Hey there Magic players! Set reviews are fun! I’m taking a deep dive into New Capenna because why not! I’m not really a fan of the set’s theme and flavour, but the cards are actually pretty interesting. In Commander terms, a set built around three-colour combinations means using these cards in decks isn’t as easy as some broken artifact. I like that a lot, and maybe that’s why I want to review the cards.
In this column, I’m looking at the main set Rares. I’ve already done Uncommons and Commons using a Heat index of Warm to Super Spicy. Here, I’ll be using the universal system of Banger vs. Clanger.
As we all know, in the case of Banger v. Clanger, Banger was guilty of being awesome. Clanger? Not so much. Let’s get to the cards!
Hover over the card names to see the cards!
- Aven Heartstabber – Clanger – Sort of like a Baleful Strix that takes some work to be good. Bird Assassin isn’t a great type pair, and there’s some colour clash with those types overall. It’s not bad, it’s just more work than the payoff is worth.
- Black Market Tycoon – Clanger – There’s a similar common in this same set, Glittermonger, that might be better. Costs more, but goes in more decks and has a better body for a tap ability creature. Plus no damage for all the treasures. Still, making treasure is so good that both might be good enough to play.
- Brokers Ascendancy – Banger – This card generates easy power. Both types of counters are easy to copy and have a ton of existing synergy cards. Even just making your army of dorks bigger every turn is something. This will see a ton of play.
- Cabaretti Ascendancy – Banger – Three mana cards that draw you a card every turn are worth a few concessions, like the lifeloss on Phyrexian Arena. This isn’t that easy to cast and only draws a couple of card types, but the effect is quite strong and totally playable for a lot of decks that can cast it. Rainbow Planeswalkers seems like a great fit.
- Cemetery Tampering – Banger – Lots to like here. Hideaway cards are a weird gamble with what card you hide, but often it’s a free card at some good time. The condition here is easy to achieve, especially with larger decks, where 20 isn’t a full third of your cards. While the self-mill doesn’t do much by itself, it’s really good self-mill, and would be great for plenty of decks looking to fill their graveyard for value or Shenanigans.
- Corpse Explosion – Clanger – While this might play in constructed, this is too hard to set up properly in Commander, and there are better ways to wipe the board in these colours. This being able to hit creatures and planeswalkers is good, but the lack of ability to hit players means it’s dead on an empty board, unlike something like Earthquake.
- Cut Your Losses – Banger – Let’s throw those try-hard Mill decks a bone. This is great for Mill! It’s odd to think of a 6 mana spell as ‘early game’ but this is best when a couple of players have full stacks and you’ve got some extra chump hanging around. Copy this a few times with other effects like Mirari and this will do a ton of work, just never kill anybody. Like Batman. Some of the Batmans. Batmen. Speaking of Cut Your Losses, I need to move on.
- Cut of the Profits – Clanger – Raw card draw that copies itself for a sacrifice should be good, but the time you want to cast something like this is on an opponent’s end step, so you can spend all your mana and untap like a boss. As a sorcery, this is forgettable.
- Depopulate – Banger – The same cost as Wrath of God or Day of Judgment with what could be upside or downside, depending. Some decks will draw the card all the time, which is pretty good, even if opponents also draw. What’s best about this is if opponents draw, it’s a boardwipe that doesn’t feel so bad, taking some of the heat off you. That can be priceless.
- Devilish Valet – Clanger – I do really like this card, but it’s in the awkward spot where it wants you to go wide so it can go tall. If it was Legendary it’d be a different story, but since it’s not, it needs great timing to be anything more than a medium sized attacker. I don’t think it lines up, and as far as payoffs for creatures entering the battlefield, you might do better with spicy common Witty Roastmaster.
- Endless Detour – Clanger – Again, I really like this card. It’s soooooo flexible, and can do so many things for a creative player. But the casting cost narrows where it can be played significantly, and when. Do the blue/green/white decks want to hold up one of each mana for something like this or stick to their plan? I don’t know. Better in 60-card Constructed.
