Assassin's Creed Set Review - Red

Mike Carrozza • June 25, 2024

Alexios, Deimos of Kosmos by Jessie Lam

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


I hope you like Universes Beyond! The next in line of non-Magic properties to get its own release is Assassin's Creed, a series for history buffs and history haters alike. This small set features only eleven new red cards and, while they're not all worth chatting about, you better believe I'm about to find niches for 'em all. Let's dive in!


The Spear of Leonidas

Starting off with a big ticket item considering this is the weapon of a Spartan King!

I'd consider this card more of a whimper than a bang. Three mana for a legendary Equipment with a color restriction sounds like it might be able to offer a whole heck of a lot, but any attempt to really break this feels like it's very, for lack of a better word, fair. Is it particularly strong? No, not really. Is the utility it offers good? Eh, it's fine?

Examining things a little closer, you've got to pay 2R for the Equipment and then two mana for the equip, a five-mana investment to get one of three okie dokie effects on attack. You either give the equipped creature double strike, create a legendary 3/2 Horse token named Phobos, or discard two cards to draw two cards. 

I'll break it down further. Where does my head go with an attack trigger? Since it happens once per turn cycle naturally, how do we take the most advantage? Multiple combats and doubling effects, like Isshin, Two Heavens as One or Wulfgar of Icewind Dale

But what happens when you give a creature double strike twice? The same thing that happens when you give it double strike the first time. What about when you create Phobos twice? If you don't have a Mirror Gallery effect, you only get to keep one and have to sacrifice to the legend rule, which can work to your advantage thinking about Warstorm Surge, Stalking Vengeance, Vicious Shadows, and all of those Blood Artist effects Aristocrat players love. You could sculpt a perfect hand if you've got more than two cards to discard to the final ability. Not to mention, this isn't templated as "discard up to X cards and draw that many"; the Spear lets you discard zero cards for two cards. 

So, first mode is a clear Voltron piece, but it's expensive. Second mode could be interesting in a Horse-themed deck or legends Aristocrats, or Cadric, Soul Kindler deck. Third mode is most flexible in that it involves card selection. It all requires you to attack, and you only get one each time. It's a very fair card and will find a home in decks that really want it, like my friend's Sisay, Weatherlight Captain legendary Equipment deck.

Speaking of decks that really want it: Kassandra, Eagle Bearer is likely the reason The Spear of Leonidas can't be too pushed. It's entirely possible the Spear began as a riff on Embercleave, but the tutor in the command zone for a specific card to play means that some gating was required. Kassandra can search your graveyard, hand, and, library for the Spear and put it into play. Having it automatically attach to Kassandra would probably be too much value for 1WR even on a mythic in 2024. With Kassandra in mind, the Spear's abilities all play nicely. Firstly, the double strike translates to two cards thanks to Kassandra's last line of text ("Whenever a creature you control with a legendary Equipment attached to it deals combat damage to a player, draw a card.") The third ability translates to card selection and advantage if Kassandra's out since you'll be discarding two and ultimately drawing three. Finally, if you're afraid of not being able to keep Kassandra around, you can create a Phobos token to attach the Spear to for more beats or card selection to ensure you hit your land drops to recast your commander. 

The thing I wish we could capture on the Phobos token is just how many skins you can apply to the Horse. I mean, look at this

The Spear will definitely find a home. Unfortunately, not in my decks.

Surtr, Fiery Jötun

This is the definitive Lightning Bolt commander now. Surtr dealing three damage to any target whenever you cast your historic spells means you're tacking on control and burn to the table. Much like Kaervek the Merciless causes your opponents to be wary of playing out creatures while the Big K is in play, Surtr turns your Sol Ring into Sol Ring plus a FREAKING LIGHTNING BOLT! That means you can jam Gerrard's Hourglass Pendant or other instant-speed historic spells to hold up during your opponents' turns, too. Or you can make it easy on yourself and play Vedalken Orrery. You can lean into Shimmer Myr or Liberator, Urza's Battlethopter for artifact and colorless spells. As a commander, Surtr feels like a legend you can't let live. With everything supporting it, Surtr is bound to be a menace, especially if he's wearing a Basilisk Collar

