Outlaws of Thunder Junction Draft Guide

Howdy, friend! Are you ready to visit the Wild West? It looks like we have a truly fascinating set ahead of us, at least as far as the drafting goes. The mechanics seem to be quite skill-testing, and the cards look intriguing and somewhat complex. This Outlaws of Thunder Junction Draft Guide will help you untangle all of that, with a big picture view of the format. Hopefully, this will result in more wins for you.

So, if you’ve been our long-time reader you already know what to expect. If not, here’s how this article is going to look like. First up, you’ll learn how the mechanics work, and discover their effect on the format. Next, we take a look at best commons for each color.

Afterwards, we move to a very important part, that’s archetype breakdown. You’ll learn how to win with each color pair. Next up, there are the power rankings as well as a tier list for this format. Finally, we’re going to wrap things up with some additional tips.

As you can see, there is a lot to discuss, so let’s waste no time, and get to it.

Outlaws of Thunder Junction Mechanics

There are 6 different mechanics in this draft format:

  • Plot
  • Commit a crime
  • Outlaws
  • Saddle
  • Spree
  • Deserts

In the following sections, we’ll explore how each of them works.

Plot

There are X cards in this set with the plot mechanic. They appear in all five colors. In a way, this is the signature mechanic of the Thunder Junction draft format.

You can play a card with plot in two different ways. You can cast it for its regular cost just like you would cast any other Magic card. The alternate option is to pay its plot cost, which you can only do at sorcery speed. If you do, you exile the plotted card face up. You can then cast it on a later turn without paying its mana costs.

let’s take a look at an example.

Djinn of Fool's Fall Thunder Junction Draft Mechanics

You can pay five mana and cast Djinn of Fool’s Fall for its regular mana cost. You could also pay four mana and plot it. It will go into exile, and you can cast it for free on one of your later turns.

What does this accomplish? In this case, it saves you a mana. Plotting a card also doesn’t count as casting a spell, which enables certain synergies. (More about that in the archetypes section.) Finally, some plot card have effects that benefit them if you can cast them for free.

There are a lot of little things to consider with this mechanic. It’s going to be important to decide when to cast a card for its regular mana cost and when to plot it.

If you want to learn more about this mechanic, read the detailed MTG plot rules.

Commit a Crime

Some cards reward you whenever you commit a crime. When do you commit a crime? Whenever you target an opponent, anything they control, their library, or cards in they graveyard.

Overzealous Muscle Outlaws of Thunder Junction Draft Guide

Overzealous Muscle will become indestructible until the end of turn, whenever you commit a crime during your turn. So, you use Murder on an opponent’s creature, that’s a crime, and Muscle becomes indestrictible.

This mechanic is mostly present in blue, and black. In order to fully enable it, you want to include good interaction spells in your deck.

You can discover more info about commit a crime rules here.

Outlaws

Whenever a card refers to outlaws, that means any creature of the following five creature types:

  • Assassin
  • Mercenary
  • Pirate
  • Rogue
  • Warlock

So it’s essentially a grouping of five creature types into one big one. A bit annoying to keep track of, but nothing too special. It works just as any other tribal synergies would.

Mine Raider

Mine Raider nets you a Treasure token when it comes into play provided you control another outlaw. If you have multiple cards that care about outlaws in your deck, you might want to slightly prioritize creatures with those five creature types.

You’ll notice that there are multiple cards in this set that create Mercenary tokens. Keep in mind that those also count as outlaws.

Saddle

A saddle is an ability that appears on creatures with Mount creature type. It always comes with an associated number. In order to saddle X, you need to tap any number of untapped creatures you control with total power X. (You can only do this as a sorcery.)

When you do so, that creature becomes saddled until the end of turn. That typically means it gets a bonus of some sort when it attacks.

Bridled Bighorn Outlaws of Thunder Junction Draft Guide

Bridled Brighorn is a 3/4 with vigilance. It can attack and block just like any other creature. However, it also has a saddle 2 ability. To active it, you need to tap your untapped creatures with total power at least 2. When you do that, Bighorn becomes saddled until the end of turn.

If it attacks now, you’ll create a 1/1 Sheep token. Neat!

