Streets of New Capenna is upon us, and many Commander players just want to know what the best cards in the set are. Fear not – today, I’ll break down what’s hot from the set. I won’t be going over what’s not, and it’s likely I’ll skip over any super niche cards that don’t impact your collection enough.
While there are solid cards like Cut Your Losses for Bruvac mill or Hypnotic Grifter as a mana outlet in a self-mill deck, they’re a little niche and otherwise not going to add too much to your collection.
You can find recent set reviews here:
- Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty
- Crimson Vow and Midnight Hunt
- Adventures in the Forgotten Realms
- Modern Horizons 2
- Strixhaven & Strixhaven Commander
Ready to hit the streets? Let’s dive in.
Elspeth isn’t reinventing the wheel, but she does offer card advantage in monowhite. Getting to dig for an artifact or enchantment and bringing it in with a shield counter is nice, and similarly, putting perma-buffs on your creatures – or Commander – is good too.
There are some competitively costed blink tools in SNC. White has gotten more blink support in recent years, with Ephemerate finding its way into more and more decks as a value play. Extraction Specialist is a nice piece for non-black reanimator decks like Hofri and Teshar, while Mysterious Limousine – a string of words I thought I’d never utter in reference to a Magic card – gives repeated enters-the-battlefield value for a very reasonable crew cost. I expect to see this both in and out of vehicle decks.
Giada is many things – an aggressively costed evasive creature prime for wearing equipment; a mana dork; an enabler for a largely underserved tribe – but what she isn’t is a commander that is going to solve all of white’s issues. Fantastic card, one I’m happy to put in the 99, but you’re not going to convince me she’s worth running in the command zone versus the other options out there.
Heh, it’s a mono white win condition. Or is it? Despite the quintuple white activation cost, I can see this in way more Selesnya decks. It’s not that hard to fix mana when Chromatic Lantern exists, plus all of the fixing in green. All jokes aside, this thing is a solid pickup for monowhite, combining Reconnaissance with card draw, token production, and an alternate win condition. I’m still of the opinion it’ll be easier to pull off in GW, but don’t let that stop you trying with Adeline or OG Heliod.
If you’ve kept up with the story for Streets of New Capenna, you might, like me, be baffled to see angels in the set. However that shakes out as immaterial when you have such a monumental card. Sure, it’s more of a milestone for Limited and Pauper, but Inspiring Overseer is also sweet for angel and cleric tribal in Commander. Pyre of Heroes just got another 3-drop angel, and for that, I’m thankful.
We’ve had this effect in black for some time, with spells like Call of the Death-Dweller. It’s neat to have it in white, especially given it can return up to three creatures. In Commander, that’s most likely to involve a Soul’s Attendant or two and a Serra Ascendant, but don’t discount grabbing Stoneforge Mystic or Sram, Senior Edificer plus Fervent Champion or Ragavan.
If you built Isshin when Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty came out, you’re going to love this card. Attacking with Hero of Bladehold with Isshin out completes this quest as is – netting four tokens from Rabble Rousing and four from Hero – and there are plenty of other ways to convert. A free spell and extra tokens from there on out is a good deal for a deck wanting to go wide.
Rumor Gatherer has incredibly obtuse creature typing for most aggressive white decks, but if you do branch out into GW or the Jeskai sphere you’re sure to enable tribal synergies. I say that like it matters, though; Rumor Gatherer is just a solid card in most white decks with a reasonable curve. If you make tokens it’s even stronger.
We have Mythic Angels, too? Blimey. Sanctuary Warden is a card I’m pretty interested in running in a deck like Shalai, Voice of Plenty, where generated +1/+1 counters can be turned into card draw and chump blockers, while shield counters can do the most work under a blanket of hexproof. Outside of Shalai, this is pretty medium; there are better ways to draw cards for five or six mana, except maybe in mono white.
The new and improved cool raspberry flavor Frost Titan is more of a Fog Titan on balance. Repeatable card draw is kinda great, though, and pairing that with slowing down incoming damage is surprisingly playable. Aggro and Voltron decks are going to really hate this card.