In dedicated historic decks of any variety, this Giant God will be an excellent value piece. As if Jodah, the Unifier decks couldn't get more annoying, at the very least Surtr adds a way to close out games a smidge quicker. Not just with the cast trigger, but a 5/5 trampler is a great baseline for Jodah's pump effect to get to slappin'. The new Sigurd, Jarl of Ravensthorpe will give you more bang for your Sagas with Surtr out. Daretti, Scrap Savant has a new lieutenant! Pick off your opponents' tiny creatures in your Aegar, the Freezing Flame to keep your hands stocked!

Surtr is a straightforward card. It can be powerful depending on how well you build around him, but it'll also be very easy to build around him. Excellent card; I'm looking forward to testing him in my Prosper, Tome-Bound deck that leans heavily on artifacts. 

Uncommons and Commons

Alexios, Deimos of Kosmos

Uh oh, a new Slicer, Hired Muscle is here, and it costs one less!

Okay, so it's not exactly as good as Slicer, considering Slicer allows you to decide whether or not your opponent gains control of it and then is goaded; though functionally similar, certain cards explicitly need the word "goad" involved. Alexios, Deimos of Kosmos goes to your opponents no matter what. Alexios trades double strike for trample and the ability to grow at every upkeep. Alexios is a Human, which means Human-themed decks might like a beatstick to pass around, though I'm not sure what else it can add. 

The similarities are so strong that Slicer and Alexios will be good friends in each others' 99s. In fact, Slicer's 99 on EDHREC might make for a great vision board for Alexios. Stuff like Shiny Impetus and Silent Arbiter can do a ton of work, but I'm more interested in all of the Sword of X and Y combat damage effects that trigger for you even if your opponents are swinging with your creature. Equipment like the Swords, Umezawa's Jitte, Lost Jitte, Sword of the Animist, and Pip-Boy 3000 and Auras like Destructive Urge or Unquenchable Fury mean you're going all in on your commander, and you're about to get rewarded for it four times over. 

This feels like well-trodden territory, thanks to Slicer, but I don't see Alexios doing much else but leading a deck or guest-starring in Slicer's. 

Hidden Footblade

I guess, there's another Surtr, Fiery Jötun card for you!

Okay, gang! It's time to really stretch... for a high kick! Hidden Footblade is a combat trick or haste-enabler. Either way, it's a surprise. What's not a surprise is me mentioning Puresteel Paladin and Sram, Senior Edificer. If you could ever possibly find an Equipment deck with both red and white in it - I mean, dare to dream - you might find yourself playing this concealed weapon to cycle and grant a bonus. Similarly, Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain might like this as a draw two for R at instant speed. 

Since the first strike is only for the turn it enters, the advantage to being equipped with this card is +1/+0 and haste, but I am sorry, y'all, two mana to Equip for haste when Swiftfoot Boots and Lightning Greaves are around is just not it. Heck, we also just got Lavaspur Boots that is better here. 

It's a one-mana, red Equipment that grants haste and temporary first strike. It's got flash and costs one which makes it pretty flexible in spots that like an abundance of Equipment. Nahiri, Forged in Fury makes this a bit of a ramp piece. Give Kellan, the Fae-Blooded +2/+0 and haste for a surprise smack from the command zone. Give Wyleth, Soul of Steel haste and do an impression of Sram. Valduk, Keeper of the Flame has a new very cheap and auto-equipped piece of tech that'll make more and more Elementals. Chishiro, the Shattered Blade can make a surprise 2/2 Spirit or as a low-cost way to modify a creature for that end step trigger. 

From the new set, Eivor, Battle-Ready doesn't even need to wear the boots the blade's hidden in to take big time advantage of this card and tear down opponents' life totals. 

I'm delighted to see that there are already a few decks this could shine in, though realistically, this is a card I don't believe to be super powerful.

Labyrinth Adversary

Minotaur kindred.