Of course, other Mounts come with different effects. You need to decide whether it’s worth it to tap creatures, or would it be better to leave them on defense, or perhaps attack with them too.

Since saddle mechanic only really works on attacks, you want to include Mounts only in more aggressive decks. If you don’t plan on being the aggressor, consider swapping them for other cards, as you probably won’t be using them to their full potential.

You can find more detailed information about saddle rules here.

Spree

Cards with spree offer you multiple options. Each option you choose adds another cost to the card’s regular cost. You must always choose at least one option, so the actual casting cost is going to be higher that what the regular mana cost suggests. Hence the little plus symbol in the top right corner.

Dance of the Tumbleweeds

With Dance of the Tumbleweeds, you have two options. You can search your library for a land, and put it onto battlefield. That’ll cost you a total of three mana. Perhaps, you prefer the second option. In that case, you pay five mana and create an X/X Elemental token, with X being equal to the amount of lands you control.

Now, you could also choose both options. For that, you’d need to pay six mana. You’d search your library for a land, put it into play and you’d create the Elemental token.

Some other spree cards give you three options, and you can also mix-and-match them, as it best suits you. As you can see, the best feature with spree cards is their flexibility. However, there is no dedicated spree archetype. This is mostly its own thing, and doesn’t have specific synergies.

If you’re interested, check the in-depth spree rules.

Deserts

Some cards care about lands with the Desert subtype. There aren’t that many payoffs, so that’s more of a subtheme, and there probably won’t be a dedicated Desert deck. However, deck will still play good cards that care about Deserts, as those lands are quite easy to come by.

Failed Fording Thunder Junction Draft mechanics

For example Failed Fording is a nice playable bounce spell. However, if you control a Desert, it becomes slightly better, with surveil 1. A nice effect to have, but doesn’t really change the card that much. That’s mostly the case with all Desert cards too.

Best Commons for Outlaws of Thunder Junction Draft

That was it for the mechanics, now let’s see what are the best commons in the set. You’ll see a lot of these, so you really need to know which ones are the most important.

White

1. Holy Cow

Holy Cow Outlaws of Thunder Junction Draft Guide

We’re starting off with an amazing card. If only there was some sort of a catchy phrase that we could use to describe just how good of a card this is. Oh, well.

Anyway, a three mana for a two to flying with flash is a fine cart. However, once you add a powerful enter-the-battlefield effect you get an absurdly strong common. Incidental life gain is always handy and scry 1 is useful at all parts of the game.

You won’t mind playing multiples of this fine creature.

2. Mystical Theter

Mystical Tether

Next up, here is the card that we’ve seen time and time again. Oblivion ring variants were always useful and there is no reason for that to change now.

This one even comes with a nice little upside, allowing you to cast it at instant speed, provided that you pay two additional mana. Versatile removal spells are simply good.

3. Take Up the Shield

Take Up the Shield Outlaws of Thunder Junction Draft Guide

It’s not that often that there is a combat trick in our Top 3 best common spots. However, this is not your regular combat trick. Of course, you can use it to win a combat just like you would any other combat trick. But there are many other benefits this chart provides.

First, the +1/+1 counter sticks around. Second, indestructible means you can use it as the counterspell against removal. And finally the lifelink part can really swing a race in your favor. When you consider you can achieve with these two mana card, it becomes easy to understand why we rank it so highly.

Honorable Mentions

Wanted Griffin

White has many other potentially strong commons, and it’s entirely possible that something moves up to the Top 3. One such card is Wanted Griffin. It’s a relatively strong threat, that leaves behind a relevant token when it dies. Can’t really go wrong with playing it, even in multiples.

Stagecoach Security is much more than just a big creature for five mana. It buff your whole team, allowing you to make profitable attacks. Due to the vigilance, you don’t even need to worry about opponent attacking you back. Plus, you can plot it for four mana, which is certainly useful.

Steer Clear, which is a useful cheap removal. Sure, the creature needs to participate in a combat, but 2 damage for a single mana is still a good rate. Furthermore, if you control a Mount, it’ll deal 4 damage, which can deal with lots of creatures.

Speaking of Mounts, Trained Arynx is a great one. It’s an excellent aggressive two drop, provided you can saddle it. Three powered first striker is no joke, and scry helps you set up your future draws.

