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Best New Capenna Commander Cards – The Commanders

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

 

 

Giada, Font of Hope

Giada, Font of Hope
While we don’t have release notes yet, I’m fairly sure this new wording of “each Angel you already control” means that if a bunch of Angels enter simultaneously with Decree of Justice, Emeria’s Call or similar, they won’t see each other with regard to Giada’s ability. That said, the recipe here is simple: more Angels is more better. Play Angels who love counters like Herald of War later in the process to accelerate the holy terror further. Giada helps out from the command zone by accelerating you to four mana reliably on your third turn; with 33 four-cost Angels currently playable in a Giada deck, it should be easy to find gems like Angelic Field Marshal, Archangel of Tithes and even Linvala, Keeper of Silence to play slightly ahead of schedule. I don’t always think tribal commanders look fun, but I think Giada players are going to enjoy their games.

Errant, Street Artist

Errant, Street Artist

Unlike Bonded Fetch, this hasty defender has an activated ability that doesn’t just automatically get the fun started right off the bat! You have to put a spell on the stack without casting it, and you have to have mana to activate Errant in response. Errant synergizes decently with the casualty mechanic many spells in this set have that let you sacrifice a creature at or above a specific power threshold to copy them, but what other options do we have? Well, there are plenty of other keyword abilities that create copies of spells without casting them: storm(/gravestorm), replicate, conspire, demonstrate and yes, epic (bad news on cipher – it casts the copy). Besides that, there are plenty of cards like Twincast and Narset’s Reversal that copy spells without casting the copy (notably, Isochron Scepter casts its copies. Sorry!). All that said, usually with a commander like this, if someone is playing it, that means they’re doing something super gnarly and you should kill the commander ASAP if you’re prioritizing winning. If someone you know is playing an Errant deck, just let it happen. It’s probably fine. Worst case, they cast Eternal Dominion with a board of cards like Twinning Staff and just start slowly doing weird nonsense. Maybe I’ll build that, actually!

Jaxis, the Troublemaker

Jaxis, the Troublemaker

Jaxis wants to maximize your value on creatures with enters the battlefield, dies or attack triggers, and if you’re really trying to go deep, you’re looking at a madness/graveyard enabler as well! The blitz cost on Jaxis means that if you really need the effect, a card, or both on a particular turn, you can have all of that at a slightly reduced cost. That said, since blitz is an alternate cost – it is still subject to commander tax and also might encourage you to ramp that tax up faster than you normally would. Thematically, this is an interesting alternative to Feldon that likely wants to use a lot of the same creatures. Getting them in play in the first place is a bit harder, so cards like Irencrag Feat could be fun ways to ramp up. Alternatively, Sneak Attack, Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded and Ilharg, the Raze-Boar could be a fun angle to get large creatures in play long enough to get Jaxis moving. Jaxis does also work well alongside Feldon thanks to the “discard a card” cost!

Urabrask, Heretic Praetor

Urabrask, Heretic Praetor

I think this is likely to show up more in main decks than as a commander, but it’s a viable option either way. It gives you the red version of an extra card every turn, which of course works quite well with Prosper, while forcing players who prefer to play reactively to use or lose the card they draw for their turn (it does occasionally snipe a card drawn in upkeep instead). Urabrask only replaces one draw per turn from an opponent, though, and only on their own turn, so anyone who plays a significant amount of card draw will find themselves less affected. If you’re trying to force opponents to commit to the board and use their mana on their own turns, Urabrask is a great choice.

Cormela, Glamour Thief

Cormela, Glamour Thief

Cormela’s unique combination of abilities – haste, instant/sorcery-only mana ramp and a death trigger that gets you an instant or sorcery back from the graveyard – leads directly to infinite combo shenanigans. Activate to get the UBR in your mana pool, then sacrifice Cormela to Ashnod’s Altar/Phyrexian Altar/Thermopod to get mana. Use the death trigger to put something like Shallow Grave or Goryo’s Vengeance back into your hand (Demonic Gifts also works with slightly different sequencing – avoid similar effects that return the creature tapped). Cast that spell with your floating Cormela mana, saving a little extra instant/sorcery only mana for later, putting Cormela back into play, and then repeat the process by re-activating Cormela with the mana you got from the sacrifice effect. That gets you infinite ETBs/deaths, infinite mana (with color restrictions) for instants and sorceries, and if you used Ashnod’s Altar, infinite colorless mana in general. Aside from that, Cormela is just a great value commander or role player within a main deck to help you get splashy cards like Cruel Ultimatum, Cauldron Dance and Blood on the Snow back on a slow, grindy loop.

