Along with Streets of New Capenna, we’re getting five new preconstructed New Capenna Commander decks on April 29! That means tons of new cards tailor-made for my favorite format, and I’m going to review them all right here!
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. When you inevitably disagree with a review (or think I skipped something good), please feel free to tweet at @RagingLevine with your thoughts!
Another card that works best in Perrie and has little effect elsewhere, Bribe Taker has a fantastic enters the battlefield trigger if you’ve diversified your counter types. A six-mana 6/6 trampler is a good start, but getting to throw a bunch of ability counters and a shield counter on it sounds like a great way to have kind of an obnoxious creature. I don’t know if this is really a great payoff for all the work you have to do, but it’s cool.
Usually decks focused on high drops aren’t that interested in getting a couple of tokens when they die, but blitzing this into play is a cute way to get some value. I suppose this provides wrath insurance, but it’s just kind of a moderate pile of stats otherwise.
Crash the Party
The wider you’re going, the better this card is! Of course, this extends your board enormously and encourages opponents to wrath you as soon as possible, but later in the game this is powerful if you have really any board at all. Jetmir and other commanders that want to go incredibly wide will want this, but you’ll need additional ways to protect your board if you’re intending to commit this hard.
This is hilarious in terms of theme – it’s only as good as your best driver, and if it breaks down, you can scrap it for parts. Since that characteristic-defining ability for Dodgy Jalopy’s power works in all zones, you can kind of get wrecked if an opponent removes your biggest creature in response to the scavenge, but if you’re trying to get deeper on green Vehicles, this is a pretty fun one. Power-themed decks like Neyith might want to try this out!
So if they block your creature, it gets to cash in its shield counter to live. If they don’t, you must remove the shield counter and draw a card. This is yet another card that presents opponents with a choice, albeit couched in a crunchy combat shell. If you have extra incentives for putting counters on permanents or ways to amplify the counters, this is probably sweet, but it mostly seems like a way to stay ahead on board once you have the biggest creature around – something green decks are pretty excited about most of the time. It’s hard for this to get too terrible in multiplayer, since the odds are there will be someone you can safely attack with a shielded-up creature.
If you’re excited to reset something that comes in with counters, replay a cheap ETB creature or just draw more cards off your Beast Whisperer, First Responder can help out. I’m interested in trying it out in my Kadena deck, where I can use it to reset morph creatures and create some more mystery about what’s in play. The fact that it also adds counters to itself certainly makes it seem more powerful in a counters deck, and if you’re playing Vedalken Orrery, Leyline of Anticipation or another card that gives your creatures flash, bouncing something like Bane of Progress, Spark Double or Deepglow Skate only to replay it at instant speed sounds very powerful, but that speaks more to the flash enablers than this card.
A cheap way to both create and leverage Food fits neatly into Gyome or Korvold, with Mazirek also being a solid possibility. I can also see this being playable in Simic-based decks that run the Food/Clue/Treasure plan – there will certainly be times that making a Rhino beats drawing a card, though Food is certainly the most expendable of the three major noncreature token types. Another option is to use this to upgrade smaller token creatures! No matter what you choose, Garruk’s Uprising turns this into a card draw engine.
Next of Kin
The “from the command zone” clause really gets me here – it lets you sacrifice something to move your commander to the battlefield without affecting the current commander tax situation (you’re not casting it!). That said, you have to ensure you don’t run out of gas with this in play, because once the chain stops, it stops for good unless you spend resources bringing Next of Kin back. This could be fun with a cheap enchantment-based commander like Sythis or a sacrifice-based one like Dina.
Park Heights Maverick
It’s tough to chump-block Park Heights Maverick, which is good if you can get it down early. You can get its counters started with dethrone and build it up with its own proliferate ability, but the person with the highest life total probably has blockers, so we’re in sort of weird territory on that. If you can pair this with Herald of Secret Streams and other Simic +1/+1 counter synergies like Bred for the Hunt, you’re in business. Ezuri, Claw of Progress can make a solid home for something like this.
