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New Capenna Danger Room/Battle Box Review

A big, friendly welcome to Battle Boxers, rogue Cube designers and fans of the DeMars Danger Room/Cube experience. Today’s article will dive into Magic: the Gathering’s latest upcoming expansion: Streets of New Capenna (which releases April 28) as it pertains to cards I’m looking forward to jamming in various Battle Box-related formats and variants (as well as the cards I’ll be adding to my signature Danger Room Cube). 

Let me start by saying that I’m legitimately excited about a lot of new cards from New Capenna because it is an uncommonly fantastic set for multicolored Battle Box staples. My spoiler season assessment is that it will be right up there with Shards of Alara and Khans of Tarkir in terms of defining multicolor spells (especially three-color, allied shard combinations) for fan-created formats such as mine. 

Not only are there a lot of enticing designs to consider, but they are in combinations of colors that don’t typically receive an abundance of new cards with a common/uncommon power level that are specifically designed to be impactful in Limited. In most sets and blocks, a three-color spell will typically be a powerful, flashy, legendary rare or mythic that tends to be informed by the Commander context as opposed to what I’d consider cards that “work organically” in a draftable limited format:

If you’re new to the idea of building or playing a Battle Box, I encourage you to check out my previous “Danger Cube” article from a few months ago. I talk about how I’ve rebuilt my Battle Box to also be a functioning Cube and the specific ratios I’ve found useful in balancing my stack for what I consider to be an optimal casual play both with regard to 1v1 dueling and multiplayer drafting. 

The design and power level of my stack is informed by the play patterns of the organic Limited formats I’ve enjoyed over the years, but without the weaker spells that drag a deck or the mythical bombs that overpower and win games outright. 

Before I get to my New Cappena review I also want to stress that my Battle Box, Danger Room and Danger Cube formats seek to be a space in Magic where players can use their imaginations, be creative and build the formats they actually want to play. If you’d prefer a different curve, power level or distribution of monocolor to multicolor spells – do it! If you like a card I’m not playing – play it! If there’s a theme or mechanic that you really enjoy that doesn’t have ample representation in my stack – build it!

Building a Danger Room full of the cards you and your friends most enjoy playing isn’t something that only I have the insight to assemble. It’s something that anybody and everybody can do with their draft castoffs and favorite cards that have fallen out of favor in Constructed formats. With that said, I do think my stack and articles are a great baseline to learn about building a more cohesive and balanced stack (which I believe are the two major tenants of a stack that has the highest replayability). 

One thing is very clear to me about Magic – different players like different cards and styles of games based on their experiences playing the game over time. I want to create content that allows players to explore that gaming space to collect and play the cards they actually enjoy playing. 

 

 

Header - A Special Set

Tri-color shard and wedge multicolor spells are not particularly common across the entirety of all Magic. These three-color spells are special occurrences that tend to be tied to specific sets and planes. New Capenna is one of those sets that has a ton of tri-color options and, most importantly, options that will work well in my Battle Box because many of these designs function as useful cogs in a functioning Limited format as opposed to being legendary Dragons designed to end games at the top of the curve. 

When I did my last major stack update for Danger Cube, I actually struggled to find enough tri-color spells that I felt were cohesive enough to warrant inclusion. In many cases, I felt like I was using “placeholder” cards to make the numbers work. I would ideally like three shard and wedge cards of each color that translate well to Battle Box and Cube Draft games in my stack and I feel confident that New Capenna rounds out my allied shard options perfectly and gives the wedges something to aspire to. I assume at some point in the future we’ll get an unallied wedge set to even things up a bit. 

There are so few places in Magic content where players can actually play with whatever they want and like and it’s really important to me that the space I create making content for the format I created and fostered allows players to do exactly that. So, take advantage of it and play with the cards you enjoy. I put a lot of thought and development into my stack over many years and it plays very well because I tend to stick to principles that balance the stack across mana cost and color and I have no problem with players who want to copy and play my stack card for card. The fact that people do that makes me put in extra effort to make sure it’s good. I just want to be clear about encouraging players to add or subtract cards they like or don’t like because that’s part of what makes the format fun to build, collect, play and ultimately innovate. 

