Assassin's Creed - cEDH Set Review

Jake FitzSimons • June 30, 2024

Apple of Eden, Isu Relic by L J Koh

White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands | Allied Colors and Shards | Enemy Colors and Wedges | Reprints | cEDH

It's a-me, Mario! Yes, that's a real quote from a real Assassin's Creed game. But it's not true, because it's actually a-me, Jake FitzSimons, here to review the best cEDH cards from the fifth new set and second Universes Beyond product of 2024; Assassin's Creed. We've got a black Jenson Carthalion, cards that look like they belong in Yuriko, Slicer if he was an ancient Greek man, and the latest in a long line of equip cost reducers for Koll, the Forgemaster. I'll be frank, it's a small set and a low power set, but reviews can't always be about good cards. Let's get into it.  


Senu, Keen-Eyed Protector

You're already familiar with the Keen-Eyed Navigator, so get ready for Senu, Keen-Eyed Protector! I say ready, but keep those expectations measured, because Senu isn't half the card that Malcolm is. It's a decent Tymna attacker thanks to vigilance and the ability to lightly sculpt the top of your deck, but it's a 2/1 which makes it vulnerable to Orcish Bowmasters and Tymna decks have a ridiculous number of two-mana creatures with evasion to choose from if they really want more attackers. Senu, Keen-Eyed Protector has a cute interaction with Solitude, as you can exile it from hand to pay for the Elemental, and it's cheeky with Rest in Peace or other blanket exile effects, but I'm not sure that's enough to warrant a slot in a Tymna 99. 

Tax Collector

Tax Collector has two modes that would be a heck of a lot more useful if they weren't temporary. An asymmetrical tax for a full turn cycle is not nothing, and it can protect the Tax Collector player's turn as well as it can impede the rest of the table's board development or combo turn. It also hits every card rather than just noncreatures, which is great for keeping creature-based decks playing at a slower tempo than they'd like to. Likewise, detain, despite not being on any cEDH playable cards, is a useful enough mechanic in the average cEDH pod given how many big hitters and valuable activated abilities there are floating around.

But again, it's a temporary effect. Two mana for a turn's grace is just not efficient or reliable enough to build around, so I can't see Tax Collector finding a proper home in cEDH. It reminds me a lot of Charitable Levy from Modern Horizons 3 in that way. All this said, if we ever see a cEDH commander with a reliable and repeatable blink effect (no, it's not 2017, don't say Brago, King Eternal) then Tax Collector stocks are going to skyrocket. 


Crystal Skull, Isu Spyglass

It's giving me flashbacks to the worst Indiana Jones movie I've ever seen, but maybe that's just because I didn't see whatever the fifth one was. Anyway, Crystal Skull, Isu Spyglass is like a mostly better Mystic Forge if you don't have any trouble making blue mana. It's also kind of better if you happen to be playing a high density of Legendary permanents or sagas, but if you are, I'd love to know what cEDH deck you're playing, because it sounds rogue and I'm into that. For the average deck, if you weren't already interested in Mystic Forge and trying to do something with Sensei's Divining Top you're not going to be interested in this. 


Only one mass bounce spell has seen mainstream play in cEDH, and it's the same one that strikes fear into the hearts of casual Commander players: Cyclonic Rift. It's asymmetrical, it hits every nonland permanent, and it works just fine as a single target bounce spell for two mana. None of the same can be said for Desynchronization. The symmetrical nature of the card means you're going to be ruining your own board development and the nonhistoric clause is a death knell. For plenty of decks, particularly fast ones, artifacts make up the majority of the permanents they have in play, meaning the Desynchronizer isn't going to be hitting much. Likewise, all commanders are historic, so missing them is a major downside. It also misses Sagas, but there are no cEDH viable Sagas, so that doesn't matter. 

The one and only place I can see Desynchronization seeing play is in Urza, Lord High Artificer. The deck has no trouble producing a lot of blue mana, the Polymorph variant doesn't have any creatures that could get bounced and even the Urza tokens are historic, making it as close to a one-sided board wipe as it can be. If it doesn't find a home with the format's most dedicated artifact enthusiast, I don't think it'll find a home anywhere.

