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What is Outlaws of Thunder Junction's The Big Score?

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Don't you have fond memories of cracking open those sweet March of the Machine: The Aftermath booster packs at your local game shop? Yeah, me neither. It turns out selling cards in a non-draftable, micro set via booster packs called "Epilogue Boosters" isn't such a great idea.

Fortunately, Wizards of the Coast wizened to this fact in time to pivot with their next planned micro set, associated with Outlaws of Thunder Junction. According to Mark Rosewater's Blogatog, Wizards of the Coast "wanted to do an Aftermath for the next Magic year, and started by asking what set should have it. We then came to the conclusion that it should be the last set in the "Magic year. All of that happened before March of the Machine: Aftermath came out."

Needless to say, there was no Outlaws of Thunder Junction: The Aftermath.

Introducing: The Big Score

Now Wizards of the Coast had an odd situation on their hands - they had designed / planned to reprint 50 cards to be Standard legal, but no longer had an avenue to sell said cards. Instead of launching another potentially abysmal micro set, they decided to include The Big Score as a separate bonus sheet in Outlaws of Thunder Junction Play Boosters.

Now, in essence, we have two bonus sheets as part of this set: The Big Score as well as Breaking News. Limited players are well aware of this dynamic, as it can lead to some extremely unbalanced booster packs with three or four rares in them! That's exciting if you're cracking open packs for potential value, but less than optimal in a sealed tournament where some players are opening over a dozen rares in their six boosters.

Limited aside, The Big Score is an introduction of 30 different cards under their own set symbol and abbreviation code ("BIG").

Additionally, there are Showcase versions of the cards as well as alternate art, which only appear in Collector Boosters. Five of the special "vault card" treatments also come in raised foil. Finally, there are extended art versions of each regular card in the set. Thus, despite there being just 30 unique The Big Score cards, there are 95 total collector numbers associated with the Standard-legal bonus set.

Want to know the wildest part of all? Every one of these 30 cards are mythic rare! Wizards of the Coast wasn't wasting their time with commons, uncommons, or rares here. If you open a The Big Score card in your Outlaws of Thunder Junction play booster pack, you know it's going to be a powerhouse!

Reprints and New Cards

It would have been neat if The Big Score had included all reprints - then it would have felt like previous bonus sheets we've seen in other sets. Enchanting Tales, the bonus sheet from Wilds of Eldraine, added a fun mix of Enchantment reprints that both made some boosters more valuable to open and made Limited play slightly more variable and interesting.

The Big Score isn't following this model. Instead, it introduces a mix of new cards and reprints, and all of these cards are Standard legal, whereas Enchanting Tales were not part of the Standard environment.

Maybe using the word "mix" is a bit generous. Out of the 30 The Big Score cards, I count exactly three that are straight-up reprints: Grand Abolisher, Rest in Peace, and Torpor Orb.

That means the other twenty-seven cards in The Big Score are all brand new! Well, sort of. They're all new cards in that they have unique names and exist on cards that have never been printed before. That being said, some of them make some very familiar callbacks to previous cards.

For example, there's Memory Vessel, which looks like a Red version of Memory Jar. We have Lost Jitte, a toned-down, less powerful version of Umezawa's Jitte. There's a new lotus in town, this time taking the form of a ring in Lotus Ring. And of course we can't ignore a new Mirran sword, Sword of Wealth and Power!

One of my favorites is Tarnation Vista, which reminds me a little of a cross between Prismatic Vista and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx.

Some Major Value

After reading about this bonus sheet of Standard-legal mythic rares, you may be wondering how difficult it may be to open them. The answer is: more difficult than your typical Outlaws of Thunder Junction rare, but not as difficult as you may fear.

According to Wizards of the Coast's site, The Big Score cards can be found on The List for Outlaws of Thunder Junction. You'll open a card from The List in 1 out of 5 Play Boosters.

What does that mean, exactly? Well, The List is a set of 40 cards: 30 from The Big Score and 10 Special Guests cards (SPG). Special Guests cards are reprints with new art - they're interesting, but out of scope for this article.

With this data in hand, we can do the math. If 1 out of every 5 Play Boosters has a card from The List, and 75% of The List cards are from The Big Score's sheet, then that means you have a 15% chance of opening a single The Big Score card in a Play Booster: roughly 1 in every 6.67 packs. That's not too infrequent in the grand scheme of things - you'll definitely see these floating around in drafts, but you won't see them every time.

The result of this distribution is unsurprising: some of the more desirable cards from The Big Score have become pretty expensive!

Special variants aside, the top of the heap is Simulacrum Synthesizer, which sells for north of $35:

I've faced down this card while playing Standard on Arena, and it can be a major threat in the right artifact-themed build. I have to imagine such a card is also going to be popular in Commander, where artifact themes run rampant.

Some of the other noteworthy, valuable The Big Score cards include Sword of Wealth and Power (about $30), Vaultborn Tyrant (around $28), and Hostile Investigator ($14).

When you factor in all the special printings and versions of these cards, you can open something even more expensive, especially from those Collector Booster packs. Currently, the raised foil, showcase Sword of Wealth and Power sells for almost $300!

I'm not usually interested in foils for myself, but I would not mind cracking open of these gems!

Some of the less-impactful The Big Score cards are a fair bit cheaper, with the worst of them dropping below a buck. Just like with every set, this one is not without its bulk, but at least in this case the "bulk" mythic rares are still interesting.

Wrapping It Up

Hopefully this article demystifies one of the most confusing aspects of Outlaws of Thunder Junction: the distribution of special, bonus sheet printings in the set. The Big Score is one of these printings. Like previous bonus sheets, these occur every so often in booster packs and can add some fun diversity to the set. Unlike some previous iterations, The Big Score is 100% Standard legal and contains a mix of both reprints and new cards alike.

Perhaps the most confusing component is the fact that The Big Score is one of two bonus sheets you can find in Outlaws of Thunder Junction, with Breaking News being the other. Oh, plus you have the other 10 reprints on The List that you can open in these Play Boosters. So really, it's like three bonus sheets...and when you add in the Commander variants, that makes 5 different set symbols?

I'm happy Wizards of the Coast decided not to sell Outlaws of Thunder Junction: The Aftermath boosters, and I recognize they pivoted late in the game by introducing The Big Score cards in Play Boosters. I respect the adaptation to what the market told them, don't get me wrong. I just hope upcoming sets are a little less confusing. One thing is for sure: when you open an Outlaws of Thunder Junction Play Booster, you never know what will be inside!


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