- Errant, Street Artist – Banger – While it’s weird and narrow, Errant is really unique and cheap to get going. What this creature does is copy copies of spells. That’s weird and narrow, and doesn’t form much of a deck, especially in mono-blue. This screams for any other mana symbol in the text box somewhere. But it has a ton of potential in spellslinger decks that make a lot of copies, and there’s nothing else quite like it. Room to grow.
- Evelyn, the Covetous – BANGER – Alright, so I’ve been iffy on black/blue/red vampires, but here’s the Commander right here. I love Stolen Strategy. I got a ton of them when they were freshly printed, and play them in a lot of decks. This is the Vampire version, and maybe ‘Fangs For the Cards!’ could be the name of the deck. It seems like a ton of fun and has some sweet features to it. First, you can pay all black mana for Evelyn. You could even build the deck that way, or with minor red/blue splashes. Second, Flash is great in general, and here it means you can untap with Evelyn and play something from exile right away. Third, while you can only play one exiled spell per turn, it’s each turn, not just yours. Fourth, she triggers on Vampire tokens, and each one. Fifth, a 2/5 body is useful for sticking around, like you want her to. This is simply splendid.
- Evolving Door – Clanger – While you can effectively use this card as a repeatable creature tutor, the obvious comparison is Birthing Pod and not putting the creature directly on the battlefield is a big step down. While it seems like it’s easy to turn a chump into a behemoth, the colour restriction is real. It would be best in a 2 colour green deck with a lot of gold creatures and tokens. Maybe just play Evolutionary Leap or the Pod instead.
- Extraction Specialist – Clanger – While this is cheap recursion creature that should be playable in 60-card constructed, everything about it is too small-scaled for Commander, unless your deck is also small. Might be a player for Party decks.
- Fight Rigging – Banger – While the +1/+1 counter effect is a little slow and small, it has tons of synergy potential. The hideaway cost is really easy to trigger. Add this to the enormous pantheon of green goodstuff.
- Fleetfoot Dancer – Clanger – Scaled for a big swing in 60 card constructed, and too small for Commander. Can wear equipment, but most flyers wear it better.
- Gala Greeters – Clanger – Making a treasure every turn is good, but the other modes aren’t amazing, and this would be best if you could drop a ton of creatures into play and make a ton of treasures. It’s too slow and small to be much else. Also, the treasure it makes is tapped. Which is probably how it should always be. But almost all the other treasure-making cards don’t make it tapped. Too bad this was a promo.
- Getaway Car – Banger – This is an interesting card. Okay stats, decent cost, excellent crew cost, and Haste. Lots to like. The optional bounce effect has potential for creatures with ETB triggers, which is what makes me put it on the banger side. Also, considering how much most vehicles suck, something with likeable specs stands out.
- Giada, Font of Hope – Banger – While Giada is narrow, she’s a slam dunk for Angel decks as a pseudo-lord plus mana dork. Plus a useful flying body that would do really well wearing equipment. This might be even better in Changeling tribal decks.
- Hoard Hauler – Clanger – I would love this to be good, but I feel like it’s a high-priority block that takes too much work to even get attacking. 3 crew cost is high. Every now and again you’re going to connect with this and hit the treasure jackpot, so that’s a thing, and there aren’t enough great vehicles for red that it should make some decks.
- Hostile Takeover – Clanger – I don’t know what they were going for here.
- Incandescent Aria – Clanger – Too narrow for me. There are a few green/red/white decks that make a ton of tokens, but this is still a maybe. I’d take a generic boardwipe over it.
- Jaxis, the Troublemaker – Banger – Discarding a card to make a copy of a creature is cool, especially because giving the copy Blitz draws a replacement. This can feed a number of archetypes, including Madness, but it should be generically solid. The extra cheap Blitz cost is nice, and makes it a 3 mana creature-copying cantrip that also rummages. Lots of potential.
- Jetmir’s Garden – Banger – We already know the Triomes are good!
