When Guilds of Ravnica first released, Assassin's Trophy had a ton of hype around it in specifically Golgari strategies. It turns out that it doesn't change the strategy that much but is a quality, versatile removal spell that is an improvement over other options. Most notably being able destroy opposing lands is important in a main deck card. The deck has been consistently putting up results, with this list coming from a recent Modern Challenge.
I have seen lists with anywhere from zero to four Assassin's Trophies, but I like having two. It is a card you often don't want to cast on turn two, unlike Fatal Push which is good from beginning to end and has the full four copies there. The idea remains to follow up an early discard spell with a cheap threat like a Dark Confidant or planeswalker. Both Liliana's have been quite impressive and play well with your other removal and hand disruption.
The matches played out similarly to what we are used to from this style of deck. The sideboard is how you can shore up some of the more difficult game one matchups. For example, Burn is quite challenging with tons of cards that cause you to lose life and very little lifegain. After sideboard, you get to flip the script with cards like Kitchen Finks and Collective Brutality. Despite perhaps not navigating the sideboarded games that well, we still won. This is a matchup I believe overall favors Golgari, and I wasn't surprised this was how it played out.
The Elves match was perhaps the most interesting one. This is another place where I believe the midrange deck is going to gain more from sideboarding – having access to a lot of spot removal means it becomes tougher to get a critical mass of Elves on the battlefield. This allows you to get a planeswalker going more easily. Some of the sideboard cards like the Grafdigger's Cage are hit or miss based on what version of Elves the opponent is playing and how they sideboard. In the end, it felt like we were able to gain an advantage in the match that hinged largely on a timely Damnation.
This is a deck that I do expect to see a lot of moving forward. It allows you to interact with the opponent in multiple ways and often that means playing with perfect information. There will be some great draws from the opponent that can leave you feeling a little helpless, though, like when we were matched up with Hardened Scales. Certain cards like Hangarback Walker and Arcbound Ravager are particularly difficult to deal with.
There are still arguments to splashing either red or white. White provides options such as Stony Silence which is really important against a deck like Hardened Scales. This really does come down to a metagame call and what matchups you are prioritizing. The straight black-green version I like more against Tron because of the land destruction package. Jund is the deck that many players thought got a huge lift from Bloodbraid Elf entering the format again, yet somehow it has been consistently losing popularity, and right now the top deck playing Assassin's Trophy is straight Golgari.
Thanks for reading,