Commander Staples – Outpost Siege

What’s up, Commander players! Today I’m covering a card that wants you to make a bold choice. Choice is a beautiful gift almost every time it’s offered. I’m thankful that you made the choice to read my post today. I don’t post nearly enough. Every day I see other bloggers who simply out-post me. I can hardly keep up. It’s like some sort of siege. Do you like puns, because I’m about to point out some pros vs. khans. Stop dragon your feet and get ready for some choice words!

Outpost Siege was first introduced in Fate Reforged, the second of three Tarkir expansions. The story of the expansion sees planeswalker Sarkhan Vol go back in time to the plane’s distant past, where dragons clashed with clans of humanoids. In the first expansion, Tarkir was revealed as a plane ruled by the clans. Fate Reforged offered players the choice of sides in the past conflict, and help the plane reforge its fate. The third expansion, Dragons of Tarkir is a pretty big spoiler of how that conflict ended up, but players can still play Outpost Siege and the 4 other Siege cards in the cycle and make the choice for themselves.

Make no mistake, the other Siege cards are all great in their own way. I could write a post about the finer points of each one, but none of them are really considered Staples. Not in the way that Outpost Siege is. One major reason is that none of them have a definitive mode. Either choice on the other Sieges could jive with your strategy, or with the situation, but with Outpost Siege, that strategy has to really spit flames for you to choose Dragons. It’s weird to put together a Staple post that diminishes a strategic element of said Staple, but here we are. Choice cards create such a fork in the road.

Choosing Dragons with Outpost Siege means you’re probably playing something like a go-wide suicide strategy, or maybe even Norin the Wary. Having creatures leave the battlefield isn’t always easy, because the primary way they leave is in fragments. But the wording allows for blink effects, and the ability to get damage triggers through cards like Planar Void or Rest in Peace when your creatures are destroyed or sacrificed. It can be a useful rattlesnake to deter opponents from attacking into your army, but overall, the damage output is relatively low. It’s unlikely to kill an opponent, and too timing-sensitive to be a reliable source of removal. Thanks, Dragons, for showing up at the Outpost. We know you’ll win the war.

Let’s talk Khans. Maybe you heard Captain Kirk scream it, or caught the hushed whispers of a terrified populace after Genghis passed through. Or you have Chaka’s boxed sets on vinyl and blue ray. I know you’re out there. I know when you choose Khans, you say Chaka Khans. Maybe a few times. Your friends roll their eyes, but they secretly love it. Partly because they know you’ve made the right choice. Even Norin the Wary and those goblin tokens who can’t figure out which end of the sword to hold know it. Choose Khans when you Outpost Siege.

Choosing Khans opens up the future world of card advantage to you! Huzzah! And congratulations especially to the mono-red players, who really struggle with card advantage. Having access to extra cards over the course of a turn is often what wins games. Two cards are better than one, to put it another way. Outpost Siege is enough like drawing an extra card every turn that it’s sometimes tough to tell the difference. That in itself would make this a tremendous Staple for red, and a pretty great card overall. But there are a few wrinkles that are worth noting for extra strategic potential.

Outpost Siege triggers at the beginning of upkeep, which is the first time in your turn that you’d be able to cast anything anyway. A bit better than drawing an extra card during your draw phase. Access to a critical instant spell during your upkeep can be the difference between winning and losing. And since Outpost Siege allows the card to be cast this turn, it’s almost functionally identical to having that card in your hand during upkeep if it’s an instant. The card isn’t actually ever ‘drawn’ which is a double-edged sword, as draw triggers can be like Psychosis Crawler or like Underworld Dreams. Sometimes it’s good to ‘draw’ without the trigger.

Another key thing to note with Outpost Siege is that you don’t just get to ‘cast’ the exiled cards, you get to ‘play’ them. That specifically allows you to play lands too. There are more than a few cards throughout Magic that exile cards from various places and allow you to cast them, but significantly less allow you to play lands from among them.

A final thing to note about the ability is that the card exiled with Outpost Siege is immune to discard. While that rarely comes up during your turn, Outpost Siege is a red card, and so is Wheel of Fortune and a host of other cards that dump your hand in favour of something new. Pretty niche, but it’s an extra element of strategy you can use to your advantage.

So why not play Outpost Siege? The argument that you’ll often permanently exile poorly timed or uncastable cards is valid, but that’s the price you pay. And while it’s one of the best sources of card advantage in red, and by extension Boros (red and white), and still pretty great in Rakdos and Mardu – once you add either blue or green to the mix, Outpost Siege is probably outclassed. Blue and green simply do card advantage better. But add all the strategic elements together, and Outpost Siege may still find a role in decks with blue and green. You can always switch gears and choose Dragons!

Some Staples are expensive and some are very cheap. Very, very cheap. Outpost Siege has a few printings, including one coming up in Commander 2020. It’s under a dollar. Possibly under half that. Many Commander enthusiasts will get them in precons this year, or got them in precons recently. Which is great. This isn’t a card you triple sleeve and hide in a safety deposit box, this is one to be sleeved up to play. It should absolutely be noted that mono-red is a viable entry point to just about every Magic format ever made, in large part because those decks are cheap to build. Commander is no different. Outpost Siege helps keep that entry point an actual interesting choice and not just a concession to budget.

In summation, red decks are a lot of fun, but can struggle with card advantage, particularly if they don’t include blue or green. Outpost Siege is a steady source of card advantage that plays like drawing a card but has extra strategy involved too. It even has a CMC that’s pretty manageable, especially for multi-coloured decks. Choosing Dragons might be rare, but it’s great to have the option, and it can work well in the right deck. And the card costs less to buy than a snack. Overall, this Staple showcases the simple power of having access to another card each turn, and the very complicated power of choice. Thanks for reading!

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