When it comes to Magic: The Gathering, there are positive and negative aspects to the franchise. Some Magic: The Gathering fans feel that the game is taking a step in the wrong direction while others are excited for the collaborations and the different possibilities.
Over the last year, Magic has garnered some unwanted attention due to the wrong packs showing up issue and the pacing of sets being released. Thankfully at Summer Game Fest 2023, we faced no issues while previewing the Magic: The Gathering Tales of Middle-earth (Lord of the Rings) set. For our meeting, we got to try out both structure decks and take on three different opponents including a Wizards of the Coast employee.
Going into the meeting, we deliberately did not look at the set in order to get a fresh perspective of each card within. The two structure decks offered a good range of accessibility for new players while offering some intermediate options for seasoned veterans.
If it is your first time playing Magic: the Gathering or trying out the set, it will take some time to read what each card effect is. Thankfully, there was a cheat sheet to help explain each creature’s abilities (Haste, Trample, Reach, or Vigilance).
The two structure decks are broken up into the Forces of Good vs the Forces of Evil with each set having recognizable names while introducing some new names. The Forces of Good structure deck seemed to focus more on creating food in order to regenerate health while the Forces of Evil deck focused more on creating Orcs to ram at your opponent.
The artwork on each card gave a feeling of Middle Earth but with different interpretations of some beloved characters. (This has angered some Lord of the Rings fans while others have enjoyed the fresh take.) Despite differences in opinions, the set’s artwork has a high level of detail that shows off where each character originates and in a way brings them to life.
Our first set of matches was against Jeff who was still somewhat new to the set. For the first match, we used the Forces of Evil deck. In the match, we had difficulty drawing land to play cards while Jeff had too much land but not enough creatures.
Once we got enough land, we were able to overpower the Forces of Good and run wild with ORCs. The second match was a more competitive match with us both drawing a good variety of cards.
In our match, we both got down to 1 HP but were able to use food tokens in order to heal up. Just like the first match, we were able to overpower Jeff with the sheer amount of monsters we had on the field.
In our match with Trick (Wizard), we had a good back-and-forth match where there were moments where either of us could have died but the top deck in the game was strong.
Instants made it easy to kill off stuff that would have killed us while also damaging the enemy.
The match was only lost when we asked our opponent what we should do rather than making the decision for ourselves. Because of this, we want a rematch the next time we see them.
Walking away from the Magic: The Gathering the Lord of the Rings meeting, there is an urge to create our own unique deck and fight those who also want to conquer Middle Earth.
With the Forces of Good deck being primarily White and Green and the Forces of Evil deck being Black and Red, we did not get the opportunity to see how Blue cards would play.
Would they have a mill effect or focus more on counterplay? For structure decks, both decks feel balanced to play against one another but we can easily see them being crushed if facing off against a custom deck.
The cards within each deck are highly detailed and bring Middle Earth to light from a new perspective; the amount of detail put into each character gave them a feeling of uniqueness as if looking through a window directly at the character.
For the meeting, it would have been better to try to play through all the cards within the deck, but the urge to win was significantly high. We definitely are looking forward to exploring The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set more when it releases on June 23rd, 2023.