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Rigo, Streetwise Mentor Art by Scott Murphy

Streets of New Capenna Sealed and Prerelease Guide


We’ve made it! No, we’re not in the town of New Capenna, the New Capenna City Square, or even the New Capenna bus station for that matter. We’re out here on streets! Why? Stop asking questions, we’re here now and we have business to attend to.

For those unfamiliar, New Capenna is an “allied shard set” originating from the Shards of Alara expansion: A series of three colors in an unbroken chain on the color pie.

MTG Color Wheel

In Streets of New Capenna the five shards are represented by five “families”. If you’ve struggled keeping track of what colors fall into “Esper”, what colors are behind the latest “Lorehold” tuition scandal, or what the heck “Wet Jund” means, have no fear! We’re introduced to five new pieces of arbitrary terminology to further confuse you! I’ll be trying my best to use the new family names in this article to help pound them into my dumb boomer brain.

If you are reading this before attending your prerelease paper event, congratulations, you’ve successfully left the house! Be sure to email me what the grass feels like. But more importantly, the prerelease “kit” will include 5 regular draft boosters, and one “family” booster pack, that contains only cards that support the family’s three-color theme. Whether or not your LGS allows you to pick a family or randomly assigns them is up to their discretion.

If you’re new to the streets, let’s quickly go over the color pairings,  new set mechanics, and what families the mechanics support.


The Families and Archetypes

Brokers (Bant / GWU)

The first family we’ll take a look at is the Brokers. The Brokers are essentially the lawyers and public officials of New Capenna. The Brokers mechanic is “Shield”, which is a counter that goes on a creature, effectively preventing one instance of damage or one instance of death by removing the shield counter.

Most instances of shield are a creature entering the battlefield with a shield counter on it, but there are some one-off instances of different ways to get a shield counter on your creatures.

In my opinion, The Brokers are the most non-synergistic family. Comprised of random creatures of various sizes and abilities, and no clear-cut gameplan, The Brokers seem more like a midrange creature based strategy.

Composed of, GW citizens, Alliance creatures, shield/counter creatures, and UW flyers and Connivers, the game plan doesn’t seem very dedicated, discernible, or distinguished (alright, I just wanted to get a third D word in there).

You will be leveraging your mid-sized creatures with their myriad of abilities, in conjunction with combat tricks and some sparse “removal”, to somehow broker a deal to reduce your opponent’s life total to zero. 

Obscura (Esper / WUB)

The Obscura family are the powerful wizards and mystics of New Capenna, and introduce the new mechanic “Connive”. It is essentially a loot effect with upside (draw a card, then discard a card) and for the most part, is an ability on creatures that can be triggered a few different ways depending on the card, with the most common instance triggering once when they enter the battlefield.

The upside to the looting effect is that if you choose to discard a nonland card you get a +1/+1 counter on the creature that connived. When I think of looting, pitching unwanted lands to get non lands later in the game comes to mind. Given that the bonus only triggers when discarding non lands, it’s going to make for some very deep decision making, including potentially reducing the amount of lands in your deck (I’m not outwardly advocating this, but just something to think about).

The sub-mechanic in Dimir (UB) cares about having cards with five different mana values in the graveyard, and within the Esper shard, there are multiple cards that interact with the graveyard by either returning creatures to your hand or battlefield, recasting them from the graveyard, or exiling from your graveyard for additional benefit. Obscura is the family I’m the most excited to play, and my initial impression is that it would be the strongest choice for a paper prerelease tournament.

Maestros (Grixis / UBR)

The Maestros family love opulence and the finer things in life, while simultaneously seeming to have no problem making the necessary sacrifices to gain advantage. The Maestro’s new mechanic is “Casualty”. Casualty is a keyword found on instants and sorceries that allows you to sacrifice a creature (with a certain power or greater) when the spell is cast, to copy said spell one time.

There are plenty of creatures that seem to be designed specifically to support this mechanic, such as Unlucky Witness. In addition, creatures with the Blitz mechanic (coming up next) also work nicely with Casualty as they will be sacrificed anyway at the end of turn.

Maestros have access to great removal spells, and solid creatures. In general, I’ve found most of the casualty spells to be pretty lackluster and most barely playable. I think that the individual cards of the color shard should make up for the lackluster mechanic, and would be perfectly happy picking this family at a prerelease.

Riveteers (Jund / BRG)

The Riveteers family of New Capenna are the artisan working class. The welders, dock workers, and underground prize fighters – you know, the types you don’t want to mess with. The Riveteers introduce the mechanic “Blitz”. Blitz is another mechanic which lets you put your creature onto the battlefield with haste for a different cost (similar to Dash). However with Blitz, you sacrifice the creature at the end of your turn and draw a card when the Blitzed creature dies (from natural causes or otherwise).

I feel like they missed a great opportunity to work in a Final Fantasy 6 reference here, but I digress. A lot of the blitz stuff reads somewhat like a split card, either a regular creature, or a haste cycler that can attack for a turn with some additional bonus like leaving behind another creature. There’s a handful of cards that want you to sacrifice a creature anyways, so blitzed creatures work great here as well.

Riveteers have the most reach, and I would advocate watching your life total very closely when playing against this family.

