Top 10 Cube-Worthy Cards Of The Lord Of The Rings: Tales Of Middle-earth

Ready to add The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth cards to your Cube? Ryan Overturf reviews the set mechanics and shares his Top 10 Cube-worthy cards.

Anduril, Flame of the West
Anduril, Flame of the West, illustrated by Irvin Rodriguez

Howdy, gamers! I hope everyone enjoyed The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Prerelease and you’ve been successful at tracking down the cards that you want from the set, save perhaps a certain one-of-one Ring…

With the set officially releasing this week, it’s time to break down my picks for the most broadly appealing cards from the set for Cube Draft! First, let’s take a little look at the set’s mechanics for themes that might be worth a closer look another day.

Tempted by the Ring

Birthday Escape Claim the Precious Ranger's Firebrand

I wrote a bit on The Ring emblem and what it means for Cube during preview season, and I stand by my writing there. “The Ring tempts you” is a line that poses a complexity barrier sprinkled into an environment that doesn’t generally care about that sort of thing, but seems awesome to me in a Cube heavily invested in the either specifically that mechanic or The Lord of the Rings generally. In fact, this line is what makes Sauron’s Ransom an honorable mention for me rather than a Top 10 card from the set.

Sauron's Ransom

I think that this card is really fun, pretty powerful, and is something I’d be happy to use a Dimir slot on… if not for the text with The Ring tempting you. It’s flavorful to be sure, but that line just distracts from the reasons you’d play this card in most Cubes. It’s definitely possible that a Dimir deck would have a Ring-bearer to assign and there are things that I like about that gameplay, but needing an extra card to explain the rules has proven undesirable in my experience Cubing in paper.


Stew the Coneys Samwise Gamgee Rosie Cotton of South Lane

Food makes a big return in the set, and an even bigger return in the Food and Fellowship Commander precon. While Food is less impactful for Cube than Treasures and Clues in much the same way that you’d expect in Constructed, given that the tokens are just less powerful, the right environment or the right Food generator can really make them matter.

If you’re into lifegain mattering in Cube, then Food is a nice way to supplement that, and making artifacts and sacrificing permanents matter are also great ways to take advantage of these game objects. I believe there’s a lot of space to explore here, and it’s something I’m curious to investigate further at some point.

Legendary Matters

Merry, Esquire of Rohan Mithril Coat Gandalf the White

The set is long on legendary creatures and other legendary permanents, and includes some nice cards that make your legendary cards more powerful. We get a little bit more for this theme all of the time, and the more cards that fit this theme we see at one and two mana, the more powerful Cubes this theme can find a home in. We’re getting dangerously close to the days of Mox Amber being an awesome Cube card.


Barad-dur Mines of Moria Shire Terrace

Lastly, I’d like to call out the fact that there are a lot of lands in the set that I would be happy to see in Cubes, though none that I’d expect to be super-widely played. There are a ton of cool and incidental abilities on these cards, though there’s also a lot of potential for them to enter the battlefield tapped. I personally have a really high bar when it comes to adding non-mana-fixing lands to Cube, but I know that others will be happily be Cubing with a handful of them.

Mount Doom

Mount Doom has been getting the most buzz, and that’s largely because it is actually a mana-fixing land with some potential to having a super-game-breaking ability. Just being an untapped Rakdos land on Turn 1 is kind of a big deal, and while it’s no Horizon land, I could definitely see myself Cubing with this one.

That’s enough with the set at large. Let’s get to my list of the Top 10 most Cube-worthy cards from The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth!

10. Sting, the Glinting Dagger

Sting, the Glinting Dagger

Sting is not among the absolute most powerful Equipment ever printed, but the card offers a lot that makes it more appealing than the average Equipment. This isn’t Umezawa’s Jitte, which is why it’s actually worth considering for lower-powered environments. It’s pretty common that you see cool Equipment coming at a cost of three or more to cast or equip, and keeping both costs on Sting to two is what makes the card appealing.

The ability to untap the equipped creature matters and can actually be really powerful with creatures that tap for mana, but mostly what puts the card over is the fact that it grants haste. Haste almost always plays more powerfully than it reads. Lightning Greaves is a pretty reasonable Cube card in its own right, and an Equipment that comes with other upside while also offering to give any of your topdecked creatures haste is a powerful tool to consider.

