OTJ Limited guide: A card-by-card common and uncommon analysis - Outlaws of Thunder Junction | Magic: The Gathering


Hi everyone! I’m Karl Sarap, and you may know me by my online handle Terribad. I am so glad that Ultimate Guard has decided to include me and Team Handshake as part of their family.

Leading up to the Outlaws of Thunder Junction Prerelease and Pro Tour, I would like to share with you my first impressions of the new set. I always start with commons and move up to more complex rarities later. I have decided to break each color of commons down to four categories to make the content easy to digest!

Common Analysis for Outlaws of Thunder Junction Limited | MTG

Before we jump into the colors, I’d like to highlight the Lands and Artifacts (colorless), because this builds a baseline of understanding for the amount of fixing available in Outlaws.

Festering GulchConduit PylonsMirage Mesa

All ten color pairs get a dual land at common as well as there being two more common lands that provide fixing and also target the opponent for a key mechanic in the set, committing crimes. This is a very strong start and we can assume that single pip powerful cards are going to be playable in almost any deck - as long as you are interested in them. Another factor I immediately notice is that all the lands are Deserts, so let’s keep an eye out for a Deserts matter theme!

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My assumption would be that all of these lands are solid playables for color fixing purposes with Conduit Pylons being the weakest in general (but funnily the strongest in mono colored decks!). Also, I am going to note that - if we find cards that can search for Deserts - Conduit might secretly become the strongest of all the common lands. Very similar to why surveil lands have taken over the current Modern metagame!

Oasis GardenerGold PanSilver Deputy

There are only four common artifacts in OTJ. Three of them provide mana fixing, although I would consider only Oasis Gardener to be a good card. The other two I would only consider playing if my deck really needs to and I failed to get enough of the lands in my pool.

The last colorless common - Sterling Hound - is simply a solid card that you should not be ashamed to play if your deck needs a 3-drop or if your mana base is a little wonky. He is a good boy who can always help you smooth out your draws and make sure you can play a proper game of Magic.

Moving on, I decided to randomize the order of the colors I talk about - making it more fun and less predictable!

Outlaws of Thunder Junction: Green commons

The best green commons in OTJ for Limited

Throw from the SaddleHardbristle BanditPatient NaturalistSpinewoods PaladinDance of the Tumbleweeds

The top 3 are stand out cards for me. Throw from the Saddle is a cheap, efficient, and tempo positive removal spell you will likely be happy having three to four in your deck. Pair it with big creatures or deathtouch to kill anything! 

Next up is the Bandit which is again a very cheap and efficient card. Two mana ramp and fixing tends to be one of the best (if not the best) green common in most sets. Often the player on the play gets a huge edge in Magic - and one simple way to fight back on the draw is to generate mana advantage and cast your more expensive spells ahead of time.

Patient Naturalist is a very sweet design. It is not immediately clear to me if you'd prefer to get a land or a treasure, but it certainly provides card advantage. In an average Limited deck, you have about 83% to hit, which is good! The statline is a bit more defensive, so you want to play this card in decks that favor the longer game.

The other two cards I have added to my top 5 are both split cards that fit multiple spots in your curve. I value that flexibility a lot.

Hardest to evaluate green common in OTJ for Limited

Tumbleweed Rising

Tumbleweed Rising looks to me like it could be a very powerful card. I think the plot mechanic in general is difficult to wrap your head around. How much does telling your opponent what your future plans are affect the gameplay? How big are the tempo swings the mechanic generates?

Another reason that makes understanding this card more complicated is that the floor on it is very low - your opponent can anticipate it and kill your only creature or your strongest creature in response. Especially if you are using it via the plot mechanic to cast two spells in the same turn for example.

On the other side, the ceiling does seem high as well, after all you can create a 2 mana 6/6 with this common - and that kind of tempo swing is difficult to beat.

Bread and butter green commons in OTJ

The rest of the commons fill in your curve. To note there is a solid 1-drop in Ankle Biter as well as a total of three solid common 2-drops (including Bristlepack Sentry and Voracious Varmint), making building a good curve fairly easy.

Cactarantula is another card that reads as a strong common to me, the reason it did not make the top 5 is that in modern day Limited, the value of 5- and 6-drops tends to lead them to be replaceable.But I do think that you will be happy with the first and maybe even second copy of this card.

Green combat tricks at common in OTJ

Snakeskin Veil is a reprint and almost always a solid playable, or at the very least a really strong sideboard card versus opponents with a lot of spot removal.

Reach for the Sky for me is a bit too expensive, the effect is powerful and will certainly generate blow out scenarios, but the downside of a 4 mana combat trick is that if your opponent has instant speed removal, you are in trouble and often end up with bad trades. Because of that I believe it is the weakest of all the green commons, but certainly playable (especially if you are an attacking deck). Giving reach also means that you should keep your eyes out for it as a sideboard card, green decks often struggle against fliers after all.

Outlaws of Thunder Junction: Red commons

The best red commons in OTJ for Limited

Explosive DerailmentPrickly PairThunder SalvoIrascible WolverineDeadeye Duelist

Red gets two efficient removal spells, but note that it will be difficult to kill big creatures with them! So try to kill your opponent fast or pair red with a removal heavy color like black for example.

