Streets of New Capenna Set Review - Brokers and White
(Falco Spara, Pactweaver | Art by Jack Hughes)
Going for Broke(rs)
Hello, everyone! It’s your friendly neighborhood Jesguy here, and welcome to the Streets of New Capenna Brokers and White Set Review! Just like last set, New Capenna as a ton of fantastic great cards for Commander, and a bunch of them are white!
Remember to pay respects to Falco Spara and The Brokers, and let's see what terms they have to offer us. Watch your back!
Brokers Mythics and Rares
While not flashy, a Luminarch Aspirant that can buff all your creatures and planeswalkers is a solid little enchantment.
Unsurprisingly, this Ascendancy will be most at home in +1/+1 Counter and Planeswalker decks. With Streets of New Capenna, Bant has a burgeoning +1/+1 counter strategy, and Brokers Ascendancy will be a slam-dunk there. Similarly, any planeswalker decks with these colors, like Atraxa, Praetors' Voice or a Superfriends version of Esika, God of the Tree, will happily try and find a slot in their lists so that they can buff their planeswalker and token armies simultaneously.
Brokers Ascendancy is simple, but very solid.
Let's cut to the chase: this is one of the most flexible cards I've ever seen. It's Memory Lapse, an upgraded Banishing Stroke, and a Purify the Grave, all on a single card! No matter what kind of issue you have to deal with, as long as it doesn't have hexproof, Endless Detour has you covered. Yes, many times it will only delay the inevitable, but an extra turn is sometimes all you (or the rest of the table) need to deal with a troublesome player, get some breathing room, and then turn the corner to defeat them once the coast is clear. Not only that, but in a pinch, this Detour can also potentially save your own key pieces from removal, too!
I am a sucker for flexibility, and Endless Detour is the epitome of it. If you have access to white, blue, and green, I'd make room in your deck for it. You won't be disappointed.
Falco Spara, Pactweaver
Falco has never looked so good! While his Up-Air and Shine aren't what they used to be back in Melee -
Wait, what do you mean, 'Wrong Falco'? How many birds named Falco can there be???
Falco Spara, Pactweaver is the leader of The Brokers and is a force to be reckoned with. Not only does he cost a respectable four mana, but he has two keywords, comes in with built-in protection via a shield counter, and can let you play spells from the top of your deck. That's incredible. I've seen a lot of people disparage Falco, comparing him to commanders like Elsha of the Infinite or Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign, which thrive on top deck manipulation and accruing value through cheating the timing of spells or through cheating of mana costs, neither of which Falco can do.
My response to this criticism is to politely ask those folks to read the card again.
Falco does not care about manipulating the top of his deck, he strictly cares about providing card advantage. He wants creatures with counters so he can then continue to press his advantage. Jumping through hoops to try and "break" him isn't helpful when there are commanders who do "unfair" things better than he, especially when there's a "fair" archetype drooling to put him at the helm:
While Falco cares about all kinds of counters, I want to make sure to touch on the most plentiful first: +1/+1 Counters.
As you can see, Bant's options for +1/+1 Counters are slim. At bare minimum, Falco provides a powerful fourth option for anyone looking to play a +1/+1 counter deck in these colors. With cards like Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider, Hardened Scales, Cathars' Crusade, and Master Biomancer, you'll have plenty of spare counters to throw toward playing cards off the top of your deck. Current builds of +1/+1 counter decks often stall out once they get board wiped or when a key piece of theirs gets removed. With Falco at the head of the deck, this style of deck now has a way to recover from these setbacks much more quickly by converting extra +1/+1 counters into additional spells.
Sure, having a creature that's a 24/24 is cool, but potentially casting four spells off the top of your deck is going to make more of an impact on the game than "downgrading" your creature into a 20/20 will. You've got extra counters. Use them!
Moving away from solely +1/+1 counters, there are tons of other synergies that work incredibly well with the Pactweaver. Chronozoa and Lost Auramancers love getting their counters removed. Chronozoa itself can supply you with an endless supply of counters to remove, while Lost Auramancers can go grab your best enchantment and put it right onto the battlefield!
Spells that can Proliferate are great no matter what kind of counters build you're running, but Inexorable Tide in particular is borderline busted with Falco. By removing a counter from a creature, we can cast a spell from our deck, which will then let us Proliferate and generate a ton more counters, including Falco's shield counter! Perfect!