Another two drop Outlaw Medic can also be good, but more useful in slower decks, that don’t play on attacking that much. It’s a fine blocker that eventually replaces itself, which shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s particularly strong if you have ways to boost its stats if only by a little.

Blue

1. Phantom Interference

Phantom Interference

This card essentially gives you three options. First it can be a two mana counterspell. That’s always at least playable in draft even if it’s not always particularly strong. Next, it can also be a 4 mana 2/2 flyer with flash. Again, not very exciting, but anytime you have a card with two options it’s significantly better than either of the two options alone.

However, when this card really becomes strong is at five mana. Then, you might get a very clear 2-for-1, as you you’re getting a 2/2 flyer which also countered a spell. Now that’s a backbreaking play. You would always play such a card in any blue deck, even without the option of casting it for cheaper.

But given that this is also a perfectly fine turn two play, it’s clear to see why Phantom Interference will be one of the best commons in this format.

2. Loan Shark

Here’s a thing about creatures that draw a card when they come into play. If their stats are at least somewhat passable for their cost, they are amazing. (Keep that in mind, as there are more cards that do a similar thing in other colors.)

Loan Shark is certainly passable as a 3/4 for four mana. However, you need to cast at least one spell before Shark in order to draw a card. Now that would be quite clunky, but thankfully, there’s the plot ability.

A common play patter will be plot on turn 4, then on turn 5 play a spell, and follow it up with Loan Shark, which will draw you a card. However, as with all plot cards, don’t feel like you always need to plot it. Make a decision based on what’s happening on the board.

3. Take the Fall

Take the Fall Thunder Junction Draft Guide

A one mana instant that replaces itself is always at least playable. However, how good this card ends up being depends on how well can you set it up. If opponent thinks your creatures are going to trade, and Take the Fall makes your creature survive, then it’s an amazing play.

You’ve essentially used a single mana to remove a creature, and you get your card back. Of course, that’s going to be hard to do unless you control an outlaw. If you do, it’s going to be much easier to set up a blowout.

However, don’t hold this card for too long. If it doesn’t look like it’s going to do much, feel free to just cast it in order to get a new card. Finally, this card also nicely enables “cast 2 spells” strategies, but more about them in the archetypes section.

Honorable Mention

Geyser Drake

Geyser Drake gets a surprisingly good stats for three mana flyer. On top of that, it also makes your spells cost one less mana during your opponent’s turn. There are quite a lot of instants and cards with flash in this set, so this will often come in handy.

Black

1. Vault Plunderer

Vault Plunderer

Remember what we said about creatures that draw you cards? They are good, and so is Plunderer. There are no special things you need to do to make it strong. Just pay three mana, and get your card back. The life loss is negligible.

Sure, it won’t be a great attacker if there are 1/1 Mercenary tokens on the other side. But even then, you can just hold it back, there are a bunch of 3-toughness creatures, which you’ll be happy to block with this great black common.

2. Desert’s Due

Desert's Due Outlaws of Thunder Junction Draft Guide

Let’s assume you have zero Deserts in play. Even so -2/-2 for two mana at instant speed is good enough. It can take care of small creatures, and even deal with some bigger ones in combat. Such card would already be a very strong common.

And obviously, it becomes stronger with more Deserts you have in play. So, you’ll always play this card in your black decks. However, if you draft more copies, you want more Deserts, and if you already have Deserts, this becomes a higher pick.

3. Mourner’s Surprise

Mourner's Surprise Thunder Junction Draft Guide

This card can be a bit hard to evaluate, if you’re a newer player. However, we can revert to what we said before about creatures drawing cards. How so?

Well, this is essentially a 1/1 creature for two mana that draws you a card. The latter being a creature card from your graveyard. It’s not really a turn two play though, as there will rarely be creatures in the grave to get. However, in a pinch it’ll do.

Where this card really shines is in the mid to the late game. It’s cheap enough that you can play two cards in a turn, plus it provides great value.