Prickly Pair is a good aggressive card that lets you develop a go wide strategy and has a relevant creature type. I’m sure this will be one of the top red commons.

Irascible Wolverine is a good value creature, give up a turn to draw a card in the early game or simply get two cards out of this one wolverine in the late game. To note, it only lets you play the card this turn, thus I would lean towards using the plot mechanic to make sure we have enough mana for whatever we hit.

Deadeye Duelist I expect to be a key common for the Black-Red archetype, this card is going to shine if you have other cards that need to be enabled by committing crimes.

Hardest to evaluate red common in OTJ for Limited

Reckless Lackey

My starting position on Reckless Lackey is that it will be a strong player in Outlaws. Getting the treasure means it essentially cycles for 3 mana, which is a very solid floor. Pirate is a relevant creature type and first strike plays well with the Red-White theme of Mercenary tokens. 

Bread and butter red commons in OTJ

While Red only has two common 2-drops (Discerning Peddler and Highway Robbery), it still seems to lean towards aggression to me.

I would like to highlight Mine Raider , which I did not add to my top 5, but I would not be surprised if it ends up playing out as one of the top red commons. The key for this card is to play an outlaw before it - and luckily there are three red common 1- or 2-drop outlaws in addition to five more in other colors. Notably, also five uncommon 1- or 2-drops are Black, thus this card will likely play out exceptionally well in Black-Red.

Rodeo Pyromancers gives you a very large advantage if you are able to cast two spells per turn, it seems to pair especially well with Blue's card draw and cheaper cards. I almost included it in my top 5, leaving it out to favor cheaper spells.

Red combat tricks at common in OTJ

Outlaws’ Fury is one of the two common payoffs for going wide and thus will likely be an important card in the format. Drawing a card (even if it has the temporary timing restriction) makes me fairly happy to always play the first copy of it.

Quick Draw is simply a strong combat trick. First strike is a combat winning ability and one mana is very efficient. The drawback is of course that you just can’t fit too many combat tricks in a reasonable limited deck as always.

Outlaws of Thunder Junction: Black commons

The best black commons in OTJ for Limited

Consuming AshesVault PlundererDesert's DueMourner's SurpriseDesperate Bloodseeker

As always, I expect the Black removal spells to be among the top commons, especially because both of them are instant speed.  Vault Plunderer reads as a very strong card, I would not be surprised if it ends up as the best common overall.

Mourner’s Surprise is a 2 mana Gravedigger - that is definitely a surprise, given that you basically never want to cast it on turn 2 and a 1/1 can often be slightly irrelevant later in the game, at least compared to a 2/2 body that the original Gravedigger has. I expect this to be a top common, but not among the very best. The value does go up significantly the more bomb rares you can bring back with it.

I close off my list with a 2 mana 2/2 lifelinker with slight upside. Lifelink is a very strong ability and this card usually tends to play out great in most sets.

Hardest to evaluate black common in OTJ for Limited

Raven of Fell Omens

Raven of Fell Omens - I don’t think I'm able to tell you if this will be a great card or just okay without playing the set a lot. The ability is definitely good, but the body is small, thus you likely need to find somewhere around seven or more ways to trigger it. If there are cards that can trigger the raven regularly every turn, it will be a borderline bomb.

Bread and butter black commons in OTJ

Looking at cards like Corrupted Conviction, Nezumi Linkbreaker, Blacksnag Buzzard, Boneyard Desecrator, or Overzealous Muscle, I dont think Black has any bad commons. Ambush Gigapede's strength depends a bit on how creature sizings work out, but even then it can be used as an expensive combat trick.

The one card I was really close to including in my top 5 commons is Rooftop Assassin. Giving this ability on a lifelink flier means that it will be never a bad card. If you are playing long grindy games, you can just hold it until you find the spot to kill a creature. And in matchups where players are racing, the four point life swing a lifelink flier can provide is massive. I expect this to be one of the most frustrating cards to play against whenever you are on an aggressive strategy.

Black combat tricks at common in OTJ

Wow, Skulduggery is back again! To be honest, I think this belongs into the top 5. This card is just very efficient, very good, and can provide many two-for-one exchanges. It also plays exceptionally well with the lifelink creatures we see in black. Amazing card which I will be picking highly!

Fake Your Own Death is also a solid combat trick, but unfortunately black creatures do not have too many great ETB triggers. It does work well with Vault Plunderer though, to keep a value chain going.

Outlaws of Thunder Junction: White commons

The best white commons in OTJ for Limited

Holy CowMystical TetherTake Up the ShieldEriette's LullabyVengeful Townsfolk

White has good commons as well, although I feel the power level drops a bit after the top 3.  Holy Cow is a very solid card and can smooth out your draws while providing life swings that make the game difficult for opponents. Mystical Tether is a very solid white removal spell, and the instant speed mode makes playing against white quite more complicated.

Eriette’s Lullaby is a removal spell that does not go into every deck, so I was a little bit hesitant to include it in the top 5, but the gain 2 life did push it over the line for me. Finally I included Vengful Townsfolk because it seems to play great with the tokens theme and just has a solid statline.

