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Paradoxical Outcome: Exclusive Kaladesh Spoiler

As I'm sure you know, Kaladesh is right around the corner, and thanks to Wizards being super awesome, we've got a sweet preview to show you today. Ever since we started getting previews a few sets ago, I've always said that I'd like to be able to preview an Against the Odds card, and when I first saw our preview card for Kaladesh, I thought my wish had finally come true. Then, after thinking about the card for a while, I realized that today's card is actually a lot more powerful than it looks at first glance, and while I still think it has a place in Against the Odds, there's a chance it has some more competitive applications as well. Anyway, I've kept you in suspense long enough. Let's take a look at Paradoxical Outcome!

Paradoxical Outcome

Paradoxical Outcome is an amazingly difficult card to analyze because we've literally never seen anything like it before. Probably the closest thing we have is Part the Veil, which has a similar mana cost but is otherwise worse in just about every way, since it doesn't draw cards, can't bounce non-creatures, and has to bounce every creature, whether you want to or not. Now, I hear some of you wondering why you'd want to bounce your own things back to your hand, and this is a fair question. Generally speaking, we want permanents on the battlefield, not in our hands. However, this is a fairly simplistic view of the card. 

A more optimistic player might see Paradoxical Outcome as an extremely powerful instant-speed card draw spell with the potentially annoying downside of having to return some stuff to your hand. In the right build, it should be fairly easy to make Paradoxical Outcome into an instant-speed draw four (or more) for only four mana (which is way above the curve for instant-speed card draw). Still, another way to look at Paradoxical Outcome's ability to return permanents to your hand is as an upside rather than a drawback, for example, when you cast it to bounce your creatures in response to a sweeper like Planar Outburst, Radiant Flames, or Descend Upon the Sinful. While we will talk about all of these things in a few minutes when we talk about Paradoxical Outcome in Standard,  I'm most excited about Paradoxical Outcome in Modern, where it has the potential to facilitate some really exciting and fun combos.

In Modern

The main reason I'm excited for Paradoxical Outcome in Modern is that we've seen combos built around the mass bouncing of permanents before, and with Paradoxical Outcome in the format, it's possible we see some new ones develop. While none of these decks have broken into the top tiers of the format, they have proven to be good enough to occasionally steal a tournament or 5-0 a league. Probably the best example of this is Puresteel Paladin Cheerios, which uses Retract and Hurkyl's Recall to mass bounce a bunch of cheap equipment, replay them to draw more cards with Puresteel Paladin, and eventually win with Grapeshot

Now, to be fair, I'm not sure that Paradoxical Outcome fits into the above deck for one big reason. While getting some extra card draw along with the mass bounce is awesome (and could make Paradoxical Outcome sneak in as a one-of), the problem with Paradoxical Outcome is that it is really expensive compared to the other options. If your goal is to pick up a bunch of your own artifacts, Retract and Hurkyl's Recall are just so much more efficient that it's hard to justify the inclusion of Paradoxical Outcome. On the other hand, if you are looking to bounce non-artifact permanents or a mixture of permanents, Paradoxical Outcome is clearly the best option avaliable in Modern, and is  incredibly powerful when the goal is to generate value by comboing off. 

Building Paradoxical Outcome in Modern

First, I should warn you that this list is more to show off the combo potential of Paradoxical Outcome in Modern than to win a tournament. Actually, it would be a very good candidate for something like Against the Odds. Anyway, let's start with the list itself and then I'll break down how it works. 

The main plan of this deck is to win with one big turn when it will generate a ton of mana, draw a ton of cards thanks to Paradoxical Outcome, and eventually finish off the game with Goblin Bushwhacker or Grapeshot

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Tangleroot is the engine of the deck, allowing us to generate an extra mana every time we cast a creature. Generally speaking, Tangleroot is horrible, giving us a weird discount on casting creatures but also being symmetrical, so it potentially helps our opponent as well. However, there is a trick to making Tangleroot amazing:

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With a Tangleroot on the battlefield, our 16 "free" creatures actually generate mana. For example, we cast a Memnite for zero, get a green mana from Tangleroot, and end up netting one mana in the process. Ornithopter, Burning-Tree Emissary, and Priest of Urabrask do the same thing. What this means is that our deck is essentially playing 16 copies of Desperate Ritual to generate extra mana. With just four of these cards, we end up with four extra mana floating over the course of a turn. 

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To really make the deck work, we need to be able to consistently draw through our deck, and for this, we have two options. First, we have Beck // Call, which we can play before we start casting all of our free creatures to draw a card each time a creature enters the battlefield. More importantly, we have Paradoxical Outcome, which allows us to pick up all of our creatures, draw a bunch of cards, and then immediately recast them to generate more mana to do it all over again. 

All things considered, Paradoxical Outcome makes the entire combo work for a couple of reasons. First and most importantly, Paradoxical Outcome provides value when we don't have a Tangleroot, since we can simply cast a bunch of creatures and pick them all back up to draw a bunch of cards (hopefully including Tangleroot). Second, when we are combing off, Paradoxical Outcome not only draws us oodles of cards but also generates mana, since we can recast the creatures we bounce to get more Tangleroot triggers. Ideally, by this point, we'd have both Beck // Call and Paradoxical Outcome available, so each creature we cast is essentially drawing us two cards and adding a mana, which means we should be able to draw our entire deck and generate more mana than we could ever use. After a few iterations of this loop, we'll end up with all of our creatures on the battlefield and then we can win the game in one of two ways. 