Creatures with Undying and Persist are also fantastic here. Cards like Young Wolf and Glen Elendra Archmage can continually die over and over if Falco is able to remove their counters from them before their next death! Speaking of -1/-1 Counters, Devoted Druid is a slam-dunk in a Falco deck too, as he can make use of all of the juicy -1/-1 counters it produces, letting you cast spells and generate mana in the process!
Lastly, remember how I mentioned that Falco decks shouldn't be focusing on top deck manipulation to do unfair things? That doesn't mean it shouldn't be utilized at all. Unlike a lot of other Future Sight effects, Falco does not let us play lands form the top of the deck, so once we run into a glut of lands, we're in trouble. A splash of topdeck manipulation will help us keep up our card advantage and keep our gameplan going.
Unobtrusive topdeck manipulation should be prioritized first and foremost to prevent pulling the deck in too many directions. Castle Vantress sits in your mana base and can clear away unwanted lands or undesirable cards. Augur of Autumn, Courser of Kruphix, and Oracle of Mul Daya can let us play lands from the top of our deck to get them out of the way and are perfect recipients for any spare +1/+1 counters. Sensei's Divining Top is all around just one of the best cards in the format, and any deck will benefit from its inclusion, especially this one. Raw card draw or cantrips, like Inspiring Call or Preordain, also go a long way in smoothing the deck, providing card advantage, and also clearing the way for Falco to "draw" us cards
Overall, I think Falco Spara, Pactweaver is a round peg that people are tying to fit into a square hole. He isn't flashy, but he's powerful, his card pool is impressively deep, and he provides an under-explored strategy in these colors to make a name for itself. He isn't the next best Top Deck commander, but he can easily be one of the best +1/+1 Counter legends. I'm quite pleased with where Falco finds himself in our format, and I can only hope that legendary designs like this continue!
Park Heights Pegasus
This Pegasus is cute, but it's a fragile little flier, especially for our format.
Despite its size, Park Heights Pegasus can wear counters well and can perform admirably in decks that have a plethora of pumps, like Jetmir, Nexus of Revels. That said, these decks have a handful of different ways to draw cards already - Shamanic Revelation, Camaraderie, Huatli, Radiant Champion, Beast Whisperer - so I'm not sure it needs another, especially one so fragile and doesn't actively push its gameplan forward.
If you have lots of pumps or counters in your deck, Park Heights Pegasus might find a spot in your list. Otherwise, I'd just let it fly on by. You've got better ways to draw cards.
Rigo, Streetwise Mentor
Goodness, I love these style of commanders! Bant, Selesnya, Azorius, mono-white; you can put Rigo at the helm of any of these decks! I love it when legends can command lists that don't include all of their colors! It's so neat!
The best part about Rigo is that he's worded like Breena, the Demagogue, which will allow you to draw cards if you spread the
love damage around. Awesome! Due to his final ability, which lets small creatures draw oodles of cards, he's a total cert in Arcades, the Strategist decks. Nearly all the creatures in that deck have one or less power, so no matter who you attack, you'll end up nabbing a couple cards each combat!
In terms of helming his own deck, there's an interesting tension between him and Edric, Spymaster of Trest. Both of these decks love Flying Men and all their variants, but Rigo trades the pure draw power of Edric in exchange for access to white while also making sure that your opponents can't nab any extra cards either. I find this to be a really interesting decision point when brewing.
I've seen the "Color Identity vs Power" discussion crop up a handful of times this set, not only from these two cards, but also between Mr. Orfeo, the Boulder and Xenagos, God of Revels. I adore seeing new commanders who can give old strategies access to another color, particularly when they do so at the expense of power. To me, that is the sign of healthy legendary creature designs, and I will always welcome them into the format. Kudos to the Streets of New Capenna designers!
It'll be difficult to take full advantage of Rigo, since his restriction is so staunch, but these three colors are perfect for providing and taking advantage of 1/1 creatures. From Esper Sentinel to Retribution of the Meek to Hypnotic Siren, there are plenty of small, powerful creatures and spells that can synergize with them. Don't be afraid of running some anthems too! Cathars' Crusade, Overrun, or Triumph of the Hordes are great, and sure, they may shut off Rigo's ability to draw cards, but at some point, taking an opponent out of the game will be more valuable than drawing a few more cards. Dictate of Heliod and Mirror Entity are standouts, since you can attack, draw cards, and then pump those 1/1s before damage!
While restrictive, I think Rigo, Streetwise Mentor is a great addition to Bant's commander options. He isn't outright better than any other commander, and he pushes a small creature strategy all on his own. That's a win in my book!
