Hey Magic players! New Capenna is here, and we’re in that golden phase where the cards are fresh and there isn’t another spoiler season crowding into the doorway. Yet.
One of my favourite aspects of a new Magic set is the cards of lower rarities. I love commons and uncommons. They’re cheap, functional, and sometimes they really find some amazing design space and a home in a ton of decks. Did I mention they’re usually cheap? Magic is expensive. Finding a common that holds up in a competitive deck or a casual Commander deck is great! You can often find a foil or other fun variant that’s still cheap.
One thing I’ll mention about the set: the flavour is not to my taste, though I’m sure some people love it. I’m not crazy about angels, and while demons can be cool, I prefer the ones that don’t spend a lot of time thinking about their fashion choices. I’m also not so into the whole Zootopia thing, with raccoons and rhinos and cats and stuff. It doesn’t mesh well for me with the angels and demons either.
And while I think the gangland stuff doesn’t go much deeper than tropes and memes, I do think the set has a lot of power to it. All substance, no style?
I’ve decided to rank the commons and uncommons using a heat index of Warm, Hot and Super Spicy. If a card doesn’t appear, it’s a little too cold for me to play.
Super Spicy off the top! The new charms all have a ton of potential, considering their many modes and applications. The best charms historically have a really good base mode so the card is never dead. Some of these have that, and could even rise to the status of staple.
- Brokers Charm – Very Spicy. Drawing 2 is a decent base mode, but both other modes are excellent when used properly.
- Cabaretti Charm – Somewhat Spicy. Making two 1/1 citizens isn’t an amazing base mode, but the other modes are a go-wide finisher and removal. All sorts of synergy and the overall cards is better than the parts.
- Maestros Charm – Fairly Spicy. Grabbing the best card in your top 5 and putting the rest in the graveyard is a good base mode, especially because putting 4 cards in the yard might be huge upside. The other two modes, a table-wide life drain and a damage blast a a creature or planeswalker are both ok but not great.
- Obscura Charm – Extremely Spicy. Three top-notch modes. Direct to battlefield reanimation is great. Counterspells can be game-saving. Removal for cheap creatures or walkers is excellent. There are limitations here, and it’s all reactive, but this should be played a lot.
- Riveteers Charm – Face-Melting Spicy. An edict effect that hits the highest power is pretty good, and removing a graveyard is pretty good. These are good secondary options. Because the ability to exile 3 cards off the library and play them is close enough to drawing 3. At instant speed in colours that sometimes struggle to draw. This could be a staple. One of the best charms ever printed (Obscura too).
The Five Family Members
Warm cards are warm. Each of the Families gets a signature uncommon Legendary creature. We get some cheap Commander options. None are particularly inspiring, but they’d all be good for a newish player getting their feet wet in Commander.
- Cormela, Glamour Thief – Haste on a Legendary creature is always welcome, and the spell recursion is decent, I just don’t feel like there’s a pile of black/blue/red spells in desperate need of slight mana acceleration and fixing. Doesn’t really fit with other Vampires or Rogues.
- Lagrella, the Magpie – Badly worded. It does one exile effect per player. Not enough to build around exiling and bringing back your own stuff, and too unpredictable to rely on doing it for the opponents. Might be fun for blue/green/white goodstuff with lots of ETB. Human and Solider are both good types.
- Mr. Orfeo, the Boulder – Sort of a mini Xenagos, God of Revels that adds black. Not a bad thing at all, but you need a lot of haste. Plus Mr. Orfeo is pretty easy to whack. Could be a great casual Commander, but if you want a hitman, there’s better out there. Rhino tribal is an option, and you’re also in hippo colours. Animal Crackers?
- Queza, Augur of Agonies – A decent start to a ‘Death of 100 Cuts’ or ‘Damage Over Time’ deck that takes tiny bites out of opponents until they’re dead. The only issue here is that you need to draw 120 cards to kill 3 Commander opponents in a vaccuum, and you generally only have 99 minus your starting hand. You could build around the lifegain trigger. Cephalid Advisor type means next-to-no tribal synergy.
- Rocco, Cabaretti Caterer – Not to my taste, but people love to tutor. Rocco comes with a dinner guest of your choosing, which is an interesting way to play Commander. You could have a set plan, a toolbox, or some of each. The deck would be extremely mana hungry but you’re in green. Elf is a great type, but Druid? The other Magic chefs, Dockside Chef, Gyome, Master Chef, and Hinterland Chef (Arena Alchemy) are a Citizen, Warlock and Scout. Tireless Provisioner is also a Scout. Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar is a Wizard. Get your chefs together, Wizards. Too bad Gyome and Asmo can’t be in Rocco’s kitchen.
- A Little Chat – Decent payoff for decks that like spell copies and sacrifices.
