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The 8 Spiciest Standard Decks from the New Capenna Championship

May 20, 2022
Frank Karsten

In total, 223 Standard decklists were submitted to the New Capenna Championship. Yet some stand out more than others—either because they use interesting new combinations of cards or because they represent a novel archetype designed by a big team. In this article, I will highlight the eight Standard decks that excited me the most. All of them rely heavily on new cards from Streets of New Capenna.

Grixis Vampires is a novel archetype enabled by Evelyn, the Covetous. It was brought to the tournament by Brent Vos, Kai Budde, Andrew Cuneo, Reid Duke, Gabriel Nassif, Will Krueger, Noah Ma, Mani Davoudi, Shahar Shenhar, Luis Scott-Vargas, Will Pulliam, and Mike Sigrist. Although there are tiny disagreements (for example, whether to play two or three copies of various legendary permanents, and whether or not to include an Expressive Iteration and/or a second Duress in the main deck) their decklists are unmistakably similar.

What's also similar is that this list of Grixis Vampires players is very close to the list of players who introduced Orzhov Venture at the Neon Dynasty Championship. If you recall, that's the deck that won the event and was well-positioned in the metagame for the tournament. Will Grixis Vampires hit another home run?

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Well, it's hard to go wrong with value-generating permanents like Bloodtithe Harvester, Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, or Kaito Shizuki. Efficient removal spells like Voltage Surge and Infernal Grasp are always excellent as well. Many decks in Standard nowadays are basically collections of good midrange cards, supported by an excellent tri-color mana base, and that's also true for Grixis Vampires. In that sense, it's not too fundamentally different from Esper Midrange or Jund Midrange.

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But one key card that you only get in Grixis is Corpse Appraiser. It's well-positioned in a metagame where Tenacious Underdog is the most-played creature, as Corpse Appraiser can easily exile it from the opponent's graveyard. Moreover, Reflection of Kiki-Jiki can copy Corpse Appraiser's enters-the-battlefield ability for value, and Corpse Appraiser even has the right creature type to re-trigger Evelyn, the Covetous.

Speaking of Evelyn, she'll ensure you never run out of cards to play in the late game, as Bloodtithe Harvester, Corpse Appraiser, and Bloodthirsty Adversary all trigger her again. She's also hard to kill: Evelyn's high toughness means that she can generally survive The Meathook Massacre and Voltage Surge, and as a multicolored permanent she cannot be targeted by Vanishing Verse either. Overall, Grixis Vampires is filled with well-positioned cards that come together in a spicy brew.

Jund Treasures is another archetype that could have included Ob Nixilis, the Adversary, but doesn't. Instead, the team of Chris Botelho, Noor Singh, Heathe Butler, Autumn Burchett, Samson Rast, Arya Karamchandani, Aryeh Zax, and John Ryan Hamilton all registered a spicy list with Professional Face-Breaker in the three-drop slot. (Raphaël Lévy also registered a Jund Treasures deck, but his list is different.)

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Plan A with this deck is to use Jaspera Sentinel, Goldhound, Magda, Brazen Outlaw, and/or Prosperous Innkeeper to ramp into a turn-three Halana and Alena, Partners or Esika's Chariot. The earlier they enter the battlefield, the easier it is to dominate the game.

Plan B revolves around Magda, Brazen Outlaw. Thanks to Jaspera Sentinel and Esika's Chariot, it can be tapped repeatedly to create Treasures without having to even risk it in combat. Add in Goldhound, Prosperous Innkeeper, the attack triggers on Esika's Chariot and Goldspan Dragon, and the combat damage trigger on Professional Face-Breaker, and this deck can create five Treasures in no time. When you sacrifice those five Treasures to Magda, you can grab Ziatora, the Incinerator from your library, sacrifice another creature, create three more Treasures, and keep the chain going. With the perfect draw, you could control 14 power worth of fliers as early as turn four.

Goldhound

I'll be honest: I wasn't expecting a big team to bring Goldhound to the event, but in this deck the Treasure Dog is just perfect. It taps for Jaspera Sentinel, turns into fresh cards with Professional Face-Breaker, supercharges Voltage Surge, and produces blue for countermagic in post-sideboard games. That's a good boy right there.

Jitse Goutbeek and James Elcombe registered the same 75 cards in Standard, and their list is simply awesome. Finally, it's time for The Kami War to shine in Standard!

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Could I also interest you in getting a Titan of Industry every turn via The Prismatic Bridge? Subsequently copying said Titan of Industry with Reflection of Kiki-Jiki will make it even sweeter.

And in the meantime, you might as well play white, blue, black, red, and/or green interactive cards. That may sound overly ambitious, but thanks to the family tri-lands from New Capenna, a dedicated Standard mana base can now actually support all five colors.

The lands alone provide 15 white, 9 blue, 9 black, 15 red, and 16 green sources already, and Courier's Briefcase, Esika, God of the Tree, The Celestus, Binding the Old Gods carry the rest. Especially when the second chapter of Binding the Old Gods can now find Spara's Headquarters or Ziatora's Proving Ground. To be fair, 29 lands is a lot, but when many of them cycle, it's not that big of a risk.

If you love big, impactful spells across all colors of Magic, then this deck looks like a blast to play.

There have been payoffs for the Angel tribe in Standard before, including the powerful Firja's Retribution, but the biggest problem with the tribe was that there weren't enough good two-drops. Most Angels cost too much mana, but if you can't affect the battlefield on turn two in Standard, then you're usually falling behind.

