Pauper Set Review: Streets of New Capenna

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Pauper Set Review: Streets of New Capenna

04/16/22 Comment regular icon0 comments

With the preview season over, I present my Streets of New Capenna review for Pauper!

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By Romeu

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translated by Romeu

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revised by Tabata Marques

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Did you miss me? Well, nobody said being a college student was easy, but I'm back. Not coincidentally, as the Streets of New Capenna preview season came to an end last Friday, which means this is the time when the Cards Realm team conducts their analysis of the new set based on the main competitive and casual formats. As usual, I'll be covering Pauper first, but you can expect a Pioneer article soon.

Streets of New Capenna and Pauper

Pauper has gone through a dozen significant changes in recent months, both in direct interventions with bans and the inclusion of more powerful cards in recent releases, especially in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty.

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However, Streets of New Capenna, in a broad view, seems to bring few relevant pieces to the format if we compare it to Neon Dynasty, being perhaps closer to Innistrad: Midnight Hunt or Crimson Vow in the sense that there are specific pieces that can be useful for certain archetypes, but without the inclusion of cards with effects that automatically make them staples. There's nothing similar to Experimental Synthesizer or Moon-Circuit Hacker in the new set, and maybe not even anything close to Blood Fountain. From a broader perspective, I consider it natural that Pauper isn't so favored in this release, as New Capenna is essentially geared towards multicolored factions and this naturally distributes a higher power level to cards that include more than one or two colors in the set, while monocolored common cards end up becoming just draft support material to “hold the ties” between uncommon and rare. That doesn't mean, however, that there aren't some interesting options to consider for Pauper, just that many of the cards included won't go directly into any well-established archetype, but rather into more strategies that are still in development and need further development and more support to work.

White

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I think effects like Karametra's Blessing and Gods Willing are more efficient options to use in Mono White Heroic, but Boon of Safety makes room for some proactive plays that allows its controller to keep your creature live against a possible removal at a later date. It can be useful to pull some extra damage in the first few turns, trigger a Seeker of the Way and add some value with Scry 1.
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Despite being better than Legion Conquistador for having a more aggressive body, Squadron Hawk is still the best fetch creature option Pauper (and maybe Magic) has to offer.
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I suppose it's pretty easy to assume that I consider Inspiring Overseer to be the best Streets of New Capenna card for Pauper. In Adventures of the Forgotten Realms, we had the release of Priest of Ancient Lore as the first draw-on-white effect, and Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty brought Spirited Companion as an enchantment version of Elvish Visionary, and New Capenna now brings an enhanced version of Priest of Ancient Lore with an evasive body that makes a significant difference in the format. Most of the Pauper's main threats these days are flying creatures: Faeries, Kor Skyfisher and Glint Hawk, and while Inspiring Overseer doesn't offer a favorable trade against any of these creatures (and being an unfavorable trade against Kor Skyfisher), it offers an equally elusive body that can be used to strike at a controlled board alongside Mulldrifter and other small evasive threats. The obvious inclusion of the new angel would be in Ephemerate decks, especially the Jeskai Wildfire variants, but I can imagine other Boros and Mardu variants opting to utilize a few copies of it as an additional threat that replaces itself in its controller's hand. It probably won't become an immediate staple for any of these strategies, but is definitely a card worth considering for any White-based Midrange.

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I'd really like to say that Raffine's Guidance is worth a consideration in Heroic, but Sentinel's Eyes seems to do a good recurring aura effect in Pauper today, so I don't see much room for a spell that requires more mana for half the effect to be played from the graveyard.
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Looting effect on white is... Weird. Raffine's Informant offers a body with hand filtration that can be leveraged by many white cards, especially Battle Screech, Rally the Peasants or Prismatic Strands, where it still leaves a body to cast the Flashback of those spells. In addition, the creature also offers a creature able to discard certain cards to reanimate with Late to Dinner. A 3/2 body isn't usually relevant at a full board or against some of the top decks in the format today, but it trades favorably with Augur of Bolas and most Faeries, which can come in handy at certain times. In short, it's a good effect on a good body at a good cost, but it doesn't seem to have a home in the current Metagame and seems to me to be less effective than other looting effects on the archetypes that have interest on them.
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Again, another addition to Mono White Heroic, and one that could be very worthwhile as 90% of the time, the creature you target with this spell will have a +1/+1 counter on it, and a power boost along with Flying and Lifelink can be just what you need to turn the tables on another Aggro deck, or end the game with a single attack.