Scheming Fence is an cute Pithing Needle variant, and I am here for it.
My biggest issues with cards like Pithing Needle (outside of Artifact decks that can sac or recycle it) is the fact that the Needle by itself does basically nothing. It stops something, but then it just sits there. Conversely, while Scheming Fence can't preemptively stop cards before they arrive on the field (like Pithing Needle or Sorcerous Spyglass are able to do), it trades that preemption for the ability to utilize the very effects it's stifling! Being a creature means that it's easier to recur or blink, providing plenty of opportunities to reset it.
Blink decks, Hatebear decks, and decks that can recycle creatures can certainly find a spot for a sweet little utility creature. I don't think it's knocking anyone's socks off, but I do think that it's a nice new option for those decks to have access to!
Soul of Emancipation
This card is big and splashy, but I'm not entirely "soul"d on it. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
Soul of Emancipation is really trying its best to do a Terastodon impression, but it's falling flat for me. A big part of The 'Don's appeal is the fact that it could outright tussle with the tokens it creates. The tokens that Soul produces have flying, so Soul of Emancipation can't even threaten to block them. On top of that, you have to be in three colors to run it.
It isn't all bad, though: Soul of Emancipation trades Terastodon's ability to destroy lands for the ability to hit creatures, which is nice if you need to downgrade an opponent's commander. Similarly, it can upgrade your own measly creatures if you have a handful of 1/1s lying around, which is some nice modality.
All that said, I'm pretty low on Soul of Emancipation. Terastodon itself has been falling off in recent years, and I can't imagine that a more restrictive, weaker version of it will put up big numbers.
Brokers Uncommons and Commons
Lagrella, the Magpie
No, this isn't Plague Wind on a body. Don't worry, your reading comprehension is perfectly fine, I assure you, the templating is just abhorrent.
Basically, Lagrella will send a single creature from each player on a Journey to Nowhere. Then, when she leaves, they will all come back, but your own exiled creature will come back with two additional +1/+1 counters.
I won't lie, that's a lot of words and some awful templating for what is essentially a Fiend Hunter that can hit multiple creatures.
I can't see this being great at the head of a deck; it's probably best in the 99 of others. Lagrella, the Magpie is a solid addition to some +1/+1 Counter decks, Blink decks, or Bant decks that have use for removal that's stapled to a creature. Otherwise, this card is a big headache for a very minor effect. Use her at your own discretion, and make sure you have her Gatherer page handy for when people don't understand how she works.
Brokers Charm, Ceremonial Groundbreaker, Exotic Pets
Brokers Charm is just fine. Rabid Bite + Disenchant + Divination are three good modes, but I can see how it might feel weird to pay the full WUG for any one of these. It'll never be a dead card, though, so consider it if you have room to spare.
Ceremonial Groundbreaker is a decent enough Equipment. +2/+1 and trample are good buffs to add to creatures. It isn't Loxodon Warhammer, but it you want a budget-friendly way to give creatures trample in an Equipment deck, this shovel has got you covered.
Exotic Pets is neat for Token and +1/+1 Counter decks, as well as any deck that can make extensive use of other types of counters. An instant that can put two (or more) unblockable 1/1s with a bevy of counters on them is a really neat tool!
White Mythics and Rares
I love me some four-mana board wipes, but I am lukewarm on Depopulate.
White has no shortage of sweepers, so a new one has to really knock our socks off to be worth the inclusion. Competition is steep when you're getting compared to Wrath of God, Austere Command, Cleansing Nova, and the brand-new Farewell. You have to really hit it out of the park to keep up with these juggernauts, and Depopulate just doesn't do that. It is more akin to Shatter the Sky, which only sees play in about 6,000 decks. Conversely, Wrath of God and Cleansing Nova see play in 49,525 and 37,560 decks. That's a huge difference.
Depopulate Depopulate from your decks. If you value mana efficiency, Vanquish the Horde is a better card. If you're willing to pay five or even six mana, the modality of those board wipes can make them one-sided in your favor, and that's 100% worth it.
Elspeth is back, and she's looking better than ever! While she's no Elspeth, Sun's Champion, I think this iteration is much closer to Elspeth Tirel than Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis.
Adding two different counters to a creature is really cool, especially for +1/+1 Counter decks and keyword decks, such as Odric, Lunarch Marshal or my boy Falco Spara, Pactweaver. The -3 ability is also neat, recurring a tiny permanent and giving it a shield counter, but it feels very small-ball overall. Her ultimate is definitely cool, and it can certainly help close out games, especially when combined with Doubling Season or Anointed Procession, but lots of planeswalker ults can do that, so I don't really count that one for our lovely lady.
