Magic: The Gathering: How To Use The One Ring Mechanic

Here’s how to use the power of the One Ring in Magic: The Gathering.

Image Via Wizards of the Coast

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set for Magic: The Gathering has the task of adapting the all-powerful One Ring into card game form. Gamepur recently had a chance to see how the One Ring works as part of a preview event for the game, with many of the cards in the new set having ways to call upon Sauron’s most powerful creation.

It’s important to distinguish between The One Ring artifact and the mechanics of “The Ring Tempts You” keyword. Oddly enough, the artifact version doesn’t use The Ring Tempts You. Instead, it’s an indestructible artifact that drains one life per turn and turns them into a Burden Counter, and if the player taps The One Ring, they put another Burden Counter on it and draw a card for each counter.

Related: Preview – LOTR Magic: The Gathering Commanders Revealed

What The One Ring Mechanic Does In Magic: The Gathering

Sauron from The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth
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There are cards in The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set that have The Rings Tempts You keyword. Sometimes, the keyword activates when the card is played, while others only kick in when certain conditions are met, such as when a Rohirim Lancer creature dies.

Once The Ring Tempts You is activated for the first time, you designate a creature on your side of the field as a Ring-Bearer. If no creatures are on your side of the field, no one is declared Ring-Bearer until The Ring Tempts You is activated again. Once a Ring-Bearer is chosen, they are given a One Ring emblem, which vanishes when they. If The Ring Tempts You is activated again, the player can switch the Ring-Bearer if they choose but don’t need to.

Every time The Ring Tempts You is activated, the power it grants to the Ring-Bearer is increased by one stage, to a maximum of four stages. As it increases in stages, all of the previous effects remain active, so if The Ring Tempts You is at stage 3, then the Ring-Bearer will also have the effects of stages 1 and 2. The One Ring effect remains at its current stage until the end of the match, even if the Ring-Bearer is killed. These effects are:

  • Stage 1 – The Ring-Bearer is now a Legendary creature and can’t be blocked by creatures with a greater Power score.
  • Stage 2 – When the Ring-Bearer attacks, its controller draws a card and discards a card. Note that only the act of attacking causes this effect to work, so it doesn’t matter if the move is blocked, if the hit goes through, or if the Ring-Bearer is killed during the process of attacking.
  • Stage 3 – When an enemy creature blocks the Ring-Bearer, if it survives the combat, its controller sacrifices it at the end of combat.
  • Stage 4 – Whenever the Ring-Bearer deals combat damage to a player, all opponents lose 3 life.

While The Lord of the Rings made a big deal about how there is only a single One Ring, this isn’t the case in Magic: The Gathering. If all players use cards from The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set, multiple One Rings can be floating around, one for each opponent on the field.

All Magic: The Gathering The Lord Of The Ring: Tales Of Middle-Earth Cards That Use One Ring Mechanics

Gandalf Lord of the Rings Magic the Gathering
Image Via Wizards of the Coast

Many cards in The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth set possess abilities related to The Ring Tempts You or Ring-Bearers mechanics. This doesn’t include The One Ring artifact card, which is its own separate thing. The revealed cards that are connected to the new mechanics are:

  • Aragorn, Company Leader
  • Bilbo, Retired Burglar
  • Birthday Escape
  • The Black Breath
  • Bombadil’s Song
  • Boromir, Warden of the Tower
  • Breaking The Fellowship
  • Call Of The Ring
  • Claim The Precious
  • Dreadful As The Storm
  • Dunedain Rangers
  • Elrond, Lord Of Rivendell
  • Enraged Huorn
  • Faramir, Field Commander
  • Fiery Inscription
  • Frodo Baggins
  • Frodo, Adventurous Hobbit
  • Frodo, Sauron’s Bane
  • Galadriel Elven-Queen
  • Galadriel Of Lothlorien
  • Gandalf, Friend Of The Shire
  • Glorious Gale
  • Gollum’s Bite
  • Gollum, Patient Plotter
  • Horses Of The Bruinen
  • Inherited Envelope
  • Mirromere Guardian
  • Nazgul
  • Now For Wrath, Now For Ruin!
  • One Ring To Rule Them All
  • Ranger’s Firebrand
  • Rangers of Ithilien
  • Relentless Rohirrim
  • The Ring Goes South
  • Ringsight
  • Ringwraiths
  • Rohirrim Lancer
  • Sam’s Desperate Rescue
  • Samwise The Stouthearted
  • Sauron, The Dark Lord
  • Sauron, Lord Of The Rings
  • Sauron, The Necromancer
  • Sauron’s Ransom
  • Scroll Of Isildur
  • Shortcut To Mushrooms
  • Slip On The Ring
  • Smeagol, Helpful Guide
  • Smoothing Of Smeagol
  • There And Back Again
  • Took Reaper
  • Uruk-Hai Berserker
  • War Of The Last Alliance
  • Witch-King Of Angmar

Best Cards That Use The One Ring In Magic: The Gathering

Frodo One Ring Magic the Gathering
Image Via Wizards of the Coast

What’s notable about the One Ring and its mechanics in Magic: The Gathering is that only one card uses it as an alternate win condition: Frodo, Sauron’s Bane. To pull this off, you need to have all four stages of The Ring Tempts You active, summon Frodo for one white mana, upgrade him for two white or black mana, then upgrade him again for three black mana, then have him deal one point of combat damage. If this is done, then the player struck loses the game.

Frodo, Sauron’s Bane, has incredible potential as a Commander, as players will have access to it throughout the game in the Command Zone and can focus on stocking up on mana and upgrading the ring effect before calling on him. The fact that the Ring-Bearer powers make it impossible for creatures with greater Power to block Frodo can also be a game-changer here.

In terms of quickly increasing the power of the Ring-Bearer, there are a few cheap options, such as Rohirrim Lancer (a cheap 1 red mana creature that activates The Ring Tempts You upon death), Slip On The Ring (2 mana to exile/return a creature), Birthday Escape (draw a card + The Ring Tempts You for 1 blue mana), Scroll of Isildur (a powerful blue Saga card that can shut down the enemy), Call of the Ring (free The Ring Tempts You effects at the beginning of upkeep), Claim the Precious (free kill + The Ring Tempts You), Nazgul (great support monsters with Deathtouch that get stronger alongside the One Ring), and Bombadil’s Song (an instant that grants Hexproof, +1/+1, and The Ring Tempts You.)

Related: Bringing The Lord Of The Rings To Magic: The Gathering – Ovidio Cartagena Interview

The version of the One Ring in Magic: The Gathering isn’t quite the world-altering weapon it’s made out to be in The Lord of the Rings, but it’s still a potent weapon to be included in any player’s arsenal. The fact that its power remains upgraded throughout the match and doesn’t reset upon the death of the Ring-Bearer is one of its best attributes, allowing it to stay relevant throughout the game.