Streets of New Capenna – cEDH Set Review

Jake FitzSimons • May 2, 2022

Ledger Shredder, by Mila Pesic

G’day cEDH players, Jake FitzSimons here, fresh off the streets with a review of New Capenna. I was bound to love this set on account of all the mobster movie references, and I love it even more for all the cEDH staples it includes. This is a long one, so let’s hop right in!


White

We’re starting a little soft, and Jailbreak is hard to evaluate. Unless you can guarantee that the permanent your opponent gets back is completely useless, this is strict card disadvantage. You spend a card and two mana to get back a card, and one opponent will get back a card of their own. Bringing back a spent Jeweled Lotus from an opponent is fine, but in that case all you’ll be able to get is a fetchland or a zero drop yourself. This could feasibly be great, but it’s far from reliable. I think all too often it will rot in your hand without decent targets.

Rhystic Racoons? Racoon Study? Chittering Tithe? I’m not sure what stupid nickname I’ll give this but I do know I think it’s pretty good. Usually cards that rely on your opponents doing something they aren’t guaranteed to do is a risky gambit, but the number of cards that trigger Smuggler’s Share is higher than you might think.

Most obviously, fetchlands will trigger the Treasure clause. You’ll see a little Exploration in cEDH, but it’s not much to bank on, whereas nearly every deck runs every fetch it can. Yes, your opponents can wait to crack their fetch to keep you from your Treasure, but this won’t always be convenient for them.

More interesting is the draw. It’s a shame you won’t get the card when your opponent gets theirs, but it does mean it plays much better with a Wheel that you or your opponents cast because you’ll draw three cards in the end step either way. How reliable is the draw otherwise? Here’s a list of staples that will always trigger it: Faithless Looting, Gitaxian Probe, Ponder, Brainstorm, Windfall, Wheel of (Mis)Fortune, Timetwister, Sylvan Library and Skullclamp. Here’s a list of staples that will occasionally trigger it: Esper Sentinel, Mystic Remora, Rhystic Study, Veil of Summer, Sensei’s Divining Top.

And finally (and I think this is what matters) the list of commanders that will trigger it. Tymna the Weaver is the most reliable and popular, but you’ve also got both Selvalas, Sythis, Rielle, Kels, Korvold, Tevesh, Chulane, Edric, Shorikai, occasionally Thrasios, rarely Kraum, and of course, GITROG. The poor frog can’t help but trigger both halves of Smuggler’s Share every turn. All up, I think is going to pan out quite nicely and make it into a lot of white decks happy to play a slower game.


Blue

Better than Swan Song? Ohhh, fuggedaboutit! Better than Dispel, Miscast, Spell Pierce? Ayyy, thinkaboutit! It feels like it could be, but I’ll concede this is a polarising card and it might be one that needs a lot of testing given how low the floor can be.

Now, giving an opponent two Treasures is a horrible downside, but for an unconditional counter against any non-creature, I think the juice is worth the squeeze. What I care more about is that I can answer Underworld Breach, Isochron Scepter, Ad Nauseam, or Peer into the Abyss all with the same card and all for one mana.

Ideally, this will be the last counter you use, not only because it’s near universal whereas other one mana interaction pieces carry conditions, but because it’s worse the earlier you use it. Null Rod and Collector Ouphe are so ubiquitous that this will feel like a one mana Negate now and then. If you happen to have a Viridian Revel you even stand to draw a couple of cards. I’m also sure Krark will figure out a way to break it, because why wouldn’t he?

A copy effect that can only copy other copies that weren’t cast is cool, but extremely hard to build around. If you can get a copy of Dramatic Reversal onto the stack without casting it (no, Isochron Scepter won’t work) you can probably go infinite with Errant, but even then you’ll need an actual wincon. Too much trouble for too little payoff. I can see Errant finding a home in some Krark lists, but I’m sure they’ve got better ways to get more copies than paying for an activated ability.

This thing is pushed. While a 1/3 flyer for two mana that grows would make for a passable Tymna attacker, it wouldn’t see play. But the Connive mechanic from New Capenna, that’s the real kicker here.

I’m probably being too pedantic here, but I’ve seen a lot of discussion about Ledger Shredder being “card advantage”. It may only be a difference of terminology, but I would call this card “selection” rather than advantage. The difference between filtering cards and actually drawing cards is significant.

