First: why should you care what my takeaways are? You shouldn’t, or maybe you should. I’m currently a top 100 Mythic player this month on Magic Arena, and I have been playing Magic: the Gathering off and on for 25 years. The latter is common to people my age who are playing the game right now. The former may be solely because of a hot streak of successful Obscura (UBW, blue-black-white) decks recently (trophies in 4 out of my last 6 drafts). Trophying, though, should give me at least a little credibility….right?
1. You Need Two-Drops!
Two drops are like vegetables: you might find them boring and terrible, but they are absolutely necessary! SNC has some quality two drops, but largely you are using these to remain stable and fend off aggressive decks. And you will absolutely encounter them. So, even though the set is designed and marketed as a three color format (Obscura, Cabretti, Brokers, Maestros, Riveters), the way limited games play out dictates you cannot durdle around while establishing your manabase.
2. Two Colors (and maybe splash)
Yes, this falls squarely into the No Durdling! plan. It’s not as fun as going 3-, 4-, or even 5-color. But we’re trying to win. If you’re not, then by all means have fun with the multi colors.
I should be clear: by no means can you not win using more than 2 colors (+ splash). My experience is that those decks tend to underperform.
3. Flyers are King
Or perhaps that’s queen given all of the angels flying around. Blue and White provide the backbone of the strongest SNC limited decks. And that’s largely due to the flyers found in each color. I mentioned by run of Obscura decks above. Those have been littered with flyers and/or bombs. You can’t control bombs, but you can pay attention to flyers. This means that you need to either have them, or have a way to deal with them (removal, out-race them, etc.) Even Gilded Pinions is not an unreasonably choice in some decks.
Lifelink feels more important than it typically does. This may be due to decks needing stave off aggressive starts, or providing a way to break parity on a stale board.
Some of my favorite Lifelink-related situations to pay attention to during drafts/games:
- Sky Crier + any buff cards (e.g., Backup Agent, equipment, Caldaia Strongarm)
- Snooping Newsie slamming the door on opposing decks once a Maestro or Obscura deck stabilizes
- Civil Servant taking a game over from the beginning by putting its owner so far ahead in life. Bonus points when its Backup Agent providing a +1/+1 and citizen boost.
- Revelation of Power successfully targeting an Illuminator Virtuoso can quickly put a game out of reach.
5. It’s a Sprint, not a Marathon
I alluded to this in the first item, but Streets of New Capenna feels very much like a race most games. This makes those 2 CMC (converted mana cost) and Lifelink creatures important. I imagine there are several factors, but the two that stand out to me are: Blitz mechanic and quality combat tricks (e.g., For the Family or Revelation of Power).