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Magic: The Gathering’s fancy Lord of the Rings art sets make great stocking stuffers

LOTR fans and MTG fans can find something of value in these newfangled products

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An MTG Scene Box showing Aragorn as depicted in Jason Rainville art for Magic: The Gathering. Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

It’s been a year of improvisation for the team at Wizards of the Coast. Flush with the success of Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth — its blockbuster Universes Beyond collaboration with the Tolkien estate — the Seattle-based publisher has decided to try something entirely new with Scene Boxes, each containing six cards designed for display, in addition to six playable cards and three Set Boosters. Thankfully, this new endeavor is a novel innovation that pays off, thanks in part to a relatively low price point and perfect clarity as to what comes inside the box.

Often when you purchase Magic cards, you’re buying booster packs — blind packs of random cards. That changed with the introduction of the Secret Lair drops in 2020; print-to-demand bundles where consumers know exactly what they are getting. Scene Boxes leverage that same certainty, offering up cards alongside a simple cardboard easel. They offer an elegant unboxing, and arrive at roughly the same price point that Secret Lair drops did.

They also make excellent use of senior art director Ovidio Cartagena’s re-imagining of iconic scenes from Tolkien’s original books.

“The Lord of the Rings is like the Odyssey, like the War of Troy,” he told Polygon’s Ana Diaz earlier this year. “There are several characters and several key moments. But there are now, and there will continue to be, people who add to it because the work is that massive and that important. We’re just very lucky we were born close to when the [The Lord of the Rings] was written.”

Four different Scene Boxes are available, including the one shown at the top of the page: Aragorn at Helm’s Deep, a singular image by Jason Rainville spread across six cards. The only limitation I can see is that consumers have to choose whether to display the playable cards or the art cards, but not both. Additional Scene Boxes feature Flight of The Witch-King by Campbell White, The Might of Galadriel by Alexander Mokhov, and Gandalf in Pelennor Fields by Matt Stewart.

A close-up of a paper device used for holding Magic cards. A Scene Box.
The easel shown in detail. On the back is a single panel showing the full art of all six cards combined.
Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

These four boxes also include three Set Boosters each, further increasing their value.

All told, these Scene Boxes make for great desk tchotchkes. As someone who’s tried to frame Magic cards in the past, I find the included easel is a great solution — so long as you bring your own penny sleeves. It sort of rudely grabs each card from the bottom, and it would be easy to damage them otherwise. But, if you have fans of Magic: The Gathering or The Lord of the Rings in your life, the Scene Boxes make great stocking stuffers.

Scene Box pre-orders are currently available through Amazon ahead of their Nov. 3 launch, with each box priced at approximately $35. Special Edition Booster Boxes are also available to pre-order, priced at $318.94.