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!
At five mana, we’re not getting amazing stats, but getting a card whenever an opponent casts a commander or other spell from outside of their hand (something that happens plenty in this format) is a decent deal, and faux-bouncing nonland permanents on hit isn’t terrible. I expect this card to get squeezed out by its high cost in many decks, though.
You’re probably not doing a ton of counter synergies in a blink deck, so this is mostly insurance against the untimely death of your +1/+1 countered-up creatures. I suppose if you have ways to reset your planeswalkers by exiling and returning them, that could actually be a way to leverage the word “permanent” on here. You could generate a lot of Clues with Black Sun’s Zenith, but I find myself overall uninspired by this.
I love a card that plays well with tokens like this – it starts big based on the width of your board, grows with your board and then acts as some fantastic wrath insurance. Blow up my board? I have a new board that’s just as wide, and while they don’t have counters or whatever synergies came from the other nontoken creatures that just died, it’s way better than nothing. If an opponent wants to blast this with point removal in advance of a wrath, that’s going to be rough, but at least they’re expending those resources.
Interesting as wrath insurance or a combat-breaker, Contractual Safeguard magnifies an existing shield counter (or other counter, I suppose, but shield counters are clearly the main point) at instant speed or puts shields up on all of your creatures at sorcery speed even if you don’t have a shield already. Much like most other cards in this bracket, it’s not great against mass exile, but not everything can (or should) be Teferi’s Protection. I expect this to get in the mix where cards like Make a Stand might live, especially in counter-focused decks.
Hey, a Winds of Rath variant! That’s pretty exciting on its own, but I like that the counter decks are getting some love in the “wraths for thee, not for me” department. Of course, the occasional opposing creature will have a counter, and if you’re playing Kros as your commander, this gets a little weirder, but I expect any white-heavy counters-focused deck, be it Bant, Abzan, Selesnya, Orzhov or otherwise, to be excited about this.
For just WW, you can give your creatures indestructible, and if you happen to have more mana up, you get some extra creatures in the bargain. Now this is wrath insurance – if you can reliably make WW, it’s close to cracking the Teferi’s Protection/Flawless Maneuver tier for me. You don’t have to be in a tokens strategy to like this card. In fact, you just have to want to keep your board safe, which many white decks will be hyped about. I’m no finance expert, but this looks like money to me.
I like the idea of using this to return fetchlands to play for both players, but I think this is mostly a fun politics card for players who want to team up for a come-from-behind takedown of a more powerful opponent. It’s hard to measure the in-game value of this kind of card, which I think is a good thing, so if your friends are excited about in-game effects that help turn the tide of a game in this manner, give it a shot – if this is going to generate feel-bads about “teaming up”, though, I’d avoid it.
Master of Ceremonies
We already have “Emcee” as an Un-card, but here’s the real non-silver-bordered deal! If you live in Phelddagrif-world and want to hand out tokens to your opponents, this is a fun one. It feels symmetrical with each exchange, but in reality you are coming out ahead in general, especially if everyone succumbs to greed and chooses secrets. I think this card is deceptively powerful even outside of group hug strategies, and I’ll be trying it out in various white decks to see where it fits best.
I love The Ozolith, and adding this card to the mix makes me even happier. If just one of your things is dying, shove its counters onto something similar that can make use of those counters. If you need to save them up for later, though, stash them on a land or other unsuspecting permanent until you can move them back with the admittedly expensive activation on this card. That’s what makes this card reasonable, though – the activation needs to be costly in order to make it not feel totally busted. Planeswalker-heavy decks can make use of this when their ‘walkers get destroyed outright, but you might be able to intentionally engineer a situation where a few planeswalkers agree to dump their counters on one of their friends for an ultimate activation.
I love seeing these old mechanics crop up in Commander products, as I think it’s a great way to familiarize newer players with the breadth of existing mechanics in a way that’s not totally overwhelming. The flavor on this card is kind of wild, as the Evangelist seems to be dropping pamphlets from the skies to literally lift up your other creatures. If you’re actually maxing out on the support 6, you’re getting a total of 9/9 for five mana, which is an incredible deal, and if all six creatures get to attack this turn, you’re looking at a likely minimum of 12 damage in the sky right off the bat. Bident of Thassa and Reconnaissance Mission spring to mind right away as great synergies.
