In this article, I’ll be discussing the “hits” from the LoTR set for cube (the next one will cover the LoTR Commander set.)




Samwise the Stouthearted

Despite being an unassuming 2/1 with flash, I found that he was much better than I would have thought, since it’s not hard to proactively make this trigger happen (fetches, Wasteland, other things that naturally sacrifice themselves) but also I found that Samwise was just good on his own to cast post-combat when you have a horde of attackers chump attacking.

Ones that do it once effectively read as “target creature has skulk” so naturally I found that, for the most part, the standalone “ring tempts” tended to be better than the others, since these include a creature to bear the ring, as when cards like this triggered, usually the card that brought the ring was the ring bearer (although I’m unsure how often this was truly the right play.)

Having Skulk isn’t bad as a free upside even though it’s relatively low impact.  But, in this case, it’s essentially free; as a 2/1 flash skulker that sometimes virtually draws a card when it enters, I’ve been a fan.

Flowering of the White Tree

A 2023-power level anthem (it’s about time) and thus, doesn’t require *as* much legends as you may think.

The “legends matter” stuff doesn’t require as much as you’d think to support.  In my last article, I talked about how some cards like the aftermath Pia and Samut are pretty bad due to lack of being unable to consistently hit critical mass.

But now, with so many good creatures being naturally legendary, and how it’s virtually a non-drawback in cubes (even those with multiples, where the drawback is generally still minimal), cube decks nowadays just happen to have that critical mass of legends by virtue of having a lot of creatures… without having to actively seek legends!

(some recent examples.)

Obviously absurd as a follow up to Skrelv, Yoshimaru or Kytheon but still fine if it follows up a Dryad Militant, and a nice way to provide a big boost to an aggro board.

Gandalf the White

I like this mostly as a ⅘ with flash that lets you cast legendaries and historic spells with flash, ala a more powercrept Raff Capashen, Ship’s Mage.  The panharmonicon ability for entering or leaving is secondary, but has some nice hits – Legion’s Landing, Loran of the Third Path and even Samwise in white itself.  Again, this may just be my bias for flashy things, but I do like how well this incorporates into decks that can utilize him as a big beefy flash body and as an enabler of powerful things.

Westfold Rider

Honestly, I found that this was nice as yet ANOTHER and slightly worse Cathar Commando, since it was free to sac and still beat on opponents decently well when the opponent didn’t have anything to shatter – although it wasn’t uncommon for this to be played as a mana-efficient-ish sorcery speed Disenchant, which Cathar Commando can’t do unless spending 3 mana and this mode fits the efficient aggro plan.

That said, flash and (secondarily) being able to be used at any time are generally better than the free mode on Rider, but I was surprised at just how close these two are.


Borne Upon a Wind

If you’ve ever had to play around a Quicken, you’ll know how much of a pain it is to realize that you’re not having to just play around instants/cards with flash, but also other cards.  Borne Upon a Wind is a much worse cantrip upfront at 2 mana, but I like that it covers many other bases of what can be played at Flash speed afterwards, and being able to deploy a Planeswalker or a mana rock is nice for control decks.

Stern Scolding

Blue’s Fatal Push/Cut Down riff – like those cards, this trades up in a mana in a big way, and is one of the cheaper counterspells at dealing with creatures, as we’ve had cards like Spell Pierce and Force of Negation to deal with non-creatures for years and having a tool to deal with small creatures with ETBs like Loran of the Third Path cleanly is a great tool for cubes in this era.

Lorien Revealed

We’ve never had Islandcycling for 1 mana, and this is the best of the new islandcycling crew.  We’ve generally not seen this kind of card represented in cube, with the closest analogues being Eternal Dragon (oof), Timeless Dragon (great, but also a 2-for-1) and Boon of the Wish-Giver/Hieroglyphic Illumination as cards that cycle for 1 but can be cashed in for multiple draws.

But what I like this most for is to act as a Lay of the Land that can get typed dual lands at instant speed.  This may just be my bias for being greedy coming into play, though. 🙂

Birthday Escape

It’s another cantrip – being tempted by the ring can be worse on cards like this that are played in decks that are creature lighter (and thus, may not have a ringbearer as consistently) and being a sorcery does hurt this furthermore, since we have a ton of good cantrips that are instant speed already.  I’m not sure if I like this more than Lorien Revealed, honestly.


Orcish Bowmasters

Even when this doesn’t hose an opponent drawing extra cards, this has been a wonderful boon for black cube decks as the best Mogg War Marshal ever by having flash and pinging something when it comes down.  It being inconsistent on making a creature due to Amass (as it may just buff a 1/1 Orc into a 2/2) but I didn’t see it occur when I was trying it out.   A very easy add.

Call of the Ring

This performed well as a way to make something a ringbearer and to consistently let it go further down the Ring cycle.  Being able to pay 2 life without requiring additional mana helped it act as a pseudo-Greed effect, and in black aggro decks like <this>, the life loss wasn’t a big deal – and cards with lifelink can help to offset the life loss, although I never really saw it mattering much.  Much better than it may look.

