The 600 - Predicting the Popularity of New Capenna Commanders

(Maestros Key Art by Olena Richards)

Welcome to the Mean Streets

You'd better look both ways before you go dancing in these streets. We're in New Capenna now, people, and we're doing it 600 style.

In this article series, I prognosticate which new commanders will be most popular after one year of circulation. The line is 600, so "Over" means I'm guessing they'll end the year leading more than 600 decks, while "Under" means under 600. There's also a "Can't-Miss Pick," which is my trademarked guaranteed Over of the set (disclaimer: I've gotten them wrong before, and it's not actually trademarked). Now let's see if I have the street smarts to get these right.

Bennie Bracks, Zoologist

Usually we commence these articles by making fun of some junky uncommon mono-white goof. Feels like I can't do that with Bennie here. In terms of famous Bennies, he might reach the likes of Bennie Salazar, Bennie and the Jets, and Beni from The Mummy.

Convoke is a great start, especially when it pays for commander tax. Bennie further rewards you for token-making with the greatest gift of all: card draw! Note that this ability works with any token and checks on each end step, so instant-speed generation is preferred.

Seems like a fun and viable option for mono-white token enthusiasts. I don't always give Overs to mono-white commanders, but when I do, I prefer Bennies.

My prediction: Over

Giada, Font of Hope

Angel tribal commands over 5,000 decks on EDHREC, which bodes well for Giada's chances, despite her usually displeasing color identity. What's more, her name is Giada, as in Food Network star Giada de Laurentis, and I hear she's pretty famous.

Seriously, though, this card scales super well, especially since it helps you ramp, and tribal cards always perform in EDH, no matter how many have come before. I never thought I'd write this, but I'm giving an Over to both mono-white commanders.

My prediction: Over

Errant, Street Artist

Flash, defender, and haste are perhaps the weirdest three keywords to ever appear on a card together—and it gets weirder. You're basically only copying copies with this ability, so cards like Echo Storm and Primal Amulet are essential. There are likely also some infinite shenanigans with Dramatic Reversal, though from the discussion I've seen, no one is exactly certain how it works.

All interesting, but undeniably narrow and finicky. Plus, in a set about shards, a mono-blue commander might struggle to stand out—even a street artist.

My prediction: Under

Mari, the Killing Quill

Quills kill, especially when they're writing hits. Mari works well with Grim Hireling, Kiku, Night's Flower, and Syndicate Trafficker, just to name a few. You could lean into any of her three tribes, go for a Goblin Sharpshooter-style of deck, or build around the hoard of Treasure you'll inevitably collect. All this is to say I think the Killing Quill will be a thrill. Say that five times fast.

My prediction: Over

Jaxis, the Troublemaker

I don't know why the bouncers let Jaxis into the bar, especially with a title like "The Troublemaker", but let's not get off topic. How useful is a commander that offers Blitz? Pretty darn useful, especially if it's copying Zealous Conscripts. However, we already have popular mono-red copying commanders in Rionya, Fire Dancer, Feldon of the Third Path, and Delina, Wild Mage. I can't imagine a fourth variation on this theme achieving much, especially one that starts so many tavern brawls.

My prediction: Under

Urabrask, Heretic Praetor

This returning Praetor is way less impressive than Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider from Kaldheim and Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. You get a little value from your personal Howling Mine, sure, but when your opponent exiles their Infernal Grasp to your Urabrask, we all know what they're going to target.

My prediction: Under

Denry Klin, Editor in Chief

"Cat Advisor," eh? I love my cats, but I would not trust their advice. Denry's advice is all about counters. It's usually an appealing strategy, yet the pool of ability counters is relatively shallow. Sure, they're out there, but will more than 600 players really play the likes of Splendor Mare and Wingspan Mentor? In the words of my cats, my guess is, "Meow." Apparently that translates to "Nope."

My prediction: Under

Oskar, Rubbish Reclaimer

Oskar is a legendary version of Containment Construct, a card that currently appears in 2,966 decks. That's promising, especially with free discard outlets like Merfolk Looter and Hell Mongrel. However, unlike cards with Madness, this does not reduce the cost of the discarded cards. That makes me want to play all cheap spells, yet his cost reduction ability encourages a more varied mana curve. Seems a bit at odds with himself—and he's not even three colors!

