Thunder Junction Limited Set Review & Best Cards • MTG Arena Zone


Hey everyone! We’ve finished up the Arena Open and that means people are starting to look longingly at other draft formats because they’re getting tired of regular old OTJ. Luckily Alchemy: Thunder Junction drafts are right around the corner to spice things up.

Per usual I’ll be reviewing all of the cards for limited purposes with the usual disclaimers. Alchemy: Thunder Junction drafts are only available in Bo1 so I’ll be ignoring all sideboarding applications. Fair warning, Alchemy cards are designed for constructed so they tend to be either way too powerful or really, really bad in limited.

I do have to explain Heist since it’s a new ability. When a player commits a Heist, they look at three random nonland cards from their opponent’s deck and choose to exile one of them. They can then play that card from exile for the remainder of the game using mana of any color. Since heist target’s the opponent, it is considered a crime.

The Alchemy: Thunder Junction drafts will be available from May 7th until May 14th. This time, the Alchemy cards are simply added in to packs as a new slot, and not replacing anything, making for one additional card per pack. That’s it, on with the show.

Card Ratings

Here’s the usual grading scale:

  • 5.0: Disgustingly powerful and basically unbeatable. Either answer it the turn it comes down or just pack up your cards. (Gruff Triplets, Virtue of Persistence, The Eternal Wanderer)
  • 4.5: Incredible bomb that still gives your opponent a slim chance. (Virtue of Loyalty, Imodane’s Recruiter, Realm-Scorcher Hellkite)
  • 4.0: Great rare or the absolute best uncommons and removal. (Faunsbane Troll, Gumdrop Poisoner, Talion’s Messenger)
  • 3.5: Great role filler or removal that you never cut. (Candy Grapple, Hearth Elemental, Torch the Tower)
  • 3.0: Good playable that I’m basically never cutting. (Shrouded Shepherd, Spellscorn Coven, Sharae of Numbing Depths)
  • 2.5: Decent playable and the bar I hope nearly every card in my deck to reach. (Evolving Wilds, Archon’s Glory, Flick a Coin)
  • 2.0: Mediocre filler that normally is your 20-23rd card(s). (Mintstrosity, Ice Out, Grabby Giant)
  • 1.5: Replaceable, overall bad filler. Could also be decent sideboard cards. (Titanic Growth, Scarecrow Guide, Territorial Witchstalker)
  • 1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Dark Tutelage, Kindled Heroism, Impact Tremors)
  • 0.5: Very unhappy to main deck this, but maybe it has fringe sideboard applications. Cards that “could” be situationally decent, but bad in most situations. (Smothering Tithe, Rhystic Study, Mana Flare)
  • 0.0: Unplayable in every possible situation. They rarely print cards this bad these days. (Hew the Entwood, One with Nothing)

White

Prairie Survivalist

Rating: 4.0/5

It comes down as a 1/1 flyer that permanently pumps the front end of another creature in your hand. If it sticks around until the next turn, you’re already up to +4 power worth of stats by the time it can attack. On top of all that, it’s got flying so you can usually peck away for a rapidly ascending amount of damage.

Resolute Rejection

Rating: 2.5/5

Removal that can only kill a tapped creature has its limitations and this would probably only be a 1.5 if it just dealt four damage to a tapped creature at instant speed. This provides a little bit more versatility by being able to remove abilities (sometimes you REALLY need to do that), but the most important addition is being able to cycle it away when you don’t need it.

Ruby Collector

Conjured

Rating: 2.5/5

You really need to be in a Boros go wide deck to take advantage of this, but it can put in some decent work there. I’m not too concerned about the Mox Ruby because it’s mostly there to sound fancy when it’s a ramp that you can’t get until turn three or four. It’s the pumping your whole team for two mana that makes this worth running.

Saint Elenda

Spellbook

Rating: 4.0/5

Triple White is a bit of a stretch as we’ve already seen with Archangel of Tithes, but it is much more likely you can handle that at seven mana than four. You still need to be heavily dedicated to white to pull it off.

