Thursday, September 18, 2014

Khans of Tarkir: Outlast

Khans of Tarkir brings with it five new mechanics, and based on my review for Standard Pauper, it's a good bet that at least four of them will make their presence felt pretty quickly in the new metagame. Today, I want to take a look at the Abzan mechanic: Outlast.

In some ways, Outlast reminds me of the Level Up mechanic from Rise of the Eldrazi. Like Level Up, Outlast requires a small to moderate investment of mana to increase the power of the creature. In general, the Power and Toughness boost you get from each activation is much better value than you received from the Level Up mechanic, and there is no limit to the number of times you can gain this effect. However, the creature never gains any additional abilities, and worse, Outlast requires you to tap the creature in order to generate the effect.

Outlast would have been amazing at Instant speed; so amazing, in fact, that it probably could not have seen print at Common. So the question is, how good is it at Sorcery speed?

While time will tell, in general I think it's still pretty good. At Common, having something to do with your extra mana every turn is quite good if you're playing more of a Control build. Even better, two of the four Outlast Commons include a secondary ability that grants a evergreen keyword ability to all creatures with a +1 / +1 counter, including itself. So, you get fairly good value from the first activation. After that, you can utilize the creature as long as it remains relevant on the board, and when its no longer effective in combat, spend the extra mana each turn to pump it up until it's big enough to be a threat again.

The biggest downside is the potential for you to take a major tempo hit when you go to activate Outlast but your opponent kills it with Instant speed removal. To get good use out of this mechanic, you'll need to have the ability to protect the creature at Instant speed, since it will take an entire turn after you pump it before you get any utility out of it. Savage Surge will be particularly good in this spot, since it also untaps the creature.

Thus, while it will take some work to get the most value out of Outlast, I would say that the potential is there for this to be quite relevant in Standard Pauper. What do you think?

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