Hardest to evaluate white common in OTJ for Limited

Bridled Bighorn

In general, mount creatures seem to be a bit unintuitive to me. I can see them end up playing great or being a bit too slow. The ability to generate 1/1 tokens every turn is good, whilst the 3 power on a 4-drop is slightly understatted. Thus I expect you want to pair this sheep with some good combat tricks ...

Bread and butter white commons in OTJ

Outlaw Medic is a card that probably can end up being surprisingly strong. The reason for this are the Mercenary tokens. If you are able to pump its power by 2 or 3 consistently, then your opponent cannot ignore it - and you can get value out of the triggered ability.

The set does not have too many Mount creatures, so Sterling Keykeeper can end up being a solid 2-drop for any white deck. I am a bit worried that 2 mana can be slightly too expensive for a tapper, but it is potentially a crime per turn cycle.

Inventive Wingsmith reads like it could be a strong common as well, the key is to have either a lot of plot cards or instants in your deck, so it will likely end up being a Blue-White mainstay.

Finally, Stagecoach Security is a strong card as well and can be a go wide payoff. My problem with this card: If you are trying to be an aggressive deck, then it does not fit 2 slots in the curve, although it reads like it should. Because it is rare that you can afford to skip your turn 4 and still be in a good racing situation.

It stands out to me that white has three good common 2-drops including Trained Arynx , with a 1-drop (Armored Armadillo) that can also end up being a solid player. You can expect to be curving out in this color if you like that type of gameplay.

White combat tricks at common in OTJ

Take Up the Shield clearly is among the top White commons. In Dominaria United, a format that I consider the all time greatest, this card was the best White common in my opinion. It plays well in both tempo decks as well as controlling decks, because both lifelink and indestructible are great. It is even very splashable to provide decks with big creatures the option to completely change game dynamics. This card is just incredibly flexible and very relevant in most games.

The only downside is that you usually do not want too many noncreature, nonremoval cards in your deck, and thus there start to be diminishing returns past the second copy. This usually creates a dynamic where you can pick Take Up the Shield up a little later in draft (compared to how strong the effect on the game is).

Steer Clear is one of the weakest commons in the set and I almost want to call it a sideboard card against aggressive decks or specific combat tricks.

Outlaws of Thunder Junction: Blue commons

The best blue commons in OTJ for Limited

Seize the SecretsPhantom InterferenceStop ColdJailbreak Scheme

I am going to give away a big secret here: Drawing two cards for two mana is amazing in booster draft! I expect Seize the Secrets to start off with as an underperformer on 17lands, just to grow into a card people will be valuing much higher later in the format. That has been my experience with blue draw spells for quite a few sets now. Very often later in a format, once people have figured out how to combat the dynamics of aggressive decks, the card advantage of blue tends to dominate.

Phantom Interference is a very nice Mystic Snake-like dual mode card, while Stop Cold is a good removal spell. Its value, compared to removal of other colors, does go down slightly because it cannot be cast in response to a combat trick to two-for-one opponents.

Jailbreak Scheme is mostly just a 3 mana pseudo removal spell, which I think is not amazing but it still is a solid playable. And you might get a finisher for free in the few games where that matters.

Hardest to evaluate blue common in OTJ for Limited

Loan Shark

This Shark Rogue does remind me of a slightly expensive Sarulf’s Packmate, it will be interesting to see if this ends up being a very strong common or just a filler 4-drop that you play but are most often not happy about. Currently, I am leaning towards expecting to make a profit on my investment with the Loan Shark.

Bread and butter blue commons in OTJ

With Harrier Strix and Spring Splasher, both Blue 2-drop creatures lean towards aggression, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out. Attacking is surely counterintuitive to most Blue players. The same theme applies to the rest of the Blue commons: they are mostly good attackers or tempo plays like Failed Fording, Geyser Drake, or Daring Thunder-Thief.

Blue common combat tricks at common in OTJ

Blue only gets one combat trick, but it is a very good one. Top common alert! Take the Fall is very similar to Skullduggery and is a card advantage machine. In addition to being a 1 mana cycler, you can use Take the Fall to enable cards that require casting two spells in the same turn, or use it as a crime committer. Both on your turn as well as your opponent’s turn! I am very happy to put two to three of these in my deck and grind out unexpecting opponents.

Uncommon Analysis for Outlaws of Thunder Junction | MTG

Arid ArchwayBucolic RanchSandstorm Verge

Moving to the uncommons, the lands do not offer much. Arid Archway is an interesting design that can provide some value, but I suspect that providing only colorless mana, it will end up being too weak to include in most decks.

Bucolic Ranch reads like it could be a strong card, but unfortunately there are not too many Mount cards in the set. Thus I expect this card to only end up making the deck when you have one or two of the really broken rare Mount creatures that you might even be splashing for - and then the reason would be to find the Ranches more often.

Finally, Sandstorm Verge reads like basically an unplayable card that I would only be interested in if I get lucky and end in a mono colored aggro deck.

Mobile HomesteadLuxurious Locomotive

The two stand out uncommon artifacts seem to be these vehicles. Especially the Mobile Homestead! You should pick it highly and get your free lands for some nice value.