Scepter of Celebration
This may not be Wand of Orcus, but I’d suggest you don’t underestimate it. I’d love to throw this on Thromok the Insatiable and swing for the fences, but decks interested in tokens of all sizes like Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice might want to put this on a trampling Beast/Rhino/Wurm token just to make the board bigger. The biggest problem with this card is the equip cost – three is a lot, even in this format.
An Overrun that gives you an incentive to attack everyone else and the defensive power of vigilance to back that up? Sign me up. Obviously you want to draw three cards off this, and if you are attacking three players, melee adds up to Overrun numbers right off the bat. Of course, figuring out if you can knock a player out is the most important part of cards like this. The wider you’re going with Jetmir, Rhys or other token commanders, the better this is.
Perrie and other ability counter-centric commanders will love this. That said, I want to make sure this gets put next to Vorel of the Hull Clade so that we can double up on the counters and keep the distribution process going long term. Evolution Sage and other proliferate effects are also a must! The sheer amount of counters involved here makes this seem like an easy pick for Falco Spara as well, but don’t forget Roalesk, one of the biggest beneficiaries of the new(ish) “dies” rules for commanders.
Bess, Soul Nurturer
Bess is somewhat reminiscent of Kyler from Midnight Hunt Commander as a threat that grows tall as your board gets wider. That said, Kyler grows your team of Humans all the time, while Bess has to wait until it’s time to attack. The big value here comes from playing creatures that grow past their base power and toughness, like Managorger Hydra, Lion Sash and even Predator Ooze, or building up an army of 1/1 tokens with counters on them.
The base use case of triple proliferate makes this an interesting inclusion in counter-focused decks, but the modes get dramatically more situational from there. It’s very rare you’ll be countering more than one ability at a time, but the phasing mode is useful as a defensive tool on a reactive basis. I think this card will either feel like a great deal for triple proliferate or kind of disappointing as a response to some weird situation, with little to no middle ground.
The base mode here is the Disenchant option, with the exile clause turning up the value on this. That said, six mana for this at sorcery speed seems exorbitant to me – no trample on the last mode, the temporary nature of the token, and again, the sorcery speed all disappoint me.
This is an interesting “token” generator for spellslinger decks that encourages you to get your new manifested cards into combat as much as you possibly can. The time frame on casting the spells you hit from this is very friendly – the end of your next turn won’t come until after you untap, so unless you’re picking up very niche counterspells, it’s likely you’ll have an opportunity to cast those spells. Manifested cards fit perfectly with Anhelo’s addition of casualty 2, so if you’re trying to find the best commander for this card, it’s right there in the precon.
Denry Klin, Editor in Chief
The printing press is here, and we’re carrying the banner for Denry Klin! You do have to pick a counter type when Denry shows up, but if you can print more counters with Avenging Huntbonder, Elspeth Resplendent or even Tyrite Sanctum, circulation will go way up. With Agent’s Toolkit unavailable if Denry is your commander, it may be better to make this card part of a Perrie deck.
At first, I thought this was an ETB ability, but this happens every time you attack! A sustained assault on someone’s graveyard turns into an enormous menace creature fairly quickly, making this a solid threat for counter-focused Golgari decks or possibly just any deck looking for another piece of incidental graveyard hate. Incidental is the key word here – you’re not getting someone with a Rakdos Charm at instant speed or threatening them long-term with a Soul-Guide Lantern. This is a creature with no haste that is easy to interact with, so don’t lean on this as a key piece of graveyard removal.
Jolene, the Plunder Queen
I’m begging you, please don’t take my gold! Jolene gives everyone Treasure, but there’s no symmetry to this effect; there must be something more, and that something is an extra Treasure every time you’d make any. Giving Jolene, who lacks any evasion, five +1/+1 counters is an interesting outlet for excess Treasures, but I don’t think it’s terribly powerful as ways to spend Treasure go. This looks like a fun card that can easily backfire by giving the table more Treasure than you’re getting, but if you’re looking to maximize Treasure generation for value, this is a fun way to do so.