My prediction: Under

Syrix, Carrier of the Flame

I didn't know I wanted to build Phoenix tribal until I read this card. A four-mana 3/3 hasty flyer is already sweet, and its abilities make it even better. Imagine pitching Skyfire Phoenix and Arclight Phoenix with an early Faithless Looting, then returning them both in the same turn and slinging a free Lightning Bolt, to boot! I'm in.

My prediction: Over

Jolene, the Plunder Queen

I won't play Jolene, but I can totally imagine 600 other players doing so. It's the sort of commander that creates a fun, chaotic atmosphere without warping to game too much. Plus, five Treasures for five counters is a sweet exchange, especially when you're generating extras off your Tireless Provisioner, Old Gnawbone, and more.

My prediction: Over

Bess, Soul Nourisher

Bess really cares about the younglings. In gameplay terms, that means any creature with base power 1/1, which is a boon for cards like Mirror Entity and Sigil Captain. However, Bess is ultimately just an anthem from the command zone. That's powerful, but also kind of vanilla, especially considering the power of other commanders in this set.

My prediction: Under

Kamiz, Obscura Oculus

Most players on r/EDH have suggested building Kamiz as an Infect deck, which proves their minds are in the gutter—but that doesn't mean they're wrong. This doesn't feel like an Esper Obscura card, yet it's the face card of a new commander precon. Those don't go Under unless something goes terribly wrong.

My prediction: Over

Queza, Augur of Agonies

Usually uncommons are easy ways to pad my stats (see all five Go-Shintais from last set). That's not the case here.

I mean, it's an Esper (forget Obscura, it's Esper) version of Nekusar, the Mindrazer, which boasts 4,361 decks and ranks 37th overall on EDHREC. Sure, Queza doesn't target all opponents, and it loses the wheel effects of red, but the lifegain offers its own rewards, such as Heliod, Sun-Crowned and Cleric Class. It might not eclipse Nekusar, but it'll do pretty darn well.

My prediction: Over

Raffine, Scheming Seer

I first read this card as "Raffine, Scheming Schemer," which sounds like an Un- card. Now that I see it's "Seer" and I've seen the rest of the card, I see it will be quite popular. From dumping counters on creatures to stuffing your graveyard with goodies, there's so much one can do with Raffine. Plus, you get to announce you're "conniving," which sounds delightful.

My prediction: Over

Tivit, Seller of Secrets

Voting was never directly supported by a commander... until now! Tivit works better with Council's Dilemma than Will of the Council, since an extra vote doesn't necessarily guarantee a majority. Tivit creates its own vote on the former, which can discount future castings from the command zone, not to mention supply more cards.

This card is so sweet that I'm giving it my Can't-Miss Pick of the set. I'm already building my deck, so there's only 599 more to go....

My prediction: Over (Can't-Miss Pick!)

Toluz, Clever Conductor

Toluz works great with Connive, looters, Cycling, and anything that discards. It's clearly a strong card, but as they say so often on The Bachelor, I'm going with my gut. And my gut says, "Bllrrpp," which means, "I doubt 600 players want Bag of Holding as their commander."

My prediction: Under

Anhelo, the Painter

My mom is a painter, too. Not in the way Anhelo is a painter, but if she was, I think she'd like sacrificing Zombie tokens. Try Cruel Revival, Dark Salvation, From Under the Floorboards, and more, both to copy with Casualty and to fuel future spells. Overall, Anhelo is the perfect fusion of two painting schools: aristocrats and spellslinger. I think I've just stretched this painting metaphor too far, but you get the idea. Also, hi mom.

My prediction: Over

Cormela, Glamour Thief

Unlike Quezar, Cormela is more aligned with the power level we've come to expect from uncommon commanders. Fixing and ramp is nice, but it's less appealing when limited to instants and sorceries. Though the death clause is a fine consolation prize, it's disappointing in a format as powerful as EDH.

My prediction: Under

Evelyn, the Covetous

Vampire commanders are like Apple products: no matter how many we get, we'll always buy the next one. I believe Evelyn will prove this once again. The rest of the text almost doesn't matter (though to be clear, it's pretty darn good).

