Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Set Review — Black
(Jason A. Engle) | Art by
Step on the Gas
Funny, Neon is a noble gas, and this set is Neon Dynasty, pairing together the nobility of bright gas with regality. That's probably just a coincidence....
Welcome to your daily dose of set review, EDHREC-style. This installment we're looking at black! After all, what is neon without the contrast of darkness?
This is a massive set, filled like a glass tube full of 10Ne, so let's dive right in.
Junji, the Midnight Sky
It's Kamigawa, you know there has to be a five-color Dragon cycle! Junji is no , whose ubiquity in reanimator decks is still very apparent, and who can siphon the life from your opponents to you, often repeatedly. If you ever wanted to see the power of shirking the singleton nature of EDH, just loop Kokusho a few times and you'll see how back-breaking it is, so much so it once got him banned (back in February 2008!). He remained banned for four years (Sept. 2012) when he was taken off the ban list and banned as a commander, which was done away with in 2014.
However, while may not have the reputation and legacy his predecessor does, its still a complete menace (heh). While "flenace" (flying + menace) isn't as fun to say as "flample" (flying + trample), Junji is on-rate (5/5 for five mana) and is seldom going to be blocked against two disposable flying blockers.
Honestly though, it's that triggered ability that's so alluring. Like the Kamigawa Dragons of yore, these soaring serpents are meant to die, destined to, even! Black has no shortage of sacrifice outlets nor reanimation capabilities, so it's likely that this Dragon in the command zone will signal a value-oriented reanimation deck, looking to loop Junji to either force discards or reanimate non-Dragons at will. I particularly like Junji paired with and effects to efficiently get it in and out of the graveyard.
To date, there are only 12 black Dragons, and outside of or , you likely wouldn't want to be reanimating Dragons anyways.
You can also just 'cheese' the whole scenario by running something like , choosing any creature type but Dragon (e.g., Goblins!). This'll make it so that when Junji dies, the reanimation trigger goes on the stack, which can target itself in the graveyard, since makes Junji no longer a Dragon, even in the graveyard. Thus, a sacrifice outlet, Junji, and gets you infinite death triggers, enter-the-battlefield triggers, leaves-the-graveyard triggers, etc. Add in a , and you're off to getting yourself a W. I wouldn't be surprised to see this card crop up lists helmed by Junji just for this kind of synergy, but time will tell.
Being able to hit any creature in a graveyard is incredibly potent, as you can almost play like a or style deck, looking to rip opponents' utility creatures and haymakers for the low cost of 2 life! With an instant-speed sacrifice outlet, this becomes really difficult for your opponents to play around.
The discard portion can't be overlooked, either. Even if that opposing has gone to town on everyone's graveyards, brings incredible utility in forcing asymmetrical discards for each opponent, and with life loss to boot! I can easily see this slotted into discard-centered decks running , , , and my favorite, . Sacrifice Junji to cause a total of six discards and six life loss while I draw six? Yes, please!
Its discard potential is so potent, I wouldn't be surprised to see this in the 99 of discard-themed commanders like , , or .
Overall, this is one Dragon I don't want to see die across my battlefield. I'd rather it elsewhere.
Nashi, Moon Sage's Scion
I'll start by disclosing that I'm a big fan of Rat Ninjas. may see a bit of play, but I can't help but think that with a new influx of low-mana-value Ninjas, decks will look to lean their curves more for those options. My hunch is that bigger Ninjas may see more action in lists.
That said, Nashi is really sweet, and not that big of an ask given the cost and benefit. While this is one of the rare instances where the Ninjutsu activation actually costs more than the card's mana value ( being another option), I think that's well worth the cost. The combat damage proc puts it squarely in saboteur-style lists, with an almost or style effect, mixed with a . It's also reminiscent of the .
Of course we're going to see this crop up in Ninja tribal decks, but I'm really excited to see where this goes besides those lists. I actually think it's a worthy consideration in decks, as Gonti's nascent deathtouch often makes for uncomfortable blocks. Just swing at the person who has an unfavorable block, then Ninjutsu Nashi in for Gonti. You can then re-cast from hand to trigger Gonti again!
Plus, since Nashi exiles each player's top card, you can facilitate some 'Lantern control' elements like the namesake , or set up your own library with top-deck manipulators like , , or even undervalued one-off effects like .
Overall, sweet card with some neat tricks and build-around potential.
Blade of the Oni
A Demon that is also a sword. I mean, can you get any cooler?
This thing is efficient, evasive, and just downright awesome. It comes down early and ahead of curve to start dealing damage, and can Reconfigure later to Equip to a creature, possibly buffing it in the process. Menace will often get you there, at least against the one player who just hasn't developed their board enough, or isn't willing to sacrifice to a bad blocking scenario.
