Persist is from Lorwyn block, and has proven to have an impact that reverberates throughout Magic to this day.
Persist appears on creatures. When a creature with it dies (goes from the battlefield to the graveyard), if it had no -1/-1 counters on it, it comes back to the battlefield under its owner’s control with a -1/-1 counter on it.
Seems simple enough, right? Oh hey look, bullet points:
- Weirdly enough, Persist does work on noncreature cards. It just doesn’t natively exist on any. But if your Persist creature becomes a noncreature, or if your noncreature permanent becomes a creature with Persist, those cards would still come back with a -1/-1 counter (even if the counter is practically meaningless).
- Anything returning to the battlefield with Persist counts as a new creature; it essentially counts as a completely different object as far as the game is concerned. So no attacking or activating tap abilities the turn it returns to the battlefield unless it has haste.
- You can respond to a Persist trigger. If the creature gets removed from the graveyard before the trigger resolves, there’s no creature to return, so it won’t.
- If a creature has already Persisted and then the –1/-1 counter gets removed from it, Persist will trigger again when the creature dies. Persist doesn’t care whether or not it has happened to the creature before. It only cares about whether or not the –1/-1 counter is on it whenever it dies.
Like I said at the top, Persist was already a decent mechanic on its own. Pair it with cards like Melira or Solemnity and a sacrifice outlet like Viscera Seer, and things get busted real fast. This is mechanic that already had a lot of good use and potential, and it tends to slowly get better over time as more cards find ways to work with it.
If you want to add Persist to your Magic collection, cardkingdom.com has you covered!