- Jinnie Fay, Jetmir’s Second – BANGER – You can make cats and dogs with this instead of other tokens. Hate birds? Make dogs. Hate humans? Make dogs. Tired of treasure? Dogs. Copy your Purphoros, God of the Forge and instead of a god, turn it around and make a dog. Spoiler alert, I’m a dog person. This seems like stupid fun, and should see a ton of casual play. I expect the internet to seize this by the neck and shake it until all sorts of decks fall out.
- Ledger Shredder – Banger – The spoiler-season sleeper is a pretty solid card in Commander. Connive is generally strong, and the ability triggers on any players second draw and any player’s turn. In theory, you could Connive 4 times every turn. A flying body with a big butt that gets steadily bigger is a nice bonus too. Great card.
- Maestros Ascendancy – Banger – This card basically allows you to sacrifice a creature to give a spell in your graveyard Flashback equal to its mana cost. That feels strong, and while the colours are somewhat restrictive, losing some random Zombie token to cast a game-saving boardwipe doesn’t seem so far-fetched. It should be pretty versatile providing you’ve got a reliable way of putting a few spells in the yard. Casting them works.
- Maestros Diabolist – Clanger – While this will likely kill anything that blocks it, and make a token too, both are too easy to kill or ignore for this to matter enough in Commander. The fact that you need to attack to get the Devil token is unfortunate, because this would be a solid blocker. I’m also not sure you can copy the token successfully, and you won’t make one if you have a Devil token already, including one from another source, or a Changeling token.
- Mysterious Limousine – Clanger – With a high mana cost for vehicles, and a medium small vanilla body, the limo is off to a bad start. The crew cost is okay, but that wall of text is pretty daunting. What does this even do? Well it sends a creature to exile when it ETBs, and can exchange it with a different creature each time it attacks. Like a clunky, overcosted but repeatable Fiend Hunter. The fact the opponent can just block it to get their creature back is bad. If you’re relying on the limo to die to get your creature back instead, it’s not much better. It can probably find a blink loop with something like Felidar Guardian and traffic jam the game to death. Yay.
- Obscura Ascendancy – Clanger – Over the course of many turns, you can possibly work up to making a couple of 5/5 flying tokens. Am I missing something here? The Soul counter ‘counting up’ interaction is painfully bad. Seems okay for Spirit tribal, but getting the +3/+3 boost is too much work.
- Obscura Interceptor – Clanger – There is so much going on with this card, but the fundamental thing it does is bounce a spell. While it seems like it could also leave a chump blocker, that’s some very specific timing, and getting a 2-for-1 out of this is really tricky, especially since you only bounced the spell. It might work best to bounce your own spells, but the 3 colours and 4 mana cost make that unlikely. And a Cephalid.
- Ognis, the Dragon’s Lash – Banger – It’s odd that our first ‘haste-tribal’ creature makes tapped treasures. But it doesn’t really matter because making any treasure is still bonkers, and this doesn’t even need the creatures to connect first. That’s a good thing, and we’re going to find out if there’s a strong group of hasty creatures that can make the 99 a real threat. The other thing Ognis does is unite the Viashino as a decent tribal Commander option for them. I’m honestly not sure if Ognis is strong or not, but it’s fantastic that it exists.
- Park Heights Pegasus – Clanger – If you can’t hear me, I’m sorry, I might be a little hoarse. Like the Pegasus here. Small. While it’s evasive, the body isn’t likely to survive a lot of combat, and it needs to to get the draw trigger. A draw trigger that’s actually kind of tough to set up, in part because you have to play creatures before combat. Not great.
- Professional Face-Breaker – BANGER – If this did nothing else other than generate a treasure token when your creature connects with the opponent, that would be enough. It is also cheap to cast, hard to block, has two excellent types and has a built-in card advantage engine that synergizes with the powerful treasure-making ability, making this an engine and payoff in one. The only drawback is that it’s a creature and will die to boardwipes.
