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Best New Capenna Commander Cards – Red and Black

It’s time to step up to the Streets of New Capenna! With the prerelease starting up this Friday and the Arena and MTGO releases following a week later (an order I think is quite good for local game stores), we’re heading into a very exciting time for Magic players across all formats. While I love Limited, Modern, Pauper and most every format, today I’ll be focusing on my favorite format of all-time, Commander, with a look at the best New Capenna Commander cards!

As a reminder, my focus is on social Commander rather than competitive EDH. These days, I’ve been leaning more toward a desire to play three 40-minute games in lieu of one two-hour slog, but I’ll be talking about cards from the wider social perspective. My goal when playing Commander is for everyone to have fun but also for me to have a good shot at winning the game – or at least doing the thing my deck set out to do – so if that’s your mindset as well, these reviews will probably resonate with you. I won’t be reviewing reprints, so you can just assume I feel the same way about Disdainful Stroke as I did before we found out it was in this set. I also don’t review every card – if I feel they’re not worth mentioning, I don’t give them a write-up, but we all know there’s a deck out there for every card. In particular, if I don’t mention a card with one of the set’s core mechanics, my thoughts can likely be summarized as “Decent in a deck focused on that mechanic, not great outside of it.” When you inevitably disagree with a review (or think I skipped something good), please feel free to tweet at @RagingLevine with your thoughts!

This time around, we’ll start with the eligible commanders and then move on to the rest of the set. Please note that all of the cards in this review are from the main set with code SNC – the commander cards, with set code NCC (New Capenna Commander) will be in a separate article. Most of the commanders are within the three-color family identities: Obscura (WUB), Masetros (UBR), Riveteers (BRG), Cabaretti (RGW) and Brokers (GWU), but a few are monocolor cards.

Main Set

The Commanders / White & Blue / Black & Red / Green and Other

Commander Set

The Commanders / White & Blue / Black & Red / Green and Other

 

 

Angel of Suffering

Angel of Suffering
This card is incredibly cool – Crumbling Sanctuary (times two) on a creature? Wow. Throw a Treacherous Link or some protection from black on here and use a Pestilence effect to blast the board and your opponents as you mill yourself. What you do after that to leverage your empty library is up to you, I suppose!

Body Launderer

Body Launderer

The connive trigger synergizes with Body Launderer’s dies ability, making discarding creatures to its effect seem a lot more exciting. I like this as a support piece in Meren decks or anything else looking to sacrifice nontoken creatures for value and loop them back through play, which generally means some combination of Abzan colors in my experience. 

Cemetery Tampering

Cemetery Tampering

Play this card if you want to mill yourself – the free spell is just a bonus. It’s going to be tough to get to 20 cards in your yard as long as your opponents are playing sufficient graveyard hate, but if your Deadbridge Chants often go unanswered, give this a shot. If you’re getting value from self-mill with something like Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, this starts to look a lot stronger, of course!

Cut the Profits

Cut the Profits

Damnable Pact just got slightly better, but when was the last time you cast Damnable Pact? I’m not ready to pay for this at sorcery speed.

Dig Up the Body

Dig Up the Body

Three mana and a cheap sacrifice for a double Raise Dead sounds interesting in a deck that’s experiencing a lot of churn from the battlefield to the graveyard. Of course, you can choose to bring back the creature you sacrificed if you so choose. This works really well with Tormod, the Desecrator or Desecrated Tomb since casualty creates a copy of the spell.

Dusk Mangler

Dusk Mangler

This seems like a great target for temporary reanimation effects or cheating into play due to the powerful ETB trigger. Decks that enjoy Corpse Dance and Coffin Queen may want to try this, and Chainer, Dementia Master appreciates this as well.

Extract the Truth

Extract the Truth

With Pharika’s Libation and Feed the Swarm already out there, you may not need another black enchantment destruction card, but if you do want one that doubles as a weird Thoughtseize, here’s this card. I’m not super excited about it.

Rogues’ Gallery

Rogues' Gallery

Allies, Slivers and other decks featuring five-color creature onslaughts might be able to use this as a five-for-one, and even in a three or four color deck you’re getting a lot of value for your mana.

Sanguine Spy

Sanguine Spy

Paying a little mana to get a surveiling Viscera Seer is interesting, but the more you sacrifice, the more mana you’re spending. That said, between the sacrifice and the actual effect, you get closer to five mana values in your graveyard very quickly. This is probably good in Vampire decks due to its creature type and ability to help you refill your hand a bit, but I’m not impressed otherwise.

Shadow of Morality

Shadow of Mortality

Once you get down to 27 life you can cast this 7/7 for BB. I think this is much more interesting in Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos decks as a 15-point Erratic Explosion enabler, though.

Shakedown Heavy

Shakedown Heavy

Most cards that give opponents a choice are worse than they appear, and this is no exception, especially since it involves no direct cost to the opponent. It takes a long time to get your first card out of Shakedown Heavy, and it’s not too tough to kill.