Nitpicking aside, Ledger Shredder is still incredible, because card selection at this rate can almost be better than advantage. Short of a Rule of Law coming down, it’s safe to say that most of your opponents are going to be casting two cards per turn, particularly early on. And while they are, you’re filtering through library like a lunatic. Something I missed on first glance with this card is that it specifies any player. You can trigger it yourself, which makes it much more reliable than I first thought, and makes it pretty likely you can Connive the turn you play it.

I think Ledger Shredder will show up in a lot of the same places that Dragon’s Rage Channeler does, and absolutely shine in certain lists. Anything looking to fill their bin for Underworld Breach or looking to get involved with Reanimate shenanigans is going to get a lot of milage out of this birb. I’m particularly excited to see it in Rielle, the Everwise.

There’s some stiff competition, but this is the funniest card in the set. The idea of turning something like The Gitrog Monster or Ruric Thar into a legitimate businessperson is too good. I can see the frog now, shuffling about on a train on the way to work, grumbling about how things were different back in the Nephalian Highlands, how he never had to fill out tax forms in the mud of Lake Zhava.

As for how good the card actually is, it’s hard to say. Kenrith’s Transformation has seen a little play in the past, so it’s not like the effect is bad, it’s just hard to justify over more conventional removal. The difference between this and Transformation is that this doesn’t cantrip, but saving one mana is fantastic. More than that, having additional blue cards is always nice for the sake of counterspells that force you to exile.


Black

A fifteen mana spell in cEDH would be a complete joke if Yuriko and Vial Smasher didn’t exist. While most Smasher decks eschew maximising her raw damage, committed fans remain, and I imagine Shadow of Mortality will be right up their alley. But Yuriko doesn’t need to be asked twice. She’s already playing double digit jank for the sake of the flips. Both Blinkmoth Infusion and Draco float in and out of Yuriko decks, but Shadow offers something else entirely – it isn’t a completely dead card!

Draco can’t do a thing, and while Blinkmoth can be exiled to blue counters it’s usually useless. But Shadow? It’s not uncommon you’ll go below 28 life, even when you’re the one playing beatdown. And when you do, you have a 7/7 for two black mana. Some cEDH decks just aren’t equipped to deal with something so big.


Red

Get ready to eat a lot of knuckle sandwiches. This is Grim Hireling‘s little sister and for just three mana, she’ll generate you three treasures every combat step like the queen she is. I adore Prosperous Thief in Yuriko, and this kind of payoff is incredible for combat centric decks. In fact, I’d wager any deck that plans on attacking regularly will consider this a mandatory inclusion. This card is particularly exciting for Tymna and Najeela for that very reason, and that’s just the Treasure production.

The treasure consumption is just as powerful For one thing, PFB becomes a pseudo-Tymna herself, giving you three impulse draws per turn if you’re happy to sacrifice all three Treasures. This not only makes PFB a value engine by itself, but a truly wild one in decks that naturally produce treasures, like Malcolm, Prosper, and of course, Magda. Even better, it works as a wincon. While most decks capable of looping Dockside infinitely will have an outlet for the mana in the command zone, PFB allows you to exile and play your entire library in the event you can’t access your commander.

An automatic staple, and another bright feather in red’s cap.

Traditional Magic theory would tell you that cards that give your opponent’s choices are often terrible. They’re always going to choose the option most beneficial to them, so it’s borderline impossible to determine what will actually happen when you cast such a spell. There’s no consistency. But what if your opponents don’t really have a choice?

Enter any commander that functions as a sac outlet. Commanders like Dargo, the Shipwrecker and Minsc, Beloved Ranger change the equation, and make StS read more like “your opponent loses their best creature or gives you a treasure and a card”. In most pods and at most stages of the game, this makes Seize the Spotlight three mana to create three treasures and draw three cards.

It’s niche, but where it works, it can shine.

The second “build your own Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer” of the set. While Sticky Fingers is a much worse turn one play – unless you happen to have a memnite – it’s a much better turn three or later play. It lacks the topdeck interaction that the pirate monkey has, but it’s also mana neutral if you can immediately swing with the creature you enchanted. Better yet, menace often feels like true unblockable, and if it happens anyway, you get a card in return.

Just like Professional Face-Breaker, I see this card finding a home in most red decks concerned with the combat step. Magda and Tymna decks will love this, and I see a lot of potential in Najeela, where making her evasive and mana positive on each swing simplifies the requirements for the turn she goes infinite.


