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The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth Limited Set Review: Blue

J2SJosh reviews and rates every Blue Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth card for limited!

Hey everyone! The shadows out of Mordor have been growing longer and it is time for us to rise up to destroy the evil forces of Sauron. Well, I guess we could also be playing for the other team as well, but either way we’re heading into Middle Earth for a fabulous adventure.

As a long time lover of Lord of the Rings, I am extremely excited to spend a couple months drafting this set. I am slightly less excited about how much my wife is going to spend on boxes of them, but it makes her happy so it’s all good.

Now let’s start checking out how these cards are going to play out in limited.

Here’s the usual grading scale:

Arwen’s Gift

Rating: 2.0/5

It looks like Arwen gives the type of gifts that you usually end up regifting to the person next to you.

In all seriousness, it’s alright as long as you’re planning to go later in the game. I’m looking at this around turn six when you can have the discount and double spell. At that point scry two, draw two is usually closer to a draw three. That’s fine as a one off, but there are plenty of options available for blue card draw.  

The Bath Song

Rating: 2.0/5

Rub a dub dub, two hobbits in a tub, (Editor’s note: Not acceptable, keep it clean.) (Josh’s note: It involved a bath, how was it not clean?).

Apparently, blue’s theme is expensive sorcery speed card draw. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to want to have too many cards that fit that profile in my deck.

Selective card draw is slightly less valuable because the ring bearer will also be looting away excess lands so you would typically prefer more raw pieces of cardboard in Middle-Earth.

This does go up a bit if your deck is planning to go to the late game since step three helps your deck reload.

Bewitching Leechcraft

Rating: 1.5/5

They clearly did not want you to be able to shut down your opponents amass army with a Pacifism. While this does slowly shrink those, they can still attack with it. They could even let it chill so it stays a bulky blocker.

I’m going to go out on a very sturdy limb and say that you need to be really desperate for removal to play this.

Bill Ferny, Bree Swindler

Rating: 2.0/5

I have some opinions about Bill Ferny that even I recognize are unfit to be published. He’s an animal abuser who ratted the hobbits out to the freaking Nazgul. He deserves every Lightning Bolt that comes his way.

Even though the horse selling is flavorful, I really don’t think anyone is going to be giving away Shadowfax or Bill unless the circumstances are quite strange. That leaves this as a 2/1 (with all the same problems that one toughness creatures have here) that gives you a treasure if they block it.

Birthday Escape

Rating: 2.5/5

I like this card a lot more than some people would think. You can level the ring up with it on turn one with a cycle or hold it to “equip” your ringbearer for only one mana. A lot of play is going to be based around the ring so having a cheap way to get it back on a creature is pretty valuable.

Borne Upon a Wind

Rating: 1.0/5

It’s a niche commander/constructed card that should probably not be in your draft deck. I’m sure there will be stories where someone got got by it, but mostly its pretty bad.

Captain of Umbar

Rating: 2.0/5

The looting is slightly less valuable than normal because the ring bearer does it for you, but it still matters.

I do like how the body lines up to be able to block cheap ring bearers. There are so many 2/1s and 2/2s running around that a 2/3 just brick walls.

Council’s Deliberation

Rating: 2.0/5

I imagine that this council is deliberating far too long about something that could have been handled by an e-mail.

Don’t even deliberate playing this if you don’t have any scry cards in your deck. It has some potential extra value if you manage to mill it or loot it. Even if you have to hard cast it, it’s not the end of the world as long as you can “flash it back”.

Deceive the Messenger

Rating: 1.5/5

The best use for this is when your amass army is in combat and you can use this to both pump that by +1+1 and wreck another block with the negative three to power. While that is a nice ceiling, don’t be deceived by thinking that’s how things will typically play out.  

Once we leave magical Christmas land, it’s a combat trick that requires things to line up right, can’t push damage, and can’t make something trade up. You should still play around it, but hope it doesn’t make your deck.

Dreadful as the Storm

Rating: 1.5/5

This is the Suit Up or Majestic Metamorphosis of the set. You get a big old chonky 5/5, but you get a temptation instead of a drawing a card. As relevant as I think the ring will be, that’s not even close to an equivalent tradeoff.

Elrond, Lord of Rivendell

Rating: 2.5/5

Not the best body for a three drop, but Elrond helps grind through your deck with his pile of scrys. He even throws in ring temptations when you double spell critters or just play Rally at the Hornburg.

Gandalf, Friend of the Shire

Rating: 3.5/5

Four toughness is massive in this set so this can tank a lot of creatures. Despite being a friend of the shire, Gandalf can still ambush a poor attacking hobbit in the middle of nowhere.