Eagle Vision

Five mana for three cards is an atrocious rate. Two mana for three cards is a much better one, even at sorcery speed. The difference between the two is freerunning, a brand new mechanic from Universes Beyond: Assassin's Creed. Needing to deal damage with an Assassin is an almost impossible task for most cEDH decks given the relative rareness of the creature type, but dealing damage with a commander isn't hard at all. Tymna, Kraum, Najeela, Malcolm, and Talion are just a few of the commanders you can count on to swing and connect with an opponent, easily enabling Eagle Vision as a two mana draw three. 

That said, being efficient doesn't automatically make a card good. Two mana for three cards might be an above average rate, but dozens of the decks that could play Eagle Vision have access to plenty of draw effects already, either more consistent and reliable, like Mystic Remora and Rhystic Study, or en masse, like Necropotence and Ad Nauseam. Speaking of which, Eagle Vision is incompatible with Ad Nauseam given its whopping five mana asking price. Overall, it's just big on the "meh" factor. If it sees play anywhere, my guess is in Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator decks without Tymna the Weaver, as they're usually desperate for any card advantage they can get their feathered little hands on. 

Escape Detection

Yuriko? Is this a Yuriko card? It's a free blue spell so it must be a Yuriko card, right? I had four people share this card with me the day it was spoiled, and I can't blame one of them. I love free cards with alternate casting costs and I love doing damage with Yuriko triggers. For all those reasons and more, I want to like Escape Detection, but I just... don't. 

As discussed above with Eagle Vision, Assassin is a terribly uncommon creature type in cEDH, but thankfully, Yuriko happens to run a handful of changelings that are just as much Assassins as they are Elephants and Eggs and Cephalids Octopuses, so that base is covered. However...

Connecting with Yuriko is not as sure a thing as it once was. As a 1/3, she doesn't trade up and gets chump blocked by just about everything in an increasingly creature heavy subformat, so meeting that Freerunning cost will sometimes come down to having a Cover of Darkness in play or help from a Wingcrafter. As for the next part of the cost, yes, you're very likely to have a free blue creature to bounce back to hand, either a miscellaneous blue enabler or Yuriko herself.

And now to the most interesting and whelming part: the actual payoff. Bouncing a creature and drawing a card is nothing to phone home about. It's sort of efficient and you're technically up resources given you likely bounced something off your opponent's board more valuable than what you returned to your own hand and you drew a card as well, but it's just so awkward. You can't pay the alternate cost on any turn other than your own which effectively makes this sorcery speed, and needing to cast the spell post-combat to enable the freerunning means you can't use it proactively to get rid of blockers. Overall, it might be the most interesting freerunning card in Universes Beyond: Assassin's Creed, but that's a low bar and I don't think the card will prove strong enough to play. I will test it though!


Ezio Auditore da Firenze

The protagonist of the second Assassin's Creed game and something like the 50th five-color commander printed, Ezio Auditore da Firenze is a two-mana assassin with an interesting but niche set of abilities. Menace speaks for itself and enables both the Freerunning and the final line of text, so let's look at those two. While the Freerunning is relatively easy to enable, the actual payoff of getting an Assassin into play is almost entirely useless because as discussed, Assassins are rare and not very good. Thankfully for Ezio Auditore da Firenze, there is an exception: Ramses, Assassin Lord

For just two black mana, you can put Ramses, Assassin Lord into play after a successful Ezio Auditore da Firenze attack. Then next turn, if you attack again and that opponent happens to be at 10 life or less, you can pay five more mana, one of each color, and Ezio Auditore da Firenze's final line of text will cause that player to lose the game, and thanks to Ramses, Assassin Lord, that means you'll win the game. All it'll cost is you seven colored pips across two turns! 

