Top 10 Outlaws

(Vial Smasher, Gleeful Grenadier | Art by Borja Pindado)

Outlaw Country

Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know that Morophon, the Boundless is the only five-color identity outlaw (at least until we see Ezio Auditore da Firenze later this year)?

Party 2.0 is here, and the party is still going!

Sarcasm aside, I am kind of down with outlaws. I do think that Rogues being on both lists was a... choice, but Assassins, Mercenaries, Pirates, Rogues, and Warlocks banding together to make a western troupe up to no good does make a lot of flavor sense. More importantly, though, if you were going to build outlaws, what would be the best creatures to do it with?

Top 10 Non-Changeling Outlaws

Wizards did learn one lesson from Party that I appreciate: So far at least, the cards and commanders that care about Outlaws just care about various creatures of that type, rather than combining them all into Voltron to turn on some sort of ability. With that in mind, Changelings are a little less good in an Outlaw deck, but still, let's just get those out of the way, shall we?

Top 10 Changelings

  1. Realmwalker
  2. Changeling Outcast
  3. Mirror Entity
  4. Taurean Mauler
  5. Masked Vandal
  6. Bloodline Pretender
  7. Universal Automaton
  8. Morophon, the Boundless
  9. Graveshifter
  10. Mothdust Changeling

While I do think that we'll see lots of Outlaw decks with Morophon, the Boundless at the helm, along with lots of Outlaw decks featuring the likes of Changeling Outcast and Universal Automaton to fill out their low curve, for the most part, not many of these popular changelings are honestly that good. Most don't fit the more popular colors for either the commanders that care about Outlaws or the colors that have the most Outlaws, a condition also known as "being green" (it's not easy, at least in this one instance). With that said, I do think Mirror Entity is going to be a solid addition to just about any Outlaw deck, and that Taurean Mauler may see some fringe play here and there if for no other reason than it gets huge in an archetype that is mostly going to be made up of small creatures.

Overall, however, I think when we get right down to it, we're looking for actual, factual Outlaws. So why not see if we can rustle some up? Heck, why not get the whole band together and form a line-up?

Criteria: Non-Changeling creatures with the creatures types Assassin, Mercenary, Pirate, Rogue, or Warlock that don't change their creature types as they enter the battlefield (lookin' at you, Sakashima and Glasspool Mimic!). As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score, only this time we'll be combining the rankings for each individual creature type.

10. Rogue: Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire, Pirate: Glint-Horn Buccaneer, Warlock: Gixian Puppeteer, Assassin: Fleshtaker, Mercenary: Thrill-Kill Disciple

In a theme that will be repeated for all but one of these rankings, the Rogue comes in at most popular with Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire having 54,723 inclusions, then proceeding to Pirate with Glint-Horn Buccaneer having 36,389, with Warlocks coming in with Gixian Puppeteer at 23,812, Assassins nominating Fleshtaker at 9,316, and Mercenaries bringing up the distant rear with Thrill-Kill Disciple's meager 845.

For me at least, despite Varragoth being the most popular card in out number 10 slot, it's also the least interesting. While it can be repeatable, at the end of the day it's usually just a Diabolic Tutor that rarely sticks around to actually do the tutoring. What's far more impactful, in my mind, is the Pirate that you likely might be tutoring for, Glint-Horn Buccaneer!

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The Minotaur Pirate goes infinite with essentially anything that will make mana or draw cards on damage, meaning Curiosity is on the table as well, but suffice it to say, Glint-Horn Buccaneer is well-known at high-powered tables and more than deserving of this slot as the number 10 Pirate.

As for the other number 10s worth mentioning? Well, Gixian Puppeteer is rapidly moving up the ranks of Aristocrats decks that can often draw a second card every single turn, and can absolutely find a way to sacrifice it to get the Grim Haruspex that was letting them do that back onto the battlefield. Speaking of sac effects, Fleshtaker provides one that adds up quickly and will also have you digging through your deck for your win condition at the same time. It's a pity it costs mana, but is well worth paying if it's all you've got!

