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Outlaws of Thunder Junction (OTJ) Limited Set Review: Breaking News

J2SJosh reviews and rates every card from Outlaws of Thunder Junction (OTJ) for limited!

Hey everyone! Are you ready to get crazy with cowboys? All of Magic’s villains (At least the currently available ones. Sorry, no Elesh Norn in a cowboy hat) are up to some shenanigans on Magic’s newest plane. They are setting up a massive heist so we are getting all kinds of bonus sheet stuff going on here that will surely shake up limited formats. While it won’t happen often, you will assuredly remember that time you got destroyed by Mana Drain.

Per usual, I’ll be grading the entire set for limited purposes. Maybe one day I’ll get to see sunlight again, but today is not that day.

Here’s the usual grading scale:


Fell the Mighty

Rating: 3.0/5

A sweeper is a sweeper even if it leaves some incidentals behind. Preferably you get to keep a couple creatures while all of theirs go straight into the bin. There is, of course, the problem of having your sweeper blown out by removal.

Fierce Retribution

Rating: 2.5/5

The two-mana removal is great and it even let’s you remove anything for a whopping six mana. That might seem like a ton, but you’ll be thrilled it’s an option when you’re the beatdown.

Journey to Nowhere

Rating: 3.0/5

While there are some enchantment removal spells running around, you’re more likely to just get to use this as two mana removal most of the time.

Leyline Binding

Rating: 3.0/5

Remember that your deserts don’t count for basic land types so you don’t get the discount on them. That leaves this usually costing around four mana in the average deck. Good, but not amazing.

Pariah

Rating: 1.0/5

This is what we use to refer to as a “Kiddie card”. They come up with all these scenarios where it’s unbeatable and amazing followed by losing to about 400 different things that they didn’t account for.  

Path to Exile

Rating: 3.5/5

I know I am down on removal in general and this one even has a very real downside to it, but one mana to exile a creature is very, very good.

Archive Trap

Rating: 1.0/5

The average deck should never want to be playing this card. If you have some way to replay it or copy it, then that changes the equation a bit. I’d say that you should always be able to pick it up if it’s opened, but we all know the casuals love them some mill (Doing it, not having it done. That’s a whole different story).

Archmage’s Charm

Rating: 1.5/5

You are far less likely in limited to ever have a one drop worth stealing with this. Sure, there are tokens, but still unlikely to be worth it.

That leaves you with a triple blue counter spell or Divination. Is that worth it? Most likely not unless you are already really heavy blue.

Commandeer

Rating: 0.0/5

It is very rare that I drop the old 0.0, but I really don’t see a plausible scenario where you want to be playing this.

Essence Capture

Rating: 2.5/5

Two mana counterspell with a bonus is great even if it can only hit creatures.

Mana Drain

Rating: 5.0/5

Seriously? I’m not even going to elaborate on this one.

Mindbreak Trap

Rating: 1.0/5

You’re never going to get to play this for free unless your opponent is in the middle of going off. That leaves it as a four mana Dissipate which isn’t good. Maybe a sideboard card against some bombs you can’t otherwise answer.

Repulse

Rating: 3.5/5

There have been so many cards over the years that are some form of Repulse. They got it right all the way back in Invasion.

Heartless Pillage

Rating: 1.5/5

Mind Rot certainly has its moments in limited and this set doesn’t seem too fast for it, but it’s still usually dead when you rip it late in the game. The treasure if you attacked that turn is nice, but not a big enough swing to make up for it being so bad in some matchups.

Imp’s Mischief

Rating: 1.5/5

This is one of those cards that will get you a ton of story equity without people bringing up how often it sat in their hand. It is cheap enough that holding it up isn’t going to kill you if you don’t get to use it, but you will be waiting for something specific to happen so it could be a while.

Murder

Rating: 3.0/5

At least they made sure that Murder was a crime.  It’s solid removal that can help trigger other cards. Not bad, but not game breaking either.

Overwhelming Forces

Rating: 4.0/5

This is extremely expensive, but wiping only your opponent’s side of the board while drawing a bunch of cards will usually win the game for you.

Reanimate

Rating: 4.0/5

Significantly better than the other forms of reanimation running around. One mana can turn this into a massive tempo swing while also conveniently committing a crime if you grab one out of your opponent’s graveyard. Great for double spelling, just does a ton for only one mana.

Surgical Extraction

Rating: 0.0/5

This is a constructed card. You could technically bring it in against someone playing multiple reanimation spells. It could also be a way to double spell easily. Still not something you want to be doing, don’t talk yourself into it.

Thoughtseize

Rating: 2.5/5

I know, I know. This card is good in old formats, but it’s always been kind of meh in limited. You don’t really have the random misses like you would get with Duress, but it is still two life and can be dead later in the game. I’m still playing it, but I’m not going to be taking it highly.