- Arc Spitter – Cheap to cast, equip, and get chumps out of the way. A possible tool for Voltron decks.
- Brass Knuckles – Self-copying spells are notable, as are equips that grant double-strike. Expensive, but lots happening here.
- Brazen Upstart – Tough to meet the colour requirements but a good creature on both sides of combat, considering it has a sweet death trigger. Seems good for Battlebox.
- Exotic Pets – Fun meme card that doesn’t suck. There are plenty of wacky counters out there, and more get printed every so often. Deathtouch, Shield or Double-Strike seem strong. Instant speed means these can chump as well as sneak through for damage. They can definitely wear equipment, snipe The Monarch or a last loyalty counter from a Walker, and be doubled by Doubling Season. Double fish = good.
- Faerie Vandal – Not amazing, but lots of good. Great ninjitsu target that can flash in on an opponent’s end step for pseudo-haste. Can grow pretty quick as the trigger isn’t just your turn. Might play in 60 card Constructed somewhere.
- Forge Boss – Held back by the trigger only firing once per turn, but it’s each player’s turn. That damage still adds up.
- Hypnotic Grifter – Connive is close enough to card draw, and might be better if you’re trying to fill the graveyard. There are probably some blue Rogue decks that are playing worse cards than this.
- Rob the Archives – Sorcery speed hurts, but this is a 2 mana draw 4 if everything goes right, and if the sacrifice is upside too, this is big game.
- Tainted Indulgence – While this has big potential in 60 card Eternal formats like Legacy, where tempo and velocity count for a lot, this is probably too small for most Commander decks. Some decks do play stuff like Night’s Whisper which is close, and some cEDH decks might want this too.
- Venom Connoisseur – This is a pretty terrific Bear! 2 mana for a 2/2 that gets an awesome ability from an easy trigger, and gives that same ability to everything on an almost-as easy trigger seems really good. Human Druid is an okay pair of types. How many cards can give all your Saprolings deathtouch this easily?
- Corpse Appraiser – Good body for the cost, graveyard exile which is always in demand, and the best card from your top 3. The only thing holding this back are the three colours, and how they don’t go too well with existing Vampire or Rogue decks.
- Dusk Mangler – Amazing reanimation target. The extra costs are only on cast, while all the juice is on ETB.
- Fatal Grudge – Sorcery speed holds this back from being Super Spicy, but being able to attack the permanent type of your choice in these colours is excellent. You just have to have one yourself. Drawing a card is gravy. This is usually a 4-for-2, which is pretty great!
- Glittering Stockpile – Mana artifacts with upside are worth checking out. Red has some sweet options, but getting a big, lategame mana boost from this is worth considering for some decks. It also has treasure synergy, which is not insignificant.
- Night Clubber – A limited all-star, and playable in Commander. Only giving -1/-1 to opposing creatures is cool, and Blitz is versatile and really good with ninjitsu, like Dash.
- Public Enemy – Great name and flavour, and replaces itself. Plus a really powerful effect that isn’t so far off the popular Disrupt Decorum if you can leverage it right. Cool card.
- Rumor Gatherer – Solid little creature with an easy trigger in white. Scry is always welcome, and the card draw is even better. Elf Wizards do better in other colours, but a lot of decks, especially green-white token decks, will love this.
Super Spicy Uncommons
- An Offer You Can’t Refuse – The new Swan Song? This is a staple already, and while it gives treasure, it stops so much nasty stuff for only a single mana.
- Stimulus Package – Will probably not be used to play fair. Play Reckless Fireweaver, make a pile of treasure. Then play Impact Tremors and Stimulus Package your way to victory. At worst, your treasure is an army if you need it to be, like it needed to get any better.
The Fetch Cycle of Lands
Hot cards all around! Plenty of folks might say ‘Snore! More crummy common fetchlands like Evolving Wilds.’ That’s fine. Don’t play them. But if you’re a landfall concept, a lifegain concept, or just a monocoloured deck looking to thin out your lands as much as possible, these are easy to include.
The Draw Cycle of Lands
Super Spicy cards here! Even though they’re actually pretty straightforward. A dual land that draws a card, even if it’s clunky and enters tapped, is playable in almost every two-coloured Commander deck out there. These aren’t as good in 3 or more colour decks, as there are an increasing number of other options, but still might make the cut if you need a few decent, budget lands.
The Exile Fixers
Warm cards? I think they’re warm. We’ll see. These are the cycle of creatures in the 3-colour combos that can be exiled from your hand to enable a land to produce their colours. I think the fixing is okay, but the ability to store the cards in exile to be cast later is really interesting. It keeps them safe from discard and disruption of your zones. Except for Cryptic Cruiser maybe. That alone could be something. They do different things so they each get some words.
- Glamorous Outlaw – Great ETB trigger that would be great to repeat. The colours wouldn’t mind some fixing. Vampire Rogues in this colour combo struggle for synergy.
