Last updated on September 1, 2022
Hostile Takeover | Illustration by Vincent Proce
Let’s jump right in!
Elspeth Resplendent | Illustration by Anna Steinbauer
By now you are probably familiar with New Capenna’s five crime families and their corresponding mechanics, but I still wanted to throw in a recap just in case. I’ll try to touch on some more advanced pointers for those in the know.
The Cabaretti’s mechanic is the first one alphabetically and also the simplest to understand and build around. Alliance is just landfall for creatures and works fine with tokens and nontokens. Keep the dudes flowing and get rewards!
There’s also a trio of uncommon alliance cards that reward you for achieving a second trigger in a turn, a feat easily accomplished by cards like Exhibition Magician and Rakish Revelers. Alliance cards vary in function with outputs ranging from free sizing, free life or damage to your opponent, card advantage, and more.
From a gameplay perspective, alliance puts pressure on you to include fewer noncreature spells in your build and avoid trading creatures like Social Climber and Witty Roastmaster before you’ve played out your other creatures. Strong alliance creatures also increase the value of cards, like Warm Welcome and Stimulus Package, that can be useful to repeatedly trigger powerful engines like Rumor Gatherer and Gala Greeters.
Blitz is a strange and powerful mechanic that markets itself as aggressive but can also generate surprising card advantage. When you blitz a creature, you play it with haste and “when this creature dies, draw a card. Sacrifice this at the beginning of the next end step.” These two bonuses set the creature up for a free attack and you get the card you spent back at the end of your turn.
Because the creature always refunds you the card no matter how it dies, your opponent is heavily disincentivized to trade with anything blitzing at them. This means that blitz spells can often play like cantripping burn spells. No one wants to trade with Girder Goons on turn 4, so you can read the blitz mode as “, deal 4 damage to target opponent, create a tapped 2/2, draw a card.” Every card with blitz should be evaluated as a modular card, with the face up creature as mode one and the blitz option as mode two.
Another strong aspect of blitz is its synergy with the casualty mechanic. Blitzed creatures can be great fodder for cards like Light ‘Em Up and Grisly Sigil because they always refund your card on death. These combos can be done either pre- or post-combat depending on the board state and whether or not you expect your opponent to block your blitzed creature. This won’t always be the correct line since sometimes it’s better to sac 1/1s and use the blitz creature for lethal, but it’s an important synergy to be aware of.
One final aspect of blitz I’ve appreciated is that it offers an easy way to get creatures into your graveyard if needed. Blitzing Mayhem Patrol on turn 2 could easily set up Corpse Appraiser or Extraction Specialist for value on turn 3. I’ve really been impressed by this mechanic and don’t think there’s a single card in the set with blitz that isn’t at least decent.
Casualty is the Maestros specialty and a neat mechanic to build around. All spells with casualty (not counting Ob Nixilis, the Adversary) will have casualty 1 through 3 and give you the option to sacrifice a creature with corresponding power to copy the spell.
Cards like Expendable Lackey and Corrupt Court Official are obvious but effective pairings with eligible casualty cards. You can also use blitz, Involuntary Employment, and creatures enchanted by Hold for Ransom, Witness Protection, or Sleep with the Fishes as efficient fodder.
Casualty is fairly straightforward to play with so I’ll cover most of evaluating and building around the mechanic later. One aspect of casualty worth touching on though is the distinction between sorcery and instant casualty cards. Instants like Dig Up the Body and A Little Chat have more options than cards like Join the Maestros, which is primarily chump blocking and response to removal.
Connive gives the Obscura a strong boost in consistency and late game power by providing free looting on otherwise vanilla creatures. When a creature you control connives, you draw a card and then discard. If you discard a nonland card this way you put a +1/+1 counter on said creature.
This is a great mechanic and I’m happy to include just about every creature with it (besides Psionic Snoop) in my decks. Connive helps address mana-heavy and -light draws and can also set up graveyard synergy for cards like Dig Up the Body and Graveyard Shift.
An important thing to look out for in deckbuilding to maximize connive are cards that have value when pitched. There are three cards that do this well at common: Expendable Lackey, Maestros Initiate, and Halo Scarab. Scarab is the weakest option but acts as a filler playable 2-drop that can help in greedy splashes when milled or discarded, while the other two create raw cardboard when connived. This is especially relevant because it increases the odds that you can get the +1/+1 counter from conniving without risking flooding out as much.
