The New Cards of New Capenna Commander

A new set means plenty of new cards for Commander! Sheldon Menery continues his review of the cards from New Capenna Commander.

Swindler’s Scheme, illustrated by Anato Finnstark

New Capenna Commander has hit the streets running.  Last time, we talked about the Legendary Creatures, both in the context of being commanders and operating in the rest of the deck.  This time, we’re going to talk about the remainder of the new cards in the set—and there are quite a few of them.


Aerial Extortionist

The first ability has lots of play in it; the second one lots of value.  We can continually get rid of problem permanents with the first, so long as we can get Aerial Extortionist through in combat.  Alternately, we can get a second use of a card of our own that has a good enters-the-battlefield trigger.  We might also rescue a creature that’s been enchanted and rendered useless, like with Pacifism.  The second ability will trigger when someone else casts their commander and is worth it for that alone.  The rest is just card draw gravy.

Angelic Sleuth

Your counters matter decks might get a nice boost from Angelic Sleuth.  Is there room for both counters matter and metalcraft?

Boss's Chauffeur

This driver is going to turn into some Bruce Lee-level Kato action.  It might start small, but the more creatures you play, the bigger it gets.  There’s built in protection as well, since when it dies, you get Citizen tokens for each counter it had on it, an excellent way to start rebuilding quickly from a board sweeper. 

Contractual Safeguard

I love this design.  It give us the choice of making what might appear to be a sub-optimal play in order to get a different benefit while still allowing us the card’s flexibility as an instant.  I think shield counters are going to be relevant in the format in a way that the totem armor cards wanted to be. 

Damning Verdict

This one’s a little dicey because other players are going to have creatures with counters on them as well.  Perhaps play it in black/white/x deck that also has Thief of Blood—a card that’s currently under a dollar and will be well worth playing in most Commander games out there. 

Grand Crescendo

We’ll go into putting Grand Crescendo in a deck while understanding that there are times when we’re going to cast it with X equal to zero just to save our existing team.  From a flexibility standpoint, it’s an upgrade from Decree of Justice and maybe even White Sun’s Zenith.


I’m a fan of the “I get something/you get something” cards that we’re getting in white.  Jailbreak can create great political alliances and still give us some benefits.  There might even be times when we can force an action on an opponent with an enters-the-battlefield trigger (woe to the player that has Phage, the Untouchable in the graveyard).  Jailbreak’s cost is inexpensive enough to make it part of a chain of events that leads to a saucy play. 

Master of Ceremonies

More gifts to our friends and goodies for us while not going to the lengths of the somewhat-threatening tempting offers.  The variance is going to be high on this card’s returns, which is just fine by me.  It’s also a Rhino and Rhino tribal, led by Roon of the Hidden Realm, is becoming closer and closer to a being viable. 

Resourceful Defense

An enchantment variant on The Ozolith, the aptly-named Resourceful Defense lets us move the counters whenever you like instead of waiting for combat.  It also lets us move counters from permanents other than itself.  What’s cool about it is that we can move counters that we don’t like, such as -1/-1 counters, onto permanents on which they’re not relevant, like an enchantment.  Resourceful Defense is another card that has lots of play in it.

Skyboon Evangelist

On the surface, Skyboon Evangelist looks a little pricey for what it does, but the second ability mitigates that cost quite nicely.  I want to use it in a deck that has Horobi, Death’s Wail in it as well so that we can machine-gun down our enemies (nicely thematic on the Streets of New Capenna). 

Smuggler's Share

Now this is what I’m talking about.  Smuggler’s Share is my top card in the color.  Commander players love drawing cards, so we’ll get to make up a little of the difference.  The same goes for ramp.  A Treasure isn’t quite as good as a land, but it’ll close the gap some.  What’s most relevant is that it might just give us the mana to cast something when we were previously tapped out. 

Tenuous Truce

It’s all fun and games until we start attacking each other.  Good choice that they have to pass on attacking us before the card draw happens.


Aven Courier

The relevant difference between Aven Courier and Thrummingbird is that the former has an attack trigger, while the latter needs to deal combat damage—but it also has a bigger upside, since we proliferate instead of just getting one counter.

