The First Look at Thunder Junction

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Explore Thunder Junction, the latest Magic: The Gathering set. Get an exclusive first look at its themes, cards, and strategies.

When you first set your eyes on the new Thunder Junction cards, you automatically think of the John Wayne movies and western novels. It definitely has that visual style and appeal, and people became very excited about it upon seeing the cards. Not too many cards were shown, which certainly added to the mystery and appeal of Thunder Junction. What’s great to see is that the cards do seem to provide great value to archetype, while also bringing the potential of creating new ones as well.

The Abs Are Back

Magic the Gathering Card - Oko, the Ringleader - MTG Circle

Oko immediately catches your eyes with his incredible abs. He is a 4 mana planeswalker, which in general tends to be a bit too slow. However, in this case, you have the option to draw two cards, while also discarding two of them as well. Oko also has a passive that allows him to transform into one of your creatures, which is interesting.

However, if you do end up transforming, you will be losing some of your planeswalker abilities. Use those abilities pre-combat, and then you can transform to access those benefits. He does have an aggressive format, and we think that he’ll be at least tier 2 playable.

A Champion Enshrined

Magic the Gathering Card - Duelist of the Mind - MTG Circle

Nathan Steuer was able to do great work in the World Championship in 2022, and he helped design this new card, called the Duelist of the Mind. The card itself comes with variable power, which is certainly an intriguing aspect. Not only that, but it does pay off if you draw other cards. Being able to have that 3 toughness makes it great against aggro strategies, which can sometimes be very prevalent. Our opinion is that the Duelist of the Mind is a very good card, it’s similar in many ways to the Ledger Shredder, and it’s expected to be a solid addition.

Thunder Junction’s First Bulk Rare

Magic the Gathering Card - Hell to Pay - MTG Circle

There were many cards like Fireball or Blaze where you were able to hit your opponent in the face with great damage. Hell to Pay does that, but it has certain restrictions. You can only target creatures, and the payoff is a treasure token amount identical to the excess value. Sure, it might help if you want to bank mana for future turns.

However, in today’s environment, it doesn’t really add consistency, and it’s quite slow. There is some janky potential if you try to use the Barbed Servitor, where you can get back mana to use into future X-Spells. It’s interesting for sure, but in today’s metagame it might not have the impact that a lot of people think it will.

Tiny But Mighty

Magic the Gathering Card - Tinybones, the Pickpocket - MTG Circle

Tinybones is now back, and it’s great news for all of those that want to harness the value of a lucky top deck. Now we have a new Tinybones version, and this one helps because it helps play out of the graveyard, while still being very menacing.

Granted, having a deathtouching 1 drop might not seem like much. But having it into your arsenal is great, especially since you can trade it with a large number of creatures. That gives you a blocker which will make it easier to tackle attacks for the remaining parts of the game. On top of that, Tinybones comes with a saboteur effect. You can use it for offense, even if some people might say that 1/1 is not exactly the best stat line.

Yet despite that, Tinybones can still be pretty good in combat, especially if the graveyard of your opponent has great cards. This one has us the most excited, because you can have a lot of competitive advantage with this type of card.

Still Totally Lost, Apparently

Magic the Gathering Card - Fblthp, Lost on the Range - MTG Circle

Fblthp, the Lost is one of those very creative cards where you can actively disrupt the game a little, provided that you have the right hand. They have a new keyword “plot” in the description, and it was not explained to us for the time being. We can only assume that in this particular case, plot has to do with the disguise or morphing capabilities that the card might have.

However, plotting might also be only the means to replace the land drop. A 1/1 stat line is not exactly great, so we can only assume that the plot system is going to help make it better. With that in mind, we hope that they will do a good job at explaining what the card can do, and the unique benefits it can provide. It certainly has a lot of potential, and Fblthp itself is a funny character, a legendary creature.

Nexus of Becoming and Midstory Epilogue

Magic the Gathering Card - Nexus of Becoming - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Sword of Wealth and Power - MTG Circle

These two cards are coming after the rather lukewarm of the Machine:Aftermath. It seems that according to that poor reception, Wizards has started to scrap epilogue boosters. Yet they already had one already made for the Thunder Junction set. These cards are rolled into the main set, instead of being scrapped. They will come with a different set symbol, despite being Standard-legal.

These cards are shown as the Big Score bonus sheet. Based on their stats and effects, it seems they are very powerful. Our suspicion is that they will be quite slow and playing outside of Commander will be a bit tricky to pull off properly. They definitely open up new play combinations, and we are excited to see if this is a one-off or a constant for any future plays.

Thoughtseize

 

Most of the sets that we saw in the past few years had a bonus reprint sheet, which can’t be played in standard, but it can work in other formats. With that in mind, for the Thunder Junction set, we have Crime/Punisment and Thoughtseize. The latter one is a disruption card that will help quite a lot, and with its reprints you will be able to enhance your plays. It’s also a staple in modern right now.

Crime/Punisment is a bit more niche. However, it definitely highlights the potential of this set. Crime has a very good effect since you can get resources from the opponent. Punishment also gives you a good set of benefits, if you have the right colors. Abzan Commander players in particular will be excited about these, so they are certainly something to take into consideration.

These Breaking News cards also come in the form of a rather old school newspaper. That helps add lots of excitement into the mix, not to mention a lot of people get reminded by the Amonkhet Invocations with this. The art is great, and it’s not draw out. Plus, the text itself is very easy to see, and the graphical additions really add to the quality and style of the cards. It’s nice to see that Wizards don’t shy away from taking action, and having this unique opportunity is definitely an interesting prospect to take into consideration.

Five Sets Within a Set

Aside from these two bonus sheets, there is a special guest slot. That means there will be 4 total set symbols, 2 of them are legal in standard and the other two are not. In addition to that, the Commander precons will also have some cards that aren’t legal in standard. Commander cards are not taking place in the play boosters, they will still be included in the Collector Boosters.

 

In case you are opening a play booster, you will be able to see 4 different set symbols, with the collector booster having up 5. And that doesn’t even include the List, which can include any Magic card.

Overall Impressions of Thunder Junction So Far

I think that these new additions can be quite exciting for the players, and Wizards certainly learned from the downfall of their Aftermath style. The vibe and visuals are quite impressive, and I'm definitely excited to see how these things are coming in together. The new set is arriving on the 26th of March, and it’s set to be a pretty interesting one. However, we’ll have to wait and see if it will actually shake up the metagame!

Graham, also known as HamHocks42 on the internet, is a Twitch streamer who adores Magic: the Gathering in all its forms and tries to find the fun, even in the most competitive and sweaty environments.
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