MTG Arena Bug
One thing to note about connive is that two cards with the mechanic are currently bugged on MTG Arena. You still draw and discard if your opponent kills or bounces Psychic Pickpocket or Obscura Interceptor with the trigger on the stack, but the ability doesn’t work otherwise.
We know this is a bug because of the New Capenna release notes, which states:
If a resolving spell or ability instructs a specific creature to connive but that creature has left the battlefield, the creature still connives. If you discard a nonland card this way, you won’t put a +1/+1 counter on anything. Abilities that trigger “when [that creature] connives” will trigger.
Shield counters are a new mechanic and the preferred protection of the Brokers. A shield counter protects a creature from one instance of damage or “destroy” effects. Trying to Murder your opponent’s freshly played Rhox Pummeler will make the power of shield counters quite apparent!
Playing with and against shield counters takes some getting used to, so here are some important concepts:
- An attacking creature with a shield counter offers you the option to chump block it in order to remove its shield counter. This can be a decent way to deal with them in the right circumstances. Chump Dapper Shieldmate with Corrupt Court Official (which puts you up a card) and then trade your Crooked Custodian for it next turn for a clean 1-for-1.
- Conversely, if you control the hypothetical shielded attacker, you might want to sit on the creature as a blocker instead until a better opportunity to attack arises. In the same example, Dapper Shieldmate utterly walls Crooked Custodian and might be better off not attacking for now.
- Because the defender always assigns blockers in Magic, a powerful creature with a shield counter can be a huge pain to attack into. I once had Lord Xander, the Collector get totally walled off by Rhox Pummeler, since an attack by me would mean trading my mythic bomb for a single shield counter! This blocking ability is likely why cards like Dapper Shieldmate and Voice of the Vermin were slanted to be inherently weaker on defense.
- First strike and double strike can be effective against shield counters. Stack blocking with a first strike creature or using Daring Escape on one of your blockers could be an out to a massive shielded threat.
- Shield counters provide great cover for suiting a creature up with +1/+1 counters or auras. Disciplined Duelist is one of the best creatures in the format to drop Security Bypass on since your opponent will need specific answers or die in a hurry.
- Deal Gone Bad, Whack, and Call in a Professional all work great if you want to just bypass shield counters entirely. Shield counters don’t protect from -X/-X effects or against damage prevention. Bounce effects like Out of the Way and Run Out of Town and aura-based removal spells are also effective.
Starting with a 3-color family can be a bit of a trap in this format because New Capenna has seeded rewards for the ally 2-color pairs (a cycle of commons and two cycles of uncommons), common 2-color ally duals, and the fact that each ally 2-color pair is adjacent to two families. So an example of a good Draft flow would be to start with Dimir cards (Murder -> Girder Goons -> Echo Inspector -> Syndicate Infiltrator -> Snooping Newsie) and then solidify into Maestros or Obscura after getting passed a powerful 3-color gold card.
The best way to conceptualize this frame is to understand the 2-color ally pairs as mini archetypes. Each has its own identity that overlaps with the larger identities and mechanics of the 3-color families. A lot of your decks in Draft and Sealed will be these plus a splash of family cards, and the base color pair of a deck can change its general play pattern. For instance, a mainly Gruul Cabaretti deck likely leans more into Treasure synergies while a Selesnya-focused Cabaretti deck might be more aggressive and focus on Citizen payoffs and combat tricks.
3-0 with Azorius fliers, no third color needed
This has been one of the best performing color pairs for me (and a lot of others) in the set since it’s the best home for the best common (Inspiring Overseer). It also has an effective gameplan without needing higher rarity cards.
Syndicate Infiltrator | Illustration by Mila Pesic
Dimir has a number of cards that reward you for having “five or more mana values among cards in your graveyard.” This is an open-ended goal that can be accomplished by trading off creatures, using removal spells, connive, and/or self-mill. Having a good mix of costs in your deck is also essential to fulfilling the condition since having 4- to 5-drops is worth the same as 0- to 5-drop.
