top of page

A First Look at Outlaws of Thunder Junction

First Look: Outlaws of Thunder Junction - BG: Oko

Preview season is back, and Outlaws of Thunder Junction has showed some interesting designs and put a spin on a few old ideas.

Let's take a peek, starting with Oko.

Oko, The Ringleader

Oko, the Ringleader

I love the design of this card. I'm worried it's not quite good enough in any format, but its play patterns are strong on open battlefields.

Typically, we'll play this on turn four, make a 3/3 Elk, and pass the turn hoping to untap intact. At that point, we can attack for six damage copying the Elk and even making another. This reminds me of a pushed Garruk Wildspeaker, and it has a higher ceiling since it can copy tons of relevant creatures, however a lot of the stronger creatures are legendary, and Oko will legend rule in that case.

In a highly interactive deck, Oko works as a card engine to get an extra card if you commit a crime, otherwise it can filter cards if you need more gas or want to fill up your graveyard. I'm interested to see how this will play alongside a card like Slogurk, the Overslime since they have the potential to synergize.

I like Oko, and while it may not be nearly as strong as it would have been in prior years, it will likely see some play in Standard and maybe Pioneer.

Jace Reawakened

Jace Reawakened

Jace is back, and this one is interesting. Many people have pointed out its synergy with Valki, God of Lies, as it's a clean way to cheat Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor into play. We also could cast zero mana suspend cards like Crashing Footfalls. While this is a nice bonus for Jace, that would likely be your plan B. You'd want to play Jace because of how much mana it functionally produces. We can cast three or less mana spells for zero throughout the game, which seems strong if it's sitting in play.

It makes sense that Jace isn't castable until turn four because it would be broken if castable on turn two. You could start storing away spells to cast on a later turn while piling up a huge mana advantage. Having Jace come out on turn four means the game will have settled, and your opponent has an opportunity to get on board first before this can take over the game.

I could see Jace being a bigger role player in a format like Legacy where the average converted mana cost is lower. Allowing Jace to cast every spell in your deck would be a nice boon.

Ultimately, Jace is likely an overall miss because of the inability to cast on the first three turns, which are the most relevant turns in modern Magic.

Insatiable Avarice

Insatiable Avarice

We have a Spree card, which seems the same as a split card with fuse, but it's cleaner and on a single image with more than two modes.

Insatiable Avarice is a nice tool for the Mono Black toolbox since it can be used as card advantage in the form of a three-mana draw, but it's also a way to give a deck like Mono B Aggro a little reach with the ability to target the opponent.

The Vampiric Tutor mode will mostly be used in the late game on top of the draw three or in cases where you're so low on life that you can't afford to draw three but have no other use for the card.

This is a cool card to exist, as it will give these Mono Black decks a tool in their tool belt, but it pushes any Mono B deck into contention because of its existence.

The mechanic isn't revolutionary because it's an expansion of past mechanics, but hopefully it's fun to use.

The Gitrog, Ravenous Ride

The Gitrog, Ravenous Ride

We get our first look at the saddle mechanic. Saddle is effectively crewing but for creatures. Creatures that are mounts function as normal creatures, but they'll get an additional ability when saddled.

The Gitrog monster looks cool as a five-mana 6/5 trample haste, but that's where it ends. In some cases, you can cash in a three-powered creature to draw a few cards, but if the Gitrog is connecting then you're probably in a good spot. It's worth noting that this saddled ability won't function if it connects to a planeswalker, which is significant since I could see back-and-forth games as ones you'd want to sacrifice damage and board presence for cards in hand.

Overall, I evaluate the Gitrog as a 6/5 trample haste creature for five mana, which may be playable in some decks in a small number, but it's likely not good enough in modern Magic.

Rakdos, the Muscle

Rakdos, the Muscle

Rakdos, the Muscle is another five-mana 6/5 creature, but this one looks better than the Gitrog. While it's missing haste, it makes up for it with its ability to protect itself. You can simply cast Rakdos with any other creature in play, and they're forced to use multiple removal spells or risk you being able to get tons of cards sacrificing three- or four-mana creatures for value.

Ultimately, this card is clunky and will likely want you to have a relevant synergy, whether that's part of a sacrifice deck or a deck with threaten effects to steal opponents' creatures as food.

Rakdos provides versions of Cat/Oven Sacrifice decks with a tool like Korvold without having to add an additional color.

While it's not quite the Magic ecosystem where we build around five-mana sorcery-speed creatures, Rakdos has a huge body with flying and trample, the ability to protect itself, and a way to generate a ton of card advantage.

Rakdos will likely see play as a one- or two-of in Standard decks and, if not for Jegantha, maybe Pioneer.

Colossal Rattlewurm

Colossal Rattlewurm

Yet another 6/5 creature, but this one is for four mana and has flash in ideal circumstances.

We haven't seen how many Deserts there will be, but this leads me to believe that we'll have a common cycle of lands and newer versions of the older Deserts like Ramunap Ruins.

This is a sick creature if we get a bunch of playable Constructed Deserts to go with Rattlewurm. If not, it's solid but unspectacular. The ability to play this alongside counterspells or instant-speed interaction will make or break this card. If we get a strong enough cycle of lands to combine with Rattlewurm, it's essentially a flash 6/5 trample for four mana that gives you a Rampant Growth to boot if or when it dies.

In the last few sets, they haven't been shy about pushing creature sizing on creatures with no downsides. While vanilla creatures are usually not good enough for Constructed, Colossal Rattlewurm will have legs if there's support.

Return of Fast Lands

The enemy fastland cycle

I like having a solid dual land that gives functional mana in early turns for Standard decks. It feels bad losing Standard games because you played a tapped land on the wrong turn. While that will happen with fast lands, at least you develop or interact on the most important turns with these.

Since fast lands are Pioneer staples, I'd expect to see them printed more. It will be awesome to have all ten fast lands in Standard.

Outlaws of Thunder Junction looks interesting so far, but a lot of the newer mechanics feel like older mechanics that went through the washing machine and came out slightly different. I'm not excited yet, but from a Limited player's perspective, the return of Desert mechanics is excellent. I loved Hour of Devastation Limited, and it's usually good to have Limited sets where there's tension between drafting lands and spells. I'm excited to see how the rest of the set pans out.

66 views0 comments


bottom of page