9. Pippin, Guard of the Citadel

Pippin, Guard of the Citadel

Ward is another ability that has really demonstrated its power very quickly. As a two-mana creature with ward 1, Pippin, Guard of the Citadel will never trade down with removal. The price of admission is higher than what you’d pay for Mother of Runes, but the ward helps to counterbalance that, and the fact that Pippin is a decent attacker is a big deal, too.

Granted, Pippin can’t protect itself outside of that ward ability, though this realistically just means that the card’s play patterns are more reasonable. An aggressively slanted creature isn’t going to hack it as an Azorius card in high-powered Cubes anyway, and this is more of a gem for something like my Tempo Twobert. I really love this card for combat-focused environments.

8. Moria Marauder

Moria Marauder

Moria Marauder is guilty of one of the biggest sins for inclusion in my Cubes by being a double-pipped mono-color two-drop, but I don’t think anybody else cares nearly as much about that sort of thing as I do, and the rate here is just awesome. We’ve seen approximately this text box before on Prophetic Flamespeaker, but the difference between two and three mana matters far more than the difference between one and three toughness.

Moria Marauder is the exact sort of card I’ll want to cast every game on Turn 2 in my Mono-Red Aggro decks while drafting basically any of the digital Cube offerings. Double strike makes it hard to line up good blocks, and the card advantage it offers when it hits will make it easy to run away with games. Just remember to try not to make your land drops precombat!

The Goblin and to a lesser extent Orc synergy is also worth noting, though I expect this card moves the needle more on generically good aggressive double-red two-drops than it does on Goblins as an archetype.

7. Flowering of the White Tree

Flowering of the White Tree

Speaking of double-pipped two-mana cards, Flowering of the White Tree is a huge pickup for any legendary-matters theme, with a big part of the appeal being that it’s just an efficient Anthem for your non-legendary creatures too!

Glorious Anthem has lost a lot of its luster over the years, but a two-mana Anthem is really powerful in any deck with a very lean mana curve and/or the ability to generate tokens. It might be time to dust off those Isamaru, Hound of Kondas! This card is strong with minimal support and an absolute beating when you really lean in and pair it with stuff like Adeline, Resplendent Cathar. A one-mana legendary creature into Flowering of the White Tree into Adeline is an absolutely brutal curve, with ward insulating you against a lot of the potential interaction your opponent could have.

6. Shadow Summoning

Shadow Summoning

Shadow Summoning is a tricky card to evaluate. It simultaneously conjures thoughts of Gather the Townsfolk and Lingering Souls. In the case of the former, I’d obviously rather have the flyers, but in the case of the latter, Lingering Souls just gives you twice as many of those flyers. I think that the heads-up comparison distracts from what Shadow Summoning brings to the table, though.

Shadow Summoning isn’t competing with Lingering Souls; it’s competing with whatever you want to be casting on Turn 2. Getting multiple bodies for two mana is really powerful in beatdown and sacrifice decks alike. Further, Lingering Souls has a ton of competition in the year 2023 when we talk about high-impact three-mana spells, and just doing something on Turn2 is so important by today’s standards that Shadow Summoning gains a lot more points today than it would have had it appeared back in Dark Ascension, when battlefields developed more slowly and creatures mattered less.

I also like that Shadow Summoning is fairly likely to go late in a draft and should very commonly make its way to your Orzhov drafter while also very commonly making their deck. At uncommon, this also reads like a Peasant Cube staple to me.

5. The One Ring

The One Ring

The One Ring has a relatively low mana value, can be played in any deck, and is just really freaking cool. It’s probably for the best that the “protection from everything” ability comes from casting the Ring and not from it entering the battlefield, but this does diminish the card’s utility some.

Even still, protection for one turn can swing a game significantly, and drawing extra cards is always powerful. If you tap The One Ring the turn you cast it as well as the next turn, you’ve already netted the cards you would from a Concentrate or Harmonize, which are very respectable cards in their own right!

