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Upgrading the Universes Beyond: Assassin's Creed Starter Kit Decks

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In this article, we present a guide on how to improve the two decks in the Universes Beyond: Assassin's Creed Starter Kit only with cards released in the set and maintaining the themes of both lists!

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Universes Beyond: Assassin’s Creed brings the universe of the famous Ubisoft franchise to Magic: The Gathering, with several iconic characters and moments from the series.

But it was different from other sets like Fallout, with preconstructed Commander decks, or Lord of the Rings, with an entire booster pack series, Commander, among others. Instead, Wizards of the Coast used the set to experiment with the Beyond Boosters model, whose card distribution is smaller, similar to the Epilogue Boosters from March of the Machine: Aftermath.

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Consequently, “pick and play” fans are at the mercy of limited product availability, with the Starter Kit being the only viable option, and as it is a product focused on beginners, its mechanics tend not to be very complex and their cards, in general, aren't that great either.

But what if we took advantage of this product to improve decks with cards from the Assassin’s Creed expansion itself? In this article, I present an upgrade guide for both Starter Kit lists using only cards that came out in the set!

Deckbuilding Rules

The purpose of these upgrades is to make the Starter Kit decks more functional while, at the same time, we seek to make the experience of playing Magic: The Gathering with Assassin’s Creed more immersive. Therefore, we adopted some rules when building improved lists.

  • Only cards from Universes Beyond: Assassin’s Creed and its related products are legal. This includes reprints.

  • Only one copy of each legendary card is allowed. After all, it doesn't make sense for there to be two Desmond Miles in the deck when only one existed in the game. This also makes each of them equally important to lists and helps diversify the number of iconic cards present in lists.

  • “Generic” spells such as Path to Exile, Fatal Push or Eagle Vision can have up to four copies of each, the same goes for any non-legendary creature of artifact.

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  • Despite not being legendary and being in the set, Sword of Light and Shadow and Sword of Feast and Famine were not included because they, alone, take over matchups and create many anti-game situations, where a creature is practically unimpeded to attack and/or forces constant blocks, so the opponent doesn't extract absurd amounts of value with equipment that is very difficult to deal with for both decks. Players can choose to include them, but this would require certain concessions to prevent matchups from becoming a “who plays a Sword first” game.

  • The lists were built for casual games, and it is doubtful that they would have any chance in Modern tournaments. Furthermore, we put them together considering that they would play against each other, but that they could also work against other decks in the same category. For example, if someone makes themed upgrades with the Lord of the Rings starter kit.

    Ancient Arsenal

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    Ancient Arsenal is based on equipment and its interaction with Eivor, Battle-Ready and Surtr, Fiery Jötun, where we use them to improve our creatures and pressure the opponent with Eivor.

    It is basically the classic aggressive deck, but as this is a product aimed at beginners, it has a wide range of mana values ​​and 25 lands to support them, making it closer to a Midrange.

    Improving Ancient Arsenal

    First, we need to understand what we want to do with this deck: because it is equipment-based, Ancient Arsenal wants more creatures and, consequently, a more proactive game plan, but with enough interaction to hold the game for a few turns.

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    Decreasing its mana curve and improving its consistency are two essential points, turning it into an equipment-themed Aggro, so let's start with the threats:

    Creatures

    OUT

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    Spartan Veteran and Keen-Eyed Raven are pretty decent creatures, but we can include better options in our list. It's possible to keep the bird for its ability to fly and make another creature grow, but three mana for it isn't as exciting as other cards that will be included.

    Towering Viewpoint is counterintuitive to what we want to do, and we don't want a defensive drop in a proactive strategy, while Labyrinth Adversary does very little for its cost, and Settlement Blacksmith leaves for another creature to enter.

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    Tax Collector is the best two-drop of the edition and has the potential to see play even in Legacy. Here, it delays the opponent or holds back an attack from them, in addition to ensuring that abilities cannot be activated during a turn.

    Bureau Headmaster is essential to reduce our equipment costs and facilitate more explosive plays, especially with the inclusion of other cards in this category below.

    Among the Legendaries, Senu, Keen-Eyed Protector is a flying threat, life gain, top filtering, and we can return it to the game with our other creatures, while Kassandra, Eagle Bearer is aggressive and brings The Spear of Leonidas.

    Layla Hassan is a way to use our legendary permanents in the graveyard, while Aya of Alexandria and Bayek of Siwa are very efficient for their costs and abilities, as well as interacting well with the extra power and keywords from our equipment.

    Equipment

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    Hookblade does very little on its own, and we already have evasion with Raven Clan War-Axe, which pairs well with The Spear of Leonidas and Excalibur, Sword of Eden.

    Headsplitter interacts with our cards that improve in the presence of equipment while putting a body on the board, serving as extra copies of creatures in addition to our other interactions, while The Spear of Leonidas can be fetched by Kassandra and its ability package is very flexible, and the 10 power increase with Excalibur, Sword of Eden can dictate a game or even win it on its own when paired with Raven Clan War-Axe.

