Last month, we went over all of the Elves in Streets of New Capenna, the latest expansion for Magic: the Gathering. Fortunately for us, the set had so many Elves in it, I didn’t even get round to talking about the non-Elves in Part One. (You can find Part One here if you need a refresher.)
Today, we pick up where we left off and go over the rest of the set. Of course, we’ll only be looking at cards that have some relevance to Elf decks across Magic‘s many formats. If you think I missed a cool new card for your Bird Wizard tribal deck, this just isn’t the place for that (your card is still great, though). As always, each card will be reviewed from the point of view of the format it’s most applicable in. Each entry will end with a rating out of five trees. The rating gives a vague idea of how I feel about each card, but there’s definitely more nuance in the actual text than can be shown in a single rating.
I’m particularly excited to discuss a new combo piece that the set provides for Modern. We’ll get to it eventually, but let’s see what the rest of Streets of New Capenna has to offer first.
Now, I’ll begin by saying I know Halo Fountain is not a good card, but it does have that wow factor. In most games of Magic, if you have fifteen creatures in play, you’re already winning and don’t need this card to help. As a result, it doesn’t have a home in a competitive format.
However, I really want to try it out in EDH. Birchlore Rangers to make White Mana from Elves. Elvish Promenade and Elven Ambush to provide enough creatures. I’m not saying it’ll be good: I am saying I’ll enjoy trying to pull it off.
Patch Up is a new take on cards like Call of the Death-Dweller. You might not get the extra counters from Call, but Patch Up can bring back three creatures to Call’s two. This got me thinking about how we can bring back the three one-drops needed to use Heritage Druid, which effectively pays the Patch Up back immediately.
In addition, Patch Up isn’t a bad card for recovering after you get board-wiped. Immediately getting three bodies on the field can really get you back into the game.
As a result, I’ve been trying to find a way of combining Patch Up, Heritage Druid and Rite of Harmony. I’ve been using Evoutionary Leap to get creatures in the graveyard while still churning through our deck. The biggest issue I’ve had so far is generating more White mana for casting more copies of Patch Up. The build is probably not going to be competitive any time soon, but it’s worth keeping this new card in mind in case it enables something in future.
Streets of New Capenna brought us the new Casualty mechanic. Casualty lets you sacrifice a creature to get a second copy of a spell. Seeing as we often have a bunch of spare 1/1 tokens floating around, it’s worth having a look at them.
Grisly Sigil is the one that jumped out to me as potentially the most useful. Being able to convert a token into removing two mana dorks or other utility creatures from our opponent’s board is pretty powerful. Of course, it’s only really applicable as a sideboard option for creature-based mirrors, but it’s worth keeping in mind. Being able to kill off a four-toughness creature in a pinch and gain four life is just a bonus.
As a mirror to Hunter’s Mark, Bouncer’s Beatdown provides a colour-targeted removal spell for our sideboards. Both of these cards add to our possible removal suite, but don’t compete with other sideboard options such as Abrupt Decay, Dismember or Assassin’s Trophy in older formats.
Vivien on the Hunt
Vivien was the one of the last planeswalkers I was expecting to turn up in Streets of New Capenna. A monster hunter showing up in a set centred around a specific city environment is a bit odd. Anyway, she’s looking pretty swish and even has a nice carry-case for the Arkbow.
This new Vivien is a very powerful card. Not only can she operate as a value engine, drawing multiple creatures per turn or generating 4/4 tokens, but her +1 ability can turn a three-mana creature into an infinite combo.
In the most recent Elves All The Way Down stream over on our Twitch channel, we tried putting the combo into Modern Elves. Getting out a three-drop and a six-mana Planeswalker isn’t hard for Elves, but it didn’t work out great.
However, having now played Vivien on the Hunt, I can see her being an option in the Arena formats as a way of reloading after boardwipes or pushing through removal. Every ability is relevant and puts pressure on our opponent in a different way. Her mana cost makes including her in other formats harder to justify if you aren’t doing the combo.
I’ve played Thragtusk in Elves before as a Chord target that can gain a chunk of life. Workshop Warchief can fulfil a similar role, especially alongside Rocco, Cabaretti Caterer in Standard. Rocco, like Chord, makes singleton sideboard cards more valuable as we can search them up when needed.
Blitz, Streets of New Capenna‘s mechanic for the Riveteers faction, gives extra utility to the card. You can effectively consider it a split card. One ‘side’ of the split card is the Thragtusk-like five-mana version. The six-mana ‘side’, however, gets to gain you three life, attack for a big chunk of damage, leave behind a decent body and draw you a card. That’s a lot of stuff coming from a single card.