The extort helps offset the life loss, and the Treasure tokens help keep the extort going. That’s internal synergy, folks! Tokens don’t count, which is good because that would get you dead in a hurry at some tables, but what this doesn’t provide is any card draw. I think this goes down great with a wrath effect – clear the board, get a bunch of Treasures and then use them to cast a few new spells and get out on the board before everyone else can recover.
Six mana at sorcery speed again. That said, this time we can goad everyone else’s board as a base use case! That’s pretty fun, and all of the other modes will have applications nearly all of the time, though the restriction to monocolored instants and sorceries is a bit limiting. Copying this with Anhelo seems incredible.
Triple Raise Dead at instant speed is a decent deal for four mana, and the Turn to Frog-style mode will be useful once in a while, but the connive mode is, in my estimation, the worst of the bunch. It’s possible I’m underestimating the flexibility on offer here and on some of the other confluences, but this card just does not impress me for how hard it is to cast cost-wise.
Oskar, Rubbish Reclaimer
Discarding cards to pay costs and unilateral discard effects both play well with Oskar. Transmute comes to mind initially, but a lot of cards with transmute are actually pretty terrible. I’d be more excited to use this with Frantic Search and other looting effects as well as symmetrical effects like Rankle. You could also build Dimir cycling around Oskar, with Archfiend of Ifnir and Bone Miser leading the charge as enablers to go with him.
This card seems like a really slow way to generate Treasure unless you are already creating an enormous board, in which case you are likely to be far ahead already. An army of vigilance creatures can make the best use of this, which means Jinnie Fay is a reasonable possibility. Drumbellower gets pretty wild with this quickly, and if you’re looking to amplify the mana from Kykar’s Spirit tokens, this is an option, albeit probably not the best one.
Again, I know the flexibility is the point, but given that it’s easy to replicate a lot of these effects for much less mana and that the effects themselves are fairly minimal, I’m not that interested. I suppose I could use this in Lord Windgrace to lean on the first and third modes, but the second mode really seems like an afterthought.
Syrix, Carrier of the Flame
Finally, Phoenix tribal is real! While I had fun building mono-red Phoenixes for the mystery deck showdown at that one CommandFest Online, I’m happy to see this creature type get some official support. Syrix synergizes in a very obvious way with Phoenix mechanics, and while the addition of black doesn’t add any actual Phoenixes to the list, it does add self-mill and other graveyard synergies. Syrix also doesn’t really want to go home to the command zone, preferring to recur itself out of the graveyard. I can’t wait to try this out!
Since this taps for its last ability, you’ll want to be discarding cards in other ways to make this work – otherwise, it becomes incredibly slow. Madness doesn’t really make sense with this, meaning cycling and discard-as-cost abilities are likely to be the best options, with cycling probably coming out ahead in the deal. For just one mana, this is a decent deal, but given the amount of work you have to do and the slow speed at which you’re doing it, I’m not too excited.
Now this is a weird one. It slows down hasty offenses as well as defensive plays, and it threatens to exile all the untapped creatures on the board once it gets a turn around the battlefield, Nevinyrral’s Disk-style. Tapping opposing creatures is one thing, but untapping them to get False Floor going is a bit tough. That said, this does incentivize opponents to attack with their creatures, so this card does more simply by being on the battlefield than you might imagine. If you have ways to tap your creatures for value, like Glare of Subdual or Prosperous Partnership, you can make use of False Floor at the most opportune time.
Gavel of the Righteous
This takes a while to charge up, and you’ll probably want to remove a counter instead of paying the steep mana cost to equip this, so the best way to make this work is to proliferate. That said, unless you’re in full Power Conduit mode, this is way too much work for me, and if you are using Power Conduit, aren’t there better and more fun things to do?