Green

Not the first pod effect we’ve seen, but possibly the winner of the silver medal. Despite costing six mana, Vivien can do exactly what pod does, and is crucially not an artifact. This means she can be run safely alongside Collector Ouphe and Null Rod, a massive upside given that decks looking for pod effects are often stax heavy and trying to fight the artifact meta.

Vivien also provides Minsc, Beloved Ranger yet another way to win off a single card, this time with Arena Rector. Simply activate Minsc for zero, have Rector die and fetch out Vivien, and proceed to win by chaining Vivien activations. It’s also important that while Vivien costs more to play, the total amount of mana needed for the combo line is the same whether you use Vivien or Birthing Pod. I don’t have the space to go through these lines here, but you can read a great primer right here.


Colorless

Someone at Wizards is obsessed with Devoted Druid. This is the second set in a row with a one mana permanent that will make infinite mana with everyone’s favorite Llorwyn mana dork. Simply equip and start loading up as many -1/-1 counters as you see fit. Devoted Druid is kept safe from harm because while you’re constantly adding -1/-1 counters, the passive effect of Luxior is increasing the Druid’s P/T by +1/+1 in direct proportion.

Now, the question must be asked, did we really need another way to make infinite green? No, not really. If you’re in the market, Swift Reconfiguration is cheaper, faster, and gets around summoning sickness. The exception is Ardenn and Thrasios, where tutoring for and equipping artifacts couldn’t be easier and the infinite mana outlet is already taken care of.

Targeted gravehate is a lovely addition to the growing pool of colorless cards that can answer cEDH problems. While crewing and attacking with the Hearse will only come up frequently in Magda, Brazen Outlaw decks (seriously, how many news cards does that girl need), it might come in handy in a particularly grindy game.

The only issue I see with this card is that it needs to tap. A lot of decks I’d play a card like this in (decks where I’m desperate for more ways to answer graveyards) would also want to be running Collector Ouphe or Null Rod.


Multicolor

The bar for Grixis commanders is simultaneously high and low. It’s low in the sense that the average Grixis 99 is so obnoxiously powerful that pretty much any Commander will do, but high in the sense that the good Grixis commanders are so ridiculously strong that it’s hard for a new one to make itself worthwhile. And then there’s Evelyn.

First, to her cost. Five mana is more than any other played Grixis commander, but it comes with two big advantages: you can pay all black mana and Evelyn has flash. This gives great flexibility for when you choose to cast her, and also makes her accessible off Dark Ritual and Jeweled Lotus. Even if you never blink her or have another Vampire enter, you’ve just got four cards worth of pure advantage.

But card advantage isn’t her main selling point. It’s this: Evelyn is a Worldgorger Dragon deck. If you’re not familiar, reanimating WGD with Animate Dead will create a loop that results in infinite mana, infinite etbs and infinite ltbs. Evelyn turns this into a win by exiling every single players entire library. Never mind winning with your own deck – which you can do – you can just pass the turn and let each opponent deck themselves. This is also the first time we’ve seen this combo backed up by blue countermagic. Evelyn can even do the whole thing at instant speed with Necromancy.

Add simple Dockside Extortionist and Cloudstone Curio loops, the usual Thassa’s Oracle package, and you have an incredibly combo dense deck, capable of assembling the win with various pairs of two cards. So far, I’ve been impressed with JaredRollForCrypt‘s list which you can see here.

How good is playing cards off the top of your library? If you liked The Reality Chip and jumping through some easy hoops to get access to a Future Sight from the command zone, you’re going to love the jellyfish USB in bird lawyer form. While Falco has to remove a counter from a creature to cast a spell from the top, there’s no shortage of counter producers like Managorger Hydra and – you guessed it – Devoted Druid. Speaking of that pesky Druid, it’s a key piece in one of the best combos this deck has access to.

Pair Falco with Devoted Druid and Sensei’s Divining Top and bam, you’ve drawn your whole deck. Pair Falco with Thought Lash and just like The Reality Chip, you can exile your library until you find Thassa’s Oracle, cast it, then exile the rest of your library in response to the Oracle trigger. You can see these combos and an emerging cEDH list right here, from Joking101.

Raffine doesn’t fit any of the usual criteria for what I want in a cEDH commander, but I’m intrigued regardless. As I whinged about above, filtering isn’t really card advantage, but I’ll concede that it can be as good or even better when it’s done en masse the way Raffine makes possible.