There are a decent number of sorceries floating around that you will love casting at instant speed ranging from card draw like Lorien Revealed to removal such as Claim the Precious.

On top of that you are suddenly drawing cards every time the ring tempts you. Another really good Gandalf card.

Glorious Gale

Rating: 2.5/5

A strictly better Essence Scatter in a set with plenty of legendaries that you would love to counter.

Goldberry, River-Daughter

Rating: 2.5/5

Goldberry will mostly be dealing with +1+1 counters, but that’s a slow card draw engine unless you have a way to put them directly on her or untap her.

It does play nicely in combat since you can move counters at instant speed. That will probably “secret reach” most people at least once.  

Where you can get crazy is moving counters onto and off of sagas to get the triggers you want. She has a ton of potential, but you need to have the right cards to really take advantage of her.

Grey Havens Navigator

Rating: 2.0/5

The flash does play well with counterspells, but two toughness isn’t going to let you eat many attackers. I’m grading this assuming that you also have some of the cards that trigger off of when you scry.

Hithlain Knots

Rating: 1.5/5

Poor Smeagol is just trying to help, but that nasty hobbitses keeps tying him up every night.

Similarly, this does tie a creature down while drawing a card with a scry thrown in. If you need to force something through or tap down a big old attacker, this can do the job. I’m knot expecting much out of this.

Horses of the Bruinen

Rating: 1.5/5

This does just enough for me to want it in some decks. It’s a nice tempo play that can kill their amass army while bouncing another chonker with a bit of value thrown in.

If you’re playing a durdle deck, then these horses should stay in the stable. My main concern for that is that a lot of the other blue cards want to play a game where durdling around is optimal.

Ioreth of the Healing House

Rating: 2.5/5

The most common use for this is mana ramp, but sometimes pseudo vigilance on an attacker (or two if they are legendary) can be decent. It works nicely with Goldberry, River-Daughter by letting you use both of her abilities on the same turn to speed up the card draw.

The four toughness is also nice on turn three because it helps you get to the point you can actually take over with all of the card advantage blue has. It doesn’t do anything great, but does a lot of things at an acceptable level.

Isolation at Orthanc

Rating: 2.5/5

Not quite on the same level as Bury in Books because of the lack of discount for attacking creatures, but still good for many of the same reasons. There are potentially large token creatures running around that this outright kills and second from the top gives you a little more time to breath.

Ithilien Kingfisher

Rating: 2.5/5

I’ll be fishing for these in most of my blue drafts. Being a Wind Drake with a tiny butt doesn’t matter nearly as much when you get a card out of it dying.

While I would obviously prefer to get the card up front, we’ve played that game before with Inspiring Overseer. I can’t really see them going down that route again.

Knights of Dol Amroth

Rating: 1.5/5

That armor must be heavy because this card is clunky. Sure, there will be games this gets out of hand, but you’re still dropping a Hill Giant that does nothing until you play some card draw. I don’t think I need to explain anything else here.

Lorien Revealed

Rating: 2.0/5

I like this slightly more than the other expensive sorcery speed card draw spells (seriously, is that a theme?), but not enough to change the grade. The big difference is that it has the cheap Islandcycling attached. As we saw in Ikoria, cycling abilities that only cost one lead towards players cutting lands and doing silly other things.

Lost Isle Calling

Rating: 1.0/5

I am unsure if there will ever be a deck that scrys enough to make this worth it, but I don’t think there will be. Way too slow, expensive, and almost a dead draw later in the game. You can keep on a calling, but I won’t be picking up.

Meneldor, Swift Savior

Rating: 3.0/5

This can be a pretty sick engine if you get it going because there are tons of good blink targets to really rack up some value. Even if you don’t have anything worth blinking you have a Phantom Monster that can “untap” itself when it hits the opponent.

Nimrodel Watcher

Rating: 2.5/5

There are a ton of ways to scry and cracking in for three unblockable damage isn’t something to scoff at. You know what else loves being unblockable? Perhaps the main mechanic in the set of being the ring bearer.

Pelargir Survivor

Rating: 2.0/5

This is a surprisingly relevant blocker early (There will be plenty of times you need a combination of smaller blockers to take down a ring bearer) and there are a lot of spells that would love a mana dork to cast.

If you draw it late, it still can be an expensive alternative win condition. It never quite crosses into being good, but its useful at various points in the game.

Press the Enemy

Rating: 1.5/5

I read this at least ten times to see if I missed something. I keep expecting it to draw a card, surveil, or do literally anything else.

It’s a four-mana bounce spell (I know that it can also bounce spells) that requires you to have an instant or sorcery that’s cheaper than what you’re bouncing to do anything more. In the words of Mr. Horse, “No sir, I don’t like it”.

