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The New Capenna Standard Primer

May 16, 2022
Mani Davoudi

Standard is back for the New Capenna Championship. A mainstay of competitive play, it finally took a back seat for Alchemy to have a turn in the spotlight at the Neon Dynasty Championship. That one Championship hiatus means it's been nearly six months since the Innistrad Championship, and nearly six months since we've taken a deep dive into Standard.

As for myself, I am taking a break from coverage to compete in the New Capenna Championship. At the time this article was written, my team and I are hard at work trying to figure out what our decks of choice will be for the tournament.

So we're going to look at how Streets of New Capenna affects the existing Standard format, and some of the decks and cards you may see this weekend. For those of you who may need a refresher course on what Standard has been leading up to the New Capenna Championship, I highly recommend checking out Frank Karsten's excellent breakdown of format's the evolution up to this point.

Taking to the Streets

Streets of New Capenna has the unenviable position of being the last set to join Standard before rotation with Dominaria United. With seven sets already in the mix, a major shake-up of the format is asking a lot from just one set's worth of new cards. What we have typically seen in the past is minor improvements to a variety of archetypes while the metagame remains largely the same.

While all of this holds somewhat true for Streets of New Capenna, there is one important distinction: The allied color tri-lands.

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The addition of these lands means a massive improvement in mana for existing three-color strategies, and they can singlehandedly make new archetypes possible as well.

Of course, there's no better way for me to show you the impact of the new lands and the rest of Streets of New Capenna than by looking at some decklists. Let's get to the good stuff!

The first deck to be making big waves in the new format is Esper Midrange. An evolution of the Orzhov Midrange decks that were already strong, this deck takes advantage of Raffine's Tower to smooth out its mana and easily enable playing three colors. This newfound freedom allows you to back up your existing Planeswalker suite with a variety of new creatures like Tenacious Underdog, Obscura Interceptor, and Raffine.

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Between the creatures and Planeswalkers nearly all providing some amount of value, this deck has a hard time running out of resources and feels competitive at all stages of the game. Connive is a great way to filter through your deck and make sure you can curve out while also finding the required answers to your opponent's threats. Esper Midrange has come out of the gates swinging, and I don't expect it to go away anytime soon.

Next up is Jund Midrange, made possible with the help of Ziatora's Proving Ground. Conceptually, this deck isn't too different from Esper Midrange. Ultimately, you're trying to play the best cards you can at any given mana point while burying your opponents in card advantage. The choice to keep the black shell and pair it with red and green mana gives you access to two of the most powerful cards in Standard: Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and Esika's Chariot. You also get access to some versatile removal spells like Strangle, Riveteers Charm, and Unleash the Inferno.

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This deck is the ultimate Esika's Chariot deck with no shortage of juicy tokens to copy with the powerful vehicle between Spiders, Vampires, Rhinos, and Goblin Shamans. My personal favorite token to copy in this deck though is the new Ob Nixilis, the Adversary. A three mana Planeswalker making a non-legendary token copy of itself is already very cool, but being able to make more of those copies with the Chariot is just awesome.

This Izzet Control deck is extremely sweet in a meta of greedy midrange decks. Cleansing Wildfire is a cool way of attacking decks that have cut down on their Basic Land counts to support a 3-color manabase, and you can get repeat value out of it later in the game with Lier and the new addition of Arcane Bombardment.

Arcane Bombardment

The rest of the deck is a supporting cast of removal spells and card advantage, buying you time to get your late game engines online. Big Score is also an excellent addition to this deck as an easier to cast Unexpected Windfall, helping you get an Arcane Bombardment into play sooner. This deck is an absolute blast to play when it's doing its thing, and the existence of a strategy like this can definitely impact the deckbuilding decisions of the format.

This "Gruul" Aggro deck is a throwback to Magda, Brazen Outlaw and Jaspera Sentinel decks of old, but with a new twist: Fight Rigging. The hideaway enchantment from Streets of New Capenna is a nice way of compounding pressure by growing your creatures, but its real power lies in being able to trigger that 7-power clause to get a free spell. To aid with that task, the deck plays Shakedown Heavy as a cheap 6-power creature and Ziatora, the Incinerator as another 6-power creature that doubles as a way to quickly close out the game.

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I like the explosive element Fight Rigging adds to this deck, allowing you to play a much less fair game plan and go overtop of what your opponents are doing. This deck can still be fragile to targeted removal at the right moments, but the ability to put on pressure while also threatening a burst of damage out of nowhere is very scary.

If you had told me that an Angel tribal deck would be a competitive archetype, I would not have believed you before Streets of New Capenna. The introduction of Giada, Font of Hope put this deck over the top, giving you another 2-drop for your curve that can snowball your future turns for very little investment. Between Giada and Righteous Valkyrie your Angels can become quite large very quickly, and there's no shortage of good Angels to cast, especially with the addition of Inspiring Overseer.

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Angels already had a strong mid-late game with cards like Firja's Retribution and Liesa, Forgotten Archangel, but Elspeth Resplendent now rounds out that suite to threaten a quick ultimate or help find a Righteous Valkyrie. This latest iteration of the deck feels like the most well-rounded version to date, and I really think it has all the tools to be a real contender in the metagame.

Naya Runes did not get much help from Streets of New Capenna, with only Jetmir's Garden making it into some builds of the deck. Despite this, the deck continues to be extremely strong and felt worth mentioning as you can surely expect to see it in some capacity this weekend.

At the Neon Dynasty Championship, the prevalence of Runes leading up to the event resulted in such a heavily skewed anti-Runes field that the deck ended up getting crushed. It'll be interesting to see if something similar happens again at the New Capenna Championship.

The New Capenna Championship Sets the Stage

Streets of New Capenna made its presence known in Standard, and there's still room for innovation in the format. It'll be interesting to see what players will come up with for both Standard and Historic, and how much impact the set will truly have on the two formats of the New Capenna Championship.


To see what everyone came up with, be sure to tune in to all the tournament coverage at twitch.tv/magic, starting Friday May 20 at 9 a.m. PT!

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