My prediction: Over

Lord Xander, the Collector

That's a lovely backscratcher Xander's showing us. He also appears to own a trove of stuff, which would probably sell quite high on Storage Wars. And, most importantly, he's splashy.

Sure, some decks in the format might benefit from discarding and milling, and yes, the sacrifice effect might ignite a firestorm of triggers from opposing commanders like Korvold, Fae-Cursed King. However, the majority of the time, any one of these effects will be devastating to someone at the board, hence why Xander's mana value is so high. Here's hoping I never play against this dude.

My prediction: Over

Parnesse, the Subtle Brush

Parnesse seems super finicky to me. Not only do you need spells to copy, you also need spells that are worth giving to your opponents as free copies. The four life clause is supposed to deter them from targeting your stuff, but it's not all that steep a cost. I think some players will give this card a shot, but most will paint a different picture.

My prediction: Under

Henzie "Toolbox" Torre

This card is pretty darn cool, albeit confusing, since it's not really a toolbox commander. Imagine a late-game scenario where you've cast Henzie from the command zone four times. Now you can Blitz Grave Titan for just double black, or Crystalline Crawler for free. Your Crawler would immediately die for no value, but you get my point. You can do some wacky stuff with this card.

My prediction: Over

Mr. Orfeo, the Boulder

I know we're long past April Fools' Day, but are we sure this isn't an Un- card? I mean, Mr. Orfeo? Is he somebody's dad? And 'The Boulder'? Is he a WWE Wrestler? An Avatar character? Perhaps he's all of the above? Bizarre name notwithstanding, nobody's playing Mr. Orfeo over Mr. Xenagos.

My prediction: Under

Ognis, the Dragon's Lash

I was prepared to roast this card, but it seems players are actually super into it. Many have praised the exploration of haste tribal, for instance, and the accumulation of mana has undeniable potential. Fueling X spells is an obvious path, but you could also lean into artifact synergies like Disciple of the Vault. I won't be playing it, but it seems many other players will.

My prediction: Over

The Beamtown Bullies

For a second I thought we were talking about the Boston Red Sox, but then I squinted and realized it's an M, not an N. (Can you tell I'm a Yankees fan?) Anyhoo, every aspect of this card is strange, from the name to the effect. Ideally, you're giving your opponents horrible cards such as Boldwyr Heavyweights, Eater of Days, and Leveler. That makes for a novel strategy, though certainly fragile. I'm going to give it an Over in the hopes that this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and people build some super cool decks. Don't let me down!

My prediction: Over

Vazi, Keen Negotiator

A wise man once said, "If you're good at something, never do it for free." Although you get counters and cards back, Vazi is still giving away free mana. Is that wise?

Well, it's not up to me. I'm here to speak for the people, and people seem to love this commander. The political implications are endless, since you can promise aid to mana-screwed opponents or make temporary allies to help squash your common enemies, all the while profiting off their spells. Hmm. Maybe I've talked myself into this commander after all....

My prediction: Over

Ziatora, the Incinerator

If you want to make a Jund sacrifice deck without using the default Korvold, Fae-Cursed King, this is the commander for you. Everybody loves a three-colored Dragon, especially one that gives you free Flings, plus Treasure. It's not Korvold, but it's still nuts.

My prediction: Over

Jetmir, Nexus of Revels

"Nexus of Revels" would be an incredible name for a listing on AirBnB. It's also a pretty sweet Magic card. Naya tokens is already a thing with Ghired, Conclave Exile and Rith, the Awakener. I would argue that Jetmir is better than either of them. I mean, two other creatures is a pretty low bar to get an already nice boost. The payoff for six is excellent, and the payoff for nine is potentially game-ending. Just make sure to bring your Heroic Intervention.

My prediction: Over

Jinnie Fay, Jetmir's Second

If you'll allow me to quote myself, here's what I wrote about Rin and Seri, Inseparable way back in my M21 review:

"If we assume all humans are either cat people or dog people, Rin and Seri should appeal to all humans."

If we replace the underlined text with "Jinnie Fay," we get the same result. I know she's neither a Dog or a Cat, but she clearly runs an animal rescue, and that's the next best thing. Like our buddy Bennie, Jinnie works with any token, so feel free to play all the Treasure-makers you like (there are too many in this set as it is).