The key to getting over this hurdle is playing a couple spells at different mana values when you can. 2-drops, 3-drops, and 4-drops are the bread and butter of most Limited decks, so I like my x decks to have a 7-drop, a 6-drop, and a couple of 1- and 5-drops to increase my odds of hitting 5/5 in time for it to matter. You can also supercharge your self-mill with cards like Dig Up the Body and Deal Gone Bad for a way to unexpectedly grow Snooping Newsie and Syndicate Infiltrator mid-combat.
Most x decks are very controlling and are all about trading resources, filling up your ‘yard, and then winning with powered up creatures and card advantage. One last thing worth noting is that decking can be a concern for Dimir. Repeated self-mill from cards like Deal Gone Bad can add up in a longer game.
Involuntary Employment | Illustration by Milivoj Ceran
Rakdos wants to sacrifice creatures for value, a goal that plays well with both the blitz and casualty mechanics. Of all the 2-color pairs I’ve been the least impressed with Rakdos because Fatal Grudge and Forge Boss feel weaker than most of the other 2-color uncommons.
Body Dropper, on the other hand, has really impressed for its synergy with blitz and Involuntary Employment. Rakdos is an aggressive color pair in this set so I find that most of my Maestros decks have been Dimir focused while my Riveteers decks are more likely to be Rakdos based.
Treasure token | Illustration by Alex Stone
Unfortunately for Gruul, most of its enablers and payoffs are weak on their own since Glittermonger is a 4-mana 1/4 and Stimulus Package is quite weak without other ways to generate Treasure. This means that Gruul has a pretty involved gameplan based around synergy and reading the Draft to make sure it gets the right rares and uncommons.
Gruul has two unique fail cases for when it can’t pull off the full Treasure synergy deck: aggro, and 5-color control. Aggro is a stompy deck with Gilded Pinions, combat tricks, and ground beaters. 5-color control takes full advantage of Big Score and Jewel Thief to splash every rare it sees.
Citizen token | Illustration by Maria Poliakova
Selesnya is focused on Citizen tribal, which is good news for jumping into Cabaretti since most of the token creatures in this set are Citizens. Selesnya also makes a great basis for Brokers decks since Citizens aren’t hard to come by and its best cards do a great job at taking control of the board early on.
I’ve preferred Azorius to Selesnya as a Brokers basis but have found both to be effective options and generally follow where the gold cards in my Draft tell me to go.
Brokers is a midrange family themed around counters, particularly shield counters. Brokers decks vary in pace from tempo to good stuff and generally win with fliers and chip damage while holding down the ground with shielded blockers.
- Azorius-focused Brokers is the more commonly played Brokers archetype and is basically Azorius fliers plus a green splash for 3-color cards. This deck relies mostly on commons and does a great job at leveraging all of Azorius’ multicolor cards.
- Selesnya-based Brokers leans on Citizen synergies and tends to have a more ground-focused game. Spara’s Adjudicators is a pretty decent Citizen which helps the deck consistently power up its Selesnya uncommons.
- Simic () Brokers isn’t officially supported but sometimes comes together if I’m base blue and get passed too many Jewel Thiefs. This is the most controlling Brokers variant and the most likely variant to be 4 colors since base green means more access to Treasure for greedy splashes.
This was a Brokers trophy that was very evenly split between three colors. Ideally it would’ve been Azorius-based but I had good fixing and a lack of strong playables otherwise so I decided to be greedy.
Base Simic Brokers is rare but will occasionally be the right build if you don’t have great white cards like I said. Jewel Thief was the blue that made this deck function, enabling Courier’s Briefcase and ramping me into my many powerful bomb rares.
Obscura is a controlling family that can be played as either a control or a tempo deck. The connive mechanic plays center stage in most Obscura decks either way and is a key to its value gameplan and consistency.
Most Obscura decks come in one of two flavors:
- Dimir-focused Obscura uses connive and self-mill from Snooping Newsie and Dig Up the Body to fill up its ‘yard and power up cards like Syndicate Infiltrator. This is similar to red-splashed Dimir in gameplay but of course has different multicolor cards and a lesser emphasis on casualty cards. Expendable Lackey is a shared card that both decks like since Obscura often has more ways to discard it with extra connive.
- Azorius-based Obscura leans more aggressive and uses connive as an easy way to get counters for payoffs like Metropolis Angel and Exotic Pets. Adding black to an Azorius flier base usually means splashing Queza, Augur of Agonies, Nimble Larcenist, and Void Rend. Murder is a great card that you won’t be able to play thanks to its cost.
