We’re about to walk down the Streets of New Capenna, and Tom takes a look at what impact the Demon Crime Bosses will have on Standard!
At time of writing, WotC is slowly peeling back the veils of subterfuge surrounding Streets of New Capenna and its powerful crime bosses. Not only do we now have the legendary creature cards for each of these demonic dons, but we have each of their organizations’ distinctive Charms to boot.
Combine that with the information we already had available for my previous predictions, and we can get a relatively good idea of where these crime families will eventually slot into Standard, even as we wait for more previews to be smuggled out into the public eye.
It’s important to remember that Streets of New Capenna is the last release until the next Standard rotation, which means these cards are entering as packed and high-quality a environment as we ever see. The chances of such a late addition completely upending the format with all-new archetypes and mechanics are slim, at least historically. Instead, we’re likely to see a more creeping, subtle takeover – where the lure of exciting three-color cards tempts existing archetypes to fall in line with New Capennan identities.
CABARETTI: AGGRESSIVE EXPANSION
Mono-White Aggro and its derivatives have barely slowed down since last rotation, even after having one of their best assets outlawed in Faceless Haven. What the loss of the Snow Land has done, at least, is give players permission to branch out a little – first into R/W to harness Showdown of the Skalds, and now into R/G/W to add Halana and Alena, Partners.
This leaves the deck primed for takeover by the catty Cabaretti and their go-wide godfather, Jetmir.
Cabaretti Charm is likely to be the foot in the door, offering the chance to play some acceptable instant creature removal without “costing a slot” against creatureless decks. Both the Charm and Jetmir push players towards token strategies, which have already been gathering steam as players recognize the potential of Wedding Announcement.
Assuming we get at least one more pushed Cabaretti rare which favors this token build, it seems inevitable that some build will arise around cards like Join the Dance, Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance and Eiganjo Uprising. The latter looks like it will make for a brutal finisher when Cabaretti effects break its parity.
One other exciting dynamic for such a deck is how threatening instant-speed token creation could be. Between Sokenzan, Born to Drive and Cabaretti Charm itself, there will be reliable ways to change how many creatures you control moment to moment (Lair of the Hydra can also help with this).
With a card like Jetmir or Wedding Announcement in play, an end-step token creator, and a pump effect on your own turn, anyone who taps out is constantly at risk of being blown away!
MAESTROS: CONTROL TAKEOVER
Hand-based controlling decks have found themselves in flux after being released from Izzet Epiphany jail. Some players have been gravitating back to U/B/W and a Planeswalker-focused strategy which fights for the board, lured by unconditional removal like Vanishing Verse. But so long as the U/R color pair is blessed by such powerhouses as Expressive Iteration and Goldspan Dragon, control mages will find it hard to stay away for long – and that’s what the Maestro are counting on.
Xander and his well-dressed killers bring some of that punchier removal over from U/B/W to U/B/R, while allowing players to maintain the potential for velocity which red’s looting and treasure spells provide. The Maestros Charm is a little plain compared to the others, but a hand-based control deck can use these instant, modal effects like no other.
The ability to dig five cards deep whenever you’re allowed a free moment is powerful for a deck which often trims win conditions or relies on cards played in combination. The idea of doubling that digging with a Galvanic Iteration, or even spending your saved Treasures to find the card you need and jam it on the spot in a pinch make it yet more appealing.
Given the specialty of the Maestros, I doubt the Charm will be the only great instant interaction they offer the deck. It’s quite possible that with this increased density (and incidental burn effects like Charm) that we’ll finally see Delver of Secrets triumph in Standard, at least as a sideboard or flex slot option.
Lord Xander himself seems a difficult fit for fair decks, although he could become a potent sideboard card if the right incidental reanimation effect is printed. But give us a lower-costed Maestros creature – perhaps his colorful lieutenant Anhelo, rocking that useful Vampire typeline – and it would give this family all the firepower it needs to seize control.
OBSCURA: FIRST ON THE SCENE
For my money, the sphinx-led prophets of the Obscura have been New Capenna’s surprise package so far. Far from the pensive, sluggish vibes one expects from a network of aloof information dealers, their preview cards seem to lean heavily in a more proactive tempo direction.
Raffine, Scheming Seer is a particularly scary threat to come down for just three mana. All but immune to removal at that cost outside of Soul Shatter (and now Riveteers Charm), every turn she stays in play improves both your card quality and damage on board!
That’s a huge argument for a more aggressive build overall, even if she will probably play fine in control. We’ve already seen successful U/W tempo decks at times during this rotation, combining Luminarch Aspirant with great interactive bodies like Malevolent Hermit, Elite Spellbinder and Spectral Adversary. I’m not certain whether black’s small creatures do enough to merit inclusion – maybe Eyetwitch? But given how important mana efficiency is in such a game plan, maybe a splash for the third color is best.
