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The Top Ten Assassins in Commander

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In the 11th c. in the mountains of Persia, a man named Hasan-I Sabbah founded the Order of Assassins. They used strategic murder of important people to forward their own political aims, often in public. Folklore says young men were drugged and led to believe they were in paradise, then told the only way they could return was to kill for the Order. Ever since, assassins have been known to culture through books, movies, and video games (as well, of course, as real life, such as the assassination of Franz Ferdinand which started World War I).

Magic: The Gathering has had its share of Assassins as well. In fact, there was a "Summon Assassin" in the very first set, Alpha: the venerable Royal Assassin. I have won limited games on the back of this very card, because its ability to hold back an attack from an opponent gave me the time I needed to build up my forces and ultimately win.

We've come a long way in 30 years, and now there are 83 Assassins in the game. It's time for a Top 10 list!

Honorable Mentions

Big Game Hunter
Murderous Redcap

One of the best things an Assassin can do is kill something while leaving behind a Creature. Both of these do that. Big Game Hunter is great in Commander where people often play bigger Creatures, and Murderous Redcap is often useful, always annoying, and a great combo piece.

Number 10

Agent of the Fates

Starting off our list is Agent of the Fates. Heroic has never been my favorite ability, because it requires additional cards to make it work, but this Assassin has the goods to make it worth it. Forcing a sacrifice is a big deal, because getting around Indestructible and Hexproof can be a hassle. Because we have to cast an additional spell to activate that ability, though, it barely sneaks into the list at #10.

Number 9

Guul Draz Assassin

Guul Draz Assassin has the benefit of fitting just about anywhere. It curves out nicely, landing on turn one and leveling up as you have excess mana, but it also isn't useless late game because you can dump mana into it and have a killing machine quickly. Even if the game has progressed and -4/-4 isn't enough to kill things, the ability to affect combat math at Instant speed can be an excellent rattlesnake.

Number 8

Kiku, Night's Flower

Kiku, Night's Flower is decently priced, and her repeatable ability to kill most Creatures makes her a great addition to any deck looking to murder other players' Creatures. Her ability isn't super cheap, but it can target anything it can see and most Creatures will die to this ability.

Number 7

Nekrataal

Nekrataal comes in, casts a Terror, and leaves behind a First Striking 2/1, all for the low price of 4 mana. I'd pay 2 mana for a 2/1 with First Strike. I often pay 2 mana for Terror. Why not staple them together? Nekrataal is an excellent Clone target, great on a Mimic Vat, wonderful to Flicker or bounce, and a solid role-player even if you're not getting tricky. Give this guy a look the next time you're building in Black.

Number 6

Royal Assassin

Royal Assassin is the classic for a reason. Often the more common ability for Assassins is to destroy Creatures which have already been dealt damage, but Royal Assassin simply tells your opponents one thing: "don't attack". Sure, Vigilance is a thing, but most Creatures tap to attack, and when they do, Royal Assassin is waiting, ready to strike.

Number 5

Callidus Assassin

Callidus Assassin does two great things. First, it kills your opponent's biggest threat. Second, it copies that threat and gives it to us! The only thing keeping this from creeping even farther up the list is its mana cost (six is a lot) and that the top four are really that good.

Number 4

Ramses, Assassin Lord

Of course, granting a power/toughness boost to the rest of our Assassins is worthwhile, but any time a card says "you win the game", consider looking at it again. In this case, if a player dies on the same turn they were attacked by (not dealt combat damage by, just attacked) an Assassin we controlled (not control - we don't still need to), we win. There could be 17 other players in the game, but that's it. We win. I suspect this is a useful ability in the right hands.

Number 3

Etrata, the Silencer

Our top three begins with Etrata, the Silencer, though I went back and forth between her and Ramses for this slot. Both of them have strong abilities, but the fact Etrata can kill someone with very little damage is really powerful. There are other ways to put hit counters on Creatures in Exile, and in Commander, that shuffle requirement is a zone change so we can redirect her to the Command Zone if she's our Commander. This seems like a good place for Helm of the Host and Strionic Resonator.

Number 2

Massacre Girl

The wanted one herself, Massacre Girl will normally leave an empty Battlefield behind. She is another excellent Flicker or bounce target, she's big enough to matter, and with correct deck-building she can make sure we retain control of the Battlefield for the rest of the game.

Number 1

Dark Impostor

This may be a slightly surprising choice, but Dark Imposter is incredibly powerful. For 6 mana, we can exile any Creature we can target. From there, Dark Imposter gets stronger and gains whatever activated abilities that Creature had! Any Black Commander deck with Cabal Coffers and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth can lay waste to a Battlefield with this ability, but even without that, knowing any big threat will be done away with and the ability stolen should keep people from overextending.

What do you think of this list? Who's your favorite Assassin? Let us know on socials!

Thanks for reading.


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