Another base Dimir Obscura, this deck has less early game than the above, but two Night Clubbers let me get away with it. Queza was the best card as it can win games on its own.
Maestros is themed around its casualty mechanic, sacrificing small creatures for the greater good. Most Maestros decks are controlling with lots of removal spells, self-mill, and graveyard recursion that win games with value plays and fatties like Glamorous Outlaw and Sewer Crocodile.
Maestros has two main flavors:
- Dimir-based Maestros leans more into the “mana values in graveyard” theme. It uses casualty spells for value, sacrificing Expendable Lackey and Corrupt Court Official to casualty 1 cards for card advantage and access to the best removal spells from all three colors. Red is a splash for 3-color cards, Strangle, and sometimes Involuntary Employment.
- Rakdos-focused Maestros is generally more aggressive and higher on blitz creatures. Body Dropper rewards you for both blitz and casualty and can grow to absurd sizes for a 2-drop. This is a great home for the red blitz commons and Light ‘Em Up, since the fodder Dimir tends to play often doesn’t have 2 power. Blue is the splash here for 3-color cards and Rooftop Nuisance.
This was a Dimir base Maestros build. Red is the splash here but well worth it for three(!) Corpse Appraisers.
Riveteers is advertised as an aggressive family, but most Riveteers decks are midrange decks that lean aggressive rather than being a pure aggro deck. This has been the worst performing family by statistical metrics, which surprised me since blitz has played very well and many of its 3-color cards are excellent. The only mediocre Riveteers card is Crew Captain, which is efficient but definitely weaker than the other members of its cycle.
Most Riveteers decks come in three flavors:
- Gruul-based Riveteers focuses on Treasure synergies and splashing powerful cards like Hostile Takeover and Fleetfoot Dancer. A lot of the sacrifice-matters cards you’d expect Riveteers to love, like Body Dropper, only care about creature sacrifice, not Treasures, so any deck built around Treasures tends to lean on specific uncommons. Black is the splash color for 3-color bombs and Girder Goons, which is too efficient not to play.
- Rakdos-focused Riveteers maximizes blitz and tends to be the most aggressive Riveteers configuration. Body Dropper is at its best in this deck, as are aggressive blitz creatures like Mayhem Patrol and Plasma Jockey. The main green cards that get splashed here are Riveteers Charm, bombs, Crew Captain, and sometimes Caldaia Strongarm for extra blitz.
- Golgari () Riveteers is an unofficially supported midrange deck built around Jewel Thief, Murder, and a classic Golgari stompy gameplan. This is an option when you don’t have strong enough red to play as a base color but still want to play powerful Jund cards.
This was x midrange with two splashes, though I leaned more into Gruul-focused Riveteers than white with just one Rocco, Cabaretti Caterer and Buy Your Silence. I was playing some mediocre cards, but the muscle and removal spells were good.
Another 4-color deck with slightly more black cards than white ones. This deck was more aggressive and made great use of Gilded Pinions and Elegant Entourage to bash my opponents with huge evasive Rhinos.
Cabaretti is another midrange family with a prominent “go wide” theme that can be seen in a lot of its multicolor cards. Cards like Cabaretti Charm, Take to the Streets, and Jetmir, Nexus of Revels range from underwhelming to “gg” depending on how many other creatures you have.
Most Cabaretti decks come in one of two flavors:
- Selesnya-focused Cabaretti leans into Citizen synergies and token generation. It pressures early with above-rate cards like Civil Servant, and then sets up a board stall that it can win with a mass pump spell.
- Gruul-based Cabaretti is another Treasure-focused color pairing, and one I usually prefer to Gruul-focused Riveteers. As mentioned earlier, Stimulus Package is a premium alliance enabler that lets this deck win in a similar way to Selesnya Cabaretti while having more splash options (mainly Brokers or Riveteers bombs, which only require one extra Treasure).
This isn’t mine as I’ve only drafted Cabaretti once and went 2-1. Credit for this (amazing) deck goes to Lord Tupperware. Most Cabaretti decks won’t be this good!