Evelyn, the Covetous

Evelyn, the Covetous

Looks like we’re set up for some Vampire tribal! This isn’t the fast-moving, high-power Vampire tribal deck you’re used to with Edgar Markov, though. Instead, when you get Vampires on the battlefield with Evelyn out, you exile cards from each player’s library that you can then play later. Evelyn needs to be on the battlefield to use the exiled cards, so make sure to protect her – also, the “once each turn” restriction means you can, and should, make the most of the cards you exile on other players’ turns as well as your own. Consistent Vampire token generators like Call the Bloodline and Glass-Cast Heart are going to be a big part of the equation here, as will a suite of low-cost, synergistic Vampires like Cordial Vampire and Indulgent Aristocrat. Two quick notes here: first, Evelyn exiles cards from your own library too, so you won’t be totally playing off other players’ decks, and second, Evelyn’s effect says “play”, meaning lands are fair game under normal timing restrictions!

Falco Spara, Pactweaver

Falco Spara, Pactweaver

Aside from shouting “Hey Einstein! I’m on your side!”, “I ain’t your buddy! Go away!” and other sweet quotes from Star Fox, there’s plenty of fun to be had with this Bird Demon. Just load up on cards with expendable counters and you can blast through your deck at high speed. It’s easy to just put +1/+1 counters on creatures with cards like The Great Henge or Gavony Township, but you can do wackier things with counters that act as downsides. Remove slumber counters from Arixmethes or -1/-1 counters from Devoted Druid (whoa!), Phyrexian Hydra or anything with persist for some extra value.

Jetmir, Nexus of Revels

Jetmir, Nexus of Revels

I’ve already talked at length about Jetmir in an article, but long story short, you want to go as wide as possible. The real money is in the last ability, so going really wide pays off – just make sure you’re ready for wrath effects. 

Jinnie Fay, Jetmir’s Second

Jinnie Fay, Jetmir's Second

Jinnie Fay turns cards like Tireless Provisioner and Smothering Tithe into repeat creature generators. Brass’s Bounty feels pretty different as well, summoning what is likely to be an army of hasty 2/2 Cats instead of a pile of Treasures, and Bootleggers’ Stash lets you do that every turn! Make sure you play Academy Manufactor to maximize your gain off Clue/Food/Treasure token generators with or without Jinnie Fay in play. That last part is key! If you fill your deck full of cards that generate noncreature tokens, you’ll be in a little bit of trouble when your commander isn’t around, so make sure to play cards that generate 1/1 tokens as well – that way, Jinnie Fay upsizes/upgrades them when she’s around, but they’re still serviceable when she’s not.

Lagrella, the Magpie

Lagrella, the Magpie

This card seems to have perplexed a lot of folks with its wording, so let’s clear it up: you can’t just exile all the creatures you want. You get to target one creature per player who is currently in the game. Lagrella sends them all away until she leaves the battlefield, at which point they all come back – if one of them comes back under your control, it gets a little bigger as a bonus. I don’t think this is a great contender for the commander slot, but it’s an interesting way to leverage ETB effects on your own creatures while forestalling progress for your opponents for a short time.

Lord Xander, the Collector

Lord Xander, the Collector

Of all of the effects on Lord Xander, the one most people seem to be gravitating towards is the mill effect, and for good reason. With Bruvac in play, you’ll be getting most or all of an opponent’s library (thanks a lot, rounding!) in one go when Xander attacks (Fraying Sanity also helps a lot!). I do like the idea of Mirror Gallery/Mirror Box/Sakashima of a Thousand Faces/Spark Double to make many Lord Xanders, though the diminishing returns on “half” get real at high speed. If you can take advantage of cards hitting graveyards with Syr Konrad, Dauthi Voidwalker or similar, so much the better. All that said, just cloning Lord Xander even with the normal legend rule applying is still good – you get to rip someone’s hand and board in half for the cost of just one Clone. Perhaps Lord Xander could be a fun commander for a Clones-only deck, then!

