A Little Chat Art by Matt Stewart

Top 10 Pioneer and Explorer Cards from Streets of New Capenna

Our pick for the top ten cards that may make the most impact to Pioneer and Explorer from Streets of New Capenna, complete with decklists that you can try when the format goes live.

Our pick for the top ten cards that may make the most impact to Pioneer and Explorer from Streets of New Capenna, complete with decklists that you can try when the format goes live.

With the upcoming release of Streets of New Capenna, it’s time to delve into the best new cards for Pioneer and Explorer. While most of these cards will fit into both formats, if there are cards that go into a Pioneer deck that doesn’t yet translate onto Arena, I’ll be sure to note that as well.

Streets of New Capenna focuses on five crime families, each using three-colors and focusing on different primary mechanics. Unlike previous sets that focused on subsets of groups like the Ravnica blocks, this time around most of the best cards are not tied directly to the five families. While being a set focused on three-color combinations, I will say that there are only two three-color cards that make my top 10 list.

So, what kind of cards have being made men in this city of crime and what kind of decks will they inspire? Let’s dive in and find out!


10. Unlicensed Hearse

A potentially powerful sideboard card and Karn, the Great Creator wish board option. While less immediately effective than something like Tormod's Crypt, this seems like an option to attack decks that use the graveyard without having to play cards that don’t double as threats.

Much like a Scavenging Ooze, Unlicensed Hearse should be able to contain graveyard strategies, but does take time to completely clear out the graveyard. Hearse scales up over time and is a great post wrath threat as it continues to get larger and eat cards like Memory Deluge until it can kill in one shot.

While Unlicensed Hearse  won’t revolutionize any decks, it should see some play as a colorless tool to handle graveyard decks.


9. Giada, Font of Hope

A powerful 2-drop fits perfectly into the Selesnya Angels deck that pops up from time to time in Pioneer. Starting with four copies of this Legendary creature, we may trim down to three copies after a bit, but a 2/2 flying vigilant Angel that can ramp your larger angel spells out quicker and instantly makes your  angels larger is well worth the slots.

While there is also the chance that Giada enables angel decks to go Orzhov and abandon Collected Company, for now I would stay closer to the existing Selesnya Angels builds. I am very impressed with this card for any Angel decks, but it does not really fit in anywhere else, which leaves it only in 9th place.

GW Angels SNC
by darthjacen
Pioneer
best of 3
8 mythic
40 rare
4 uncommon
8 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (1)
Creatures (29)
4
Lunarch Veteran
$1.00
4
Bishop of Wings
$19.96
4
Resplendent Angel
$139.96
1
Lyra Dawnbringer
$17.99
Instants (4)
Artifacts (2)
60 Cards
$650.28
15 Cards
$33.67

8. Tenacious Underdog

Two-mana 3/2 creatures like Scrapheap Scrounger have traditionally proved effective in Black aggro decks. Where Tenacious Underdog stands out is that it is a human for decks like Orzhov or Five-Color humans, and the recursive blitz ability doesn’t compete with graveyard space with other recursive cards. Whereas two Scrapheap Scroungers can become difficult to recur over again, Tenacious Underdog can keep coming back as long as you have mana and life to spare. In addition, when Underdog dies from its blitz cost, you draw a card.

I suspect this is a card that will heavily feature in any black aggressive decks and will serve to put pressure on control decks in the mid to late game. If not for the presence of March of Otherworldly Light, I’d have this card even higher on the list.

When considering these style lists, remember that Mutavault is not on Arena, so that does make the Explorer version of these style decks a little weaker.

WB Humans Pioneer
by darthjacen
Explorer
best of 3
2 mythic
50 rare
3 uncommon
5 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+

7. Obscura Charm

The only charm to make my top 10, the various charms often find niche places to help add versatility to decks, but Obscura Charm is the one that most stands out as giving value to any deck that can play it.

While you cannot get a mana advantage from playing this charm, the versatility of countering an instant or sorcery, destroying 3 mana Planeswalkers such as Narset, Parter of Veils or reanimating multicolored creatures such as Greasefang, Okiba Boss or any of the new Obscura cards means this is a card I expect to see play if Esper Control or Esper Greasefang catch on. While not as impactful for Greasefang as another card later in the list, I expect that we will see this, and potentially other charms make some impact in Pioneer as all the cycles of charms have already done.


