Outlaws of Thunder Junction - Red

Mike Carrozza • April 9, 2024

Embrace the Unknown by Quintin Gleim

White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands | Allied & Shards | Enemy & Wedges | cEDH | Reprints | Pauper/Budget


Heya! It's me, Mikey, the guy behind Am I The Bolas? and Am I The Bolcast? podcast. I've got a bit of a reputation for loving cards that fall under the Mardu banner, and today I'm pleased to bring you a review of the red cards from Outlaws of Thunder Junction and all the surrounding supplemental releases. Let's get to the goods.


Generous Plunderer

The review begins with a card not from Outlaws of Thunder Junction but rather from The Big Score, which is what was supposed to be this set's Aftermath. Thankfully, Wizards of the Coast decided to fold this into the regular set. This does mean that the sought-after cards from this would-be supplemental will likely be pricey. 

Generous Plunderer strikes me as a bit of a trap. Some have taken to comparing it to Sardian Avenger, and I'm thinking that just reminding you of Sardian Avenger will show you that maybe you should pick up a copy of Sardian Avenger

Generous Plunderer might find a home in Obeka, Splitter of Seconds decks as a means to get enough mana to activate Aggravated Assault if you've buffed Obeka up. Generous Plunderer might also find a home in the more generous builds of Vazi, Keen Negotiator.

While Plunderer packs a punch, it doesn't really punish your opponents for just naturally cracking Treasures or other great artifact tokens that are running rampant in the format. Will it be a beating against an artifact deck? Absolutely. But so is - you guessed it - Sardian Avenger. Pop this in decks that want the Avenger! Pop this in upkeep decks. Pop this in decks that break the parity of the Treasures you create with stuff like Doubling Season or Goldspan Dragon

Legion Extruder

A two-mana artifact that Shocks upon entering the battlefield is pretty sweet for a utility artifact that's going to be turning trinkets into 3/3 Golem tokens. Goblin Welder and Goblin Engineer wouldn't kick this out of the deck, that's for sure. Welder especially can turn this into a repeatable means of keeping key X/2s in check. I figure a Daretti, Scrap Savant deck will be a home for this. 

Ultimately, it's fine. I don't have any strong feelings about where this belongs. It feels like it's strong, but not too strong. It feels like one of those cards that will be a big lightbulb moment when it clicks into place like the perfect puzzle piece for a deck, but I'm not inspired to knock my head against a wall enough to try to crack this. It's fine!

Memory Vessel

Now, this? This is spicy. 

This is a new era's take on Memory Jar, a card that was so powerful it had a short-lived stint in Standard before being banned for being busted. Luckily, this exiles itself, because artifact decks that can loop this would be brutal, especially with stax. 

Messing with players' hands is a bit taboo, but hey, sometimes it's necessary. This is a card that slightly reminds me of Opposition Agent in that it punishes tutors by messing with when they can be cast. 

Now is when I have to say Prosper, Tome-Bound decks will love this. There are some games where you find yourself with too many lands in hand, and getting a new seven cards to play with that all also will produce a Treasure token feels like too much value to pass up. 

Molten Duplication

This is the big spice that I see cEDH players printing out to test this week. 

Molten Duplication trades in Twinflames strive for the ability to target a creature or an artifact. It also turns the creature you copy into an artifact creature and, rather than exiling the token, you sacrifice it instead!

The Master, Multiplied will prevent you from sacrificing the token. Saheeli, the Gifted's ultimate ability will give you another copy. Heck, Saheeli Rai in the 99 can make another! Any deck running Echo Storm with red will embrace this card as a huge value piece. 

Let's not forget that sometimes just copying an artifact or a creature of yours can be the difference between taking the game or giving it away! Two mana is great, which is why Twinflame is so beloved. That extra artifact element speaks to synergies in many decks in one of the most popular archetypes. This is a card I'm predicting will be expensive and we'll be asking for a speedy reprint, pronto!

Territory Forge

For five mana, you can steal a Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, and you don't even need to sacrifice your own! How about a Nyx Lotus that doesn't enter tapped? Yes, yes, I love devotion!

This is land/artifact removal on an artifact that, fortunately, needs to be cast. I think the best thing to target with this is The One Ring since you'll only be copying the activated abilities of what's exiled. Exiling a Mana Crypt or Mana Vault without the downsides seems pretty good! Keep an eye out for more effects like this.