Cephalid Facetaker

In the running for the best card name in the set, Cephalid Facetaker is excellent when you really want to get that combat damage through.  We’ll most likely copy something that has a great trigger, whether that’s an attack trigger like Sun Titan or a combat damage trigger like Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni.  Alternately, we don’t have to attack with it at all if we copy a creature that has a relevant activated (Prodigal Sorcerer if you’re Josh Lee Kwai) or static (Windbrisk Raptor) ability.

Change of Plans

How sweet is this in saving our X best creatures from a board sweeper and making them come back a little better after sculpting our hand?  I’m used to this flavor of ability in white and I’m happy to have it available in blue.

Extravagant Replication

An enchantment variant on Progenitor Mimic, Extravagant Replication is less likely to have the table panic.  We don’t get anything right away and we can only copy something we control.  The good news is that we’re not locked into what that is, so when we play something spicier, we can copy that. 

Flawless Forgery

Copying the Writ of  or other reanimation spell is peak value here since we can get back what we sacrificed.  Watch out if someone else cast an extra turn spell and didn’t win the game because of it.  Casualty will be a powerful mechanic in the Commander landscape.  Flawless Forgery is a strong example of why. 

In Too Deep

In Too Deep blanks a creature or a planeswalker at an affordable cost.  Since the opponent can sacrifice it to draw a card, they don’t lose so much, but we might only need a brief window.  Also, a card in hand isn’t nearly as good in most situations as a powerful creature or planeswalker on the battlefield.  Sometimes we need just the briefest window with something out of the way in order to consolidate our nefarious power.

Mask of the Schemer

We’ll want to use something like Thassa, God of the Sea or Rogue’s Passage to make sure the equipped creature gets through.  When it does, we’ll put the right cards into our hand and graveyard while making the creature bigger for next time.  I’m interested in playing Mask of the Schemer in a deck that likes things in the graveyard in order to reanimate them.

Shield Broker

Shield Broker is going right into my Threat of Yasova deck.  If the shield counter is about to go away, there are plenty of nice sacrifice outlets, like Perilous Forays and Evolutionary Leap.  In another deck, we might just want to proliferate the shield counter for safety.

Sinister Concierge

It’s a bit of a Rube Goldberg device, but Sinister Concierge and a sacrifice outlet will let us save our best creature from either targeted removal or an impending board sweeper.  On the simpler side, we can just get rid of an opponent’s best creature for three turns.  Sharp design.

Skyway Robber

I’m not a fan of escape in Commander because I don’t like exiling stuff from my graveyard.  Skyway Robber mitigates some (or in the long run, potentially all) of that pain by letting us re-cast the things we’ve exiled.  This is very Rogue ability. 

Storm of Forms

I don’t really need another reason to play Crystalline Giant, but here we are. 

Swindler's Scheme

Holy Counterbalance, Batman! For just three mana, we’re going to be countering stuff and casting for free.  My “local” environment with the other RC members is somewhat creature-heavy, so I suspect any of us who plays Swindler’s Scheme is going to grind a great deal of value out of it.


Bellowing Mauler

Nontoken is the most relevant word on the card.  There are lots of times we have cool abilities that make everyone sacrifice creatures, but they have some annoying token creature(s) available.  With Bellowing Mauler, that’s off the table.

Body Count

Although “died under your control” is a little judgmental, I suppose I’ll take it the insult in exchange for the card draw.  I’m likely to play Body Count in a deck with an activated way of making sure opponents lose life, like Shepherd of Rot

Dogged Detective

The best use for Dogged Detective might be as the discard portion of an activation or resolution, like Survival of the Fittest or a card that connives.  We get to draw and put Dogged Detective into the graveyard, where it will eventually come back to our hand to use for our next conniving—which comes up next.

Lethal Scheme

Conniving in black just screams dumping stuff into the graveyard with the choicest bits getting reanimated.  Lethal Scheme is additionally nice because we can cast it when we appear to be tapped out of mana. 

Make an Example

This is more of a Valentine’s Day Massacre than making an example of someone.  There will be many bodies hitting the floor.  I think I might wait for in-person play to put Make an Example into a deck; it’s one of those cards that’s really awkward over webcam.