 

Header - Battle Box Review

Magic has so many cards these days that I don’t actually believe any singular, individual card is necessary within a stack. With that said, a lot of Battle Boxes tend to be built and designed in a way that is heavily informed by patterns and gameplay we’d associate with Limited formats. 

I want every card in my stack to be one I’d be cool with first picking out of a pack when drafting an expansion but without mythically powerful cards. I love uncommons that are likely to be first-picked in Draft and New Capenna has a lot of these types of cards. 

Because I’m me, and my experience with playing Magic goes back 30 years, I want my signature stack to look like a history of my favorite cards and mechanics across the history of the game. I’m not looking to add a ton of cards from any one set on purpose unless I believe it makes my stack more fun to play; and I do think my stack will benefit from adding several three-color spells to the shard/wedge slots in my stack. We get so few useful ones over the course of time that it’s necessary to max out quality staples when and where they see print. 

Rakish Revelers

I also want to suggest a new rules variant inspired by a cycle of cards including Rakish Revelers. Ultimately, I don’t think these cards are particularly useful in my stack (because I already have great fixing in the mana cache and they are a bit clunky) but I like the idea of being able to add an ability to land via a counter. 

In Battle Box, being on the play is an advantage, plain and simple. Hearthstone gives the player on the draw the equivalent of a free Lotus Petal (or Treasure token) to offset the disadvantage. In Battle Box, I’d rather be on the draw with a free Treasure token (which tells me a Treasure token is maybe too good). I’d instead offer that the first basic land the player on the draw deploys enters with a one time use “utopia counter” that would function similar to Tendo Ice Bridge.

Tendo Ice Bridge

It wouldn’t ramp mana, but it would provide some additional fixing on the draw to help balance out the dynamic where the player going second is sort of forced to adapt the deployment of their hand to the player with the initiative of playing first. It’s a one-time use ability granted to the first basic played by the player going second. 

 

Header - Multicolored Spells

The multicolor spells (particularly three-color allied shards) are the meat and potatoes of New Capenna. In an ideal world, I’d have three different cards representing each of the 10 shard/wedge color combinations. Unfortunately, I don’t feel there are enough cards that currently exist that hit the sweet spot to fully round out the color requirements. The abundance of quality cards in New Capenna provides ample backing to essentially “finish off” all of the allied tri-color spell slots but we’re going to need to wait for an unallied wedge set to finish off the cycle. 

Naya/Cabaretti

I don’t know what I’m even supposed to label these multicolor categories anymore, but you get the idea! 

Brazen UpstartCabaretti CharmFleetfoot Dancer

All three are solid Battle Box choices. All three of these cards are a perfectly playable trio of WRG all on its own if you’re building a new box from scratch out of your draft cards. I’ve always liked big-bodied haste creatures like Lightning Angel in my stack and I’m excited to give Fleetfoot Dancer a shot. The card reminds me a lot of Elderwood Scion in a color identity with a lot less competition for slots in the deck. I also think for drafting purposes, it makes sense to reward players with a little bit above the curve power level for playing multiple colors. 

Grixis/Maestros

I obviously have the most experience building and playing dueling-centric Battle Boxes but I’m also very interested in finding new ways to fuse Battle Box with a draftable Cube experience. One of the variants I’m interested in exploring and working out the kinks with is the ability to draft Commander decks to play multiplayer, but one area I’ve had difficulty is balancing tri-color legendary creatures (intended to be draftable Commanders) with the baseline power level of my stack (because three-color legendary creatures tend to be powered more like mythics than workhorse uncommons that I like in 1v1 duels). 

In particular, I played a duel with Sidisi, Brood Tyrant where it was clear the card snowballed quickly and to the point I’d consider it a “must kill or counter” in a Battle Box duel but I also think it would be quite interesting as a draftable card. I’m thinking I will take the tri-color legendaries intended for Draft (and Commander Draft) and move them to the mana pack (Signets, bounce ;ands, tri-lands) to be added to draft. 