9. Rogue: Lotho, Corrupt Shirriff, Pirate: Dire Fleet Daredevil, Warlock: Oriq Loremage, Assassin: Dark Impostor, Mercenary: Dauthi Mercenary

Lotho, Corrupt Shirriff has taken cEDH a bit by storm since it was printed in The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth. Granted, we're not talking anywhere near the level of fellow LotR cards Orcish Bowmasters or The One Ring, but it's a poor Commander table that isn't routinely casting two spells a turn, making Lotho a rather quick return on investment. As for what to do with all that mana? Well, Dire Fleet Daredevil isn't exactly a cEDH option, but definitely gives you an outlet for those extra treasures once it's done nabbing the best spell out of your opponents graveyard. A favorite of Aristocrats and Jeskai Blink decks both, Daredevil most often provides you with a 2/1 first striker that is likely to be a pain in combat early and chump block late, that also provides you with a removal or card draw spell as it enters. If your deck can do this whole song and dance repeatedly, that gets very annoying, very quickly, but the real crowning achievement is stealing an opponent's win-con! Finally, Mercenaries continue to drag behind at a rather depressing clip, but Dauthi Mercenary is at least worth mentioning, as an "unblockable" Shadow creature that can have all of your late-game mana thrown into it for a final blow.

8. Rogue: Gonti, Lord of Luxury, Pirate: Spectral Sailor, Warlock: Priest of Fell Rites, Assassin: Anhelo, the Painter, Mercenary: Gunner Conscript

The current best Flying Man in the format, Spectral Sailor coming down at flash speed for a single mana already makes them more than competitive for any deck looking to have small, evasive creatures, but it also being a sink for infinite mana takes the cake when it comes to high-powered Magic. On the more mid-tier side of the power spectrum, however, Priest of Fell Rites provides you an Animate Dead alternative that is less likely to raise eyebrows and is easily repeatable. This makes it the premiere Reanimate effect not only among Warlocks, but also for any Orzhov Aristocrats deck. If you're more looking for a commander, however, then you could do worse than making an Outlaw deck around Anhelo, the Painter. As we've seen so far, most Outlaws don't mind being thrown in the graveyard, nor throwing their fellow Rogue's Gallery there along the way. As for what spells to copy that would fit in to an Outlaw deck? It turns out, there's no shortage of spells that care about Pirates, no shortage of Rogue tokens, and did you know that Mercenaries used to be entirely about searching for more Mercenaries?

7. Rogue: Faerie Mastermind, Pirate: Hostage Taker, Warlock: Katilda, Dawnhart Prime, Assassin: Callidus Assassin, Mercenary: Jedit Ojanen, Mercenary

As we continue up the list of extremely efficient, flash flyers with mana sinks on them, Yuta Takahashi's World Championship card makes an appearance! Faerie Mastermind is a card drawing machine, usually good for a card or two on its own via your opponents normal game actions before you force the issue with its activated ability. As for the other notables, Hostage Taker is an easily repeatable removal spell on a stick that also lets you cast the creature you removed, letting you hum "A Pirate's Life" as you plop it down on your side of the battlefield. If you'd rather do the same thing for probably less mana overall, however, then maybe take a look at Callidus Assassin.

6. Rogue: Notion Thief, Pirate: Impulsive Pilferer, Warlock: Witch of the Moors, Assassin: Murderous Redcap, Mercenary: Robaran Mercenaries

I was already in love with Impulsive Pilferer, but I get the feeling that in the wake of the Outlaw mechanic, a lot of other folks are about to start liking it a lot more, too. A 1/1 that grabs you a Treasure on its way out would've already been playable, but adding the Encore on to get you three more is just gravy, especially in any deck that cares about death triggers. The colors you're likely to be in if that's the case? Rakdos+, meaning you'll probably also want to throw a Murderous Redcap in there! Most well known for going infinite with the broken Persist mechanic that's guardrails can be sidestepped via +1/+1 counters, Redcap can also stand on its own feet in any deck that cares about recursion. Finally, Robaran Mercenaries is something you'll see more in legendary matters decks, but can also just be very good if you want a second copy of your commander with a relevant tap ability.

