Having gone to the cybernetic future, Magic the Gathering’s new set, Streets of New Capenna, is going to the past. Our past real world, that is. Based on tales of gangsters and noir metropolises, the newest entry details five demonic crime families – the Brokers, Obscura, Maestros, Riveteers and Cabaretti – fighting for control of a dwindling magical resource known only as ‘Halo’. If you’re not ready to don your suit or a party dress and jostle with magical gangsters, you’ll be able to get even more in the mood as more cards will be spoiled every day from now until launch.
The set itself will arrive at MTG Arena on April 28, a day before the global paper release on April 29. You’ll also be able to join the party early, with pre-release events starting April 22.
Demons and dilettantes stalk the lavish parties of an art deco city while wizards cast spells in their elegant limousines. I’m grabbing my hat and coat as we talk about Magic’s latest weird evolution.
What’s the story with Nova Capenna?
For a city literally built by angels – eat your heart out, Los Angeles – New Capenna sure is firmly ruled by demons. Five of them, to be exact, the bosses of the five crime families fighting over who will come out on top. Their big bone to pick with one another is control of ‘Halo’, which is apparently what’s left of the angels who built the city, who were betrayed by the demons of New Capenna on their way out the door. Crime really does pay, if you’re a mafia fiend.
Meanwhile, planeswalkers like Elspeth, Vivien, and Ob Nixilis also mixed in. Elspeth is investigating to try to find out whether or not New Capenna is her home, while Vivien travels in search of natural balance. The two team up to try to prevent a war between the different families who have been angered by a mysterious ‘Adversary’ and find Urabrask, the Phyrexian Praetor lurking in the city. The big secret is that Ob Nixilis is the figure behind the mysterious Adversary character, and he’s sucking up all the Halo he can get his hands on.
Who are these crime families anyway?
- the obscure are talented mages, associated with black, white, and blue mana. They are blackmailers, deceivers, and masters of illusion and distraction who run constant schemes for their own benefit.
- The Maestros are elite assassins, associated with blue, black and red mana. They are wealthy and love all the high status and class that comes with good things. They are largely vampires, and their facade is that of an organization of art collectors.
- the riveters are mostly construction workers, associated with black, red, and green mana. They are tough and loud, building and tearing down the city’s buildings, and they rely on brute force and intimidation.
- The Cabaretti are partying cult druids, associated with red, green, and white mana. They throw the best parties and are the never-ending high-class center of the city.
- the brokers are demonic advocates, associated with green, white, and blue mana. They’re a law firm that believes in an apocalyptic prophecy that predicts Nova Capenna’s downfall when all of Halo is over, and their agents are experts at erasing memories.
What previous mechanics are returning?
So far, there’s only one specific mechanic that we know is returning: the strangely useful and themed Refuge mechanical.
Refuge allows you to take a card from the top of your deck and then play that card for free later if you meet the conditions. In the past, this was a hit-or-miss mechanic, powerful when conditions were easy to meet.
What mechanics is Nova Capenna introducing?
Unsurprisingly, the Maestros’ vampiric assassins really like the new Accident mechanic, which gives spells an optional additional cost: sacrifice a creature with the appropriate power. The return on your morbid investment is very good, because if you pay the cost, you can copy the spell for free. With the number of starting utility creatures – and especially creatures with death triggers – Crash is ready for some serious power.
With Alliance, you will be rewarded for building your board with more and more creatures. Enter the battlefield the effects are often extremely strong, being the basis of many powerful decks in various formats. For me, Alliance is the most likely to produce surprisingly powerful cards. Oh, and something that rewards you for getting a ton of people together? Yes, they are the druidic party-goers of the Cabaretti family.
With Brokers, we are seeing a new type of counter with its own rules: shield counters. They act like little shields of protection, where the next time they take damage or are destroyed, you cancel them out and remove a counter. There are some powerful effects with this already in previews – especially Elspeth – but what’s interesting to me is that in older formats like Modern this is sort of a sneaky benefit to white, whose removal spells are mostly exile effects, which will ignore shield counters.
Appearing primarily with the Riveters, blitz allows you to cast creatures for an alternative cost (usually cheaper) and have haste, but they die at the end of your turn. Fortunately, they also draw a card for you, so this is an intriguing option for creatures to take quick damage and replace themselves, or in the case of the newly revealed Jaxis the Troublemaker – speed up and copy an important creature.
The mystics and seers of the Obscura lead with conniving right in the head of his family: Raffine, Scheming Seer. Allowing you to draw and then discard cards, each discarded nonland card also empowers your creature with a +1/+1 counter, so you can increase your aggression or filter extra land from your hand. This is going to be quite situational for how useful it is, but anything that can give you some card advantage has a chance of being powerful.
What about window displays, special frames and alternative art?
If you’re a fan of cool alternative art and frames, you’ll be very happy with New Capenna. Continuing the previous traditions, we will have some.
- We will see extended, borderless cards returning again, along with engraved foil.
- This is another set where we will have complete art lands, each of which is truly impressive metropolis-themed art.
- The new alternative frame is art deco, which looks quite elegant and architectural.
- Here’s another version of this called ‘skyscraper’, which will apply to ten different terrains. Five of them that we know of are the new tri-lands (with three different basic land types at the same time), but the other five are a mystery, and we only know that they are not the original tri-lands and are not basic lands.
- Each of the three planeswalkers will appear in three different arts (normal, borderless, and art deco).
- We’ll also have golden age frames, which are already pretty fancy, but they also have a so-called ‘golden’ version that has the embossed frame with shiny gold leaf.
- Lastly, there is a special box topper, which is the Gala Greeters card. They have a different artwork for each regional release, and these regional releases/languages will be the only place you can get that art.