Redrock SentinelBandit's Haul

We also get two more fixing options. Both of these cards provide a solid lategame grindy option if that is what you are looking for. Especially the Redrock Sentinel I expect to simply be a very good 3-drop in a lot of the decks of this format.

The last three uncommon artifacts are a bit of a filler options. Boom Box, Tomb Trawler, and Lavaspur Boots can end up being playable in the right deck. Yet I would not be excited for any of them.

The best green uncommons in OTJ Limited

I will be writing specific comments about all the uncommons. I believe these cards will be much more defining of your Draft and Sealed experiences because of the way Play Boosters are compiled.

Aloe AlchemistBeastbond OutcasterFull Steam Ahead

Aloe Alchemist is a nice and aggressive 2-drop. I would expect that on turn 2, you want to play it out, but on most other turns (especially if you have another creature on board), you want to use the pseudo haste and plot it. It might also be easy to forget that Warlock is part of the Outlaws group. Would pick it over any common.

I like the dual mode on Beastbond Outcaster. Essentially casting two 3-drops by turn 3 can pull you ahead in most games. The unfortunate part is that the dream curve of plotting this on turn 2, cast it and draw a card on turn 3 is rare. There is only one common 3-drop with 4 power and just two uncommon 3-drops with 4 power. Yet the statline is acceptable and later in the game, when you topdeck it, it will be fairly easy to draw a card, hence it is a strong card and I would take it over any common.

It has been a while since we saw a proper Overrun. The extra clause on Full Steam Ahead likely means that the damage output is similar to the original, hence I expect this to be a strong card. I would start off by picking it over any common, but be ready to adjust if your experiences going Full Steam Ahead don’t show results.

Intrepid StablemasterOutcaster GreenbladeRambling Possum

Secret Reach warning! Stablemaster is a good 2-drop in any green deck and great in a White-Green Mount deck specifically. Would start by picking it over any common.

Outcaster Greenblade is a Skittering Surveyor with upside, what's not to love about that? Good fixing and card advantage! In the multicolored deck that is using a lot of desert lands for fixing, this ends up even fitting a cheap finisher role. Also, Mercenary is a relevant creature type. I would pick it over any common.

Rambling Possum is another nice aggressive body. Mount is a relevant creature type and Saddling it is cheap. The unintuitve part of the card is how often you can benefit from returning your own creatures to your hand. Luckily it is optional, so only do it when it is beneficial. Would take it over any common, but I can see spots where taking removal or card advantage over it is correct.

Raucous EntertainerRise of the VarmintsSpinewoods Armadillo

Raucous Entertainer is another very strong 2-drop. This ability is powerful and definitely worth playing rest of the game off curve. I expect to win if my opponent is not killing the entertainer. Will start by picking this over any common.

Luckily Rise of the Varmints does not have flashback! Nonetheless, I expect this card to be one of the best uncommons in the set and it will fit especially well into the Black-Green archetype as finisher. If you get two tokens, this card is okay, and any more than that make it already very good. The ceiling is basically making ten tokens and instantly winning the game.

Spinewoods Armadillo - even more fixing! There is so much fixing in this set. This is another great split card that you should be happy to always play in any green deck.

Stubborn BurrowfiendTrash the Town

Wow, Stubborn Burrowfiend is another powerful and aggressive 2-drop! It is pretty incredible that the Burrowfiend will probably be able to attack whatever turn of the game we are in, as long as there is another creature able to hop in the saddle. Only be careful and don’t mill out your entire deck. One of the best green uncommons!

Trash the town is a great combat trick and card draw split card. It is critical to note that you can target different creatures and I would hope to draw two cards most of the time. Although leaving two +1/+1 counters can be more beneficial in many situations.

The Rest of OTJ's Green uncommons

At first glance, Betrayal at the Vault looks like a powerful effect that would give you a two-for-one and maybe that is true because it is an instant. But I am worried that at 6 mana, it is too telegraphed and only at common there are already ten cards that can potentially blow you out or stop this card.

Gold Rush is a cute combo with Luxurious Locomotive, but other than that, not too many cards create treasures. Hence Gold Rush is a filler combat trick.

While it is true that you might want to double splash for some rares, I am not very high on Map the Frontier. The reason is that I have not seen proper ramp payoffs and there are a lot of fixing options that also advance the board state. This card is not unplayable, but I would lean towards not picking it early.

The best red uncommons in OTJ Limited

Brimstone RoundupCaught in the CrossfireCunning Coyote

We start off with Brimstone Roundup, which for me is actually the hardest to evaluate Red uncommon. It is definitely a build around card not something you simply slot into any deck. But I think getting two tokens from this, it is enough to make it a solid playable - and every additional token starts to push it over the limit. If I see it early in the draft, I will pick it highly and try to build around it. I think it is smarter to go for a lot of cheap cards (the ones that cycle) if possible, rather than becoming a full blown plot deck. Because you might not be able to afford so many tempo swings.

Caught in the Crossfire is a very nice defensive card that lets you build multicolored controlling decks as long as you are able to afford the double red casting cost. In addition to that, it becomes extraordinarily good if your deck is filled with mostly only outlaws or non-outlaws, because in that scenario you can use this card to deal damage to multiple opposing creatures while not affecting your own. Great card and cool design, would pick over any common.

