Last updated on December 6, 2023
Outlaws of Thunder Junctino Key Art | Illustration by Lie Setiawan
Yeehaw, Magic players! MTG’s been to Egypt, it’s been to ancient Greece, it’s supposedly going to space in the near future, but in 2024 we’re going where no planeswalker’s gone before: the western frontier. The 30th Anniversary panel revealed Outlaws of Thunder Junction as the Q2 Standard release of 2024, and lemme tell you I’ve already got my pony saddled and my spurs at the ready!
Villains both iconic and new will be coming to a head on a brand-new plane dominated by baddies and inspired by western tropes, a setting fans have been clamoring for. Allow me to lasso y’all in: it’s time to dive into the rootinist, tootinist world that Magic’s ever visited!
Outlaws of Thunder Junction Basic Information
Outlaws of Thunder Junction Art | Illustration by Javier Charro
|Number of Cards||TBA|
|Rarities||Common, Uncommon, Rare, Mythic|
|Full gallery available||TBA|
|Available on Draftsim's Draft Simulator||TBA|
|Release on MTG Arena/MTGO||TBA|
|Available on Arena Tutor||TBA|
|Paper Release Date||Q2, 2024|
About the Set: The Story
While we know very little about the actual lore significance of Thunder Junction, we do know that it’s part of the “Omenpath Arc,” a storyline that follows the events of March of the Machine and checks in on worlds that were invaded by the Phyrexians. Omenpaths are essentially portals that allow individuals, not just planeswalkers, to travel between realms, which probably explains why we’re seeing so many familiar faces (or silhouettes of faces) in the key art for the set.
Thunder Junction notably takes place on a new plane that players haven’t visited before, so we’re not likely to see the aftermath of any interplanar invasion like we did with Wilds of Eldraine or The Lost Caverns of Ixalan. In fact, it’s not even clear at this time if the Phyrexians even landed in Thunder Junction or any new planes following MOM, given that these planes weren’t represented on any of MOM’s battle cards.
There’s little to go off at the moment, but the “Wild West” as a setting has been explored enough to get a sense of what we might expect to see. Think Red Dead Redemption but with mana instead of guns. For what it’s worth, it’s unclear whether Thunder Junction is an entire world or part of a larger plane.
I don’t know about you but when I think western I think cowboys, and when I think cowboys I think horses. Maybe the long-awaited return of horsemanship? Perhaps Thunder Junction is home to a different mount altogether? Wildebeests, steam-punk mechanical bulls, or maybe even rocks like the pioneers used to use in SpongeBob.
Magic has long avoided the depiction of actual guns in card art, though I’m pretty sure Freelance Muscle is packing heat. However, at the very least, guns are a recurring feature of Western cinema, what with all of the standoffs, duels, and shoot-outs that take place. I hope we don’t and doubt we’ll get actual guns in the set, but there’s bound to be an equivalent. An early piece of art depicts a new character wielding what appears to be a firearm-adjacent weapon, possibly one that shoots projectiles. You know, nothing like an actual gun.
If we get some sort of ballistic equipment, I wonder if we’ll get an entire mechanic focused on duels. Mano-a-mano standoffs, if you will. Maybe the return of the clash mechanic? Or a fancy take on the fight mechanic? Whatever it is, someone’s shooting someone else with something.
Let’s talk about the characters for a moment. We already know there will only be one planeswalker featured in each main set moving forward. And with much of the planeswalker roster being desparked in Aftermath, we’re still not sure exactly who’s able to planeswalk or not. But that brings us to our biggest art piece for the set so far.
The headliner for Thunder Junction shows a ragtag group of silhouetted characters, most of which are immediately recognizable. We very clearly see Rakdos and Vraska in the group, Oko’s prominently featured in the art and has a matching silhouette below, and players seem confident that the character on the far left is Tinybones, a skeletal Dominarian that hasn’t been prominently featured in a story yet. The character between Rakdos and Oko appears to be our new friend from the first art-piece, evident by the hat and weapon, which is definitely not a gun.
That leaves mysterious figure #3, which there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on. Some speculate it’s Jace, given his story significance with Vraska, though it could also be Old Rutstein in different attire since he’s been revealed as a traveling caravanner of sorts in another piece of art.
The world of Thunder Junction is being marketed as a place where villains congregate to find fortune and fame. Sounds great for the locals. This means we might see Magic equivalents of all the cliché tropes, like bank heists, bounties, and almost certainly Treasure tokens. Always with the Treasure tokens. Maybe we’ll even get a mean legendary sheriff to bring these villains to justice. Though I’d say, the ban lists are already doing a pretty good job of keeping Oko in ‘cuffs.
Trains are central to many Westerns and a vehicle that hasn't had much if any representation. The trains I'm thinking of carry people, treasure, and are something the characters have little control over, perhaps depicted as crew creatures that stay tapped to keep the vehicle online.
Land, ask a cinema student and they should agree that the land in a western is practically a character itself. The types of land could be huge rock formations loom over the strongest of heroes, or vast expanses of Desert separate people from help and danger.
My personal wish list includes a few things: I’d like to see the Desert theme from Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation revisited, because if not here, when? I want a cactus in the art of at least 10 different cards. And most importantly, above all else, I want a card that makes Tumbleweed tokens. I don’t know what those would do, but I know I want them.
Nothing yet, but I’d expect some previews in early 2024.
Nothing yet, but I’d expect some low-res reddit posts in early 2024.
There are no confirmed Thunder Junction products yet, though we can assume it’ll have the usual array of play boosters and collector boosters, a bundle including some assortment of accessories, basic lands, and a promo card, as well as at least two Commander precons that'll square off in a duel at high noon.
Outlaws of Thunder Junction Art – Illustration by Kieran Yanner
End of the road, travelers. We’re still in the speculation phase for Thunder Junction, but the little we have looks promising. The premise is fun and feels like new territory for Magic, which is always impressive for a game that’s been around for 30 years.
What are you expecting from Thunder Junction? Which villains are you hoping will show up, and which western tropes are you excited to see? What exactly would a tumbleweed token do? Let me know in the comments below or over in the Draftsim Discord.
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