If her +1 could provide a shield counter, I think I would be quite a bit higher on this card. As it stands, Elspeth Resplendent is solid and certainly playable in the correct strategies, but she fails to live up to her previous incarnation, or even The Wandering Emperor from the previous set. That said, I will certainly be trying her out in my Djeru, With Eyes Open and future Falco decks to see how she fits there!
Giada, Font of Hope
I swear, I could hear all the Angel tribal players cry out in collective joy the minute Giada, Font of Hope was spoiled, and I don't blame them.
Giada is an absolute house. She's cheap, she ramps out Angels, and then she buffs them to boot! All this combines to make what is easily the best mono-white Angel commander available. Normally, I'd be off put by the amount of power and text on a two-drop, but I can make an exception for this. Angel players have basically been playing "Five-Drop Tribal" for years, so I'm glad WotC threw them a bone.
Like I mentioned during the Rigo section above, I'm happy to see power like this concentrated in a single color. It gives mono-white a great new commander while also leaving space for less powerful but more colorful designs in the future. I don't have a lot to say about Giada except for the fact that she's awesome. Grab your Lyra Dawnbringer, Empyrial Storm, and Righteous Valkyrie, and get swinging!
Token maker? ✅
Card draw? ✅
Alt wincon? ✅
That's a lot of utility from a single white artifact!
Halo Fountain is a steady source of tokens and card advantage, while also being able to end games if your opponents can't deal with you late game. Halo Fountain will be best at home in Emmara, Soul of the Accord, Rhys the Redeemed, and Katilda, Dawnhart Prime decks, where you can take full advantage of untapping creatures in top of its other abilities. Cards like Glare of Subdual, Opposition, Cryptolith Rite, and Earthcraft also combine extremely well with Halo Fountain to always ensure that you have creatures to untap to get whatever effect you desire.
Despite the awesome utility Halo Fountain has, I only have one knock against it: its mana intensity. Not only do you need a lot of white mana to utilize it properly, but you also have to invest a lot of mana into it before you start seeing results. To make your first token, you need to spend four mana and have a creature to untap. To draw your first card, you need a total of five mana and two creatures to untap. Neither of these are backbreaking costs, mind you, but they may end up making Halo Fountain play a bit more clunky than it looks.
If you're in white with a deck that has a commander with an untap ability, or a deck that likes to commit to the board, I think Halo Fountain is worth trying out. It might be a little clunky, but it provides a little bit of everything, including inevitability!
Sun Titan this is not, but having an efficient piece of reanimation for small creatures is always welcome!
Extraction Specialist can get back a ton of nifty creatures: Spirited Companion, Saffi Eriksdotter, Lion Sash, Ogre-Head Helm, Collector Ouphe, Esper Sentinel, Deathrite Shaman, Mother of Runes, Dauthi Voidwalker... the list goes on. Rescuer gets even better if you combine it with Blink cards, like Ephemerate, or recursion from something like Extus, Oriq Overlord.
While this card is not broadly powerful, there's certainly a home for it in plenty of strategies and decks. From Hatebears to Blink to Aristocrats, Extraction Specialist excels in multiple archetypes, so I'd definitely try it out if you have the chance. The minor downside that it puts on the creature it brings back is negligible. This Good Samaritan can provide a lot of value.
Now that's a ride!
The Limousine can pivot between being a slow form of blink, protection from board wipes for a single creature, or a Journey to Nowhere that can change who's trapped inside. While none of these things on their own is worth the five-mana cost, that's a nice bit of flexibility to come from a single card.
That said, while I am always an advocate for flexibility, it is only good if all of its "modes" are going to be used on a frequent basis. Dana Roach has a fantastic article discussing this "Modular Tax", and I think that exact "tax" is going to hurt this card. Blink decks have a plethora of better ways to blink creatures, white has plenty of better ways to protect creatures, and it also has much better pieces of removal.
Your average white deck and average Blink deck aren't going to have room for this, but Vehicles decks have had an impressive resurgence lately, with over 6,500 decks on the site right now. This archetype is popular, but still burgeoning, so if any archetype is interested in a flexible piece of removal, it would be this one.
