22, Apr, 24

Thunder Junction Limited Data Showcases the Rise of Power Creep

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Article at a Glance

Outlaws of Thunder Junction cards were recently added to Magic Online and MTG Arena. For those who have had the chance to play with and against the new cards, it’s no surprise just how strong many of them are. In Standard, Duelist of the Mind has made a perfect addition to Esper midrange decks. Kaervek, the Punisher has proven its worth in mono-black Waste Not shells in Pioneer.

Meanwhile, Slickshot Show-Off has revitalized Modern Prowess, and Simulacrum Synthesizer has given blue-based Artifacts shells in Legacy a new identity. It’s clear even a few days after release that Outlaws of Thunder Junction is filled with powerhouses.

Notably, though, this doesn’t just apply to Constructed formats. The power level of the cards in this set, especially the Creatures in particular, is through the roof. This set poses as a clear example of the effect that power creep has had on modern-day Limited. As we will see, even some of the most feared Limited designs of the last decade are significantly less scary in this format.

Amazing Reprints Lose Some of Their Luster

Oko, Theif of Crowns

One of the unique aspects of Outlaws of Thunder Junction is that there are a multitude of potent reprints that players can draft around. First and foremost, the Breaking News bonus sheet comes packed with amazing Crimes from MTG’s past. This includes cards like Oko, Thief of Crowns and Mana Drain that are so strong that they are banned in Legacy!

On top of that, there are even a couple reprints like Terror of the Peaks sprinkled throughout the main set that were amongst the best bombs you could hope for in their original sets. Astonishingly, though, according to early 17Lands.com data that tracks the user win rates of these cards in Arena drafts, none of these cards are near the top of the list!

When it comes to each card’s overall win percentage when either in a player’s opening hand or drawn during the course of the game, Oko falls outside of the top 10. Meanwhile Terror of the Peaks misses the top 30 and Mana Drain is far outside of the top 50. This is truly astonishing, and definitely something I would have failed to predict before the set’s release. Are Oko and Terror of the Peaks just not what they used to be? Are the flashy new mythic rares that much stronger? Let’s take a closer look.

Read More: Popular MTG Commander Content Creators Announce New House Bans!

Power Creep on Full Display

Bristly Bill, Spine Sower

Oko’s fall from grace is extremely interesting to see, but in the context of its surroundings, does make some sense. Oko debuted in Throne of Eldraine roughly five years ago. According to 17Lands data, not only did Oko have the highest win percentage in Throne of Eldraine draft when either drawn during the game or in a players’ opening hand, but this was by a pretty big margin. Oko had nearly a 70% win rate in these games, over a full percent higher than the next card, Garruk, Cursed Huntsman.

Following these two Planeswalkers, there’s an even bigger drop off in win rate, as Lovestruck Beast comes in at third place with 66.5%. Meanwhile, in Outlaws of Thunder Junction, no card has a win rate over 67%, and the top four cards with the highest win rates are all incredible value-oriented Creatures.

With this in mind, a huge change that we’ve seen over the years that can help explain why Oko isn’t quite as dominant as it once was is that not only have Creatures gotten more efficient, but many of them boast incredible triggered or activated abilities. At the top of the list for Thunder Junction, we have Railway Brawler. Thanks to its Plot ability, it’s incredibly easy to Plot Brawler on turn four, cast it for free on turn five and follow it up with another Creature on the same turn. The end result is a 5/5 with Reach and Trample (which is already great) plus another Creature that received a huge stat boost.

Next on the list is Bonny Pall, Clearcutter. Once again, this card generates a ton of value the turn you play it, typically providing both a 6/5 body with Reach and an additional 6/6 body (or bigger). This doesn’t even incorporate the opportunity to draw cards when you attack, which puts the card over the top.

Bristly Bill is next and follows the same trend. All you have to do is play a Land on your turn and, even if your opponent untaps and kills Bristly Bill, you generated extra value and board presence.

The reality is, while Oko is still strong, it doesn’t take over the game like it used to. Turning opposing Creatures into Elks isn’t as demoralizing to the opponent if those Creatures already provided value. At the same time, if Oko doesn’t come down on turn three exactly, your opponent can often attack it down. Creature efficiency is at an all-time high, and we’re long past the days where durdling with Divination effects is acceptable.

Read More: MTG Thunder Junction Planeswalker Gives New Life to Mediocre Suspend Card!

Green Takes Over Thunder Junction Limited

Vaultborn Tyrant

At least in Oko’s case, the card is still a top-tier option in Thunder Junction limited. The gap between Oko and Terror of the Peaks is rather large. We mentioned that Terror of the Peaks falls outside the top 30 cards in the set when measuring win rate in a player’s opening hand or when drawn. When focusing on the card’s general win rate when maindecked, Terror of the Peaks is closer to the 100th highest card in the set!

In this case, this does not mean that Terror of the Peaks is a bad card. Terror of the Peaks is a must-kill threat when it hits the board. Thanks to Plot, you may be able to follow up with another Creature the same turn you cast Terror of the Peaks and deal a bunch of damage right away. Instead, what this gap in win rate suggests is that red cards as a whole fell short.

In fact, despite being roughly 100 cards down the list when comparing win rate when maindecked, only one mono-red card is higher than Terror of the Peaks. That card is Hellspur Posse Boss, and it is only a couple spots higher than Terror of the Peaks.

At the same time, green is absolutely dominant in this category. The top seven cards with the highest win rates when maindecked are all green, with Vaultborn Tyrant at the top. Furthermore, both Selesnya gold uncommon Creatures, Miriam, Herd Whisperer and Congregation Gryff, crack the top five. This showcases both the strength of white as a support color and also the massive difference in win rate between top-tier green uncommons and even the best red bombs.

It’s amazing to think that in the span of just five years, the Limited landscape as we know it could have changed so much. Creatures are uber powerful, and elite one-for-one removal spells like Murder are nowhere near what they used to be. It’s easier than ever to get run over, so keep your wits about you. These cards don’t mess around.

Read More: MTG Thunder Junction Planeswalker Gives New Life to Mediocre Suspend Card!

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