Black • MTG Arena Zone


It’s every magic players favorite time, spoiler season. It’s like Christmas, but we get it multiple times a year! I get so hyped up for new sets and this one is going to be crazy with the first shard based set we’ve had in a long time. So lets jump right into see what’s going down on the mean Streets of New Capenna.

  • 5.0: Disgustingly powerful and basically unbeatable. Either answer it the turn it comes down or just pack up your cards. (Tovolar’s Huntmaster, The Meathook Massacre, Starnheim Unleashed)
  • 4.5: Incredible bomb that still gives your opponent a slim chance. (Adeline, Resplendent Cathar, Alrund’s Epiphany, Grand Master of Flowers)
  • 4.0: Great rare or the absolute best uncommons and removal. (Froghemoth, Morbid Opportunist, Skullport Merchant)
  • 3.5: Great role filler or removal that you never cut. (Magic Missile, Cathartic Pyre, Battle Cry Goblin)
  • 3.0: Good playable that I’m basically never cutting. (Usher of the Fallen, Search Party Captain, Dragon Turtle)
  • 2.5: Decent playable and the bar I hope nearly every card in my deck to reach. (Mourning Patrol, Steadfast Paladin, Goblin Morningstar)
  • 2.0: Mediocre filler that normally is your 20-23rd card(s). (Contact Other Plane, Mindleech Ghoul, Timberland Guide)
  • 1.5: Replaceable, overall bad filler. Could also be decent sideboard cards. (Secrets of the Key, Spiked Pit Trap, Village Rites)
  • 1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Secret Door, Mystic Skull, Funeral Longboat)
  • 0.5: Very unhappy to main deck this, but maybe it has fringe sideboard applications. (You See a Guard Approach, Bramble Armor, Compelled Duel)
  • 0.0: Unplayable in every possible situation. (Mimic, Change of Fortune, Curse of Shaken Faith)

Angel of Suffering

Rating: 4.0/5

Make your opponent suffer by pseudo gaining a ton of life with this. Early on this is just an efficient flying beater that says “You can’t really do damage to me” which is obviously insane. Unfortunately, there are going to be times where this outright costs you the game by making it easier to mill you out than kill you. I would try to make sure you have a couple sources of casualty floating around just in case you need to abandon ship on this one.

Body Launderer

Rating: 4.0/5

Aren’t you normally supposed to pay a pretty big cut to launder something? Because this guy is a straight trip to value town. Reasonably costed body with deathtouch that turns all of your former associates into connives. Even when he dies, he brings another creature back. Great card, but not overwhelming in power level.

Cemetery Tampering

Rating: 0.0/5

This is one of those rares that would have been better off as an extra advertisement card in the pack. Why don’t we pay three mana to mill ourselves a bunch to be able to play one card once we mill half of our deck? I guess I should mention that flashback and disturb aren’t a thing in this set. They somehow managed to make a worse Crawling Infestation. If I ever lose to this card, I’m not playing Magic for at least a week.

Corrupt Court Official

Rating: 2.5/5

We got an unexpected Portal Three Kingdoms reprint which means we’re that much closer to getting Horsemanship back. This card has gone under many guises over the years, none quite as spectacular as our recent good friend Virus Beetle. This version doesn’t have anything special thrown in on it, but does live in a world where casualty lets you sacrifice them to pay for their corruption.

Crooked Custodian

Rating: 2.0/5

Love the flavor text! We’ve all had those days where someone’s all up in our face when we’re just trying to dispose of an old carpet that happens to be wearing boots. As for the card itself, I’m willing to play the card when my two-drop slot is lacking. Being able to trade up is slightly mitigated by coming into play tapped.

Cut of the Profits

Rating: 1.5/5

The cool art is not going to lure me into wanting to play this one. Casualty three requires a significant creature to pull off and being a sorcery means you’re not going to manage to shenanigan it into a freebie. Without casualty, how do you feel about paying five mana and three life for three cards? Its going to be hard to justify this until you get to five or more cards so I will pass on taking my cut of this.

Cutthroat Contender

Rating: 1.0/5

I don’t know what this is going for, but it sure isn’t contending for being a good card. These days Savannah Lions is kind of a joke in limited because it gets wrecked by pretty much anything. So why don’t we make it require paying a life every time you want it to have two power. Pass.