Look at these raccoons taking their cut of the goodies! I like white effects that promote “fairness”, or at least, fairness for me. It works early with the Treasure part of the card, when players are more likely to be casting their Cultivates, and late with the draw part, when you’ll see more refilling going on, making this a decent top-deck until the point where you need to draw cards that actually affect the board. The longer games are in your playgroup, the better this card is.
It’s Nicolas Cage! No, it’s Travolta! Turn your favorite awkward saboteur creature into a surefire hit with Cephalid Facetaker. Already sent your Ninja through the red zone with ninjutsu? Gimme your face. I’ll take it where it needs to go. Port Razer already attacked that player this turn? One face, please. Spawning Kraken needs a little help to start the tokens up? I don’t really want your face, but I guess I’ll borrow it for a minute. You can even copy opposing creatures if they’ve got the best faces around, but you don’t have to rely on that.
Change of Plans
You can use this to protect your team (or some subsection of it), and when you do, you can sculpt a much better hand at the cost of your excess mana. That said, you can’t just connive X times without having X different creatures, which can be a little awkward if you have a hand full of cards you don’t need right now and no board to speak of. I think this is rad in Raffine decks, but this card seems a little clunky otherwise.
We have a serious risk/reward calculation enchantment here! If you can keep this and a relevant nonland permanent on the battlefield until your next upkeep, you’re in business. If that permanent is Paradox Haze, you don’t get to go off by making infinite copies of Haze since it has that “first upkeep” clause, but you can start the train rolling. Copying this card also lets you start going wild, so break out your Copy Enchantments and Mirrormades, then have the copy target the original and vice versa. If you’re not into win-more shenanigans… well, what are you doing with this card?
Inherently unreliable since it needs a good instant or sorcery in an opponent’s graveyard, Flawless Forgery is a fun-forward card at its core. I’d use this with cards like Chaos Wand or Knowledge Exploitation that dig up instants and sorceries from your opponent’s deck and then cast them; that way, you’re pushing those good cards into graveyards for your future use with this, Memory Plunder, Diluvian Primordial and so on.
In Too Deep
I love the flavor of this person in over their head with one of the crime families becoming a “Clue” – it’s expressed quite well in the chalk outline on the other side of the split second line in the art. While this aura has split second, it doesn’t have flash, so you will generally be casting this at sorcery speed – nevertheless, it’s some really solid blue point removal. Using cards like Sun Titan to recur it once they sac the Clue makes it even more exciting.
Mask of the Schemer
This is an interesting take on Mask of Memory, but with a swap over to connive. You’ll need to be hitting for serious numbers to make this worth its mana, and as with other high-value connive cards, you’ll likely want madness/flashback/graveyard synergies in your deck to make the connive trigger stronger. This could be very funny and dangerous on Szadek, Lord of Secrets, especially with Psychic Corrosion and/or Sphinx’s Tutelage in play.
This looks a lot like Ray of Command on a stick, with the obvious benefit that you get to blink it. Sacrificing the creatures you steal seems like a good plan, as does blinking them out with effects that return them under your control rather than the owner’s. That means Aminatou decks focused on blink synergies will appreciate this a lot, whereas Brago and Roon won’t be able to just blink the thing you steal out and back in under your own control.
Suspending a creature upon death is an interesting way to create a little board control, especially since whatever you’re sending to Teferi’s realm is likely to be bigger and scarier than the Concierge. Kels and Eloise decks could be fun homes for the Concierge – any sacrifice deck including blue can use this as an interesting board control tool.
Having to keep track of whether or not this card escaped when it doesn’t come back with a counter of any kind seems a little annoying at first, but once you finish reading the ability, it makes sense – just put any relevant cards exiled with the Robber under it for future reference. This design sort of echoes Ethereal Forager, which I really appreciate. As far as I can understand this card, since it comes back as a new object each time, you won’t be able to cast cards from past escape attempts, so make each one good! If you’re spellslinging hard, dropping a couple of cantrips and one heavy hitter under this when it escapes seems like a small risk for a big potential reward.
Storm of Forms
If you’re maximizing your number of counter types with Perrie, this is a really fun way to leverage that outside of just your commander. At instant speed and just four mana to cast, this might not approach River’s Rebuke on raw power, but in terms of flexibility, it’s solid. You want to be bouncing at least three permanents to get a good deal – compare to Quicksilver Geyser and similar spells that simply don’t see play in Commander basically ever. If you can bounce your own Archaeomancer along with two opposing permanents, you’re in business.
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.