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Reviewing The Big Score

Reviewing The Big Score - background Oko, Kellan, Vraska, Rakdos

Outlaws of Thunder Junction (OTJ) has its full release around the corner and, for what I believe is the first time, the OTJ packs will have a secondary set inserted into them, The Big Score.

The Big Score is comprised of 30 cards that were added from what would have been the Aftermath-equivalent set. You can conclude that these are cards that are part of the main set as they will be legal in all formats, including Standard.

Let's take a look at some of the most interesting inclusions.

Lost Jitte

Lost Jitte - Legendary Artifact - Equipment

This has been quite the controversial preview. Many have said it's super strong and maybe stronger than the original Jitte. Others say it's unplayable. It's funny that our community can be hyperbolic, but in many cases, one of the things can be true, and this card fits that case. This is either a card that warrants a slot in decks with cards like Urza'a Saga or Stoneforge Mystic, or it simply isn't.

My stance is this card is too weak to include in every deck playing Urza's Saga, but it will be a potential tool in creature-heavy decks playing Saga, as it won't be a poor draw on its own. This card will shine the most when Saga is still in play, and you can use it to create an additional construct by untapping Urza's Saga.

Umezawa's Jitte got multiple counters a turn making it more difficult to come back from. The Lost Jitte can ramp your mana some or make a creature not block, but its snowball effect is not that big. Lost Jitte is strong but also beatable in Limited. In Constructed, it will be another tool to add to the Saga toolbox, but I'm skeptical that Lost Jitte sees any long-term play in even those decks.

I'm not a big believer in Lost Jitte, but I can see situations where certain decks might want a one-of in their Saga toolbox.

Bristlebud Farmer

Bristlebud Farmer - Creature - Plant Druid

Four-mana creatures have come a long way since Ernham Djinn. Bristlebud Farmer has a sizeable body as a four-mana 5/5 trample and a solid enters-the-battlefield effect providing two food immediately, and if you can start attacking with the Farmer, you can sacrifice food to get real cardboard into your hand.

This is a tough card to evaluate. It's strong on its face, but four-mana cards have to be so good to see play because there are so many options and you can only play so many due to the steep mana cost. While this card looks great, you have to compare it to Standard's best four-drops such as Sheoldred, the Apocalypyse. While Bristlebud Farmer is nice, it's worse than Sheoldred. Without a mana dork that costs one-mana, cards that look strong on their face aren't good enough in Standard since they need to compete with several years of other four-drops and years of synergies. Bristlebud Farmer doesn't have much synergy at the moment.

Bristlebud Farmer would be an excellent card against an aggressive field of red decks, as it's tough to kill with damage-based removal and the extra food tokens will be relevant if it dies before it gets the opportunity to get into combat.

I like Bristlebud Farmer, but not being one of the best four-drops in the format means I don't think it will see much play unless its ability to make two food tokens plays a role in it being included in a deck.

Harvester of Misery

Harvester of Misry - Creature - Spirit

This is probably my favorite card from The Big Score. Harvester of Misery has a modal ability where it can act as a cheap removal spell early and a sweeper on a stick later.

Harvester of Misery punishes small-creature decks early and late. This card will be prolific if there's a standout deck with lots of small creatures. If the Standard format shapes into more of a midrange grindfest, Harvester of Misery will sit on the sideboard or perhaps not be seen at all. I suspect we'll see this card plenty, potentially even outside of Standard, because it's so flexible with a high upside. While discarding it isn't the most efficient removal, it's good enough in many scenarios.

Harvester of Misery is like a better or fixed Massacre Wurm. It won't hit as hard, but you don't mind seeing it in your opening hand, and you can get it into your graveyard, which makes it an excellent tool for decks reanimating creatures from the graveyard, whether that be from a card like Cruelty of Gix or as a card to add to your cube.

Nexus of Becoming

Nexus of Becoming - Artifact

While Harvester of Misery is potentially my favorite card, Nexus of Becoming is next, if not top, on the list. Nexus of Becoming is so powerful if you're able to fit in enough high-end cards to cheat into play for big effects.

My first thought was cheating Atraxas into play and starting a chain, but even putting redundant copies of itself into play is powerful since it draws you additional cards and you can find a big hit. Portal to Phyrexia is another juicy play with this, and even Harvester of Misery would play nicely in a deck with Nexus of Becoming because both are cheap removal spells that can double as a powerful play off Nexus.

On top of Nexus, we discussed Make Your Own Luck, which could act as a redundant way to cheat a bunch of expensive, high-impact plays into play.

