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Best New Capenna Commons for Pauper

The release of Streets of New Capenna is just around the corner. Coming on the heels of Neon Dynasty, a set that had a massive impact on Pauper, New Capenna is thankfully less pushed than its predecessor. That being said, there are still plenty of interesting options in the set for the format of commons. And then there’s all that Treasure.

 

 

Header - Treasures

Let’s start with the discourse de jour: the abundance of Treasure tokens. A lot of the conversation on this matter has centered on Commander, a format where Treasure is more prevalent and can lead to some busted things thanks in part to Dockside Extortionist.

Exhibition MagicianJewel ThiefGilded Pinions

In Pauper, Treasures fill a different role. Historically they were synergy pieces, helping power up affinity and metalcraft strategies. More recently than have become more important as they provide material to feed to Deadly Dispute, Reckoner’s Bargain or Kuldotha Rebirth. With this in mind, I have started to look at cards that provide a Treasure token (or any material) as slightly better than they look on Pauper. Exhibition Magician gets a bump from their ability to provide two pieces of stuff and Jewel Thief might just be good enough on rate thanks to its ability to leave up green for Vines of Vastwood. Gilded Pinions might be the best of the bunch out of the gate since it provides two artifacts for Affinity and can send your Gurmag Angler or Gearseeker Serpent to the skies.

Fake Your Own Death

Fake Your Own Death is interesting. One mana spells of this nature have seen play in the past and are critical to making decks like Zubera Storm work. Doubling the cost on the front side is massive but the ability to leave behind a Treasure presents some options. It is possible this reinvigorates Zubera Storm or finds a home in Goblin Combo moving forward.

Big ScorePrizefight

Big Score and Prizefight both deserve some attention. Big Score is an easier to cast version of Unexpected Windfall and that’s a huge upgrade. Before the Galvanic Relay ban, there was an Izzet combo deck that used Teach By Example to copy Unexpected Windfall before making a huge Fractal with Serpentine Curve and then Flinging it at the opponent’s head. The deck took a hit without Galvanic Relay but it did show off the power of Unexpected Windfall. As more and more decks look to use the graveyard as a resource, Big Score gets better. It seems best in spell based decks with cards like Frantic Inventory but there it competes with Mystical Teachings. There is enough going on with the card to merit testing.

Prizefight is yet another Prey Upon variant with two major advantages. First, it is an instant, which means you can use it at more optimal times. Second, it leaves behind a Treasure. I like this style of cards in Arbor Elf ramp decks that spit out threats like Annoyed Altisaur and Ulamog’s Crusher because they allow you to use leftover mana on your opponent’s turn and leave your mana available to commit threats. All of this together means that if a deck emerges that wants such an effect, Prizefight is going to be on the card.

 

Header - Lands

Maestros TheaterCabaretti CourtyardBrokers Hideout

There are two excellent cycles of lands in this set, but the barrier for entry is as tall as a bridge. The mana in Pauper has been getting better and better every year but the addition of the indestructible artifact lands means that new lands have to do something fairly special to earn their spot. The new take on Evolving Wilds like Maestros Theater are interesting in that they shuffle immediately but gain you a life. In decks where landfall or life gain matters, these might get the nod. Someone out there is going to pair these with Jaddi Offshoot and Marauding Blight-Priest and I hope they get to go off at least once in this set’s life cycle.

Tramway StationSkybridge TowersWaterfront District

The cycle of allied duals in the vein of Tramway Station add another wrinkle. These lands can be sacrificed in the late game to draw a card, which means that these are best suited for control decks. Unfortunately, the best control decks might struggle to include these. Tron might be able to get away with one but those decks are base Simic these days. Jeskai Ephemerate leans on the Cleansing Wildfire engine to accelerate it to the midgame so running a copy of Skybridge Towers is a fairly big ask. The deck best positioned to take advantage of this cycle is the Dimir Control deck that runs Gurmag Angler and Thorn of the Black Rose. More controlling than Dimir Faeries, this deck still runs Snuff Out so it would need to balance copies of Ice Tunnel with Waterfront District.

 

Header - The Cards

Boon of SafetyRaffine's GuidanceRevelation of Power

The rest of Streets of New Capenna provides some interesting upgrades and unique options for existing strategies. Heroic – a mono-white deck based around Lagonna-Band Trailblazer and Akroan Skyguard – gets some of the more interesting tools.

Boon of Safety, Raffine’s Guidance and Revelation of Power all earn a look. Raffine’s Guidance is a potential way to trigger heroic multiple times. While it is more expensive than Sentinel’s Eyes, it has the advantage of not needing there to be a ton of cards in the graveyard to work. Boon of Safety gives heroic some ability to sculpt its draw a la Gods Willing. While the older card makes it easier for heroic to push through damage, it was risky against two-color decks. Shield counters do not provide as much cover as protection and might run into the wrong end of non-lethal Lightning Bolt, but being able to cast it to sculpt your draw and store the protection for a future turn is a decent advantage. Revelation of Power is a nice way to end the game or provide a nice burst of life. While not the best at either of these jobs, its versatility could earn it a spot in the 60.

