16 Mar 2016

Exploring the Formats - Assassin

Another Magic the Gathering post - get used to it Shadows over Innistrad is blowing up and I'm loving it. I havn't been this excited since Theros and even then this is a bigger deal for me story wise.

Before I go into this new format Assassin, I want to talk about my trial run of the Emperor format. I mentioned it a few weeks back. Now we played variant that did not allow for team blocking. I think next time we'll allow team blocking. The reason we played it that way was due to some comments I read up on while researching the format. Next time we'll play it full team mode. Also playing a game of Emperor with EDH decks sounds like the next step in play for the six of us that played last.

First off Range of Influence was a big kicker for folks. They really liked the way it played and didn't feel overwhelmed by all the effects going off like what happens in Commander. I am going to pose a question here because it's a puzzler and I've found a ruling I can understand but I still want to hit up an offical on this one.

We have the two teams each with a Left Guard, Emperor, and Right Guard. The RED Emperor cast's a buff (within his range of influence of 2) on his RED Left Guard's creature (who has a range of influence of 1) during a combat between the two Left Guards. BLUE Left Guard cast's a counter spell on the RED Emperor's buff. The question asks is this legal? Can the BLUE Left Guard cast a counterspell that target's the RED Emperor's buff because the target of the buff spell is within his Range of Influence? We ruled yes at the time but I found out that I was wrong... so far.

So far I've found the following in the offical rules:

200.8. An object is an ability on the stack, a card, a copy of a card, a token, a spell, or a permanent. The term "object" is used in these rules when a rule applies to abilities on the stack, cards, tokens, spells, and permanents. Combat damage on the stack is also an object, although many uses of the term "object" in these rules don't apply to it.

601.2. A player's range of influence is the maximum distance from that player, measured in player seats, that the player can affect. Players within that many seats of the player are within that player's range of influence. Objects controlled by players within a player's range of influence are also within that player's range of influence. Range of influence covers spells, abilities, effects, damage dealing, attacking, making choices, and winning the game.

601.4. Objects and players outside a player's range of influence can't be the targets of spells or abilities that player controls.
This means that the spell cast and put into the Stack is still under the control of the player who cast it and as long as it's under the control of the casting player than that spell does not become a valid target outside of a player's current range of influence.

Whew... enought of that, lets look at a new format Assassin.


Assassin is neat. You put in a card in a hat or shuffle that card in a deck and each player gets one card. This card or scrap peice of papper has a player's name on it. No one knows or will reveal who their target is until the end of the game. I like the idea that players are not allowed to reveal who their target it until the end of the match. That also means that players cannot declare who they are or are not allowed to attack until they made the first move.

There are two various win conditions. You are the last assassin standing. I've also found in my search for rules on this format includes a scoring system. You get a point for each player you knockout of the game. The player with the most points, even if removed as well, wins. There is another variation that grants an extra bonus point to the killing your target. I've even seen a few ideas for a player to take a penalty to their points if they are killed or not getting any points once they been removed. I've also read sugestions that the player who kills another player gets their points.

I think I want to try a 2 point per target and 1 point per player format.

To play the game players are all Assassins. They can only target their target.

Firstly a player can attack anyone who has 'attacked' them. So if your target is Player A and Player B attackes you (because you are his target) then you have the option to attack both players. Player B would not have been a legal target until they attacked you.

Secondly any universal effect or effects that affect more than one player must include a player's drawn target. Note that these will open a player up to be attacked by more players since that player 'attacked' them.

Lastly if you drew your own name you can attack everyone else in the game. Players are known to build a large force and then go hunting in force. This wild card has an advantage in being free with their targets and have to pick off one player at a time or earn the wrath of the rest of the players.

Here is a neat discovery and example of how messy this gets.

Lady Bear, Mr. Wolf, Lady Wolf, Mr. Red and Mrs. Red are all playing Assassin with Me. My Target is Mr. Wolf and Mrs. Red drew me as her target. Early in the game I attacked Mr. Wolf - he can now attack me. Mrs Red also attacked me allowing me to attack her.

I have an effect that causes damage to each opponent. I've now attacked everyone and this is legal because my Target (Mr. Wolf) was one of those players affected. Now every player at the table has the right to attack me directly.

Here is a hitch - until Lady Bear, Lady Wolf and Mr. Red attack me I still cannot attack them directly. Even though I've attacked them with a boardwide effect I'm still not allowed to target them as individuals until they become a vaild target - such as attacking me.

I'm looking at printing cards with each players name on them for the drawing of targets. I also want to get some sort of marker that players pass around to each other showing who can attack who once that's been established, even more important for larger groups of players.

So that's a new format and I think a Commander version of that format would also be very neat to play. Next post is more recaps on the Innistrad spoilers.

- Cheers

Dozer