5. Rogue: Grim Hireling, Pirate: Captain Lannery Storm, Warlock: Breena, the Demagogue, Assassin: Mari, the Killing Quill, Mercenary: Wasteland Raider

For those unaware, Grim Hireling is among the class of cards that are much better in multiplayer, due to their "combat damage to a player" trigger that triggers for each opponent damaged. In other words, you can get six Treasure tokens a turn if you're getting through to each opponent, which is nothing to scoff at. If you'd rather get started a turn earlier, however, then you might take a look at Captain Lannery Storm, who immediately comes down with haste and gets you a Treasure, whether she gets through or not. Maybe the best card on this list for Outlaw decks is Mari, the Killing Quill, however, also giving you Treasure tokens when you get through with combat damage, only also giving most of your Outlaws deathtouch along the way. Most won't be brewing with her at the helm, given her mono-color status, but nonetheless, she's sure to be a mainstay of any Outlaw deck.

4. Rogue: Morbid Opportunist, Pirate: Siren Stormtamer, Warlock: Sedgemoor Witch, Assassin: Queen Marchesa, Mercenary: Kellogg, Dangerous Mind

I claimed earlier that the premiere Flying Man of the day was Spectral Sailor, and I stand by that. If you go by the numbers, however, then Siren Stormtamer is actually the more popular entry. And while I'm not super high on the viability of its counter ability, there's no question that it is some solid upside on a 1/1 flying body. Queen Marchesa's more robust form comes with a higher cost of entry, but with the face commander of the Outlaw deck also being Mardu, don't be surprised to see her gracing many an Olivia deck. She's in the precon, and is unlikely to come out so long as she's pumping out Assassin tokens. In fact, with her card draw, tokens, deathtouch, and haste, I honestly think that she'd make a fine Outlaw commander herself. Given that we just talked about three great Outlaw creatures at number five on the list who make Treasures, however, we'd be a bit remiss not to mention Kellogg, Dangerous Mind. Extremely similar to Captain Lannery Storm, he makes a Treasure on attack and has haste, but gets a bit of an upgrade by having first strike, as well. While I actually think that you're unlikely to do much with his Treasure sac ability, it is there and it is possible that it will pull out a game for you. Most decks, however, are just going to be looking to use Kellogg as another means to get Treasure and smash face, and there's certainly nothing wrong with that.

3. Rogue: Opposition Agent, Pirate: Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, Warlock: Prosper, Tome-Bound, Assassin: Royal Assassin, Mercenary: Seahunter

If you're not a high-power player, the top of this list is going to get real boring for you real quick. So rather than rant on and on about how good Opposition Agent and Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer are, or how ubiquitous Prosper is, why not take a beat and talk about an old-school staple that doesn't see as much love these days? Royal Assassin can provide repeatable targeted removal every turn, at a base level, provided people are, well, doing things. It is not uncommon for people to not do things when they see a Royal Assassin, however, which is in my book, an even better win. If the rest of the table isn't swinging at you, then you've only got more time for whatever black death shenanigans you have going on.

2. Rogue: Dauthi Voidwalker, Pirate: Pitiless Plunderer, Warlock: Vile Entomber, Assassin: Big Game Hunter, Mercenary: Moggcatcher

Blah, blah, blah, Dauthi Voidwalker is an amazingly efficient card that can steal opponents stuff and casually get through for three damage a turn in a pinch. Pitiless Plunderer has officially reached "it goes infinite if you look at it wrong" territory. What's actually more interesting about these cards to me is that I've been seeing a lot less of them lately. When Voidwalker was originally printed, it was seen as an easy graveyard hate card that would often show up even at lower-powered tables. Pitiless Plunderer was everywhere for a hot minute, being one of the first Treasure cards. With both options being a bit expensive and notorious now, however, they seem to have hit that status where lower-powered tables are reticent to throw them in their decks, an interesting evolution that happens to many "must-include" staples. In other words? They're boring now.