Blue

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Honorable mention, Majestic Metamorphosis is, as far as I can remember, the first artifact-to-creature transformation effect available in Pauper. I can't imagine a situation where paying three mana to draw a card and temporarily turning your artifact into a 4/4 creature is good, but I can guess that there must be some weird combo where this new effect makes a difference.
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In case you, for some reason, are wondering: in a world with Counterspell, Rune Snag, Mana Leak and Deprive, on most occasions, there will be no useful reason to run Make Disappear.
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Witness Protection is an efficient and low-cost way to render an opponent's creature absolutely useless during the game. If it had Flash, it would easily be a staple between Maindeck and Sideboard of Blue-Based Decks. I suppose it's worth a try at Mono Blue Faeries' Sideboard to permanently disable creatures like Myr Enforcer, Gurmag Angler and Kor Skyfisher, but you'll need to consider whether the relatively lower mana cost will outweigh the fact that the opponent can still block with enchanted creature.

Black

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Dig up the Body is a relatively powerful card for Self-Mill strategies, especially when paired with small creatures that collaborate with this game plan, such as Satyr Wayfinder. The ability to mill four cards and return two creatures to your hand (which could commonly be Delve threats like Gurmag Angler, or other creatures that benefit from the number of cards in your graveyard) at Instant-Speed make it an acceptable option, but only if you have another creature on the battlefield.

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New Capenna's selective discard effect is an interesting tech for dealing with Bogles or Heroic, as it allows you to remove both creatures and enchantments from your opponent's hand. The effect of having them sacrifice an enchantment is useful, but it seems of little use against these games, as the first enchantments your opponent casts are unlikely to be the ones you want to remove from play. My conclusion is that Duress and Distress are still better discard options for handling these and other matchups.
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Wizards has really decided that Voltron strategies need to be punished. Is that an omen, or was it the consequence of Naya Runes' rise on Standard? There are occasions where Incriminate is a viable option against Aggro decks as it forces the opponent to choose one of two of their best creatures, and is often more useful than Chainer's Edict on those occasions, but the absence of 2-for-1 effect, and the fact that this spell isn't as useful against archetypes where Edict effects tend to excel makes me a bit skeptical as to its playability in Pauper.

Red

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Fists of the Anvil with increased toughness could be an interesting option for Kiln FIend variants, especially considering that Antagonize + Temur Battle Rage or Assault Strobe + Kiln Fiend triggers together deal a total of 22 damage. Given that we're still talking about a format with access to Rite of Flame and Lotus Petal, it could be an interesting addition to Mono Red Blitz.
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Honorable mention. I consider Goldhound to be pretty strong on Pioneer for offering a “mana dork” in red for one mana, but I can't imagine a situation

for Pauper

where this creature is needed currently, despite the various interactions with Treasures in New Capenna.
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Streets of New Capenna's two-mana damage spell offers a flexible 2-for-1 on the right list, and can deal with various troublesome creatures like Ninja of the Deep Hours and some fairy, or Seeker of the Way and Glint Hawk. However, because of the Casualty at 2 instead of 1, I don't know which sacrifice archetypes would really want to offer a 2/2 creature in exchange for removing another creature from the opponent as, unfortunately, that damage cannot target players.
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Honorable mention because I've seen many players asking what others think about Sticky Fingers, as the Aura technically turns your creature into a pseudo-Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer. And my answer is that Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is absurd because it needs absolutely nothing additional to do its effect for just a mana or two, whereas Sticky Fingers requires a creature on the battlefield and slots on your maindeck to reproduce half the same effect. Not worth it.
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Streets of New Capenna has a cycle of common creatures with Alliance that perform an effect when other creatures enter the battlefield, and Witty Roastmaster is the only one really worth mentioning because it deals

damage to the opponent

, while the others only increase their own power or gain life.

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There are numerous interactions in Pauper that involve ETB effects, such as the combos with Ghostly Flicker, or the First Day of Class combos, or even a combo that involves a Persist green creature and Ivy Lane Denizen, and Witty Roastmaster is yet another payoff that offers automatic wins for these situations. However, the new creature competes with Impact Tremors as a means of dealing damage through ETB effects, while also competing with Hissing Iguanar and other creatures in the infinite sacrifice outlets, and since none of these cards really got these combos to the top of the Metagame, I suppose Witty Roastmaster won't be enough either.
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Some “go-wide” variants of Stompy (those that don't necessarily mind using Bayou Groff) might be interested in For the Family. But the impression I have is that this spell is worse than Groundswell on most occasions, especially considering interactions with Quirion Ranger. Also, it's been quite a while since we last saw Stompy succeed at Pauper. It is likely that the deck, while not receiving efficient means of obtaining card advantage, will not be able to keep up with the rest of the format.
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Two mana for a 3/3 creature with Vigilance and Trample can be very interesting, but needing three mana to cast it isn't exactly where archetypes that could add Jewel Thief would like to be, and it doesn't do enough to also deserve a spot in Big Mana decks, like Cascade.
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I like having Card Selection effects on Instant-Speed ​​in Pauper, especially outside blue. But for three mana, Warm Welcome is too steep.

