Commander Deep Dive: Historic Food With Samwise Gamgee

Food and history: what’s not to love? Bennie Smith takes a Commander Deep Dive into building around Samwise Gamgee.

Samwise Gamgee
Samwise Gamgee, illustrated by Ekaterina Burmak

While we can all appreciate the heroism of Frodo Baggins carrying the burden of being the Ring-bearer in The Lord of the Rings, we all know it was the steadfast and resolute Samwise Gamgee who saved Middle-earth from the Dark Lord Sauron.

Don’t leave me here alone! It’s your Sam calling. Don’t go where I can’t follow! Wake up, Mr. Frodo! O wake up, Frodo, me dear, me dear. Wake up!

Looking at the top commanders from The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth on EDHREC as of this writing, we find Samwise Gamgee at the lucky #13 position, and I personally find the deckbuilding implications for Samwise to be much more interesting than some of the others higher up the list.

Samwise Gamgee

Samwise encourages us to build a deck around Food tokens and cards that are historic, which means artifacts, legendary cards, and Sagas. Since Food are artifacts, we might want to consider some artifact synergies too. And with Food around, there’s always the opportunity to gain life when it might be helpful, so we might think about cards that trigger from lifegain to round out the deck.

Let’s dig in!

Food Stuff

The Shire Trail of Crumbs Peregrin Took Meriadoc Brandybuck Sam, Loyal Attendant Farmer Cotton Gilded Goose Tireless Provisioner Elanor Gardner Lembas Gingerbrute Golden Egg Vegetation Abomination Bill the Pony Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit The Battle of Bywater Eastfarthing Farmer Galadriel, Gift-Giver Feasting Troll King Butterbur, Bree Innkeeper Brandywine Farmer Stew the Coneys Second Breakfast Revive the Shire Many Partings Late to Dinner Field-Tested Frying Pan Giant Opportunity Fell the Pheasant Fortifying Provisions

Between the main set The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth and the Tales of Middle-earth Commander deck Food and Fellowship, there are many cards that make Food, and we can tap into them here. Personally, I’ll probably stick to mostly Halflings for flavor reasons (with a few Horses), but I wouldn’t blame anyone who’s been waiting to play their Feasting Troll King to slot it into the 99 of your Samwise Gamgee deck.

The Battle of Bywater is a sweet battlefield sweeper that will leave a lot of your typically small Halfling creatures standing while destroying all the bigger and more threatening creatures and make some Food along the way.

I love the idea of adding in actual Food cards like Gingerbrute and Lembas, and I hadn’t even realized there was another Food card from Unfinity until I was searching and stumbled across Vegetation Abomination, and now I’ve got to dig through some boxes to see if I have one somewhere.

I don’t play many combat tricks in Commander, but I must give a slot to Second Breakfast. It helps that I can cast it on creatures my opponents are playing if it helps to push through damage or kill off a problematic creature. And seriously, I can’t wait to say “What about Second Breakfast?” when I cast it!

Trail of Crumbs is from Throne of Eldraine, and it’s going to do serious work in this deck churning out value.


Panharmonicon Witch's Oven Trading Post Bilbo's Ring Expedition Map Vanquisher's Banner Soul-Guide Lantern

I wanted to look for good artifacts that synergize with our deck that Samwise Gamgee can retrieve from the graveyard when they inevitably get destroyed. Witch’s Oven is a must, and I also like Trading Post, since you can sacrifice a Food to draw a card. Since our commander is a Halfling and a lot of the other cards are Halflings, Bilbo’s Ring is an excellent Equipment to have for drawing extra cards. If we’re leaning really hard into Halflings being most of the creatures in the deck, we’d likely want to include Vanquisher’s Banner too.


Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle Gandalf the White Boseiju, Who Endures Inventors' Fair Blackblade Reforged Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire

Another category Samwise Gamgee can get back from the graveyard: legendary cards.  If your mana is otherwise flowing well, you can make use of the channel ability of Boseiju, Who Endures and Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire and then get them back with Samwise’s ability.

Inventors’ Fair should gain you life each upkeep thanks to your Food production, and later you can sacrifice it to tutor up a good artifact, and then get Inventors’ Fair back from the graveyard with Samwise.