6. A Little Chat

I learned my lesson from the power of Deadly Dispute. While this card doesn’t require a sacrifice, nor create a Treasure, it gives you  an option of what card to take from the top two cards of your library. If you sacrifice a creature with power one or greater, you get to look at the top two cards of your library, choose the best one and then do it again all at instant speed.

This will 100% see play in Pioneer and Explorer and if we see any of the Dimir Sedgemoor Witch decks that existed in Standard port their way into Pioneer, A Little Chat will certainly help push that deck into playability.


5. Tainted Indulgence

Two-mana instant speed draw twos are valuable in a variety of decks. While the downside is that they are usually card neutral – draw two, discard one and use the card from your hand, with the emergence of Greasefang decks, that is generally upside. Being able to pitch cards like Parhelion II early and then just drawing two cards later in the game is a big pick up for Esper Greasefang and potential Esper control decks that need to filter through their answers early and can always use resource positive cards late.

This is one of the best role-player cards in Streets and I expect that it will have a larger impact that people expect just looking at it. While cards like Chart a Course are still in the format, I expect that decks that can play Tainted Indulgence will trend towards that instead. Especially in Explorer where there are some gaps in card availability for Esper Greasefang, being able to add additional sifting potential should help the deck potentially eclipse the Abzan and Mardu versions that will also be present early in the Explorer metagame.

Esper Greasefang
by darthjacen
Explorer
best of 3
3 mythic
36 rare
18 uncommon
3 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (3)
Creatures (4)
Sorceries (2)
2
Shatter the Sky
$0.70
Artifacts (9)
4
Portable Hole
$11.96
4
Parhelion II
$7.16
Lands (24)
2
Island
$0.50
1
Plains
$0.25
2
Glacial Fortress
$12.98
3
Deserted Beach
$38.97
1
Shipwreck Marsh
$3.49
4
Watery Grave
$79.96
3
Godless Shrine
$50.97
60 Cards
$376.56
Sideboard
1
Spell Pierce
$0.25
2
Dovin’s Veto
$6.98
1
Fracture
$0.99
1
Devout Decree
$0.25
3
Go Blank
$7.47
1
Shatter the Sky
$0.35
15 Cards
$36.83

4. Gala Greeters

Gala Greeters is a powerful two-drop that likely will not see too much play in Pioneer, as it is currently looking to fill the place of a card like Voice of Resurgence in Winota. With a slightly under-sized stat line, the power comes from its Alliance ability growing itself, ramping you, or gaining you two life. Why is this card so high up the rankings then? It’s because I see this being the missing piece for Explorer Winota.

One of the only cards missing from Winota on Explorer is Voice of Resurgence and without another two-drop, the curve of potential Winota decks started to look a little off. Now, with Gala Greeters, I imagine Winota will be the massive powerhouse on day one of Explorer that people worried it would be. While there may be a home for a card like Gala Greeters in an Elf style deck if that ever comes to Pioneer, for me, this is the highlight of cards fixing the gaps of Explorer day one.

Winota SNC
by darthjacen
Explorer
best of 3
5 mythic
47 rare
4 uncommon
4 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Artifacts (4)
Enchantments (3)
60 Cards
$426.38
Sideboard
2
Masked Vandal
$0.98
3
Archon of Emeria
$11.97
4
Redcap Melee
$1.00
15 Cards
$27.09

3. Triomes

Triomes made a large splash on the Pioneer mana bases when debuting in Ikoria. While only some decks that want to focus on mid to late game currently paly Triomes, I expect that a swath of midrange and control shells that were missing a tricolor land will now have access to better overall mana bases. Mostly decks like Bant control, Esper control, Niv to Light, Enigmatic Incarnation, Fires of Invention decks, Jund Sacrifice and the like will benefit heavily from having access to more Triomes.

I suspect many of the lower to the ground decks will forego adding in guaranteed tap lands to their decks, making these powerful additions to the format, but not being universally played in every deck.


