Magic: The Gathering (MTG) is continuing its expansive cross-over card events with a June 23, 2023 release of their The Lord of the Rings (LOTR): Tales of Middle-Earth expansion set.
The set will feature cards based around the characters, locations, and events from JRR Tolkien’s fantasy works alongside mechanics, both new and returning, for Magic: The Gathering players. Tales of Middle-Earth will introduce The Ring, a helper card with various effects that appear and grow in power through “the ring tempts you“. This mechanic represents the growing temptation and power of the ring: every time the ring tempts you, you can pick a creature to be your ringbearer. That creature will steadily gain increasingly powerful effects the more you’ve been tempted by the ring.
Returning mechanics for Tales of Middle-Earth include Food, which is used to restore life; Landcycling, which discards specific cards in order for you to search out land cards; Saga, which returns from the Dungeons & Dragons set and does the same thing they did then; Historic, which are anything with the legendary supertype, and do many great things for your deck; and Stun Counters return, powerful cards that can stop things like your opponent untapping their land before a turn.
But that’s not what you’re here for, are you? You want to know what card The Outerhaven has been chosen to present, on behalf of Wizards of the Coast, to the world for the first time. Well, we won’t keep you in suspense much longer. The card that The Outerhaven is presenting today, exclusively, is… The Watcher in the Water!
“Who is the Watcher in the Water?” I hear you say. Here is a rundown of what this creature is:
The Watcher was thought to have emerged from beneath Moria, as Gandalf noted that “older, fouler things than Orcs” dwelt in the deep places of the world. During the attempted recolonization of Moria by the Dwarves, the Watcher devoured Óin when his reconnaissance party visited the West Gate.
When the Fellowship arrived by the pool of water, many immediately began to feel an evil feeling emanating from the water. As they pondered the riddle of the Doors of Durin, Boromir threw a rock into the water. After Gandalf opened the gates and the Fellowship moved towards the entrance, the Watcher attacked Frodo, using its many long tentacles to grab hold of his legs. Sam slashed at the tentacles that were grabbing his friend, managed to injure the monster and it released the hobbit. Gandalf then commanded that the Fellowship run inside the gate to escape the Watcher’s wrath. The enraged monster’s tentacles tore down the ancient holly trees which stood on either side of the doors, the gate, and many boulders, thus trapping the Fellowship inside the darkness of Moria. Gandalf silently noted to himself that the creature had reached for Frodo first of all the members of the Fellowship.
The Fellowship (including Óin’s nephew, Gimli) later learn that the Watcher was responsible for Óin’s death after Gandalf read the account written by Ori in the Book of Mazarbul.
But what does the card do? Well, The Water in the Water is a legendary creature (Commander potential!) that works with the Stun Counter mechanic, coming in stunned, but can summon multiple 1/1 blue Tentacle creature tokens that it can use to either attack with or chump block. When those tentacles die, you either untap a Kraken creature card or put a Stun token on a nonland permanent, meaning creature card.
There is some interesting potential with this beast of a creature, with it being able to summon unlimited tentacles from card draw alone. This makes The Water in the Water a formidable blocking creature, with the ability to flood the board on unsuspecting opponents. It will be interesting to see how The Watcher in the Water plays in Commander format in the future as it gives Blue players something more aggressive to use… Instead of just counter-spelling their way to victory.