This is a splinter archetype that’s usually a split off from x Treasure. What basically happen is you draft and don’t find a strong enough direction to really commit to a family, but then have just enough Jewel Thiefs, Exhibition Magicians, and Big Scores to play everything.
You can also end up as a lighter 4-color variant that’s just a family deck plus a splash, or a 2-color pair with two splashes. Treasure is usually less necessary in this case since you can lean on dual lands and the cycle of 3-color common creatures to fix your mana instead.
The most important thing to know for this archetype is what rares and uncommons are actually worth stretching your mana for. The best measure of this is often the amount of card advantage a card creates since you generally want your splashes to be cards that are as effective on turn 3 as they are on turn 9. Something like Corpse Appraiser makes for a better deep splash than a card like Nimble Larcenist or Disciplined Duelist that plays markedly better if cast early.
So you’ve opened six packs of New Capenna… now what? Let me propose a basic Sealed order if you’re not sure where to start. First, an optional first step: if you want to use a better deckbuilder than the default Arena one, add your full pool to your deck and then export it and upload it to Draftsim’s sealed deck builder.
Sealed Order of Operations
- Check out your rares, briefly noting bombs and what color combination(s) would let you play your best cards.
- Look at your multicolor cards. The basic flow of New Capenna deckbuilding is ally 2-color combos leading into a 3-color family. If you have a lot of cards in either category (for example Darling of the Masses, Ceremonial Groundbreaker, and two Civil Servants), those could be a great lead as to where to begin with deckbuilding.
- Assess how much fixing you have and how well that fixing works with your best cards. The most reliable mana fixers are lands, but you should also make note of Ominous Parcel and Treasure generators like Jewel Thief and Exhibition Magician.
- Look at your individual colors. The two things that matter most at this point are top commons (Inspiring Overseer, Echo Inspector, Girder Goons, etc.) and removal since you won’t fully see your mana curve until you start laying out your deck.
- It’s time to start sketching out deck ideas. If you had a pool with four Selesnya cards, you might start by laying out those four plus any bombs you have that can fit in x and then assessing what your deck needs. This is where mana curve comes more into play, because you can cleanly see what costs your deck has too little or too much of.
- From here on you’re in the deckbuilding step, but you can go back to earlier steps if you hit a dead end with your build. You want the best curve and power level possible plus removal spells for rares and big creatures. Most New Capenna Sealed decks are two colors with one or two splashes, but I’ve seen a couple of 5-color piles so far. True 3-color is also an option for when you open a lot of good cards from one family and the fixing to play them all.
- Pay attention to synergy as you figure out your final build. This is a common Limited takeaway but it’s always good to count the number of enablers you have for cards that depend on certain things. For example, the Selesnya cards I mentioned earlier all play much better if your pool has Citizens to play alongside them. The same goes for cards like Rooftop Nuisance and Dig Up the Body which play best with fodder like Expendable Lackey and Corrupt Court Official.
- You can add your basic lands last, but your options earlier should always have been considered with a realistic mana base in mind. Three plus colored sources for a splash and eight plus sources for a primary color are good metrics to aim for, but you might be forced to skimp in weaker and greedier pools. I count the 2- and 3-color lands as one of each color for the sake of simplicity, but keep in mind that the fetch lands only get one basic at a time and can hamper your ability to cast spells with two or three pips like Murder and Even the Score.
Now that you have a process for building your deck, let me throw in some pointers I’ve picked up from playing several Sealed Leagues and Preliminaries of the format:
- The best New Capenna Sealed decks I’ve played so far have been heavy on powerful bombs, removal, and card advantage (basic Sealed stuff). Mana fixing is also vital, so the key is a balance that gets as much good stuff as possible without losing to itself or being too glacial early.
- You can always use Obscura Storefront-style cards as 2-color fixers if needed, so don’t neglect this as essential mana fixing for splashes.
- Splashing double pips can be done with Big Score but is very difficult to pull off otherwise. Try to orient yourself around your Sanctuary Warden or All-Seeing Arbiter instead if you can.
- The most common sideboard cards in New Capenna Sealed have been Broken Wings, Backstreet Bruiser, and Gilded Pinions. Wings is a classic sideboard card that answers fliers and enchantment bombs (main decking one is fine if you can fit it), Bruiser (and similar blockers) is great on the draw against decks without a ton of fliers, and Pinions excels in green mirrors that often end up in board stalls otherwise.