- Rabble Rousing – BANGER – I’ve played with this one. It’s absurd. An instant token-deck staple. The token-making ability is so strong you’ll forget the hideaway ability, which will be like a free second dessert that the chef comped because you’re just so awesome. If you haven’t read what this does, check it out. Someone will probably crush you with this if you don’t play it first.
- Raffine’s Tower – Banger – More Triome goodness!
- Reservoir Kraken – Clanger – It takes a lot for a Kraken, Octopus, Leviathan, Whale or Serpent to be a banger. This is an okay Kraken. Cheap to cast, makes fish instead of attacking if opponents choose. It almost sounds good until you take a step back and see where it sits in the greater sphere of cards. The fish-making is the best part, but are Commander games won by clunky 6/6 creatures or small hordes of 1/1 tokens? Not really. Especially when opponents can choose.
- Rigo, Streetwise Mentor – Clanger – This set totally wants to be several Broadway shows at once, doesn’t it? West Side Story, Cats, Oliver Twist, and some Mafia one, like Sopranos: The Musical. I’m sure that’s a thing. Plus Zootopia and those Bugs Bunny episodes where they wander around on flying girders on construction sites. While Rigo is all those things, it’s not really anything new, and the deck is probably going to struggle to finish games if the strategy is 1 power creatures. As a Cat Citizen in a bunch of colours, this probably doesn’t help many other decks either. Could be a big flavour win for a Musical Theatre deck.
- Riveteers Ascendancy – Banger – For any deck that sacrifices stuff, this is an excellent value effect. You can probably find some ways to loop things, too. The colours involved will make this tough to jam into decks, but the sheer amount of sacrifice, death and ETB triggers in those colours should make this card play really well wherever it lands.
- Sanguine Spy – Clanger – I want this card to be good, and it has a lot of interesting text on it, but the thing that will make this clunky is unreliable card draw from the third ability. Meeting the 5 different mana cost threshold isn’t actually that easy. The rest of the parts don’t sum up to enough.
- Scheming Fence – Clanger – Many a Scheming Fence grows up to be a Wall of Stolen Identity. While the obvious play here is to steal the activated ability from one of the opposing Commanders, that will put a great big target on you. Unlike similar cards that name a permanent, this has to target something in play. The best stuff is often protected by Hexproof or Shroud, and activated abilities aren’t always good or even played at all. Best as a meta call or sideboard card.
- Shadow of Mortality – Banger – Being at 27 life in Commander isn’t that uncommon, and that’s enough to make the Shadow a 2 mana play. While a vanilla 7/7 is of questionable value, the mana cost makes this a big time player in Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow and Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos decks that can actually be cast. Cards that consider mana cost are a slowing growing design archetype, but they are growing.
- Shakedown Heavy – Clanger – While not easy to deal with in combat, the Heavy isn’t that terribly difficult either. Commander decks can come up with enough defense to stop it, and the life totals are high enough to deny the card draw if it seems like it’ll make a difference. The Warrior type is a plus, because this could go into an aggro Warrior deck and do better as part of a strong team than as a strong individual. Still, cards that let your opponent dictate their upside… well, they do that.
- Soul of Emancipation – Clanger – I tried this one out, and it was awkward. The cost is a lot, and it being three colours holds it back on flexibility. The basic body is big but not big enough or evasive to matter that much. The ability to turn other permanents into 3/3 flying Angels seems good but even when it downgrades nasty things, it downgrades them to extremely good blockers which do ok on offense too. This wants to be part of Angel tribal, but really needs to be just plain white for that. For the cost, this should be a more straightforward good play, and it isn’t.
- Spara’s Headquarters – Banger – Do we call these Triomes? Hard not to, right?
- Structural Assault – Clanger – While the best-case scenario is ridding the board of a ton of (treasure tokens) artifacts, then all the creatures, having that perfect moment is not going to happen enough to make it worthwhile. You’re more likely to get awkward scenarios where you kill a few random artifacts and some small creatures. Variance is great, but this has too much fizzle potential.