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That's why Giada, Font of Hope was such a big addition from Streets of New Capenna. It not only provided another payoff for focusing on the Angel tribe but also filled a massive hole in the mana curve. Inspiring Overseer is a nice early-game addition as well.

There are two other Orzhov Angels decks at the New Capenna Championship—and yes, I'm aware that I could have listed Stanislav Cifka's deck as "Esper Angels" because of the singleton Kaito Shizuki, but I didn't want to emphasize such a miniscule splash—yet I like Cifka's list the best because of his respect for a consistent mana curve. Where other lists have The Wandering Emperor, which could lead to an overly bloated curve with too many 4+ mana cards, Cifka opted for Luminarch Aspirant instead. It may not be an Angel, but bumps the number of two-mana creatures in his main deck to 12, which means that he can more consistently use all of his mana every turn.

In any case, Orzhov Angels looks like it's the real deal.

Jordan Marcy and Kevin Mittertreiner registered the same 75 cards in Standard. It contains some control elements with spot removal spells and sweepers, but that's not where the real fun lies.

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The main plan is to discard Velomachus Lorehold to Seize the Spoils, Big Score, or the second chapter of Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. Then, you return it to the battlefield with Invoke Justice, attack with a 9/9 flying, vigilance, haste creature, and cast an Emeria's Call from the top of your library for free. That's pretty hard to beat!

Now, this plan was already available before Streets of New Capenna, but Big Score is far easier on the mana base than Unexpected Windfall, especially when you want to be casting a quadruple white card. Another major addition is Titan of Industry. It's a powerful backup reanimation target that can win games by itself and that offers the dream of copying it with Reflection of Kiki-Jiki.

Imagine you registered a deck with just a single basic land, like many players have. Then if you get paired against Gruul Land Destruction, you may be in trouble.

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Let's say that you're on the draw, so on turn one you play Raffine's Tower and pass the turn. Your opponent immediately destroys it with Cleansing Wildfire. You shrug, replace it with the basic land from your library, untap, play Clearwater Pathway, and cast Tenacious Underdog.

Then on turn three, your opponent destroys your Pathway with Dire-Strain Rampage. Whoops. Well, you're out of basics, so that's effectively a Stone Rain. All you can do is put the land in your graveyard, untap, play a tapped Deserted Beach, attack, and pass the turn.

On turn four, your opponent plays Field of Ruin, destroys your Deserted Beach, grabs a basic, casts Cleansing Wildfire on your basic land, and all of a sudden you have zero lands remaining. Meanwhile, they have Dire-Strain Rampage in the graveyard and potentially Shigeki, Jukai Visionary in hand to ensure you're never casting another spell for the remainder of the game.

This is why it's risky to skimp on basic lands in the current Standard format. And don't get me wrong—I get it. Between tri-lands, dual lands, legendary lands, creature lands, and so on, there are so many attractive non-basic options nowadays that it's hard to find room for basics. But this is exploitable, and that's exactly what Akio Matsuzaki is trying to do.

Ruin Crab, Maddening Cacophony, and Tasha's Hideous Laughter have been legal in Standard for quite a while, but a dedicated turbo-mill deck involving all of these cards has never been competitive enough to show up at a Set Championship before. So what changed?

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Streets of New Capenna introduced a cycle of family fetchlands, which is a big deal for Ruin Crab. A single Brokers Hideout or Maestros Theater can single-handedly mill six cards, which adds up quickly, and it gets even better with Splendid Reclamation.

On turn four, Splendid Reclamation will often return three family fetch lands, which yields not only a bunch of Ruin Crab triggers but also a big mana boost. Kicking Maddening Cacophony and/or casting multiple Galvanic Iterations on the next turn is suddenly quite feasible.

Aaron Brackmann's Temur Mill build makes good use of the new lands, and its performance at the New Capenna Championship will tell us more about the competitive prospects of a dedicated turbo-mill deck in Standard.

There are two Azorius Ledger Shredder brews at this event, brought by Alexander Hayne and James Shotwell, and both of them look awesome. Yet I decided to highlight Shotwell's build because it showcases the connive mechanic from Streets of New Capenna in the spiciest way.

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First of all, triggering Ledger Shredder is not trivial, but Shotwell's list has 14 one-mana spells, making it reasonably easy to cast two spells in one turn. But now that you're triggering connive, what does that achieve? First of all, it allows you to discard Brine Comber or Dorothea, Vengeful Victim, which are sometimes even better in the graveyard than in your hand. Second, it generally puts a +1/+1 counter on the creature, especially in a deck with a very low land count, which in turn unlocks Ollenbock Escort. All card choices work together beautifully.

The other key two-drops in the deck are Illuminator Virtuoso and Stormchaser Drake, which are handily targeted by the aforementioned Disturb cards, Homestead Courage, and Slip Out the Back. Stormchaser Drake will draw a bunch of cards when you're doing that, while Illuminator Virtuoso can grow into a massive double striker. All in all, Azorius Connive is a chock-full of spicy synergies, and it shows that Ledger Shredder may also become a standout card in Standard.

In conclusion, if you were looking for a brand new Standard deck to try out, then give one of these decks a try! They're fun, powerful, and you can root for their pilots at the New Capenna Championship now, May 20–22, over at twitch.tv/magic.

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