- These are by no means the only sideboard options available, so always think about how you can adjust your creatures and removal to better adjust what threats or answers your opponent presented last game. Ready to Rumble is a weak card but a necessary evil against Mysterious Limousine. For the Family could be excellent against an opponent leaning on Prizefight for removal. Disdainful Stroke could be unexpectedly cast off Treasure tokens to stop that Soul of Emancipation that you just lost to!
These are the rares you’re basically always supposed to splash or include in your deck. These are also cards you’ll lose to and may need to adjust your sideboarding for (if you have the option).
Some of the best rares in the set are:
- Sanctuary Warden
- Raffine, Scheming Seer
- Hostile Takeover
- Titan of Industry
- All-Seeing Arbiter
- Ziatora, the Incinerator
- Brokers Ascendancy
- Elspeth Resplendent
- Ob Nixilis, the Adversary
- Vivien on the Hunt
- Rabble Rousing
- Fight Rigging
- Evelyn, the Covetous
- Fleetfoot Dancer
- Workshop Warchief
This isn’t an exhaustive list of all the great rares in the set, but 15 seemed like a rounded number. There are some unmentioned bombs like Reservoir Kraken, Shakedown Heavy, Ziatora’s Envoy, and more. It’s in your best interest to play as many of them as possible when you open cards at this level.
I have a full SNC tier list here.
You can’t control the rares you open… or can you? Pray to Richard Garfield to avoid these worthless pieces of cardboard, and don’t put them in your deck if you do.
In a word: decking. The central issue with Cemetery Tampering is that your 40-card deck won’t be able to withstand the self-inflicted punishment, even if you wanted to play it as a mix of free spell and enabler for “mana values matter” cards.
Cut Your Losses is a classic trap card, so please don’t play this! Mill can be great in Limited, but “round down” is just a brutal thing to read on a card like this. Think of this as “sac a creature with 2 power or more: suspend 7 win the game” and you’ll see how bad it is.
Riveteers Ascendancy could be playable in a very specific deck with lots of blitz, Body Dropper, and Involuntary Employment, but it asks so much of you for a very shaky reward. I haven’t been impressed with this card and recommend avoiding it in any serious event.
Evolving Door is a Birthing Pod that makes you cast the card you tutor. This is already an eyebrow raiser, but restricting this to color jumping makes it even harder to get any real value out of it. About the only uses I could think of were sacrificing Citizen tokens for 3-color creatures and using this as sac outlet for Involuntary Employment. But none of my pools with enough Citizen tokens to want this have ever had enough good 3-color targets and I doubt yours will either.
Structural Assault is the best of the bad rares in theory, since a Treasure-focused deck can use it as a Storm’s Wrath of sorts. It can also be used as a sideboard card against artifact bombs like Mysterious Limousine that demand an answer. So while not necessarily 100% useless, I’d prefer to open something else if I can.
This was a 4-0 with where Treasure let me splash two colors and play all my bombs!
A 4-1 with . The mana wasn’t ideal but Brokers Ascendancy should almost never be in your sideboard when you press “Submit Deck.”
This was 3-1 with a true 4-color deck. Six duals, three mana creatures, and Ominous Parcel let me play all my best cards in a challenging pool to build.
The simplest way to excel in this format is to find your 2-color lane and then jump into whatever 3-color family hands you the most busted gold cards. You can also sometimes make forays into 4-color if you’re lucky enough to get passed top-tier rares like Hostile Takeover and Brokers Ascendancy.
Draft is all about making the right decisions between mana fixing, playables, removal, and 3-color cards. Assigning the right weight to picks as both instruments for your deck and as symbols of your table’s intentions are the keys to consistently drafting good decks.
One of the best ways to get a feel for New Capenna Draft is to use Draftsim draft simulator, of course! You can run through the first few picks of a Draft as many times as you want and get a feel for what kind of openers you might start a new Draft on, all for free.
But I’ll get to an example Draft in a bit. First, let’s go over some important Draft info for New Capenna.
- The best commons in the set are Inspiring Overseer, Murder, Jewel Thief, and Strangle.
- Blue doesn’t have a top 4 common but has been a very solid color for me (Echo Inspector is my favorite blue common), while red has been the least impressive individual color. I most commonly play red as a splash in Dimir and rarely prioritize anything but Strangle from the color.
