Kellan, the Kid | Outlaws of Thunder Junction | Art by Magali Villeneuve
16, May, 24

New Thunder Junction Cards Prove Their Worth In Commander!

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Article at a Glance

Outlaws of Thunder Junction is having a hell of a run so far, especially compared to Murders at Karlov Manor before it. The set has a huge number of playables, spanning formats as prestigious as Legacy and Vintage, with sprinklings of Standard in there too. Unsurprisingly, Thunder Junction features more than a few playable Commander cards, too.

While they are good, I’m not talking about the Thunder Junction Commander decks. The main set alone is stuffed full of goodies for everyone’s favorite singleton format. From potent new multicolor legendaries to flexible additions for the 99, there’s something in here for every Commander deck. While I don’t have room to cover all the goodness this set brings, I will shine some light on the top performers so far.

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Best New Commanders

As many pointed out during spoiler season, Thunder Junction has a higher density of legendary creatures than most sets. Naturally, some of these newcomers make great commanders. Topping the EDHRec charts by a sizable margin at the time of writing, Obeka, Splitter of Seconds should be a familiar sight to many of you by now. The card has been in the news thanks to its impact on the secondary market. These impressive price spikes have been fueled by the card’s immense power in upkeep-focused decks.

Having multiple upkeeps isn’t an avenue that’s been explored much in the past, but cards like the Eldraine Courts and the Kamigawa Shrines play very well with it. Obeka has been featured as a commander in just under 5,000 EDHRec decks so far, beating second-place winner The Gitrog, Ravenous Ride by a factor of 2.5.

That’s not to say that the Frog Horror Mount is a bad commander, of course. The Gitrog, Ravenous Ride is an efficient threat, a sacrifice outlet, a draw engine, and a ramp piece all in one. It’s generically good enough to take pretty much any pile of green/black cards to victory. Put it at the helm of a dedicated lands deck, though, and you’re really cooking.

The bronze medal for new commanders goes to Kellan, the Kid. So far, 1,674 decks have brought him in as a gun for hire. He’s all about playing spells from unconventional places, be it from exile via Plot, or from your graveyard via Flashback. Each time you do, he can either cheat a permanent or land into play. Cheating on mana is typically a great way to win games, and Kellan can help you do just that.

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Best Cards In The 99

So those are the best commanders, but what about new tools for the 99? Thunder Junction is no slouch in that respect, either. Looking at the EDHRec stats, the big winners in this area are the new Spree cards. Pretty much all of these are seeing play in good numbers, but Great Train Heist is at the top of the pile for now.

The innate flexibility of Spree is the obvious explanation for the success of the mechanic as a whole. In a format where you have three or more opponents, being prepared for different situations is more important than ever. Great Train Heist is all about attacking, but it still gives you three different options for different situations. You can use it as a basic combat trick, a surprise card draw spell, or an extra combat step generator. It’s seeing play in all manner of go-wide decks, from Krenko, Mob Boss to Voja, Jaws of the Conclave.

Insatiable Avarice is another Spree smash hit. Being a three mana Tutor alone is probably good enough for a lot of decks, but the fact that it can also be a draw three when you need it pushes it over the top. It’s hard to think of a Mono-Black deck that wouldn’t want this, and it’s seeing play in plenty of them already.

Return the Favor rounds out the top three Spree cards. It can either copy or redirect a spell or ability or, do both for the right mana. Given the kinds of haymakers that see play in Commander, the ability to both copy one and turn the original away from you can seriously turn a game around.

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Biggest Surprises

Thunder-Junction-Commander-Cards-Biggest-Surprises

The Spree cards are exciting additions to the format, but their success isn’t particularly shocking. The same can’t be said of some of the other new cards seeing play. Lavaspur Boots has proven to be a surprise hit in a number of formats, but it doesn’t exactly scream ‘Commander’ at first glance. It looks like a poor man’s Lightning Greaves more than anything else. Turns out that Ward 1 is good enough protection in many situations, and Haste is a big deal for many commanders.

Tinybones, the Pickpocket is another surprise. During spoiler season, it was obvious Tinybones would be good in Pioneer and Standard, but their Commander viability was somewhat suspect. Since bigger mana costs are the norm in Commander, it was expected they’d be crushed underfoot easily. Thanks to having Deathtouch and multiple opponent to pick between, however, they can easily sneak in and recast a few dangerous spells.

Finally, we have Arid Archway. This is a bounce land, or Karoo land, for true veterans. It bounces one of your existing lands, but in return taps for two colorless mana. It can also Surveil, should you bounce a Desert. Lands like this are better than usual in Commander since it’s a slower format. The fact that this one is seeing play is still surprising though, since it only taps for colorless. Clearly, the extra Surveil ability is enough to give it an edge. Stocks in Deserts are up with the addition of the Desert Bloom precon, after all.

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