Maestros CharmMaestros DiabolistCormela, Glamour Thief

Grixis is one of the weaker and least coherent three-color combinations in my stack and New Capenna will fix that problem outright. Finally, receiving a playable Charm is a great boon. I also think Cormela, Glamour Thief hits a sweet spot as a draftable Commander. 

Esper/Obscura

In my opinion, Esper got the most exciting crop of Battle Box cards from New Capenna. Figuring out what to cut was challenging because there’s now an abundance of cards that I like and will fit my requirements for power and fun level. 

Nimble LarcenistObscura CharmVoid RendQueza, Augur of Agonies

It’s so awkward that all three of these cards are so nice that I’m forced to choose cards that I actively want to play with, no matter how I choose. I also really like Queza, Augur of Agonies as a draftable Commander and Battle Box staple. I wish every three-color combination had a card with a power level similar to Queza’s. 

Bant/Brokers

Brokers CharmDisciplined DuelistLagrella, the MagpieRigo, Streetwise Mentor

I’m not overly in love with the Bant flavor from New Capenna because Bant is a shard that has historically gotten quality Battle Box cards in the past. I think I like OG Bant Charm better than Brokers Charm and I had already swapped Stoic Angel out for Rhox War Monk in my stack. The standout cards for me is Lagrella, the Magpie as blink Commander for the Cube Draft variant and Disciplined Duelist as an indestructible creature that isn’t actually indestructible to wear Equipment and Auras. 

Jund/Riveteers

Riveteers CharmOgnis, the Dragon's LashMr. Orfeo, the Boulder

All of these are powerful and flavorful. Jund is already one of the deepest color combinations in terms of three-color spells I’ve traditionally enjoyed playing in my Battle Boxes. I notably didn’t have a legendary (I had Broodmate Dragon place holding that slot – which is a fairly bomb Dragon). I’m going to try out Ognis, the Dragon’s Lash in that spot. 

 

Header - Two-Color Spells

I don’t want to overfill my stack with cards from any particular set and since I’m getting so many unique three-color spells to fill slots I’m going to be a bit pickier about the two-color and monocolor spells that make the cut in my stack. 

With that said, because New Capenna is a multicolor set, there’s an abundance of nice options to consider. 

Dimir

Aven HeartstabberTainted Indulgence

Rakdos

Forge Boss

Azorius

Scheming Fence

Gruul

Black Market Tycoon

Selesnya

Park Heights Pegasus

These are my favorite two-color designs from New Capenna for various styles of dueling and draftable Danger Room or Danger Cube variants. If I were starting a new Battle Box from scratch with cards I was drafting (and less concerned with keeping mine compact and inclusive of all sets from across Magic’s history), I would have no issue with putting all these cards into my stack. For players who enjoy collecting one huge dueling Battle Box stack (the previous level version of how I built my stack for 1v1 dueling before I wanted to also draft it), all of these are great. 

 

Header - Monocolor Spells

The same logic applies to these monocolor cards. It’s like New Capenna has too much of a good thing when it comes to cards that I want to Battle Box with, which is awesome because I have format – deckbuilding options to really play with.

Call In a Professional

I love this useful Skullcrack variant. 

Courier's Briefcase

I love the tension between being a Prosperous Innkeeper or a Concentrate in a Battle Box. 

Luxurious Libation

 A quality Howl from Beyond variant. 

Jewel Thief

Cards that make a singular Treasure token tend to be pretty reasonable in Battle Box (even though I try to keep my finger on the pulse of keeping access to mana relatively even). Jewel Thief is a good design for a first-pickable quality common that can go in a lot of decks because it provides good honest value. 

Unlucky Witness

My red one-drops are deep and powerful already but this is a decent Cube or Battle Box card. 