Nasty End

This goes from being mediocre to busted if you’re able to pair this with legends – drawing 3 for 2 is a rate that you don’t see very often, and given critical mass, it’s not that hard to do, like in the earlier deck that had Orcish Bowmasters.  Unsurprisingly, when I saw this draw 3, the opponent almost always won.  Great with sacrifice shenanigans but hardly solely a sacrifice card.


Moria Marauder

While there aren’t many good Orcs in cube (Zurgo Bellstriker), this is mostly useful as a standalone type of card that virtually draws 2 when it connects.  Saboteurs without evasion generally look better than they are, but being cheap and being able to at least attack for 2 helps in failcase scenarios (and being able to pump power helps too.)  Like with Goblin Rabblemaster, this isn’t something that requires goblin support, but always welcomes it.  I’m a fan.

Ranger’s Firebrand

Like Birthday Escape, it’s a Sorcery variant of a 1-mana classic (Shock) but in an archetype that’s much more likely to have a warm body to be a ringbearer, unless you’re killing a small creature on turn 1.  I’m lower on this than most shock variants (and Gollum’s Bite, which I like for black beatdown decks as a Disfigure that can “flash back” to tempt) since sorcery speed is still not great, and I’m unsure if this is better than Seal of Fire, but it’s not bad a supplemental cheap burn spell, since giving a creature skulk helps cheap attackers chip in for damage, which may be enough for lethal when the board is gummed up.

Eomer, Marshal of Rohan

I like that this Lava Hounds is hard to block, although it can be hard to get an extra attack step out of it since ultimately, the opponent is in control of it (even if you have multiple legends), barring sacrifice shenanigans, and Lava Hounds is a decent rate, but hardly pushed these days.


Delighted Halfling

Even if it’s in a deck that doesn’t care about legends, I’ve liked how this allows for planeswalkers to be cast if your mana base isn’t cooperating and also for them not be countered, since green midrange can find itself in scenarios where it’s really hoping that the opponent doesn’t have a counterspell, but, by them being (virtually all) sorcery-speed cards, there’s not much that a green deck can do about it.  Delighted Halfling helps with that.

Many Partings

This set’s Lay of the Land that gives a nice game object.  Best in decks that can actively use the artifact rather than just as a way to gain life, but I’m cautiously optimistic.


Sauron’s Ransom

3 mana Fortune’s Favor which honestly is what this should cost these days.  It gives instant speed ring tempt, which really isn’t a factor until “chapter 3”, which can get people if they autopilot to doing it after attackers are declared, but if it’s in your cube, should be able to take that into account.

Hardly broken but for mid-sized draw spell, I do like how this usually gives at least selection or raw cards (but usually not both) which is nice for control decks.

Pippin, Guard of the Citadel

Lately, we’ve been seeing more UW cards to push the color pair into more of a proactive creature-based direction, and this Mom variant is another in that line.  Like a lot of other recent ones, this can’t protect itself, but having ward 1 helps, at least, and having vigilance lets Pippin swing in, which also helps with the recent “attack with 2 creatures” trend we’ve seen lately.

Flame of Anor

Wizards tribal isn’t too hard to organically support in blue (but not as generically easy as humans.)  Because of this, getting 2 modes out of it puts Prismari Command to shame and is overall great, since one of the selected modes is usually draw 2, and draw 2 + kill something/shatter is like the best Kolaghan’s Command ever, and worst case, this is an instant speed Divination, which isn’t bad.


Anduril, Flame of the West

More of a Sword than an Heirloom Blade due to its 2 mana equip cost, this is another card that doesn’t really require legendary support, but it turns a creature into an efficient clock if so, letting it act as a rabblemaster.  Like with Heirloom Blade, it creatures creatures that can also wield this, which helps in scenarios where the opponent isn’t able to just kill the wielder on sight.

It’s still pretty slow, and while I do like this more than Sword of Once and Future, it still falls in the mid-tier Sword range.

Wizard’s Rockets

The first time it was cast, it let the opponent then cast Ledger Shredder + Preordain with only 1 blue source.  A good first impression; like with Elsewhere Flask, it fixes your mana incredibly well for a turn, but entering tapped means that it can’t act as a cantrip immediately.  Like other baubles, nice with cards like Ratchet, Field Medic and Trinket Mage, and I like how baubles subtly make cube decks better.


Minas Tirith

In white aggro decks, I found that this was pretty easy to get going since getting 2 attackers a la Glimmer Lens isn’t too difficult, and the activation cost wasn’t bad either.

Mount DOOM

Pretty good utility land – since there are nowhere near as many legendary artifacts as creatures, it’s harder to blow up the world, but being able to ping players is nice.

In the next article, I’ll be discussing the LOTR Commander hits and linking to my more long-form blog post about the cards in the sets not covered in these articles.

Usman Jamil (he/him) has been creating Cube content since 2009 and created the first and longest running Cube podcast, The Third Power. He is a member of the Pauper Cube Committee and created the Ravnica Cube on Magic Online. His linktree is:

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