Outlaws of Thunder Junction - White

Michael Celani • April 8, 2024

Holy Cow by Justyna Dura

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

You've Yee'd Your Last Haw

Howdy, partner. I'm Michael Celani, and I'm upset westerns get to be their own genre of film. I wanna watch a blockbuster midwestern, dammit! Anyway, you know how it goes by now: Wizards tosses up the cards, I shoot 'em down, and then I go back to drinking at the saloon when they open at eleven-thirty. Let's get started!


Collector's Cage

That Marble Blast Gold level I could never clear as a kid has reinvented itself in my adulthood as an entirely different flavor of nightmare.

As far as I'm concerned, Collector's Cage is a harder-to-kill Luminarch Aspirant that apologizes by also cheating out a spell from your top five the turn you play it. I can hear you protesting "Wait! You need three creatures with different powers first," but don't fool yourself: dedicated Coven decks will have that condition met hours before you even sit down to play, and failing that, your average go-wide lists are more often than not gonna hit it without even trying. And if, God forbid, those decks find themselves in a scenario where they have creatures who agree on their power instead of being properly heterodox, Collector's Cage handles that nuisance all on its own, too. Put this under a Teleportation Circle and for the rest of the game the only thing you'll have to pay into spells is your own karma.

Final Showdown

The Spree cards are challenging to parse. Often enough, each choice on these cards are related in such a way that it's extremely easy to laser-focus in on the spell's golden scenario and miss the forest for the trees. After all, there's seven modes on Final Showdown, and there would technically be eight if Wizards was brave enough to let us cast the stupid one that does nothing.

Case in point, reading all three of its spree choices together positions Final Showdown as the ultimate Voltron board clear. You're protecting your own creature with the second mode and obliterating the rest of the field with the third, and that first mode definitely guarantees your opponents will not have anything left by the time the spell's resolved. Instant protection spells, like Heroic Intervention, won't save them, because the abilities granted by such tricks are immediately and justifiably removed, and even if you do see a slow blink or mass phase-out in response, that still leaves your opponent temporarily vulnerable to the gigantic beater you've left behind. This spell, as described, is a fine card; it's bad Cyclonic Rift, sure, but a bad Rift is still a Rift. However, eight mana is a huge investment, and I'm pretty confident that if you could only cast it for full price, it wouldn't be as popular as relying on the tried and true method of just using two cards together to do the same thing.

That's when you have to start looking at other combinations of modes to unlock the true potential of the card. I'm assuming that the most common play in reality will be at two mana, where you're using it as an instant-speed spell that saves a creature you control by giving it indestructible. This isn't spectacular, as good single-target protection also gives hexproof and tends to clock in at one mana these days, but a huge benefit of Final Showdown in particular is that it doesn't actually target anything. Unlike casting a Loran's Escape to rescue your commander from a board wipe and getting Swords'd in response, with Final Showdown you're pretty much certain you'll get to at least save something. It also happens to get around shroud, meaning you can rescue some dork that happens to be wearing a Lightning Greaves or Whispersilk Cloak when Death comes knocking.

Speaking of the Reaper, if you don't particularly care about saving your own creatures or even if you'd prefer they be in the graveyard, a six-mana board wipe at instant speed is an excellent rattlesnake against someone fielding a gigantic board. Threaten your opponents with it in the same way you'd threaten a Fog: say you'll wipe the board if they attack you, and watch as your opponents take the full brunt of that assault while you sip a mint julep. Fogs are usually much cheaper, sure, but the huge leap in cost there is offset by the fact that Stompy Gruul McScored-A-Twelve-On-The-ACT is much less likely to challenge you knowing full well what the consequences of their avarice will be. Add in the additional one-mana mode if you're worried about being blown out by Heroic Intervention, and you're golden. And speaking of that first mode, I can even envision casting that by itself for two mana as a way to shut down some obnoxious creature-based combo that would otherwise go infinite, steal your wife, and get you a shout out on Am I the Bolas?. I have to assume this scenario is extremely niche, but hey, it's still there.

