.

I’m a big fan of The Balrog of Moria in this deck, since it cycles early to create two Treasure tokens that will help cast Sauron ahead of schedule and is a huge monster that you definitely want to reanimate with Sauron’s cast trigger.

The Deck

Okay, here is the full decklist:

Sauron, Lord of the Rings
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 09-08-2023
Magic Card Back

What must-have cards might I have missed including here?  Which precon commander would you like to build around?

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And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy. 

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