Collective Defiance

Rating: 4.0/5

Killing a relevant creature, doming them up, and rummaging away your hand for new cards is a pretty high ceiling. The floor is a reasonably priced removal spell. That all adds up to a great card.

Crackle with Power

Rating: 3.5/5

Every time I see this card I am reminded of the time I was streaming, told everyone the complicated lethal that I didn’t feel like clicking through, and they top decked this to blast me for 15.

Not that great at five mana, but often just straight up lethal in the late game.

Electrodominance

Rating: 2.5/5

While it can potentially drop an extra spell, it is really expensive to use this as removal. Solid when everything lines up right, but kind of sad when it doesn’t.

Fling

Rating: 1.5/5

This can occasionally steal some games out of nowhere, but overall isn’t great when you are just using it as removal. If you are playing multiple Take for a Ride then this is much better.

Indomitable Creativity

Rating: 0.5/5

Another constructed card with niche limited uses. You can upgrade some of your tokens while potentially downgrading some of their better creatures. Still very expensive and inconsistent.

Skewer the Critics

Rating: 3.0/5

About in line with most of the removal spells in the set. Being able to go face and potentially play it for one mana make up for its deficiencies.

Skullcrack

Rating: 0.5/5

Damage only to player or planeswalker isn’t exactly what I’m looking to do. The other abilities are far more likely to come up in constructed.

Clear Shot

Rating: 3.0/5

While this is usually just a slightly amped up bite spell, there are also times where it straight up wins a combat and kills another of their creatures. I’ve drafted this card a ton in the past and loved it, I feel it will still perform up to snuff here.

Force of Vigor

Rating: 1.0/5

Sideboard card.

Pest Infestation

Rating: 4.5/5

The key thing on this is the up to because you can choose 0 targets and still make a pile of pest tokens. That’s pretty dece while the huge upside of killing one or more things at the same time is insane.

Primal Command

Rating: 3.0/5

Putting a land on top of their deck while fetching your best creature is how this usually works out. The other modes certainly have their moments as well. Good card, not quite a bomb.

Primal Might

Rating: 3.0/5

Make my creature massive while killing yours. Seems like a good deal to me. Able to easily slide itself into the curve and occasionally hits for a ridiculous lethal.

Thornado

Rating: 1.5/5

I was really hoping this was a Sharknado situation, but full of Thors. I guess they couldn’t afford to pay that many Chris Hemsworths.

Cycling is great on a situational card like this, but still iffy to make the cut.

Abrupt Decay

Rating: 3.0/5

While limited in the creatures it can remove, it does give you an option to kill a random cheap non-creature permanent.

Anguished Unmaking

Rating: 3.0/5

The three life can hurt, but instant speed exiling any permanent is worth it.

Back for More

Rating: 3.0/5

A tid bit more expensive than the other reanimation spells, but the fight is a great little bonus. There is also the instant speed thing so you can catch them unawares during attacks.

Bedevil

Rating: 3.0/5

The cost is really rough, but the versatility is nice. You don’t often need to pick off a Planeswalker, but when you mess OG Oko’s day up, you’ll be glad you had the option.

Buried in the Garden

Rating: 3.5/5

We just had this in Murders at Karlov Manor and it was great there. Exiling any permanent while providing fixing/ramp is a great combination.

Crime // Punishment

Rating: 3.0/5

This grade is entirely based off being able to play either side of it. It’s very underwhelming if you can only play one half.

Cruel Ultimatum

Rating: 4.0/5

I was just talking about needing three colors and this needs that plus at least double of each. There’s a big difference between that and a potential eight for one with a ten point life swing. This card is brutal and will massively swing games.

Decimate

Rating: 0.5/5

I am so glad they added the reminder text that you need all four targets to cast this. I can’t tell you how many people just tried to kill a creature and a land back in the Odyssey days.

Can I come up with scenarios where this is insane? Of course. Will any of them come up? Highly unlikely. Maybe out of the sideboard against someone with multiple enchantment removal and some relevant artifacts. It is a huge swing if you can ever cast it so if it lines up right it could so some work. 0% chance I’m ever mainboarding it though.

Decisive Denial

Rating: 2.5/5

Mana Leak or an Instant speed fight spell are pretty good modes to have so I won’t deny that I will be running this when I am in these colors.

Detention Sphere

Rating: 3.5/5

This is the going rate for this exile effect, but this one can hit any permanent with the really high upside of taking out multiples. It does wonders against anyone making a pile of tokens.

Endless Detour

Rating: 1.5/5

Three colors for an instant speed Time Ebb isn’t anything to get excited about. When this was in SNC, you were expected to be in a triome. Here it is less likely and this isn’t worth splashing for.

