In Magic The Gathering's plane of New Capenna, one of the five crime families are the white, blue, and black Obscuras. A group of mages and psychics who look to control the flow of information throughout the plane, they're the ones who'll make you forget you saw any of their crimes, churn out fake news on their competitors, or just blackmail you into serving them.
With the weekend far behind us, it's time for Streets of New Capenna's preview season to pick up the pace a bit. On day five, we've got almost 30 cards to look at, including a plant dinosaur, a new cycle of mana-fixing commons, and a new card draw-focused Commander that might cause a lot of upset in the future.
Reduce The Population (translated name TBA)
Two generic, two white Sorcery:
Each player who controls a multicoloured creature draws a card. Then, destroy all creatures.
This isn't the greatest board wipe in Standard, let alone in broader Magic, but it's a cool design. We've had similar effects like Shatter the Sky but Reduce the Population basing it on colour identity instead of creature power is neat.
One generic, one white Creature – Human Wizard:
When Raffine's Informant enters the battlefield, it connives.
Part of a cycle of commons that connive as an enter-the-battlefield trigger, Raffine's Informant is ptobably the least impressive of the lot. Once you've connived, she's just a vanilla creature.
One generic, one white Creature – Human Rogue:
Double strike. Whenever Illuminator Virtuoso becomes the target of a spell you control, it connives.
Illuminator Virtuosos is begging you to play as many combat tricks as possible to keep conniving and keep growing bigger. In Standard that's going to have a limit, but in Commander this could be a brilliant new piece for Feather, the Redeemed.
Three generic, one blue Creature – Bird Rogue:
Flying. When Echo Inspector enters the battlefield, it connives.
Another part of the enter-the-battlefield-conniving cycle, Echo Inspector being able to potentially become a 3/4 flyer the same turn it comes out isn't bad at all.
Out Of The Way
Three generic, one blue Instant:
This spell costs two generic less to cast if it targets a green permanent.
Return target nonland permanent an opponent controls to its owner's hand. Draw a card.
This isn't the most interesting card ever printed but bouncing permanents to their opponent's hands is a very blue thing, and this has the added benefit of being a light green hate piece as well. Cantripping as a bonus effect sweetens the deal.
Public Enemy (translated name TBA)
Two generic, one blue Enchantment – Aura:
Enchant creature. All creatures attack the enchanted creature's controller each combat if able. When enchanted creature dies, draw a card.
This is one scary card. It effectively goads the entire table into attacking one player with everything they have. Of course, they can throw their enchanted creature in the way to stop the effect as soon as possible, but even then, you'll draw a card out of it. In one-on-one formats, you might be more inclined to put the enchantment on a creature you control to get an opponent's potential blockers tapped and out of the way instead.
One generic, one blue Enchantment – Aura:
Enchant creature. As long as enchanted creature is attacking alone, it can't be blocked. Enchanted creature has "Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, it connives".
Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty's red/white theme was samurais attacking on their own, and there were lots of triggers there that could be difficult to pull off once your opponent's built up a board state. Guaranteeing they can't be blocked, will get bigger most turns, and give you card advantage for two mana may have just given birth to Jeskai Samurais in Standard.
Two generic, one blue Sorcery:
Casualty 1. Tap target creature. It doesn't untap during its controller's next untap step. Draw a card.
You're almost always going to want to pay the casualty on this one. Three mana to freeze a creature is an effect we've seen a decent amount recently but paying the one creature to do it to two creatures and draw two cards makes this an amazing sorcery.
One blue Creature – Human Rogue:
Pay three generic: Hypnotic Grifter connives.
This has "combo piece" written all over it. Generate infinite mana and you can draw through your whole deck for an easy Thassa's Oracle or Lab Maniac win, or simply keep drawing until you find the pieces you want. This is one of those unassuming yet absolutely terrifying kinds of cards nobody sees coming.
Corpse Cleaner (translated name TBA)
Two generic, two black Creature – Ogre Rogue:
Deathtouch. Whenever another nontoken creature you control dies, Corpse Cleaner connives. When Corpse Cleaner dies, return up to one target non-Rogue creature with power less than or equal to Corpse Cleaner's from your graveyard to the battlefield.
