I’m just going to come straight out and admit it: I am a complete sucker for clans, families and any other way of having multi-colour groups in Magic: The Gathering. I am Selesnya forever and, after playing the new Streets of New Capenna set, I might also need to pledge my allegiance to the Cabaretti family.
The story on this plane is basically that it’s The Godfather, but with animal people and magic, and I am down with this. I am so in love with the art of this set that I have a framed picture of the Cabretti family on my wall, which isn’t normally a length I would go to, but it’s just so damn pretty, how could I not?
On the plane of New Capenna there are, apparently, streets and five families who battle for control, and now you’re caught up in this mess. I don’t know how, I never read the lore (except for this unrelated story, which is adorable and you should read it too if you love love), but each family gets their own abilities, obviously.
The black/blue/white Obscura family use the Connive mechanic. Conniving means you draw a card and discard a card. If you discard a non-land card, the Conniving creature gets a +1/+1 counter. This is quite useful, especially in a blue deck that might let you plumb the depths of your graveyard later, but also works well with cards like Currency Converter to get a little extra value.
Blue/black/red family, The Maestros, use Casualty to copy instants and kill your own creatures, which seems about right for blue/black/red. What you do is pay an extra amount of mana when playing a spell with Casualty, sacrifice one non-token creature and copy the spell. It’s utterly brutal and is so on-brand for those three colours that players with a natural affinity for them should really enjoy it.
Riveteers, which are black/red/green use Blitz. Not only do the Riveteers have excellent outfits (more people should wear suspenders, they’re very practical, but I digress), but Blitz is a pretty handy mechanic. You can choose to cast a creature for its Blitz cost, which will give it haste and give you a card when it dies, which it will at the beginning of the next end step. It fits with the disposability of black and red, but feels a little off for the growing creature collection of green.
The green/white/blue Brokers love Shield Counters. Can’t get enough of them. And I love it for all three colours. A Shield Counter operates exactly how it sounds: you place a shield counter on your creature and if that permanent would be destroyed or damaged by something, they get a second chance and only the counter is removed. This works on both creatures and Planeswalkers, which immediately opens up more opportunities in Commander games.
Cabretti is obviously my favourite family with red/white/green and they use Alliance, which is stupid powerful. Often, with Alliance, when another creature enters the battlefield under your control, something good will happen to all of your creatures with Alliance. The goodness of that thing depends on the card, so it’s not as universal as the other powers. This is perfect for people who want to grow massive, powerful armies of creatures and then overwhelm their opponents.
I’ve been playing a lot of Commander with the Streets of New Capenna set and the pre-fab decks are so well made for games with three or more players. The designers have put as much Goad in as possible, which forces the creatures of other players to attack your opponents. It’s not a new mechanic for this set, but I have seen it included more in the Cabretti deck than I’ve seen in any other set, and it works well with the mafiosi theme. It allows you to make you opponents fight each other while your hands technically stay clean.
That Cabretti deck seemed almost unbeatable in four-player games. At the same time, it’s almost unwinnable in two-player games, in which families like Obscura shine more and utterly destroy the Cabretti deck.
After spending a little more than a week playing with these cards, I’m really looking forward to seeing how they’re used in competitive play. They seem well suited to drafting as well. All in all, this is one of Magic: The Gathering’s best sets in a while, and I highly recommend it.