Misfortune Teller

Appropriately-costed and power-gated, Misfortune Teller offers us some repeatable graveyard control.  Unless we’re playing Puppeteer Clique or Sepulchral Primordial and want to reanimate opponents’ creatures ourselves, we’ll most often hit creatures with Misfortune Teller.  We get the Rogue, but more importantly, they don’t have the creature available to engage in the exact kind of tomfoolery that we’d want to. 

Protection Racket

Probably a little more useful in twenty-life formats and in those with forty, Protection Racket could perhaps serve as a late game card, when life totals are low. Still, I appreciate the gamesmanship the card would bring to the table. 

Waste Management

Seven mana to exile an opponent’s graveyard might seem like a great deal of mana, but by the time we have that much mana available, someone’s graveyard is going to be chock full of goodies.  The Rogue squad will be large. 

Wave of Rats

The perfect card to have blitz, there should always be at least one opponent that’s going to be open enough to take some damage.  Then we get a card at end of turn, as well as getting Wave of Rats back.

Writ of Return

I would have thought cipher a little confusing for newer players for inclusion in a Commander product, but I’m okay with it making a comeback.  It’s on the kind of card I’d play anyway, so it gets bonus points.

Xander's Pact

As opposed to Protection Racket, Xander’s Pact is stronger in the higher-life format.  My dream hit off of someone else’s library with Xander’s Pact is Repay in Kind.                                                                                                                                                                           


Audacious Swap

Double Chaos Warp (with the non-enchantment rider) still seems reasonable.  It’s an instant, so we can still use it on one or two of our things that are about to go away for some reason.  As with Chaos Warp, we can also use it as a mini-Fog for one or two creatures.  We can even block, then sacrifice the blocker to pay the casualty part.

Determined Iteration

There are plenty of things these days that make big tokens, so Determined Iteration seems pretty cost-friendly.  Gutter Grime comes to mind, but maybe that’s because fellow RC member Gavin Duggan had it running pretty well in our last streaming game.


I’m a fan of the “X-to-Y” split cards that have aftermath.  Refuse//Cooperate is been in You Did This to Yourself since the card came out.  If we’re attacking with a swarm, Indulge is going to be well worth the three mana.  Excess is inexpensive enough that we can cast it on the same turn.  Solid all around.

Industrial Advancement

“At the beginning of your end step, you may sacrifice a creature” gets my blood running every time.  With a little top-of-the-library control, the creature we sacrifice doesn’t even have to be that big to ensure a major upgrade to whatever gave itself to the creative destruction.

Life of the Party

The red hits keep coming (finally!) with Life of the Party.  “Goaded for the rest of the game” is the kind of language that I can get behind.  First strike is a fine ability.  Trample and haste are going to get people dead. 

Mezzio Mugger

I think I like cards like Mezzio Mugger just because they exile stuff from other players’ libraries.  Sure, they’re excellent for your Prosper, Tome-Bound deck, but other players have lots of bombs in their decks.  It’s nice to diffuse them. 

Rain of Riches

Wait, what now?  Treasure tokens are everywhere, so we’re going to create more than just the two Rain of Riches gives us.  Giving cascade to our most thicc spells is something special. 

Rose Room Treasurer

For example, we can make lots of Treasures with Rose Room Treasure.  The second ability might get a little spendy, but we can use it in more modest amounts to deal with smaller utility creatures.

Seize the Spotlight

I can’t imagine too many players choosing fame unless they don’t have any creatures.  What’s noteworthy about someone choosing fame is that the ability doesn’t target, so we can grab a creature that has hexproof, shroud, or even protection from red.

Spellbinding Soprano

I knew we’d get a Soprano somewhere along the way in New Capenna.  Unfortunately, it’s one of the few uninspiring cards in the set.  I suppose it might have a space in a storm deck, but I don’t see it getting much play otherwise.

Spiteful Repossession

The answer to ramp isn’t Armageddon, it’s actual punishment for having all those lands on the battlefield.  We have Acidic Soil, Treacherous Terrain, and now Spiteful Repossession.  Here’s to continuing the trend.

