Magic: the Gathering


Explorer: The 10 Best Outlaws of Thunder Junction Cards for the Format

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In today's article, we evaluate the ten best cards and Outlaws of Thunder Junction for Magic Arena's Explorer format, including the reprints of Breaking News and the cards from the mini-set, Big Score.

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Outlaws of Thunder Junctionlink outside website preview season has come to an end, and with it, we begin our reviews of the best cards in Magic's new expansion to the main competitive formats.

In today's article, I evaluate the ten best additions to Magic Arena's Explorer format, considering both the cards from the base expansion, the reprints from Breaking Newslink outside website and the additions coming from the Big Score mini-set.

If you prefer, you can check out our complete review for Pioneerlink outside website, where we delve into the potential of other cards that didn't make it to this list.


The Ten Best Outlaws of Thunder Junction Cards for Explorer

10 - Lively Dirge

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Lively Dirge allows extremely conditional, but efficient “one-card combo” combinations to suddenly win the game.

If the player has Amalia Benavides Aguirre or Wildgrowth Walker in their graveyard, it is possible to search for one of them in the deck and put both on the battlefield, starting the loop. This combo is also possible with Prosperous Innkeeper or any other creature that triggers life gain on ETB.

This spell can also work on Abzan Greasefang, where we look for the deck's key creature or Parhelion II to bring Greasefang, Okiba Boss back and start the combo.

9 - Annie Joins Up

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Annie Joins Up is a solid addition that benefits Explorer Goodstuff decks that don't yet have access to Bring to Light, but can extract value from the enchantment through powerful legends like Omnath, Locus of Creation or the possibility of using it with Enigmatic Incarnation to search for a specific piece, such as Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines or Elder Gargaroth.

The five damage from its ETB is its biggest attraction, as it allows it to deal with almost any relevant creature in the current Metagame that isn't called Atraxa, Grand Unifier or a transformed Thing in the Ice.

8 - Kellan Joins Up & Jace Reawakened

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Kellan Joins Up and Jace Reawakened interact with Valki, God of Lies to cheat on the mana costs for Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor, allowing it to be played as early as the third turn, if you start with a mana dork followed by Kellan Joins Up.

Jace, on the other hand, helps to complement this combo and adds consistency to it while helping to sculpt his controller's hand, making this strategy a viable archetype and worthy of testing in ranked matches to measure its potential in the competitive scene.

7 - Rush of Dread

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Rush of Dread has a powerful two-card combo along with Bloodletter of Aclazotz or Warlock Class, where its method of making the opponent lose half of its life turns into a combo-kill, since they will lose twice that amount, rounded up (for example, if your opponent has 15 life, they will lose 16 instead of 8).

Its potential is uncertain and, in many ways, this combo reminds me of Archfiend of the Dross with Metamorphic Alteration, except that Bloodletter of Aclazotz is a much worse creature than Archfiend while Rush of Dread is a better card than the blue enchantment - however, given the amount of black mana in its permanent costs, this might be a good time to revisit Mono Black Devotion in the next few weeks.

6 - Grand Abolisher

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Grand Abolisher is an excellent option for when we want to “block” the opponent's interaction with counterspells, or to force the use of a specific removal against them, which could be directed to another key card, such as a combo piece.


It should deserve a spot as a one-of in Abzan Amalia, where we can pick it up with Chord of Calling and Collected Company, and it can find a home whenever a creature-based combo arises.

5 - Requisition Raid

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Requisition Raid may not be impressive in the maindeck, but it adds a lot of value to Boros Convoke and other white aggressive decks as an artifact or enchantment removal that can deal with multiple targets at once and/or be used to interact directly with an aggressive go-wide game plan.

4 - Abrupt Decay

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Abrupt Decay finally arrives in Magic Arena and joins other Sideboard staples that archetypes like Abzan Greasefang runs to deal with Rest in Peace and other hate pieces.

It is not a staple in the current Metagame and loses space to other answers in the maindeck, but its addition contributes greatly to expanding the range of interactions that the Explorer requires when compared to the Pioneer.

3 - Duelist of the Mind

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With Arclight Phoenix decks opting for Proft's Eidetic Memory in the slot that belongs to Temporal Trespass, Duelist of the Mind can gain a spot in Izzet lists due to the way it interacts with the enchantment and benefits from it, in addition to addressing the toughness issue it has against some removals.

Outside this shell, champion Nathan Steuer's card seems to have more potential in the Dimir core, where Thoughtseize and Fatal Push guarantee greater consistency in triggering his ability while also benfitting from his more aggressive body.

2 - Slickshot Show-Off

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Slickshot Show-Off may be the closest the Explorer has to Kiln Fiend, and its immediate impact can put enormous pressure on the opponent alongside cheap spells, protection and pumps, enabling the return of Prowess decks or a powerful and efficient reinforcement to Boros Heroic.

It is, potentially, the most powerful card in the set for the format, and certainly the one that will be most present as a maindeck addition to established or new archetypes, but its chances of success will depend greatly on how much other strategies, such as Rakdos Vampires and Abzan Amalia, will remain strong in the format in the coming weeks.

1 - Torpor Orb

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Torpor Orb may not seem like the most impressive card, but with the recent ban on Geological Appraiser, it's become clear that Explorer still lacks efficient answers that fit into any deck, making them very dependent on black Midranges with Thoughtseize and blue archetypes to hold most unfair archetypes.

The reprint of this artifact addresses one of these problems by providing colorless hate against powerful ETB effects, such as Atraxa, Grand Unifier, and can also block lifegain abilities that would trigger Abzan Amalia's combo, and even the possibility of holding other archetypes that rely heavily on ETB effects to work.

Regardless of the occasion, Torpor Orb will always be a useful card to have in your collection. Having this specific hate against ETBs makes a difference - therefore, it is the best Outlaws of Thunder Junction card for Explorer.



That's all for today.

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment.

Thanks for reading!