I love that this resets itself for its hideaway, and it’s big enough once crewed to be tough to block profitably. It didn’t really matter on the enchantments in the main set, but it’s interesting to see the “enters tapped” clause for hideaway disappear. As we can see on the new printings of some of the hideaway lands in these decks, cards that used to enter tapped as part of the hideaway rules baggage now have errata to enter tapped of their own accord. Happy to have less rules baggage there, even if it does make Watcher for Tomorrow look particularly weird.
A rattlesnake card if I’ve ever seen one, Weathered Sentinels stays home to prevent attacks as a decent blocker and then comes over as a 5/8 indestructible vigilant trampler if you dare to incur its ire. I’d play it as some teeth for a Group Hug deck or a well-statted part of a defender-themed deck.
Bennie Bracks, Zoologist
If you can generate tokens every turn, Bennie’s the expert you want on your team. Instant-speed token generation in white is certainly possible, so Bennie can be a decent commander, but I’d rather bring him into the main deck for a commander like Ghave or Beledros Witherbloom alongside cards such as Ophiomancer and Tendershoot Dryad that can reliably spit out tokens on every player’s turn.
Putting the draw at the opponent’s end step means you still get first crack at sorcery-speed goodies, but you’re still the one putting the card down. If they’re so far ahead of you that they can just attack you profitably without caring about the loss of the free draw, well, now you’re really down a card. Make sure you pick someone who is around parity with you on board to maximize the value here, but really, this card is part of an overture to team up against other players. These deals always get broken eventually, so make sure you and your opponents are prepared to deal with that both in-game and in an interpersonal context.
Using something like Sensei’s Divining Top to float cards of various types on top of your library seems kind of unfun and against the spirit of this weird card. It’s also strange that you’re giving away your own cards somewhat blindly – if you don’t know what’s on top of your library, you might be giving an opponent a spell that’s much better than their own! Play this card if this effect seems fun to you – that’s definitely the idea here.
Mari, the Killing Quill
Hit counters? Where have we seen those before? Oh, right, Etrata. Mari will slow down your win with Etrata, so I might not want to put her in that kind of list, but I’d be happy to play her in any Rogues list just to get some extra value. The addition of Mercenaries is absolutely wild and makes me deeply sad that there’s no Lin Sivvi equivalent for Mercadia’s oft-forgotten alternative to Rebels.
Unless you are sacrificing your own lands, it’s going to be hard to get the difference between yourself and another individual player high enough for this to be good value, but if you’re not in green, you can probably recoup more mana than this costs by casting this in the midgame. I’m not sure being down a card is worth this kind of weird Treasure ritual, though.
More support for fight decks? Awesome! Neyith and Gargos are both itching to get their creatures into the ring. That said, the creatures have to be in the same weight class – I mean, have the same mana value – so you will be fairly restricted in terms of your targets. I would probably only play this in the fightiest of decks just because that restriction is so narrow.
Vazi, Keen Negotiator
A commander dedicated to giving away Treasure seems like a magnet for removal spells, but if everyone at the table is bought in (or your friends have moved toward playing less removal, as seems to be the case for a lot of low/mid power groups from anecdotes I’ve seen online), you can have a lot of fun with this card. Fun is the key word here. Your opponents can use all their Treasure on a single spell and give you just one counter/card combo, so beware of giving gifts to players with high-cost cards.
The number of the counting shall be three! If you’re playing all the Charms or something equally hilarious focused around three color spells, this card is fun. Deeply narrow, but fun.
Okay! We did it! I can’t wait to start building decks with these cards, because I sure have written a ton of words about them in the past few days. If you haven’t already, make sure to get all your New Capenna goodies right here on ChannelFireball – our sellers have all the singles and sealed product you could ever need. See you next time with some precon upgrades!
Eric Levine, also known as RagingLevine, is an accomplished Magic Judge, having head judged many Grand Prix events as well as the Mythic Championship. He's been writing about Commander since 2012 and enjoys building casual, fun decks to play with friends after long days at tournaments.