Cunning Coyote is a strong and aggressive 2-drop that has utility even outside of turn 2. The curve outs on the play when you can afford to plot this and cast a 3-drop with haste are going to be powerful! Would take over any common as long as red aggro is strong in the format!

Gila CourserLonghorn SharpshooterResilient Roadrunner

Having two turns to to play the exiled card makes Gila Courser a very powerful 3-drop that your opponents will try to kill. Works exceptionally well with the two great combat tricks in Red and White! Also, it is one of the 4 powered 3-drops which is relevant for the Red-Green archetype! Would pick this card highly over any common and play it in any Red deck!

Secret Reach warning! Longhorn Sharpshooter is another great uncommon, a mini Flametongue Kavu! You almost always want to get value out of the plot ability on this card, but it is no shame to simply cast a 3/3 for three mana whenever you like to curve out, especially if you need an outlaw on the battlefield. Would pick it over any common!

Resilient Roadrunner is a solid 2-drop with a relevant ability for the late game. But not on the same level as the other uncommons in this category. Would always play it in a Red deck, but hope to pick it up in middle of pack 1. Competing with the best commons.

Scalestorm SummonerScorching ShotTake for a Ride

Scalestorm Summoner has a solid statline to start with and the ability is strong. The goal with this card is to make one token. If you manage to get two or more, you should be winning the game! It does feel almost like a Red-Green gold card though, hence I think it should be treated like the best commons in the pick order, maybe just slightly above them.

Scorching Shot is just good removal. 5 damage is enough to kill most big creatures and thus you are trying to save this card to double spell around turn 5 to 6 in most games. Because of that, the mana cost won't be as restrictive as it seems. Obviously it will be painful if we cannot use our removal on a bomb rare on turn 2 if the situation requires that, hence I would lean towards trying to be a deck with nine or ten Mountains. Nonetheless, this card looks stronger than the commons.

Take for a Ride is a bit of a build around, but it does seem exceptionally strong if you are able to commit a crime on your opponent's turn. It will be very scary to play against and often lead to killing two creatures within one combat. The additional upside is that Black-Red has a slight sacrifice theme going for it as well, hence we can use this card in the traditional Act of Treason plus sacrifice style as well. This might be surprising, but I would start off by picking this card highly over any common.

The rest of OTJ's red uncommons

While Demonic Ruckus can be a fine playable in aggressive decks, I tend to dislike Auras by nature. The fear of getting two-for-one’d by opposing removal spells is too strong in me. Ferocification requires you to be hyper aggressive and thus it is very limiting in what kind of decks you can play it in. I’m sure there will be some spots where it is correct to pick it up, but I would want to get it late in the booster, ideally on the wheel.

In a dream scenario, I will be casting Hellspur Brute on turn 3, and if your deck can support that, it will be amazing. In reality, I think it is simply a solid playable and not more. Often you will be breathing a sigh of relief when you are able to cast this Mercenary for 4 mana. I will acknowledge that I can be wrong here and you often can cast it as a 1 or 2 mana play because you have made so many 1/1 Mercenary tokens and maybe that actually will push this card to be among the strong red uncommons.

I do not really understand Magebane Lizard, it almost reads like a sideboard card to me. Unlike most other red cards, it is much more defensive than aggressive and it is totally up to the opponent if they want to trigger it or not. The statline is not bad necessarily, so it will definitely be a playable card if you need 2-drops, but it does feel a little bit out of place. It might end up being a strong sideboard card against certain decks at the very least.

Return the Favor is a borderline strong card. In the ideal scenario, it creates a double whammy for a three-for-one. Where you get to copy and redirect an opposing removal spell. Yet, the problem is that it is a bit too situational and will not always fill the removal spell slot we are hoping for. To get the great spots out of it, your opponent has to have the required board state as well as play spells into it. Still I am fairly happy with this card and take it around the best commons for starters. But I am willing to go either up or down, depending on how I feel about the games where I draw the Return. Definitely another difficult to evaluate card. I want to highlight that you should not only think about how amazing the card is when you get to cast it, you have to see it with the downside of when you are unable to do so.

The best black uncommons in OTJ Limited

Binding NegotiationNeutralize the GuardsRattleback Apothecary

Binding Negotiation takes me back to Dominaria United again. I practiced that set more than I have practiced probably any other set ever - and I concluded that Pilfer was the most underrated uncommon in the entire set. In a bomb heavy, grindy multicolored format, a card like that tends to overperform for me. I will be taking Binding Negotiation highly and happy to play the first two copies. This card is also a nice way to commit a crime. I will start by picking it close to the top commons.

Neutralize the Guards might seem like an odd selection for the strong uncommons. It reads like a sideboard card. But my theory behind this card is that the grindy controlling strategy usually has enough tools for most matchups and you simply want to be safe in the aggressive go wide matchup. Because of that, I expect this card to play a key role in a strong archetype. It is also an instant speed card, thus you can use it as a value combat trick. I will start by picking this close to the top commons.

Deathtouch makes Rattleback Apothecary a respectable 3-drop with upside. Lifelink is simply a very powerful ability that I respect a lot. The hard part is figuring out how to commit crimes. I will be picking this card close to the top commons.

