With Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate coming out, it’s time to take a look back at the last set – Streets of New Capenna! What better way to say goodbye to the latest Magic: The Gathering set than by giving out some awards? So strap in, and get ready for the first multi-annual Ben Bleiweiss “Insert Name of Latest Set” Awards!
Lived Up to the Hype Award: Ob Nixilis, the Adversary
The most-hyped card in the set actually lived up to the hype! Ob Nixilis is a force in Standard and has kept steady in price since release. I don’t think he’s good enough to get banned, pending upcoming set releases. It’s rare that the most-hyped card in the set ends up staying at the top, but here we are!
Most Underrated Constructed Card Award: Ledger Shredder
I picked Ledger Shredder as one of the sleeper cards in the set in my Streets of New Capenna Buyers’ Guide. Hope you listened then, as Ledger Shredder has since found its way into Pioneer, Modern, Legacy, Vintage, and every other format.
The price on Ledger Shredder went from $1 to around $16. Easily splashable, playable in combo, control and aggressive decks, and super-easy to trigger each turn, Ledger Shredder will end up being remembered as the Tarmogoyf of this set.
Most Underrated Card in Limited Award: Slip Out the Back
This award needs to go to either a common or an uncommon – cards that show up often enough in Limited that you’ll see them frequently. Slip Out the Back is that pesky card that is aggravating to play against, yet awesome when you play with it for the same reasons.
Need to dodge removal? Slip Out the Back. Stop an alpha strike from killing you? Slip Out the Back. Make your creature big enough at end of turn to alpha strike on your turn? Slip Out the Back. Remove a blocker? Screw up targeting triggers? Slip Out that Back! Still see this card getting passed way later than it should be in Streets Draft.
Most Needed Tribal Card Award: Giada, Font of Hope
The majority of Angels in Magic’s history start at four mana or higher. It’s only been recently that Wizards of the Coast (WotC) has started trying to support the tribe at a lower mana cost. Giada both accelerates and powers up future Angels, which is exactly what you want out of a two-drop tribal enabler. I’ve seen a slew of Angel decks popping up online and being discussed over social media. Now if only there were Demon enablers for black at some point!
“What Does This Card Do?” Award: Lagrella, the Magpie
The wording on Lagrella is horrible. On first read, Lagrella looks like the world’s cheapest Plague Wind – three mana to exile any number of other target creatures controlled by different players? Sign me up! But wait – do you need to target an equal number of creatures from each player? Can you only target your own, but in multiples? What exactly does this card do exactly?
In the end, the wording amounted to “For each player, exile up to one other target creature they control.” Judges and rules gurus tell me that it needed to be worded as-is to work correctly, but common sense says that the “exile up to one other target creature” wording is the more intuitive of the two.
“Wait, Was This Art Supposed to Be on a Different Card?” Award: Devilish Valet
There are times when cards are changed just prior to print. Maybe a card is found to be too troublesome, and a last-minute replacement is needed. Maybe there’s just a number tweak here or there. Either way, the process is far enough along that creative has already had to solicit art for a specific card, and that card no longer exists. The most commonly-used solutions are:
1) Solicit a new artwork for the card, pay for a rush job (in time, not quality) from an artist, and pay the extra fee.
2) Get the artwork in, and further modify the card so it fits the artwork.
3) Grab a piece of artwork from the artwork graveyard – previously commissioned pieces for other sets that for some reason were not used.
Devilish Valet is the card in this set that most feels like a last-minute change to the card. The flavor text is a cover-up for this card having haste. There’s nothing in the artwork or design of this card that says, “This is a hasty creature!” If anything, this looks like a card that may have been a sorcery that traded killing the artifact for Treasure tokens. Or maybe turned Treasure into Equipment? To me, this looks more like a merchant-based transaction than a hand-over to a valet.
Can’t Say White Is Bad in Commander award: Smuggler’s Share
WotC has been popping in more and more Commander-oriented white cards over the past year. The culmination is the plethora of white card draw between Streets of New Capenna and SNC Commander. Foremost of these is Smuggler’s Share, white’s answer to Mystic Remora. Not only are the Raccoons cute, they are enabling white to draw four cards each turn cycle in a four-player Commander game.
Most On-the-Nose Financial Advising Card Award: Cut Your Losses
Seriously, though, had there ever been a better on-the-nose speculation target than Cut Your Losses?
Should Have Said the Number Three Award: Even the Score
Seriously, this should have been anti-Brainstorm tech. Was it really that broken at three or more cards this turn?
“How Much Damage Would This Do to a Person in Real Life?” Award: Jackhammer
If I attacked you with a jackhammer, I’m doing a lot more than two damage. No, wait, let me correct myself. If someone who wasn’t me and was coordinated and strapping attacked you with a jackhammer, they are doing a lot more than two damage.