LotR Fan – New to Magic: The Ultimate Guide

You’re a big fan of LotR, and you’ve stumbled upon Magic the Gathering, thanks to their crossover set, Tales of Middle-earth. You’re wondering how you can start with the game, and if that’s even worth it? As for the latter, it’s definitely worth it, since at least in my opinion, MTG is one of the best games ever made.

You’re not the only one wondering about this. Many players are having the same problem as you do, and asking for help on Reddit. (Example 1, example 2, and example 3.) That’s why I decided to write this guide, with concise and clear information.

You’ll quickly find out:

  • How you can learn the game;
  • Where can you play the game;
  • Which MTG products to buy first.

Learn the Game

You have two options for learning the game. You can learn it on a digital platform (Arena) or in real life (“in paper”). While it’s easier to learn the game on Arena, you might prefer a face-to-face experience in paper.

Let’s explore each option into more details.

MTG Arena

MTG Arena LotR Fan New MTG Player

MTG Arena allows you to play the game on your computer or smartphone. It’s also the easiest way to learn the rules.

When you download the game, you start with a tutorial. It will guide you through all the basics rules, so you’ll quickly learn the fundamentals.

Once you complete the tutorial, you can start playing color challenges against the computer. This way, you’ll learn how different strategies work. Afterward, you can start playing against other players, or continue to play against the computer.

If you’re worried about the price – the Arena is free to play. You can purchase more things to make your progression quicker, but for learning the game, you don’t have to invest a single penny. You can find out more about how to get the most bang for zero bucks, in our Free to Play Arena Guide.

You can download Arena from various sources, such as:


The other option is the more pristine way of playing. You’re actually having the cards in your hand, and you’re playing face-to-face, gathering a fellowship of like-minded people around yourself.

Second Breakfast New MTG Player LotR Fan Guide


If you have a friend who already knows how to play, that’s amazing. We (Magic players) will happily teach you the game, as this means that we have another person to play this incredible game with. So, just ask a Magic-playing friend, and they’ll probably teach you the game.

Besides, they’ll also be able to show you the best stores nearby that host MTG tournaments. Despite the name, not all tournaments are that competitive, most of them are pretty casual, and a great place to start playing Magic.

Local Game Store

The other option you have is to head to a local game store by yourself. You can use Wizards’ Store Locator to find a store near you. That page has another neat feature. It shows you the schedule of upcoming MTG events. So if you visit a store during that time, there will be a bunch of players that you could ask for help with the game.

One of the best events for new players is the prerelease. These are more casual events, where players get 6 booster packs each, and build a deck from the cards they open. (That’s called Sealed.) Prereleases typically attract the largest crowds, so finding someone who will show you the ropes shouldn’t be a problem.

There’s also the Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth prerelease, which will probably be the best option for you. Most of the LotR prereleases are going to be run on the weekend of 16-18 June 2023.

Which LotR Products to Buy?

There are plenty of different MTG LotR products available. We went into great detail in our Tales of Middle-earth product guide, but here, we’ll keep it simple and talk about the products that are most relevant for you – a LotR fan, who’s just starting with Magic.

Before we do that, we just have to mention one more thing – MTG formats.

Different Formats, Different Products

In Magic the Gathering there are multiple formats. These are essentially different game modes.

Does your deck need to play 100 cards or 60? Can you play cards from any set, or can you only have cards that were released recently? Which cards are banned? Such questions can have different answers depending on which format you’re playing.

There are so many formats, that it can be overwhelming for a new player. For now, the three major ones, you should know about are:

  • Casual
  • Commander
  • Limited

All three can allow you to play with Tales of Middle-earth cards, and each one has different benefits for a new player.

Wizard's Rockets New to MTG LotR Fan Guide


This is the most popular way of playing Magic, although the players playing it don’t consider it a format. They just call it Magic. It’s mostly played at home, (hence it’s also called kitchen table Magic) with a play groups of friends.

Players build decks with at least 60 cards, and they don’t care much about ban lists or cards legality. They just play with whatever cards they have. So, if you’re just looking for something to play with your friends at home, and don’t care much about interacting with the rest of the MTG community, this is a perfect format for you.


Commander is the most widely played official format. It has a steep learning curve, as each deck contains 100-cards, and each one has to be different. The other unique thing about this format is that a legendary creature is your commander, and you always have access to it.

