Reviewing Magic: The Gathering’s Outlaws Of Thunder Junction Commander

Bennie Smith rounds up the face cards, alternate commanders, and best new printings of upcoming MTG release Outlaws of Thunder Junction Commander.

Felix Five-Boots
Felix Five-Boots, illustrated by Chris Rahn

We got to see video previews for all of the Outlaws of Thunder Junction Commander decks on Thursday, including the Grand Larceny precon right here by the Commander VS team!

Today, I’ll go over all the brand-new cards from these precon decks and highlight the ones I think are worth picking up for your Commander deckbuilding stock. Let’s kick things off with the four face commanders for each of the decks.

Face Commanders

Gonti, Canny Acquisitor Olivia, Opulent Outlaw Stella Lee, Wild Card Yuma, Proud Protector

Making a new version of Gonti to lead a deck that wants to cast spells you don’t own is perfect (remember Gonti, Lord of Luxury?), and ensuring the color identity lets you play Villainous Wealth in that deck is also perfect. If the primary way you play Magic is online over video camera, this is a difficult card to use, but if you have an in-person group to play with, it’ll be a lot of fun. What I like about this style of deck is how nicely it scales with the power level of the Commander pod you’re playing with, since at least some of the time you’ll be playing cards from their decks. I also like how differently each game plays because your opponents’ decks will be different each game, making it fresh and fun.

If you like the idea of playing around the outlaw synergies from the main set, along with the cards in the Most Wanted precon deck, Olivia makes an excellent commander to build around. Of note – the card database Scryfall has outlaw creature types tagged, so you can put “is:outlaw” in the search bar and it brings back all the outlaws! You’ll want to make sure you can “attack wide” as often as you can, since Olivia’s ability will only trigger once per opponent each attack. I was hoping there would be a few outlaws with the myriad ability, but there’s only one: The Master, Multiplied. But you can run Legion Loyalty and Blade of Selves.

I’m a bit dubious about Stella Lee, Wild Card. Stella seems to encourage you to cast a flurry of spells in a turn, but the triggered ability is an Impulse draw where you must use it or lose it by the end of your next turn. So what if you exile something that you’d want to save for your big turn that doesn’t happen to be now or next turn? I suppose with cards like Brainstorm, Ponder, or Serum Visions, you can see what’s coming up from your library. I do like that it doesn’t count specifically instants or sorcery spells you cast, but rather any spell can count for the triggered ability and to satisfy the restriction for the activated ability.

If I didn’t already have a Desert deck built around Hazezon, Shaper of Sand, I would absolutely build one around Yuma, Proud Protector. It definitely has a different vibe, where you want to keep sending lands – especially Deserts – into your graveyard to churn out 4/2 Plant Warrior tokens, and sacrifice lands to draw cards.  I do love commanders that have a high mana value that can be reduced to cast them more cheaply, because then you get more value from cards like Tangleweave Armor, Imposing Grandeur, and Majestic Genesis.

Okay, let’s take a gander at the alternate commanders from the precons!

Alternative Commanders

Eris, Roar of the Storm Felix Five-Boots Kirri, Talented Sprout Vihaan, Goldwaker

Eris, Roar of the Storm is another sweet high-mana-value commander where you can reduce the generic mana requirement, this one by having different mana values among instant and sorcery cards in your graveyard. If you cast an instant or sorcery at one mana, two mana, and three mana the first three turns, you can cast Eris on Turn 4. Having some draw/discard loot effects could help push Eris’s mana cost even cheaper, which could let you cast it and then a second spell and get that 4/4 Dragon Elemental token immediately. This seems like a fun build-around for spellslinger decks!

I’m not sure we needed a Sultai value commander with a Panharmonicon-style ability attached, but at least the art for Felix Five-Boots is cool, and having a five-legged Ooze Rogue is fun! I do appreciate how the ability is conditional to attacking, which makes Commander games more interactive and swingy. Bonus points for you if you equip Felix with five Equipment cards that depict boots or shoes of some sort!