I’d definitely make an exception for Gandalf the White in my otherwise Halfling typal deck, since Gandalf is a friend of The Shire and he’ll double the effects of a bunch of cards in the deck.


War of the Last Alliance Tale of Tinuviel The Mending of Dominaria Elspeth Conquers Death Fall of Gil-galad Long List of the Ents Urza's Saga

Most of the available Sagas in Selesnya don’t synergize too much with our gameplan, but many of these are just good value engines that could be worth recurring with Samwise. Elspeth Conquers Death is a powerhouse card that’s a removal spell and a way to bring creatures back from the graveyard. Urza’s Saga might be worth playing, since the Construct token creature gets bigger from your Food tokens.

If someone in your playgroup enjoys trying to mill people out, The Mending of Dominaria can be the perfect solution, especially since Samwise can fetch it from your graveyard if it’s been milled.

Token Synergies

Rosie Cotton of South Lane Jaheira, Friend of the Forest Academy Manufactor Anointed Procession Parallel Lives Doubling Season Cadira, Caller of the Small Bennie Bracks, Zoologist Second Harvest

Selesnya has a ton of token synergy cards like Doubling Season and Anointed Procession, so if you have them, you should definitely play them. Of course, you have to play Samwise’s beloved Rosie Cotton of South Lane for flavor reasons, but she also plays quite well with the Food theme.  I’m pleased that my namesake card Bennie Bracks, Zoologist likes all these Food tokens being made too.  Jaheira, Friend of the Forest will turn each of your Food tokens into a Mox Emerald, which sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

Artifact Synergies

Inspiring Statuary Krark-Clan Ironworks Nettlecyst Banquet Guests Feasting Hobbit Merry, Warden of Isengard Shire Shirriff Motivated Pony Wicked Wolf The Underworld Cookbook Hobbit's Sting Clock of Omens

Inspiring Statuary is an impressive way to turn all those Food tokens into virtual mana to cast nonartifact spells. And then there’s Krark-Clan Ironworks, which can sacrifice each Food to supply two colorless mana you can use to cast or activate whatever you want. Clock of Omens can use Food tokens to untap an artifact for shenanigans—what pops to my mind is Trading Post, but there’s probably something crazier and more powerful you can slip into the deck.

The Underworld Cookbook is a fun card to consider as a Food maker you can sacrifice to bring back a creature from your graveyard, and then get the Cookbook back with Samwise since it’s an artifact.

Lifegain Triggers

Treebeard, Gracious Host The Gaffer Lathiel, the Bounteous Dawn Well of Lost Dreams Cleric Class

Treebeard, Gracious Host might be another non-Halfling I’d play in a Halfling deck, since he can add +1/+1 counters to either Halflings or Treefolk. Lathiel, the Bounteous Dawn can do similar things by putting +1/+1 counters amongst any other creatures, including those controlled by an opponent if politics dictates that move.

I’ve not really found room to play Well of Lost Dreams before, but I’m strongly considering it for this deck.  For two mana to sacrifice a Food and three mana for the Well trigger, five total mana to draw three cards at instant speed seems like a pretty good deal; if you’ve got Sam, Loyal Attendant, you can even sacrifice the Food for just one mana.

Emiel the Blessed Slip on the Ring Gilraen, Dunedain Protector Ephemerate Eerie Interlude Sword of Hearth and Home Conjurer's Closet

To round out the deck, I’d be tempted to run a handful of ways to “blink” creatures, since many of them have an effect when they enter (or sometimes leave) the battlefield, and Samwise will trigger when the creature comes back from exile. Slip on the Ring is perfect for this, and brings the Ring tempts you mechanic into play. Gilraen, Dunedain Protector is neat because you can choose an immediate return for the blink, or a delayed blink to return at the beginning of the next end step with a bonus of a vigilance counter and a lifelink counter.

Sword of Hearth and Home and Conjurer’s Closet provide the effect we’re looking for, and since they’re artifacts, they can be retrieved from the graveyard by Samwise Gamgee.

I could totally see a Unicorn running around the Shire named Emiel the Blessed, a legendary creature that can also be rescued by Samwise.

That’s for Frodo! And for the Shire! And that’s for my Old Gaffer!

What other cards do you think would work nicely with Samwise Gamgee?  Would you keep the Lord of the Rings flavor heavy, or would you just go hard into Food synergies no matter what set they come from?

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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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