Witness ProtectionSlip Out the Back

Both of these are excellent one-mana blue spells. I absolutely love the flavor and use of phasing on Slip Out the Back

Workshop Warchief

I don’t necessarily want a bunch of cards that all look and feel the same, but it’s worth noting that Thragtusk has long been a powerful rare that I think plays well in the stack. If you want to double up, or swap out, Workshop Warchief is a pretty solid looking five-drop. 

 

Header - Updated Danger Cube

When I add new cards to a tuned Battle Box, I generally want to preserve the work I’ve already done by keeping the ratios approximately the same. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I’m also interested in driving the average mana value of my stack down so that cards don’t get clogged up in a player’s hand. I also look to replace cards that feel noticeably above or below the average power level of the other cards in the stack. It’s actually difficult to know how powerful a card is in a stack without playing with it a decent amount because some cards will tend to surprise you with how impactful they end up being in actual games. 

For instance, power creep in Magic makes it impossible for me to include the cards I think look the most fun to play while also maintaining the same baseline power level of cards I built my stack around over a decade ago. Magic changes and so does my stack. On the other hand, after playing a bunch of games with the new stack (which is faster, more interactive and more aggressive), there are some cards that I believe may not be ideal for the type of games I’m hoping to create at any power level.

Eternal WitnessMistmeadow Witch

Or, cards that I thought were going to be really sweet because they have great stats but require too many specific synergies to come together in order to be effective.

Dreadhorde Arcanist (Timeshifted)

Or, cards that are cool but simply too inefficient or difficult to cast in most games.

Verdant Force

These are not new problems or difficulties, but rather examples where I wanted to see if three years of powerful draft staples rounding out my color requirements would make some of my favorite, powerful old cards work well again. After playing a bunch of games, even with a slightly different context of more powerful cards, I felt the result was still consistent with what I had learned and experienced in the past. It’s also a reason I’ll be moving some of the three-color legendaries into the draft pack so they don’t muck 1v1 Battle Box duels. 

White – 35

No changes

1 Thraben Inspector
1 Soul Warden
1 Hopeful Eidolon
1 Mother of Runes
1 Sacred Cat
1 Cartouche of Solidarity
1 Ethereal Armor
1 Ephemerate
1 Blacksmith's Skill
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Immolating Glare
1 Pacifism
1 Blessed Alliance
1 Valorous Stance
1 Selfless Spirit
1 Twinblade Geist/Twinblade Invocation
1 Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
1 Wall of Omens
1 Remorseful Cleric
1 Karmic Guide
1 Cleansing Nova
1 Disenchant
1 Wall of Reverence
1 Restoration Angel
1 Hidden Dragonslayer
1 Master of Pearls
1 Blade Splicer
1 Spear of Heliod
1 Lingering Souls
1 Fanatical Devotion
1 Council's Judgment
1 Flickerwisp
1 Wrath of God (039/332)
1 Cloudgoat Ranger
1 Exalted Angel

Blue – 35

 

In:

Out:

1 Force Spike
1 Spell Snare
1 Slip Out the Back
1 Hard Evidence
1 Unstable Mutation
1 Lantern Bearer/Lanterns' Lift
1 Cloudfin Raptor
1 Spectral Sailor
1 Pteramander
1 Delver of Secrets/Insectile Aberration
1 Augur of Bolas
1 Merfolk Trickster
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Merfolk Looter
1 False Summoning
1 Watcher for Tomorrow
1 Counterspell
1 Miscalculation
1 Remand
1 Mana Leak
1 Bonded Fetch
1 Man-o'-War
1 Sea Gate Oracle
1 Circular Logic
1 Repulse
1 Threads of Disloyalty
1 Deep Analysis
1 Talrand's Invocation
1 Archaeomancer
1 Mulldrifter
1 Morphling
1 Brine Elemental
1 Vesuvan Shapeshifter
1 Stratus Dancer
1 Willbender

