4, Jul, 24

Assassin's Creed Sleeper Shows Competitive Promise!

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It’s hard to know exactly what Wizards of the Coast was thinking in regards to this Assassin’s Creed set. The timing seems really odd, especially with it being a straight-to-Modern set. Doomed to be overshadowed by the release of one of the strongest sets in Magic history, Assassin’s Creed has been rendered an afterthought. Most Magic players probably don’t even know that you can already play with the cards…

That’s right, despite the release date for this set being tomorrow, Assassin’s Creed actually released on Magic Online a few days ago. As strange as this sounds, Wizards of the Coast didn’t exactly make a big deal of it.

This has, however, allowed content creators to try their hand at new ideas. In that vein, there seem to be some Assassin’s Creed cards that are a bit better in Modern than we thought.

Basim Ibn Ishaq

Basim Ibn Ishaq is undeniably a strong engine in any decks that are casting a lot of Historic spells. The once-per-turn clause on this card is a significant drawback, but frankly, this card would be broken without it.

Basim Ibn Ishaq replaces itself rather easily with a focused strategy and offers a growing creature that cannot be blocked. If it sticks around a bit, Basim even becomes card advantage. All in all, it’s an interesting tool—interesting enough, at least, that some Modern content creators are trying it out and seeing some decent results.

On MTGO Assassin’s Creed release day, Aspiringspike tried some interesting Affinity-esque brews with this creature. Utilizing an Emry, Lurker of the Loch shell similar to the one seen in Grinding Breach lists, Basim Ibn Hasaq turns into a threat and a source of card advantage at the same time. Mox Amber can even create mana from this card’s existence. Basim Ibn Ishaq draws on almost every card in this deck.

This combination becomes particularly potent when Emry is allowed to recur Mishra’s Baubles. The engine creates a decent amount of advantage, earning an extra card each turn cycle. Combining that with Basim Ibn Ishaq turns that one card into two, and allows you to push unblockable damage that grows with each hit.

Did the brew perform well? It performed ok, earning Aspiringspike two 4-1 runs in Modern Leagues. This means that the deck has some legs, and could perform well at casual events. That said, it might not be quite able to keep up at larger, more competitive events.

Read More: MTG Best Historic Decks – July 2024

Smoke Bomb

Smoke Bomb may be a surprisingly relevant card in the Modern format for the coming weeks… but just for a few weeks. Once Nadu, Winged Wisdom gets banned, this card’s playability will likely fade away.

For three mana, Smoke Bomb is an instant speed artifact that totally shuts off the Nadu combo. By giving all creatures Shroud, Nadu players have no way to trigger their Bird. If they cannot target their creatures, Nadu cannot trigger.

This allows Smoke Bomb to do something that other hate cannot: completely stop all avenues of Nadu comboing off until the card is removed. Hate pieces like Pithing Needle only stop one way to combo with Nadu. Even if you shut off Shuko, Bristly Bill or Outrider en-Kor can still do the job. Instead of attacking activated abilities, Smoke Bomb targets the ability to target anything. All that said, Dress Down does have a similar effect and, frankly, will be stronger in most situations. Smoke Bomb does have the added bonus of protecting your threats from removal, however.

Ultimately, all Nadu players need to do is destroy Smoke Bomb with some sideboard tech. This isn’t too difficult to do since Reclamation Sage can easily be found with Chord of Calling or Summoner’s Pact. After all, while creatures may have Shroud, Smoke Bomb does not, leaving it open to targeting.

So, is there a way to turn Smoke Bomb into a creature? This is a bizarre question to answer, as most of the answers to it end up getting ruined by Smoke Bomb itself.

Smoke Bomb suffers from another problem: this card’s presence is temporary. Smoke Bomb sacrifices itself at the beginning of your upkeep. Fortunately, there are ways to keep it around. Besides countering its ability, Emry, Lurker of the Loch can become a persistent pain for Nadu players, allowing you to re-cast Smoke Bomb every turn. Sadly, proficient Nadu players will recognize that there is a window to combo since they can do so at instant speed with Outrider en-Kor.

So, is this good enough to stop Nadu? Unless you have a way to recur it, the answer is no. That said, it is still a fringe option that could work in a pinch.

More Toys to Try?

Let’s face it: The timing of this Modern legal Assassin’s Creed set is strange. If it had been released before Modern Horizons 3, it would’ve had a much bigger impact on various formats, and the set would have likely sold better as well.

Even still, there are some interesting tools for Modern players to try. Heck, after Nadu gets banned, these tools could even significantly impact modern players.

For now, though, Assassin’s Creed shouldn’t have much of an impact on the format. There are some cards that offer interesting alternatives to popular decks, but that’s likely as far as these cards will go.

Read More: Top Five MTG Best Bird Cards

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