Honorable Mentions

Rooftop Assassin Best Commons Outlaws of Thunder Junction Draft

We’ve often seen creatures with flash that destroy a creature that was dealt damage this turn. Sadly, in most cases they play out much worse than you’d expect. But Rooftop Assassin might change that. There’s just so many keywords tacked onto it. 2/2 flying lifelink with flash would be great for three mana. With one mana extra, you’re getting a good effect, if you can pull it off.

Desperate Bloodseeker is another 2/2 with lifelink. That are good stats already. Milling effect is also interesting, as its targets will depend on your deck. If you have graveyard synergies, you’ll target yourself. However, if you want to commit a crime, you’ll target your opponent. A really versatile card.

When you play four mana for a removal spell, it always feels clunky. At least Consuming Ashes exiles, is an instant, and gives you a bonus for removing smaller creatures. Still an useful effect, but not as high of a pick as it might’ve been in some older sets. Nowadays, there are just too many creatures that come with built-in advantage.

Red

1. Prickly Pair

Prickly Pair Thunder Junction Draft Guide

Here’s an example of a creature with built-in advantage. You’re getting two relevant bodies with one card, and both of them count as outlaws. This means, this is simply a rock solid common, and you’ll play as many of them as you can draft.

2. Explosive Derailment

Explosive Derailment Outlaws of Thunder Junction Draft Guide

You can mostly evaluate this card as a three mana instant that deals 4 damage. This deals with most creatures in the format, and only costs a single red mana, as opposed to something like Murder. Thus, it’s much easier to cast and a premium removal spell.

Occasionally, you’ll also nab an artifact with it, which will fell amazing, but that’s just a bonus on an already good card.

3. Irascible Wolverine

Irascible Wolverine Thunder Junction Draft Guide

Hey, would you look at that? Yet another creature that draws you a card. Well not technically, but you get the gist. The trick here is that you want to plot Wolverine, then play it for free on the next turn. This way, your lands are untapped, so there’s a higher chance that you get to play the top card of your deck.

Note that the card says play, so yes, you can play a land exiled with it. Thus, if you miss your fourth land drop, it might be a good idea to just straight up cast Wolverine and try to hit it.

All in all, this is a strong common, although it might sometimes be tricky to decide how to play it.

Honorable Mentions

Thunder Salvo Best Common Thunder Junction Draft

Thunder Salvo is somewhat similar to the Desert’s Due we mentioned before. It’s perfectly playable without the bonus, but once you’re casting multiple spells in a turn, it becomes spectacular.

Quick Draw is an extremely cheap way to win a lot of combats. However, it’s a bit of a flavor fail when two players have it. Whoever resolves it first will end up without the first strike.

Green

1. Patient Naturalist

Patient Naturalist Best Commons Outlaws of Thunder Junction Draft

Green also gets a creature that kinda draws you a card. It’s going to be a land, but that’s perfectly fine. Some of the time, you’re going to whiff, but that’s offset by the fact that you’ll get a Treasure token instead. (With 17 lands in a 40 card deck, you can expect a land 82.1% of the time, and a Treasure in 17.9%.)

2/3 body is serviceable, given how it guarantees that you’ll keep playing your cards on curve. A great followup is, for example, this next card.

2. Spinewoods Paladin

Spinewoods Paladin Outlaws of Thunder Junction Draft Guide

5/4 trampler that gains you 3 life is exactly what you want from your big green five drop. It dominates on most boards, and even if your opponent manages to remove it, at least you got 3 life.

Life gain also helps when you decide to plot Paladin on turn 4. Even if you take some damage recourse you took a turn off by plotting, you’re getting it back next turn. Plus, you can then get an extremely powerful turn 5.

As you can see, this is quite a versatile common, which will work well in all of your green decks.

3. Throw from the Saddle

Throw from the Saddle Outlaws of Thunder Junction Draft Guide

Each set nowadays comes with a green fight spell variant. Their quality varies from set to set, but it looks like we got a good one for Outlaws of Thunder Junction draft.

First, your creature deals damage and doesn’t take it. That’s great. Furthermore, it also gets a small boost, and if it’s a Mount that becomes permanent. Also good. Finally, it costs just two mana which is yet another major upside.

All things considered, this looks like a really strong green removal.