Cabaretti (Naya / RGW)

The Cabaretti family are the party crew, and have a pretty straightforward gameplan. The Cabaretti family mechanic is “Alliance”. It’s definitely the simplest of the new mechanics in the set. Alliance appears on creatures and triggers when another creature enters the battlefield under your control.

There are a few Alliance creatures that do something more powerful if you have two creatures enter the battlefield on the same turn, which a few cards are able to trigger by themselves. The Cabaretti gameplan is likely to outmatch your opponent with your ground creatures, most of the time in quantity. There are some bigger green creatures you can lean on in the mid to late game for sure, but given the nature of the family, I think you’re going to want to employ more “go wide” strategies to overwhelm your opponents.

In addition to the 5 families, there are 5 two-color “archetypes” present that I just want to outline quickly:

  • Azorius (UW): Counters matter
  • Dimir (UB): “Delirium” aka mana values matter: Cards gaining bonuses if your graveyard contains 5 or more cards with different mana values
  • Rakdos (RB): Sacrifice
  • Gruul (RG): Treasures
  • Selesnya (GW): Citizens
What Family should I pick for the Streets of New Capenna prelease?

If given the ability to choose at a prerelease, I’d choose Obscura. I think the connive ability improving your card quality as well as having the most evasive creatures are both great qualities in the sealed format.


The Format and Building Your Sealed Deck

Now that we’ve got the new stuff out of the way, let’s talk about the format. It’s been a while since a shard set, with the most recent being Khans of Tarkir. It’s still up for debate in terms of draft whether this will be a two color set, or splashing a third and fourth color. In sealed, I’d say it’s a safe bet to assume you will be three colors at a minimum, with a good amount of decks splashing into a fourth color.

The format doesn’t seem especially fast, which means that you’re going to want to win via playing the more powerful cards. You may ask “But Icky, how do I play all of my best cards I opened?”. Fixing, you big dummy. Now stop asking me stupid hypothetical questions that I typed into your mouth. Being a shard set, the wise Wizards at the Waterfront included a plethora of fixers to help you with your mana problems!

“Suspend” Creatures

These are a cycle of five common creatures (one per family/shard), with a unique ability that I am honestly disappointed they didn’t assign a keyword to. These creatures are all overcosted, three-color late game creatures, with an additional ability to exile it from your hand to augment a land you control.

The ability is quite unique, as it simply gives the land the additional text enabling it to tap for any of the three colors of the respective family/shard until you cast the creature from exile. These will be great to fix up your mana and help enable splashes being more consistent.

There is no timing restraint on exiling the card from your hand, so you can do that part at instant speed if you want to keep your mana up for another potential spell cast during your opponent’s turn.

Keep in mind that these are expensive creatures that aren’t all that great, so don’t just throw all of them into your deck, I’d probably try to cap these at 3 maximum.

Sacrifice Lands

We’ve seen lands extremely similar to these with the “Panorama” cycle that originated in Shards of Alara. These lands have a couple differences from their predecessors, but effectively do a similar job of sacrificing to fetch one of three basics from their respective shards, putting it into play tapped and gaining you one whole life in the process, don’t spend it all in one place!

There is such thing as too many of these, especially because they constantly thin your deck. Based on nothing but my intuition, I wouldn’t want to play more than 4 of these lands.

Dual Lands

We get five ally colored dual lands that come into play tapped and provide an activated ability in the late game that draws you a card. These are fine and dandy, though I’m more of a Strixhaven Campus guy myself, I’m not going to turn down the free fixing with upside!

Rare Tricycle Lands

I know constructed players are stoked about finishing the Triome cycle (yay). These are great mana fixers, but you would hope to get a bomb as the rare from your pack instead of a trainer card. Either way, these are great and you should be happy to play them, even if it only hits a couple of your colors.

Treasures

Treasure tokens are back to provide some additional mana fixing. Treasures have been assigned to red and green this set with a couple additional colorless cards that can make them as well. There are some random payoffs for using treasures in different ways this set, but they won’t be offended if you sacrifice them to play your splashed cards.

Great, we’ve got some nice looking options for fixing, how do we decide what to splash? I assume that you get enough good stuff from your “family” booster pack to help you start with those three colors.

In sealed, a lot of games are determined by who cast their bombs, so I would first see if you are able to play any bombs (or very strong uncommons) from your other colors first.

Then I would try to identify if your deck has any weak spots, such as: Little to no removal, no late game finishers, not enough creatures, and so on. Check your other colors to see if you can fill in these weak spots, and then check your mana fixing to see if your mana base can justify the inclusion!

If you’re looking for individual card evaluations, be sure to check out J2SJosh’s Limited Set Reviews, as well as the Draft Lab’s Tier List!


Wrap Up

The format looks fun, and I’m very excited to play with the new mechanics. What family did you choose, how did it go? Let us know in the Discord community or if you need any help building your sealed pool!

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Icky
Icky

Andy "Icky" Ferguson is a long time limited grinder, with his first draft in 1999 at the age of 11. 22 years later, you can still find him streaming drafts, achieving the top ranks, including rank #1 5 months of 2021. Seasoned member of the Draft Lab squad and appointed "zen master", Andy lives by the motto; "lose and learn, learn and win".

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