- Tenacious Underdog – Banger – Human Warrior is a strong start with types, though the underdog wants to die as soon as possible to start recurring and drawing cards. The ability hurts and costs a lot of mana, but a recurring card-draw option from the graveyard is the kind of thing that helps out in the late game a lot. Finding upside in the body each turn is the kind of fun that Commander is made for. You can absolutely use the ability several times in the same turn if you have a way to kill the underdog repeatedly, like a sacrifice outlet.
- Toluz, Clever Conductor – Banger – Toluz seems strong. There’s a lot of card advantage to be had, and the base colour is blue. While it doesn’t work with Madness, the discard ability has plenty of synergy potential. Building around Toluz requires having a few instant-speed sacrifice outlets to make sure Toluz dies, because once opponents catch on, the conductor will be the target of exile spells and such as often as possible.
- Topiary Stomper – Clanger – As much as a 4/4 body stapled to a Natural Connection sounds strong, this is up against stuff like Wood Elves for a similar cost. The 4/4 body doesn’t make that much of a difference, and the Elves and co can attack and block right away, regardless of land count. Should be great in Dinosaur decks, but the bar is low.
- Undercover Operative – Banger – Your cards are great, and copying them is great. While this is mostly just another Clone, a shield counter is an intriguing new wrinkle. It’s one of the few counters that work well in multiples. This may not be the banger of bangers, but it doesn’t clang either.
- Unleash the Inferno – Clanger – While this continues the design space cracked open by the Super-Duper Death Ray, even 7 damage is no guarantee of a kill. And the spillover is no guarantee either. The timing has to line up for this to be a 2-for-1, and it’s likely there’ll be compromises on each side.
- Unlicensed Hearse – Banger – This could be a meta-choice or one of the more useful and possibly large Vehicles. Strongest in sideboards than anywhere else, but it should still play in most Vehicle decks. Friendly mana and crew cost go a long way. The real question is about the license. Is the hearse unlicensed to drive or serve as a hearse? Which is worse?
- Void Rend – Banger – Not much to say here. If you’re in these colours, you probably at least have to consider this.
- Widespread Thieving – Clanger – This card confuses me. Making treasure when you play a multicoloured creature is narrow but okay. What’s strange is the 5 colours of mana needed to play the hideaway card. It makes this card impossible to play outside of 5-colour decks, and the five mana hideaway ‘discount’ is hardly that. You also need to come up with that mana on the heels of casting a multicoloured spell. Nope.
- Wiretapping – Banger – The floor here is drawing a second card during your draw step. That’s great, though 5 mana is a touch slow for that. Only a single blue mana in the cost makes it nice and splashable though. The hideaway is easy to achieve either by sitting on a hand of 7 cards, or using blue’s arsenal of card draw spells and triggers to fill it up quickly. There is a tension between playing in blue and having to cast the hideaway card during your draw step, but a clever mage can make that work.
- Workshop Warchief – Clanger – Nothing wrong with this new take on Thragtusk, but all the specs are too small for Commander, and the 5 mana green cards that see a lot of play outclass this by miles.
- Xander’s Lounge – Banger – As great as these lands are, there’s no one word tying things together, like Triome in Ikoria.
- Ziatora’s Envoy – Clanger – I might be wrong, but this card requires damaging a player and mostly pays off by drawing you a card. Combat damage triggers are fine, but rarely happen more than once per turn and almost never on an opponent’s turn. Blitz is a term associated with speed, but makes this guy cost more. I also don’t know what decks in these colours will make this good, unless you’re controlling the top of your deck. Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire springs to mind, but does anyone play that? A Battlebox maybe.
- Ziatora’s Proving Ground – Banger – I think they could have gone with ‘Turf’ or ‘Territory’ as this set’s Triome. Missed opportunity. Amazing lands.
Among the 60 Main Set Rares, there are 30 Bangers and 30 Clangers. The battle rages on. I’ll cover Mythics in a post very soon, and we’ll see if there is a winner there.
60 rares in a set seems like a lot. Is it just me? I hope yours are all Bangers. Thanks for reading!