Turf War

Ooh, a new kind of counter! Plus the card is delightfully silly.  I can imagine high-value lands, like Cabal Coffers or Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx getting passed around a number of times. 


Boxing Ring

Another in a long series of cards in New Capenna that’s just dripping with flavor, the bosses get Treasure every time there’s a prize fight.  Many of the creatures we see in Commander exist in a narrow range of mana values, so we should have reasonable targets.  Plus, we only have to fight if we know we’re going to win. 

Bribe Taker

Bribe Taker is addition to our Rhino tribal deck.  We’ll definitely want a shield counter on it and hope for some good hits from that Crystalline Giant.

Caldaia Guardian

Green decks are frequently about big creatures and people are going to want to kill them.  Getting a little back is nice.  I’d like to play Caldaia Guardian in a deck that has Oversold Cemetery or Palace Siege.  Once on of them is going, we can play it for its blitz cost over and over.

Crash the Party

Crash the Party is appropriately-named, since it’s going to thunder into someone’s attack when they think we’re open.  Thinking about playing Crash the Party alongside Avenger of Zendikar makes my eyes kind of glaze over with joy.

Dodgy Jalopy

You might think that Draco would be the call to play with Dodgy Jalopy, but any of the big Eldrazi, like Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, will work just fine.  The crew cost is pretty low for the power we’ll get and trample will make it deadly.  I’m not, in general a big fan of scavenge, but I think I’d make an exception for this one.  That’s a lot of +1/+1 counters.

Family's Favor

I went through a wave of emotions reading Family’s Favor for the first time.  Initially, it was “ooh, shield counter!” then “aw, we have to remove it,” then “ooh, draw a card!”  The shield counter is excellent, since it lets our creature survive combat, even in unfavorable circumstances.  If that creature gets chump blocked, then the counter is around for use later. 

First Responder

First Responder will likely replace Roaring Primadox in my Animar’s Swarm deck.  Bouncing the creature during the end step (not to mention the counters) is way more useful than doing it during upkeep.  Then we get to use those sweet enters-the-battlefield triggers again.  Hard to not call this my favorite of the green cards.

Killer Service

Lots of possibilities here, as we can run any number of token strategies to leverage Killer Service.  My first line of thought is with Rith, the Awkener, turning those Saprolings into 4/4s. 

Next of Kin

First Responder offers a little bit of insurance for one of our best creatures.  It might even let us get our commander onto the battlefield without paying for it.  Attaching Next of Kin to that creature gives us a reverse Birthing Pod effect.  Fecundity will help a great deal with this action.  Eventually, we’ll find a way to regrow Next of Kin, put it on a big creature, then start the process all over again. 

Park Heights Maverick

No chump blocking of Park Heights Maverick, which will lead to it proliferating fairly often.  I don’t know what makes is a Maverick; I figure a card with that in the name would have to attack alone to get value.

Scepter of Celebration

Equipment gets me every time when it grants trample.  In an inexpensive package, we’re going to make lots of Citizens.  Play Scepter of Celebration in a green/red/x deck to add Mana Echoes for some serious production.

Vivien's Stampede

Maybe one mana more expensive than I’m comfortable with, I’m still willing to give Vivien’s Stampede a chance.  If we’re playing it with Beastmaster’s Ascension, we might be onto something.  I just worry it might need some support to have value. 


Agent's Toolkit

This is a cleverly-designed card.  Big props to set lead Chris Mooney and the design team.  We get counters to spread around ala graft, then we can draw a card once the kit becomes empty.  Of course, we can proliferate the counters, too.  This demonstrates that we can have an S-tier design without being just generically powerful.

Brokers Confluence

I’m searching for a game situation that uses all three different modes.  In normal Commander games, I can definitely see choosing three of our own creatures to phase out in response to a board sweeper.  I can also see countering three triggered abilities, since there are plenty of cards that will trigger multiple times on an event.  I think this one might be a card that sometimes does exactly what we need it to and sometimes does nothing at all.

Cabaretti Confluence

I’d be in on the third ability if it granted trample.  Otherwise, it’s kind of mediocre.  I can definitely see paying six mana to exile three artifacts and/or enchantments.  In Cabaretti colors, there are for sure times when the first ability will put big Dragons or whatever onto the battlefield and serve up serious damage.