Certainly Obscura Charm is the kind of effect you want to splash for, trading 1-for-1 with most opposing cards or unlocking the unique power of instant reanimation. Threatening to respond with a sudden reappearance of Kaito Shizuki, Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate, or Greasefang, Okiba Boss, all from the same card, can freeze opponents in their tracks!
We don’t yet know how widespread the Obscura’s “connive” mechanic will be (as seen on Raffine), but it holds incredible promise as a way for these tempo decks to be rewarded for early aggression without needing to spend cards or mana. Getting access to either a pushed one-mana connive enabler to start things early, OR getting a multicolored piece of permanent-based removal which can be brought back with Obscura Charm, would be enough to start predicting a bright future.
RIVETEERS: BETWEEN THE HAMMER AND THE ANVIL
As of press time, I have much less evidence to go on with Capenna’s industrial underground than the other four crime families. Other than lore hinting at their possible leaders and the implications of existing Standard archetypes, our only lead is Riveteers Charm itself:
This at least seems to be one of the best-equipped Charms, offering a very important mode of removal (non-targeting forced sacrifice), a way to proactively advance your game, and one of the best “third modes” in maindeckable grave hate. And I do think we can see the hints of the Riveteers own takeover plan in that second mode. So-called “impulse draw” effects are popular in red these days, and they definitely encourage a certain style of deckbuilding. In order to play as many of your exiled cards as possible, you want uniformly cheap spells, and you want them to be mostly proactive permanents where the exact timing you drop them into play doesn’t matter.
The R/B/x artifact decks from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty fit this description very well! Building the deck around synergies and value engines like Oni-Cult Anvil helps your small cards add up to more than the sum of their parts, and rewards you for being able to play so many at a time. The various modes of Riveteers Charm look like they’ll peak somewhere in the midgame, and that also fits the pace these artifact-sac decks aim to play.
The x-factor for the rest of spoiler season will be seeing how the Riveteers can make green attractive to these decks as a third color. Will they bring in vehicle or +1/+1 counter synergies, tying in cards like Mukotai Soulripper for a more aggressive build? Or can green recursion and resource ramp enhance the “valuetown” plan further, as it did in Eldraine era Korvold decks?
BROKERS: ACCEPTING ALL OFFERS
The Brokers have also been a little more coy about revealing their full identity in early spoilers – although Brokers Ascendancy was a very bold card preview to lead with, Brokers Charm is inconclusive. Adding counters is both too broad and too limited an effect to get a complete idea of how this most silver-tongued family will buy into New Capenna Standard.
But perhaps that openness is the point. U/G/W as a color combination has some of the least common ground between current strategies of all the “shards” represented in Capenna, so the Brokers need to consider drastically different configurations. For instance, the chance to add Esika’s Chariot and generate multiple loyalty per turn with Brokers Ascendancy could be an incentive for current Wedding Announcement + Planeswalker decks to drop black and add green.
But the other half of the Ascendancy could tie together various random +1/+1 counter bombs like Luminarch Ascension and Jugan Defends the Temple into a synergistic and aggressive G/W/u deck!
The overall support points to a board based, resource accumulation game – whatever plan you sign up for, you’ll definitely want to be triggering Ascendancy and have a target for the removal mode on Brokers Charm. Perhaps this is finally the time for U/G/x ramp to resurface around threats like Koma, Cosmos Serpent, resource-generating creatures and flexible instant interaction.
Much will depend on how the remaining Brokers spoilers end up, but I have a hunch that even with all being revealed, this family will be keeping their options open.
IT’S A GREEDY WORLD WE’RE LIVING IN
As you can see, with the sheer number of powerful gold cards coming down the pipeline from New Capenna, it’s hard to imagine many current Standard decks will remain untouched.
Now, if you’re not exactly thrilled by that prospect – maybe you don’t want to go out and buy a bunch of new cards right away – I wouldn’t panic yet. The sheer volume of powerful cards in Standard mean that you likely won’t be losing too much power if you stick to a mono- or two-color build of your deck, and there will still be opportunities to improve in places with the less color-intensive Capenna cards.
That being said, Constructed Magic is greedier than ever for card quality and guaranteed impact, and access to multicolor lands will also be at its peak. I think that at least until rotation arrives later this year, your approach to new brews should be starting with more colors and adjusting down as needed, not vice-versa. Hopefully the remaining spoilers from this set will be as beautiful and potent as these Charms and faction leader cycles, and learning to work with our New Capenna crime lords will be a happy and profitable experience for all!
Tom’s fate was sealed in 7th grade when his friend lent him a pile of commons to play Magic. He quickly picked up Boros and Orzhov decks in Ravnica block and has remained a staunch white magician ever since. A fan of all Constructed formats, he enjoys studying the history of the tournament meta. He specializes in midrange decks, especially Death & Taxes and Martyr Proc. One day, he swears he will win an MCQ with Evershrike. Ask him how at @AWanderingBard, or watch him stream Magic at twitch.tv/TheWanderingBard.