Rangers of Ithilien

Rating: 4.0/5

This card is going to be bonkers sometimes, but the limitation of lesser power keeps it from being a complete bomb all the time. Even if it said lesser than or equal too, it would be a huge difference. Still stealing a Grizzly Bears along with the ring temptation are certainly worth the price of admission here.

Saruman the White

Rating: 2.5/5

As you may have noticed, a 4/4 is pretty big in this format and ward two can be quite annoying. It slices, it dices, it amasses two when you double spell. I’d be a lot higher on this at four mana, but five is pretty limiting.  

Saruman’s Trickery

Rating: 2.5/5

You’re not being tricked, this is another counterspell that I really like. I would prefer that it just gave you a 1/1 instead of an amass, but we can’t have everything we desire.

Scroll of Isildur

Rating: 2.5/5

This does a lot of things for three mana out of a singular piece of cardboard, but it does need some things to come together to maximize it.

While you might be able to steal an equipment, I would expect the most common thing you do is grab a food when they are tapped out early.  Of course, you could always steal Grond, the Gatebreaker and have a good old time smashing them in the face with it.

They do need to have at least two creatures that you can stun to practically guarantee you get a Divination. What are they going to do, not play creatures?

Soothing of Sméagol

Rating: 1.5/5

Two mana is a reasonably costed bounce spell and the temptation at least throws something in with your purchase of positive tempo. Unfortunately this can not be used to Doom Blade opposing Orc Armies which bumps it down to the only sometimes makes the cut bracket.

Stern Scolding

Rating: 2.5/5

Is Josh losing his mind? Did he just grade all of the counterspells high including this very limited one? This feels like it will play like a Core Set (Yeah, I said it, don’t @ me) and counterspells have historically been good in those type of sets. Two of them are uncommons so it’s not like you’re going to overload on them anyway.

This might be limited in what it can hit, but it can hit a lot of relevant cards. It is also a HUGE tempo swing at only one mana. Lost the die roll? No problem, just counter their two drop for one. Trust me on this one.

I’m just saying that they might straight up concede if you counter a four drop like Bill the Ponyor Gandalf, Friend of the Shire with this.

Storm of Saruman

Rating: 1.5/5

I want to say that this card is a joke, but I think it is possible for it to be a build around. Be forewarned that It is a six mana do nothing that requires you to double spell to do literally anything afterwards.

First off, if you play this and then follow it up with a (most likely very cheap) spell you get a trigger right away. There are also a lot of card draw spells in blue so you can keep the double spell gas flowing to do some absurd things.

Is it really worth it? Probably not, but you could always do it for the story.

Surrounded by Orcs

Rating: 1.5/5

A Hill Giant that mills in a set without Flashback or Disturb. I guess it could get out of control with a bunch of them trying to hit some gigantic mills, but that forces you to put all your eggs in one basket creature wise. Not exactly what I want to be doing. 

Treason of Isengard

Rating: 1.5/5

A Gray Ogre that puts an instant or sorcery on top of your library isn’t moving the needle for me. Well it is moving it, just not in the direction that anyone wants it to go.

While it might never come up, don’t target something if they have Stone of Erech out because you lose the 2/2 if they remove the card you target.

The Watcher in the Water

Rating: 1.5/5

A lot of the card draw is at sorcery speed so you need something like Captain of Umbar to actually take advantage of this as a tentacle producer.

The way stun counters work means that the untap up to one target Kraken is just going to remove a stun counter. It’s not a quick way to get your 9/9 going.


Rating: 2.5/5

The more I look through the creatures, the more I see that this is going to be an actual threat in the air. By the time you drop this, you should know whether or not you want to scry lands to the bottom so it could provide some decent value.

Wrap Up

Blue looks like a solid support color that helps win a longer controlling game. The counterspells are good and are backed up by some nice flying creatures. Most of the rest of the common creatures are unspectacular, but situationally useful.  I feel like I gave out way too many low grades here, but some of the cards are so interchangeable that you won’t have a problem filling those slots in.

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back tomorrow with my limited review of black for Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth. Until then, stay classy people!

Fine…I guess I will add that I’ll see you LTR! I’m pretty ashamed of that one, but I have a brand to uphold here.

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

You can also find me at:

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Josh is a member of the elite limited team The Draft Lab as well as the host of The Draft Lab Podcast. He was qualifying for Pro Tours, Nationals, and Worlds literally before some of you were born. After a Magic hiatus to play poker and go to medical school, he has been dominating Arena with over an 80% win percentage in Bo3 as well as making #1 rank in Mythic.

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