Calamity, Galloping Inferno

Calamity is a blazing steed that allows a nonlegendary creature that saddled it to go into battle without any real risk of danger. I realize I wrote "a nonlegendary creature", but really you can select up to two since Calamity lets you repeat this process. 

For six mana, a 4/6 hasty tank that lets you essentially crew it with your Dockside Extortionist or Meteor Golem so you can get two copies of one or one of each seems pretty strong. The nonlegendary clone effect is reminiscent of Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and might take inspiration from Kiki's EDHREC page

In the command zone, Calamity, Galloping Inferno gives a combat focus to a clone strategy that's already popular with the likes of Jaxis, the Troublemaker and Delina, Wild Mage. The nonlegendary element adds an extra layer of restriction to shake things up for the folks who find themselves brewing any time we get a new Orthion, Hero of Lavabrink. The subtle differences are interesting enough to potentially let the Fire Horse - in a surprise turn of events - take the reigns. 

In the 99, Calamity seems really fun. Ziatora, the Incinerator and Henzie "Toolbox" Torre seem like the perfect spot if you ask me. Ziatora can sacrifice one of the tokens before they sack themselves and Henzie can make a surprise Calamity turn into an explosive turn depending on what saddles the untamable stallion. 

All around, this is a fun and interesting card. It's pretty pushed which, we'll see with this set, is the norm.

Cataclysmic Prospecting

A cheeky X value damage board wipe that rewards you for playing Deserts. Can you tell this is from the Desert Bloom precon deck? Can you tell that this is likely best staying in that precon deck? 

There aren't many of these that deals damage to each creature; a lot of them deal to creatures without flying, like Earthquake, so this is a Savage Twister in mono-red with some upside. Congratulations to the folks who're stoked about that! Hazezon, Shaper of Sand players, I'm looking at you!

Anybody else, eh, whatever, alrighty.

Crackling Spellslinger

That's more like it. 

This is a crazy card. Of course, much like Radiant Performer, you don't get the effect if you blink Crackling Spellslinger, but that doesn't mean that you can't do bonkers things with this. We've all seen a spellslinger deck go off, like Veyran, Voice of Duality or the old baddie Mizzix of the Izmagnus. They cast a ton of spells and take advantage of mana reduction or rituals like Mana Geyser to really go off. Heck, my old Zaffai, Thunder Conductor deck might have to be rebuilt with all this plot tech and stuff like Crackling Spellslinger.

Where does one's mind go first? Expropriate, Time Walk, and Jeska's Will of course, but don't forget that giving a card like Breach the Multiverse or Windfall storm in the right spot can be game-enders in the right deck.

Dead Before Sunrise

This is for an outlaw deck, whether it's all their types or if you've got a Rogue or Pirate deck, this fits in. Either way, it does lots of damage but only targets creatures. Unless you've got some sort of Brash Taunter deck with an outlaw theme, I don't see this being a very popular card. It'll be four mana to likely destroy a few creatures at instant speed, so it could be worse. Much worse. 

Elemental Eruption

More storm to talk about! 

This creates a bunch of flying beaters that only get stronger. It's six mana, so you'll want to chain together some cheap spells before slamming this, but once you get even three Dragons out of Elemental Eruption, you've already gotten your value out of it. Look out for plot cards, and remember that storm cards require some mindful sequencing. Mizzix of the Izmagnus isn't as popular as she once was, but I do think this card would be huge in her deck. I think any deck slamming ritual after ritual can benefit from a bunch of bodies on board to finish a game. Just make sure to give them haste, I reckon. 

Embrace the Unknown

I mentioned earlier when talking about Memory Vessel that sometimes you can be stuck with lands in your hand that you can't play that turn in a Prosper, Tome-Bound deck. Time to turn into a Spellshaper and turn those lands into Embrace the Unknown from the graveyard with its retrace ability. I absolutely love this card. Is it basically red Divination? Yeah, but it does two things that keep it narrow yet interesting enough:

  1. It allows you to cast those cards until the end of your next turn. 
  2. It allows you to turn dead lands into more cards. Retrace is such a great keyword in the late game. Truly, such an underrated mechanic. 

There are more commanders out there, like Rocco, Street Chef and Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald, that will also love this. Not to mention if you're already running Containment Construct and Embrace the Unknown is in your graveyard, you can turn your land drop into two cards and, in Rocco and Prosper at least, some extra value. Not to mention, any commander with the Background Passionate Archaeologist is going to make use of this well.