Fractured Identity

Rating: 5.0/5

Getting a Control Magic that doesn’t let them take back their creature is great. Being able to take out any non-land permanent makes this even better. There are plenty of bad beat stories about this from Vintage Cube and there will be plenty more from being in this set.

Hindering Light

Rating: 1.5/5

You do have to hold up two mana for this without being able to hit creatures, but protecting yourself or your biggest threat is worth two mana especially when it throws a card into the deal. Better out of the sideboard, but I can see main decking one.

Humiliate

Rating: 2.5/5

Taking their best card and putting a +1+1 counter on a creature is a great deal early in the game. The value does drastically drop the later the game goes, but at least it’s not totally dead if you whiff.

Hypothesizzle

Rating: 3.5/5

Draw two cards and pitch my worst nonland to deal four damage to a creature sounds like a bargain to me. I hypothesize that your opponent will be much less happy about this than you are.

Ionize

Rating: 2.0/5

The two damage is nice as a throw in and all, but you have to basically look at this as a two-color Cancel

Oko, Thief of Crowns

Rating: 5.0/5

Let’s take a card that’s banned in a ton of constructed formats while being absolutely miserable to play against in limited and just toss it into the random bonus slot. No one needed this. There’s even another Oko in the regular set so the bad beat stories will be “I got Oko’d. No, not that Oko. The real one.”

You’re taking this card if you see it and being the only one at the table having any fun.

Outlaws Merriment

Rating: 4.0/5

A very large flavor fail considering you only get an outlaw out of this 1/3 of the time. Still a great card that provides a continuous string of value even if you feel like you’re rolling the dice every turn.

Ride Down

Rating: 2.5/5

This is great when you’re the beatdown, but pretty worthless if your opponent is the one dropping the beats.

Savage Smash

Rating: 3.0/5

Killing their creature while making yours a larger trampler can be pretty big game. It also gives you a prime opportunity to yell “HULK SMASH!”.

Siphon Insight

Rating: 2.5/5

The cards in your opponent’s deck usually don’t synergize with the cards in yours so this can be worse than if you just drew a couple cards. Of course, the upside is huge and there is some selection to it so you’ll be running it if you’re already in these colors.

Terminal Agony

Rating: 2.0/5

There are very few ways to madness this in so you should mostly just consider it as a four-mana sorcery speed removal spell.

Tyrant’s Scorn

Rating: 3.5/5

While this can’t kill bigger creatures, it’s not complete ineffectual against them either. A solid piece of cheap interaction that you’ll always be thrilled to pick up.

Vanishing Verse

Rating: 3.0/5

This is much better than it was in Strixhaven because there aren’t all the hybrid mana creatures running around. You’ll still end up disappointed when they drop a busted gold card and you’re staring at this.

Villainous Wealth

Rating: 3.5/5

This can be an amazing win condition provided that you are playing a deck based around getting to the late game that can support these colors.

Void Rend

Rating: 2.0/5

Not really worth splashing this unless you are desperate for interaction. If you happen to already be in these colors then this certainly is a removal spell.

Voidslime

Rating: 2.0/5

Harder to cast Cancel with a tiny bit of upside. Not much more to it.

Contagion Engine

Rating: 3.0/5

This feels like people will remember when this was crazy good back in the day and overrate it. These days it is a bit too slow to be considered a huge bomb. It’ll still be good, but you would prefer to have synergies such as +1+1 counters to make it truly shine.

Grindstone

Rating: 0.5/5

Hard pass in Bo1. Very small possibility of bringing it in out of the sideboard in bo3 (probably still shouldn’t).

Mindslaver

Rating: 3.5/5

Limited is a little too fast these days to consider this a windmill slam dunk. It’s still really good and let’s you come up with creative ways to wreck your opponent.

Unlicensed Hearse

Rating: 2.5/5

This takes some time to get up to speed, but can end up being a massive threat later on after it destroyed any of their graveyard synergies.

Dust Bowl

Rating: 0.0/5

I was trying to come up with some scenario where you would want this, but it’s not worth it. A basic land will be better.


Wrap Up

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back soon with my limited archetypes and skeletons for Outlaws of Thunder Junction. Until then, stay classy people!

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

You can also find me at:

Iroas, God of Victory Art

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j2sjosh
j2sjosh

Josh is a member of the elite limited team The Draft Lab as well as the host of The Draft Lab Podcast. He was qualifying for Pro Tours, Nationals, and Worlds literally before some of you were born. After a Magic hiatus to play poker and go to medical school, he has been dominating Arena with over an 80% win percentage in Bo3 as well as making #1 rank in Mythic.

Articles: 306