Obviously that's magical christmasland and a pipe dream at best, but it is only one card you need to add to your deck and Ramses, Assassin Lord does make Ezio a little more resilient. The real meat with Ezio Auditore da Firenze is that it's only the second (the first being Jenson Carthalion, Druid Exile) five-color commander ever printed that can play Lurrus of the Dream-Den in the companion zone. Jenson Carthalion, Druide Exile has a handful of cEDH tournament results, and I'd wager Ezio Auditore da Firenze's activated ability is marginally more useful, not to mention Ezio himself being easier to cast, so it won't surprise me if he replaces his Selesnya predecessor. 


Alexios, Deimos of Kosmos

When I first started reading Alexios, Deimos of Kosmos, I thought they'd accidentally reprinted the front half of Slicer, Hired Muscle without realizing it. Turns out they hadn't and Alexios is its own card entirely, but boy oh boy are they similar. If you're not familiar with the Slicer, Hired Muscle game plan in cEDH, it goes something like this.

  1. Play Slicer
  2. All three opponents pick up Slicer and say "what?" or "I still can't believe we have Transformers in cEDH"
  3. Slicer attacks everyone until everyone is dead or two players are dead and one player is made king by accident
  4. Shuffle up

Slicer is fast, cheap, and does an incredible amount of damage in a very short order. I'd call it one of the only true aggro decks in cEDH and definitely the closest thing the subformat has to Voltron. Alexios, Deimos of Kosmos is bound to be similar, and while better in some scenarios, worse in others. For instance, while Slicer, Hired Muscle itself costs five mana, Slicer, High-Speed Antagonist only costs three, meaning it's cheaper than Alexios, Deimos of Kosmos at four mana. This is a significant difference for a deck looking to get off the ground as quickly as possible. 

Conversely, while Slicer hits for three damage with double strike, Alexios hits for four with trample and goes up by one with each passing turn. This means Alexios does less damage early, but quickly outpaces Slicer each attack step once it has four +1/+1 counters, and even that comes with conditions. Trample might look better than double strike because it usually works as pseudo-evasion and means chump blockers aren't an issue, and yet thanks to how trample works, the player controlling Alexios can choose to assign every last point of damage to the chump blocker, leaving no excess to hit the defending player's face. Thankfully not everyone knows this and the average unsuspecting opponent may well forget it, just don't be surprised if the rest fo the pod works together to stay alive and assign damage as strategically as they can. On top of that, double strike has unique advantages with common Slicer cards like Sword of Fire and Ice and Umezawa's Jitte that trigger twice on connection. 

On the other hand, that's just the offense. On defence, Alexios, Deimos of Kosmos those +1/+1 counters are making the Greek cult leader harder to kill in the face of cards like Toxic Deluge or a big Delayed Blast Fireball, and it never turns into an unprotected 3/2 Vehicle. It's also a creature and not an artifact, which keeps it safe from the likes of Abrade and Boseiju, Who Endures

All this to say that Alexios, Deimos of Kosmos is a very similar card to Slicer, Hired Muscle and I expect it to see play in the Transformer's 99 if the Transformer doesn't see play in its 99. As to which is better, I confess I have very little experience with Slicer, but I'm inclined to believe that Slicer's double strike and lower casting cost will win out over all the advantages Alexios has. 


Nothing at all. Universes Beyond: Assassin's Creed only has five mono-green cards, so it's not exactly surprising none of them are worth discussing for cEDH. 


Apple of Eden, Isu Relic

Apple of Eden, Isu Relic is one of those cards that looks really awesome and will feel amazing if you can run it out off the back of broken fast mana, but will leave you wondering why you put it in your deck in the first place in every other situation. Four mana is fine for a Roaming Throne or The One Ring, cards with reliable and repeatable effects, but it's a huge asking price for Apple of Eden, Isu Relic, a card with such a huge delta between a good activation and a bad one. 

To begin with, you'll want to target whichever opponent has the highest number of cards in hand to increase the likelihood of finding useful and proactive spells. You'll also want to play and activate Apple of Eden, Isu Relic as early in the game as possible so you can use fast mana before they have a chance to cast it. The worst case scenario is simply exiling one opponent's entire hand, and that's not necessarily bad, but I wouldn't call it good either. Spending four mana to wipe out one player means the other two members of the pod are technically ahead of both of you.

