Last updated on June 23, 2023

Mazzy, Truesword Paladin - Illustration by Justyna Gil

Mazzy, Truesword Paladin | Illustration by Justyna Gil

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth has brought a ton of classic fantasy to worlds of Magic, giving Tolkien’s iconic characters and races a bunch of cards that reflect the story and world so many of us grew up with.

One of the creature types to get the biggest boost with LTR is halflings. They’re the heroes of the Lord of the Rings series, and the new set brings us legendary versions of many members of the fellowship and a slew of small folk that show the Shire’s calm people. So let’s rank all of them!

What Are Halflings in MTG?

Meriadoc Brandybuck - Illustration by Marie Magny

Meriadoc Brandybuck | Illustration by Marie Magny

Halflings are creatures in Magic with the halfling subtype. While many halflings were printed in Tales of Middle-earth, the creature type was originally introduced in Adventures in the Forgotten RealmsDungeons & Dragons crossover set. Those halflings had little mechanical identity; it was just a creature type.

The newest set gives them a more developed mechanical identity focused on Food tokens. This synergy also gives some incidental lifegain and artifact synergies. This new identity makes the creature type work well with itself and gives it ways to play with other strategies.

I want to make a quick note about the partner mechanic; several legendary creatures in the Commander precons have it and, as a rule, these cards work very well with the card they’re partnered with. Their rankings are determined by the solo card, however.

#44. Lightfoot Rogue

Lightfoot Rogue

Lightfoot Rogue is useful for any deck that wants deathtouch creatures or an excuse to roll a d20 but falters in anything else. It's fundamentally a draft card but could be good in decks that exploit its typing or abilities.

#43. Took Reaper

Took Reaper

The Ring tempts you is the newest mechanic, and this does a reasonable job of tempting you. I’m most interested in Took Reaper as a Pauper card. Depending on the impact the mechanic has on the format, this could be a great enabler alongside sacrifice outlets like Carrion Feeder and Bone Shards.

#42. Nimble Hobbit

Nimble Hobbit

Nimble Hobbit is almost certainly a staple of this Limited environment. There are plenty of ways to generate Food for free, and it’s a fine mana sink later. This hobbit will push tons of damage and help break stalled boards.

#41. Brandywine Farmer

Brandywine Farmer

Brandywine Farmer represents at least two Food tokens, but potentially more if you can flicker it or bounce it to your hand. This card could also work well alongside sacrifice outlets, though its stats leave much to be desired with its mana cost.

#40. Meriadoc Brandybuck

Meriadoc Brandybuck

Meriadoc Brandybuck will be a great Food enabler for Limited and beyond. Getting in with halflings gets easier with the Ring mechanic giving a choice creature skulk. Even Meriadoc alone is worth consideration as a card that makes an artifact when it attacks.

#39. Eastfarthing Farmer

Eastfarthing Farmer

Eastfarthing Farmer is another card I expect to do a lot of work in the Limited format. At the very least, curving a 2-drop into this lets you attack for three damage in most cases. Later in the game, this could represent a lot of damage if it buffs an evasive creature.

#38. Zhentarim Bandit

Zhentarim Bandit

Another halfling rogue with a strong attack trigger, Zhentarim Bandit is a useful tool for decks that let it attack repeatedly. Generating free Treasure every turn is a powerful ability that’s not to be overlooked.

#37. Gollum, Patient Plotter

Gollum, Patient Plotter

Gollum, Patient Plotter has potential as a tool for an aristocrats deck. It’s a sacrifice outlet and sacrifice fodder that comes back like a Reassembling Skeleton. It’s a bit costly at three mana a rotation and requires something else to sacrifice, so it might not be ideal for every deck.

#36. Frodo Baggins

Frodo Baggins

Our hero is a strange one. Frodo Baggins helps the Ring tempt you incredibly fast, especially with the number of legendary creatures Wizards prints these days. There’s a bit of discord between the Ring mechanic giving pseudo-skulk and Frodo’s Lure effect. This card is flavorful for sure, but its play patterns are unclear.

#35. Peregrin Took

Peregrin Took

Peregrin Took is a fine token producer. This card doubles Food production in Limited but generates extra artifacts for other formats. Getting extra artifact tokens isn’t something to sneeze at, nor is it a free sacrifice outlet for those artifacts that work well with cards like Reckless Fireweaver and Disciple of the Vault.