Inspiring Overseer

Inspiring Overseer is just a fantastic card. Priest of Ancient Lore has seen play and this is that card, only with flying. It is hard to imagine a world where this card does not see play as it lines up relatively well with the format. It can be brought back with Unearth and trades with Delver of Secrets, Glint Hawk, Ninja of the Deep Hours and Mulldrifter.

Raffine's Informant

Raffine’s Informant is the only instance of connive in mono-white for Pauper. Considering this is the color with three four-mana Zombify effects (Breath of Life, False Defeat and Late to Dinner), having a two-drop that can dump a creature into the graveyard is a decent upside. This does nothing to solve the other issue with Pauper reanimator – namely the payoffs are mediocre – but it is a step in the right direction.

Expendable Lackey

Moving on to blue, Expendable Lackey looks like that, except it has enough going for it that we should dig deeper. First, it’s a one-drop Human to help enable Of One Mind. On top of that, when you exile it from the graveyard and get a restless unblockable Fish, you can easily convert that into a Moon-Circuit Hacker or Ninja of the Deep Hours. There’s enough here to keep me interested even if the chances of it making it big are low.

Security Bypass

Continuing the trend of this set promoting go tall strategies, Security Bypass presents Bogles with a shiny new set of pants. More often than not, Bogles is attacking with one large creature, so getting it to sneak past their defenses should not be too challenging. When it connects, you can ditch lands for new cards or pitch actual material to get a +1/+1 counter that will survive a Serene Heart. Ditching Sentinel’s Eyes to this is something I am excited to do come May.

Cutthroat ContenderCrooked Custodian

Black gets two interesting aggressive options. Cutthroat Contender can apply a decent amount of pressure early but suffers from one toughness. Crooked Custodian has solid stats and its downside will rarely matter in the early game, but if it sees play it will be because it can turn on Morsel Theft.

Dig Up the Body

Dig Up the Body is a neat twist on Raise Dead effects. Sacrificing a one-drop will let you mill four cards deep and rebuy your two best deceased monsters, all at instant speed. This is best suited for a Mono-Black Control style deck that has spare copies of Dusk Legion Zealot to throw around. While these decks have been outclassed as of late, every set provides them with more potential additions to get them back to being competitive.

Girder Goons

When Chainer’s Edict is good, it tends to be great and cards that can reduce the efficacy of it are in high demand. Some black decks have run Grixis Slavedriver in the past. Girder Goons has the advantage of blitz. For 3B you get a 4/4 that goes away at the end of turn but turns into a 2/2 and a card. The entire package is interesting and I can absolutely see situations where you want a copy of two of this riveting ogre.

AntagonizeDaring Escape

Antagonize and Daring Escape both love the recent trend in Kiln Fiend and Satyr Hoplite decks. Neither of these are automatic inclusions but there will be times where adding them to your build will be correct. Having them in your quiver of potential spells will only serve you well in the long term.

Goldhound

Goldhound looks like it might be better than the sum of its parts. It’s a one-mana artifact that can get in for a few points of damage here and there. After that, you can put a spell with affinity on the stack and then once the cost is reduced, sacrifice the Goldhound to help pay the cost. None of this is going to make this card stand out from the field but it looks like the kind of creature that can do good work.

Mayhem PatrolPlasma Jockey

Mayhem Patrol and Plasma Jockey are both retreads of effects we have seen several times through the Magic’s history. These will see play if blitz ends up being worth the cost. If turning these into one time effects that replace themselves, while not triggering heroic or Kiln Fiend, turns out to be good enough, then I expect to get my face mashed by these cards every so often.

Sticky FingersWitty Roastmaster

I want to like Sticky Fingers. I think being able to generate a Treasure every turn is high upside. But so far cards like Prying Blade and Goldvein Pick have seen almost no play and I do not expect this one to carry that banner. In the vein of retreads, Witty Roastmaster is a redundant Impact Tremors that could see play if the Midnight Guard/Presence of Gond combo ever rears its head again.

Body Dropper

Body Dropper might be the card in the set I am most excited about. Mortician Beetle is often one of the more threatening creatures in Pauper Aristocrats decks and having additional copies of creatures that get bigger no matter what you sacrifice material to is extremely welcome. The fact that this can also sacrifice something to become harder to block is massive and is a reason to start trading Young Wolf in for Grim Initiate.

Snooping Newsie

The last card I want to talk about is Snooping Newsie. The upside of this card is very real and I do not think it is going to be that difficult to have it be full power. Dimir decks can easily get a land and a one-mana cantrip into the graveyard. Add to the mix a Counterspell or a Cast Down and you’re almost there. Snuff Out or Behold the Multiverse gets you perilously close and then it’s a matter of Soul Manipulation or Recoil and suddenly you have a solid threat. I can see this card putting in work out of the sideboard against red, where spewing off cards is worth it to keep yourself alive.

There is a lot to like about the commons in Streets of New Capenna. None of these are likely to shake up the metagame but instead they give Pauper a small city’s worth of new things to try to fit into existing archetypes. What is your favorite card of the bunch? Do you think I missed any commons?

 

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