Deal Gone Bad

Rating: 2.5/5

Why is everything so expensive these days? Way back in boomer days, we got our -3-3 for only two mana on Last Gasp. This isn’t a great deal for this effect, but shield is a thing and this gets around that nicely. As for the milling, you’ll probably end up targeting yourself because of Dig Up the Body, Rogues’ Gallery, or trying to hit five different mana values.

Demon’s Due

Rating: 1.5/5

Pros: Scry 2 before you draw and it’s an instant.

Cons: Playing this card.

Seriously there is a lot of value packed into cards in this set so for straight card draw to be good, it’s going to have to be really impressive. This ain’t it.

Dig Up the Body

Rating: 2.0/5

As long as you have a dork to sacrifice or get to respond to a removal spell this does an acceptable Soul Salvage impression. It might be a three in the afternoon comedy club impression, but an impression none the less. The milling can be a nice effect by letting you dig deeper trying to hit the creature you need so go ahead and dig up Billy Butcherson to get him back to chasing your opponent around.  

Dusk Mangler

Rating: 2.0/5

Under the right circumstances this can really mangle your opponent, unfortunately I think those circumstances are going to be hard to come by. With the only reanimation spell that can hit this being the underwhelming Graveyard Shift, you’re not going to be cheating this into play that often. If you end up paying seven mana and four life for a 5/4 when they have no cards in hand and a 2/2 to sac, it’s certainly nothing to write home about.    

Extract the Truth

Rating: 1.0/5

Bad, narrow discard spell that can also make them sacrifice an enchantment. I guess it could be a sideboard card if you have no other way to deal with a planeswalker. I trust you not to play this in your main deck.

Fake Your Own Death

Rating: 1.5/5

This type of effect really needs to cost one mana to be good. On the bright side, the plus two power can let you trade up and it lets you get an extra comes into play ability when you collect on that insurance. If you meet these qualifications and are short on playables, then feel free to toss one in.

Girder Goons

Rating: 2.5/5

I prefer the hands-on touch you only get with hired goons. While neither side of these goons are particularly impressive, having the option to go either way means that it’ll almost always end up making the cut. Leaving behind a zombie when it dies plays great with casualty, especially if you blitzed it out.

Graveyard Shift

Rating: 1.5/5

As I’ve previously said, I think it’s going to take real work to get five or more mana values in your graveyard and none of the payoffs are particularly exciting. Instant speed is nice and all, but most of the time this is just going to be a five-mana reanimation spell. Meh.

Grisly Sigil

Rating: 2.0/5

I’ve seen some people be really high on this, but I think it’s pretty grisly. It’s fine if you have a lot of sacrifice fodder that you’ve already got value out of, but outside of that it’s really unexciting. Sorcery speed relegated this down a tier since you can’t block and finish something off with it. It’s also not good at taking out shielded creatures since the first hit won’t make the second hit deal three. Overall unimpressive card that I think I’ll never draft because other people took it too high.

Illicit Shipment

Rating: 1.5/5

How cheap does a tutor have to be to be playable in limited? Five mana is definitely too much so they can ship this one straight on to someone else. Even with the possibility of doubling it, three is a significant amount to casualty so you’re only getting real value if you have something that already got locked down.

Incriminate

Rating: 2.0/5

You won’t get the creature you need, but you will get the one you deserve. Killing off your opponent’s second-best creature is fine for the bargain basement price of two mana. This is going to be a classic card twenty-three.

Join the Maestros

Rating: 1.5/5

I can’t imagine a scenario where I actively want to join this team because the fail case of a vanilla 4/3 token for five is so embarrassingly below rate. I keep seeing people hype up casualty cards like this without realizing that there is a very real cost to them and a very big downside to them as well. Don’t assume that cards are going to line up perfectly in draft or you could end up overpaying for an ogre token.

Maestros Initiate

Rating: 2.0/5

This is a card that lines up much better with connive than with casualty. Sure, getting later value out of what you sacrificed is always good, but you still used a three drop to do it. It works out much better when you pitched it for a card and a +1+1 counter without the extra mana investment.

