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Spoilers have dropped and with pre-release a week away it's time for some early thoughts about the latest set Streets of New Capenna.
First, I want to go over a card from each color and a potential commander from New Capenna Commander. Then we'll take a look at some interesting cards in the full Streets set. Finally I'll end with a word on a card or two that could be "mistakes" for non-competitive Commander play.
Let's Call A Truce
A clear diplomacy card that gives an opponent a good reason to ignore you at a cost of only two mana, Tenuous Truce is not flashy. Things like this "soft" alliance tend to draw a lot less agro from a table than say Wedding Ring. While an opponent could attack you once to simply destroy the Truce it's low value to do that before getting at least one card. The thing is every turn they can make that same decision to get "just one more card." This is also a great card to play on someone who is clearly *behind* on the board to help them get back into the game and in that case you know they are never going to attack you. Two mana to effectively remove an opponent from attacking you for most of the game is a bargain and this card will definitely be undervalued. Another angle is the fact that there are quite a few goad mechanics in this set, so, you are setting up a potential scenario where players *must attack* but they will choose not to attack you. This is powerful psychologically.
An Underappreciated Tribe, The Cephalids
Magic has reached a point of no return on power creep for creatures. There are so many creatures that almost say "If this creature attacks, you win the game" and the Facetaker can copy any of them. It's also a Rogue which is a very relevant creature type and being unblockable is never bad! Want to copy someone's Commander? Do they have a great ability? Does their creature have haste? I'm a big fan of extremely versatile creatures that are also unblockable and only three mana. This is one of the most interesting Clone cards that have come out in recent memory.
X Gonna Give It To You
In a standard Commander pod of four you have three opponents so Xander's Pact could hit three, free, spells. But it also has the new Casualty keyword, in this case Casualty two, so if you sacrifice a creature with power two or greater you can copy the Pact. Being able to cast up to six spells FOR NO MANA is just too bonkers to ignore. Of course, free spells aren't free, in this case you pay life instead of mana. I'm no stranger to the allure of using life as mana, and this card just plays into that theme without any other support necessary. Not only am I looking forward to adding this card to one or two completely different decks but I'm considering a wide variety of other synergistic cards like Misinformation and Painful Memories. Keep in mind you do not *have* to cast the spells so it's all upside. This is by far my favorite card from the entire set incorporating theft, which I predicted here.
It's Party Time
The absolute *reddest* card from Streets, Life of the Party is a great multi-player card that stirs up a table. It particularly punishes those that like to sit back and build up before making enemies because the more creatures they have the more unstoppable the Elemental party becomes. A haste creature with trample, first strike and an arbitrarily high power could be a tremendous problem for players that are not you thanks to goad. I am thinking of pairing this card up with Varchild's War-Riders and Akroan Horse and double damage effects that "help" my opponents before distributing weapons of mass fun via Life of the Party.
The Undisputed Heavy Weight Champion Of The World
Flavor. Low mana value. A nasty right hook. Treasure tokens. A solid uppercut. Fighting. I have three commander decks that want to run this card. You can bet that it pairs with Arena for synergy and Strixhaven Stadium for flavor. There are so many Dinosaurs like Ranging Raptors and Poly Raptor that are thematic, powerful and potential world champions the second you throw them into the ring. The mana cost limitation is definitely a factor that makes Boxing Ring seem like a low power option but consider that among three opponents you will have some options. On top of that you are playing green and have access to things like Green Sun's Zenith or Worldly Tutor to get the right fighter for the situation and there is even more synergy from Neiyith of the Dire Hunt.
Rock The Vote
The card Tivit, Seller of Secrets has caught my interest as a potential Commander. I've already made a boat deck but maybe it's time to make a vote deck. First, there is something to be said for what looks like optimal voting. At "worst" you are getting three clues and two treasures. I have to say getting three clues and two treasures seems fairly worthwhile. With a haste effect from Swiftfoot Boots or Lightning Greaves you could easily make six clues and four treasures the turn Tivit hits the table. With two or four mana up and ward three it's unlikely Tivit will be easily removed. A very cool card all around and I am wondering what a deck full of voting effects would play like, so I'm going to build it!
The Rest of The Set
If you've been an avid reader of "Joe aka Beardymagics" aka "me" then you will know I take a rather casual outlook on Commander. I am looking for cards that are under-appreciated or not overwhelmingly powerful because I believe they make games more fun. Fun isn't just about winning.
If you build a deck that is trying to get an epic win with Halo Fountain it makes games more memorable than comboing out on turn four. Think about it. You need to have 15 creatures, get them all tapped, play the Fountain, activate the ability and still have 15 tapped creatures left to win. Those are a lot of hoops to jump through and if you succeed you deserve the win! Big splashy alternate wincons are definitely good for Commander.
Rocco, Caberatti Caterer could be the start of something fun. Obviously this thing tutors for many combo pieces or answers at a fairly inexpensive rate (more on this later). Winning with an easily assembled combo from a tutor commander is not what this card is for, no. Rocco exists to have the opportunity to kill someone with commander damage from a *caterer*. Yes, Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar is the greatest *cook* in Dominaria but how many caterers are there? There can be only one and Rocco is that one. On a less casual angle I think Rocco "pancake" stax decks could easily be a thing because of easy tutor access to things like Collector Ouphe, Eidolon of Rhetoric and don't forget Dockside Extortionist to generate infinite mana. This card looks too good on every metric from fun to game ending.
I also wanted to highlight Unleash the Inferno because I like the card design. Giving spells a pseudo "trample" effect is not a completely new idea, but I like the templating of the spell and making it an Instant with additional value upside at four mana is what a fair but also powerful Magic card *should* look like. When I see what I like, I try to cheer Wizards on.
Great, another Smothering Tithe, Rhystic Study, Mystic Remora effect? This is *EXACTLY* what Commander needs! Oh, wait, no it isn't! I think it's fairly clear to see Smuggler's Share is on the weaker end of those cards but this card will see over-representative play for a couple of months as everyone tries it out, strangling both creativity and ease of play. Those will be months of my Magic life that I will never get back.
The Beamtown Bullies is not a casual card unless you purposely fill your deck with Craw Wurm. There are a large number of shenanigans involving Leveler or Inverter of Truth or other "bad" creatures that effectively kill a player on the spot on turn four. This card is definitely powerful.
Will Streets Be Good?
It definitely feels like it! The lands are some of the best parts of the set. Multi-colored is definitely a thing here. Are you looking forward to Streets for Commander, Standard or any other format? Let me know in the comments.