Since you get to cast the spell right away, you’re ending up with both a 4/4 and a 4/7 as long as they survive until your end step. Having a massive lifelinker that keeps pooping out chonky tokens is going to be impossible to race so it’s worth it even at that mana cost.

Stalwart Realmwarden

Rating: 2.5/5

This can be pretty annoying on turn three, but it doesn’t stop them from developing their board since it’s only noncreature. The stats are a bit lackluster, but first strike and lifelink are a nice little combo. Fine card, but there are a lot better ones available early.

Blue

Emerald Collector

Conjured

Rating: 4.0/5

Yet again, I am pretty much ignoring the Mox Emerald ability because it’s more of a bonus. This is a two drop that has its own combat trick built in that draws a card every time it connects. That’s a serious problem for a very small investment. If you don’t have the ability to produce green early, this drops down to really bad.

Solitary Defiance

Rating: 3.5/5

It’s not hard to trigger this and it provides a steady flow of gas for the rest of the game. Decking yourself isn’t a huge concern because you can just start attacking with more than one creature when you get low. Even if you are on the defensive, you can still usually spare one creature to draw into real cards. It’s a card that people might not think is a big deal, but can snowball quickly.

Thieving Aven

Rating: 3.0/5

This little birdy isn’t going to stay small for long as it’ll be growing fat off of stealing your opponent’s best cards. While drawing a card is usually better than stealing one from your opponent’s deck, Heist gives you some card selection thrown in while only providing non-lands so it is going to be better than a generic card draw.

Black

Grave Expectations

Rating: 2.0/5

While I just explained that Heist is usually better than draw a card, this doesn’t really do much else. Sure you might really need to gain three life, but that is hardly the fallback you hope for. I’m more likely to play this if I’m trying to cheaply commit crimes or double spell.

Pearl Collector

Conjured

Rating: 4.0/5

Permanently handing lifelink out makes this a real pain to try to race. It also makes it a lot easier to trigger to get thew free Mox Pearl. This one drops a bit without any white mana, but a three mana 3/3 deathtouch with lifelink is still a very solid card.

Rankle, Pitiless Trickster

Rating: 3.5/5

Kind of a tricky card because you really want to have another creature you don’t care about out first as well as have both players have cards in hand. There really isn’t much discard running around so you’re mostly relying on this to get itself up to a 3/3. Can be really amazing early, but pretty janky later on.

Red

Impetuous Lootmonger

Rating: 3.0/5

The Heist isn’t tied to the discard so you can play this when you’re empty handed and still get to steal a card. Even pitching an extra land or something you’re not going to play is fine especially considering that you’re going to end up with a treasure token after casting one of their cards.

Sapphire Collector

Conjured

Rating: 4.0/5

This is a much smaller ask than any of the other Mox makers. If you’re Izzet, your whole deck is built around double spelling with plenty of cheap non creature spells. It’s also a powerful card advantage machine that can hit like a tank with Prowess.

Switchgrass Grazer

Rating: 4.0/5

A 4/4 haste for four is fine on its own, but this horsey gets a ping thrown in so it’s really swinging for five with the option to ping something instead. There are plenty of one toughness things worth killing, but it really gets crazy when you saddle it up. Perpetually taking away their best blocker every turn is going to make it pretty easy for you to force enough damage through to end the game quickly.

Wagon Wrecker

Rating: 2.5/5

This isn’t exactly wrecking anything, but it can get some early damage in with the possibility of taxing their spells.

Green

Blooming Cactusfolk

Rating: 3.5/5

A decent chonker that can help set up a sweet double spell the next turn depending on whats in your hand. Loses some of its utility later on, but it’s usually going to be a serviceable body no matter what.