Black – 35 Cards

No changes

1 Unearth
1 Thoughtseize
1 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Bloodchief's Thirst
1 Fatal Push
1 Cryptbreaker
1 Thrull Parasite
1 Carrion Feeder
1 Knight of the Ebon Legion
1 Bloodsoaked Champion
1 Dance of the Dead
1 Hymn to Tourach
1 Collective Brutality
1 Night's Whisper
1 Doom Blade
1 Putrid Goblin
1 Tymaret, Chosen from Death
1 Blood Artist
1 Reassembling Skeleton
1 Plaguebearer
1 Grim Haruspex
1 Stinkweed Imp
1 Silumgar Assassin
1 Big Game Hunter
1 Bane of the Living
1 Soul Shatter
1 Painful Truths
1 Dismember
1 Nekrataal
1 Kokusho, the Evening Star
1 Dread Return
1 Phyrexian Plaguelord
1 Shriekmaw
1 Chainer's Edict
1 Hypnotic Specter

Red – 35 Cards

In addition to adding Call in a Professional, I also made a couple of other swaps in my stack.

In:

Out:

1 Goblin Bushwhacker
1 Zurgo Bellstriker
1 Monastery Swiftspear
1 Blazing Rootwalla
1 Falkenrath Pit Fighter
1 Young Pyromancer
1 Rix Maadi Reveler
1 Dire Fleet Daredevil
1 Earthshaker Khenra
1 Abbot of Keral Keep
1 Bonecrusher Giant/Stomp
1 Squee, Goblin Nabob
1 Skirk Marauder
1 Fire Imp
1 Merchant of the Vale/Haggle
1 Vulshok Sorcerer
1 Siege-Gang Commander
1 Flametongue Kavu
1 Pillar of Flame
1 Faithless Looting
1 Firebolt
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Chain Lightning
1 Lava Coil
1 Incendiary Flow
1 Goblin Bombardment
1 Incinerate
1 Thrill of Possibility
1 Fiery Temper
1 Call In a Professional
1 Resounding Thunder
1 Disintegrate
1 Volcanic Dragon
1 Blistering Firecat
1 Anger

Green – 35 Cards

In:

Out:

1 Deathmist Raptor
1 Den Protector
1 Tapping at the Window
1 Courier's Briefcase
1 Inscription of Abundance
1 Moment's Peace
1 Saproling Migration
1 Sprout Swarm
1 Basking Rootwalla
1 Gilded Goose
1 Elves of Deep Shadow
1 Deathbonnet Sprout/Deathbonnet Hulk
1 Chainweb Aracnir
1 Snakeskin Veil
1 Abundant Growth
1 Squirrel Sanctuary
1 Rancor
1 Vines of Vastwood
1 Noose Constrictor
1 Rattleclaw Mystic
1 River Boa
1 Wall of Blossoms
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Autumn Willow
1 Hooded Hydra
1 Arasta of the Endless Web
1 Eidolon of Blossoms
1 Harmonize
1 Saproling Burst
1 Spider Spawning
1 Eternal Witness
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Selesnya Eulogist
1 Jewel Thief
1 Wren's Run Hydra

Artifacts – 20

No changes

1 Phyrexian Furnace
1 Cursed Scroll
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Scrabbling Claws
1 Bloodforged Battle-Axe
1 Bonesplitter
1 Zephyr Boots
1 Basilisk Collar
1 Flayer Husk
1 Contagion Clasp
1 Spellskite
1 Epochrasite
1 Wall of Junk
1 Fountain of Renewal
1 Pyrite Spellbomb
1 Stonecoil Serpent
1 Whispersilk Cloak
1 Perilous Vault
1 Triskelion
1 Engineered Explosives

Azorius – 7 Cards

In:

Out:

1 Supreme Verdict
1 Scheming Fence
1 Senate Guildmage
1 Wall of Denial
1 Mistmeadow Witch
1 Absorb
1 Faithful Mending

Boros – 7 Cards

No changes

1 Nahiri, Storm of Stone
1 Boros Challenger
1 Boros Reckoner
1 Thrilling Discovery
1 Lightning Helix
1 Sunhome Guildmage
1 Flame-Kin Zealot

