History is your murder playground in Assassin's Creed x Magic: The Gathering

An assassin leaps from one rooftop to another.
(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

The archetypal Assassin's Creed moment goes like this: you infiltrate a historically significant building, stab some historically significant villain, listen to a dying speech that lasts a surprisingly long time thanks to the technomagic of the Animus, and then you run the heck away. The running away is important, because you don't want to get caught and forcibly desynchronized.

Important enough that it's been interpreted as a new mechanic in the Assassin's Creed x Magic: The Gathering crossover called Freerunning, which lets you play certain cards for less if one of your assassin or commander cards caused damage that turn. Whether you're leaping off Notre-Dame or Big Ben you ought to be doing it at top speed, and Magic's crossover set simulates that by boosting your tempo with reduced-cost cards.

As well as that new mechanic, several existing mechanics return. Disguise and Cloak, both introduced in Murders at Karlov Manor, make too much sense not to bring back. Though the two work slightly differently, both Disguise and Cloak let you play cards face-down then flip them over at a dramatic moment—such as when you're attacked and need a more powerful blocker.

Historic cards are returning as well. Any legendary, artifact, or saga counts as a historic card, but having other cards that care about that designation is rare. Again, it makes sense to bring the designation back into prominence for Assassin's Creed, a series of games that may play fast and loose with the facts but always evoke the essence of their historical settings. (I didn't know anything about the Medjay until I played one in Assassin's Creed Origins, so occasionally you do learn something.)

The card we're previewing from the set is one that interacts with historic cards. The Desynchronization card (with art by Lie Setiawan) returns nonland permanents to their owner's hand, unless they're historic. You won't be able to get rid of Leonardo da Vinci (who is designated as legendary), or your opponent's Haystack card (technically an artifact), but anyone that doesn't belong will get blipped away like they've stabbed too many innocents or otherwise broken the simulation of history. 

Which I wouldn't know anything about, because I'm a cautious player who never loses synchronization by going somewhere I shouldn't, or breaking the Creed, or getting caught, or getting stabbed to death, or falling from too great a height, or killing too many animals without skinning them, and it's just coincidence that I know all those ways you can desynchronize.

The Assassin's Creed Universes Beyond set will be available from July 5.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and Playboy.com, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.