Kirri, Talented Sprout is super-cute and is obviously the first card in the 99 of your Yuma deck, but as a stand-alone commander, a lot will depend on how cohesive you can make a Plant and Treefolk duo-typal deck. A lot of Plant tokens tend to be 0/1 creatures, so that +2 power boost is super-nice! There are some solid Plant creatures too, like Topiary Stomper, Ilysian Caryatid, Wall of Roots, and Genesis Hydra. I’d probably run some changeling creatures in the deck too.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the excellent art by Magali Villeneuve for Vihaan, Goldwaker – that is one distinguished-looking Dwarf Warlock! And the flavor is super-fun, turning your Treasure tokens into 3/3 Construct Assassin creatures until the end of the turn, and since Vihaan also gives other outlaws you control vigilance and haste, you can attack with your Treasure tokens and then still have them to use. Though it’s a little disappointing he can’t “wake” actual Gold tokens (from Curse of Opulence or King Macar, the Gold-Cursed, for instance).

Out of curiosity, I searched to see how many Dwarf creatures there are in Mardu that are also outlaws, and there are currently only two: Vault Robber and Audacious Infiltrator. (Ironically, Magda, Brazen Outlaw doesn’t count.) So we can’t yet pull together a deck full of Dwarf outlaws, but maybe one day!

Okay, let’s take a look at all the other new cards, grouped by color. I’m only going to call out the ones that jump out to me as interesting, so let’s ride!

New Cards – White

Angel of Indemnity Angelic Sell-Sword Sand Scout We Ride at Dawn

Angel of Indemnity is a bit pricey at six mana, but it packs a fair amount of value. When it enters the battlefield, you get to return any permanent with mana value four or less from your graveyard directly to the battlefield, in addition to having a 5/5 flyer with lifelink. The encore ability is a fantastic way to reload your battlefield after a sweeper, along with gaining up to fifteen life for your trouble.

I’m excited to revamp my Hazezon, Shaper of Sand Desert deck, and Sand Scout definitely will find a home. Since Deserts often sacrifice for effect, it should be relatively easy to ensure you have fewer lands than an opponent to get the enters-the-battlefield trigger, and having another way to churn out Sand Warrior tokens is awesome!

New Cards – Blue

Arcane Heist Forger's Foundry Lock and Load Smirking Spelljacker Thunderclap Drake

Five mana is high to hold up for a reactive spell, but something like Smirking Spelljacker can be totally worth it. If you can exile a big spell and then get to attack with this card to cast it for free, that can really turn the game around.

I really like the mana discount that Thunderclap Drake provides, and if your commander is a lightning rod for removal, or if it’s something you sacrifice yourself quite often, the Drake’s activated ability can be bonkers good!

I do really like Wizards of the Coast (WotC)’s trend of making three-mana rocks with upside, but I’m a bit dubious about Forger’s Foundry. Cards like this that take time to set up always seem to eat a removal spell before you can take advantage of them, and once you exile a second spell with the Foundry, I can imagine your opponents will start feeling itchy.

New Cards – Black

Back in Town Charred Graverobber Discreet Retreat Heartless Conscription Orochi Soul-Reaver Thieving Varmint

Back in Town is excellent for your outlaw deck, but it will also be great in typal decks like Pirates, Rogues, and Assassins. Putting five, six, or more mana into this will be an excellent way to reload your battlefield after a sweeper.

I’ve got a Ninja deck with Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow at the helm, so I’m definitely eyeballing Orochi Soul-Reaver for in-person Commander play, as the “manifesting the top card of an opponent’s deck” ability makes things a little awkward for webcam play. I also like that Soul-Reaver encourages attacking multiple opponents so you can get that trigger multiple times.

New Cards – Red

Cataclysmic Prospecting Crackling Spellslinger Dead Before Sunrise Elemental Eruption Embrace the Unknown Pyretic Charge Smoldering Stagecoach

Cataclysmic Prospecting is another sweet card for my Desert deck, and I really love that it makes tapped Treasure tokens when you use mana from Deserts to cast it. That will make it easier to rebuild if you’ve had to kill off any of your own creatures.