Rictus RobberServant of the StingerShoot the Sheriff

Rictus Robber is flexible in terms of fitting two roles in the curve. Luckily it is an uncommon, thus opponents will expect it less. It also pairs very well with removal spells, so I would often want to save up until we are ready to make the zombie as well. I think this card might be better than the best commons, but it is close.

Servant of the Stinger is another creature with a very respectable body and a 2-drop your opponent will often want to spend removal on - which I see as a big upside. If they can’t kill it? Well, in that case, we will get a free Demonic Tutor to find our best bomb rare! I am taking Servant of the Stinger over any common.

Shoot the Sheriff is fairly difficult to evaluate, mostly because there seems to be a lot of Outlaw creatures in the set. Thus this can end up being worse than the common removal. In the beginning, I will be picking it close to that range.

Treasure DredgerUnfortunate AccidentUnscrupulous Contractor

Treasure Dredger is a strong 2-drop Outlaw. Color fixing and ramp for just 1 life and 1 mana. Your opponent won’t be happy to see her on turn 2. Taking it above the best commons for starters.

It is not unfortunate to start your draft with a good removal spell like Unfortunate Accident! It might seem like this card has three different modes, but in most games you will be using either of the two more powerful ones: either kill a creature or kill a creature and make a 1/1 token. This should be picked over any common.

Unscrupulous Contractor is a solid value creature that pairs well with 1/1 mercenary tokens that you have gotten for free. Also, do not forget to target your opponent if they have 2 life. Solid and good value, taking this over any common.

The rest of OTJ's black uncommons

Blood Hustler? I am hoping for a bit more hustle from my 2-drops! I think this card will underperform because it is not too easy to commit a crime and get into combat with it on turn 3 or turn 4. Regardless of that, it is a solid playable and the ability will be annoying in certain games that go long or if you get to pair it with Skullduggery. 

I think not being able to block makes Forsaken Miner too all-in. Thus it goes only into a very specific deck that either wants to all-in attack or keep using sacrifice effects for value. For me, this is a card I’m looking to get later in the booster if I happen to be in that type of strategy.

Hollow Marauder is a cute payoff for the self mill deck. Yet I am a bit skeptical because of the small statline, I would not be surprised if this is a card that ends up seeing very limited play in this draft format.

Lively Dirge seems almost unplayable unless you have a bomb rare with mana value 4 or less in your pool. In that case, it can be justifiable. It sometimes does provide a two-for-one, but the setup cost is a bit too high for my taste.

Rakish Crew is an Outlaw build around. Unfortunately, it is only a C-tier build around card. The problem of the crew is that the front side of making a 1/1 creature for 3 mana is just too weak. I’m sure some people will have decks with 12+ Outlaws and it will perform in those decks. I would not keep my hopes high for the average case.

The best white uncommons in OTJ Limited

Frontier SeekerGetaway GlamerLassoed by the Law

Frontier Seeker is just a good value 2-drop. It will be good in any deck with eight Plains, and every Mount creature you have in addition to that simply makes it stronger. Happy to take it over any common.

Getaway Glamer is a removal spell. The catch here is that you have to be careful to not have it fizzle. You get a buy out clause with the blink for an additional mana but you can potentially get blown out if they can cast a pump spell on another creature. I still think you should pick it over any common because it is instant speed and fairly cheap. Just be careful when you play with it. It can also act as a fog plus removal for a very advantageous tempo swing.

Lassoed by the Law is a powerful removal spell. Given how little enchantment removal there is in this set, it is essentially a 1/1 Ravenous Chupacabra. Pick this highly over any common!

Omenport VigilantePrairie DogProsperity Tycoon

Whilst committing crimes seems to be not as easy as we have hoped, the threat of it will keep your opponents from blocking Omenport Vigilante, making it a strong 2-drop that you should pick highly. Definitely prioritize anything that can commit a crime much higher if you do have this card.

Prairie Dog is simply everything you would want from your 2 mana squirrel. Great on turn 2, pairs well with combat tricks and provides a mana sink for the late game. There are also a few cards it synergizes well with in the set, so keep your eye out for that as well. Clearly taking it over any common.

Prosperity Tycoon is on the level of top commons. A 4 mana creature with solid statline that comes with a 1/1 token tends to overperform in most sets. This one even makes getting into combat annoying for your opponents.

Requisition RaidShepherd of the Clouds

The first and second ability on Requisition Raid make me think this is a good sideboard card. But the third ability seems powerful in a set where you are able to go wide with 1/1 tokens. Thus I expect this to be a card that White-Red will be happy to pick highly, but could also get later in the pack if the color pair is open.

I rarely get excited for 5 drop commons or uncommons, but Shepherd of the Clouds is one of them. Card advantage and a finisher is what I am looking for in such a steep mana investment.

The rest of OTJ's white uncommons

Bounding Felidar has a powerful ability, my problem with it is that it's a bit too expensive. But if you manage to set it up and get the effect, you should be expecting to win. Looking to pick it up middle of the pack.