Honorable Mentions

Hardbristle Bandit Best Commons Outlaws of Thunder Junction Draft

Cheap mana dorks are always useful, and so is Hardbristle Bandit. If you can commit some crimes, you’ll even be able to use it twice in a turn. Pretty neat.

Bristlepack Sentry is a good defensive play, but you can easily turn it into an attacker, by playing creatures with power 4 or greater. If you manage to increase its power, it enables itself.

You’ll really want at least a couple of Deserts to make Cactarantula work. However, if you manage to constantly play it for five mana, it becomes quite good. It blocks everything, and if your opponent tries to remove it, you’ll probably draw a card in the process.

Good big creatures continue with Giant Beaver. It features amazing stats for a four drop, and can distribute some +1/+1 counter around.

You saw that green gets a lot of big creatures. Thus, if you plot Tumbleweed Rising early on, it shouldn’t be too hard to get a big creature from it. Just make sure that your opponent doesn’t remove your only relevant creature in response.

Thunder Junction Draft Archetypes

We’ve explored the commons, now let’s move to the archetypes. There are 10 main archetypes, each built around two colors. While splashes are definitely possible, most decks will primarily stick to two colors.

Blue-White: Draw Go

We’re starting with an unusual archetype, which rewards you for not casting spells during your turn. However, if you aren’t using your mana how are you winning the game? Well, there are various things you can do:

  • Cast instants and spells with flash on opponent’s turn.
  • Use activated abilities, like the one on Emergent Haunting.
  • Pay plot costs. That doesn’t count as casting a card, but you’re still spending mana.

Now with plot cards, you’ll typically use a turn to plot them, then next turn deploy multiple spells. So, you take one turn off, reap the benefits of not casting spells, then get an explosive turn, where you do lots of stuff.

Payoffs

Okay, but what are the benefits for jumping through those hoops? Here they are ordered by how good we think these will be. (From best to worst.)

As you can see there are some payoffs for this strategy, but you really want to get your hands on the two multicolor uncommons to make this strategy worth it. So, when drafting this deck, you want to get the good payoffs first, then the support to make this deck work.

Since you’ll be playing plot cards, this archetype can also borrow some of the red-blue’s synergies with casting 2 spells per turn. Speaking of which, let’s see how that deck works.

Blue-Red: Cast 2+ Spells

There are plenty of cards in these two colors that rewards you if you cast a second spell in a single turn. Now, in most sets, you’d achieve that by combining two cheap spells, potentially using a cantrip (one mana card that draws you a card, like Take the Fall). This can still be done in Thunder Junction draft, but plot makes it even easier.

First you plot, then when you play it next turn, you still have all lands untapped, so you can cast another spell too. A good idea is to play your payoff card first, then follow it up with a plotted card. This way, you’re almost certainly getting the bonus, barring any counterspells.

Why? Because of how priority works. Say you play Kraum, Violent Cacophony. Opponent can’t kill it before it comes into play. Then when it comes into play, you’re the first player to gain priority. You can now cast a plotted card, and Kraum’s ability triggers. Even if an opponent kills it now, you’ll still draw a card. Pretty neat, right?

Payoffs

Besides Kraum, there are many other payoffs. Brimstone Roundup and Loan Shark both work great, as they’re both payoffs and plot cards. Thus, it can be easy to set up a powerful turn.

There’s also Razzle-Dazzler, Shackle Slinger, and Iron-Fist Pulverizer, each offering a different benefit.

If you’re lucky you might even get a strong rare for this archetype. Both Malcolm, the Eyes and Breeches, the Blastmaker are going to shine here.

When playing this deck, you’re going to need make a lot of decisions on when to plot your cards, when to play them, and in what sequence to do so. If you manage to do that successfully, you’re going to win plenty of games.

Red-White: Aggro (With Mercenary Tokens)

After two special archetypes, we’re moving to something more traditional. Red-white is, how surprisingly, an aggressive deck. While there’s a small subtheme of creating Mercenary tokens, there really aren’t that many cards that care about that specifically.

But hey, that’s okay. Those tokens are perfectly fine pieces of cardboard on their own, and they don’t need much support to shine.