I am very high on Embrace the Unknown and reckon I'll pick up a few to test in more than just Prosper!

Great Train Heist

Spree is sort of a build-your-own-card mechanic that's like a kicker Confluence. You pay the entry cost of R. You are not effectively paying R to play a card to do nothing which might actually be worth it to storm players sometimes. You must pick one mode and pay its additional costs. 

On one card you get a Relentless Assault, a version of Rally the Forces, and a way to make tapped Treasures for each creature you control hitting a particular opponent. 

And you get to mix and match. This card is so cool and interesting. I think the spree mechanic is very exciting new design space, but it's absolutely jacked. It's so powerful. For two red mana, if you've got a few creatures that can get in to hit someone, you'll make more than two mana back. For six mana, you can do that for two combats. For eight mana, you can put the hurt on your opponents or dissuade them from blocking your army. Straight up, this card is a beating. I can't pick a deck to highlight for this because it's any red decks that like the combat step.

I will say that the decks that can probably take the most advantage would be token decks. All of these modes get much better the more creatures you have. Krenko, Old or New would have a blast with this card, though his latest iteration probably likes this most. Jinnie Fay, Jetmir's Second might appreciate the option of turning the Treasures into more pups or kitties. 

Hellspur Posse Boss

Outlaws (aka Assassins, Mercenaries, Pirates, Rogues, and Warlocks) get themselves a Lord of sorts in Hellspur Posse Boss

A haste-enabler that enters with two speedy little guys who can essentially enlist another creature or go in for damage immediately is fine. Three bodies for four mana isn't something I get mad at easily. I don't see where this will go beyond the Outlaws deck. Does your Pirate deck need a non-Pirate to give them haste? Okay, here you go? 

I don't really see this anywhere but the Olivia, Opulent Outlaw decks that are bound to be out there or other decks that specifically care about this particular creature type batching. Pop this in Laughing Jasper Flint or Vial Smasher, Gleeful Grenadier. I'm not too impressed, but I'm not mad at it, and that's enough for this card, I reckon.

Hell to Pay

Obviously, this had to be a sorcery, but if you've got a way to play this at instant speed, you're about to have yourself a crazy turn if you're hitting a low-toughness creature. 

Much like deathtouch and trample, excess damage is calculated as whatever is left over after killing a creature. If you found a way to give Hell to Pay deathtouch, you could pay as much as you want into X and you'll make X minus one Treasures. 

I guess, all you'd need is some way to give spells deathtouch. Something like Pestilent Spirit or, I don't know, maybe one of the most popular Rakdos commanders of late, oh yeah, Judith, Carnage Connoisseur! An absolute slam-dunk must-have in this Judith deck for when you need to plan ahead and make a ton of Treasures. 

Magda, the Hoardmaster

Committing crimes is so much easier than I initially thought, and now I'm grateful a lot of these really powerful effects say "This ability triggers only once each turn."

Let me just digress for a moment here and say I think it's very silly to bring such a negative connotation for regular game actions. I understand that this is the "villain" set and they need a mechanic that sounds, like, menacing or whatever, but come on! I understand when I get targeted by a Bojuka Bog, but still! You know what else targets? Secret Rendezvous, a card that lets you give an opponent three cards! Is it a crime to meet a friend under the starry night? IS IT A CRIME TO FALL IN LOVE?

Anyway, point is that "committing a crime" (ugh) happens way more than you'd think, and this new Magda is going to make you some Treasures. What's more is that for three Treasures, you can get a flying 4/4 Dragon Scorpion (excuse me, a what?) with haste. Basically for three mana! Two creatures in Magic's history are flying 4/4s with haste for three mana and that's Hell's Thunder and Chaos Dragon and they both have drawbacks!

Magda is a card that comes down early and gets the ball rolling. She's one to look out for. Will I try this in Prosper, Tome-Bound as a potential wincon? Absolutely. Making a bunch of Dragons to end a game is apparently less groan-worthy than Marionette Master, so I'm happy to oblige!

Pyretic Charge

I love a plot card where the plot cost is lower than its mana value. Being able to put this in exile and picking the right time for you to benefit most is fantastic. If you've got a full grip and a board full of creatures, maybe you'll see the discard as upside and get to swing with +7/+0 for your team. If you don't have any cards in hand, here's a delayed "free" draw four. 

The question is now where do we put this? I'd aim for a deck that can build up a board to swing with or one that doesn't mind tossing stuff into the graveyard. Exile matters decks like the oft-mentioned Prosper, Tome-Bound could be interested in this, though personally, I'm not likely to try this one. 