Beast Within variants have never been amazing cards in Limited and thus I expect Bovine Intervention to end up as a fringe playable or side board card. I am also not a fan of 1 mana 1/1 fliers, even if they have relevant creature types, so I need the ability on Nurturing Pixie to be providing me a reasonable advantage. I have not seen enough cards I like to blink to consider this a strong card. I think people will play it and it will most often than not underperform.

Rustler Rampage is a solid combat trick with a blow out potential. Yet it is a combat trick and white does have Take Up the Shield, so it is very much a replacement level card for me.

I don't think you will often need to shoot the Sheriff of Safe Passage. Unfortunately, the face value of the card is simply too weak. It can be a payoff for a go wide deck, but often those decks are not interested in playing big creatures, thus I expect the Sheriff to be a card that ends up wheeling a lot. It is nice to have the slight flexibility with the plot ability though.

Thunder Lasso has a strong effect and can win some games, yet I think the stats it adds to the board are small and thus it is unlikely for me to see this perform significantly better than a 3 mana 3/3 creature - and that is in addition to the fact that sometimes you won’t be controlling a creature and the Lasso ends up being an effective mulligan in those games. Filler card for aggro decks.

The best blue uncommons in OTJ Limited

Canyon CrabEmergent HauntingMarauding Sphinx

Canyon Crab is a strong 2-drop. The body is relevant both offensively and defensively and as we know: always loot! Having this extra card filtering for the lategame, where we might be slightly flooding or for the turns where we want to plot, is just a nice small advantage to gain from an early play. Feels slightly better than the top commons.

Emergent Haunting is essentially a 2 mana 3/3 flier. Surveil 1 for 3 mana will give us a significant advantage if the games go long. Your opponent will want to kill it, so it might be smart to try to not flip it until we are ready to sink some mana into it and set up our future draw steps. This card can work both in grindy decks as well as aggressive decks trying to push damage, hence I would take it over any common.

Another 5 drop that has me interested. In general, the problem with expensive cards is that if you cast them and your opponent is able to answer it, you are in trouble. But Ward 2 helps a lot with that problem and Vigilance means that Marauding Sphinx is likely to dominate the board for multiple turn cycles. Yet I do still feel 5-drops are often replaceable, hence I would lean towards taking the best commons over the sphinx, unless my deck is very good at committing crimes.

Metamorphic BlastNimble BrigandOutlaw Stitcher

Metamorphic Blast is simply a 4 mana Divination with upside. In the ideal scenarios, you are getting a three-for-one. It also plays very well with the theme of not casting a spell on your turn. I love my card advantage and I will be picking the Blast over the strongest commons.

Nimble Brigand is a very scary creature to play against. Commit a crime, draw a card. Have your opponent stumble and not cast a blocker - the game is basically over. Happily taking it over any common.

Outlaw Stitcher is also a very powerful card. You should be happy with the stats you can get with it on turn 4 and later in the game, it is not too difficult to create a 4/4 or even 6/6 Zombie. Plus: The biggest upside is when you plot on turn 2 and/or plot on turn 3 to make a board dominating creature already on turn 4. I will not be passing this card much!

Plan the HeistSlickshot LockpickerVisage Bandit

I love planning a good heist! Concentrate with two different upsides - that is a banger! This card will likely be one of the top uncommons in the entire set!

Slickshot Lockpicker or as we know it - Snapcaster Mage at home. This card is strong, simply find good removal spells to go with it for some easy card advantage. Would pick it over any common.

Visage Bandit is a strong uncommon. I like the plot on this card, as it lets you set up. Simply be careful, because your opponent can also see it coming. You might want to keep it for the later stages of the game so you can turn 3 or 4 mana into a 5- or 6-drop for example. I think it will compete with the best commons in the pick order.

The rest of OTJ's blue uncommons

Deepmuck Desperado looks like a filler playable that can occasionally become very scary. If you are able to trigger it once every turn cycle, you are in for a decent race. Have two of them do that and the game will be over very fast. The problem I have with it is that I did not see enough ways to consistently trigger committing crimes during my reading of the spoilers.

Fleeting Reflection can help you commit a crime. I think the main use is to give protection from a removal spell for 2 mana, which I believe is a filler combat trick or mostly a sideboard card. It is nice that you can surprise push damage or eat the second best creature if there is a big creature on the battlefield. You can also use this to trade your smallest creature, often a 1/1 token, for their biggest. Which is fine, but you do end down a 'card'.

Shackle Slinger is a filler 3-drop in most decks, but it can be a card you are actively looking for if you end up in the Blue-White Plot/casting two spells archetype. Your opponent certainly needs to change their gameplan if they face it. The main way to combat the ability would be to play very defensively and never let you stun a creature.

Shifting Grift is an interesting card design, essentially it is always negative card advantage for the person casting it. But you might get a big advantage by giving them something useless for something useful. Overall I am not a big believer, but I can certainly see scenarios where I want to play it. Either my opponent has bomb rares or I have a lot of expendable 1/1 tokens. 

This Town Ain’t Big Enough is a solid playable, but I don’t see it as a premium card yet. Maybe if the blue decks really end up being about tempo and pushing damage I will change my mind. It is worth remembering that this does commit a crime.

