19, Apr, 24

Tournament-Winning MTG Deck Reveals Busted Thunder Junction Card!

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Article at a Glance

Now that Outlaws of Thunder Junction is fully available digitally, players are hard at work trying to find the hidden gems in the set. Any card that manages to make a competitive breakthrough is going to become extremely expensive on the secondary market pretty quickly.

We’re already beginning to see that with Slickshot Show-Off. The card has been proven capable of turn three kills in Standard, and is popping up in Pioneer as well as even Modern! While players aren’t 100% sure where this card falls yet, it is undeniably powerful. As a result, the card quickly started demanding $20 asking prices. Players are even already asking for a ban…

Thanks to recent improvements to Magic Online, larger Challenge events are now available throughout the week. This means that players can receive some innovations from the new set even quicker since tournaments occur even closer to release date.

This past Thursday, a Pioneer Challenge was won with a typical archetype. Mono Black Discard helmed by Waste Not synergies is not the strongest deck in the metagame, but it does match up quite well with a number of different popular strategies in the format. A few new Thunder Junction additions may push this archetype up the ranks. The deck showcased the unexpected power of one particular rare.

Kaervek is Busted

When players first heard that Kaervek was returning to the world of MTG, there was a lot of confusion. This returning villain was active around 1996 in the story, but really has not done much since. The character did make an appearance in Core Set 2021, but this didn’t really have any lore-related implications. That said, thanks to Zhalfir suddenly Phasing back into existence, Kaervek is back and giving Oko’s Heist gang a helping hand.

Kaervek is another card in a line of Crime-related payoffs from Outlaws of Thunder Junction. Committing a Crime in Magic may be a little too easy, since it only involves targeting an opponent’s stuff. Should you do so, Kaervek allows you to exile a black card from your grave, copy it, and cast the copy.

This is a lot better than players may expect, primarily because Kaervek gets to ignore timing restrictions. This means that Thoughtseizing your opponent at instant speed is fair game with Kaervek as long as you trigger his Crime payoff with an instant. Fatal Pushing an opponent’s creature after they draw for turn can also allow you to Thoughtseize their drawn card before they even get a chance to use it. This spins even further out of control since Thoughtseize can once again trigger Kaervek and allow you to re-cast something else.

Do be cautious of your life loss, though, as Kaervek does require you to pay two life in order to use his Crime effect.

Kaervek in Waste Not

The winning list for yesterday’s Pioneer Challenge included two new cards, Kaervek and Tinybones, the Pickpocket. Tinybones was only utilized as a one-of in the sideboard, so it likely needs more testing before players decide whether its playable in the archetype or not.

Kaervek, on the other hand, was very impressive according to tournament winner Pedro Baneres, and it’s not hard to see why. A discard-based deck with multiple Thoughtseize effects is going to be committing a lot of crimes, which allows Kaervek to re-cast a ton of spells. 17 nonland cards in the maindeck are capable of committing Crimes, and Liliana of the Veil can commit them multiple times with her minus ability. This isn’t even including Field of Ruin and Hive of the Eye Tyrant which are lands that are also capable of committing crimes.

With all these Crimes being committed, triggering Kaervek is trivial. Thanks to the abundance of cheap black spells in the deck, it’s also relatively easy to utilize these triggers to create value on the cheap.

With all this Crime committing, we wonder if Forsaken Miner will see some play in this archetype. The card should be relatively easy to recur, but the matchups where the card would be powerful may not be ones that Waste Not needs help with. This deck is pretty capable in attrition based matchups thanks to stripping the opponent of resources.

How Far will Kaervek Go?

Now that we’ve seen Kaervek win an event, it’s clear that players are going to start experimenting with him. Being able to Thoughtseize an opponent at instant speed is an incredibly powerful effect as far as Pioneer goes. Kaervek may not be quite good enough in the Modern format, but the card could fit into Scam. Being able to turn your Not Dead After All into a significant threat in the lategame could be worthwhile. Sadly, Kaervek is rather expensive for the format, and gets completely undone by a Lightning Bolt, so this may be a tough sell.

As a final note, right before the publication of this article, another Pioneer Challenge just finished, and the finals did consist of another Waste Not deck utilizing Kaervek, the Punisher. This card is the real deal.

Standard and Pioneer players should definitely keep an eye on Kaervek, the Punisher. This card threatens to create a ton of value alongside a legion of cheap black spells, and those strategies are already efficient enough to warrant consideration without Kaervek. Maybe Pro Tour Thunder Junction will be Kaervek’s breakout performance? Only time will tell.

Read More: These Powerful MTG Crime Engines are Great for Commander!

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