Mr. Orfeo, the Boulder

Mr. Orfeo, the Boulder

After all these brain-melting effects, I welcome the simplicity of Mr. Orfeo, the Boulder. Just attack. Mr. Orfeo, the Boulder will do the rest by doubling up the power of one of your creatures. Now your Ghalta is easier to cast this turn… or just bigger! Your Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin brings more friends! Your Lifeblood Hydra dies a lot better this turn! You don’t have to pick an attacking creature with Mr. Orfeo, the Boulder. Mr. Orfeo, the Boulder does not mind. All that said, I think Mr. Orfeo, the Boulder is probably not the world’s greatest commander. Please don’t tell Mr. Orfeo, the Boulder that I said that, though.

Ognis, the Dragon’s Lash

Ognis, the Dragon's Lash

It’s already been said, but I’ll reiterate that the tension between a haste-focused commander and the generation of tapped Treasure tokens is a little weird for me. That said, Ognis is a really exciting commander for players who want to attack early and often. You don’t even need to fill your deck full of obvious cards like Goldspan Dragon, though obviously that one does help. Cards like Legion Warboss and Goblin Rabblemaster that spit out hasty tokens are great choices, though Rabblemaster’s tokens are better since they always have haste. You’ll be spending cards in your hand quickly, so Robber of the Rich and Subira, Tulzidi Caravanner are great candidates. An Ognis deck seems like a great home for the new Urabrask!

Queza, Augur of Agonies

Queza, Augur of Agonies

Have you ever built a deck and thought “Dang, this doesn’t do anything! It just draws cards!” If so, Queza is the commander for you, or at least a piece of the puzzle. That said, there’s more to be done here – cards like Ideas Unbound and Read the Runes let you get Queza triggers on the cheap if you don’t care about actually gaining cards in the process. While Yawgmoth’s Bargain is banned in Commander, you can still use Queza to offset the life loss from cards like Greed or go extra hard with Damnable Pact, Kothophed or even Necrologia, with the latter allowing you to really blow someone up. Just don’t pay all your life and expect Queza’s trigger to save you once you’re at zero!

Raffine, Scheming Seer

Raffine, Scheming Seer

My newsletter about Raffine had some of the greatest hits you’ll want, (subscribe to CFB Xtra to get that and more for free every week!) but here’s the summary: we want to go wide, but we want to have something that can benefit from getting a lot of counters. Chasm Skulker and Felisa, Fang of Silverquill turn counters into tons of tokens later, while Bone Miser or Bag of Holding can help offset the discard with some additional value. Be careful not to run yourself out of cards – or try to do just that and leverage Laboratory Maniac/Thassa’s Oracle/Jace, Wielder of Mysteries, of course!

Rigo, Streetwise Mentor

Rigo, Streetwise Mentor

I don’t feel a strong connection between these two mechanics directly on the card, but Rigo is here to get everyday people involved in Capenna, and everyday folks are often 1/1s. I love a commander that protects themselves, so I’m interested to see if Rigo overperforms because of that, but the effect is a little bit underwhelming. That said, if you’re producing a steady swarm of one-power creatures with cards like Scute Swarm or Sai, Master Thopterist alongside more robust attackers, the extra card draw could do you good.

Rocco, Cabaretti Caterer

Rocco, Cabaretti Caterer

A commander that’s just a Chord of Calling? Sure, that’s fine, I suppose. If you want to build a toolbox deck and go all in on weird creatures and search effects, that might be exciting, but since I’m not usually hyped about tutors in Commander, this card doesn’t really grab me.

Toluz, Clever Conductor

Toluz, Clever Conductor

Toluz needs to die for you to get value, but the fun isn’t limited to discards off connive. Doing a lot of looting is one option, but I think cycling is the natural companion to Toluz. Throw in a Bag of Holding and possibly some madness cards to connive away and you’re in business! I know we already have some solid Jeskai cycling commander options, but adding black to the mix means we get access to cards like Archfiend of Ifnir – if you’ve drafted UB Cycling in Tinkerer’s Cube, that’s the vibe I’m lookin for.

Ziatora, the Incinerator

Ziatora, the Incinerator

I wrote an article about Ziatora, but to summarize, flinging high-power creatures for value is the name of the game. Ball Lightning and friends are an option, but I think cards with strong dies triggers, like Kokusho or Junji, as well as self-recurring creatures like Ebondeath, are much more suited to a Ziatora deck.

 

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