Cards like Ertha Jo, Frontier Mentor, Form a Posse, Prosperity Tycoon, and Prickly Pair are just good cards on their own. You don’t need cards to specifically reference

As always, combat tricks are really going to shine in a deck like this. But given, that you might be going wide with Mercenary tokens, you can also utilize mass pump spells, like Outlaws’ Fury and Stagecoach Security. Finally, Ferocification can make your 1/1 tokens into real attackers every turn.

Don’t forget that Mercenary tokens count as outlaws, so you can lean into those synergies. But more about them, in this next archetype.

Black-Red: Outlaws

There are tons of creatures with outlaw types (Assassin, Mercenary, Pirate, Rogue, Warlock) in this two colors. We won’t list all of them here, and they are a bit tricky to keep track of. You’ll just need to try and remember which creatures are outlaws during the draft.

Now what about payoffs? How many are they and are they worth building around? There are quite some of them:

Based on this, it’s easy to imagine how a typical black-red deck should look like. It will be aggressive, full of outlaws, and cards that make Mercenary tokens. It’ll constantly damage the opponent, and use Outlaws’ Fury to finish the game with one big attack. Quite a strong strategy.

Black-White: Sacrifice Tokens

The previous two archetypes both create tokens. The black-white archetype will happily use those token making cards. What will it do with those tokens? Sacrifice them for value.

We’ve seen hat there are ways to create tokens already, so that part of the equation won’t be a problem. But what about sacrifice outlets, are they good enough that this strategy will be viable?

Well, Baron Bertram Graywater certainly seems a strong card for this strategy. Whenever you make a token you also get a 1/1 lifelinker. On top of that you can sacrifice artifacts or creatures to draw cards. That’s practically a whole engine with just about any token maker.

Furthermore, Ruthless Lawbringer gives you a powerful effect if you can sacrifice another creature, you get to destroy a nonland permanent. You can draw cards with stuff like Unscrupulous Contractor and Corrupted Conviction.

Prosperity Tycoon is also a great card, as it gives you a way to sacrifice tokens, and brings one with it. After that, the sacrifice synergies get weaker. Thus, it’s certainly a good idea to include this theme in your black-white decks, but there’s no need to go all-in on this strategy. Simply, round up the deck with good cards, and you should be good to go.

Green-White: Mounts

Green-white comes with a slight twist this time around. It cares about Mount creatures. (Those are the ones with the saddle mechanic.) So, let’s take a look at the payoffs and see whether or not they’re worth building around:

Wow, that’s quite a lot of them, and they’re all quite good payoffs. As it turns out, it’s worth playing many Mounts in your green-white decks. Of course, you won’t want to draft them over significantly better cards, only because they’re Mounts. However, if two cards are somewhat similar in power level, you’ll want to pickup the Mounts in order to support those synergies.

Also, this archetype will be a slightly more aggressive. After all, the saddle mechanics only works on attacks.

Blue-Black: Committing Crimes

Blue-black rewards you for committing crimes. That makes sense, since this color pair is traditionally a control archetype. What does a control deck do? It provides for its family. (Sorry, this obscure Breaking Bad joke is really out of place, although a lot of crimes are committed in that show.)

It interacts with your opponent’s stuff by targeting it with removal, and counterspells. Thus, you won’t really need to try hard to enable this mechanic. Just play good removal spells, and counterspells, and you’ll have enough ways to commit crimes.

Now as far as the payoffs go, there are plenty of exciting ones. Intimidation Campaign might be a bit clunky, but if you can ensure the game can go long, you’ll bury opponent in card advantage. Blood Hustler will grow, as well as commit crimes with its activated ability, which targets an opponent. Lazav, Familiar Stranger also grows, and can sometimes become a copy of a creature.

There are also many other payoffs, like Nimble Brigand and Rattleback Apothecary so you don’t need to worry about getting enough of them. Assembling a right mix of payoffs and enablers is going to be an interesting challenge with this archetype.

Blue-Green: Plotting

Blue-green always comes with an unusual theme with a dubious quality. This time around that’s the plot mechanic, but will it work? Well, the legendary uncommon for this archetype Doc Aurlock, Grizzled Genius certainly seems to pull a lot of weight.

With it in play, all of your plot cost will cost two mana less. Now that can enable some insanely powerful turns way ahead of schedule. Imagine following it on turn three by plotting both Freestrider Commando and Beastbond Outcaster. You’re very likely winning that game.