Tenacious Underdog

Tenacious Underdog

The first time I read this card I thought it was just a crappy recursive creature that couldn’t hold up to Reassembling Skeleton or even Undead Gladiator. Then I realized that we’re blitzing it back and drawing a card after sacrificing it to some other effect. Yes, sign me up for repeat business on this one. Riveteers Ascendancy and this are probably very good friends.

Vampire Scrivener

Vampire Scrivener

If you have tons of little life gain triggers and ways to pay one life at a time, this can grow pretty quickly. That said, for a down payment of five mana, I’m not excited.

 

Header - Red

Arcane Bombardment

Arcane Bombardment

At the outset, this compares poorly to Double Vision, but if you’re packing a series of awesome instants and sorceries in your graveyard, it gets better and better as you go. I wouldn’t cast this without a cheap spell to follow it up with immediately, because if you can’t trigger it right away, you’re leaving a lot of value on the table. Veyran decks will love all those copies, and since the copies get cast, any spellslinger deck with enough time and mana to cast this will want to take a look.

Big Score

Big Score

Pirate’s Pillage is a sorcery. This is an instant. Very exciting! If you remember Unexpected Windfall from AFR, this is an easier-to-cast version. I’ll add this to my Juri deck for some extra redundancy.

Devilish Valet

Devilish Valet

This is a dream for anyone who loves Fling! You need to make a bunch of creatures in one turn to maximize the Valet, so a sacrifice-focused deck is likely to be the home for it. Perhaps Juri decks less focused on Treasure than mine would be good homes for this one. 

Glittering Stockpile

Glittering Stockpile

Interesting to see a Treasure that doesn’t actually sacrifice for a mana by default! That said, it does give you a mana just for tapping it, so we’ll call that a wash. I like the idea of a mana rock that stores up value you can cash in later, and it incentivizes good play in asking you to use your mana every turn (though you can just tap it to put a counter on and waste the mana if you need to). Tons of red decks are going to be interested, though it’s going to be harder to justify once you expand into three colors due to the density of cards like Commander’s Sphere and Chromatic Lantern.

Goldhound

Goldhound

Treasure Dog! Most of the time, this is a terrible Strike It Rich, but if you really need a density of Lotus Petal-style creatures and don’t mind the summoning sickness, go for it.

Hoard Hauler

Hoard Hauler

Most players have at least one artifact on the board generally, so you should usually be getting at least one Treasure, but crew 3 is asking a lot. This card is likely too volatile to be reliably great. 

Professional Face-Breaker

Professional Face-Breaker

The more Treasure-heavy you are, the more powerful this card looks. Obviously this card brings its own Treasures to the party, but it’s much easier to use if you’re already amassing a hoard. Prosper is the most obvious home for this (that Pact Boon ability is pretty wild with this), with Korvold shortly behind, but turning Treasure into virtual card draw is just going to be powerful.

Pyre-Sledge Arsonist

Pyre-Sledge Arsonist

If you’re going off all in one turn with Treasure, you could potentially leverage this, but even the most sacrifice-heavy decks are going to struggle to set up the one-two punch without also taking the time to give this haste. I’ll give this a game or two in Juri before I bench it unless it really impresses.

Riveteers Requisitioner

Riveteers Requisitioner

There’s something to be said for “2R: Draw a card and make a Treasure in your end step”, and if you’re already deep enough on sacrifice synergy to be playing cards like Dire Fleet Hoarder, Riveteers Requisitioner is a logical addition due to that sweet self-sacrifice from blitz.

Structural Assault

Structural Assault

I like a sweeper that does more than one thing, and Structural Assault is a great example. If you crack some Treasures to pay for this, they’ll count for the damage, and even if you don’t, there are often enough artifacts on the battlefield to clear out the battlefield handily.

Unlucky Witness

Unlucky Witness

What a fantastic creature to sacrifice. If you blow it up off-turn, you’ll have a little extra time to play the card you choose, though keep in mind that you only get to play one of the two cards. If you’re in red and playing a significant number of sac outlets (I’m thinking six or more) you’ll want to try this out. Pawn of Ulamog, Pitiless Plunderer and Sifter of Skulls all make this card stronger given the extra mana you’ll have access to.

Widespread Thieving

Widespread Thieving

Fist of Suns this is not, and I’m not even hyped about playing Fist of Suns most of the time, personally. You can probably cast most spells in your deck for less investment than WUBRG, so you’re getting a Treasure every time you cast a multicolored spell, plus kind of a weird card draw. I think this could be playable in Ramos or Niv-MIzzet Reborn, but I’m not exactly jumping up and down for this effect.

Witty Roastmaster

Witty Roastmaster

Some decks need more than one Impact Tremors, and having it as a creature opens up some different tutoring possibilities if that’s your bag.

 

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