Cardsphere Picks: Outlaws of Thunder Junction

Matt Bodensteiner • April 21, 2024

Grab your ten-gallon hat and trusty mount, we're headed through the omenpath to Thunder Junction in Wizards of the Coast's latest Magic expansion. There is big loot to be scored on this plane in the form of the set's most wanted cards, so we've put together a crew of the finest outlaws Cardsphere staff and community members this side of Tarnation.

Leading this heist is Community Manager of Archidekt and EDHRec, Jeremy (@archidekt). Riding alongside are the Tunnel Snakes, Bodey and Doug, as well as long-time Discord community member, Joshua Daily (Dailynator on CS).

As per usual, Cardsphere picks can be based on any criteria under the blazing sun. Anything from powerful bombs to niche role-fillers, from captivating new art to thirst-quenching flavor. There are no holds barred here, so saddle up and let's see what kind of picks are over the horizon.


Taii Wakeen, Perfect Shot

For me, Taii nails the intersection of “power potential” and “compelling gameplay” that I love to see on commanders. On a superficial level, she’ll draw you a card if you Lightning Bolt a 3 toughness creature. This is all well and good on its own, but where Taii gets really interesting is when you choose to activate her second ability. If you’ve got a Delayed Blast Fireball in hand, do you draw a ton off of all of the 2 toughness creatures it’ll hit, or do you pump it up with Taii to kill more creatures at the expense of some draw?  Having questions like this to mull over is what keeps a deck feeling fresh game after game.

Heartless Conscription

I play a Valki, God of Lies // Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor EDH deck that really only ever casts its Tibalt side. The entire deck is designed to get Tibalt out as quickly as possible and start generating value off of his +2. So, what does this have to do with Heartless Conscription? Like Tibalt’s exiled cards, Conscriptions have no expiration date, can be cast with any color of mana, and aren’t dependent on a permanent staying in play to cast. Keeping track of which card is exiled under what and for how long is an absolute pain, so Heartless Conscription allowing me to just add to my Tibalt pile is fantastic. Apologies in advance to my playgroup.

Plains (Full Art)

I’m always a sucker for full art lands, but this cycle from Salvatorre Zee Yazzie has to be my favorite since Magali Villeneuve’s in Dominaria United. Something about incorporating each mana symbol into the surrounding terrain just does it for me. It feels so fundamentally “Magic” in a way that just another cool vista simply can’t. I will have many of these in my Wants.


Outcaster Trailblazer

Although a similar stroke to cards like Elemental Bond and Garruk's Uprising, Outcaster Trailblazer feels more exciting than those for a couple of reasons. First, it's a green draw effect that rewards playing creatures on a creature. Second, it plays really well in multiples since each subsequent one can trigger other Trailblazers. I don't think the one mana rebate or one mana boost, if plotted, will make or break the card from seeing play, but I do think it adds just enough extra flair to the card to make for some sweet plays that reward sequencing.

Kellan, the Kid

Admittedly, I am unsure if Kellan, the Kid will make it into the 99 of a deck, inspire a new deck, or neither, but what I do like about Kellan is the design. Recent trends have given us a lot of new commanders that do a thing and also reward you for doing that thing. Kellen offers a powerful reward for doing a specific thing, but also gives no means of doing that thing himself or enabling it at all. It's up to the player to decide how to go about that, and I think that open-endedness is what makes it a sweet card. Also, I can't look at the art and not see a Halo energy sword.

Ferrous Lake (and other UB reprints)

I'm using this pick to talk about something else Wizards of the Coast has done in the Outlaws of Thunder Junction Commander product: reprinting in-universe versions of cards that were previously only printed in Universes Beyond frames. Maybe it was just a happenstance of timing with something that seemed like a fast follow-up, but I am hopeful that this is something we will see more often. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Universes Beyond overall, but I am someone who spends a nonzero amount of time considering deck aesthetic, and more options are usually better to serve a wider variety of players.


Bovine Intervention

Ten years ago, if you had shown me Bovine Intervention, I would have said that it must be a silver-bordered Un-set creation. Now, it slots in as white's version of the versatile pieces of removal traditionally only seen in green/blue. Although the situation may rarely arise, you can also enjoy the flexibility to targeting your own permanents, when needed. Extra flavor points for casting this on a Holy Cow (the flavor is beef).

Insatiable Avarice

Black has long been known as the "life-for-card-draw" color, going all the way back to Necropotence. While this doesn't offer quite the same power as some of the draw engines of old, Insatiable Avarice still gives some very interesting flexibility with the option to tutor cards to the top of your deck first. I am not sure if this will make an immediate splash in constructed formats, but I think it will be a fun card to test in both cubes and Commander alike.

Goldvein Hydra

Fans of Shivan Devastator are in for a treat with green's latest member of the Hydra family. Goldvein Hydra card is a great payoff for generating significant amounts of mana, but it also plays great in multiples since every time your opponent kills one, you can pump those treasures into casting the next. I expect many limited blowouts to occur from this card, and while it might not have the legs to push into Standard. it will still be a fun addition to any counters deck looking for a new toy.


We Ride at Dawn

As an avid reader of Mark Rosewater's blog, We Ride at Dawn immediately reminded me of one of my most valuable takeaways from his posts about the way players analyze cards. MaRo wrote that people will sometimes disregard a card entirely because one part of the card in particular doesn't do anything for them. The first ability is a slam dunk for my Kethis, the Hidden Hand deck, whose goal is to dump as many legendaries as possible onto the battlefield. The second ability, however, has no relevance to this type of deck, and I'd normally have written off the card entirely. Instead, "cool but doesn't fit 100%" turned into "the first ability is perfect, so let's have fun with the second one." With that lesson learned, I am excited to cast big scary legendary creatures on the cheap, and if I get some chump blockers out of it, even better.

Greed's Gambit

Sometimes you see a card and instantly know you need it for a specific deck. Greed's Gambit is going to slot right into my Blim, Comedic Genius deck, which I have dubbed “Bad Santa from Futurama.” It's all about handing out cards to your opponents that will hurt them over and over again.  I envision Greed's Gambit as another lovely gift that will go alongside the likes of  Demonic Pact and Lich's Mastery.  It's all about sharing the love, but no re-gifting, please!

Pitiless Carnage

At first blush, this card didn't wow me. Then, I got to thinking that sometimes games go long and your board state is gummed up with things that just aren't useful anymore.  Thinking about things like mana rocks, locked down creatures, 1/1 tokens, and cards that are duds against your opponent's deck type makes me curious to see how much of a draw engine Pitiless Carnage could actually be. Black is the epitome of sacrificing others for personal gain, and what better way to do that than to sacrifice all that is standing in the way of you and drawing your combo pieces and finishers. Your sacrifices will not be in vain.

Where to Find Outlaws of Thunder Junction on Cardsphere

Outlaws of Thunder Junction
Outlaws of Thunder Junction Commander
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