Welcome to our Draft Primer series for Streets of New Capenna. Today we are taking a detailed look at the new and returning mechanics of Magic the Gathering’s latest set.
This time around we’re visiting a plane with a more modern look than we’ve come to expect. Awash with the vibrant styles, architecture and politics of the roaring twenties, Streets of New Capenna promises a exhilarating ride through a mobster run city where five crime families wrestle for control.
Sounds pretty exciting to us! Let’s get into it.
The streets of New Capenna are run by five crime families, each presided over by a powerful demon. Existing in three color combinations, known as shards, these criminal fraternities wrestle for control of the streets, subways and rooftops of New Capenna. With uniquely deviant abilities, each of these gangs commands its own brand new mechanic.
Casualty is the mechanic for the Maestro crime family. A group of art collecting assassins, the Maestro’s think nothing of sacrificing one of their own for the greater good of the family. This flavor is clearly seen in their new mechanic, which allows players to copy a spell, as they cast it, in exchange for sacrificing a creature. Take a look at Cut of the Profits, a powerful card draw effect.
Most prevalent in black, this mechanic also bleeds over into the other two colors of the Maestro, red and blue. Light ‘Em Up is a cheap burn spell which can be copied, whilst A Little Chat allows you to filter through your deck.
Copying spells is nice, of course, however sacrificing a creature to do so is a pretty high cost. Luckily Casualty is optional and the original spell will resolve just fine if you choose not to use the ability.
Alliance is the new mechanic most strongly associated with the Cabaretti family. This group, who descended from the bards and druids of Old Capenna, hold an iron grip on the city's entertainment industry. Throwing a seemingly never-ending party, the more the merrier appears to be their moto.
Leaning into this flavorful theme, Alliance rewards players for having creatures enter the battlefield. Indeed the more creatures that enter each turn, the greater the rewards become. Take a look at Gala Greeters, this two drop druid triggers one of three different effects each time another creature enters the battlefield.
Based in green, Alliance also spills over into red and white, the other colors of the Cabaretti. Check out Rumor Gatherer which rewards you with selection and card draw, as well as Devilish Valet which takes a more aggressive slant on the mechanic.
Blitz is the new mechanic belonging to the Riveteer family. These working class artisans were responsible for building the city of New Capenna. Paid for their labors in a magic substance called Halo, this family is now wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. Money hasn’t changed them however, tough nuts to the core, the Riveters still love a good brawl.
Blitz encapsulates this flavor perfectly. Allowing creatures to enter the battlefield with haste and for a cheaper mana cost, Blitz is a hard hitting mechanic. The downside (having to sacrifice the creature at the end of the turn) is balanced by allowing you to draw a card whenever your blitz creature dies. Say hello to Jaxis, the Troublemaker. This legendary creature not only has blitz but also taps to create copies of creatures - with blitz themselves.
Mainly found in red, blitz creatures also reside in the families other colors, black and green. Check out Caldaia Strongarm. At four mana the blitz cost might feel a little steep, however getting to keep the +1/+1 counters after the strongarm dies is a major boon.
In black, Girder Goons is a solid and versatile creature. The prospect of hitting your opponent for four damage, drawing a card and getting a 2/2 body is pretty nice for four mana. However, simply hardcasting this will be a good option in more defensive circumstances.
Connive is the mechanic predominantly used by Obscura. This family of conmen deal in information with blackmail being their primary source of income. As this group of ruffians gather more information, their power grows until the reputations of their enemies are sullied beyond redemption.
Connive flavorfully encapsulates the flow of information being translated into raw power. Whenever a creature connives, the controlling player draws then discards a card. As the player discards a non-land card in this manner, they place a +1/+1 counter on the conniving creature. Take a little look at Ledger Shredder. This flying 1/3 connives whenever you cast your second spell each turn.
Mostly found in blue, connive is also present in black and white, the Obsura’s secondary colors. In white we find Raffine’s Informant, a two drop creature with the potential to be a 3/2 as early as turn two. Black on the other hand is sporting Revel Ruiner which seems a little over-costed at four mana, despite the potential upside of a 4/2 menace.
Shield Counters are a new mechanic most commonly used by the Brokers. This firm of self serving lawyers stockpile favors, whilst running the cities largest protection racket. Binding their partners to their word, any business found to be without the protection of the Brokers will be a short lived enterprise indeed.
The Brokers protection racket is thematically invoked by shield counters. If a creature with a shield counter would be damaged or destroyed simply remove the counter instead. Take a look at Dapper Shieldmate. A 2/2 for four mana is rather small, although this card does get a power boost when it attacks. Clearly having a shield counter is an asset, after all the counter itself will sometimes trade for a card. Othertimes, however, that won’t occur and you may end up feeling pretty short changed with a 2/2 for four mana.
Shield counters are primarily found in white, although their protection also extends to blue and green, the other two colors of the Brokers. Here we see Rhox Pummeler in green. The 6/3 stat line feels a little vulnerable but the shield counter goes some way to help negate that problem. Trample is always nice on a big green creature, just a shame it goes away when the shield counter does.
In blue we find Wingshield Agent. A 2/3 flier for three is already a solid deal but the option to jump another creature is really strong. Cards like this always have a target on their back so the shield counter will be super relevant, as your opponent desperately tries to remove this from the battlefield.
With much of the design space taken up by the three color crime families, there’s only two returning mechanics to discuss in this section.
Hideaway was introduced way back in Lorwyn in 2007. When a Hideaway card enters the battlefield, you look at the top few cards of your library and choose one to exile. This card remains in exile until a certain condition is met, at which point you may play it without paying the mana cost. The number of cards you get to look at is dictated by the hideaway value, for instance hideaway 5. Check out Wiretapping a powerful card draw engine in blue.
Most players will be extremely familiar with vehicles as a mechanic. Whilst not strictly evergreen, they do make an appearance in a high number of sets. For those who haven't played with this card type before, vehicles enter the battlefield as non-creature artifacts and remain so until they are crewed. Once the crew cost is paid, by tapping creatures with the required power, the vehicle becomes animated and can attack and block as usual.
Whilst the power level of vehicles often leaves a little to be desired, the flavor win here is clear, as they represent the stylish cars of the mob and their bosses. Check out Mysterious Limousine, a vehicle with a powerful exile effect.
Angri started playing Magic The Gathering during the Ice Age expansion. Proud to have collected a full set of 4th Edition, he was horrified to discover that, whilst he was away at college, his mom had donated his cards to a thrift store! With two mathematics degrees safely under his belt, Angri turned his attention to the world of online poker. Following a 10 year stint as a professional poker player, he finally returned to the glorious game of his youth. When not found playing or writing about MTG, he enjoys hanging out with his small family or riding an electric bike around the polluted English city he calls home.