Jessie Zane, Fangbringer

Conjured

Rating: 4.5/5

Adding a 2/1 flash, deathtouch that draws a card for two mana is pretty sweet when it just repeats the process when you cast it. Putting it in the top six keeps it from being overpowered, but you’d be happy with a 3/4 deathtouch for three anyway so it’s all gravy.

If you’re looking for other snakes in the set to get triggers off of, you have Ankle Biter and Caustic Bronco as your options.

Jet Collector

Conjured

Rating: 4.0/5

The difficulty in getting the Mox off of this one is entirely based off of what point in the game it is. Still, it’s a bear with the upside of being able to reanimate creatures form your graveyard. That’s pretty damn good.

Multicolor

Albiorix, Goose Tyrant

Rating: 4.0/5

It’s a nice bonus if you can maker a bunch of treasure tokens with this, but it provides its own food token to get you started with a bit of card selection thrown in. The stats are really solid on this even if you end up raw dogging it out on turn three with no other tokens.

Cathartic Operation

Rating: 3.5/5

A five-mana spell that doesn’t affect the board needs to do a lot to make the cut these days. Adding four cards to your hand that are guaranteed to be gas at instant speed certainly fits that bill. You do need to adjust this grade based off of what cards you can search up off it.

Emperor Apatzec Intli IV

Rating: 3.5/5

Three colors is a bit of an ask on turn three, but you are going to decimate your opponent if you curve this into some chonkers. This is worth splashing for, but I dropped it a bit because it loses value as the game goes along.

Grenzo, Crooked Jailer

Rating: 4.5/5

Getting to play the spells for free make this pretty insane considering that you get to heist when it ETBs and every upkeep without having to risk it in combat. You can also cast spells that you heist off of other cards for free as well. It doesn’t say during your turn on the free spell clause so you can do it once on your turn and once on theirs.

Intruder’s Inquisition

Rating: 3.5/5

A two-mana bite spell sure does feel odd in Rakdos colors. Making them discard their most expensive card in hand can turn this into a giant wrecking ball as long as you can deal excess damage.

Nashi, Illusion Gadgeteer

Rating: 4.0/5

Nashi isn’t exactly game breaking, but getting back a creature that can be flashed in to ambush something can be a pretty big turning point. On top of that, the stats are solid for the cost. It’s mostly being held back by being three colors.

Rating: 1.5/5

I’m pretty down on a Quench that costs two colors of mana and Threshold can be pretty difficult to pull off unless you have dedicated self-mill. This is pretty nuts when you get to counter a spell and get a card off of it, but they usually have enough mana to pay for it by the time you can turn it on.

Teysa of the Ghost Council

Rating: 4.5/5

This keeps pumping out flyers every turn while also growing them out of control with a swiftness. I don’t think I need to explain this further.

Triumphant Getaway

Rating: 3.0/5

I’m kind of torn on this because the cost is kind of prohibitive, but the drains can get out of hand if you have other ways to heist. Even without other activations, this can still do some work for you.

Vona de Ledo, the Antifex

Rating: 4.0/5

At least they aren’t making these cards easy to splash into anything. Killing their best permanent and being able to pitch a land to get a copy of it into your hand is a nice swing. While the two toughness is kind of sad, the menace usually means it can still trade for something decent.

Weave the Nightmare

Rating: 3.5/5

Under normal circumstances this is either a solid removal spell, a Negate, or an opportunity to steal a good card from your opponent. Since Heist is running around you have a pretty real possibility of getting two of them out of this.

Artifacts

Runecarved Obelisk

Rating: 1.0/5

You really need to be ramping to something crazy to want this and there really isn’t much that will. Turning into a real card is relevant, but you’re probably three or four turns away from being able to do that. I’d pass.

Wrap Up

The Alchemy cards offer a way to power up an already powerful set even more. If you’re looking to mix it up a bit or get a little crazy then this is a great little break away from normal Outlaws of Thunder Junction draft.

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back next week with your Midweek Magic hookup. Until then, stay classy people!



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