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Outsiders Preview: Spreading Plague

The Assassin class made a surprise debut in Dynasty, representing the first time a new class was introduced and fully supported in an expansion set. (Merchants remain an unsupported class without a card pool to speak of.) Within that set, Arakni was limited to a narrow strategy of disrupting and banishing the opponent's deck. From what we've seen of Outsiders, we're about to gain a host of new tactical avenues to explore - most notably, the ability to inflict opponents with debilitating auras.

Today's preview showcases the unique ways in which Assassins will be able to deliver these potent poxes. The contract mechanic has conditioned us to expect Assassin effects on hit, but Spreading Plague changes the calculus when deciding how to defend.

The artwork for this card was created by Othon Nikolaidis, the artist behind memorable cards like Lumina Ascension, Yendurai, Embodiment of Earth, and both of Briar's hero cards. Check out his artwork on ArtStation here.

Imagine the following scenario: Arakni has presented a Surgical Extraction for 4 damage, with the threat of a card banished from your deck and a card (of their choice) banished from your hand. You're Iyslander, so there are plenty of blues at stake here.

Card image of Surgical Extraction (Blue)

This is a high priority attack, one that Arakni spends the whole game searching for and you definitely want to block. If you throw a perfect 4 defense onto it, they're likely to climb over the top with an attack reaction (as the Assassin class is quite prone to do) and still score that on-hit, stripping another card from your hand. It's a sound moment for considering an over-block; even if that leaves you with a single card in hand, you can get a valuable blue into your arsenal.

Enter: Spreading Plague.

You now have a new variable to consider. A robust defense will certainly put a stop to the on-hit effects, but Bloodrot Pox auras deal you 2 damage each unless you pay 3 resources apiece to avoid that. A Surgical Extraction for 4, overblocked with 3 cards, could now be doing more damage than it actually would have dealt - and odds are you no longer have the cards in hand for pitching to avoid that!

If, like Frostbite tokens, we see cards that compound the value of your poxes, this is sure to become a key playline for the pox strategy. But even without that, Spreading Plague adds to the reaction toolbox that defines the Assassin class. Pitching one of these early in the game - a likely prospect, due to its situation value and yellow pitch value - will have a similar gameplay-altering effect to a revealed Pummel.

The future of the Assassin class looks to be one of hard decisions due to a crippling and unpredictable suit of attack reactions - of which Spreading Plague stands to be a likely all-star. Be sure to keep an eye on the Rathe Times for articles exploring this and other new archetypes in the wake of Outsiders.

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