Corpse Cleaner looks set to be a powerful new Aristocrats piece. For each creature that does, Corpse Cleaner could get bigger, you gain card advantage, and then you can easily pull back a non-Rogue from your graveyard to the battlefield. There isn't much here to not love.
Three generic, one black Creature – Cephalid Rogue:
Menace. When Revel Ruiner enters the battlefield, it connives.
The black entry in the conniving ETB cycle has Menace to make it a decent attacker, although, like the rest of this cycle, it also doubles up as a great casualty victim.
Two generic, one black Creature – Ogre Warrior:
Menace. Whenever Shakedown Heavy attacks, defending player may have you draw a card. If they do, untap Shakedown Heavy and remove it from combat.
Everything about this card is great. A 6/4 for three mana is a huge early-game threat, and you're effectively pointing a gun at your opponent's head and telling them to either let that big hitter cause havoc to their early board state, or let you draw a card and get advantage in another way. Flavourful and powerful, Shakedown Heavy is awesome in every way.
Two generic, one black Enchantment:
Hideaway 5. At the beginning of your upkeep, you may mill three cards. If there are twenty or more cards in your graveyard, you may play the exiled card without paying its mana cost.
Hideaway looks set to be an incredibly powerful mechanic in this set. It's easy to get 20 cards into your graveyard, especially in formats like Commander where self-mill is popular and being able to play a card for free just for doing something you were likely already planning on doing is wild.
Call An Expert (translated name TBA)
Two generic, one red Instant:
Players cannot gain life this turn. Damage cannot be prevented this turn. Call An Expert deals three damage to any target. (This damage is not prevented even if a shield counter is removed).
We haven't seen a lot of shield counter hate so far, so having a piece like this that knocks them out of the way while still dealing damage to the creature beneath them is interesting. Being able to turn off lifegain is also powerful.
One generic, two white Creature – Plant Dinosaur:
Vigilance. When Topiary Stomper enters the battlefield, search your library for a basic land card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle. Topiary Stomper can't attack or block unless you control seven or more lands.
How can the hands-down best art of the set be on such a 'just okay' card? It's a topiary dinosaur running amok down the street, this should've been one of the greatest cards Magic has ever printed! Instead, it's a 4/4 that provides some very basic ramp and can't attack until later in the game where it's likely already redundant. Top-tier art, though.
One generic Artifact – Equipment:
Equipped creature has "Pay one generic: This creature deals one damage to target creature that's blocking it".
Pay one generic: Equip.
Arc Splitter is deceptively useful. Pinging a blocker for one damage doesn't feel like much, but you can pay the one multiple times to deal as much damage as you need. As long as you have the mana, you can clear most creatures out of the way with it.
Metropolis Angel (translated name TBA)
Two generic, one white, one blue Creature – Angel Soldier
Flying. Whenever one or more creatures you control with counters on them attack, draw a card.
This card's flavour, art, and name are all so cool, but the effect itself is a bit underwhelming. This really didn't need the "one or more creatures" clause as a limiter, as drawing only one card each turn feels more mono-white than Azorius.
One generic, one green, one white Artifact – Equipment:
Equipped creature gets +2/+1 and has trample.
Pay one generic: Equip Citizen.
Pay three generic: Equip.
Citizens are a minor theme of New Capenna, standing for the normal people who don't belong to any of the five families. This fairly bland equipment also has a lot of flavour and lore tied up in it, considering New Capenna is a world where all natural life outside the city has withered and died.
One white, one blue, one black Enchantment:
Whenever you cast a spell, if its mana value is equal to the number of Soul counters on Obscura Ascendancy plus one, put a Soul counter on Obscura Ascendancy, then create a 2/2 white spirit creature token with flying.
As long as Obscura Ascendancy has five or more Soul counters on it, spirits you control get +3/+3.
Another new kind of counter debuts in Streets of New Capenna, as Obscura Ascendancy cares about 'soul counters'. The requirement to always be playing a slightly more expensive spell to keep the spirits coming could be difficult for some decks but forcing it up to five spirit counters in other ways for that spirit anthem could be a nasty win condition. After all, New Capenna is in the same standard as the spirit heavy Innistrad and Kamigawa sets.
Queza, Fortune-teller of Suffering (translated name TBA)
One generic, one white, one blue, one black Legendary Creature – Cephalid Advisor:
Whenever you draw a card, target opponent loses one life, and you gain one life.