2. Luxior, Giada’s Gift

One of the most discussed cards in Streets of New Capenna, Luxior, Giada's Gift can turn Planeswalkers into hulking creatures that can still use their loyalty abilities. This card pairs well with any of the high loyalty Planeswalkers enabling you to have an extra threat. Along with potentially comboing with Saheeli Rai and Altar of the Brood, Luxior has much of the Magic World’s attention.

While I’m not sure how all-in on a card like this you want to move, being able to search it up thanks to Karn, the Great Creator and make a 7/7 Kiora makes me think that Mono Green Planeswalkers will at least consider playing it in the Karn board. Otherwise, I expect we may see super friend decks of old remerge to pair with this powerful new tool, giving the deck multiple ways to take down foes.

Jeskai Walkers SNC
by darthjacen
Pioneer
best of 3
12 mythic
37 rare
8 uncommon
3 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (3)
3
Fae of Wishes
$1.05
Sorceries (6)
3
Supreme Verdict
$38.97
Artifacts (2)
Enchantments (9)
3
Shark Typhoon
$62.97
Lands (26)
1
Island
$0.25
1
Mountain
$0.25
1
Plains
$0.25
1
Sulfur Falls
$5.99
1
Needle Spires
$0.29
1
Castle Vantress
$2.99
2
Steam Vents
$43.98
2
Raugrin Triome
$39.98
2
Sacred Foundry
$47.98
1
Savai Triome
$21.99
60 Cards
$539.18
15 Cards
$121.17

1. Ob Nixilis, the Adversary

The card that looms heavy over the Streets of New Capenna, Ob Nixilis. Having a Planeswalker that can come down on turn two or three and make an additional copy of itself is not something we have seen since Jace, Mirror Mage. However, the baseline power level of Jace versus Ob Nixilis isn’t close.

Ob Nixilis will shake up the Pioneer and Explorer meta and already seems to be dominating Standard in the Early Access Event. I would venture to say that this will be another instance of a three-mana Planeswalker potentially pushed too far. Ob Nixilis, the Adversary passes the eye test and jumps right into the conversation of is this beatable on turn two or three if you pay Casualty? I suspect any deck that has things to reasonably sacrifice in the Rakdos colors will play 4 Ob Nixilis and should until it is proven incorrect.

This is far and away the card I am most excited and worried about in Streets of New Capenna and I hope we don’t look back at this card as being the latest in a long line of three-mana Planeswalkers that have warped Pioneer.

Jund Sacrifice SNC
by darthjacen
Pioneer
best of 3
10 mythic
30 rare
12 uncommon
4 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (4)
Creatures (14)
4
Elvish Mystic
$3.16
4
Mayhem Devil
$19.96
Instants (11)
4
Fatal Push
$9.96
4
Deadly Dispute
$19.96
Artifacts (4)
4
Witch’s Oven
$5.96
Enchantments (4)
Lands (23)
4
Blooming Marsh
$37.96
4
Darkbore Pathway
$35.96
1
Stomping Ground
$14.99
4
Overgrown Tomb
$71.96
2
Blood Crypt
$47.98
60 Cards
$881.8
15 Cards
$111.35

Wrapping Up

There you have it, my top 10 cards from Streets of New Capenna for Pioneer and Explorer. While we certainly have a lot of powerful cards to look at, I don’t know if this set will be as deep in terms of affecting the format as Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty was, but some cards will certainly see play.

I worry about the impact that Ob Nixilis, The Adversary may have on the format, but given the format’s vast ability to adjust, perhaps it’s too early to start ringing the alarm bells. I’d like to be wrong in this instance and have the card just be an enjoyable addition to the format.

So, let me know in our Discord what your highlights of Streets of New Capenna are and if there are any exciting decks you’re looking to build with these new cards in Pioneer and Explorer.

Thanks for reading and stay safe!

Default image
darthjacen

darthjacen has been playing Magic since Dark Ascension and plays Standard, Modern, Pioneer, and Limited. With a Grand Prix win in 2015 and an SCG Team Top 4 in 2019, he continues to pursue competitive Magic at every turn. You can follow him on Twitch and YouTube.

Articles: 13