Streets of New Capenna is a set based around five three-colour crime families. The set includes a bunch of cycles of five cards in each of these colour combinations, the Ascendancy cycle being the first of them.
I had to include our patron family’s Ascendancy in this review. Unfortunately, the effect is far too slow for us. Maybe in an Elves EDH deck, enough turns will elapse for you to gain some advantage for it? However, being three colours makes it hard to find an Elves EDH deck that wants it and can cast it.
I also wanted to discuss our family’s charm. If you’re playing Green-White-Red Elves in Standard, Cabaretti Charm is a reasonable modal option that can provide removal and a way of closing out the game. I really like that the removal can hit planeswalkers and how the instant-speed pump effect can help you claim a win out of nowhere after your opponent has figured out blocks.
However, the charm doesn’t really have application beyond three-colour decks in Standard. If only the tokens it made were Elf Citizens.
Jetmir, Nexus of Revels
If you’re looking for a creature-based finisher for Standard, you can do a worse than Jetmir. Seeing as we don’t have access to something like Craterhoof Behemoth, having a creature that we can fetch with Rocco (for the cheap price of X=4) that can immediately boost our creatures to end the game could be useful. I just wish he were an Elf Cat Demon.
Luxior, Giada’s Gift
Here we have the star of the show. I’m a huge fan of the Devoted Druid/Vizier of Remedies infinite mana combo in Modern. Luxior finally makes the combo available to Mono-Green. The +1/+1 boost the Luxior gives for each counter on Devoted Druid counteracts the -1/-1, allowing you to untap it as many times as you need to for effectively infinite mana.
The release of this card inspired me to create a variant of the Green-White Devoted Druid combo deck that can take advantage of Luxior via Stoneforge Mystic and Urza’s Saga. You can watch the league run with the deck over on our YouTube channel. The stream was great fun and the combination of Stoneforge, Saga and Elves gave us a chance in match-ups we often struggle against. Each of the different parts of the deck covered weaknesses the other had. The biggest example of this was a Stoneforge Mystic cheated out a Batterskull as a backup plan after our normal Elves strategy was foiled by multiple removal spells.
I really like the new options that Luxior opens up for variants on Elf decks in Modern. While it doesn’t help non-combo versions Elves, it will be a good tool for combo variants going forward.
A good mana base is extremely important to Elves. We really need almost every land we play to be able to make Green mana for our Green pips, but we also need to have access to our other colours for our splashes and sideboard options. I welcome any and all lands that help us with that, expecially ones that we can fetch because of basic land types.
Admittedly, lands that enter the battlefield tapped aren’t ideal, but having them as an option is great. They’re an automatic include in any three-colour variants of Elves in Standard and I’m trying to sneak them into Modern decks when I can justify it as a singleton fetch target. Of course, this isn’t applicable to any two-colour variants you’re playing.
Hopefully they’ll find a way of reprinting these and the Ikoria Triomes with their plane-specific names, or we’ll have to wait until Streets of New Capenna 2 to see them again.
So that’s it for non-Elves in Streets of New Capenna. Mostly some sideboard tech options with one very exciting combo piece. Overall, from across both reviews, the set has one or two impactful new cards for older formats, but mostly just allows us to give Elves a try in Standard again. Not that I’m complaining – I’ve really been enjoying the Jinnie Fay and Elven Ambush deck I talked about in Part One.
Of course, this volume of Elves in Standard won’t last forever. With the release of Dominaria United coming in September, all of our pay-offs from Kaldheim will be rotating out of the format. Let’s hope that the Elves we’ve seen in the promotional material means we’ll be getting some fun new toys to replace them.
I’m also hopeful for what Dominaria United might bring to formats like Pioneer. Last time we visited the plane, we got a Llanowar Elves reprint, giving us two one-mana mana-dorks. Maybe this time, we’ll get Fyndhorn Elves or some other Dominaria-specific Elf support card. One can dream.
I’ll be back here to review the Elves in Dominaria United when it releases. In the meantime, if you’re looking for more Elf content, we have our weekly MtG stream on Thursday at 7:00pm UTC on our Twitch channel and you can catch our outing with Luxior and other previous streams over on our YouTube channel.
I’ll see you next time.
Jamie is a MtG and assorted gaming enthusiast who wants to bring his enjoyment and passion for games to everyone.