Of course, none of these uses alone are spectacular, but all of these modes are packed together into just one slot, making it extremely flexible. As for where to put it, seeing as its most common use will likely be single-target protection, consider replacing your Loran's Escape or Tamiyo's Safekeeping. You're not losing a protection slot so much as gaining a wrath in exchange for a little bit of inefficiency. You can often spare the extra mana in the base case, and late in the game it could just save you from the Craterhoof Cavalry Overrun nightmare your opponent said wasn't in his 3/10 list. As a last word, the fact that Final Showdown technically only costs one mana means you can Sunforger for it, or even worse, slap it on Isochron Scepter. Ready, aim, fire.

Oltec Matterweaver

Karnstructs, ladies and gentlemen. Beautiful, glistening, terrible Karnstructs. Thanks to Oltec Matterweaver, all of your creature spells come with one now. Or a Treasure. Or a Clue. Or a Food. Or all three. Even the fact that it at minimum tacks another dork onto all of your creature spells makes it at least as strong at going wide as Oketra's Monument is. My Amareth, the Lustrous artifact creature deck is happy to see him enter the fold, and that's not even counting all the ridiculous things you can do if you're capable of cloning artifacts or have an entire deck based on it. If you care at all about artifact or creature tokens in white, pick this up immediately.


Angelic Sell-Sword

And speaking of go-wide all-stars, let's meet Angelic Sell-Sword, who Serra Angel's mom is always comparing her to. She went to Yale, Serra Angel, and you want to be a luthier?

Anyway, this Sell-Sword has convinced every nontoken creature you call to your aid that violating international standards regarding armed conflict is a smashing idea, and so they all go on to retain their very own Mercenary when they enter. If your plan was to build up an overwhelming force by blinking creatures like Evangel of Heliod, congratulations: now everything does that, and the Mercenary token itself is no joke: tapping to grant a creature additional power for an attack is pretty strong when it comes to commander damage, and especially so if you're in the business of plumping up curious children before throwing them into the oven. It's an Angel, so Giada, Font of Hope decks have yet another choice, and for some reason, it also draws a card when it attacks, so Isshin, Two Heavens as One is happy. Finally, since it's got that classic Serra Angel flair, it's pretty likely to pressure your opponents' life totals over time, too. An all-around solid midrange creature.

Angel of Indemnity

Okay, Angel of Indemnity might finally, truly be the Sun Titan killer, because bringing back a four-mana permanent over a three-mana one is a massive difference. We're talking getting back Trouble in Pairs. We're talking getting back Smothering Tithe. We're talking getting back Wood Elemental. And failing all that, you still have the fallback of retrieving a fetchland or trashed Mind Stone.

The only true regression it has in comparison to the original is that you can't swing with it to get more stuff back, but if you're being realistic, you couldn't do that more than once or twice with Sun Titan before it got blocked and killed anyway. No, the true method of abusing that trigger was always blink, and thanks to the lack of an "if you cast it" rider, those of us who are afraid of loss are still good to include it alongside Karmic Guide and Reveillark. Blink aside, what you lose in that attack trigger you make up in Angel of Indemnity's encore ability. It's the perfect way to bounce back from a board wipe, and it seems like it was made for my encore-themed Dynaheir, Invoker Adept deck. Flying, lifelink, and a 5/5 statline also make it surprisingly powerful in Lathiel, the Bounteous Dawn or Shanna, Purifying Blade lists, which care more about how much life you gain per turn instead of how often you gain it. It's weird that we're two for two on Angels in the villain-themed set.

Another Round

Another Round is white's Doppelgang. I'll admit, I was a little down on Doppelgang when I first saw it, but it turns out casting it with X at two or three was often enough to win the game outright, especially if you happened to clone something like an Archaeomancer to get it back to your hand. Another Round is in the same position, all the way down to having the same synergies. Blinking your whole board thrice in the type of deck that's champing at the bit to blink its whole board should probably immediately amass enough value for you that you'll win the game in short order. Just know that this is purely a value piece: it's sorcery speed, so it can't moonlight as protection in the event of single-target removal unless you have some way to give it flash.

