Aftermath: The Winners of Streets of New Capenna

Welcome into the Aftermath series where I reexamine sets that have been out for at least a year. During preview seasons, many cube content creators, me included, will do a preliminary look at cards and try our best to gauge how they will perform in cube. This is a tough endeavor as cubes vary wildly between different restrictions and players preference. Combine this with the fact that we haven't really seen the cards in action and what we all provide is an incomplete picture of the ceiling and baseline. As time progresses, the cards are better understood and the community does an amazing job of putting out this information. These post are intended to highlight the winners, duds, and interesting cards in cube from the set.

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Streets of New Capenna holds a special place for this website and myself as it was one of the first articles that I published. The flavor of the set was exciting for players as it was a shift away from the varying fantasy worlds and into something modern. This was also divisive as some felt the world was not well suited for MTG with the presence of cars and guns (but then we got the transformers cards. Yay to Optimus fighting alongside Elspeth). It was also the prerelease that reinvigorated my drive to draft and play more at the stores. Coming off the heels of Kamigawa Neon Dynasty was not the place any set wanted to be as the bar was set high. Streets was the unfortunate set to follow. The set was generally glossed over during the preview season. Initial impressions generally being that the set lacked strong cards. This was unfortunate as players were looking for something to shift their multicolored cards around and this fortunately wasn't it. It also had a fairly bad limited environment with the best colors being some variant of bant, which had a combination of the best creatures and the best protection. As time passed and the cards got played more, there were a couple clear winners that arose from the set.

To our clear winners


The Triomes were easily the biggest winners from the set. Their design marked them as a huge step up from the Alara trilands of years ago and a compliment to the Ikoria triomes. As lands, they occupy an interesting space as the land sections of cubes define the pace and speed of cubes. Each of the triomes have basic land types. For the uninitiated, basic land types are always a big deal as the cards become fetchable and land ramp spells like Nature's Lore are able to grab them. This results in the triomes making color fixing way too easy and enabling 5 color greed piles. Furthermore should you not need them,you are able to cycle these cards. These lands are absurdly good for these reasons and problematic. Since the cards are functionally the same other than their colors and land types, I won't be doing a breakdown on them as I did with the Kamigawa channel lands.

There is an argument against them as they are too good and can undermine any design you put into them.

Ledger Shredder was the big break out card from the set aside from the triomes, making it all the way down to legacy. At a baseline, the card has a solid body for a defensive creature. The card is infamous for its triggered ability, which pushes the card to an absurd degree for several reasons. The frequency of the triggers and the power of connive. Connive when triggered will allow players to loot a card and the conniving creature will gain a +1/+1 counter for each nonland you discard. This turns Ledger Shredder from a defensive creature into a solid attacker for tempo and control, while smoothening out your draws. Tie this to the fact that it can be triggered by any and each player every turn and you have a monster. For normal Magic gameplay (Commander players you are the exception not the norm), this card can trigger twice a turn allowing this creature to easily outpace bigger threats. What's more is that the card is not broken and scales to your environment. It actually does worse in weaker environments since lower level environments are less likely to cast multiple spells a turn.

Lethal Schemes was my personal favorite from the set and the one I think still slips under a lot of radars since it was printed in the commander decks. A variant of Hero's Downfall, this card has a lot going for it. The card is functionally an anthem, kill spell, and discard outlet that has a varying cost and can lead to insane blowout plays. In a vacuum, the card is actually underwhelming since it cost 4 mana to cast, however you are almost never casting this for that much since it has convoke. When convoked, the creatures you convoked with will now get a chance to connive. This is a huge blowout in creature cases as the opponent will be down a creature, while you have up to 4 bigger creatures. This gets even crazier if you had to set up blocks. This card will already see play just because it is a removal spell, but in the bigger picture, it supports a large swathe of black strategies like graveyard, tokens, and +1/+1 counters. If you're not running this card now, I recommend taking another look at it.

Surprising but not surprising at the same time, Inspiring Overseer sees prolific use regardless of the fact that it is a common, a very pushed common, but still a common none the less. The card has a very good baseline that lets it compete against other 3 drops even in a stronger environment. If it can resolve, the card is a decent flying creature that can push through damage. It essentially replaces itself and gains you life with its ETB ability. Its simple design helps it see play in different decks. This card reminds me a lot of Whirler Rogue as they are both nonrare creatures that are much more impactful than they appear and will probably see play for years to come.

Tenacious Underdog was another card that I largely ignored at first for months and then I got on Arena. Initially, I thought the card was clunky to use, I came to realize that the card is very playable as is. The aggressive stats make it a perfect piece for aggro decks. However, The blitz costing 4 mana and some life felt too costly and not worth it. Comparing it to the other recursive threats, underdog didn't seem to offer much even if it was bigger. Upon watching the card in action, my opinion changed and the versatility of the blitz is what sold the card to me. Blitz is an alternate casting cost that gives a card haste. The blitzed creature is sacrificed at the end of the turn and its controller draws a card. You are able to sacrifice before the end step and still get the card draw. Specific to underdog, the blitz allowed players to recur it. With blitz, the card functioned as a 2 drop or a 4 drop and would become a mana sink late game. The card isn't quite there as a universal cube staple, but if you support archetypes like black aggro or graveyard strategies, you will always want this card.

Unlicensed Hearse just like Ledger Shredder flew under the radar for a while as well, but now sees play in modern as a staple sideboard card. While this varies from play group to playgroup, most people generally do not sideboard or draft for sideboard cards. Recent card design has trended to incorporate more graveyard play into cards. Unlicensed Hearse is a main deckable option that solves this problem and scales in power. The card has a cheap casting cost and a small crew cost alongside a 0 cost tap ability. Aside from functioning as grave hate, this function doubles as a scaling beater that can avoid instant speed creature removal. Its power and toughness are based on the number of card it exiles, which don't have to be cards from your opponent's graveyard either. It easily becomes a huge creature with minimal effort. This is an amazing card as similar to Lion Sash, this is maindeckable grave hate that will be difficult to replace.

Last but not least, Jewel Thief exists. This card won't see too much play in higher level environments, but is an absolute unit in peasant and pauper. It does way too much for its cost and rarity. It has an on cost body for 3 MV with vigilance and trample. Lastly, it produces a treasure on entering. This is absurd on curve as it is going to be one of the stronger 3 drops on the field and with the treasure sets up for a 5 drop to be played. Vigilance and trample are always a powerful combination, especially on a strong body. It allows a large creature to become a wall against your opponent's creatures, while allowing it push in damage against chump blockers. This lets the creature play well with any modification such as equipment or counters. Thus as a whole package, it competes well against the other three drops in green regardless of rarity. The main thing holding the card back is the lack of utility that other three drops have, which makes it a boring card to play.

The End Step

New Capenna's card list overall didn't feel as exciting for cube as Kamigawa's did with many of cards being sleeper hits after being played a little bit more. The only exception being the triome lands, which can break your environment if not managed properly. This can be contributed to the nature of multicolor sets, which are hard cards to incorporate into cube as is. Gold cards generally have to powerful and unique enough to encourage players to run a third color to support it. Many of the tri color cards were immediately disregarded because they couldn't push this threshold. The cards that proved themselves for cube were monocolored and played exceptionally well during my testing. I'm convinced they'll be able to hold their positions in cube for at least a couple years and are worth the slots in your cube. Following this article will be the cards with potential in this set, but just aren't there yet to be a slam dunk. So check back in next week.

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