Aveline de Grandpré
21, Jun, 24

MTG Assassins Creed Exposes Major Universes Beyond Problem

Article at a Glance

After two days of non-stop card reveals, the spoiler season for Assassin’s Creed is already over. During that short-lived season, MTG players have been consistently delighted by the flavorful new Assassin’s Creed-themed Universes Beyond cards. Offering interesting mechanics and a surprising variety of support, there’s a lot to love even for non Assassin’s Creed fans.

While a lot of MTG players are getting some cool new toys, even in Modern, some are seriously missing out. If you’re a green player, the Assassin’s Creed MTG set is kind of terrible. With barely a handful of new cards to enjoy, there’s a clear disparity in the support each color has received. This, in turn, has revealed a major problem facing not just Assassin’s Creed, but all Universes Beyond MTG sets.

The Short End of the Stick

Aveline de Grandpré

In total, the Assassin’s Creed set only contains eleven green MTG cards. This includes six multicolored cards, one of which is a reprint. While multicolor is typically the way to go in Commander, Naya and Bant don’t quite scratch that mono-green itch.

As if the lack of mono-green cards wasn’t bad enough, only one of them is really good. That being said, the one interesting mono-green card we did get isn’t even that impressive. Offering additional support to Deathtouch Typal, it’s safe to say that Aveline de Grandpré is a pretty niche card.

Thankfully, while Deathtouch Typal might sound like a weird deck, it’s actually a real thing in Commander. Led by Fynn, the Fangbearer, this deck turns otherwise piddly Deathtouch creatures into deadly threats dishing out Poison counters. Thanks to having Deathtouch themselves and potentially buffing creatures with this mechanic Aveline de Grandpré is an auto-include in the 99.

Sadly, outside of this niche Typal option, the rest of green’s offerings aren’t too exciting. In theory, The Aesir Escape Valhalla can provide some interesting repeat value, but it’s hardly the best value engine. Similarly, Viewpoint Synchronization could be a fantastic ramp engine in Commander, but only if you can enable the Freerunning cost.

Mercifully, as we alluded to, there are at least six multicolor cards featuring green which are each somewhat interesting. With Eivor, Wolf-Kissed supporting Sagas and Cleopatra, Exiled Pharaoh providing historical flavor, there are definitely interesting cards. Compared to the likes of white with its 38 cards, however, there simply aren’t many of them.

The Universes Beyond Problem

Captain of Umbar

Sadly, the reason behind the color disparity in Assassin’s Creed isn’t really due to Wizards. Instead, the problems with this set stem from the Assassin’s Creed franchise itself. Being heavily themed around Assassins, murder, and stealth, there’s very little green about the set.

Ultimately, Wizards didn’t have enough material to work with to give green equal support. Technically, Wizards could have scraped the bottom of the barrel to make things work, but that’s not really appropriate. With only 130 cards in the Assassin’s Creed set, Wizards needs to make sure each one is flavorful and iconic.

Worryingly, this is not just a problem with the Assassin’s Creed universe. As Mark Rosewater has been discussing recently, many, if not most, franchises don’t fully support MTG’s color pie. As a result, Universes Beyond sets have a danger of having a wonky color distribution, which is a major problem for Draft sets.

Proving this point, Mark Rosewater claims that “Blue was the problem color for The Lord of the Rings.” Looking at the set’s color distribution, you might not initially believe this, since blue had roughly the same distribution as everything else. That being said, blue nonetheless struggled due to the lack of suitable material.

With little aquatic life, few iconic spells, and minimal inherently blue characters, Wizards was left clutching at straws somewhat. This can be seen in the set’s blue draw spells such as Birthday Escape. While this card is a nice flavorful addition to the set, it being a draw spell is somewhat odd, just like Captain of Umbar.

Similarly, Doctor Who was plagued by this issue due to the lack of outright evil. While there are monsters aplenty, few fit black’s identity, leaving the color underrepresented. In comparison, blue was massively overrepresented, with almost triple black’s card count.

Medium Matters

This Is How It Ends

Ultimately, the unusual design of some blue Lord of the Rings cards is likely due to the set being Draftable. Since this was a core part of the set, Wizards couldn’t just sacrifice one color in the name of fitting flavor. Instead, each color had to be designed to support Draft archetypes which mandate a wide range of mechanics and draw effects.

In essence, The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth was an MTG set first, Universes Beyond flavor bonanza second. For better or worse, the Assassin’s Creed MTG set is the other way around. This is facilitated through the set’s use of un-Draftable Beyond Boosters which change the nature of this release.

In theory, micro-sets utilizing Beyond Boosters may be a great way to heighten the flavor of any Universes Beyond release. Without the constraints of Draft, cards can be made with mechanical flavor in mind, rather than facilitating a playable set. While this seems all well and good, it’s unclear if micro-sets and Beyond Boosters will be here to stay.

As much as the Assassin’s Creed set looks good, March of the Machine: The Aftermath was a complete failure. This set was so bad, in fact, that Wizards scrapped future Aftermath sets, and Beyond Boosters had to be reworked. If Wizards hasn’t done enough, Beyond Boosters may completely flop, along with the entire Assassin’s Creed set.

With this potential failure in mind, it’s little surprise future Universes Beyond micro-sets have not been announced. Instead, all the at we know about a major Lord of the Rings-sized releases. With two massive Universes Beyond MTG sets being released each year, it seems this current color problem won’t go away anytime soon.

Read More: MTG Players Divided By Real-World Historic Figure Cards

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