I’m pretty undecided on how good this card will be, but with the format trending toward one where incidental treasure builds up like unwanted house guests, giving an opponent two Lotus Petals is probably a lot less of a problem than it might have been five years ago. What’s important to evaluate with this is that it’s effectively a second copy of Swan Song, a spell that sees a very high amount of play. It’ll be more useful in cEDH, I’d imagine, but don’t count it out from making waves in casual play, especially if players utilize cards like Stony Silence more often to stop treasures.
One mana? Flash, and haste? An interesting ability? Sign me up! Errant is a really fresh design, and it’s probably a good thing she’s a rogue and not a wizard. This could make a really interesting Commander brew, but equally I expect her to do a lot of work in decks that can copy spells in novel ways.
With record lows of players who will pay for a Rhystic Study, it isn’t going to be hard to turn on Even the Score – especially if you’re the one feeding the Rhystic Study. Casting a few cheap mana rocks under an Etherium Sculptor is enough to make this a pure X spell. A cracking little card.
So I’d like this card a lot more if it had Flash, but I’m actually still thinking it’s good without it, especially in builds that care about Enchantments, like Zur the Enchanter, Estrid the Masked, or Eutropia. Goad is pretty hot right now, and this is practically Goad for a turn that gets rid of a problem creature – or in the case of an indestructible one – echoes that Goad for far longer than it feels fair.
Much like Rabble Rousing seems made for Isshin, Reservoir Kraken seems like it exists to enable Ninjutsu decks. The Ninjutsu decks it enables are more likely to be Standard ones, but I don’t think that makes the card unplayable in EDH. Sea Monster decks will love this, and with all of the draw-on-combat-damage effects in blue and green, getting some cheeky unblockable Fish is pretty good, actually. Don’t discount how this stays on board through an early Engulf the Shore, where it can then either do damage or make tokens in earnest.
For whatever reason, the blue commons and uncommons are pretty exciting in this set. Security Bypass is a slam dunk in any blue Voltron build, pairing unblockable with looting. There’s not much more to be said.
Interaction versus removal has never been better, and though March of Swirling Mists is likely to be better for most decks, Slip Out the Back definitely has a place, even outside of +1/+1 counters decks. Players need to learn that phasing can be protection and a way to fog damage, and it’s this flexibility that makes it so good.
There are at least a dozen clones to choose from these days, and Undercover Operative is the latest in a long line. If you care about counters or rogues then this is probably higher up the pecking order. It’s also likely to be a lot cheaper than the wider played clones, which might be important to you too.
I do love a good way to draw extra cards each turn when I’m playing blue, and Wiretapping is a good one. It’s a little more expensive than Kumena’s Awakening, but it doesn’t have the downside, and comes with the opportunity to play a free spell. Five mana might feel pricey for this effect, but I have a feeling it’ll be better than it has any right to be.
Well, it’s a good job Ad Nauseum is life loss, eh? Angel of Suffering is the kind of card born to do silly things in Commander. Sure, it’s a way to fog combat damage, but I’m sure that’s the tamest thing you can possibly do with this nightmare angel. Self mill is always powerful, especially when you can control how much and when it occurs; it’s what makes Altar of Dementia such a good card.
I was going to make a joke about how this guy having deathtouch makes him a strong detergent, but it probably sounds better spoken aloud. Jokes aside, Body Launderer is a roadblock that can help you dig, and a payoff for that same digging, all rolled up into one card. Not bad at all.
As far as self mill goes, I really like Cemetery Tampering. It’s reasonably costed, and comes with a hideaway clause, too. Tucking Living Death or another enabler under this is going to feel downright criminal, which is right in theme for the set.
Stinging Study is a great tool for more expensive Commanders, but what about the cheaper ones? Cut of the Profits is an easy enough to achieve alternative, netting you about the same rate in exchange for having a three power creature to sacrifice. One thing not to underestimate about casualty is that only half of the effect will be stoppable by a regular counterspell, which gives the casualty spells in general some added reach in metagames heavy on counters.