So why not play an old staple that used to have that status and has since lost it, instead? Big Game Hunter is the cheaper Ravenous Chupacabra, with the drawback to boot. It's Madness cost especially makes it a great include in decks that might have effects that have you discarding cards, but even if you're paying the full three mana and have recursion in your deck, this guy can get out of hand quick. Give him a try!

1. Pirate: Dockside Extortionist, Rogue: Zulaport Cutthroat, Warlock: Saryth, the Viper's Fang, Assassin: Massacre Girl, Mercenary: Doomed Necromancer

While I'd love to talk about one of my favorite cards in the game, Saryth, the Viper's Fang, the fact is that there really just isn't very much Outlaw support in green. The best you get is Selvala, Eager Trailblazer, which doesn't care about Outlaws so much as just make Mercenary tokens. I should instead be mentioning that we have a change in the lineup at the top of our list, with the most popular Outlaw for the first time not being a Rogue! That's right, it turns out that a rather unknown Pirate called Dockside Extortionist is really rather very good, being played in 310,876 decks. Who knew?

As for the rest of our Outlaws on top, with the amount of sacrifice effects we've seen on this list, Zulaport Cutthroat is going to see some work as everyone's favorite "we have Blood Artist at home" Outlaw, Massacre Girl will continue to be a terror of a board wipe that can be repeatedly recurred, and we finally, finally, have a Mercenary that I'm not having to jump through hoops to call good in Doomed Necromancer. We got there eventually, Mercs!

Honorable Mentions

If we're done dunking on Mercenaries, then I actually think I want to lead off the honorable mentions by talking about some very old Mercenaries that were also mocked for not being very good: Search Mercs.

Top 10 Mercenaries That Can Search for More Mercenaries

  1. Rathi Assassin
  2. Rathi Intimidator
  3. Cateran Enforcer
  4. Cateran Slaver
  5. Cateran Overlord
  6. Rathi Fiend
  7. Cateran Brute
  8. Cateran Kidnappers
  9. Cateran Persuader
  10. Bog Glider

While we've been quite plain that Mercenaries are unironically the worst of the Outlaw creature types, with the additional creature support, there may now be a place for these searchers of old that couldn't ever keep up with the Rebels of their day. Pickings are, however, still quite slim at the lower mana values. Cateran Persuader still only fetches you Soldier of Fortune, for instance. Things do improve somewhat at the two mana slot, with Rathi Intimidator, Cateran Brute, and Bog Glider now fetching Taii Wakeen, Perfect Shot and Vial Smasher, Gleeful Grenadier, along with a double striker in Omenport Vigilante and a Desert-finder in Silver Deputy. By the time you get to three mana you've now got quite a few options to find with Rathi Assassin, Rathi Fiend, and Cateran Kidnappers, what with the other searchers, the current best overall Mercenary, Doomed Necromancer, and the new Outlaws of Thunder Junction additions Claim Jumper, Jolene, Plundering Pugilist, and Charred Graverobber.

I still don't think it's worth going over the three-mana searchers, much as the play numbers of Cateran Enforcer show that others do, but as more Mercenaries get printed, I'd only expect these to get better.

All that said, when we were making room for the rest of the Outlaws, we really did skip over some good Rogues, Pirates, and Warlocks. So, with that in mind, here's my favorite of each that didn't make the list!

Today, I learned that I might like black too much. Look, there's a reason I do top tens based off of data instead of my opinion, okay?

Nuts and Bolts

There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion…), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Scryfall search.

What Do You Think?

And finally, what are your favorite Outlaws? Are you brewing an Outlaw deck? If so, who's at the helm?

Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the poker table where a shootout always seems to manifest.

Read more:

The Over/Under - Predicting the Popularity of Outlaws of Thunder Junction Commanders

Quick Draw - Thunder Junction Precon Review

Doug has been an avid Magic player since Fallen Empires, when his older brother traded him some epic blue Homarids for all of his Islands. As for Commander, he's been playing since 2010, when he started off by making a two-player oriented G/R Land Destruction deck. Nailed it. In his spare time when he's not playing Magic, writing about Magic or doing his day job, he runs a YouTube channel or two, keeps up a College Football Computer Poll, and is attempting to gif every scene of the Star Wars prequels.

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