- The best red cards for me have been Mayhem Patrol, Plasma Jockey, and Light ‘Em Up. Wrecking Crew has also been serviceable but 5-drops are inherently replaceable and not a high priority.
- Knowing when to take dual lands can be tricky and comes down to the composition of your picks and expected deck plus the opportunity cost of whatever you’re passing. Usually top commons and uncommons get picked over lands, and then lands get picked over decent playables like Sky Crier and Backup Agent.
- Curve gets prioritized over lands once you already have at least three dual lands since they have diminishing returns past five or six copies. 5-color decks can play about half tapped lands if needed but 3-color decks won’t and 2-color decks should play only one to three total.
- I pay close attention to the multicolor cards I pass (both 2- and 3-color) since I want to be aware of what signals I’m sending to the table. I also use these as an easy window into the signals I’m being sent. A late Cormela, Glamour Thief in pack 1 should be a great sign that Maestros is open.
- Inspiring Overseer is so good that I’d take it P1P1 over any 3-color Charm, a lot of rares, Murder, Nimble Larcenist, and more. Having a baseline for what cards are better than Overseer/Murder (usually obvious bombs that are well worth splashing) is important.
- It’s fairly easy to play your P1P1 in the event that it’s a broken rare like Sanctuary Warden or Hostile Takeover thanks to the 3-color nature of this set. Warden just asks that you be white (three of the five families include white) while Takeover wants you to be Dimir, Rakdos, or even just a red combo with Big Score. Try to follow the best cards you get passed while figuring out a way to splash anything absurd if you can.
- Conversely, I sometimes have to abandon great cards like Disciplined Duelist and Maestros Charm because of color concerns. You shouldn’t be going out of your way to splash a card that’s best on turn 3 and should instead reserve your greediest splashes for only the most broken of bombs.
Urabrask, Heretic Praetor is a very strong rare that not only draws cards but also potentially denies the opponent cards. It’s also mono-colored which makes it even more appealing. Nimble Larcenist is strong enough to be worth speculating if Urabrask weren’t here since none of these commons go beyond replacement level.
Overruling myself here to recommend Corpse Explosion over Cormela, Glamour Thief, which keeps us more open and is a strong rare. It’s also decent with Urabrask which has 4 power, an important quality with Explosion. Cormela is very strong but commits us to a narrow deck and identity early on. The other best cards are Riveteers Decoy and Mayhem Patrol, but I prefer one of the few sweepers in the format.
Mayhem Patrol is a great rate and surprisingly flexible for an aggressive 2-drop since it cycles late game and has use as casualty fodder. Big Score would be my runner-up pick for its utility in splashing and setting up Explosion.
My bot is over drafting lands here since this is too early to take a Rakdos land over premium creatures like Cleanup Crew and Echo Inspector. Both are adjacent to a Rakdos-based family so either is a defensible pick, but I went with Cleanup Crew because I’ve been very impressed with its sizing and utility.
Strangle is another card I’d pick up over a tri-land, but I do miss the Overlook more now that I have a good green card. Pyre-Sledge Arsonist is also a strong red card with a high ceiling, though I prefer the land or Strangle to it since it’s only truly great with Big Score and similar cards.
The best card in the pack is Raffine’s Informant, but Riveteers Initiate is a playable that’s in our base colors. Taking red filler helps solidify us as red-base build and increases the odds we play Urabrask and Explosion.
When in doubt, follow the multicolor cards. We’re currently red based with no other cards besides Explosion and Crew. So I want to take Jetmir’s Fixer over the unimpressive Sizzling Soloist as a pitch to figure out what red color pair I’m based in. Fixer is an easy pick for me since it’s a great 2-drop in a format that’s full of mediocre ones.
The best card in the pack is red. Wrecking Crew is a decent creature to table which is nice.
Fatal Grudge has some potential to make our deck if we’re base Rakdos with lots of blitz cards, Body Dropper, and Corrupt Court Official, while Ready to Rumble is a weak playable for either Rakdos or Gruul. I prefer the higher upside card here as getting one Rumble is usually easy enough.
This pack is Ziatora’s Proving Ground versus Maestros Charm versus Riveteers Decoy. The rare land is useful for Maestros, Cabaretti, and Riveteers so it’s going to make our deck no matter what. Not necessarily the splashiest card but one I’m happy to pick early.