I think scry 2 beats out the extra card and extra life loss from Ancient Craving, so whilst it isn’t strictly better – a term many Magic players will get wrong to this day – Demon’s Due is certainly going to be replacing Ancient Craving and adjacent spells in my decks. Instant speed is just that good.
Speaking of good casualty cards, Illicit Shipment is a reason to stop running Diabolic Tutor. While many players might be able to afford Demonic Tutor and Vampiric Tutor, just as many cannot, and those players – who still might want to run combos – can use Illicit Shipment to good effect. Even in decks that traditionally run the cheaper tutors, this might be a good option.
Well here’s a card for Sisay, Weatherlight Captain if ever I’ve seen one. That’s not to say it isn’t great in other decks of three colors or more either. It doesn’t get back colorless creatures or artifact creatures with no colors, though, so watch out for that.
Menace plus lifelink is a hell of a combo to have on a utility creature; lifelink in casual Commander is excellent. Sanguine Spy is a nice little engine in a reanimation leaning vampire tribal build, especially one with tokens to spare like Edgar Markov. I can’t emphasize enough how powerful taking game actions, like drawing cards, by spending zero mana can be – so I think Sanguine Spy might be secretly pretty good.
So we have Knowledge Pool, and we have Thousand-Year Storm, and… well, I’m sure they had a great time together, because now we have Arcane Bombardment. This reads like it could be nutty, and the truth is, it’ll far exceed your expectations. My one reservation about printing more cards like this is that they can be incredibly selfish with the chess clock if you take multiple long turns without winning, so just be self-aware enough to not bore your friends, and make sure you include win conditions.
For this next card, I’d like to use one of my lifelines and phone a friend, please. A friend who has played far too much mono-red.
Given we’ve progressed past the Industrial Revolution, it’s no surprise to see that New Capenna has embraced treasures so whole-heartedly. Capitalism has a lot to answer for when it comes to this set…
That said, Glittering Stockpile is a card I’m really happy to see. Three mana rocks that do stuff are my favorite kind of mana rock, and this is a great way to keep three mana ramp relevant in a world where every deck crams in as many two-mana rocks as possible. Hoard Hauler is a slam dunk for vehicle decks, but has applications outside of that, particularly in the emergent double strike space that many Boros decks are operating in.
Probably the strongest contender for treasure making in the set goes to Professional Face-Breaker. It’s a slightly cheaper Grim Hireling with a way to convert those treasures into impulse draw. It’s both the enabler and the payoff in one card, something I am always wary of seeing. It’s very strong, and is sure to make waves in Commander.
Okay so red gets some sweet Commons too. Sticky Fingers is well worth the one mana investment; you’re likely to get that mana back as treasure straight away thanks to menace, and you’re getting a card when the creature inevitably dies. I like it a lot.
Structural Assault is the first piece of true treasure-hate we’ve seen since the new world order of treasure was enacted. It’s Shatterstorm meets Chain Reaction, and I love everything about it. While it is five mana, that five mana is more than worth it considering it tracks artifacts put into the yard this turn, not just by the spell. Lovely.
I think most people expected something really splashy when it came to Urabrask, and on first read, this effect is pretty underwhelming compared to the game-warping effects of the other new Praetors. If you dig a little deeper though, I actually think this effect is really strong. It stops people formulating long term plans, leaves reactionary interaction stranded in exile, and is a pretty reasonable piece of “lite” stax. I think this is better than it looks, even if it’ll sometimes just be five mana to pull a removal spell out of someone’s hand.
Ah yes, the main talking point of the set, Bootleggers’ Stash. I think what makes this card so divisive is just how easy this thing is to enable, and just how easy it is to truly break. Seedborn Muse and Wilderness Reclamation make this card an arguably better Omnath, Locus of Mana, and that’s not something I enjoy seeing. I still stand by the fact it’s more flavorful to make Plains produce resources, but I guess there’s a reason I’m not working on R&D.