    Spells

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    IN

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    Detained by Legionnaires is Pacifism with in-game flavor, so we can replace it with Path to Exile, much more efficient and at a lower cost, while Misthios's Fury deserves to be a four-of due to its interaction with equipment and as extra removal against smaller creatures.

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    Land

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    IN

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    Sunbaked Canyon helps facilitate consistency in color while also providing extra gas as the match goes on. 23 lands seems like a good number when we consider that, after the changes, we have over 20 cards with mana value ​​two and ten cards with mana values ​​one and three, allowing us to play the early game with ease and still find the necessary drops for higher cost cards.

    Ancient Arsenal with Upgrades

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    With the above changes, Ancient Arsenal becomes much more consistent in its game plan, gains some quality creatures and iconic Assassin's Creed characters, and even makes the most of Eivor, Battle-Ready and other cards that care about Equipment or Historic spells on the list, creating a very efficient Aggro deck.

    Brotherhood Agents

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    Brotherhood Agents is, at its core, oriented around Assassins' interaction and Freerunning's ability to cheat on mana costs. Like Ancient Arsenal, it is made up of an increasing curve, but with more interactions between its cards for an smooth game plan.

    Improving Brotherhood Agents

    The best way to improve this list is to give more focus to the three elements that make it up and improve them in a more synergistic way, with more Assassins, more efficient cards with Freerunning and cheap interactions to ensure that our creatures can attack unimpeded to trigger abilities.

    Ezio, Blade of Vengeance is one of the main sources of value on the list, and Auditore Ambush ensures consistency in finding it, despite its effect being unimpressive as a sorcery.

    Creatures

    OUT

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    Assassin Initiate is a good one-drop, but Hookblade Veteran doesn't require mana to have flying, so it is natural for it to be replaced, and just like in the Magic Symbol RMagic Symbol W list, Towering Viewpoint does very little and interacts relatively poorly with our game plan.

    Merciless Harlequin is a good variant of Phyrexian Rager and Dusk Legion Zealot, but like the cards above, there are better options in the set itself, and we need to make room to include some legendary creatures.

    Hired Blade doubles as a threat and combat trick at times, but targeted removals are more efficient and harder to play around.

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    The three cards above have rather irrelevant abilities and bodies to be worth a slot on the list.

    IN

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    Hookblade Veteran guarantees Freerunning with ease from the first turn onwards, being an essential one-drop for the deck's game plan, while Brotherhood Spy benefits from the number of Legends we've added to be a threat on its own.

    Poison-Blade Mentor is an aggressive two-drop that can function as pseudo-removal while also forcing our opponent to choose between enabling cost reduction on our cards or losing a creature.

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    Desmond Miles interacts very well with the game plan, filters our hand and becomes a powerful threat quickly, managing to take over longer games. Ezio Auditore da Firenze is, at base, a 3/2 with Menace for two mana that allows us to cheat on more expensive card costs. His second ability is unlikely to be used, but we have some utility lands to gain access to all colors.

    Basim Ibn Ishaq offers card advantage, is a cheap legendary for Brotherhood Spy and also helps with the clock, having a similar function to that of Lydia Frye and Evie Frye in filtering our hand and putting pressure on the opponent.

    Jacob Frye is an incredible source of recursion that allows us to use our main cards a second time, including spells with Freerunning, while Adéwalé, Breaker of Chains digs deep enough for of the best Assassin from the top six cards of the deck.

    Interaction

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    Removals have basically been replaced with cheaper and more useful versions of them, with Escape Detection interacting well with our early drops, serving as a cantrip, and even enabling Fatal Push's Revolt to deal with larger creatures.

    Card Advantage

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    Restart Sequence is a good option, but Jacob Frye offers the same recursion more efficiently, while Rooftop Bypass offers very little for its cost, and I prefer to avoid using cards that don't do anything on their own.

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    Eagle Vision is almost always a draw 3 for two mana and the ease with which this list can enable Freerunning ensures that we can keep the gas for a very low cost, allowing us to maintain our flow of interaction and threats.

    Mana

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    IN

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    Brotherhood Headquarters is a mana fix that helps us cast Assassins without tripping over their costs, given that we don't have a Magic Symbol UMagic Symbol B untapped dual in the set.

    Lands like Fiery Islet pair with Brotherhood Headquarters to pay off-color mana values, more specifically Ezio Auditore da Firenze's ability, but outside those cases, they are still land drops that have an additional use besides adding mana.

    It would even be possible to make a five-color version of an Assassin deck with just this mana base by increasing the number of two-color lands. However, this would come at the cost of losing life for every time they were tapped to add mana.

    Brotherhood Agents with Upgrades

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    With this list, we have a good cadence of one-drops and two-drops with cheap interactions, which pave the way for our legendary creatures and help pressure the opponent to interact or be overwhelmed by the amount of value that our Assassins generate together.

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    Conclusion

    That's all for today!

    If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment!

    Thanks for reading!