Palantir of Orthanc
Palantir of Orthanc

Palantir of Orthanc – LOTR: TALES OF MIDDLE-EARTH

Date Reviewed:  July 7, 2023

Constructed: 3.13 
Casual: 4.00
Limited: 3.75
Multiplayer: 4.00
Commander [EDH]: 4.13

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.

Reviews Below: 


The Palantir of Orthanc is pretty high on the list of things I thought I’d never see in Magic card form. But now the floodgates are open – and if you told me Terminus Est and Rhialto the Marvellous were coming next year, I’d need to take it seriously until proven one way or the other.

Aside from the meta questions that might raise, the Magic version makes an interesting subgame, much like Fact or Fiction does. We haven’t gotten many cards that really do that recently, so that in itself is exciting; and much like Fact or Fiction, the subgame is one that it’s very easy to rig in your favor. It either sets up your draws turn after turn (think Sylvan Library, as you see it nowadays in Old School 93/94), or damages the opponent, but it forces them to guess which one you want more and which one they can deal with less. And that’s without accounting for the fact that a card in your graveyard might not be “lost” per se. It’s not entirely easy to see where the Palantir fits in Modern right now, but it looks pretty powerful when you start thinking about; I wouldn’t be surprised if someone tries something with it.

Constructed: 3
Casual: 4
Limited: 3.5
Multiplayer: 4 (if you can prove your deck is capable of seriously damaging people with the Palantir during the early turns, you can use it as a political tool in later turns)
Commander [EDH]: 4

 James H. 


There’s possibly a “pondering my orb” joke there, but those fell out of favor some time ago, so here we are. Palantir of Orthanc references the palantir, magical stones that could communicate with one another and be used to gather insights and information. The Palantir of Orthanc is specifically the one owned by Saruman, the white wizard who fell under the auspices and influence of Sauron (who possessed a palantir of his own).

The Palantir of Orthanc is an interesting bit of bargaining, where you either get a card or your opponent takes a hit. Triggering during the end step is an interesting angle that gives you immediate payoff, and it’s up to your opponent to figure out if the choice they’re making is “bad” or “really bad”. Early on, milling one card may not be a massive pain point, but you know what may or may not be on top of your library, and it’s up to your opponent to figure out if they’re willing to take the hit.

My immediate hunch is that Palantir of Orthanc is a bit too “cute” to be a force in Modern, but it may well see some play; self-mill decks might actually get a bit from it, since they do like a full graveyard and you can make the decision really hurt. There is some intrigue all the same, and I’m curious as to see what ultimately comes of it.

Constructed: 3.25
Casual: 4
Limited: 4
Multiplayer: 4 (it does say “target opponent”, so choose wisely)
Commander [EDH]: 4.25

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