Don’t let this set sneak up on you.
Preview season hasn’t officially started, but I’m already hyped for Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty! I remember playing with Kamigawa block back when Champions of Kamigawa, Betrayers of Kamigawa, and Saviors of Kamigawa were released, nearly 18 years ago. If you didn’t get a chance to experience the original Kamigawa sets, lemme tell you: they were great.
Here are a few of the mechanics you should expect to see once Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty previews start rolling out on January 27th.
#1: Ninjas and Ninjutsu
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Ninjas were a huge hit when they were first unleashed alongside the ninjutsu ability in Betrayers of Kamigawa. If a creature has ninjutsu, you can drop it into play tapped and attacking by returning an unblocked creature to your hand. We have seen single cards with ninjutsu make a splash, like Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni, though largely the ninjutsu ability hasn’t had huge implications in Constructed MTG formats.
The most recent ninjutsu-like card that has seen play in Standard is Zareth San, the Trickster, in Rogues decks. Zareth San basically is a creature with ninjutsu for Rogues, without actually having the ability, as it isn’t a Ninja itself. However, it does indicate that this sort of effect can be impactful in a format like Standard if powerful enough.
I fully expect Wizards of the Coast to push the envelope on ninjutsu more than we have previously seen. Ninjas are typically found in Dimir colors, so it’s likely that this trend will continue with Neon Dynasty. If a ninjutsu deck becomes Standard playable, it will probably resemble the Rogues deck from before last set rotation: a tempo-based creature deck with access to countermagic and removal.
#2: Legendary Dragons
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Remember the legendary Dragon cycle from Champions of Kamigawa? To me, this is one of the most classic creature cycles ever printed. While I don’t expect this exact cycle to show up in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, we’re definitely getting a similar set of Dragons this time around.
How do I know? We’ve already seen the first Dragon: Atsushi, the Blazing Sky.
Atsushi, the Blazing Sky
Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, Mythic
Over the years Dragons have become less expensive to cast, but not necessarily worse in terms of power level. In fact, the most powerful Dragons in MTG history are mostly recent printings, partially because of their lower mana cost. Six mana used to be the going rate—remember Shivan Dragon? At just four mana, Atsushi, the Blazing Sky is a very strong Magic card. In fact, you could make the argument that Atsushi is better than Ryusei, the Falling Star, even ignoring the difference in their mana costs.
Expect to see Atsushi, the Blazing Sky make an immediate impact in competitive formats, even though it has other red Dragons to compete with in Standard. Cards like Atsushi put exile removal at a premium, as that’s the best way to stop Atsushi’s death trigger. Both abilities upon death are really strong, so whether you want some extra mana or some card advantage, either one can be provided. Expect to see this same type of death trigger on each Dragon in this cycle.
The original Kamigawa Dragons had single (powerful) triggers when they died. The new Dragons offer a choice of two triggers, but the resemblance to the original cycle is definitely there. This cycle of mythics is going to end up being a major part of Neon Dynasty.
#3: Double-Faced Cards
The original Kamigawa block introduced flip cards to MTG: cards that enter play as one thing and turn into something else when a certain condition is reached.
The templating of these cards caused confusion, which led Wizards of the Coast to experiment with double-faced cards that you can literally flip over when they transform. That experiment was a complete success, so now that WotC has a second shot at designing a Kamigawa set, we can expect them to use the updated version of the flip card mechanic.
Several leaked cards from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty have confirmed this hypothesis. One shows a double-faced Saga that turns into an enchantment creature. This could be pretty cool, though of course different from what we are typically used to in a Kamigawa block. This can partially be attributed to Sagas and double-faced cards being more popular in recent sets.
Sagas that have the ability to turn into creatures sound like they could be extremely powerful. The fact that you are going to get value (presumably the Saga is beneficial to you), and then get a creature even once the Saga is done sounds pretty absurd. These Sagas should be pretty expensive to cast given their power level. Enchantment removal may become more important if the double-faced Sagas live up to expectations.
#4: Lots of Legendary Cards
I remember how big the buzz was when Isamaru, Hound of Konda was first printed. I already talked about the cycle of Dragons, but this set should have a ton of additional legendary creatures as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a card like Bard Class become a much more heavily played card after Neon Dynasty is released. There should be a lot more legendary cards, and that’s going to make anything that has synergy with legendary cards more effective.
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We absolutely could see a deck chock-full of legendary creatures and planeswalkers, but what about lands? Lands can of course be legendary as well, and the Kamigawa cycle of legendary lands is pretty well known, with Eiganjo Castle, Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers, Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep, Minamo, School at Water’s Edge, and Shizo, Death’s Storehouse all being Commander staples.
In Neon Dynasty we can expect to see a similar cycle of legendary lands. I’m super excited to see this new cycle of lands in action! Rumor has it they may have the channel ability that was first introduced in Saviors of Kamigawa, which would allow you to discard your land for a special effect. I’m personally hoping the new cycle will provide benefits specifically to legendary creatures like the first cycle did.
#5: Reprints from Kamigawa Block
Innistrad: Midnight Hunt and Innistrad: Crimson Vow both included reprints of iconic cards from older Innistrad sets, like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Delver of Secrets. So it’s reasonable to expect that Neon Dynasty will include reprints from the original Kamigawa block as well.
Cards I Want to See Reprinted
Will Snakes be a theme in Neon Dynasty? It’s certainly possible, as they have a presence in Kamigawa, but none more so than Sakura-Tribe Elder. This Rampant Growth upgrade is on the table as a card I think could be reprinted.
WotC will want to be careful in terms of which cards they reprint, but I think Isamaru, Hound of Konda fits so well into the legendary theme of the set we could certainly see it again. Having inexpensive legendary creatures is going to be important in order to make fully themed legendary strategies work in Standard.
I always liked Ghostly Prison as a cool way to tax attackers, and it was perfectly acceptable in Standard during the first Kamigawa block.
Cards We Could Possibly See Reprinted
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This one is a bit of a long shot, but I actually enjoyed Gifts Ungiven when it was legal in Standard. Gifts Ungiven unlocked a unique toolbox of cards to tutor for, and has always been a super fun card to play with. Nowadays it has been pushed out of Modern mostly, outside of applications in Storm. We used to see it more in Sultai value decks. Personally, I don’t think it’s too good for Standard.
It’s unclear exactly how many legendary lands will be in Neon Dynasty, but Boseiju, Who Shelters All is a sweet card that could certainly be reprinted here.
Will we see any Ninjas get reprinted, and if so, which ones? Ninja of the Deep Hours is definitely on the short list for a possible inclusion in Neon Dynasty. I personally expect to see at least one reprinted Ninja.
We don’t know exactly how large the new legendary creatures will be, but if we see arcane spells again, Through the Breach seems like a perfectly fine reprint.
Well-Known Kamigawa Cards That Are Unlikely to Be Reprinted in Neon Dynasty
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Cards that double the amount of mana you can make like Wilderness Reclamation are still fresh in players minds. Heartbeat of Spring is my personal favorite Kamigawa card, as I loved the Simic deck that used to play this and Early Harvest to make a ton of mana. However, this sort of card is a dangerous inclusion, and I don’t expect to see it.
Even though Sensei’s Divining Top might be the most iconic Kamigawa card, there is a laundry list of reasons why it will never be reprinted in Standard.
Remember when Blazing Shoal got banned in Modern? Yeah, cards that cost zero mana to cast are in general very dangerous, and I don’t expect anything like the Shoal cycle in Standard ever again. I expect cards like this to be exclusively for sets like Modern Horizons.