Aven Interrupter

So I'm halfway through the mythics and rares, and I've gotta say, this set is stacked for white so far. I can't remember the last time I was this positive for a portfolio of cards across the board, and I'm happy to report that Aven Interrupter keeps the hits coming. It's effectively a three-mana Memory Lapse stapled to a creature, but it exiles the target spell instead of countering it, meaning it can handle threats that otherwise normally couldn't be countered. That spell becomes plotted, so your unfortunate victim will have to wait until their next turn to cast it, and even then only as a sorcery, which is especially damning if you use it to win a counter war. Counterspells are as useless as bullets to an archer when they're coerced to sorcery speed, so if Dovin's Veto makes you viscerally uncomfortable, you finally have your answer. Now, if they get there, your opponent will be able to cast that spell for free... or they would, if it weren't for Aven Interrupter's last ability, which increases the cost of spells your opponents cast from exile and the graveyard by two. Note that that's all spells, not just the one you countered. Anti-Prosper tech has been a long time coming.

All of this is stapled onto a flying 2/2 for good measure. There will be at least one game decided by this as a surprise blocker, mark my words, and as it's a creature, for those of you playing the drinking game at home, this will be the fifth card I've mentioned the blink archetype in. Down the rest of the bottle if you haven't already; your opponents will when they see you cast this in your Emiel the Blessed list.

Claim Jumper

A Knight of the White Orchid is always appreciated when playing catch-up against whichever Simic legend they printed most recently which draws a card and puts a land onto the battlefield, and Claim Jumper is Knight of the White Orchid but twice. It's not even limited to searching for a basic Plains, so you can use Claim Jumper to fix your mana, assuming you're packing the right dual lands. I don't even think that getting both Plains will be that uncommon an occurrence; if you don't go first and one of your opponents plays a Rampant Growth or similar spell, the odds are pretty good that, by the end of their turn four, they'll have five lands. At the start of your turn four, you're likely to have three, so just play Claim Jumper before your land drop for the turn and rocket yourself from three to six lands in a snap. Oh, and I just got the pun, too. He's a jumper because he's a rabbit.

Dust Animus

Let me just get this off my chest: I've got a bias for lifelinking fliers. A lifelinking creature's power to keep you in the game for longer is usually balanced out by their stats making them fragile enough to not survive combat all that often. Flying literally gets around that downside, and as a result, you're much more likely to generate enough of a life differential that opportunistic attacks and small pings don't kill you in the long run. In that context, and the fact that I'm reading Dust Animus as a 4/5 lifelinking flyer for two, I'm pretty happy with this card. The fact it doesn't really do anything else besides be big, gain life, eat hot chip, and fly means it'll probably be a budget pickup for the aforementioned Lathiel, the Bounteous Dawn and Shanna, Purifying Blade decks or any list that cares about fliers.

Fortune, Loyal Steed

Oh, thank heavens, a bad card. I was worried I'd have to be positive the whole article.

Golden Argosy this is not. Fortune, Loyal Steed has a middling statline, and that means it'll struggle to survive combat for any period of time, which is a problem, considering it has to in order to get that beautiful, marbled value. The only real benefit I can see with Mr. Beast here is that it's one of the few creatures at three that can repeatedly blink a creature you control (take a shot) without needing any additional mana investment, but any potential savings you'd earn from it will inevitably have to be poured into keeping it safe from the slaughterhouse the three of your opponents are building up every turn. The only reward it gives you when it itself enters is a mediocre scry, too. Bleh.