#34. Erinis, Gloom Stalker

Erinis, Gloom Stalker

Erinis, Gloom Stalker can be a useful piece in a lands-matter deck. It breaks the symmetry of land destruction of cards like Ruination, provides extra value from self-mill cards, and works well with fetches or other lands that sacrifice themselves like Strip Mine.

#33. Gretchen Titchwillow

Gretchen Titchwillow

Gretchen Titchwillow makes a fine mana outlet. You get a repeated Growth Spiral that makes for an infinite mana outlet that draws your deck and plays all your lands. It works in decks utilizing cards like Training Grounds and Biomancer's Familiar.

#32. Gollum, Obsessed Stalker

Gollum, Obsessed Stalker

Gollum, Obsessed Stalker is an excellent commander card for lifegain decks. Skulk makes it easy to connect with Gollum, and there are many ways to gain life. Even outside of infinite combos like Kitchen Finks loops, cards like the Soul Sisters and Rhox Faithmender let you drain opponents quickly.

#31. Feasting Hobbit

Feasting Hobbit

Devour 3 is a large number. Feasting Hobbit becomes a 2-mana 5/5 and only gets bigger the longer the game goes on. The evasion ability makes this pair well with all sorts of equipment that care about dealing combat damage or grant lifelink.

#30. Alora, Merry Thief

Alora, Merry Thief

Alora, Merry Thief enables decks trying to exploit creatures that want to deal combat damage. Cards like Shadowmage Infiltrator and Prosperous Thief benefit from the unblockable, while cards like Aether Channeler and Cloudblazer benefit from the cards returning to your hand.

#29. Sam, Loyal Attendant

Sam, Loyal Attendant

Two mana to gain three life can be quite the investment, but it’s easier to find a single mana to crack Food with. Sam, Loyal Attendant doesn’t just make Food cheaper but produces it for free.

It's especially strong with cards that care about gaining three life a turn, like The Gaffer and Griffin Aerie, or in decks that want to make a free token each turn.

#28. Pippin, Warden of Isengard

Pippin, Warden of Isengard

Pippin, Warden of Isengard is a great payoff for Food decks, though it’s lackluster at producing it. A manaless Overrun effect does lots of work in closing out games, though you’ll want to pair this Pippin with other Food producers and something like Garruk's Uprising for trample.

#27. Elanor Gardner

Elanor Gardner

Elanor Gardner is another fantastic Food payoff. Free ramp is a powerful payoff for sacrificing tokens.

Note that the Food doesn’t need to be sacrificed to its own ability; you could use them for cards like Deadly Dispute or Sai, Master Thopterist and still get your lands.

#26. Banquet Guests

Banquet Guests

Any affinity ability has the potential to be broken, especially on cards with X in their casting cost. Banquet Guests scales well with your mana, even if you don’t have any Food; it’s on-rate as a 4-mana 4/4, above rate as a 5-mana 6/6, and only gets better.

The combination of trample and an indestructible ability offset the traditional weaknesses of playing a single, massive creature.

#25. Rapacious Guest

Rapacious Guest

Rapacious Guest generates Food and grows as you sacrifice them to be both payoff and enabler.

This card is like Professional Face-Breaker for a life-gain or artifact deck. It’s also a fine finisher for a deck capable of making this guest huge and sacrificing it to deal a ton of damage to an opponent.

#24. The Gaffer

The Gaffer

The Gaffer is one of the best life-gain payoffs in the set. Even outside Food decks, gaining three life is an easy threshold to hit to draw extra cards. In Commander, this card represents up to four cards a turn cycle if you can find a steady source of lifegain.

#23. Bilbo, Retired Burglar

Bilbo, Retired Burglar

Bilbo, Retired Burglar is one of the best Ringbearers in the set. Giving a creature that generates Treasure skulk is fantastic, even if Bilbo is the only card in your deck that tempts you.

#22. Lobelia, Defender of Bag End

Lobelia, Defender of Bag End

Lobelia, Defender of Bag End is one of the few halflings that use Food for more than lifegain. Lobelia utilizes spare Food or Treasure tokens for extra value. You have no control over the cards you exile, but the drain ability can finish a game quickly.