Boseiju being legal is a big problem for Nexus, and this idea may be a bit too clunky. However, there are a lot of neat ways to build with this card and the potential is high.

I'm a big fan of Nexus of Becoming, and this is the card I'm most excited about building around in Outlaws of Thunder Junction or The Big Score.

Fomori Vault

Fomori Vault - Land

Fomori Vault looked cool to me at first glance. It's a value land that can let you dig deep into your deck if you're able to support it well enough with a plethora of artifacts in play. There are tons of options for value lands, and while this may be a card you want a copy of in a deck like that, those decks are uncommon or creature-heavy and want the value lands to put pressure on the opponent.

While Fomori Vault can act as a discard outlet, it's just a Desolate Lighthouse with added steps. It reads like it could be strong, but it's not that easy to have a bunch of artifacts in play. If I want a colorless value land, I have many choices, and this isn't the top of the list.

Fomori Vault is probably a cool Commander card, as people tend to play lots of artifact mana, and you're limited to one copy of lands per deck. It's mostly a miss, but you may occasionally see a copy in 60-card formats.

Legion Extruder

Legion Extruder - Artifact

I've seen some compare Legion Extruder to Bonecrusher Giant, and I can say without question this is not even close.

Stomp was an instant, which was and is an important part of its play pattern and power level. Being able to pass on turn two with Stomp mana up, kill the opponent's creature, and immediately slam a 4/3 on an empty board was incredible.

With Legion Extruder, you get to play at sorcery speed and at best kill something. Even though it lets you turn food and treasure into 3/3 golems, it's going to require that effect to be outstanding for this card to be playable in your deck. That effect may have some corner-case situations, however Legion Extruder is mostly too weak for any real consideration.

A much closer comparison for Legion Extruder would be Omen of the Forge. I'd expect it to see the little play that Omen has, but rather in specific situations where you're building an artifact deck that wants to keep artifacts in play and wants a cheap removal effect or some way to sacrifice artifacts.

I'm not a big fan of this one and while I won't be surprised to see a few copies here and there it is far from a format staple like Bonecrusher Giant.

Tarnation Vista

Tarnation Vista - Land

Speaking of wanting random cardboard cards with colors sitting in play, Tarnation Vista wants just that.

We've seen many versions of lands that enter tapped, and you choose a color they can produce, so we need to focus on its second ability to evaluate this card.

Tarnation Vista's biggest upside is producing more than one mana when it's tapped. To get to that point, you need three different colored mono-colored permanents in play to produce one additional mana. That's not a tough nut to crack. It's possible to build your deck in a way to make that easier, as you can have mono-colored permanents with low value sitting in play with cards like Legion Extruder. Tarnation Vista comes into play tapped, meaning its upside would have to outweigh that downside for this to be a strong land choice.

My initial inclination is that it will be too inconsistent to consider this land in any 60-card format. This is more of a Commander card that any deck can and will want to play because it will be useful more often in a typical EDH game-state.

The cost of lands coming into play tapped is too high these days to only produce a single color of mana and with such an inconsistent additional upside.

Memory Vessel

Memory Vessel - Artifact

This is a fixed Memory Jar that doesn't force opponents to discard. If you activate this and don't win on that turn, your opponent will get to play with their fresh seven cards. Memory Vessel gets exiled on use, so there's no recurring it repeatedly to deck the opponent. One of my favorite use cases is in sloppy Vintage Cube games.

Memory Jar was a broken card because of all the small pieces of the card, including how it forced the opponent to discard, so cards like Megrim were the win condition or casting an Upheaval in the middle of a Jar activation left the opponent with no resources.

Memory Vessel is powerful and worth trying as a redundant Jar for a cube. You don't have to worry as much about your opponent drawing cards like Force of Will or Force of Negation because the cards don't go into their actual hand and they'll need something already in it to pitch to cast those.

While I love the callback to one of my all-time favorite cards, I don't understand this card since it will never be used fairly. Perhaps this is an effect desired for Commander players, but in 60-card formats this will never show up, and if it does it will be in a deck using it to piece together a combo.

I doubt we'll see much from Memory Vessel.

The Big Score is a nice added twist to booster packs that you'll commonly see in drafts. With all these extra potentially strong cards being Standard-legal, I wonder if we see something break.

Outlaws of Thunder Junction and The Big Score are just around the corner with an April 19 release date. I'm most excited to get into the draft queues, but I also want to put together a nice Nexus of Becoming deck. OTJ is the most excited I've been for a set in a couple of years, and I'm hoping it's as fun as it looks.

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