One Last Job

I have to give Wizards credit: they're pricing the spree spells splendidly. Four mana is the going rate for a Resurrection in white, so One Last Job's five is a little bit pricey to compensate for the card's flexibility. As someone who has an Azorius reanimator deck, I'd be lying if I argued that one additional mana in this slot makes that big of a deal in the vast majority of commander games, though. If my goal is to cheat out Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, does it really matter if I'm doing it on turn four or five? Defy Death has often been just as good to me as Late to Dinner in my strategy, so the card is basically already guaranteed playable by that criteria, but that's only in the specific, esoteric archetype of nonblack reanimator deck. Nobody's casting a Resurrection if their color identity includes black, which has substantially stronger options, and every other deck strategy is much better off running cheap protection spells to stop their threats from dying in the first place.

Do the extra modes, then, catapult One Last Job into playability for other archetypes? Let's start with an additional one mana to recur a Mount or Vehicle. We can safely ignore the Mounts: there's only seventeen of them so far, and, like, ten of them suck, so I'm sorry to say that more often than not your dead horses are going to remain beaten. Vehicles have a little bit more give, and it would be legitimately terrifying to bring back your Shorikai, Genesis Engine or Parhelion II for four, but in the Vehicles deck you're better off finding more general ways to cast artifacts from your graveyard instead. Most Vehicles are cheap, so something like Emry, Lurker of the Loch or Tameshi, Reality Architect will provide you more value in the long run.

The Aura and Equipment mode is clearly the winner here, since there's much more of an opportunity to cheat out a giant threat, like Eldrazi Conscription or Argentum Armor, and put it onto your Voltron commander. That is a niche only this card can fill, by the way: you might remember Unfinished Business from a few sets ago, but that one specifically requires you to put the recurred Auras and Equipment onto the creature you revived. The absolute terror most players feel at the prospect of having your reanimation spell countered meant you were almost never bringing back your commander with the fixin's like you wanted, so you'd always have to settle for some other creature carrying your Colossus Hammer into battle instead of good-ol' Rafiq of the Many. This tangent's a long-winded way of saying yes, One Last Job can support a Voltron archetype, and it's commendable it can. But if it's not Voltron or nonblack reanimator, this card's not worth a slot. Run some protection or another threat instead.

Sand Scout

I will be outright flabbergasted and concede on the spot if I see Sand Scout in any deck that's not run by Hazezon, Shaper of Sand or Yuma, Proud Protector.

We Ride at Dawn

We Ride at Dawn excels if you're playing exactly one kind of deck: go-wide legendaries. Unlike my experiments with horses and goldfish, I never considered that legendary-matters and convoke could be married before. As far as I can tell, the best decks for that idea are represented by Peri Brown paired with either the Fourth or Sixth Doctors. The plan is that you play legendaries that care about generating lots of tokens -- the kinds of cards that give me aneurysms every set, like Mondrak, Glory Dominus and Adrix and Nev, Twincasters -- and then use your token-generators to pump out mana sources for even more token-doublers. To the people running those four-hundred-or-so decks, congratulations. For the rest of us, I really hope Wizards got the hint and that they didn't print another trigger or token-doubler this set. If I don't check, it can't hurt me.

Uncommons & Commons

Bovine Intervention

I was a bit too harsh when I reviewed Get Lost. It's easy to look at the one mana difference in price from Swords to Lost and get caught up in the hypothetical scenario where you need to remove a creature but you're just one mana short, but just like how I noted there's really not that much of a difference between Late to Dinner and Defy Death, we need only look to the enduring popularity of spells like Generous Gift and Stroke of Midnight to throw the mana-cost-matters argument out the window. If three mana was truly too much to hold up for responses, then that information would disseminate through the general Commander-playing populace and nobody would run those spells anymore. It happened to Return to Dust, after all. Nowadays, I'm convinced that if your removal is anywhere in the one-to-three mana range, the vast majority of them are interchangable and you should focus on speed, flexibility, and getting around protection more than mana cost. Swords to Plowshares isn't strong because it's particularly cheap; it's strong because it's instant and exiles the creature so it can't be reanimated or protected with an indestructible trick.