Of course it's especially powerful with Notion Thief or Orcish Bowmaster style effects given your opponents are forced to draw whenever you play one of their spells, but if you're going for that sort of synergy you may as well play a wheel. Unless it finds a slot in a niche artifact deck like Oswald Fiddlebender or there's a combo with it that I haven't thought of, I'm not seeing a future for Apple of Eden, Isu Relic

Smoke Bomb

Sick and tired of Nadu, Winged Wisdom in every cEDH pod you've played for the last three weeks? Looking for a way to stop the Nadu player from targeting their own creatures and generating endless value? Smoke Bomb is not your answer. Granted, outside of a counterspells and board wipes, I'm not entirely sure what the best answer to Nadu is, but I know that it isn't Smoke Bomb. Sure, it has some upside in protecting your own creatures from targeted removal, but it's a whopping three mana and it'll only stop the Nadu player for a single turn. I'd call it a speed bump, but it's not even that. It's more like a poorly filled-in pothole. 


Arbaaz Mir

Arbaaz Mir isn't an infinite mana outlet, but it will do infinite damage when you assemble the typical infinite mana win conditions. Cloudstone Curio paired with Dockside Extortionist at a count of four mana will allow you to cast and recast Arbaaz Mir infinitely, pinging with each loop. Likewise, the classic Auriok Salvagers and Lion's Eye Diamond loop will have a nontoken historic permanent enter the battlefield repeatedly, giving infinite Arbaaz Mir triggers.

The only problem with this is those combos already make for win conditions with existing and currently unplayed commanders. Just last set we got Phlage, Titan of Fire's Fury, which also wins with either of the above combos and at least has a smidgeon of utility from the command zone, but there's no good reason to run it. Being an outlet for infinite combos is a good start for a cEDH commander, but it's rarely enough to warrant a spot in the command zone by itself. You want your commander to do more than just win the game with the help of a combo; it needs to do something in its own right. Arbaaz Mir ain't it. 

Bureau Headmaster

If there's one card in the set that I'm genuinely excited about, it's Bureau Headmaster. Is that a sign of my unabashed bias toward a fringe deck well past what would have been generous to call its heyday that goes by the name of Koll, the Forgemaster? I won't lie to you. It's a sign of exactly that. If you're not familiar with Koll and you'd like to be, you can check out my writeup on the second most cEDH viable Dwarf from Kaldheim, but here's the crux of it: Koll, the Forgemaster's plan is to find Skullclamp, find a mana-neutral creature, and find something to reduce Equipment equip costs in order to form an infinite draw loop. Bureau Headmaster is that final piece, yet another card that reduces that Equipment equipping cost.

Despite being an Equipment-centric deck, Koll, the Forgemaster only runs five or six Equipment cards, so Bureau Headmaster's ability to reduce the upfront Equipment cost isn't the big news here, but it is nice. Making a Skullclamp free to play and free to equip sure is nice, as is cutting in half the cost of getting a Conqueror's Flail up and running. My guess is that most Koll players will cut Auriok Steelshaper to make room for Bureau Headmaster as we're getting close to having more equip reducers than we know what to do with, but the extra redundancy might prove valuable enough to run both. 

Assassin's Greed 

The sets start coming and they don't stop coming and they don't stop coming and they don't stop coming. I still have Modern Horizons 3 cards in the mail, I've just finished writing this review for Assassin's Creed, and I already have my eyes on BloomburrowDuskmourn, and Foundations. I'm not even complaining, it's just amazing how much Magic there is in the year of our Lord 2024. Anyway, if you're a cEDH player and you don't play any other formats, it wouldn't surprise me if a year from now you've forgotten that Assassin's Creed was even a set. It's not very powerful and the few good cards are only good in fringe decks and underperformers. Here's hoping for some more power in Bloomburrow! Until next time. 

Jake FitzSimons is a writer from Sydney and a Magic fiend. He's either the johnniest spike or the spikiest johnny, nobody is sure which. When he isn’t brewing or playing cEDH, he can be found writing, playing piano, and doting on his little cat.