In Standard, Queza is great, especially when used alongside connive to gain life and deal damage. But in other formats, Queza goes from great to absolutely terrifying. It's a one-card combo in Commander with Drogskol Reaver, who draws a card whenever you gain life. And at uncommon, this could be one of the sleeper hits of New Capenna.
Shattered Seraph (translated name TBA)
Four generic, one white, one blue, one black Creature – Angel Rogue:
Flying. When Shattered Seraph enters the battlefield, you gain three life.
Pay two generic, exile Shattered Seraph from your hand: Target land gains 'tap: add white, blue, or black' until Shattered Seraph from exile. You may cast Shattered Seraph as long as it remains exiled.
A new common-rarity cycle of creatures that can be exiled from your hand to let a land tap for three colours of mana is going to be a lifesaver in limited formats where players might not pull the triome land they need. Mana smoothing in particular is handy, and this one is tough to interact with as its source is sat in exile waiting to be played later on. Or not, because the creature part of the card isn't particularly good – treat this as a two-mana, non-interactable land enchantment and you're set.
Toluz, Clever Conductor
One white or blue, one blue, one blue or black Legendary Creature – Human Rogue:
When Toluz, Clever Conductor enters the battlefield, it connives. Whenever you discard one or more cards, exile them from your graveyard. When Toluz dies, put the cards exiled with it into their owner's hand.
Toluz was made to be a new discard-centric Commander who fits in nicely with the Obscura's conniving. Being able to discard cards safe in the knowledge you'll probably get them back later on is great, but if Toluz gets exiled or bounced to your hand, where you lose access to all those exiled cards, it could cause a lot of problems for you.
Hostile Takeover (translated name TBA)
Two generic, one blue, one black, one red Sorcery:
Target up to two creatures. One target creature's base power and toughness become 1/1 until the end of the turn. The other target creature's base power and toughness become 4/4 until the end of the turn. Then, Hostile Takeover deals three damage to all creatures.
Hostile Takeover is an overly complicated pseudo-board wipe. For all the effort that goes into it in having to choose targets and new powers and toughnesses, all it really does is deal three damage to each creature. In other words, you're picking one creature to save and another to definitely kill, while the rest are dependent on how they can tank. For five mana (and three colours) it just isn't up to scratch.
One blue, one black, one red Creature – Vampire Rogue:
When Corpse Appraiser enters the battlefield, exile up to one target creature card from a graveyard. If a card is put into exile this way, look at the top three cards of your library, then put one of those cards into your hand and the rest into your graveyard.
Graveyard hate for an opponent, filling up your graveyard, and getting card advantage all at once for three mana is excellent. After that he's just a vanilla 3/3, which also makes him an excellent casualty target.
Unleash The Inferno
One generic, one black, one red, one green Instant:
Unleash the Inferno deals seven damage to target creature or Planeswalker. When it deals excess damage this way, destroy target artifact or enchantment an opponent controls with mana value less than or equal to that amount of excess damage.
It's a bit expensive, but Unleash the Inferno is artifact or enchantment removal disguised as a burn spell. You're most likely use for this would be to take out a smaller creature or Planeswalker and use the excess damage clause to take a bigger game piece out instead.
One red, one green, one white Creature – Elf Shaman:
Vigilance. When Brazen Upstart dies, look at the top five cards of your library. You may reveal a creature card from among them and put it into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.
Although casualty isn't the mechanic for the red/green/white Cabaretti, there are enough mono-coloured casualty cards to make Brazen Upstart a worthwhile piece of sacrificial fodder.
Two generic, one red, one green, one white Creature – Elf Druid Rogue:
When Rakish Revelers enters the battlefield, create a 1/1 green and white Citizen creature token.
Pay two generic, exile Rakish Revelers from your hand: Target land gains 'tap: add red, green, or white' until Rakish Revelers is cast from exile. You may cast Rakish Revelers for as long as it remains exiled.
Another part of the mana-fixing cycle alongside Shattered Seraph. Like Shattered Seraph, you're likely not going to be playing this as a creature. Five mana for a 5/3 and a 1/1 token isn't brilliant, but two mana to turn any land into a triome is pretty fantastic at common rarity.
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