Hello, all. I know it's been a bit since the last mini-article, real life got in the way of things.
Anyways, today we're going to talk about Royal Assassin.
Question #4: What is similar to this?
A very similar card is the aptly named Assassinate, along with its white version Vengeance. Gideon Jura is another card in standard that does something similar, though he can used the ability only 3 times before self-terminating. The very old Stalking Assassinhas the same effect for a severe mana-premium. In addition, cards like Prodigal Pyromancer are similar in their end result.
Question #3: What cards does this interact well with?
As mentioned in the forum thread, Royal Assassin is a lightning rod - it has no defenses, only one toughness, and stands to produce considerable card advantage - so every burn spell and kill spell in your opponent's deck will have Royal Assassin's name on it. The first way to get your money's worth from Royal Assassin is two augment him a bit with some sort of Shroud, say, Shielding Plax or Vines of Vastwood. Rise of the Eldrazi's totem armor is another great way to improve it's average lifespan, Eel Ubra andCrab Umbra both do this marvelously - Eel Umbra can flash in as a suprise, and Crab Umbra can untap royal assassin to club yet another creature. To extend Royal Assassin's reach a touch, one can use Blinding Mage or Minister of Impediments (or their ilk) to tap just about anything in preparation of Royal Assassin giving your opponent's creature a one way ticket to the graveyard. On the fringe, cards like Duress can keep irritating cards like Pyroclasm out of your opponent's hand.
Royal Assassin tears things up in limited, possibly being one of the higher picks in M11. In an environment, like limited, where everyone's win condition is attacking creatures, Royal Assassin will brutally punish anyone who didn't draft enough removal. Royal Assassin's 1BB cost makes it a bit tough to play in a mult-colored deck. In a mono-black deck, Royal Assassin does something similar to cards like Grave Titan or Visara in that it stabilizes the board until it is dealt with (granted, Grave Titan can also kill, but comes with a bigger price tag to accommodate. It's also 80 times more expensive to buy). Against another black deck, Royal Assassin comes with a degree of protection against mono-black kill like Doom Blade and can potentially cause some serious havoc if left unanswered.
Question #1: Is This Card Any Good?
A: Yeah, it isn't bad at all. Now, granted, it's unlikely to appear in competitive standard (especially with just about everyone running Oblivion Ring and Path and, indeed, has not been in a PTQ or GP Top8 decklist. Nevertheless, Royal Assassin is a powerful tool if you back him up with protection or help of some sort. Royal Assassin's strength comes from it's incredible card advantage. But wait, if Royal Assassin neither draws cards, no forces your opponent to discard cards, how can it generate card advantage? Because Royal Assassin can be used over and over again, you essentially get to cast an Assassinate every turn, getting around the problem inherent with kill spells that you're trading one card for another. With royal assassin, you can kill cards that your opponent had to draw all day without playing another card. They keep playing creatures that can get killed, while you gather cards to pull of your infinite goat token generator or whatever other madness you have. Granted, Royal Assassin requires some finesse to use, especially in environments with pingers or other such creatures, but it's a solid card to use in your deck if you can keep it safe.
This is a deck that uses Royal Assassin as a central piece to its creature control strategy.