- Masked Bandits – Probably thrown in the trash, then pulled out as some sort of performance art/meme/snark. Vigilance, Menace and Raccoon type aren’t much at present.
- Rakish Revelers – This Elf Druid Rogue (not Rogue Elf Druid, which is something else) makes a creature token on ETB, which has synergy potential, even if the effect is middling.
- Shattered Seraph – Horrible mana cost, but these cards are built to bring out from exile after a boardwipe or during a stalemate. As a flyer with a decent body, this is alright for that. Lifegain is a bonus and can be useful.
- Spara’s Adjudicators – Decent enough ETB trigger, but requires good timing to work out. In good blink colours with Commanders like Roon of the Hidden Realm but there’s a ton of good ETB creatures to compete with.
- Big Score – Paying 4 mana for this kind of effect seems like a lot, even if you get treasures back, but it’s not bad, especially as an instant. The discard is part of the casting cost, so copying this is a really good idea.
- Civic Gardener – Attack triggers aren’t great to work with, but sending this guy into combat for a one-time untap of your Cabal Coffers or Gaea’s Cradle is the dream. Even better if it attacks into a chump or no blocker so you can do it again. Can do some fun stuff with creatures too.
- Demon’s Due – There are better scry/draw cards in black on rate, but at instant speed, this might see play.
- Dig Up the Body – Plenty of moving parts and triggers and stuff that does okay in black decks. Instant speed ties it all together.
- Exhibition Magician – Human Wizards with ETB triggers are worth flagging, at worst for Inalla, Archmage Ritualist. Both triggers are good, and a 2/1 body has always worked well for Snapcaster Mage.
- Expendable Lackey – Small blue creatures that are hard to block have a few homes in decks, and being a human helps. Making a hard-to-counter, hard-to-block creature from the graveyard is interesting. Edric, Spymaster of Trest might like this.
- Gilded Pinions – Not that many equipment cards give a creature flying. This one also makes a treasure.
- Glittermonger – Treasure is really good. Making one every turn seems good, and this is the same colour as Seedborn Muse and cards like that.
- Prizefight – While fighting as removal is not great, some decks will still try to make it work. Instant speed and making a treasure put this among the better fight spells. Could be a cube/Battlebox card.
- Quick-Draw Dagger – While the casting cost isn’t amazing, and the eventual equip effect isn’t amazing either, flash plus auto-attach plus a turn of first strike is a bunch of things that might amount to playable in the right deck.
- Raffine’s Guidance – Like the dagger above, the cost and the effect aren’t amazing, but in this case, an enchantment that can be cast from the graveyard is worth flagging.
- Social Climber – Once a mechanic dominated by white’s soul sisters, Soul’s Attendant and Soul Warden, getting a life for every creature you play is growing in green. Dina, Soul Steeper is a great place to start.
- Witness Protection – There’s a huge gap between cards like Darksteel Mutation, Imprisoned in the Moon and Song of the Dryads, and cards like Frogify. Both transmogrify creatures into something less scary, but the best ones turn the creature into something that stays in play and is hard to change back. Commanders changed this way can’t even escape to the Command zone by chump blocking. Which is why Witness Protection is merely Hot. It still makes a chump. But it’s probably the best chump ever, and such a feel-good play that it will find homes in some decks and cubes.
Super Spicy Commons
- Fake Your Own Death – I love this kind of card, where a creature that dies is able to return for a cheap cost and some random upside. While all of these cards are looking up at their champion, Malakir Rebirth, multiple versions are great to make sure you’ve always got one in hand. They’re really awesome for Commanders that eat a lot of removal, have a high casting cost, or have a nasty ETB trigger, like Gonti, Lord of Luxury. This one also makes a treasure.
- Inspiring Overseer – While this might be best in Limited, it’s not too shabby for Standard and even Commander. It’s a great pair of types in Angel and Cleric, and both could use cheap card draw and life gain on a flyng body. Decks that want to recur it or blink will want it the most. Considering how much I find myself playing Elvish Visionary, I see a bright future for this card.
- Sky Crier – This is a weird one, but there is plenty of awesomeness. As a Bird Citizen, it’s not so synergistic, but as a 2 mana 1/1 lifelink flyer, it’s not bad. It can totally wear equipment. The real spice comes from the card draw ability. You can play diplomat, do favours, and even end someone with an empty library. You can also just draw in desperation, or on your turn when your opponents can’t do much. The cost isn’t cheap, but instant speed and no limit on the amount of activations are nice. Weird and awesome.
- Witty Roastmaster – We end on a finisher. Have you heard of Impact Tremors or big brother Purphoros, God of the Forge? Well the Roastmaster plays that game too. Devil Citizen for sure.
That’s it for cheap spice! If you need more, try some hot sauce packets. Thanks for reading!