I don't know what to make of this one, but it isn't getting my brew brain going so hard.

Slickshot Show-Off

This is the Red Deck Wins card of the set; this card will be amazing in a burn deck in Standard as another Monastery Swiftspear-esque creature with pseudo-prowess and evasion. In Commander, if you've got a spellslinger deck that rattles 'em off like a cowboy emptying his six-shooter, Slickshot Show-Off will tack on some more damage in the air. 

The question is "When do I plot this card?" And the answer is "I have no idea, bud. It costs the same to do both. Maybe there's a board wipe coming or you've got cast from exile effects or you're building toward a big turn." Either way, I figure this one is more for Standard than for Commander. Here's Monastery Swiftspear's EDHREC page; whatever commanders want their boots on the ground will surely enjoy the clear way in the skies. 

Smoldering Stagecoach

My first thought seeing this was that the TARDIS had a makeover. 

The similarities are limited: they're both Vehicles that give a spell you cast cascade when it attacks and if you meet the requirements. In the case of the TARDIS, you need to control a Time Lord. However, in the case of Smoldering Stagecoach, only the next instant and sorcery cards get cascade.

The big thing to note is that it's the next instant AND the next sorcery each gain cascade.

The limitation on card type means that Smoldering Stagecoach will likely only find itself in spellslinger decks, but the balancing act in a spellslinger deck means that you're very selective and careful about your creatures or, in this case, Vehicles you include in your list. Does Stagecoach make the cut? Giving two spells cascade definitely makes it tempting. I could see Veyran, Voice of Duality or Anhelo, the Painter running this one or at least trying it out.

Stingerback Terror

Ah, a Scorpion Dragon that isn't a token!

This card reminds me of the Hellbent mechanic, and I love when I get to remind myself of cards like Nihilistic Glee and Gibbering Descent (an amazing tech card to play against an Obeka, Splitter of Seconds deck if you've got one terrorizing your playgroup).

As far as Stingerback Terror goes, if you pull it off, you've got a flying 7/7 for four mana. Or three mana if you plotted it. Pretty solid rate. 

Notable Commons and Uncommons

Highway Robbery

This card is great for filtering. Being sorcery speed does limit it considerably, but Highway Robbery is flexible in the early and late game. Plot this for the late game and trade a land for two cards, or cast this as a Tormenting Voice; it's not bad! Definitely worth a second look. 

Magebane Lizard

Time to punish the spellslinger at the table. Or the artifact deck. This joins the ranks of Damping Sphere and Rug of Smothering.

Reckless Lackey

This is a one-mana 1/2 with haste and first strike with an activated ability to trade this in for a card and a Treasure. How is this a one-mana common? With relevant creature types! Goblin and Pirate! What the heck is this! Raging Goblin got a glow-up by joining a crew of bad folks. 

Return the Favor

Another spree card that knocks it right out of the park. Three mana for one of the choices or four mana for both. Imagine getting to play this in response to a Time Warp and getting a Time Stretch for four mana! Did your opponent just drop a Meteor Golem with eyes on your commander? Sorry, friend, your Golem now hates your commander! This card is pretty absurd. Keep an eye out for activated or triggered abilities you'd want to copy or redirect. At very worst, target a Kodama's Reach and ramp in red! This card is wild, wild, wild!

Rodeo Pyromancers

The closest analogue to this card would be Birgi, God of Storytelling, who rewards you with a red mana for every spell you cast. Rodeo Pyromancers gives you an advance on your second spell but doesn't give you more beyond the second. I like that this card isn't legendary and can be copied; I'm looking at you Jaxis, the Troublemaker, Calamity, Galloping Inferno, and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. That tacks "Add RRRR" to your first spell for one copy alone. This is one to watch for!


Red is looking pretty impressive this set. I'm excited to see how my prereleases go knowing that I'll be not so secretly hoping I get a lot of red cards. So many of these look bananas, and I really cannot wait to play with these.

What red card has you most excited? Personally, I have to go with Embrace the Unknown, but let me know yours in the comments below.

Mike Carrozza is a stand-up comedian from Montreal who’s done a lot of cool things like put out an album called Cherubic and worked with Tig Notaro, Kyle Kinane, and more people to brag about. He’s also been an avid EDH player who loves making silly stuff happen. @mikecarrozza on platforms