Card art from the Sauron, the Dark Lord MTG card that depicts Sauron from The Lord of the Rings in front of a ring of fire.

Sauron, the Dark Lord in Magic: The Gathering

"Build me an army worthy of Mordor."

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Reyadh is a writer of fantasy, horror, and science fiction who loves to play video games full of monsters and magic. When he's not scribing unique and unrelenting speculative fiction or slaying demons in virtual worlds, he is writing strategy guides to help others reach their gaming goals.

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Key Takeaway

To make use of Sauron, the Dark Lord as a Commander in your MTG deck, do the following:

  • Fill your deck with cards that allow you to Amass Orcs
  • Use Sauron, the Dark Lord’s activated Ward ability to give it some protection
  • Use cards that support Sauron, the Dark Lord, and your Orc Army
  • Make use of The Ring Tempts You emblem for added advantages

Furthermore, here are some great cards for a Sauron, the Dark Lord Commander deck:

  • Saruman, the White Hand (Legendary Creature)
  • Orcish Siegemaster (Creature)
  • Corsairs of Umbar (Creature)
  • Warg Rider (Creature)
  • Orcish Bowmasters (Creature)
  • March from the Black Gate (Enchantment)
  • Saruman’s Trickery (Instant)
  • The One Ring (Legendary Artifact)
  • Relic of Sauron (Artifact)
  • Barad-dûr (Legendary Land)
  • The Black Gate (Legendary Land)
  • Rogue’s Passage (Land)

Out of all the possible Commanders introduced in Magic: The Gathering’s The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Universes Beyond expansion, few can compare to the eponymous Lord of the Rings. Alongside jolly ol’ Tom Bombadil’s crazy potential, Sauron, the Dark Lord is also a top MTG Commander pick.

Table Of Contents

    What Is Sauron, the Dark Lord in MTG?

    Sauron from The Lord of the Rings on an MTG card.

    Sauron, the Dark Lord, is a Legendary Creature—Avatar Horror that has a mana value of one blue, one black, one red, and three of any color (six total). Overall, this version of Sauron has four effects, the first of which is an activated version of Ward:

    Ward—Sacrifice a legendary artifact or legendary creature.

    Whenever an opponent casts a spell, amass Orcs 1.

    Whenever an Army you control deals combat damage to a player, the Ring tempts you.

    Whenever the Ring tempts you, you may discard your hand. If you do, draw four cards.

    Why Sauron, the Dark Lord Is So Powerful

    If you use Sauron, the Dark Lord as your Commander, you have access to blue, black, and red cards. These colors are the ones featuring the Amass Orcs mechanic introduced in The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth expansion. As such, you can insert whatever Amass tactics you want into your Commander deck.

    The way Ward normally works in MTG is that it’s a triggered ability that only comes into effect when the permanent that it’s printed on is targeted by an opponent’s spell or ability. However, on Sauron, the Dark Lord, it’s more like an activated ability—at least at first. While Sauron is on the battlefield, you need to sacrifice a Legendary Artifact or a Legendary Creature for the Dark Lord to get Ward. While Ward is a solid defensive ability, needing to do something to get it on Sauron is less than ideal.

    With that said, Sauron’s other effects make up for this awkwardness. By simply being in play, the Dark Lord can passively build up your Orc Army whenever your opponent casts any spell. In no time, you’ll have a hulking Token Creature that your adversary will hate having to battle.

    This leads to the next effect. The Ring Tempts You triggers whenever your massive Orc Army deals damage to a player. The Ring Tempts You emblem provides some nice passive effects, so having this activated is mostly beneficial.

    On top of that, there’s a chain reaction that lets you discard your hand to draw four cards whenever The Ring Tempts You. Keep in mind that this emblem can trigger even after it’s fully implemented. It just won’t add any other effects after its fourth one is activated. Under the right circumstances, you can maintain your card advantage indefinitely.

    How to Build a Sauron, the Dark Lord Commander Deck

    If you’re running Sauron, the Dark Lord as a Commander of your MTG deck, you should focus on building up the most fearsome Orc Army Middle-earth has ever seen! For that, you’ll need cards that Amass Orcs and support cards for Sauron and his Mordor minions.

    Keep in that that you’ll want to use The Ring Tempts You effects on an Orc Army ringbearer. All four of this emblem’s effects will help your increasingly powerful Orc Army demolish your opponent.

    The Best Cards to Amass Orcs

    Tons of spells synergize well with everyone’s favorite Arda avatar horror. Since Sauron is blue, black, and red, you have access to all the spells that Amass Orcs in this expansion. With that said, we’ll give you three of our top recommendations for amassing your Orc Army: Saruman, the White Hand, March from the Black Gate, and Saruman’s Trickery.

    Three cards in MTG that are great for using the Amass Orcs mechanic.

    Saruman, the White Hand has the same mana colors as Sauron, the Dark Lord. As such, it fits nicely into your Commander deck here. Conversely to their master, Saruman lets you Amass Orcs through noncreature spells you cast. Now that Orcs are amassing whenever you and your opponent cast (most) spells, your Orc Army will grow more rapidly in size than you thought possible! Enjoy lording your 20/20 Token Creature over your adversary. What’s more, Saruman, the White Hand grants all your Goblin and Orc Creatures Ward 2 for some innate protection.

    March from the Black Gate is an intuitive way to build up your Orc Army as you attack. Since you’re pretty much going to attack with your brutish battalion every turn, this Enchantment gives you a way to power it up while demolishing your enemy’s forces and life points.