Evolving Door is pretty cool. It’s a Birthing Pod effect that turns your creatures steadily more colorful, at which point you should be gaining enough value that your opponent’s language becomes just as colorful. This card has diminishing returns, and is likely to perform better when used in more of a combo-style approach like Divergent Transformations. Even a deck building restriction that turns mono-color tokens into multicolor cards would enable this well.
Fight Rigging is delightfully easy to turn on, so getting a free spell and +1/+1 counters every combat for three mana is how we’re evaluating this one. I’d say it passes the test, though I’m not sure I’m playing outside of counters decks.
Oh hey, it’s another way to make treasures in green. Thankfully this is limited to once per turn, because otherwise Elfball decks would all shift up the power level significantly. That said, it’s still really good, and a card I’d be excited to play in plenty of builds.
I’m sure I’m not the only one taken back to this iconic PS2 era bossfight when I look at Titan of Industry, one of the most powerful flavor fails I’ve seen in quite some time. I could just about buy an animated building as within green’s wheelhouse if the lore was right – we did get Awakening of Vitu-Ghazi, after all. Sadly, the pun wasn’t quite worth it here though.
The card itself more than makes up for it, and annoyingly enough has reach, which will be problematic for many an EDH deck.
Farhaven Elf has finally been more or less outmoded, and it’s by a leafy T-Rex. This 20th century boy is absolutely solid, and unfortunately takes our dreamy lady Farhaven Elf’s crown. Ahem.
Well, they printed another cool toy for those of us that enjoy Felidar Guardian combos. There’s not much more to say here other than that if you like to play these kinds of combos, consider adding Vivien to your deck. Otherwise? She’s a strong value piece that’ll never be bad, exactly. Just a little uninspiring.
This thing might look risky, but believe me when I say it’s a strong combo piece. There are plenty of ways to untap creatures in Magic, and this thing is only a Reckless Fireweaver or token doubling effect away from going infinite. When you look at it that way, the damage clause hardly matters.
I think taken on average, the Bant Brokers cards are probably the strongest and most consistently good of any of the cycles. Brokers Ascendancy is a windmill slam for any Atraxa deck; Brokers Charm has three modes that are always relevant in EDH; Falco Spara, Pactweaver has the two best kinds of evasion and helps you dig through your library pretty easily. After seeing Galea last year, though, he really does highlight how jamming three colors together can be incredibly limiting for design, as there’s only so much you can do without breaking cards wide open.
On the other hand, you could add white to Edric, Spymaster of Trest. A lot of great hatebears have power 1 or less, and there are already a lot of incentives to go wide and short in blue. I’m fully expecting to be wrecked by a Rigo deck at some point.
The Maestros got some of the most exciting Commanders of the set. Cormela is a fantastic commander and tool in the 99 of spellslinger builds. Evelyn, the Covetous is finally an option for those tired of Grixis Marchesa vampires, but one that might fare better in paper than on Spelltable. Lord Xander, meanwhile, is a weird one. It reads as very anti-social, and ironically works better as a creature in dedicated reanimator builds than it ever will as a commander, where the element of surprise is lost, and your friends will be grumpy as soon as you sit down.
Maestro’s Ascendancy is the Kess we have at home, but none the worse for it. It’s a sweet addition to any build playing in the yard, and one I like quite a bit for redundancy of effect. The Maestros Charm is the worst of the cycle for Commander, I would say, so we’re safe to move on.
Two great Rakdos cards next, with Corpse Explosion offering fabulous artwork and a cheap board wipe sure to light a fire in the heart of many necromancers. Fatal Grudge, meanwhile, is better than it looks. Omen of the Dead is underplayed, and the perfect enchantment to throw under the bus to enable Fatal Grudge.
So if the Maestros have some of the most fun looking builds, and Brokers have consistency, I’d say Cabaretti pack the explosiveness. Jetmir is an anthem for the ages, granting way more power than you’d think behind his effects. It won’t take much to obliterate the opponents when you have +3/+0, double strike, and trample. Jinnie Fay, meanwhile, turns Smothering Tithe + Wheel of Fortune into death by kitties. She does other stuff too, but that’s too funny to not address.