However, the problem here is that Doc is really the only card that works that well with plot cards. There is no enchantment that would make your plot cast cost one mana less or something like that.

Hopefully, this deck will still work just based on the fact that most of plot cards are still pretty good on their own. But you probably don’t want to end up in this archetype without at least a single copy of Doc Aurlock, Grizzled Genius. It looks like this will be the card that will make or break the green-blue decks in this format.

Black-Green: Creatures in Graveyard

With so many archetypes, trying something new and playing with a specific mechanic, it’s fine to see some regular themes too. Black-green will, once again, care about graveyard. Especially about creatures in your graveyard.

For some creatures you won’t need tons of creatures in your grave. Such cards would be Honest Rutstein and Badlands Revival. While both get better with more creatures in your graveyard, they’re still good if you only have a couple. With these you can simply play a regular midrange deck, and you’ll probably do fine.

On the other hand, some card really benefit, when you have tons of creatures in the grave. For example Hollow Marauder becomes very cheap. Even more importantly, Rise of the Varmints can suddenly summon a ton of creatures. Now, if you really want to enable it, you want to have a high creature count, and a lot of self-mill cards, such as Stubborn Burrowfiend and Patient Naturalist.

In which direction you want to take the deck, probably depends on how many Rise of the Varmints you’ve drafted.

Red-Green: 4+ Power

We’re wrapping up with another traditional archetype. Red-green goes for its well-known theme, which is creatures with 4 or more power. However, once you take a closer look at commons and uncommons, you notice that there are only five payoffs:

Now, sure all of these cards range from good to perfectly fine. However, as there really isn’t an abundance of them, you don’t want to go out of your way to enable this theme.

Drafting 4-powered creatures over good interaction, and cheaper more efficient creatures will likely be a mistake. Instead, what you’ll want to do is simply play a good midrange deck with good cards. You’ll naturally end up with some creatures with 4 or more power and some synergies with it.

One final thing to note here is that pump spells can be efficient here for two reasons. First most of the payoffs trigger on attacks. Opponents will be incentivized to block, and you can leverage a combat trick. Furthermore, a pump spell can increase one of your smaller creatures power to 4 or more, unlocking some benefits. Certainly something to keep in mind when playing this deck.

Outlaws of Thunder Junction Draft Guide: Power Rankings

Now that you’ve seen what the archetypes are trying to do, it’s time for the power rankings. Note that these are just educated guesses and will change in the upcoming days as we get to play with the cards more. So far, no color or archetype looks unplayable.

Best Colors

  1. White
  2. Red
  3. Green
  4. Blue
  5. Black

Best Archetypes in Thunder Junction Draft

  1. Red-White: Aggro
  2. Green-White: Mounts
  3. Blue-White: Draw Go
  4. Blue-Red: Cast 2+ Spells
  5. Black-Red: Outlaws
  6. Black-White: Sacrifice Tokens
  7. Red-Green: 4+ Power
  8. Blue-Green: Plotting
  9. Black-Green: Creatures in Graveyard
  10. Blue-Black: Committing Crimes

Additional Tips for Thunder Junction Draft

Before we wrap up here are some final useful tips that might come in handy when you’re drafting this set.

Common Dual Deserts

Jagged Barrens Outlaws of Thunder Junction Draft Guide

In this Outlaws of Thunder Junction draft, you’ll encounter 10 common dual Desert lands, Of course, these can be used to make your mana better. They are useful in straight up 2-color decks, as well as in decks that want to splash a third color.

However, they aren’t your regular common dual lands. First they are Deserts, which means they play well with cards like Cactarantula and Desert’s Due.

Second, they also deal one damage to an opponent. This does add over the course of the game, and it’s going to feel great when you finish an opponent who’s at one life just by playing a land.

But most importantly, these target your opponent, which means that they trigger a crime. So, if your deck wants you to commit crimes, these lands are a great way of doing so, as they can do so without taking a “real card” slot in your deck.

If you deck really cares about crimes, you might even want to play lands that only produce one mana of your deck’s colors. They’re just so strong in such setting. Furthermore, they might be particularly useful in a hidden eleventh archetype.