That leaves Bovine Intervention as an ersatz Get Lost that drops the ability to hit enchantments and who-careses for artifacts instead. Artifacts are even more common than enchantments in Commander, so you will never want for targets with Bovine Intervention. To cap it off, its 2/2 consolation prize is less powerful than the standard 3/3 a Generous Gift would leave them with.

Getaway Glamer

Getaway Glamer's second cost is a once-in-a-high-noon occurrence; it's basically Soul Shatter taken to its logical minimum. That just leaves the two-mana blink (take a shot), which is fine, but most of the good ones nowadays have a way to flicker their target twice in one card, like Ephemerate or Momentary Blink. I will note that you're not limited to creatures you control or own with that first cost, though, so if you have literally no other options to stop something from swinging at you, you can blink that enemy creature to temporarily remove it.

Prairie Dog

A Lae'zel, Vlaakith's Champion you have to pay for is still a Lae'zel. I do like its application in decks that can reduce the cost of that activated ability, like a Zirda deck, or otherwise generate infinite mana easily, but otherwise I'm not seein' it except in the most dedicated of counters decks.

Requisition Raid

Requisition Raid is legitimately spectacular. Nobody in the world played Basri's Solidarity, so stapling one onto what's essentially a Hull Breach in a single color is an elegant solution. Now, for three mana, you can pump your whole team and blow up an enchantment, or pump your whole team and blow up an artifact, or if you don't even have a team you can blow up both an artifact and an enchantment, or you do all three for four.

The fact that you can hit two permanents for three sounds like a "this-is-a-guaranteed-staple" slam dunk, but Requisition Raid is not Wear // Tear. In a general deck, I would warn against replacing any instant-speed removal you already have with Requisition Raid. It doesn't rise to the level of flexibility that something like a Rip Apart does to justify the sorcery speed, nor does it do anything unique for the color like a Feed the Swarm. I'd only slot this in if you genuinely want the +1/+1 counter mode, as that's the most proactive mode of the bunch, or if you're replacing another worse removal spell (like Return to Dust, stop playing Return to Dust) anyway.

Rustler Rampage

I know the intended use for this card is to untap all your creatures when an enemy swings at you so you can surprise them with a double-striking blocker, but I'm just excited for the potential of using this to force even more of my opponents' creatures to block my rampaging Gabriel Angelfire.

Sheriff of Safe Passage

Technically a 0/0, so if you've got a Kutzil, Malamet Exemplar deck, here's another one for ya.

Thunder Lasso

Hylda of the Icy Crown players, rejoice. Thunder Lasso equips for free when you play it and forces an enemy creature to tap when you attack, meaning it's a perfect enabler to slap on one of your ridiculous 4/4 Elementals you guys get for basically free.

Armored Armadillo

Armored Armadillo is a 4/4 for one to Rasaad yn Bashir, and one of the eight Mavericks you have to kill in Mega Man X to everyone else.

Holy Cow

It's a shame Wizards learned from the sins of Inspiring Overseer and stopped printing three-mana flyers that unconditionally draw cards when they enter, because this is great art that I'll never get to see again.

This is probably the best set for white in a while, guys. Whether it's staple removal, strong blink cards, powerful midrange fliers, or straight-up busted stuff like Oltec Matterweaver, Outlaws of Thunder Junction has it all. I'm excited to see what I can do with these cards down the line, and I hope you are, too.

What are you looking to slot into your decks? Let me know below, and make sure to check out the rest of our reviews for the set, as well as my own dech tecks here on Commander's Herald. Now, it's time for me to ride off into the sunset, where I can retire to a peaceful, bucolic villa for three weeks before another set review threatens the local village. Until then!

Newly appointed member of the FDIC and insured up to $150,000 per account, Michael Celani is the member of your playgroup that makes you go "oh no, it's that guy again." He's made a Twitter account @GamesfreakSA as well as other mistakes, and his decks have been featured on places like MTGMuddstah. You can join his Discord at https://gamesfreaksa.info and vote on which decks you want to see next. In addition to writing, he has a job, other hobbies, and friends.