Magic Arena gets a crossover set for the first time, and it's Lord of the Rings

A card art image from Magic: The Gathering's Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth card set.
(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

For a few years now, Magic: The Gathering has been doing crossover sets with other worlds under the Universes Beyond and Secret Lair labels. We've recently seen adaptations like Street Fighter and Fortnite, while an upcoming set will explore the various Warhammer properties. None of these crossovers have ever reached past paper Magic and into the digital world of Magic: The Gathering Arena.

Next year, however, that changes. Upcoming set The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth will release sometime next summer, or "Q3 2023." Its release will bring the world of LOTR to a booster set that will appear not just on digital, but will be a set in Alchemy, the standard-equivalent ruleset of Arena. Wizards of the Coast previewed the set today during its Wizards Presents event.

Magic designers showed off a huge piece of art, planned to span 18 cards, that will be part of the larger booster release for Tales of Middle-earth. It's a tableau of The Battle of the Pelennor Fields, the epic defense of Gondorian capital Minas Tirith from The Return of the King. Central to the tableau are characters like Aragorn—complete with flaming sword Anduril—warrior-maiden Eowyn, and an extremely Ralph Bakshi-inspired Witch King of Angmar.

The set is inspired by and drawn from the books, rather than later depictions, and there are a lot of characters you don't see in most other work. On the right you can see what may well be the knights of Dol Amroth, for example.

This image shows how the larger tableau will be cut up into 18 separate cards art. (Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

The same art, sans card frames. (Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

Other artwork shared included characters like Frodo, holding the ring, and Gandalf facing down the Balrog of Moria, which will probably start some nerdfights because it's very notably not depicted as having wings.

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

Prepare for the "Do Balrogs have wings?" debate to return, at  least for a bit. (Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth will be out next year for both Magic: The Gathering Arena and paper Magic: The Gathering.

In other Lord of the Rings related news, the commercial rights to the stories, including The Hobbit, have been purchased by Embracer Group. Seeing as Embracer also owns Wizards of the Coast tabletop games competitor Asmodee, this may well be the first and last time we see Lord of the Rings in Magic's Universes Beyond.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.