Middle-earth returns to card decks worldwide with the new officially licensed The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth sets. Wizards of the Coast, owners of Magic: The Gathering, streamed a first look at many of the LOTR cards, mechanics, characters and artwork arriving in June.

It’s time to embark on a different sort of journey as Magic presents characters, locations, and epic moments from the epic fantasy novels of J.R.R. Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth™ is packed with exciting new cards and a few marquee keywords and mechanics to review. So, gather your Fellowship, pack your lembas, and let’s head out to learn more about the new set.

Wizards of the Coast

In addition to having a ton of Legendary creature cards, the mechanics of the One Ring in gameplay allow the ring to grow stronger with every use. Magic has an entire page discussion the new mechanics worth checking out: https://magic.wizards.com/en/news/feature/the-lord-of-the-rings-tales-of-middle-earth-mechanics

For old fans returning to Magic: The Gathering, many will appreciate this announcement – Wizards has licensed artwork from Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings, as “Secret Lair” variant cards!

Frodo himself, Elijah Wood, got a sneak peek at the cards!
Some of our favorite Tolkien fans – Don Marshall, Trisha Hershberger, and Nerd of the Rings!

Some of the cards have generated immense conversation on social media, which is a signing of increasing popularity. These LOTR decks are selling extremely well on pre-orders, and tons of fans can’t wait to get their hands on them. Wizards of the Coast provided this quote to Kotaku about the fresh artistic interpretations of Middle-earth:

Diversity: The Lord of the Rings is about the different peoples of Middle-earth coming together to fight Sauron, finding strength in their diversity. Fans of all backgrounds have been enjoying these stories, characters, and locations for decades, and we wanted this set to reflect on that broad inclusion.
Originality: The goal of this set is to express the story and setting of The Lord of the Rings through Magic: The Gathering Countless prior efforts have painted vivid pictures of this world, but our goal is a modern take on the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, lovingly crafted for an ever-expanding fandom.

Get Aragorn with Anduril, and the rest of The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth card packs, everywhere June 23, 2023. Support local game shops and pre-order with them.


Staffer Demosthenes here with a quick update on behalf of Justin.

First, there will be a expansion featuring cards based on Hildebrandt Tolkien artwork in November. Second, the Bakshi Secret Lair will only be available from The Wizards of the Coast website — so if you want it go looking there!

Finally, Amazon also has a number of special booster packs for pre-order. The big Booster Box is currently unavailable, but you can still pre-order small packs (of 15 cards) at the time of writing. Hopefully I got that all correct! Oh, and there’s a lot of discussion of the new MTG LOTR cards happening on our Discord so feel free to drop by and join in at discord.gg/TheOneRing.

Magic the Gathering Special Edition Collector Booster Box

Over on Wraith Land, Thomas Kelley has just published the second part of his extended interview with Tolkien artist Jay Johnstone.

Jay’s artwork employs techniques from religious manuscripts, icon and fresco illustrations from the medieval period, and uses a variety of mediums — oils, watercolors, acrylics, egg tempera with gold powder and leaf. Striking detail and traditional techniques give the impression of artwork that could have been produced in the real Middle-earth.

The first part explored how Johnstone’s own dreams influence his art. In this second part, Kelly explores Johnstone’s medieval illumination approach to Tolkien art in detail.

An excerpt:

When I interviewed Jay last year in April, I asked him about this “text within a text” vision in his Tolkien art, which to me are of the same theme as his “dream within a dream” iconographies. Using his painting “Gandalf in the Library of Minas Tirith” as an example, I pointed out how he meticulously detailed the books and scrolls in that image with Tengwar lettering. You can also see this painstaking attention throughout, as in works like “The Dwarves,” which illuminates Thror’s map in Bag End from The Hobbit.

“You know, I can’t remember what it says but there’s two parchments on his desk and both of them are written on and the lettering is about a millimeter high,” he says of the Gandalf in Minas Tirith work, chuckling a bit under his breath. “It’s absolutely tiny. I literally do it with a magnifying glass and a precision brush, a brush with one hair on it. I do that in quite a lot of paintings.”

It’s another level of getting inside Middle-earth, down to the micro. Such works are a celebration of the writers and sages inside that meta world, and of writing and learning itself. Johnstone’s “Círdan the Shipwright” — with its Tengwar and ship schematics on parchment — and his “Bilbo at the Library at Rivendell” — with history flowing from Bilbo’s pen — give us a new window into time.

Visit Wraith Land to read the feature in full.

Cirdan the Shipwright by Jay Johnstone
Cirdan the Shipwright by Jay Johnstone

If you have a Tolkien/Middle-earth inspired poem you’d like to share, then send it to poetry@theonering.net. One poem per person may be submitted each month. Please make sure to proofread your work before sending it in. TheOneRing.net is not responsible for poems posting with spelling or grammatical errors.