Multicolored

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Body Dropper joins Mortician Beetle as another relevant payoff for Sacrifice decks, which has received good support in recent sets, but lacks the elements to create a competitively viable strategy because the pieces simply don't fit as they should (Cat-Oven would change that). It's possible that the new creature, despite specifically suffering from the same flaws as its predecessor, adds more consistency to the archetype.
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Many people have commented on the possibility of Snooping Newsie being a new threat on Dimir Delver, as it naturally feeds Gurmag Angler, while the strategy doesn't have much difficulty having diversified mana values ​​among its spells, like Preordain and Delver of Secrets at 1, Cast Down, Augur of Bolas and Counterspell at 2, Suffocating Fumes at 3, Snuff Out at 4 and Gurmag Angler at 7, not to mention Evolving Wilds and Ash Barrens at 0. However, I can't help but consider that Snooping Newsie and Gurmag Angler work in opposite directions on the Self-Mill spectrum, with one wanting to feed on graveyard pieces quickly while the other intends to keep some specific pieces to activate your ability and be useful in combat. A 3/3 body with Lifelink for two mana is a threat that needs to be respected if it manages to stay in play, and it definitely grants some extra breath in tight matchups, and the new creature interacts well to get its threshold hit (in addition to also interact for a quick cast of Gurmag Angler), so there might be some space where these two divergent threats can coexist, Dragon's Rage Channeler and Murktide Regent play in the same archetype with little or no difficulty in Modern and Legacy.

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However, unlike in these other timeless formats, getting Delirium is much easier than getting five distinct mana values ​​in your graveyard, and Snooping Newsie helps enable this strategy, but does absolutely nothing that offers any value to its controller over the course of the game while its requirement is not met, nor does it offer an additional value if the graveyard is exiled by a Relic of Progenitus, becoming just a 2/2 creature with no additional abilities. My conclusion about this card is that, although it is worth testing in Dimir variants with Gurmag Angler, or in other strategies that take advantage of its Self-Mill effect, the lack of good evasion and the absence of added value, in addition to the notorious divergence between her and Delve cards, along with the difficulty in deckbuilding concessions that having five different mana values ​​can cause, make Snooping Newsie an interesting addition, but probably not worth the slots it would occupy.

Artifacts

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We've seen artifacts that produce other artifacts (such as Blood Fountain) given a slot in archetypes that care about Affinity and Metalcraft, and I can imagine situations where Flying a Myr Enforcer with Gilded Pinions be a useful choice that makes a difference in a mirror match. The new artifact probably doesn't deserve many slots in their respective decks, but it might be worth a one-of in some Affinity variants.

Lands

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This cycle is an interesting mix between the Panoramas cycle and the Life Lands. The new "fetchlands" have some specific utilities that can make them useful in archetypes that run cards that care about land types, like Matca Rioters or Tribal Flames, but doesn't seem to be any better than the Panoramas or other options. I consider that for general purposes these lands will always be worse than Evolving Wilds and Ash Barrens due to the lack of interactions with cantrips like Brainstorm and Preordain, or for not guaranteeing that you can choose your terrain at a time when you need further information on your opponent's plays. In a world where the interaction of Cleansing Wildfire and Bridges did not exist, it is possible that this cycle would be more useful on archetypes with more than two colors. But currently, I can't imagine them as more than mere singletons for the format.
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This new common lands cycle, which I'll be naming Draw Lands in this article, seem to have a similar utility to the Strixhaven Campuses: They're good Mana Sink effects when the game is too attrition-oriented, and the question is whether they'll be superior to Strixhaven's duals. It is possible that Midrange and Control archetypes in allied colors want to use one or two copies of these to have an additional draw in long games, as some Boros or Izzet lists, for example, use Campus to have an additional scry each turn, but I particularly consider that, on many occasions, a recurring scry will be more important than an extra draw in an attrition matchup.

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Conclusion

That was my review of Streets of New Capenna for Pauper. Next week, I'll be reviewing the new set for Pioneer, where it has a greater potential to make significant changes between the inclusion of powerful spells and cards, in addition to the new Triomes cycle that will definitely make a huge difference on manabases. Pauper is unlikely to undergo as significant changes with New Capenna as it did with Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, unless another direct intervention by the Pauper Format Panel becomes necessary. Something that, from the point of view of someone who has watched the format relatively distantly over the last couple of weeks, doesn't seem to be the case. Experimental Synthesizer and Deadly Dispute are still on my watchlist. However, the current moment doesn't seem to reflect a situation where these cards are harmful to the Metagame's health. They just changed the way Pauper is played, and changes in a game like Magic: The Gathering are good. Thanks for reading!
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Romeu

Writer and translator for Cards Realm and journalism student. Plays virtually every Magic: The Gathering competitive format.

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