After a long wait, some loose spoilers and a lot of hype, Outsiders was finally revealed, and we can analyze the relevance it can bring to the classes it intends to support.
What is Outsiders
Scheduled for release on March 24, Outsiders is a draftable set (that is, it has support for a few classes to be played in Sealed and Draft formats) that brings cards aimed at six heroes in the game, three of them new.
The classes aimed at this expansion are: Ranger, Assassin and Ninja (in addition to the generic cards), so we will not see cards for Runeblade or Guardian here.
So let's start with the new mechanics it brings.
New mechanics and themes
The first big news is the Dual Class, which are cards with two classes (so they can be used by any of them). One of the examples is Death Touch (1):
Note that this attack has Assassin and Ranger classes, so it can be used by either one. It also mentions three new tokens: Bloodrot, Inertia and Frailty.
But after all, what do these tokens do?
All these tokens are auras that go to the opponent's control and present some kind of disruption: either dealing damage at the end of the turn or making the opponent discard their hand. Several Assassin and Ranger cards work around these tokens, and I believe it could be a playable theme for a deck.
Another type of deck that is born in this set is the theme focused on daggers - used by Ninja and Assassin. In addition to new daggers for assassins, several cards interact with these weapons. One of the examples is the new legendary equipment Flick Knives and several cards do something similar: damage the opponent and break the dagger, as if we were "throwing" it at the opponent.
Rangers received a new type of equipment: quivers.
The quiver is equipment that does not occupy the space of the hands and can only be used by Rangers and only if they have a bow equipped. Each of the new quivers has an ability, two of which are specializations of Azalea, Ace in the Hole and the new hero Riptide, Lurker of the Deep.
Uzuri, Switchlade and the Assassin Class
The Assassin is the most recent class in the game, being new in Dynasty with the hero Arakni, Huntsman. Despite coming with extensive support and mechanics with Contract, the class has not taken off competitively. But it was to be expected for such a new class and that, at one time or another, would receive more cards.
Uzuri, Switchblade is the second assassin in the game with a different mechanic than Contract. For Magic: the Gathering players, the heroine's ability is very similar to the Ninjutsu, where we change the current attack for another one in our hand.
We also have Stealth, which is a mechanic that, in practice, does nothing. An attack with Stealth only means that it has Stealth and nothing else (it's more of a status), but many other cards care whether the attack has Stealth or not. Uzuri herself is an example of this, but we have other cards that also look at this “status”.
In addition to these more “basic” cards, the set also features their specialization Shake Down, which can be a great disruption when switched, and that's Uzuri's keyword: disruption.
We don't have that many two or less cost cards that have a disruptive on-hit effect, but we can quickly think of a few. Command and Conquer might come to mind first, but several others are relevant: Erase Face, Surgical Extraction, the new cards Infiltrate, Sneak Attack (1) and Wreck Havoc (1) - in addition to attacks that generate new tokens on their on-hit.
So, Uzuri wants to present more basic attacks and then exchange them for attacks with greater power and/or with more relevant on-hits.
Arakni, Solitary Confinement
Arakni, Solitary Confinement is a Blitz-oriented hero. Unlike the old Arakni, this new one will make greater use of the cards available in Outsiders and has a certain cadence of attacks.
His signature weapon, Orbitoclast is not that different from the already known Spider's Bite (and the two new Nerve Scalpel and Scale Peeler), being another good weapon option for the class depending on your opponent.
Furthermore, Arakni, Solitary Confinement will use, in my opinion, several attacks with Stealth to have a cadence of attacks and Attack Reactions to grow them, something that the old Arakni already did, but with the disability of continuing attacks without Blackteck Whisperers.
Riptide, Luker of the Deep
Riptide, Luker of the Deep has the same amount of health as Iyslander, Stormbind, already suggesting that its ability is a bit above the curve, whereas Rangers in general need to somehow get their arrows into the arsenal (usually through the weapon or with cards with the Reload ability), Riptide manages to put the arrow in the arsenal just by playing any card from the hand like Toxicity (1) for example, but its main mechanic is around the traps.
Traps are Ranger (and some Assassin) cards and appeared in Crucible of War. Originally, traps could only be played from the arsenal, but with the new set, this rule has changed, and they can also be played from the hand*, so pay attention to this new rule. With Riptide, in addition to the effects of these traps, the hero deals one damage to the opponent, making clear the synergy with these cards.