Outlaws of Thunder Junction: OTJ's Archetypes and signpost uncommons | MTG

Black-White: Sacrifice

It might be a little bit surprising that the White-Black archetype seems to be built around sacrificing. These uncommons both tell a great story about why there are so many ways to generate 1/1 Mercenary tokens. Importantly, Baron Bertram does not require a creature token to enter the battlefield, so it also works well with Treasures, which you can then sacrifice to draw cards as well.

Baron Bertram GraywaterRuthless Lawbringer

Black-Green: Self Mill/Graveyard

While both of the Black-Green uncommons talk about returning creatures from the graveyard, it turns out that the set actually has no rewards for doing this specific action. So I believe these are meant to be payoffs for playing a lot of creature spells in your deck and trying to utilize self milling. These cards, as well as Rise of the Varmints, make me feel that it is highly likely the Black-Green self mill archetype might be most rewarding with an unconventional 19 or maybe even more creature builds! Meaning that pay extra attention to creatures that have strong ETB abilities, so they can act as pseudo spells!

Badlands RevivalHonest Rutstein

Red-White: Mercenary tokens

White-Red in Outlaws is a little complicated to understand without playing it. In a way, you have a lot of cards that produce 1/1 Mercenary tokens, thus one could think that the theme is about going wide. Yet the tokens also have an activated ability that lets them power up a single creature, which makes me think that the game plan will be about finding high quality targets like creatures with Flying, Lifelink or First Strike and giving them a lot of power to attack with just a single creature. I cannot tell you which of the strategies will become the baseline for the color pair - the only way to find out is to simply play the set!

Form a PosseErtha Jo, Frontier Mentor

Blue-Black: Commiting Crimes

Both of these cards are powerful - if you are able to trigger them. Blue-Black is clearly about commiting crimes and these are just some of the payoffs. I have already developed a strong belief that finding payoffs will be easier than enablers, so make sure you adjust your pick orders accordingly!

Lazav, Familiar StrangerIntimidation Campaign

Blue-Red: Casting two spells a turn

Blue-Red has a fairly straightforward mechanic as well. Simply cast two spells in a single turn. There are two ways to do it, either by using the plot mechanic or by combining cheap spells (like Slick Sequence) with other cheap spells. Both of these uncommons are powerful, if you can draw cards with them!

Kraum, Violent CacophonySlick Sequence

Blue-White: Plot and instants

Blue-White on the other hand is all about not casting spells from your hand. Thus it requires you to draft a lot of cards with the keyword plot or instants. Wrangler of the Damned even helps you with that by having flahs itself. Honestly, I am slightly surprised that it has been given such a steep mana cost for its small stats, that makes me think that Blue-White might have been slightly too strong in Wizards' internal testing, so I am excited to try out this archetype!

Jem Lightfoote, Sky ExplorerWrangler of the Damned

Blue-Green: Plot

Blue-Green is about plotting. Also: Make Your Own luck is just an incredibly powerful card on its own. You spend 5 mana to draw 3 cards, but you also get to plot the most expensive one. This way you almost always end up getting your mana back and it essentially plays as a 0 or 1 mana draw three. Yes, you heard me right, I am saying it affects Limited as if it was one of the most powerful magic cards ever - Ancestral Recall.

Doc Aurlock, Grizzled GeniusMake Your Own Luck

Red-Green: 4 Power

Secret Reach Warning! Red-Green is about creatures with power 4 or greater. There also seems to be a treasures sub-theme which I do not think is very well supported, so it will not come up in every Red-Green deck. Both of the signpost uncommons are simply good on their own, thus Red-Green is likely going to lead to a normal Stompy deck and less to a synergy-based deck. For the 4 power synergy, it does seem important to pick up the 3-drops that meet the requirement relatively highly.

Cactusfolk SureshotJolene, Plundering Pugilist

White-Green: Mounts

White-Green is all about Mount creatures and the Saddle ability. There is an okay amount of creatures with this type and I suspect they will not be very high picks for other archetypes, thus you can hope to get rewarded later in the booster if you find yourself in White-Green. Both of these uncommons have strong abilities if you are able to surround them with a good amount of Mounts!

Congregation GryffMiriam, Herd Whisperer

Black-Red: Outlaws

Black-Red has two stand out mechanics: First it's all about having Outlaws (Assassins, Mercenaries, Pirates, Rogues, and Warlocks) and second it also supports the crime committing mechanic. I think first strike is a very powerful ability especially if it is on most of your creatures, thus At Knifepoint likely requires you to make just two tokens to already be a game dominating enchantment.

At KnifepointVial Smasher, Gleeful Grenadier

That is it, these are all the commons and uncommons in Outlaws of Thunder Junction. David Humpherys has been the Set Design Lead for many of the all time greatest draft formats and I believe he is giving us another one here! Can’t wait to battle at the Prerelease and the Pro Tour! Good luck and have fun!

Autor: Karl Sarap

Karl Sarap is an Estonian-Colombian pro player who is the main engine behind Team Handshake's Limited strategy at Pro Tours. With Top-8s at the Streets of New Capenna Set Championship, Pro Tour March of the Machine, and World Championship XXVIII (2022) he has an impressive record in premier play, but his ferocious appetite for competition is most often felt on Magic Online and especially whenever Cube is involved.