Hello, again! It’s been a while, but after a few depressing months of nothing but Commander 2018 to pour over… ugh… we can finally get back to some true Magic: The Gathering expansions! Core 2019 turned out to be pretty sweet, a lot better than most were hoping for or expecting. No, it wasn’t Dominaria, but I would gladly draft Core 2019 over Ixalan or Amonkhet any day, somewhere down the line.
And with that, we are currently welcoming the first spoilers of Guilds of Ravnica, the long awaited return to one of Magic’s most popular planes. Normally, we would wait for all of the cards to be spoiled before we start writing about them, so we must have something really special to write about if we are breaking with tradition.
And indeed we do today, a card that will easily be a staple of Standard, is set to replace a few popular options in Modern, and will provide a much-needed answer to some of Legacy’s meanest threats.
Boom, two mana, kill anything! Not just creatures, but artifacts, enchantments, Planewalkers, and even lands! How much more efficient of a card can Wizards make? Sure, the added cost of ramping your opponent sucks, but that has little meaning in Modern or Legacy, at least. Putting them ahead a turn is easily worth finishing off a reanimated Griselbrand, pulverizing a charging Tarmogoyf, or blasting Liliana of the Veil out of nowhere.
In Standard, there currently is no better removal spell, period. Fatal Push is gone, Cast Down can’t target legendary creatures or non-creature permanents, and Vraska’s Contempt is a bit expensive for the added bonus of “exile,” which has little meaning now that the Gods have rotated out. Assassin’s Trophy is simply the best of the best, killing off any big threat, messing up an opponent’s mana fixing, crushing any pesky artifact or enchantment that normal removal spells can’t target.
Best of all, it wastes Teferi and his smug face.
As it stands, there is no reason not to use this spell, we just have to wait and see if the Golgari Black/Green deck becomes a tier-1 force to be reckoned with. The Slimefoot saproling deck just got a huge boost from this card, and it could make some waves now that Mono-Red is no longer a powerhouse and Goblin Chainwhirlers will be few and far between. Combining all of the Black removal and Green ramp in Standard can lead to nice control deck that leads into a bomb like Vraska, Relic Seeker or whatever else Guilds of Ravnica has yet to spoil.
Maybe even the dark elves will have a say in Standard with a healthy dose of underrealm dwellers from Ravnica.
What’s there to compete with
In Standard, this is simply the most broken card to contend with, and it will be for quite some time since we’re rotating now. It’s destined to be at the forefront for the next two years. So instead, we’re looking at Modern, where the most obvious card this will compete with resides.
Same price, same effect, different situations. Abrupt Decay has been the standard for Black/Green removal in Modern for a very long time, since the last time we went to Ravnica actually. This card shines against Blue counterspell decks, but these sort of decks also don’t run that many permanent targets for it to hit.
Abrupt Decay is best used in aggressive decks, killing off small blockers and letting the beaters bash in. Artifacts or enchantments in Modern are also always cheap and always fall to this card as well. In essence, it gets everything done that you want in Modern… just so long as the game doesn’t go on too long.
This is where Assassin’s Trophy takes the reigns. In a longer game of Modern, this card will take care of anything and everything, especially cards that Abrupt Decay could not. Not a single card your opponent plays, outside of a niche card like Thrun or those pesky Slippery Bogles, can enter the battlefield without an ounce of sweat if you have a Forest and a Swamp staring down your opponent.
Assassin’s Trophy offers little in blowing up lands in Modern since it’s not that common of a tactic in the format. This is, unless, you’re blowing up Tron lands and want to ruin your opponent’s turn-3 Karn Liberated, a situation where Assassin’s Trophy is clearly the superior option.
Also, in Modern, there is not much downside to ramping an opponent a single basic land either. No fear there.
All this card has to fear is counterspells, meaning it’s all the more weaker against Blue decks than Abrupt Decay. It really depends on your Metagame one which to pick for your main deck, but ultimately, you’re going to want access to both.
Another Modern staple this card is getting comparisons to. Obviously, the two cards have the same effect of removing a threat and giving the opponent a land. Path to Exile only targets creatures, and does so for a single mana from a color that needs no help in the removal department.
Assassin’s Trophy is far more versatile by destroying all permanents, but it’s harder to cast since it requires two colors. Exiling a creature is also far more valuable in Modern, where recursion decks run rampant and can’t function without creatures to bring back. Path to Exile is ultimately still a better card than Assassin’s Trophy, but woe be unto anybody playing against Abzan in the near future.
Legacy – Blow Up Lands
Plenty of Legacy decks get by on using utility lands to great effect, making a cheap way to destroy them all the more valuable. Basic lands in Legacy have little meaning on the board, and your opponent won’t be happy to see them as a replacement once you take out these classic threats.
One of the most infuriating cards to deal with in Legacy, the cheap cost of Assassin’s Trophy won’t make it too difficult to put the port in the graveyard. And thank goodness!
No more getting lost on the way. Your opponent will have to take that damage and like it! Blow this up before combat, especially if it’s their last line of defense.
Did your opponent tap a Strip Mine or a Wasteland for mana? Punish them easily with Assassin’s Trophy.
This card crushes creature decks and limits how many plays can be made in a single turn if you want to keep those creatures alive. With Assassin’s Trophy’s cheap casting cost, you’ll be able to save your best creatures and still have enough left to blow the tabernacle away.
See you later, Elf combos!
Your 20/20 flyer might be indestructible, but your Dark Depths certainly isn’t! All that mana you sunk into it now has no value.
You’re going to have to pay for those artifacts and Eldrazi without the aid of ramp, buddy. See ya!
Normally, this hateful card just sits back and turns into a creature when it can slip in for easy infect damage. They usually escape removal by transforming only when an opponent is tapped out and can’t target the creature. No longer! Assassin’s Trophy makes it an easy target regardless of if it’s been activated or not.
Assassin’s Trophy puts Goglari on a path to being one of the strongest color combinations in Standard Magic, and with longtime favorite three-color combinations like Jund and Abzan getting a boost from it, non-rotating formats like Modern and Legacy will also feel its pain.
And the Magic: The Gathering community knows this all to well with the card rocketing up to $35 the second it was announced. Happy drafting! I know I’m not paying that much for it.
Guild of Ravinca will be released on Oct. 5, and as always, we’ll have our favorite cards picked out long before then. Expect to see Assassin’s Trophy at the very top.