However, it wasn't just the traps that came along with the hero. Outsiders also features his signature weapon, Barbed Castaway, his quiver, Driftwood Quiver and the return of the “aim counters” mechanic (introduced in Dynasty) where, with that counter, the arrow gains some additional effect such as Falcon Wing (1).
Riptide comes with excellent arrow and trap support. I see him as a great aggressive hero who still manages to protect himself well (since traps are defense reactions) and he also benefits from older cards like Three of a Kind and New Horizon
Support for Existing Heroes
Despite the three new heroes, the set also features three heroes already known to players, namely Azalea, Katsu and Benji, the Piercing Wind.
As they are already known, we will not focus on each one of them specifically, but we will analyze what Outsiders brings to their decks.
Azalea gains the Crow's Nest quiver, various effects that grant bonuses to arrows, new arrows, cards that continue the “aim counters” mechanic, and other ways to place these counters (which was only possible with the bow Sandscour Greatbow), being then the heroine who won the most cards with this release.
Katsu also gets new attacks and a possible new archetype with daggers, but also better consistency in activating combo effects with an interesting solution: changing the name of the cards thanks to Mask of Many Faces and Be Like Water (1).
In addition, a new specialization and, interestingly, an item are part of the new hero's package. The same goes for Benji, the Piercing Wind highlighting his specialization, Wander with Purpose and Deadly Duo (3).
Honorable mentions: Generic Cards
As with all sets, some new generic cards are great for the game, and this one is no different.
Gore Belching stands out for its high-power and low cost. Although it cannot defend and receives less attack, with Uzuri, it can be "cheated" and end up dealing all the damage that the card presents.
Wreck Havoc (1) is a weakened Command and Conquer. Although the new attack is far from replacing the Majestic card, the fact that it is Rare and close in effects makes it an excellent Budget option for those who can't afford CnC yet.
Amnesia removes all card names, making the effect unique, similar to Erase Face. It's not an attack that goes straight into any deck, but it can cripple some heroes like Katsu, the Wanderer.
Outsiders' impact on the Game
Let's discuss a little about who can win from this collection and how it influences the other heroes.
It's not the time for Assassins yet
Although we have a new range of Assassin cards, new weapons, and even the legendary Redback Shroud, I believe Outsiders still hasn't brought what is needed for the class to become Tier 1.
The Dynasty cards don't merge with the new ones from this set, making Arakni, Huntsman only use the new legendary equipment and Uzuri, Switchblade only some cards with more relevant Contracts.
Furthermore, Uzuri doesn't have efficient ways to generate Silver token to make the most of the equipment the class has, and even if she did, it would go against the grain of Stealth's mechanic - thus weakening her ability.
Ninjas got a great upgrade
The Ninja class receives a beautiful range of cards. In addition to the Katsu and Benji, the Piercing Wind specializations, several cards seek to make the combo mechanics more consistent, being excellent for any of the existing ninjas in the game.
The only ninja that maybe doesn't take advantage of Outsiders so much is Fai, Rising Rebellion because it's more restricted to Draconic cards, but the hero can still use one or another card. Nor can we forget about Ira, Crimson Haze which can use the dagger mechanic to end the game.
Rangers are the big winners
I believe that with this set, the Ranger class reaches a new level and is the favorite class in this set.
Until then, the class's biggest problem was its not-so-relevant attacks. Lexi, Livewire has its elemental cards and excellent arrows like Chilling Icevein (1) and Ice cards to tax the opponent. Azalea, Ace in the Hole has Red in the Ledger, but no other arrow has such a dangerous effect on the opponent, making their attacks weaker.
In Outsiders, in addition to new equipment and the legendary equipment Trench of Suken Treasure, Ranger receives powerful cards that enhance arrows (such as Toxicity (1) and Fletch a Red Tail) and arrows like Widowmaker (1) and Barbed Undertow. That amount of new cards and equipments could put Rangers on the meta's radar and make them competitively viable options.
With this new range of cards it may be the turn of Azalea, Ace in the Hole and Riptide, Luker of the Deep to be options for heroes with an aggressive format based on big attacks and dangerous on-hit effects. Perhaps Lexi, Livewire would benefit from some of these cards (mainly the quivers and the legendary equipment), but I believe that her deck will still remain in the Ice-type group of cards as it already is today.
And that was my review for Outsiders. Furthermore, I found it to be a great set with interesting mechanics and that plays an excellent role in supporting the three classes that needed help to either give consistency to their decks or strengthen them.
Thanks for reading, and until next time!