Flooding the board with Esper value creatures and maintaining pressure by swinging with creatures that grow ever threatening is broadly speaking the same thing that Yuriko does, albeit without the massive damage flips or card advantage. What Raffine can do though, is work as an incredible reanimation farm.

In a deck built to attack with plenty of creatures per turn, you’ll not only fill your graveyard rapidly, you’ll put yourself into the perfect position to benefit from reanimating Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite or Toxrill, the Corrosive. Raffine also has a sweet interaction with Esper Sentinel, making him impossible to pay for. The same is true of Mausoleum Wanderer, which will eventually become a hard counter. If you want to get really cute with it? Try Oona’s Blackguard or Sage of Hours.

Start with the fact that this is not only the first good Naya food chain commander, it’s literally a caterer. Add the fact that Rocco Cabaretti sounds like the name of a mobster Tony Soprano knows, and you’ve got yourself a Legendary creature after my own heart.

The sheer quantity of options that Rocco provides for a Naya deck can’t be oversold. An unconditional creature tutor in the command zone that encompasses the three best creature colors is always going to stand as a go to commander. It also has a sort of Birthing Pod thing on: it’ll just keep getting better with every new creature.

Capable of fetching out either Eternal Scourge or Squee, the Immortal to assemble a food chain combo before using the infinite creature mana to cast and recast Rocco, Naya just got access to an extremely clean two card wincon. I say two card because while you need Rocco, you only need to find two cards in your deck, and Rocco will even tutor for the creature. It’s all semantics, but you could even call it a one card combo because as long as you find Food Chain, Rocco will take care of the rest. Speaking of which.

Cloudstone Curio and Dockside Extortionist isn’t an uncommon infinite mana combo, and Rocco isn’t the first Naya commander who can take advantage of it. However, it’s the first that can tutor Dockside directly into play. Which means that it’s the first Naya commander who only needs to find Cloudstone Curio before assembling a win. There’s buckets of potential here, and while it’s early days yet, I’m loving the look of this list from Elder Drunken Highlander and Knixx.

The name of this card reminds me of Gazebo from Munchkin.

Obviously we’re not talking about structures you might find in a garden and thankfully Scheming Fence is a lot better than Gazebo ever was. For just two mana, you not only shut off someone’s best activated ability, you steal it for yourself. This is already strong on the face of it; “stealing” a Thrasios is fine, particularly if you’re shutting off their primary win.

The real exciting part is that he only steals activated abilities, which makes for some unique applications. Steal a Necropotence? You don’t have to worry about discarding into exile. Steal a Mana Vault?  You won’t have the “doesn’t untap” or “deals 1 damage” clause. It’s especially funny to target a Mana Crypt, as you’ll never to have to flip a coin, but owner still will.

Even just hitting an Birds of Paradise or Deathrite Shaman is decent. *unmanas your dork*

Tivit, Seller of Secrets strikes me as a little too clunky to gain any appreciable value off. Additional votes, while powerful, force you to run voting cards, and the only one I know of that’s seen even a modicum of play is Council’s Judgment. What makes Tivit interesting is its interaction with Time Sieve. Regardless of how everyone votes, you’ll have enough artifacts to sacrifice and take an extra turn. Just deal combat damage with Tivit next turn and you can do it again. The only problem is that the loop breaks when an opponent dies, but it should be enough to let you cobble together a win. Whether a one card combo justifies a six mana commander, I haven’t decided, but I see potential. We did it everyone, we broke Time Sieve!


 

And that’s a wrap! Madone, what a long review. The sheer potential spread across these cards is incredible. Never mind the Treasures (no, do mind them, Treasures are broken), there’s something for every archetype on New Capenna and I think we’ll look back at this set as one of the more impactful in recent memory.

But enough time has passed that I’m sure many of you have been able to test these cards already. If you have, let me know what you think. Am I wildly off base? Am I a fool for thinking An Offer You Can’t Refuse is good? Am I missing something with Jailbreak? Did I leave something out? Let me know below!

 

 



Jake FitzSimons is a writer from Sydney and a Magic fiend. He's either the johnniest spike or the spikiest johnny, nobody is sure which. When he isn’t brewing or playing cEDH, he can be found writing, playing piano, and doting on his little cat.