Dimir – 7 Cards

In:

Out:

1 Psychatog
1 Hostage Taker
1 Tainted Indulgence
1 Undermine
1 Dimir Guildmage
1 Baleful Strix
1 Nightveil Predator

Golgari – 7 Cards

No changes

1 Deathrite Shaman
1 Ravenous Squirrel
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Golgari Guildmage
1 Lotleth Troll
1 Dreg Mangler
1 Maelstrom Pulse

Gruul – 7 Cards

In:

Out:

1 Domri's Ambush
1 Bloodbraid Elf
1 Rhythm of the Wild
1 Zhur-Taa Druid
1 Grumgully, the Generous
1 Black Market Tycoon
1 Ghor-Clan Rampager

Izzet – 7 Cards

No changes

1 Razorfin Hunter
1 Suffocating Blast
1 Fire/Ice
1 Swerve
1 Sprite Dragon
1 Prophetic Bolt
1 Dack's Duplicate

Orzhov – 7 Cards

No changes

1 Humiliate
1 Sin Collector
1 Vizkopa Guildmage
1 Cartel Aristocrat
1 Consecrate/Consume
1 Call to the Feast
1 Utter End

Rakdos – 7 Cards

No changes

1 Kalain, Reclusive Painter
1 Rakdos Headliner
1 Blightning
1 Kolaghan's Command
1 Murderous Redcap
1 Mayhem Devil
1 Terminate

Selesnya – 7 Cards

No changes

1 Juniper Order Ranger
1 Good-Fortune Unicorn
1 Armadillo Cloak
1 Selesnya Charm
1 Dromoka's Command
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Fleecemane Lion

Simic – 7 Cards

No changes

1 Maraleaf Pixie
1 Ethereal Ambush
1 Jungle Barrier
1 Decisive Denial
1 Mystic Snake
1 Slippery Bogle
1 Merfolk Skydiver

Three-Color Shard/Wedge Spells – 20 Cards

In:

Out:

1 Doran, the Siege Tower
1 Abzan Charm
1 Sidisi, Brood Tyrant
1 Sultai Charm
1 Arcades, the Strategist
1 Bant Charm
1 Marath, Will of the Wild
1 Naya Charm
1 Void Rend
1 Queza, Augur of Agonies
1 Savage Knuckleblade
1 Temur Charm
1 Sprouting Thrinax
1 Riveteers Charm
1 Rise/Fall
1 Maestros Diabolist
1 Lightning Angel
1 Mantis Rider
1 Crackling Doom
1 Butcher of the Horde

 

Header - New Capenna Favorites

As always, I’ll end today’s review with my favorite designs from the set for Battle Box related formats. Since I added 11 cards (and I only do a Top 8), it goes without saying that I think the set is overall excellent and adds new cards that I believe will make my stack more fun to play. 

  1. Call in a Professional 
  2. Courier’s Briefcase
  3. Maestros Diabolist 
  4. Scheming Fence 
  5. Jewel Thief 
  6. Riveteers Charm 
  7. Void Rend 
  8. Queza, Augur of Agonies

 

 

2 thoughts on “New Capenna Danger Room/Battle Box Review”

  1. I love these updates to the battlebox! I’ve been building mine since seeing yours and Ben Stark’s a few years back.
    I had a question between this list, and the complete one you posted in the update. Why did the list suddenly drop in two color cards from 20 to 7 of each guild? Thanks for your reply, and I can’t wait for more updates!

  2. Brian,

    I’ve kept a paper copy of your Danger Room for a few years now. I absolutely love it, but don’t really get joy from curating it as a list for myself. Your article on Midnight Hunt was the last time I was sure that my pile was the same as yours. Your articles since then have recommended cards, but not necessarily published a full list or a “this for that” change list. Is there somewhere where I can see your current list for the Danger Room? I usually don’t sweat lagging behind a few sets since you usually publish in these articles a full list, but your full list for the Danger Cube made me itch for it.

    Thanks!

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