Magic The Gathering's Outlaws of Thunder Junction set's secret ingredient is Crime

Magic The Gathering's Outlaws of Thunder Junction set's secret ingredient is Crime
Images via Wizards of the Coast

Written by 

Lloyd Coombes

Published 

25th Mar 2024 16:20

Over the last few months, I've been reconnecting with old friends. In between reminiscing about the good ol' days of misspent youth, we've taken to playing Magic: The Gathering regularly, specifically Commander.

Summoning big monsters, slinging spells, and recounting tales of teenage idiocy have become one of my favourite ways to spend an evening, but I sometimes find myself yearning for a little more recklessness. As it happens, Magic's next expansion, Outlaws of Thunder Junction, may be just what I was looking for.

Not-so-legendary Outlaw

Fomori Vault artwork from MTG's Outlaws of Thunder Junction set
Click to enlarge

With my friends I've played about ten Commander matches now, mixing up my deck each time (we all stick to precons since most of us are pretty new to the game). Sadly, I'm still yet to win a match, and while I tell the other players at the table that's all down to bad luck, I know deep down I just "don't have that dog in me".

Put simply, I'm not aggressive enough. I'm too scared to attack for fear of recompense and more interested in building an army that doesn't really go anywhere. So, how do I expect Outlaws of Thunder Junction to give me a kick in the backside and take matters into my own hand?

The secret ingredient, as legendary TV show Peep Show's Super Hans once taught us, is Crime.

Lie, cheat, steal

MTG Outlaws of Thunder Junction Plains art
Click to enlarge

If you've ever played Commander, you'll know its multiplayer format makes interactive cards all the more important because you can, if you have the mana, hit every player with something in the same turn.

In Outlaws of Thunder Junction, many of these interactive elements will be grouped together under the 'Crime' umbrella.

On its own, that won't mean much, but if you're playing with some of the new Outlaws of Thunder Junction cards, you'll be rewarded for creating carnage with your misdeeds.

Click to enlarge

Take Freestrider Lookout, for example. A pretty solid card just from being a 3-cost, 3/3 body with Reach, it'll also allow anyone committing a crime to look through your library and add another land. Others, like Gisa, the Hellraiser, can create tokens with one crime per turn, helping overrun enemy defences. Hardbristle Bandit, on the other hand, can untap himself when you commit a crime.

It's exactly what I need to kick me into action, but there's more than just criminal gains to be had. The new Spree mechanic, seen below in Unfortunate Accident, offers multiple ways to counter these crimes, making it feel something a little akin to, well, a Wild West Shootout.

Click to enlarge

Another mechanic, Plot, will also work as a sort of quick counter. Seen on the Slickshot Show-Off below, you'll be able to exile it and then play it later without paying its mana cost. For Commander games like my own, where it's easy to lose track of what's exiled, that could lead to some surprise twists as cards enter the fray out of nowhere.

As if I've not sold myself on picking up a Commander Deck (or two) at launch, there are some wild (west) new cards in this set, too. As unsettling as a Scorpion Dragon sounds (and that's just a token), the Vaultborn Tyrant looks like it's walked straight out of last year's Lost Caverns of Ixalan. The best I've seen so far? It has to be Holy Cow, or as I've taken to calling it, the Divine Bovine. Let's see another TCG do that, eh?

Click to enlarge

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Final Thoughts

In fitting with the villainous, fantasy cowboy theme, I can't help but feel like Outlaws of Thunder Junction is going to take my "yeller-bellied" Commander tactics and infuse them with a slice of rootin', tootin' aggression that I've so sorely needed.

Wizards of the Coast certainly keeps pumping out products at a rapid pace, but this one looks worth doing time for.

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Lloyd is GGRecon's Editor-in-Chief, having previously worked at Dexerto and Gfinity, and occasionally appears in The Daily Star newspaper. A big fan of loot-based games including Destiny 2 and Diablo 4, when he's not working you'll find him at the gym or trying to play Magic The Gathering.

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