Five Color Archetype

Conduit Pylons Thunder Junction Draft Guide

The five color archetype is always an interesting challenge. In some formats it’s more viable than in the others, and we shall see how it plays out here.

What is the idea behind a five color archetype? That’s typically a green-base deck, that’s also playing all other four colors in order to get access to powerful rares and mythics in all colors. In second and particularly third pack, players might already be locked into their colors. Thus, when they open a rare that’s not in their colors they pass it. Now you swoop in, and pick it up. If it’s a good card, you don’t care about its colors, as you’re playing them all.

In order to do so, you need to pick up a lot of lands that make multiple colors of mana. Of course, the dual Deserts we’ve just mentioned are perfect here. Furthermore, you can also use cards like Conduit Pylons, Mirage Mesa, and Oasis Gardener.

However, it seems that there will be some problems with this deck. First, dual Desert lands are good and many decks are going to want them. Thus, you’ll need to spend quite high picks on them. Second, lots of cards are good at doing a specific thing. Sure, Goldvein Hydra will be powerful in every deck, but Wylie Duke, Atiin Hero wants you to specifically play creatures with saddle.

So, the jury’s still out on whether or not this plan is good. For starters, we’d recommend you stick to the 2-color pairs with splashes rather than going full five colors.

Card Interactions

In this section we’ll talk about some interesting cards and interactions. Once we draft this set a bit more, you can expect this section to expand with more examples.

Getaway Glamer
  • There are many way in which you can use Getaway Glamer. It can be a removal for their big creature. It can save your creature from a removal spell. You can use it to get another enter-the-battlefield trigger. At its best it’s doing all of these three things, but the flexibility makes it extremely powerful.
  • Some effects that typically doesn’t target players now do so. This way you can use cards like Rustler Rampage to untap opponent’s creatures if you want to commit a crime.
  • If you’re looking for a really weird strategy, you might want to draft multiple copies of Deepmuck Desperado and try to mill your opponent out. Will this be a reliable strategy? Likely not, but it’ll certainly be fun when it does work.
  • Raven of Fell Omens plays nicely with Deadeye Duelist. Given that they’re both commons it shouldn’t be too hard to draft multiple copies of each. With multiple Ravens your pings become almost Lightning Helix to the face. Keep in mind, if you have two Duelists, you want to activate one on your turn, and the other on your opponent’s. (Since Raven is limited to once per turn.)

Outlaws of Thunder Junction Draft Tier List

In order to keep this article relatively easily readable we didn’t go into every detail. We focused mostly on common an uncommon cards. This paints a nice big picture of the format, and should give you a fine understanding of it.

However, stuff like rares, Breaking News cards and Big Score cards will certainly affect the format too.

You can find grades for these cards, as well as all the cards you can open in draft in our Outlaws of Thunder Junction Draft Tier List. That should give you a good idea of where each card stands, and improve your knowledge of the format even further. Thus, you certainly want to check that out.

Explore More Thunder Junction!

Whoa, that was a big one! However, there’s still plenty more information to discover about this Wild West set. For example, if your a Commander player, you’ll be pleased to learn that there are four Commander precons being released. Each one offers a different theme, and you can find all four Thunder Junction Commander decks here.

Furthermore, you can check for all Thunder Junction spoilers here. Take a look at the cards and discover what they do.

Now if you plan to draft this set with friends, you’re going to need some Play boosters. You can order them on Amazon.

Outlaws of Thunder Junction Play Booster Box

Anyway, that’s it for today. Until next time, have tons of fun and wins in your Outlaws of Thunder Junction drafts.

6 thoughts on “Outlaws of Thunder Junction Draft Guide”

  1. This was the best draft guide I found after a big google search, thank you very much! Extremely helpful especially, when playing this set for the first time you are not just completely overwhelmed. Looking forward to your next guide! Splendid work. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • Happy to hear that. I try to find a balance between covering all things while not going into too much detail. Good luck in your drafts!

      Reply
  2. UW is slightly different from the usual draw-go archetype in that it cares about casting spells from the hand. Deploying a plotted spell is casting from exile, so you can still get the rewards that turn.

    Reply

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