Luxurious Libation is a nice mix of a value combat trick and Fireball effect on an unblocked creature, so it’s one of the few combat tricks I go out of my way to draft. We’re still not sure what we are beyond red, but Gruul would be good to solidify into as we can splash whatever we need anyways. Passing Brokers Charm is an easy decision given the current color situation despite it being the best card in the pack.
Rocco, Cabaretti Caterer over Stimulus Package makes sense given our lack of Treasure generators and massive alliance payoffs. Rocco is a generally better card that’s already very exciting given that we have strong creatures like Urabrask and Cleanup Crew to tutor. That’s a lot of mana, but Big Score can make it possible.
Dusk Mangler is the best card in the pack while Mayhem Patrol is a strong 2-drop in our base color. I’m taking Patrol for consistency and curve but would respect taking the Mangler to stay open towards splash Rocco. is a potential issue there but Big Score can help if we table the last one or get more later.
What a pack! Security Rhox is just a 4-mana 5/4 for me 99% of the time (still a strong playable), but Unleash the Inferno and Riveteers Charm are on another level. I prefer the Charm and might now be evaluating Rocco as a splash card rather than being Cabaretti base. I need to take some more lands either way.
Call in a Professional is a strong removal spell. Open Fire variants are usually decent but this one is particularly good for its usage against shield counters. Riveteers Requisitioner is a card I’d also have loved to take but I’m decent on 2-drops and light on removal. Devilish Valet is certainly playable but I don’t have a ton of ways to double trigger it or a ton of pump spells to use it for cheese and I prefer more consistent options.
Unlucky Witness has excelled in Maestros decks alongside casualty cards and is certainly playable, but the second Charm is way too good to pass and solidifies our colors as with a potential Rocco splash. Glittermonger would also be of potential interest, but not over either of the other two cards.
4-color isn’t for the faint of heart, but that’s a really late Jetmir, Nexus of Revels. I’m definitely happy to pick it here since this is the kind of power level I was talking about when I mentioned splashing a fourth color as an option. Were Jetmir not here I really like Pugnacious Pugilist and would take it over Strangle or Fixer, but really any of these cards are great here.
Easy Exhibition Magician here, both for curve and as a source of color fixing to help enable my greed. The lack of other options make this one feel even better.
Sticky Fingers hasn’t been consistently great for me, but I do like the sound of it on Jetmir’s Fixer or blitz cards (which provide an avenue to cycle the card when you no longer want it). You could also take Structural Assault as a sideboard card here for Mysterious Limousine. Neither is likely to make the deck.
Filler creatures over combat tricks with Jetmir, Nexus of Revels.
We could use some more dual lands, but our deck is looking great so far! We have lots of strong multicolor cards and a healthy number of early plays.
Unlicensed Hearse is a pretty decent rare that acts as free graveyard hate and grows into a large creature at a fair pace. Stimulus Package is in our colors but we don’t have a lot of Treasure makers beyond Magician so I’d avoid it. I want dual lands very badly and am willing to take them over good cards like Hearse and Big Score.
Bot is once again being overly pessimistic. We can make this mana work, so let’s take the best card which also just so happens to be another great Rocco target.
Stimulus Package isn’t 100% guaranteed to make the deck but it’s a welcome card to table.
Glamorous Outlaw could be used as fixing if we were desperate, but I try to never play cards from that cycle if they’re off color since the rates just aren’t that impressive. Another Crew won’t hurt.
Happy to play all four Magicians in this deck, but damn are those some good cards I’m passing! But I’m not going 5-color for them.
This was a tough build, but here’s the final product. My colored sources, not counting Treasure, are:
- 9 red + 3
- 6 green + 3
- 1 white + 3
- 4 black + 1
I can use my three Exhibition Magicians to fix for white or black mana if needed, which should bump my consistency up to acceptable levels. I probably won’t sideboard much with this deck since the mana is kind of tight, but I could consider Broken Wings and Wrecking Crew as board cards against too many fliers.
Security Bypass | Illustration by Volkan Baga
With all this information you should be ready for future New Capenna Limited events you play in. I hope you enjoyed reading this and found it useful and wish you nothing but the best luck.
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