Welcome to part two of the New Capenna Constructed Set Review. I’ll follow Luis’s lead in the way I split things up.
“Because this is a three-color set with five factions, I’m going to go by faction + a two-color pair first, then do the monocolors afterwards.”
When I wrote my Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Review, I didn’t feel like my rating scale was quite perfect. Plus, I erred a little bit on the conservative side with my rankings. For example, Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and The Wandering Emperor only earned 3.0 and 3.5, respectively, and they’ve proven to be great cards across multiple formats. I’ll try to be a little more ambitious this time.
I’ll be evaluating every card from the Streets of New Capenna main set, with an eye for competitive Constructed. I’ll include a number grade plus a bit of commentary on each card that earns 2.0 or better. Remember that context is everything when it comes to Constructed deckbuilding, so these grades won’t necessarily be the final word on how useful a card winds up being.
- 5.0 Multi-format all-star. (Lightning Bolt. Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath. Expressive Iteration.)
- 4.5 Format-defining. (Lightning Helix. Goblin Chainwhirler. Nissa, Who Shakes the World. Goldspan Dragon.)
- 4.0 Format staple. (Llanowar Elves. Galvanic Blast. Shatter the Sky. Skyclave Apparition.)
- 3.5 Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Skewer the Critics. Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger. Kaito Shizuki. Experimental Synthesizer.)
- 3.0 Archetype Staple. (Greasefang, Okiba Boss. Hinata, Dawn-Crowned. Kumano Faces Kakkazan. Voltage Surge.)
- 2.5 Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Brimstone Volley. Commune with Spirits. Invoke the Ancients. Ogre-Head Helm.)
- 2.0 Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, so the explanation is important. (Flame Rift. Azusa’s Many Journeys. Assassin’s Ink. Brilliant Restoration.)
- 1.5 Meant for Limited play. Many common and uncommon creatures fall into this category. There will usually be a better option, but you could play with them if you have card availability issues (or just really like them), and they won’t be useless. (Grizzly Bears. Burn Away. Asari Captain. Armguard Familiar.)
- 1.0 Mostly useless. (Book Burning. Kindled Fury. Bronze Cudgels. Guardians of Oboro.)
There are five new mechanics, each associated with one of the families. However, note that cross-family synergies are not only possible, but highly encouraged. Beyond that, I’ll mention the returning mechanic and a few important themes.
Alliance pays you off for having creatures enter the battlefield. It’s a good mechanic for a token or creature swarm deck, but it can lead you to overextending into board sweepers.
Blitz is an alternative cost that allows you to cast a creature with haste, on the condition that you must sacrifice it at the end of the turn. When the creature dies, whether from the end of turn trigger or any other cause, you draw a card.
At lower costs, this is quite good. You get an immediate impact on the game and you draw a card for your troubles. You can even sacrifice blitzed creatures (for example, to casualty) for additional value.
At higher costs, it gets more tricky. Competitive Constructed doesn’t lend itself to spending whole turns without improving board presence. So even if you get some damage and a card, you can’t spend too many full turns blitzing before you’ll fall too far behind.