A Look at Streets of New Capenna
It’s spoiler season again! With OP back on track and the return of the Pro Tour, Streets of New Capenna spoiler season hits a bit different. This set looks amazing and brings me back to how I felt when first seeing Khans of Tarkir considering the Charms, Tri-Lands, and heavy support of these families.
Let’s look at a few cards that may or may not have an impact.
Ob Nixilis, the Adversary
There once was a time when three mana walkers were undervalued. We’ve come around on them almost always being better than they look, but I hope that’s not the case with Ob Nixilis.
Ob Nixilis looks solid, and will only improve the B/R Sacrifice decks floating around. This planeswalker will be best served as the top of your mana curve so that you can consistently pay the casualty cost with cards like Shambling Ghast.
Like most planeswalkers, Ob Nixilis will be much better on the play when you’re able to establish a pair of these walkers before your opponent has had time to develop their board. If they have, you can always lean on making devils to protect them. That said, two unchecked copies of Ob Nixilis at any loyalty will make short work of your opponent either by exhausting their life total or resources in the form of cards in their hand.
We still have a lot of this set left to be revealed, and I’ll be keeping my eye on what additional support we get for one- and two-drops for Ob Nixilis. This is the first card I’m going to work on when able.
Vivien on the Hunt
This is a tough one to evaluate. It has three really strong abilities, but it pushes you in the direction of having tons of creatures in your deck. In general, those decks tend to be too vulnerable. I think Vivien will sadly fall short in Standard because of its high casting cost. Its most natural home would be an Elves deck. Maybe it could have an impact in Alchemy where they just buffed a lot of elves. However, I expect it to be played in very small numbers in Standard, especially when Wrenn and Seven is still kicking around.
This is a powerful card. Much like Vivien, Elspeth Resplendent will work well in decks with lots of creatures and other cheap permanents. Its -3 ability can find any permanent, so even cards like Borrowed Time are solid hits with Elspeth. Elspeth has the ability to ultimate the third turn it’s in play and quickly put decks that can’t interact with it into trouble. The Meathook Massacre and other sweepers can make fast work of its ultimate, so there’s more counter play to it than an unbeatable emblem.
We get our first look at Shield counters here and finding something like a Skyclave Apparition off Elspeth’s -3 is a huge tempo swing that will be difficult to interact with thanks to that shield. Shield is a cool mechanic as it gives more agency to players than indestructible or hexproof.
Elspeth will see a lot of play, especially with The Wandering Emperor around. White creature decks look like they’re in a good spot moving forward.
Luxior, Giada’s Gift
What an interesting card. While I don’t think this card will have much impact in Standard, it has some applications with Devoted Druid for infinite mana that are worth exploring. This equipment can be found with both Stoneforge Mystic and Urza’s Saga to complete the combo, making it more realistic than other potential options.
Luxior’s ability to turn planeswalkers into enormous creatures with power and toughness equal to their loyalty is cool, but it’s mostly a win-more situation since you’re usually doing well if you can keep a planeswalker in play to activate twice. In fact, this card probably got designed when someone made a “What if we could turn Oko into an Elk” joke on Twitter three years ago, and it’s now finally seeing the light of day.
We saw how strong cards like Divide by Zero can be, and Obscura Interceptor seems like a strong incentive to enter the Obscura family. Connive is another mechanic like Blood Tokens that will make games of Magic smoother and more interactive, and I like the idea of adding one-time loots to cards to mitigate variance.
This is one of those cards that just has so many abilities that it has to be good. Its ability to turn the corner and pad your life total in a controlling deck looks excellent. It’s expensive to cast, but it gets mana back in the form of taxing your opponent. It’s a strong contender for Standard but likely too expensive for non-rotating formats like Historic or Pioneer.
Falco Spara, Pactweaver
This is one of my favorite cards in the set, and I’m not even sure it’s playable. It’s such a sick card as a four-drop that protects itself, but it can also turn that shield into value by casting a spell off the top of your deck. Between The Wandering Emperor, Luminarch Aspirant, Elspeth Resplendent, Connive, and Shield counters, there are so many ways to snowball with this. Add in Augur of Autumn and you’ve made yourself your own Future Sight.
I fear Falco isn’t playable because it’s a touch slow and expensive. Other four-drops might outpace it too quickly, and it doesn’t protect itself from cards like Skyclave Apparition and other exile effects, which I expect to see more of in Standard moving forward. While I like this card, I don’t think it’s strong enough unless the format lands in a spot where the shield counter can protect it consistently.
Jaxis, the Troublemaker
While I’m sure there’s a way to exploit Jaxis that I’m missing, I’m mostly looking at this for its Blitz ability.
Blitz turns anything with the ability into a one-time-use cycle. Don’t have your third land? Well you can Blitz this into play on turn two, get in for two damage and draw your card back when you sacrifice it. It’s another cool ability that goes even further than plain old cycling.
I’m interested to see more cards with Blitz and how they can potentially be used or exploited within the sacrifice theme of the Riveteers.
Lastly, I’ll give quick thoughts on the Triomes or Tri-Lands or whatever you want to call them.
I love them. I know people say they make multicolor decks too strong or easy to build, but I love being able to build three-color decks in Standard with good mana, and I think Standard only gets better when the same card pool can be explored in more ways than what is limited by the mana within the format. Four-color decks being viable is a feature to me, not a bug.
Streets of New Capenna looks like a lot of fun to explore for both Limited and Constructed. I’m excited for the release so I can get to work for the Streets of New Capenna Set Championship.
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