A brand new Magic: The Gathering release comes out later this month, set in a previously unexplored world called New Capenna. Inspired by art deco and America’s roaring ’20s, The Streets of New Capenna combines a high-concept artistic vision with a diverse mix of familiar Magic characters meeting one another for the first time.
To introduce fans and players to a mix of new cards, mechanics, and the magical substance known as Halo, some of the set’s designers pulled back the curtain to provide an in-depth introduction to this world of crime, glamor, and buried secrets.
The Crime Families at the Center of New Capenna
Though we were previously introduced to the tri-color factions that dictate daily life for New Capenna’s denizens, Magic’s designers have now revealed each family’s characteristics, signature mechanics, and the types of gameplay we can expect from the individual strategies that these factions support.
The Obscura — In New Capenna, Obscura are masters of prophecy, fortune telling, and communion with dreams. Working to keep balance between the city’s five families is no small task, but The Obscura have plenty of tools. “If they can’t conquer the city through muscle, then they can at least manage the flow of information by running cons, blackmailing powerful adversaries, rumor-mongering, grifting, and laundering reputations,” explained Miguel Lopez, a game designer with Wizards of the Coast.
The Obscura are based in blue mana, complemented by white and black. Their mechanics lean toward card draw and control. Their signature mechanic is a new ability called Connive, which makes you draw a card and discard a card, and for every nonland card you discard, you put a +1/+1 counter on the Conniving creature.
The Maestros — The Maestros are master assassins with a code: Be precise, be professional, and be thorough. The Maestros are also artists, critics, and avid collectors, quietly working to curate New Capenna’s past by keeping the secrets of Old Capenna hidden in their museum archives and vaults.
According to Lopez, “they will kill without a thought or a moment of regret if it means achieving their goals.”
Mechanically based in black, they’re also supported by red and blue. Maestro cards favor sacrificing creatures along with targeted removal. Their signature mechanic is Casualty, an additional casting cost that lets you sacrifice creatures to copy spells.
The Riveteers — The Riveteers are tough-as-nails artisans who oversee construction on New Capenna and own the largest stockpile of Halo in the city.
“No building comes up or comes down without the knowledge of the Riveteers,” Lopez said. “Without them the city falls.”
Centered in red, with black and green complimenting, Riveteer mechanics favor aggressive play and heavy-hitting creatures. Their signature mechanic is Blitz, an alternate casting cost that grants creatures haste and makes you sacrifice them at your end step, but lets you draw a card when they die.
The Cabaretti — Originally hailing from the druids and bards of Old Capenna, now “the Cabaretti deal in favors, culture, and coin,” Lopez said. “If you want to make it in the city as a star or tycoon, you’ll have to find your way past the Cabaretti first.”
The Cabaretti are based in green and supported by red and white. Their mechanics favor going wide, placing lots of new creatures on the table every turn while enhancing those you already control. Their signature mechanic is called Alliance, a triggered ability that produces various effects when creatures enter the battlefield. Devilish Valet demonstrates this mechanic in action, where each additional creature that enters the battlefield doubles the Valet’s power until the end of the turn.
The Brokers — First recruited from the paladins of Old Capenna, on New Capenna the Brokers’ stock-in-trade are the favors owed to them by other factions. It’s an extremely self-serving business model, but complements their lucrative protection racket very nicely.
“They focus on keeping a peace that benefits the five families, and maintaining the façade that this is a city of rules and order,” Lopez said. “They will keep you safe, whether you want them to or not.”
The Brokers are centered in white, with green and blue complimenting. Their mechanics favor protection and control, and their signature mechanic is applying Shield counters. If a creature with a Shield counter would be dealt damage or destroyed, you remove a shield counter instead.
More Cards in Hiding
Streets of New Capenna also marks the return of Hideaway, a mechanic first introduced in Lorwyn in 2007. When a card with Hideaway comes into play, you look at cards from the top of your library, exile one of your choice face down, then cast it for free after you’ve met a specified condition.
According to New Capenna’s lead architect Max McCall, most of the Hideaway cards in this set are Hideaway 5, meaning you will look at the top five cards of your library when a Hideaway card is played.
Though each house is governed by legendary demons with iconic creature types, don’t expect the five houses to have strong tribal themes integrated in the set’s design. Unlike some sets that focus on specific tribes, such as elves, vampires, or dragons, those creatures are present here without specific payoffs for having these creatures in your deck.
“There are creature types more strongly associated with each of the families,” according to Lauren Bond, one of the set’s game designers. “But it is not strictly a drafting tribal set.”
And of course there’s Halo. Before anyone gets flashbacks of playing with Aether on Kaladesh, Halo will not be treated as a resource in New Capenna.
“It shows up on cards […] but because it doesn’t have a mechanical space, it’s like the general power source for the plane,” Bond said. “It’s more like an artistic and stylistic inclusion.”
To highlight New Capenna’s beauty and artistic vision, the set features a variety of alternate art treatments on cards, including treatments we’re familiar with and some that are brand new to this set.
Ten full art basics return, known as Metropolis lands, featuring two versions for each basic land type. They are joined by eight borderless and 35 extended art treatments across all the rare and mythic rarity cards.
New in New Capenna is the golden age frame. These will be seen on 45 different cards that feature the set’s tri-color factions. Golden age cards will also have a unique foiling process called the gilded treatment.
“We’ve embossed the frame with a gold hot stamp,” said McCall. “The frames themselves have this kind of metallic sheen […] this is the coolest foil that we’ve ever made.”
Another alternate art treatment is available for just nine other cards, meant to answer the question, “What if this character was on the cover of a fashion magazine?” These will also be available in a foil-etched treatment similar to the gilded golden age cards.
Following in the footsteps of the last two versions of Jin-Gitaxias and Vorinclex, a new version of the praetor Urabrask will also appear in the Phyrexian frame and with Phyrexian text — Magic’s as-yet untranslated secret language. All versions of Urabrask are available in all types of boosters, except the foil-etched art deco version which is exclusive to collector boosters.
Three planeswalkers make their return in New Capenna: Elspeth, Vivien, and Ob Nixilis, also known as The Adversary. Each of the planeswalkers are printed in three different treatments, a traditional frame, a borderless frame, and an art deco frame. Each version can be found in any booster pack, except the foil-etched art deco printing, which is exclusive to collector boosters.
Like most standard sets, New Capenna will come with a special edition foil box topper card for anyone who purchases a booster box from the set. But for the first time, the box topper art will be unique to every language that the product is printed in. Even though it will be the same card, a two-mana elf druid called Gala Greeters, the box topper art will be different if you receive the card in English, Japanese, Italian, and so on.
Streets of New Capenna tabletop prereleases begin on April 22, followed by the set’s digital release on April 28, and the worldwide paper release on April 29.