My prediction: Over

Kitt Kanto, Mayhem Diva

As the face card of the Naya/Cabaretti deck, Kitt already has an advantage. The Goad ability should make it even more appealing, though I think the jury's still out on this mechanic. Based on online chatter, many playgroups seem to be frustrated by Goad, particularly coming from Marisi, Breaker of the Coil. Does Kitt offer a more fair alternative commander to the same deck, or will players view it as just more of the same?

Tough to say, but I'll opt for the former. The only face commander I remember going Under was Sevinne, the Chronoclasm, which I infamously named my Can't-Miss Pick and was roasted for getting wrong. Please don't do me like that, Kitt.

My prediction: Over

Phabine, Boss's Confidant

This Cat is too humanoid. It's giving me unpleasant flashbacks to the 2019 monstrosity known as Tom Hooper's Cats. Can you see why I'm creeped? I don't have much else to say. I just hope this card goes Under, so I don't have to look at it.

My prediction: Under

Rocco, Cabaretti Caterer

Does a caterer named Rocco appearing in black-border signal that Magic has jumped the shark? Probably, but I'm not complaining!

On one hand, Rocco's cEDH potential is vast, essentially giving you whatever creature combo pieces you want straight from the command zone. On the other, such commanders tend to play out repetitively, which impacts the spirit of the format and diminishes their popularity, as we saw with Prime Speaker Vannifar.

Full disclosure: I picked Vannifar incorrectly. Therefore, I'm going to hope I don't get this one wrong, too. Wish me luck.

My prediction: Under

Falco Spara, Pactweaver

As a longtime combatant in Super Smash Bros., Falco's shield counter provides big upside, especially if you can rebuy it with blink effects. Also, casting cards from the top of your library won't be difficult with the likes of Forgotten Ancient and Mikaeus, the Lunarch. In fact, the counter removal even becomes upside with Luminous Broodmoth, Devoted Druid, and anything with Persist. 

My prediction: Over

Kros, Defense Contractor

This is somehow the set's third Cat Advisor, and also the third commander with Goad. The flavor is fun, but a shield counter seems too good to give away for free. Imagine a scenario where you force multiple beneficial attacks with Kros. Then someone casts Damnation, leaving only those formerly Goaded creatures. Doesn't seem great to me.

My prediction: Under

Lagrella, the Magpie

"The Annoying" is an equally apt title for Lagrella here. It's essentially Grasp of Fate in the command zone, a card which appears in a healthy 16,192 decks. However, it also annoys people, which is exactly what Lagrella will do. There's no bigger lightning rod than stealing the best creature from each opponent.

My prediction: Under

Perrie, the Pulverizer

Perrie reminds me of Rhinox from my beloved Saturday morning cartoon show Beast Wars. Why, he even looks like he could be shouting Rhinox's classic line, "It's gonna blow!"

From +1/+1 counters to level counters, there's no shortage of types in Magic. Furthermore, Perrie checks permanents, not just creatures, meaning quest counters on Zendikar ascensions and loyalty counters on planeswalkers count, too. This one should pulverize the mark.

My prediction: Over

Rigo, Streetwise Mentor

I'm about to start calling this set "New Cat-penna," since there are six different Cat commanders to choose from. Not that I'm complaining; my cat is sitting next to me as I write this, and she'd slap me if I did.

However, even my cat will agree that Rigo is unimpressive. At most, you're getting one extra card per combat, and your setup cost requires packing your deck with tiny creatures. That doesn't sound streetwise to me—or even regular wise, for that matter. Also, this is a Cat in a suit, which feels like a headfirst dive into the uncanny valley.

My prediction: Under


Under (14)

Over (22)

Can't-Miss Pick

This one might go down as an all-time great EDH set. To see how well it fares, we'll have to wait until next year. In the meantime, go watch Cats. Then you'll understand.

Editor's Note: Don't.

Kyle A. Massa is a writer and avid Magic player living somewhere in upstate New York with his wife, their daughter, and three wild animals. His current favorite card is Syr Ginger, the Meal Ender. Kyle can be found on Twitter @mindofkyleam.

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