Hello, everyone!  Welcome to Standard Weekly!

I’m back to talk about Magic: The Gathering’s newest set Outlaws of Thunder Junction.  Over the past two weeks, I have previewed the cards from the set on the Caffeinated Gamers YouTube channel.  Here is a link to those preview videos.

Now that the set is fully available to see, how will it affect Standard?

Initially, I do not see the set having a significant impact on Standard.  The best decks in Standard will remain the best decks in Standard.  The cards that will have the most immediate impact are the set’s fast lands that complete the cycle started in Phyrexia: All Will Be One.  Boros Convoke will have access to Inspiring Vantage.  This will help Boros Convoke in the early game because there will be fewer tapped lands played at the beginning of the game.  Esper and Orvhov decks will utilize Concealed Courtyard.  Golgari and Jund decks will have access to Blooming Marsh.  Izzet and Jeskai decks add Spirebluff Canal.  Simic decks get access to Botanical Sanctum.  This should increase the efficiency of these decks, making them more competitive.

After the lands, I see the spree cards from the set having the most initial impact.  Each color received a rare spree card.  All of them are playable.  Plus, some of the uncommon spree cards will see play as at least sideboard cards.  What makes the spree cards powerful is their flexibility.  Each has at least two modes with most having a third.  This means that they will give you flexibility when you use them.

The truth is that Outlaws of Thunder Junction will only have a limited effect on Standard before rotation in August.  Yes, there will be cards from the set that see play now, but the set will have more relevance after rotation.  Many of the top cards in Standard are from the four sets that will rotate out of Standard in August.  Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, Innistrad: Crimson Vow, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, and Street of New Capenna have many of the most used cards in Standard.  Once rotation happens, Esper Raffine will have to change its game plan because three key cards from the deck rotate: Raffine, Scheming Seer, Wedding Announcement, and The Wandering Emperor.  4-5 Color control loses the tri-lands and Topiary Stomper from the Street of New Capenna.  Boros Convoke loses Voldaren Epicure.  Mono Red loses Bloodthirsty Adversary, Kumano Faces Kakkazan, and Play with Fire.  Other important played cards leaving are the special lands from Kamigawa, Path of Peril, Kaito Sizuki, Sorin the Mirthless, Make Disappear, Unlicensed Hearse, Vampires’ Vengeance, the fetch lands from the Streets of New Capenna, the slow lands from the Innistrad sets, Memory Deluge, and End the Festivities.

Except for Temur Control, most of the top decks in Standard will exist in one form or another after rotation.  This will leave only a small space for new decks in competitive circles.

The deck I feel gets the most from Outlaws of Thunder Junction is Golgari.  Honest Rutstein, Pillage the Bog, The Gitrog, Ravenous Ride, and Vraska, the Silencer.  Honest Rutstein reduces the cost of creature spells by one colorless mana.  Jukai Naturalist has a similar ability for enchantments and has made Selesnya Enchantments a competitive deck since the card arrived in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty.  Pillage the Bog lets you look at the top X cards in your library and choose one of them.  This means that a player will get to look at twice the cards equal to the under of lands you control.  The Gitrog, Ravenous Ride is one of the more interesting cards from the set.  It has trample and haste plus when you saddle it and deal damage to a player you may sacrifice a creature that saddled it.  Then you get to draw cards equal to the sacrificed creature’s power.  Vraska’s ability to return a nontoken creature to the battlefield for one mana.  It becomes a Treasure artifact and loses all other card types.  This will help you remove cards from an opponent’s graveyard that could return to play.  The current version of the deck sees play, so these additions should help it get better.

A deck that I look forward to trying is a Simic deck around Doc Aurlock, Grizzled Genesis.  This card reduces the cost of casting spells from a graveyard or exile and reduces the cost of plotting a card from your hand.

This means that cards you have on adventure have the cost of casting them reduced by two mana.  This will make some of the more expensive adventure cards more playable.  I can see deck builders wanting to incorporate plot cards in the deck to take advantage of the ability.  Plotting cards like Spinewoods Paladin, Railway Brawler, Outcaster Trailblazer, and Step Between Worlds make these cards much more playable in Standard.

Mono Red Aggro and Izzet Prowess, get help from Slickshot Show-Off.  Plus, the plot and spree cards offer good options for these decks.  This should increase each deck’s playability in Standard.  We now have a critical mass of good prowess creatures in red and blue.  This should help the deck increase its efficiency.  Already, the deck has over a 6% share of the meta in best-of-three.

As for Mono-Red.  Slickshot Show-Off has already demonstrated its power level by taking over best-of-one.  Slickshot gets plotted on turn two regularly.  Then on a later turn when you can cast it with a group of other noncreatures spells, it can one-shot kill an opponent.  In my play with the card so far, I have a 24-10 in best-of-one.  While you are not guaranteed a game-one win with the card.  It does significantly increase your chance of winning a match in best-of-three.  With the right draw, you can win on turn three, but most likely on turn four or five.  Most decks cannot keep up with a deck that can win that quickly.  Interestingly, Mono-Red has a smaller share of the meta than Izzet Prowess.

The biggest problem players will have with Slickshot Show-Off is getting four copies to play it with physical cards.  Its early success has caused the price of Slickshot Show-Off to spike to over $20.  Most cards that go in a Mono-Red Aggro deck never cost more than a few dollars, but Slickshot has application in any red deck, so it may be this year’s most expensive red card.

Let me know in the comments which cards you are most excited about playing from Outlaws of Thunder Junction.

That’s it for this week.  I’ll see you next time!

By: Scott Trepanier

Scott began playing Magic the Gathering in 1994.  His preferred format is standard.  Typically, you will see him playing aggro decks focused on quickly defeating his opponent but will pivot to midrange or control when standard is unfavorable for aggro decks.  He began creating Magic content in 2019.