Gandalf the White

To go over the rules, even just the basics ones, that would require a whole new article. And wouldn’t you know it, we have a Commander Beginners Guide ready for you.

However, once you get past the massive learning curve, there is a great thing about Commander. In practically every game store, you’ll find people who play this format, and you’ll be able to play the game everywhere you go. This is not necessarily true for casual play.


Finally, there’s Limited, where you play with the cards that you open in your boosters. There are two main variations of Limited: Sealed and Draft.

In Sealed you open 6 packs, and build a 40-card deck from them including basics lands. You can play this variant with at least two players.

In Draft, players get only three packs, but they get to select cards that they want from packs, and pass the rest to the other players. (That’s quite a simplified version. More in-depth rules can be found in this Draft Guide.)

Limited can be hard to master, but it has two major benefits. Firstly, everyone has access to cards of approximately the same power level. If you start with Commander, your opponent could easily have a deck with most cards being significantly better than yours.

Secondly, there’s a much smaller card pool that you’ll encounter, making it less overwhelming. In Commander, players can use almost any card from Magic’s history. That’s over 25,000 cards! If you’ll play Tales of Middle-earth Limited, you’ll encounter less than 270 different cards. While this number isn’t small, it’s much more manageable for a new player.

Now you know the formats, so you can make a better decision on which product to get first. Let’s see what your options are.

Tales of Middle-earth Starter Kit

MTG Tales of Middle Earth LotR Starter Kit

The Starter Kit was made with you – a new player – in mind. It contains two 60-card decks, one with Aragorn and Arwen, and the second one with Sauron. They don’t contain too complex mechanics, but are still fun to play, and all the cards are set within the Middle-earth.

These are great if you’re planning on playing some casual Magic, and it can be used as a self-contained board game for two players. On top of that, it’s also one of the cheapest Magic products overall. So if you’re unsure whether you’ll like the game, this is a perfect product to get, as it isn’t a big money investment.

Oh, and you’ll also get two redeemable codes for MTG Arena. They can be used on two accounts, and redeem for digital versions of all cards in the two decks. You can find more information about it and its contents in the LotR Starter Kit Guide.

Tales of Middle-earth Commander Decks

Food and Fellowship Lord of the Rings Commander Decks

If you want to start playing Commander, there’s no better way to do so than with a Commander precon. These are 100-card ready-to-play decks. So you get one of these, and you’re all set on playing Commander.

There are four LotR Commander decks, each filled with iconic characters, items, and locations from Middle-earth. You can have your deck commandeered by Frodo, Sauron, Galadriel, and many others. While these decks aren’t the cheapest out there, they are typically still good value, as they often contain some sought-after cards.

Tales of Middle-earth Draft Boosters

Lord of the Rings Draft booster Box

Finally, if you want to play Limited you either have to go to your local game store, or you need to have Draft boosters. (Not Set, not Jumpstart, and not Collector boosters.) Draft boosters have the right distribution of commons, uncommons and rares to support Draft or Sealed.

If you want to have a draft at home, you’ll need 3 boosters per player. If you’re playing Sealed you require 6 boosters per player, but you can play it with as little as two players. (As we mentioned before, Draft is at its best with 8 players.)

However, if you’ve just started playing Magic, it’s probably better to attend an event at a store. You’ll still get to keep the cards that you open or pick, and other players will be able to give you more information about the game.

What About Collectors?

Of course, you might have no interest in playing the game, and you just want to collect some cards for your Lord of the Rings collection. In that case, the recommendations for you should be different.

One of the most important pieces of advice is: “If you’re looking for a specific card, you’re better off buying it on the secondary market, as opposed to opening packs in hopes of finding it.”

However, if you want to open some cards from Tales of Middle-earth, and you really don’t care which ones, you can go with either Set or Collector boosters.

Set boosters are better if you don’t want to spend that much. Collector boosters are much pricier, but they do contain multiple rare cards, alternate art cards, and foils. You can find more information about LotR Collector Boosters contents here.


Now you should know the basics about how to start playing and / or collecting MTG as a LotR fan. If you have any additional questions, feel free to leave a comment below, and we’ll get back to you as fast as we can.

Many Partings LotR Fan New to MTG

Until next time, have fun, and enjoy the latest journey through the Middle-earth!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.