Mostly, I love that The One Ring accelerates the game towards its conclusion. Drawing a bunch of extra cards and weighing when you want to turn your protection shield on generate interesting decisions, and the damage the card deals to you means that, one way or the other, somebody is about to lose. That means that you get to move on to my favorite part of Magic: playing more games!

4. Anduril, Flame of the West

Anduril, Flame of the West

Like Sting, Anduril, Flame of the West is no Umezawa’s Jitte, but Anduril definitely ranks higher in terms of the most powerful Equipment ever printed. Without granting protection, it doesn’t have a ceiling as high as the members of the Sword of X and Y cycle, but it does have a floor that’s much higher.

+3/+1 versus +2/+2 isn’t really much of a difference, but triggering on attacking rather than connecting with an opponent absolutely is. This can make Anduril much more powerful than the Swords in the games where the protection they offer doesn’t matter, and it’s night-and-day different in terms of attacking a planeswalker, a spot where that third extra point of power can definitely matter.

Creating two evasive bodies the turn you first attack with Anduril also makes it very likely that you’ll be able to successfully attack with it equipped again. That’s more than the Swords offer in a lot of games, especially in the ones where their protection abilities don’t apply. I don’t necessarily see Anduril being much of a difference maker if we go all the way to Vintage Cube, but it’s definitely awesome even at slightly lower power levels.

3. Delighted Halfling

Delighted Halfling

How does Delighted Halfling compare to Llanowar Elves? In terms of nostalgia? Poorly. In terms of casting non-legendary spells that cost green mana? Poorly. In terms of being an Elf? Poorly. By every other metric? Favorably. It is fair to say that Delighted Halfling compares meaningfully unfavorably to Birds of Paradise, but being comfortably between those two cards in power level makes Delighted Halfling an awesome addition to a lot of Cubes!

Casting uncounterable planeswalkers and legendary creatures is certainly a boon that Delighted Halfling offers, but the thing that makes the card so appealing to me is the second point of toughness. I’ve cast a lot of Thraben Inspectors, and while the primary motivation is that the card replaces itself, it’s also pretty amazing how impactful the 1/2 body can be when it comes to navigating combat.

2. Orcish Bowmasters

Orcish Bowmasters

If you ask any Commander player, Orcish Bowmasters is the most impactful card from the set. There’s a lot of raw power here, weirdly featured on some random minion. I have a general distaste for Cube cards that mostly care what your opponent is doing rather than developing your own strategy, but Orcish Bowmasters happens to be great on both fronts.

I’ve already mentioned how getting two bodies for two mana is worth paying attention to, and Orcish Bowmasters certainly gives you that. At instant speed. With a free point of damage tacked on. As the card’s absolute floor. This is less the sort of card that is especially exciting to combine with your own Wheel of Fortune in Cube than it is to punish an opponent casting one of their own, but you just get so much as a baseline here that all of those considerations are just gravy.

Orcish Bowmasters doesn’t prevent the drawing of extra cards, so it won’t be oppressive in Vintage Cube the way a card like Hullbreacher can be, but the damage-dealing ability definitely raises red flags for lower-powered environments. This is another one that I’m going to try in the Tempo Twobert, where I’m ready to believe the card might be too punishing against all of the small creatures and cantrips. For stuff like Legacy and Vintage Cube, though, I’m all about the Bowmasters.

1. Reprieve


I’m excited to finally get my hands on some copies of Reprieve. This ability is just so much better in white than blue by virtue of white being an aggressive color. It’s also worth noting that Reprieve does not need to counter the spell, so you get added utility against uncounterable spells like Supreme Verdict, which is kind of your ideal target for a spell like this.

From Vintage Cube down to Peasant Cube, from Mono-White Aggro to Azorius Control, it’s easy to imagine Reprieve making just about any white deck. I love this card, and I love that they’re making more loveable white cards for Cube. This is an absolute home run.

When The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth was first announced as a Modern-legal set, there was some speculation, maybe some worry, that it would be another Modern Horizons in terms of impact. On balance, it reads a bit closer to a Standard-legal release, with some goodies that would be difficult to do in that context peppered in. The set looks awesome, and I’m really excited to play with it more.