#21. Farmer Cotton

Farmer Cotton

Farmer Cotton is an incredible mana outlet. Making both Food and Halfling tokens is amazing value. It’s even an ETB ability that gets doubled by things like Panharmonicon and Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines, and it floods the board with so many tokens.

#20. Lobelia Sackville-Baggins

Lobelia Sackville-Baggins

The only thing better than making tons of Food is making tons of Treasure. Lobelia Sackville-Baggins will almost always be mana-neutral at worst and often create more mana than you spent.

It’s even a bit of graveyard hate to disrupt decks trying to do unfair things with cards like Kitchen Finks or Lurrus of the Dream-Den.

#19. Merry, Esquire of Rohan

Merry, Esquire of Rohan

Creatures that benefit from legendary creatures get better as time goes on. Merry, Esquire of Rohan draws cards incredibly easily. It’s a fine addition to an equipment Commander deck with its combination of haste and first strike for unexpected damage and card draw.

#18. Frodo, Determined Hero

Frodo, Determined Hero

An even better card for equipment decks is Frodo, Determined Hero. It’s a shame this card can’t use Colossus Hammer, but this halfling gets lots of value from other equipment. It can hold every Sword, Umezawa's Jitte, and protective equipment like Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots.

#17. Frodo, Adventurous Hobbit

Frodo, Adventurous Hobbit

Frodo, Adventurous Hobbit is another fantastic payoff for gaining three or more life that makes it into card draw. You need Frodo around as your Ringbearer, but it’s a good one.

If your opponent spends removal to kill your 2-mana creature that's drawn you a few cards, you’re benefiting from that interaction.

#16. Samwise Gamgee

Samwise Gamgee

Samwise Gamgee is a stout role-player. Many decks can benefit from an effect that makes your creatures come into play with an artifact token.

The historic Regrowth ability gives decks a lot of late-game card advantage, though you’ll likely want to pair this Sam with a few other ways to make Food.

#15. Bilbo, Birthday Celebrant

Bilbo, Birthday Celebrant

Bilbo, Birthday Celebrant might be the most exciting Commander build-around in the set. Getting the payoff is challenging, but not impossible, with cards like Rhox Faithmender and Heliod's Intervention.

The payoffs are incredible, like the Eldrazi titans and Praetors like Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger.

#14. Shire Shirriff

Shire Shirriff

Magic has numerous variations of Fiend Hunter, but Shire Shirriff is among the cheapest. Sacrificing a token is often irrelevant, if not beneficial, making this an efficient removal spell. Your opponents will want to remove this, but it’s a cheap enough creature that you’ll often go even on the exchange.

#13. Merry, Warden of Isengard

Merry, Warden of Isengard

Merry, Warden of Isengard is almost an incredible card. It can only make one token per turn, restrictions which are enough to keep this from being broken, but this card still produces quite the board state. There are tons of ways one can make Treasure and Food each turn for maximum value.

#12. Gollum, Scheming Guide

Gollum, Scheming Guide

Gollum, Scheming Guide is my favorite design of the set. This incredibly flavorful design expresses Gollum’s character with a unique mechanical ability.

It doesn’t even go wrong since your opponent never gets to block Gollum, regardless if they win or lose the subgame.

#11. Frodo, Sauron’s Bane

Frodo, Sauron's Bane

We’ve seen a few variations of Figure of Destiny that are strong cards since they let you use mana to make a cheap creature into a threat that scales with the game. Frodo, Sauron's Bane never becomes very large but gives you an alternate win condition through the Ring mechanic, which makes it hard to block Frodo.

It might be fragile, but it has a lot of potential.

#10. Saradoc, Master of Buckland

Saradoc, Master of Buckland

While Merry has an abundance of restrictions on its token creating ability, Saradoc, Master of Buckland has no such trouble. Any way to infinitely flick small creatures, like Restoration Angel and Felidar Guardian, generates an infinite army in the blink of an eye.

Even without such trickery, this is a valuable token generator that becomes a threat in its own right.

#9. Samwise the Stouthearted

Samwise the Stouthearted

Samwise the Stouthearted may be a little high on this list, but I look at this card and feel like it’s a combo engine waiting to get broken. Getting any permanent is a plus, though it going to your hand is more restrictive than if it got put into play.