It’s neat that you can give the next instant or sorcery spell you cast storm with Crackling Spellslinger; it does cost five mana, so you’ll want to have a big turn with lots of mana. I imagine it will involve cards like Mana Geyser or Jeska’s Will for a big mana boost.

And then there’s Smoldering Stagecoach, which gives the next instant and the next sorcery spells you cast cascade after it attacks, so I’d be looking playing sorceries like Relentless Assault and instants like Savage Beating for more attacks and triggers!

New Cards – Green

Dune Chanter Rumbleweed Savvy Trader Tower Winder Vengeful Regrowth

Dune Chanter is another sweet card for my Desert deck! Since I can play Deserts from my graveyard with Hazezon, its mill ability will be nice to find Deserts to play, and its other abilities can help with Desert synergies and color fixing.  Plus, secret reach is sure to pick off a random 1/1 flyer sometimes!

Rumbleweed likely won’t be going into my Desert deck, but I do think it’s a fun card for self-milling decks. Even with just five lands in the graveyard, this is a great deal at six mana.  An 8/8 with vigilance, reach, and trample is quite a battlefield presence, and its enters-the-battlefield effect will push a bunch of damage through.

Did someone blow up your Sol RingSavvy Trader has your back. I’m not the biggest fan of casting spells from exile using “impulse draw”, but this discounts cards you cast from the graveyard, too which is definitely up my alley. Plus, it shaves a mana from casting your commander from the command zone!

Tower Winder is a fun design, but I’m generally not going to put it in a deck unless I can really leverage its reach and deathtouch abilities, or if you’re playing a Snake deck. You’d really hate to draw this after you’ve already drawn your Command Tower unless you’re also playing ways to sacrifice or discard lands for profit.

Vengeful Regrowth is better than you think. At full strength, it will put a whopping twelve power of creatures on the battlefield while ramping you three lands, which will give you plenty of mana to pay its flashback cost. If you’re playing a deck that ends up with lands in the graveyard, slide this into your 99.

New Cards – Gold/Colorless/Land

Graywater's Fixer Bounty Board Dream-Thief's Bandana Leyline Dowser Cactus Preserve

Graywater’s Fixer is bonkers if you’re playing some number of outlaws with powerful enters-the-battlefield abilities. Just think about paying two mana to encore Dockside Extortionist – a Pirate!  We have Glasspool Mimic, Masked Vandal, Dire Fleet Daredevil, Vile Entomber, Big Game Hunter… wow, maybe I’ll build an outlaw deck!

Bounty Board is an awesome card to add to your Chevill, Bane of Monsters or Mathas, Fiend Seeker decks, and make sure you don’t leave home without Termination Facilitator and Bounty Hunter. Or if you’re playing a deck that destroys creatures your opponents control regularly, this is a sweet way to leverage more value out of it. You can even team up with another opponent who has the removal spell by sweetening the deal, but you’ll need to do it at sorcery speed.

Dream-Thief’s Bandana doesn’t boost the stats of equipped creature or give it evasion, so the creature must provide that for itself. I’m figuring this will slot nicely into a deck with a bunch of flyers or creatures that are inherently unblockable, like Invisible Stalker. “Drawing” a mystery card you can play later is super-fun and will help make each game different.

Leyline Dowser seems like a solid card in a spellslinger deck that also plays a good number of legendary creatures. Kalamax, the Stormsire springs to mind, especially since you want Kalamax to be tapped and Leyline Dowser can do just that.

Lastly, there’s Cactus Preserve, which is a neat Reflecting Pool variant that enters the battlefield tapped but can turn into a creature-land with power and toughness equal to the greatest mana value among your commanders. It’s a Desert, so I’ll be including it in my Hazezon deck, but it won’t be nearly as effective as it will be in a deck with Yuma, Proud Protector as the commander. In fact, I might be tempted to run it in any deck where the commander has a high mana value, such as Ghalta, Primal Hunger; Karador, Ghost Chieftain; and Eris, Roar of the Storm.

So, what cards from Outlaws of Thunder Junction Commander are you most excited to play with? 

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