Rabble Rousing is strong and can get out of hand real quick. It will provide a 1/1 for each creature you attack with, which makes its threshold of having 10 or more creatures just paltry. On top of that, the tokens don't come in tapped and attacking, which is a huge boon when trying to create a massive board to satisfy its free-cast trigger. Simply swing with five creatures, and bam, you create five more! Then, if everyone survived combat, you can play the card for free! Not only that, but it doesn't specify 'nontoken' creatures for its trigger, meaning the Citizens it creates will beget more Citizens!
This is very strong, even at five mana. Go-wide Token decks, aggressive mono-white or Boros decks, and even Aristocrat decks will love Rabble Rousing. Jam this in your white decks and go to town!
THIS is the kind of help white needs!
Sanctuary Warden is white's second Titan, providing value whenever she enters the battlefield or attacks, and she even comes with built-in protection!
Token decks, +1/+1 Counters decks, Flying decks, and Blink decks can all take full advantage of the Warden. She's at her best when you're able to eat up counters other than her own, which makes me lean towards including her in decks with lots of +1/+1 counters or planeswalkers, like Falco Spara, Pactweaver, Djeru, With Eyes Open, or Atraxa, Praetors' Voice. Blinking her with a spell like Ephemerate will also reset her counters, forcing your opponents chew through tons of removal spells or attackers before she is actually dead for good. Spicy!
Overall, Sanctuary Warden is impressive, especially for a white card. She's big, she flies, she protects herself, she produces tokens, she provides card advantage, and she can do this as soon as she enters the battlefield! It's even part of a popular tribe. 10/10, fantastic design.
White Uncommons and Commons
Boon of Safety is a cute protection spell akin to Blacksmith's Skill. While it isn't blowing the doors off of anything, giving protection via a counter is something I wanted to shout out. If you can Proliferate or take advantage of multiple types of counters, this little common's stock rises considerably!
Citizen's Crowbar is neat! While this may seem like a very roundabout Disenchant, there are plenty of decks that care about artifacts and tokens. Dispeller's Capsule is in nearly 5,000 decks, and I'm sure Tameshi, Reality Architect would love to add this to their list!
Illuminator Virtuoso is a nice little addition to Aura and Prowess/Sunforger, like Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest and Feather, the Redeemed. Double strike is often hard to come by, and having on a cheap creature that loots and grows in size is sweet!
Inspiring Overseer is an upgraded Priest of Ancient Lore, full stop. Priest sees play in nearly 3,000 decks, mainly in Blink decks, Lifegain decks, or Cleric decks, and Overseer checks all those same boxes, but it also flies, and it's even an Angel! This is a welcome addition to white, and should see a modest amount of play. I'm happy to see all the cantripping creatures white's been getting recently!
Mage's Attendant is the first white Counterspell in years, which is noteworthy. The 3/2 creature itself in negligible, but having a token that can muck up an opponent's plans is a very cool tool, especially since white is the best color for maximizing token synergies.
Raffine's Guidance isn't anything to write home about, just another Gryff's Boon variant that allows Aura and Enchantment decks a bit of additional play from the graveyard. It's nice for Sram, Senior Edificer and Light-Paws, Emperor's Voice to have in their toolboxes, though.
Patch Up is a Call of the Death-Dweller in white that trades putting counters on the creatures it revives for being able to bring back up to three creatures. Call of the Death-Dweller sees play in nearly 5,000 decks, mainly Aristocrats decks, so I'm interested in seeing if Patch Up follows suit.
Rumor Gatherer is a really cool way to implement white card draw. White loves making and blinking creatures, both of which synergize incredibly well with Rumor Gatherer. Token decks, Blink decks, mono-white decks, and Boros decks will all happily look through their lists to see if they can fit this little Elf in.
Just Business, Nothing Personal. I Hope You Understand.
WHEW! There we have it! All of the interesting cards from The Brokers and mono-white in Streets of New Capenna!
Three-color sets are some of my favorites, and this one is no different. Fantastic legends, interesting cards, and powerful spells? Sign me up! This set has a little something for everyone. On top of that, white's arsenal continues to expand, which is excellent and exciting to see!
What about all of you out there? Which of these cards are your favorite? Do you feel like any of my thoughts on them were off the mark? I'd love to hear your thoughts down in the comments below. Until next time!
As always, you can reach me on Twitter (@thejesguy), where you can always hit me up for Magic- or Jeskai-related shenanigans 24/7. Do you have any comments, questions, or concerns? Please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! Stay safe, wear your mask, and keep fighting the good fight. I support you. No justice, no peace.