I won't insult your time for this one. If you put this in a deck, you already know why you want it in the deck and very, very, very, very likely, it is because this is a Minotaur. I'm sure our resident Minotaur Reviewer will have something to say about it later this week. 

Monastery Raid

This is going to feature a bit of a hot button about this set. Monastery Raid is a card I don't think should exist as it is. The freerunning mechanic is frustrating. I understand that the design team must have been mandated with "sell, sell, sell", and that means appealing to Commander players with new toys. So the way this works, if you dealt combat damage to a player with an Assassin or commander, you can cast this for its freerunning cost. Freerunning is a pseudo-prowlif that helps you understand it better. This is the only card with freerunning where the card's text changes if that cost is paid since the other ones only offer a discount. 

This card is a Light Up the Stage that swaps cost reduction for a burst of cards. While I rarely attack with Prosper, Tome-Bound, I'd be remiss not to give this one a go. While my mind went to Magus Lucea Kane, it's actually a nonbo we're catching early for any players who hope to pop this in X-costs matter decks. Even if you're one of the 864 Rosheen Meanderer players out there looking for tech, you need to deal combat damage with your commander to be able to pay the freerunning cost, so you'll need to untap your cap'n to get to snappin' this one off. 

Where does this shine? Mono-red decks with aggressive commanders and "exile matters" decks like Prosper, Rocco, Street Chef, and Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald might consider this, but Light Up the Stage is probably going to beat out Monastery Raid most times. 

Origin of the Hidden Ones

Another card that's narrow enough to spell itself out to you, Origin of the Hidden Ones is great in Saga decks and the red Assassin decks that are no doubt on their way from this set's release. Chapter one slinging four damage for four mana is below rate, and then comes the token generation which is pretty good for decks that love Changelings and Anointed Processions.

This could see play in decks like Purphoros, God of the Forge, where the four tokens stapled onto a damaging permanent can spell eight damage to all opponents over a few turns if the Assassins stick around. Isshin, Two Heavens as One and Wulfgar of Icewind Dale would get a second shout out in this review for their ability to take double attack triggers of permanents you control, but by the time the final chapter goes off, you no longer control the permanent that's adding the effect since the Saga needs to be sacrificed. Yet another nonbo ol' Mikey's got your back for in case there were Isshin and Wulfgar Assassin or token decks. 

I do have a Ghen, Arcanum Weaver deck with secret commanders Three Dog, Galaxy News DJ and Eriette of the Charmed Apple where this will likely do some work. Being able to sacrifice an enchantment to bring back Origin of the Hidden Ones at end step to hit something for four before making more tokens to attack with for Three Dog to assist in battle. 

Like I mentioned above: Assassin decks, Saga decks, and maybe Changeling decks. Sure, there might be some spots this will fit, but I doubt this is going to make waves. 

Overpowering Attack

Another freerunning card, but this one trims two mana off an extra combat spell. Players whose decks sport a Savage Beating or Aggravated Assault and that are looking for more and more extra combat spells will look to this and sprout big ol' heart eyes if their commander's the rumbling type.

I'd say look to the new Assassins from the set that can lead a deck for this. Kassandra, Eagle Bearer could turn this into a bunch of card draw for three mana if the board is set up. I think this will be most at home in decks that just want to have attacked like Eivor, Battle-Ready and the snowball that is Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad.


So there aren't many mono-red cards in the set, and the offerings are way less flashy or interesting than the rest of the cards in the set. Plenty of interesting legends to build around and a ton of artifacts to support Commander as a whole. Surtr, Fiery Jötun is by far the most interesting of these cards in my opinion, but if I missed anything, I will be absolutely thrilled to hear about it! What are your thoughts on this latest Universes Beyond release? Let us know!

Mike Carrozza is a stand-up comedian from Montreal who’s done a lot of cool things like put out an album called Cherubic and worked with Tig Notaro, Kyle Kinane, and more people to brag about. He’s also been an avid EDH player who loves making silly stuff happen. @mikecarrozza on platforms