    Saruman’s Trickery will give your deck some versatility and counterplay potential. As opposed to most counterspell variants (that cost two mana), this one costs three mana total. The trade-off for the heightened cost is that in addition to countering a target spell, you’ll Amass Orcs 1. Sounds like a win-win to us!

    The Best Sauron and Orc Army Support Cards

    While mustering your hideous forces is all well and good (good in a bad way, of course), you’ll need some support to pull off your conquest of Middle-earth efficiently. For that, we recommend using Relic of Sauron, Orcish Siegemaster, and Corsairs of Umbar—among other cards you fancy.

    Three MTG cards that support Amass Orcs and Sauron, the Dark Lord tactics.

    Relic of Sauron is an effective way to cast Sauron, the Dark Lord a bit earlier than normal. Tapping this Artifact to generate two mana from the three colors you want is way better than relying on tapping Lands alone for this feat. Then, there’s its other effect, which lets you draw two cards (and discard one) for three mana. This is a worthwhile cost to maintain your card advantage.

    Orcish Siegemaster gives you a way to make your already dangerous Orc Army even deadlier. While your opponent can block your Mordor marauders with puny 1/1 Creatures at first, this won’t be a viable defense if you cast Orcish Siegemaster. This Orc Soldier gives all your Orc and Goblin Creatures Trample. That way, your 20/20 Token Creature can cleave through your foe’s life points even more easily. Plus, Orcish Siegemaster can attack in tandem with your Orc Army to double down on this overwhelming tactic thanks to gaining power from the latter while on the offensive.

    Corsairs of Umbar add some unexpected utility to your deck. If you want to guarantee a successful Orc Army attack, use Corsair of Umbar’s activated ability to make the former unblockable for this turn. Alternatively, if that’s not a good play right now, you can target Corsairs of Umbar with this same ability to make them almost guaranteed to deal some damage. In turn, that last maneuver lets you Amass Orcs 3 for more squadron supersizing.

    The Best Lands for a Sauron, the Dark Lord Commander Deck

    In a similar stream of thoughts as our above picks, you’re best off choosing utility lands that help you propagate your Orc Army. Furthermore, choosing those that let your fierce forces attack uninterrupted is also a solid strategy. For these reasons, the three Land cards we recommend the most here are Barad-dûr, The Black Gate, and Rogue’s Passage.

    Three of the best Lands for a Sauron, the Dark Lord Commander Deck.

    Barad-dûr is a no-brainer here. While it’s best to cast it after getting Sauron onto the battlefield, it also takes a fair bit of mana to implement properly. For these reasons, you’ll want to hang onto it until the mid or late parts of a game. However, when you do drop it into play, you should trigger its Amass Orcs X ability right away to quickly and massively enhance your Orc Army in one deadly swoop.

    For best usage, cast Barad-dûr only if you have a Legendary Creature on the battlefield. Then, cast a spell that destroys a creature to use its Amass Orcs X ability.

    The Black Gate is another obvious choice. This Legendary Land is ideal for when your opponent has more life than you. Punish them for it! The built-in life-loss effect helps set up a devastating attack. When you activate The Black Gate’s second ability, you can slam your foe for huge damage by making your imposing Orc Army unblockable for this turn.

    Rogue’s Passage overlaps with The Black Gate here. The former is cheaper to activate but requires some life point manipulation. This can be dangerous under less fortunate circumstances. As such, the higher mana cost of Rogue’s Passage’s ability may be preferable for making a Creatue unblockable this turn. With that said, having both on the battlefield will cover all your bases.

    Tips and Tricks for Winning With a Sauron, the Dark Lord Commander Deck

    As we went over a few times, you’ll want to prioritize bashing your foe’s skull in with a big Orc Army. However, such a strategy is going to be pretty obvious. To counter this, you’ll want to throw in some other tactics to mess with your opponent. Some of the best cards to round out your Sauron, the Dark Lord MTG deck are Warg Rider, Orcish Bowmasters, and The One Ring.

    The Warg Rider, Orcish Bowmasters, and The One Ring cards in MTG.

    Warg Rider has three awesome features. Firstly, it has Menace, which is always great for offense. Next, it gives your other Orcs and Goblins the same for a truly intimidating assembly. Menace on a 20/20 Orc Army is not something to underestimate—especially if you give it Trample somehow. On top of that, at the beginning of all of your combat phases, Warg Rider triggers Amass Orcs 2.

    Orcish Bowmasters is arguably one of the best cards to come out in The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth expansion. It punishes your foe every time they try to draw outside of their draw phase. Then, to add insult to injury, you get to Amass Orcs 1 at every instance of the mentioned situation.

    The One Ring is the icing on the Dark Lord cake. You didn’t think we’d talk about the literal Lord of the Rings without bringing up this trinket, did you? This indestructible Legendary Artifact gives you Protection from Everything the turn it’s cast. That alone makes it viable to have in hand for most of a game. What’s more, you can use it to increase your card advantage at the cost of some life points. In a format where you start with 40 of them, this is a meager cost for such a great power.

    Sauron, the Dark Lord MTG Prices

    If you’re looking for a playable version of Sauron, the Dark Lord, you’ll thankfully find one for roughly $5-$15 (USD) as of writing this. However, the fancy psychedelic borderless card variant will cost you over $100—closer to $700 for the serialized one.

    A psychedelic version of the Sauron, the Dark Lord MTG card.

    There are few figures more notable in fantasy literature (and now MTG) than Sauron, the Dark Lord. While you’re researching awesome card combos for your Commander deck, maybe check out who the Magic: The Gathering Lord of the Rings is thanks to a purchase of over $2 million. We’re talking, of course, about the owner of the serialized 1:1 The One Ring.

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