Cryptic Pursuit

This one’s kind of neat and quite niche.  I guess it’s effective card draw, but the conditions might be too circumstantial to want to play it without some deep setup.  Guess that’s why it’s cryptic.

Grime Gorger

Beatings and graveyard control in a single package.  I’m in.

Life Insurance

Yeah, I’m not sure that losing life is decent insurance.  Extort might help us get some of it back and the Treasure tokens help cast the spells.  I’d look at Life Insurance as a back door win with Revel in Riches.

Maestros Confluence

Seven mana to goad everyone’s creatures for a turn isn’t so bad but the board state would have to be right to justify the cost.  There’s probably some combo use for the first ability, especially with extra turn spells.  I see the second ability only getting played circumstantially or in desperation to get rid of something big.

Obscura Confluence

This seems like the most castable of all the Confluences.  As a combat trick, the first mode will get rid of big creatures.  It’ll also be nice if someone casts Massacre Wurm.  I doubt we’ll see much of the second mode unless it’s being used to get specific stuff into the graveyard.  The third mode seems excellent for the cost of the card.

Prosperous Partnership

Prosperous Partnership gives us a different way of thinking about red/white and red/white/x decks—one in which we don’t necessarily just slam creatures into combat.  Tapping three creatures is a little expensive, but I’d be willing to see what someone can brew with it.

Riveteers Confluence

There’s solid value from each mode of Riveteer’s Confluence, but mostly in using the second and third modes in threes.  The first mode will help dig through the deck and since it’s before the third, we can use a land we draw with it. 


Currency Converter

I wonder if we’ll start to call looting currency converting instead.  Probably not.  Two mana looting is a reasonable cost.  Currency Converter comes into its own on its second activated ability, allowing us to put a card exiled with the triggered ability back into the graveyard for benefit.  It’s either just a Treasure or a 2/2 Rogue, but we’ve basically gotten something for nothing.  Like it.

False Floor

I’m wrapping my head around how to make use of False Floor.  Activating only as a sorcery makes it awkward.  Maybe some synergy with Angel’s Trumpet?  Having creatures enter the battlefield tapped means we won’t get hit by anything hasty, but that applies to ours as well, so we’ve removed a weapon from our arsenal.  I’m not sold.

Gavel of the Righteous

Gavel of the Righteous is an inexpensive Equipment that can also be zero mana to equip.  Interestingly, although we put a charge counter on it at beginning of combat, the equipped creature gets +1/+1 for each counter of any kind (emphasis mine) on the Gavel.  If we can move other counters onto it, like with Resourceful Defense, they’ll buff the creature and apply to the total of four or more for the third ability, even if they don’t have other meaning on the permanent. 

Smuggler's Buggy

A great flavor design, I can see Smuggler’s Buggy delivering the hidden-away loot and then returning to the garage to pick up more.  The crew cost of two is spicy for a 5/5.  Note that we don’t have to cast the exiled card if we don’t want to, meaning Smuggler’s Buggy will stay on the battlefield to bash again next turn (and then maybe cast the hideaway card).

Threefold Signal

The problem with the three-color spells I most want to cast—Ultimatums—is that they’re pretty expensive already.  The best way to get value out of Threefold Signal is figure out ways to cast those spells without paying their mana costs, freeing us up to pay the three. 

Weathered Sentinels

This is such a sweet design, the very definition of a rattlesnake.  The very inexpensive mana cost for a 2/5 gets even better when it’s a 5/8 with vigilance, reach, and trample.  Seems like a You Did This to Yourself card—and something to attach Sunforger to. 

The reason I went into such detail on New Capenna Commander’s new cards is that they’re full of flavor and they make compelling additions to our decks.  Along with the legendary creatures we talked about last time, they also inspire new builds.  I suspect we’re going to see quite a few of them at our Commander tables very soon. 

As always, we have a channel on the Commander RC Discord server dedicated to discussing my articles.  If you think I’ve overrated a card or sold one short, pop on by and join the more than 6,000 friends willing to engage on this and a host of other topics.  See you there! 

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