Even without its combo potential, this is a fine protective piece for a creature-focused deck.

#8. Sméagol, Helpful Guide

Sméagol, Helpful Guide

A card that definitely combos off is Sméagol, Helpful Guide. You can do tricky things with this card that can steal all your opponent’s lands, but this is a fine card on its own. Stealing your opponent’s lands each turn ramps you while potentially denying land drops from them.

#7. Rosie Cotton of South Lane

Rosie Cotton of South Lane

Rosie Cotton of South Lane is a fantastic payoff for token decks. At a minimum, this gives every token you create an extra +1/+1 counter or generates a gigantic individual creature.

Rosie also has some potential in Modern. Rosie and Scurry Oak is an intriguing pair to hit with Collected Company, though the viability of that in a format with Fury and Solitude remains to be seen.

#6. Prosperous Innkeeper

Prosperous Innkeeper

Prosperous Innkeeper is one of the more unassuming cards on this list, but this little halfling does lots of work in creature decks. An Essence Warden that ramps you and gains a bunch of life in a long game which, incidentally, works with cards like The Gaffer.

#5. Mazzy, Truesword Paladin

Mazzy, Truesword Paladin

Mazzy, Truesword Paladin might be the best halfling commander. It’s not much of a typal commander since it cares about auras, but this is an excellent Voltron option. It’ll deal tons of damage once you stack a few auras like Ancestral Mask and Ethereal Armor on it, and it combats the main weakness of auras as two-for-ones.

#4. Pippin, Guard of the Citadel

Pippin, Guard of the Citadel

Mother of Runes is an amazing card. Pippin, Guard of the Citadel isn’t quite as strong, but this is incredibly playable in many decks. It’s great with cards that care about legendary permanents like Jodah, the Unifier.

#3. Lotho, Corrupt Shirriff

Lotho, Corrupt Shirriff

Lotho, Corrupt Shirriff may be the best halfling in Tales of Middle-earth for Commander. Everybody’s ramping and drawing cards and casting tons of spells.

Much as Ledger Shredder became a blue staple, this card will ramp incredibly hard and put you ahead of your opponents simply because they tried playing the game. Like how Smothering Tithe generates free Treasure because your opponents take basic game actions.

#2. Archivist of Oghma

Archivist of Oghma

Archivist of Oghma has already cemented itself as a white staple in Commander. Players search their libraries all the time. This card draws cards when they cast a tutor, crack a fetch land, or even cast Rampant Growth.

This might be a little weaker at lower-powered tables or in budget decks where tutors and fetches aren’t as abundant, but it’s a great card advantage in white.

#1. Delighted Halfling

Delighted Halfling

Topping off the list of Magic’s best halflings is Delighted Halfling. I have incredibly high hopes for this card not just in Commander, but in any format where you can play this on turn one and Teferi, Time Raveler or Wrenn and Six on turn 2.

This is the love child of Birds of Paradise and Boseiju, Who Shelters All. It even produces mana if you aren’t using it on legendary spells, which is a bigger boon than many creatures that only produce mana for creatures and such.

Best Halfling Payoffs


Unlike some creature types, there aren't many reasons to go all-in on halfling typal. The best way to exploit halflings is to look to the Food tokens and the best ways to use them.

Academy Manufactor is among the best payoffs for making Food. Getting to make abundant artifact tokens is great with effects like Reckless Fireweaver and Marionette Master.

You can also utilize the life gained from Food with cards like Griffin Aerie and The Gaffer. Plenty of cards benefit when you gain three or more life, but you can use more general lifegain payoffs like Nykthos Paragon and Crested Sunmare.

Wrap Up

Zhentarim Bandit - Illustration by Cristi Balanescu

Zhentarim Bandit | Illustration by Cristi Balanescu

Our journey to Middle-earth brings us a lovely collaboration between an amazing card game and a classic fantasy story. There were a handful of halflings in Magic, but this set has rounded out the creature type in quantity and depth by providing them with a distinct mechanical identity.

Some of the halflings we had before proved to be format staples and many of the ones we’ve seen come out will surely take that spot with the set’s release just around the corner. What’s your favorite halfling from the new set? What character are you most excited to play with? Let me know in the comments below, or over on the Draftsim Twitter.

Stay safe, and don’t forget second breakfast!

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