MTG Outlaws of Thunder Junction preview: Testing out new Commander decks

MTG Outlaws of Thunder Junction preview: Testing out new Commander decks

Wizards of the Coast were kind enough to invite Dexerto’s Australian team to an Outlaws of Thunder Junction preview event. We were able to try out Magic: The Gathering’s rootinest, tootinest Commander Decks yet. Here’s how it went.

If you’ve ever thought to yourself that Magic: The Gathering’s (MTG) fantasy setting needed a little more yeehaw, the Outlaws of Thunder Junction set might scratch an itch for you. The Western-themed expansion brings a host of new mechanics that play right into the outlaw fantasy.

We were able to give the set a try using carefully constructed decks for MTG’s multiplayer Commander format. The four preconstructed Commander Decks for Outlaws of Thunder Junction stand up surprisingly well to one another in our experience.

In our own four-player game, we were fortunate enough to have each deck present, and seeing how they interacted with one another was a treat. We’ll give some quick insights on each of the new Commander Decks for Outlaws of Thunder Junction and a summary of our battle with them.

Outlaws of Thunder Junction Commander Decks

MTG Outlaws of Thunder Junction preview: Testing out new Commander decks

Each of the four new Commander Decks that have been spotlighted in the lead-up to the launch of the set has its own strengths and weaknesses. Particularly in the multiplayer format.

The decks themselves come with a little bit of lore to get you in the mood as well as some tips for playing them appropriately. Here’s what we took away from them.

Desert Bloom (Red/Green/White)

Built around a relatively high-cost Commander in Yuma, Proud Protector, the Desert Bloom Commander Deck balances that with access to some early-game aggression from Red creatures and spells.

The Ramp afforded by your Green cards allows you to stack yourself with Land in order to get Yuma out sooner and by the time you do, you’ll have enough mana to use his abilities efficiently. Your Commander gives you the option to sacrifice Land in order to draw cards and keep your options open.

Carefully sacrificing Deserts lets you build a small army of 4/2 Token Creatures that are useful for keeping yourself defended. A number of cards in the Desert Bloom deck like Ancient Greenwarden allow you to play Land from your Graveyard negating the sacrifice.

Quick Draw (Blue/Red)

Slinging Sorceries and Creatures in equal measure, Commander Stella Lee, Wild Card rewards you for setting up big turns by making them bigger. Playing multiple cards allows you to peek at your next draw, Exile it, and play it at your discretion.

Stella’s abilities also allow her to duplicate spells and select different targets making her a fantastic choice for the Commander format. She has a low cost meaning she can be deployed multiple times with ease.

Calling on Eris, Roar of the Storm in the late game allows you to summon a battalion of 4/4 Red Dragon Tokens. Their Flying keyword makes them tough to block for a bunch of unanswered damage to finish opponents.

Most Wanted (Red/White/Black)

Olivia, Opulent Outlaw commands a powerful force stacked with Lifelink to keep her in the game. A fair amount of Death Touch also makes opponents think twice before attacking you.

When Olivia takes the field, she’s consistently generating Treasure Tokens which act as single-use Lands. It allows her to field higher-cost creatures early enough and they can have devastating consequences with a variety of ‘when played’ effects.

She herself has a deck full of Outlaw creatures and her spells penalize those who aren’t. The particularly thematic Shoot the Sheriff is always at the ready to remove a powerful opponent that doesn’t share her Keywords.

Grand Larceny (Black/Green/Blue)

As the name suggests, this deck lets you use the Commander Gonti, Canny Acquisitor, and a variety of other spells to steal and play those of your opponents. He has a relatively low cost and the deck’s excellent ramp allows you to get him out early.

You’ll also have enough Land that the penalties for a second and even third deployment are negligible. His ability allows you to use any mana type to field your opponent’s cards and if they’re not to your satisfaction, you can just mill them.

Equipping one of your other Creatures with Dream Thief’s Bandana allows you to keep using Gonti’s ability when he’s in the Command Zone. You can cause some serious frustration and use your opponents’ strengths against them.

MTG Outlaws of Thunder Junction preview: Testing out new Commander decks

Playing out of the box

The highest praise I can give these Commander Decks is that they feel incredibly balanced when played against one another. They’re all very well thought out for the format and allow devastating plays that impact every player on the mat.

I myself chose the Grand Larceny deck for no other reason than Gonti looked like the coolest cowboy/wizard. I had a very favorable early game and was able to stack my Land very quickly.

Getting my Commander on the field early and stealing Creatures from other decks was a riot. I was able to field a small army and use Ohran Frostfang to give them all Death Touch making me a good option to avoid attacking.

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of focusing my efforts on Olivia and her Most Wanted deck. Her player was able to leverage a lot of the Lifelink in that deck to keep her health well above everyone else’s.

The Quick Draw and Desert Bloom players traded back and forth with Most Wanted picking and choosing their target. Unfortunately, our Desert Bloom player had to leave the table early so the late game was down to our three remaining decks.

My thieving tactics hadn’t made me any friends and my army of creatures made me the target of a tag-team board clear. At this point, our Quick Draw player had fielded the 8/8 Octavia, Living Thesis, and Eris, Lord of the Storm with two 4/4 flyers for backup. I was blown away by the onslaught.

Karma was swift and having tapped all of their creatures in the attack against me, they left themselves open. They were swiftly finished by The Most Wanted player using their Commander Olivia and a humble Veinwitch Coven that they had upgraded with Olivia’s treasure.

Only two turns earlier, it had seemed like anyone’s game and it came down to the wire making it a thrilling encounter. We suspect that to be due to unfortunate draws however as a peak through our deck saw various rewards for committing Crimes or triggering Plots.

MTG Outlaws of Thunder Junction preview: Testing out new Commander decks

From our experience, these new Commander Decks for Outlaws of Thunder Junction play very well out of the box. In saying that, some of our top MTG minds have some theories on upgrading them.

You can check out our guides for how to enhance Desert Bloom, Quick Draw, Most Wanted, and Grand Larceny depending on which one sparks your interest.

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