Rocco rounds it out, and shows us that Naya can attempt combos like the best of them. It’s not a card that excites me, but is one that will appear in many, many combo builds from here on out.
If you’d like to attempt Ramos tricolor, then be my guest. Sounds like a super fun build restriction.
Ob Nixilis asks you if you’d like to turn your seven-drop creature into a Griselbrand trigger. It’s a pretty reasonable deal considering you’ll still keep the original Ob Nixilis. This will shine in stompy reanimator builds, or with Rakdos/Mardu +1/+1 counters synergies.
Nimble Larcenist is the first Obscura card to look at, and while it might seem unassuming, I think it’s a key piece for blink decks. This’ll see less play than it probably should.
I think Obscura Charm is probably one of the better charms, despite the first mode being less relevant if you don’t build around it. I think what’ll affect the Charms’ run-rate more will be how many casual three color decks end up being built.
Queza is a slightly more solitaire version of Nekusar, dropping red in favor of white. It’s a pretty cool deck for a Blue Sun’s Zenith or similar style win condition too, especially if you’re bored of Laboratory Maniac/Jace/Thassa’s Oracle. Raffine is a brilliant Esper reanimator commander, offering an unattractive engine target that’s always worse to hit than whatever you’re putting in the yard to bring back.
Toluz is what happens if you breathe life into a bag of holding, and is the latest in a line of tools that makes discarding cards not only less bad, but actively good.
The most widely used card from Obscura is no doubt going to be Void Rend. The only thing stopping this seeing more play will be the quantity of decks that actually want to play it. I think I’d still take Vindicate before I took this so I could guarantee I could deal with problem lands, but depending on how much your deck wants to play at instant speed, Void Rend might well be more valuable.
Scheming Fence is a pretty important card considering it can turn off Mana Crypt and other early game mana producers. It obviously turns off engine pieces in the mid-late game too, but I’m way more interested in the applications of this in a cEDH deck I’ll be honest. It hits Magda, and that’s pretty important.
That brings us to the Riveteers. Ognis, the Dragon’s Lash is a sweet Commander for those of us who love hasty creatures. They’re so fast, in fact, that they arrive and leave before you can get a chance to use the treasure. It’s odd to see tapped treasure used so illiberally, but I’m still happy to see it.
Unleash the Inferno will age like a fine wine as mana curves continue to drop. I still play Orim’s Thunder, so you don’t have to sell me on a 2-for-1 removal spell.
Riveteers Charm is begrudgingly playable, though I would want sacrifice payoffs and a low curve, because otherwise it might just be better to play Rakdos Charm. Ziatora’s Envoy has a wall of text (ready to be demolished, no doubt) and reads like it should be a Commander itself. Thankfully it isn’t, because it would be absurd in the zone.
Ziatora is our last crime family Matriarch, and she’s doing her best impression of Korvold… but fixed. A pretty solid Jund Commander for those of us still searching for something a little less powerful than Korvold or Windgrace, and one you can easily sub in at more casual tables.
Rounding out Gold, we have a red card. Obviously. Widespread Thieving will slot nicely into those five color piles, offering even more payoff for cheating by playing all of the colors with a 2022 manabase. Life’s never been so good.
With such a focus on road-legal vehicles this set, you’d be forgiven for asking me whether we were there yet. Nearly, dear reader, nearly. Streets of New Capenna is a huge set, that’s for sure, and the cards range from complex to more complex. Thankfully the next few are pretty easy to grok.
Getaway Vehicle is a sweet little enabler for enters-the-battlefield focused flicker decks, and one I actually like quite a bit. Bounces your value dwarves in Depala, too. Unlicensed Hearse, meanwhile, staples inevitability to Crook of Condemnation, which is something I didn’t realize I wanted. They also used that name about five years too early, huh?