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Plan A is to simply cast a Goblin Bushwhacker, which will give all of our creatures haste, and then attack for with everything for somewhere around 100 damage. Even better, we can cast Goblin Bushwhacker early in the game for free with Tangleroot and then bounce it back with Paradoxical Outcome when we need to kick it for the win. Plan B is Grapeshot, which takes advantage of the fact that when we combo off, we cast a lot of spells all in one turn; assuming we can cast 19, we can generate enough storm to kill our opponent from 20 life with just a single two-mana card. 

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There's one last key piece to our combo: Manamorphose and Pentad Prism. As I'm sure you've noticed by now, Tangleroot gives us green mana, but green mana doesn't help us cast Paradoxical Outcome, Grapeshot, or Goblin Bushwhacker. As a result, we need a way to turn our green mana into red and / or blue mana, which leads us to Manamorphose and Pentad Prism. With either of these cards, we can fix our mana to keep comboing off; plus, neither costs us a card, since Manamorphose literally draws us a card and Pentad Prism can be bounced back to our hand (and reset) by Paradoxical Outcome, drawing us a card in the process. Pentad Prism is also nice because we can play it on Turn 2, which gives us access to four or five mana on Turn 3—this just happens to be enough mana to cast Tangleroot and Beck // Call to start the combo as quickly as possible. 

In Standard

Standard is a little bit trickier because there aren't any obvious combos for Paradoxical Outcome. That said, it still may have a place in the format, either as a value play or as a sideboard option to protect against an opponent's removal (especially sweepers like Radiant Flames or Planar Outburst), but just how powerful Paradoxical Outcome ends up being will mostly depend on the deck. 

1. Cheap Creatures

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While just how good white aggro will be in Kaladesh Standard remains to be seen, just picture for a moment that you are playing a deck similar to the current Wr Humans list, which plays a massive 20 one-drops. You spend the first three turns flooding the board with creatures and doing some attacking, but by Turn 4, your opponent has put up some defense and slowed your attack. With Paradoxical Outcome, you can pick up five one-drops at the end of your opponent's turn (or better yet, in response to their sweeper), draw five cards, and then immediately redeploy all of your threats because they are so cheap. In theory, drawing five fresh cards will find you enough action that you'll be able to push through your opponent's defense and finish out the game. So, not only does Paradoxical Outcome give you amazing protection against sweepers, which are often devastating to very aggressive decks, but it gives these decks a chance to refill their hand at very little cost, since it can replay its creatures so quickly. Here's a rough draft: 

2. Flash Creatures

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Another possibility is to use Paradoxical Outcome as a card-draw engine in some sort of UW Spirits or Ux Flash deck. The basic idea is similar to the one we just talked about—bouncing creatures and being able to replay them—but in some ways, flash creatures are even better than one-drops because if you have the mana, you can replay them right away at the end of your opponent's turn. While drawing a couple of cards and replaying Dimensional Infiltrator and / or Rattlechains is sweet (and remember, this can all be done at instant speed after, for example, leaving up a counterspell), maybe the biggest payoff is Elder Deep-Fiend. We've already seen successful Standard decks built around chaining together Elder Deep-Fiends to keep an opponent tapped down for several turns in a row, and Paradoxical Outcome gives the deck access to even more copies of Elder Deep-Fiend while also digging through the deck to find more action, thanks to the card draw ability. Maybe something like this:

3. Enters-the-Battlefield Stuff

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Finally, the last possibility is simply using Paradoxical Outcome for value, most likely by bouncing permanents with enters-the-battlefield abilities. While just returning a single Reflector Mage, drawing a card, and recasting Reflector Mage to bounce another opposing creature probably isn't good enough, if you can bounce two or three permanents for value, Paradoxical Outcome suddenly becomes a very above-the-curve instant-speed card-draw spell. One interesting possibility is the Oath cycle. While all of the Oaths are pretty good to pick up and replay, Oath of Nissa is especially nice, since it is super cheap to recast; Oath of Jace give additional filtering, so if you draw into a bunch of lands with Paradoxical Outcome, you can turn them into more valuable cards; and Oath of Gideon gives you tokens each time you cast it. Considering Bant also gives us Spell Queller and Reflector Mage—two of the better creatures to bounce for value—could it be possible that Paradoxical Outcome takes the place of the rotating Collected Company as the four-mana, card-advantage-generating instant of choice? It seems likely that some sort of Bant deck will survive rotation, since nearly all of the best creatures in the format fall into its colors and, apart from Collected Company, it loses fairly little. While Paradoxical Outcome might be a long shot to make the deck, it seems to generate enough value that it might at least be worth testing. 

The other place I envision Paradoxical Outcome in Standard is some sort of UR Spells deck along the lines of the Fevered Visions burn decks. Goblin Dark-Dweller and Bedlam Reveler have two of the most powerful enters-the-battlefield triggers in all of Standard, and assuming you can get enough spells in your graveyard, being able to repeatedly play Bedlam Reveler for two mana while also drawing from Paradoxical Outcome has potential to generate an absurd amount of card advantage for a very low cost (building a six-mana draw six seems fairly easy). I'm thinking something like this:


Anyway, that's all for today. Is Paradoxical Outcome good enough to see play in Standard or Modern? It's really hard to say. While I think the card is more powerful than it looks at first glance, it's also so unique and so different from anything we've seen before that it's really hard to say anything for sure. One thing I do know is that I'm super excited to try it out in a bunch of different builds, because the card seems not only sneakily powerful but also super fun! 

So, what do you think? Does Paradoxical Outcome have tournament potential, or is it more of an Against the Odds card? What decks and synergies did I miss? Let me know in the comments, and as always, you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at 



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