Previews

We battle the Devs in the upcoming Magic: The Gathering – Assassin’s Creed card game

I sat down with the Wizards of the Coast team to check out a very exciting new product they have for Magic The Gathering. That’s right, it’s time to battle it out in the shadowy world of your favorite Templars and Assassins in Magic: The Gathering – Assassin’s Creed.

In the video above you can see me stumble through a full playthrough with Corey Bowen, Sr. Gameplay Designer for Magic: The Gathering – Assassin’s Creed. He was kind enough to not kick my teeth in while he walked me through the new mechanics we can expect to see in this upcoming new adventure. Let’s get into what’s new beyond the awesome artwork!

The first new mechanic we talked through is the central pillar of both the Assassin’s Creed games, as well as this new Magic: The Gathering offshoot – Freerunning. Rather than try to re-explain it, let’s get it right from the team:

No assassination is truly complete until you’ve escaped in spectacular fashion, bounding effortlessly up and over buildings and whatever other obstacles stand in your way. Freerunning is a new alternative cost that allows you to cast spells for a bit of a savings if earlier in the turn an Assassin you controlled or a commander you controlled dealt combat damage to a player.

Freerunning still applies if you’re not playing Commander—you’ll just need an Assassin to connect. If you are playing Commander, the commander you strike with doesn’t even have to be your commander. You can gain control of a particularly treasonous one and have it act on your behalf. The Assassin and/or commander doesn’t even have to be alive or under your control. As long as it dealt combat damage to a player earlier in the turn, the freerunning cost is now available to you.

Casting a spell for its freerunning cost doesn’t change its mana value. For example, Eagle Vision’s mana value is always 5, even if you paid only {1}{U} for it. Even if you can cast a spell for its freerunning cost, it doesn’t mean you have to. You can ignore freerunning and, I don’t know, take the elevator or something, paying a spell’s mana cost as normal.

In practice, I got to see this in motion when I had spent a great deal of my mana, thinking I didn’t have enough to bring another Assassin to the field. Freerunning allowed me to “cast” that new fighter to the field as I had managed to deal combat damage directly to the Corey. The effect could be used to great effect with a little bit of practice and planning, and I’m eager to see how a pro can unleash it at the most opportune moment.

We also saw the return of three mechanics – Historic, Disguise, and Cloak. If you are rusty (I know I was!) here’s a bit of each:

Historic is a returning game term that refers to artifacts, things with the legendary supertype, and Sagas collectively. Historic itself is used as an adjective to describe other things, so on cards, you’ll see phrases like “a historic spell,” “a historic permanent,” or on cards like Abstergo Entertainment, “a historic card.”

Just remember that if something refers to casting a historic spell, Abstergo Entertainment won’t help you, as playing a land is not casting a spell. Abstergo Entertainment is still historic though, so if you control one and have one in your graveyard, activating the ability of one will allow you to get the other one back to your hand.

We got a look at a few of these historic cards, including the aforementioned Abstergo card as part of a possible Booster Pack draw. We even got to see a rare foil version of it that you can see below:
(foil card)

The second returning card was Disguise. Disguising yourself is a crucial part of closing in on your target to take them down, so let’s get back up to speed on how Disguise is used:

If a card has disguise, you can cast it face down, keeping its identity hidden. It becomes a face-down creature spell, which means it’s a colorless 2/2 and has no name or creature types. It has ward {2} and no other abilities. It also has no mana cost, so it has mana value 0, but to cast it, you pay an alternative cost of {3}.

The resulting creature is, perhaps still not surprisingly, a face-down creature. It still has no name or creature types. It has ward {2} and no other abilities. It has no mana cost and mana value 0. It’s a creature though, so it does creature things—attack, block, don Equipment, get counters thrust upon them, and so on. You can look at face-down permanents you control any time. Other players can’t look at your face-down permanents, and you can’t look at theirs, unless something says you can.

Any time you have priority, you can turn a face-down permanent face up for its disguise cost. This happens immediately and doesn’t use the stack, so it can’t be responded to. To do this, first reveal the card and show everyone what that disguise cost is. The resulting permanent immediately has its true characteristics. That innocuous 2/2 creature your opponent was comfortable not blocking? Nope, it immediately (see, I’m going to keep saying “immediately” in this paragraph to emphasize how little you can respond to this action) became Bayek of Siwa, who definitely (although less immediately) smacked them for 6.

Turning a permanent face up doesn’t cause that permanent to re-enter the battlefield. It’s still the same permanent, so any Auras, Equipment, or counters that were on it still will be. If it was attacking or blocking, it still will be. If it was the target of any spells or abilities, it still will be, although it may or may not now be a legal target.

If you control more than one face-down permanent, they must always be easily differentiated from one another. You’re not allowed to physically mix them up to confuse your opponent. The order in which they entered the battlefield must remain clear. For example, if you attacked with one of your three face-down creatures last turn, it should be clear to everyone which one that was.

If the game ends, or if you leave a multiplayer game, you need to reveal your face-down permanents to everyone to ensure they came to be face down legally. This is crucial in tournament games.

I didn’t get to see the Disguise mechanic in action during my playthrough, but if I’m being honest I was having enough trouble with things I could see. This is another mechanic that not only fits with the theme of the series, but also creates a great deal of sudden chaos on the battlefield.

The last returning mechanic is Cloak. Cloaking is another keyword action and allows you to use your Assassin cards in some very creative ways, with a solid bit of planning and execution. Like the Disguise mechanic, this is one best explained by the wizards at Wizards of the Coast:

Another way to have your forces go incognito is cloak, a returning keyword action. If you’re instructed to cloak a card, put that card onto the battlefield face down. The resulting permanent is a 2/2 colorless creature with no name, no creature types, and no mana cost. It has ward {2} and no other abilities.

Notably, the resulting creature looks exactly like what you get after you cast a spell using disguise, and a lot of the same rules governing face-down permanents apply. One difference is how you turn a cloaked permanent face up. Rather than pay its disguise cost, which it may not have, you can turn a cloaked permanent face up at any time if it’s actually a creature card by paying its mana cost.

If you’re lucky, or just planned ahead, you may cloak a card that has another ability to turn it face up, such as morph or disguise. If this happens, you can use any of those abilities that may apply. For example, if you cloak a creature card with disguise, you may turn it face up either by paying its disguise cost or by paying its mana cost, using cloak.

I had an absolute blast playing with Corey Bowen, and I sincerely appreciate him taking it easy on me while I knocked a severe amount of rust off while I learned the mechanics. Hopefully I made the GamingTrend tabletop team proud!

You can pick up Magic: The Gathering – Assassin’s Creed when it hits your local geek shop on July 5th, 2024.

Stay tuned for more awesome interviews and previews from Summer Games Fest 2024 right here at GamingTrend.com

Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief | [email protected]

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming.

Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter.

Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 28 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes), and an Axolotl named Dagon!

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