Luxior is a way to make the legal-as-Commander Planeswalkers deal Commander damage, which is neat. It also protects them from being attacked, and combos with Devoted Druid. I’ve got a full write up here, but suffice to say it’s pretty strong in the decks that want it.
There are three land cycles this set, and you should care about two of them. The Triome cycle started in Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths has been completed, and these are great pickups for multicolor Commander decks, given fetchlands can find them to help with fixing.
The other cycle is the…evoke lands? Yeah, I’m gonna go with evoke lands. They come in and immediately ask you to go grab a basic tapped and gain a life. While they aren’t always better than an Evolving Wilds, some decks will love them.
Commander 2022: New Capenna
I usually append these reviews with my highlights from the Commander Precons, so as to not break tradition I’ll cover a few of the more important ones here. Stay tuned for a full review and upgrade guide suite of articles for all five decks starting next week.
First, the two commanders I foresee being the most popular builds; Anhelo and Tivit. Anhelo is a place to put all of your 2/2 zombie, drake and other token producers, plus a bunch of splashy spells that you’d love to double up on. It’s the first Grixis commander in quite some time that I’m genuinely interested in.
Next, Tivit is a home for all of the council’s dilema cards from Conspiracy. Now, even if there are a bunch of reprints and new cards in the precon, this fills me with hope for a third Conspiracy set… So Tivit is a good build to bear in mind going forward.
Next up, some fantastic card draw. Bennie Bracks will draw so many cards in the right decks, and makes Mangara, the Diplomat look like the vanguard of white card draw that he is. Body Count, meanwhile, is a hand refill for aristocrats decks that they absolutely didn’t need, but got anyways.
One of the other popular commanders from the product, I’m guessing, Syrix is finally a Phoenix tribal commander. Adding black is the only way this could be a good deck, and I expect it’ll be a sweet build. Jam Flayer of the Hatebound and you’re golden.
Cryptic Pursuit is a sweet spellslinger pickup for all varieties of that deck. It’s blockers plus card advantage, and I love everything about it.
False Floor is a new take on Oblivion Stone, and I think it’s really fun. It encourages combat, stops people playing more creatures, and is mechanics and flavor in a decadent package. It’s surprisingly playable, too.
So I just built Hofri Ghostforge, and this card is going right into it. Three mana to draw three and get that three mana back is really good, and to ensure that happens, you just need a few sacrifice outlets to make it unattractive for opponents to vote for fame. Fantastic card.
It’s not quite Pattern of Rebirth, and it’s not quite Journey to Eternity, but this sits somewhere in between and I think it’s secretly pretty good. Bringing your Commander into play when a key top end creature in your deck dies is solid value, and then bringing back an engine or protection piece when your Commander dies is also very good. Oodles better with a sacrifice outlet, but still more than playable otherwise.
Atraxa decks just became 200 card monstrosities. Good luck cutting down to 100!
Life Insurance is… certainly something. The idea here is that the extort trigger will allow you to keep ahead of the life loss trigger at least some of the time. Any aristocrats deck loves this, and a bunch of tokens decks do too. Honestly, it’s pretty damn playable.
White is getting hooked up this year, and I’m here for it. Jailbreak is pretty innocuous on first read, but when you consider that it can give an opponent a beater or other large dumb body and get you a combo piece out of the yard for just two mana? Yeah.
Smuggler’s Share, on the other hand, looks and reads like a new white staple. I’d probably pick a few of these up for sure.
And finally, one of my favorite flavor hits of the set: In Too Deep. It’s excellent removal, and the flavor is *chef’s kiss*.
Whew! And there we are, another set review complete. I couldn’t cover everything, but I got most of what’s worth adding to your collection. Streets of New Capenna and Commander 2022: New Capenna have cards that’ll really shake up Commander. Let me know what you’re going to be picking up on Twitter.
Kristen is a lover of both Limited and Commander, and can most often be found championing the Boros Legion when called upon to sit down and shuffle up. As a member of the Commander Advisory Group, Kristen lives and breathes Commander. When she’s not playing Magic, she works as a freelance writer and editor in the UK.