Midnight Assassin

Rating: 2.0/5

This is an acceptable way to hold down the fort because your opponent doesn’t want to trade their actual good creature for your 23rd card. The value of deathtouch does dip down a bit because of shield, but you might be able to assassinate something worthwhile with this.

Murder

Rating: 3.0/5

I guess you can’t have a mafia themed set without some murders floating around. As one of the most efficient catch all removal spells, this is almost always a 3.5, but with shield counters everywhere I dropped it to a 3.0. Still a great card, but not up to its usual standards.

Night Clubber

Rating: 3.0/5

Being able to hit close to one third of the set can lead to some serious blowouts for only three mana. You can also use this post combat to club a few unsuspecting victims during the after party. The reasons I like this so much more than I like Grisly Sigil is that you can hit multiple things without sacrificing anything, it comes with a body instead of costing one, and you can cash it in for a card if you need to.

Raffine’s Silencer

Rating: 2.0/5

You’re really not silencing anything worthwhile if you don’t pitch a nonland off of connive for this. While there are certainly going to be times this is good, there are also going to be times where it’s a 1/1 that looted once for three mana.

Revel Ruiner

Rating: 2.0/5

I don’t see this one ruining too many nights on either side of the table because it’s pretty mediocre. At least you get some form of evasion tossed in on this and a 4/2 menace isn’t something that can just be ignored.

Rogues’ Gallery

Rating: 3.0/5

Now this has some crazy potential in the five color soup decks as bringing back five cards for three mana is obviously insane. Even in a normal shard deck, the old three for one is a bargain for three mana. For that kind of value, I’ll gladly deal with Poison Ivy, the Joker, and Two Face.

Sanguine Spy

Rating: 3.0/5

I’m mainly looking at this as a 2/3 menace lifelink for three which is a rate I’m more than willing to pay. The sacrifice another creature ability is fine if you were losing the creature anyway, but still unspectacular. As much as I would like to use the draw a card ability, it’s not likely you’re going to meet the requirements until much later in the game.

Shadow of Mortality

Rating: 1.5/5

I don’t think anyone is going to be scared of this shadow. There are very few points in the game where this is going to both be a good deal for the mana and able to turn the game in your favor. These days a vanilla 7/7 for six is a questionable playable and this requires you to be at ten life for that to happen. If you’re the aggressor, this is pretty much uncastable. This card is going to rot in someone’s hand ten times for every time it works out.

Shakedown Heavy

Rating: 4.0/5

This is a heavy hitter that I’m hoping is working for me. It really puts your opponent in a bad position early for only three mana. If you play this on three, they take twelve and then trade two guys for it that’s just great. Letting you draw a couple cards while leaving you with a huge blocker isn’t a winning plan either. While it seems like your opponent has choices, none of them are ones that they want to make.

Tavern Swindler

Rating: 1.5/5

Hey look, it’s a bear with upside. So, what do I get thrown in, oh ummm…that’s not really what I’m looking for. This card wasn’t good in a set that had a life gain payoff theme so I’m pretty sure its going to be a steaming pile of what a bear leaves in the woods.

Tenacious Underdog

Rating: 3.5/5

The underdog is a vicious beating while the Cutthroat Contender is utter garbage? Maybe they should reevaluate their naming scheme. Reasonable rate creature that keeps coming back trying to land a knockout while drawing cards is exactly what I want to be doing.

Vampire Scrivener

Rating: 2.0/5

I guess this combos with Tavern Swindler and Cutthroat Contender to build a battleship. These three cards also combine into their final form of you losing the game. PSA don’t drink and draft people, that’s how you end up with this deck.

Whack

Rating: 3.0/5

Getting to Whack a big shielded creature has to be one of the better feelings in the format. If it happens to be white and you just lit it up for one mana, OMG YAS!


Wrap Up

Streets of New Capenna Black is a real mixed bag for limited. There are some downright unplayable cards that seem straight out of 2002, but nothing too broken either. Some solid value cards to be had that shouldn’t cost premium picks. Of course, it also has the usual suite of black removal.

I think I am lower than a lot of other people on the casualty cards because I look at the fail case and don’t just assume I will happen to have something I want to sacrifice laying around. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t think having five different mana values in your graveyard is going to be an easy thing to pull off so I have those cards lower as well.

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

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