Demons may not have the best synergy with each other like other tribes (outside of niche options like ) but New Capenna is right around the corner, which purportedly has Demon themes throughout, and hopefully further Demon synergies.
Ability counters are back!
Ninja decks will always welcome more options, and while it has no nascent evasion, it enters with a menace counter! Unless your opponent has two blockers, you're gonna get in for damage, and you can remove that menace counter to .
Usually, removing a menace counter in this manner means sacrificing evasion for one-time interaction, but because you're likely to run this in a Ninja deck with other Ninjutsu effects, you can return this to hand with another Ninja and repeat the process all over again.
Obviously this will see a lot of play in and decks, but I'm even excited to even give this a try in my 'menace tribal' deck.
Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos
Hidetsugu is back, but having survived his encounter with the All-Devouring Oni of Chaos, now, 12,000 years later, he has assumed his Demon form.
Flavor is on the mark here. Sacrificing negligible creatures to harness chaos and reduce variability (AKA scrying) in order to set up an explosive spell on the top of the library. Obviously, it works well in a + combo shell, and with , but so does pretty much everything that exiles for play in Rakdos colors.
We've gotten a lot of Rakdos aristocrat commanders over the years, but I'm quite fond of this with niche tech like or in creature builds and taking advantage of the design of dome-ing people with big spells. seems particularly fun here, and definitely throw in a if you've got one.
The mana required is the real bottleneck here, as you would need to spend one mana to activate his sacrifice outlet to scry, and another three to activate his ability. Sinking four mana just to set up the damage isn't great, especially when you want a high-mana-value card off the top to get the most potential, which will now cost you even more mana on top of your earlier four since you would have to cast it this turn. Alternative cards here, like or , seem worth consideration here, which can hit hard but don't always cost what their mana value is. It's reminiscent of in some ways.
My personal weird take is Demon tribal. Demon tribal is already a thing with any of the , , s at the helm, but I actually think Hidetsugu makes a great possibility for Demon tribal, sacrificing creatures to set up big damage from the high mana value of Demons off the top of the library. Cost-reducers, like and , make it so you get the most out of Hidetsugu's exile ability, but their cost isn't nearly as steep, and with Demons on the horizon in New Capenna, there's synergies around the corner!
While a bit limited, I quite admire this. A targeted edict somewhat in the mold of , culling varying permanent types at best, and losing them life and drawing you cards in the case they can't. Against a player with none of these permanents, it becomes five mana for them to lose six life and you draw three cards. That isn't great, but it's not nothing either, especially since it adds redundancy for black to take out enchantments. I could imagine this card cropping up in mono-black lists, like , cuz paying one mana and eight life to get this effect doesn't seem all that bad.
I'd really like to see this with twinning effects, like , , or , to really take advantage of its potential.
March of Wretched Sorrow
The black part of the discard-centric cycle comes in alright. It reminds me of with a restriction, though I suppose hitting planeswalkers is nice too.
If this hit players, you'd have a lot more potential, but losing cards to remove creatures in a color that's got so many ways of already removing creatures doesn't feel as good. In a or deck that desperately wants to gain swells of life, I could imagine this card making a case for itself.
If you happen to be in a deck that creates massive hand sizes, though, this can just be a life swing, discard outlet, and removal spell all in one.
Well, well, well! With the return of Vehicles in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, it looks like 's garage is getting a little bigger.
has just the power to handle this Crew cost of 2, and since Macar makes Gold tokens, you can actually sacrifice them in a pinch to the drivetrain of this Soulripper to make it a bit bigger. Getting in for five menace isn't entirely exciting, but I like the flavor of this card and what people may come up with with cards like Macar or .
Remember: there's no Crew cost that family can't handle.
Myojin of Grim Betrayal
The Myojin make their return once again. While not as backbreaking as the , I like that the indestructible counter here (sorry, divinity counters) actually synergizes with the ability. It requires a lot of setup and mana, but I suppose you could board wipe with Myojin out, weathering the destruction with its indestructible counter, then remove it after to get everything that just went from the graveyard to your side of the field. Or perhaps a Dimir mill deck would like to someone, and then steal all the milled creatures?
I kind of prefer over this card in most cases, but what about you?
is already a great card that sees quite a bit of play (17,000+ decks), but trading life for Treasure tokens, even without the card draw, is still great. I don't want to be hyperbolic or say anything can truly compare to , but it certainly feel like it was cut from the same cloth, enabling swells of mana generation on an ETB that can be looped more easily since it's a creature.
Double those Treasure tokens with your token-doublers (), or get extra goodies with and . That second ability practically facilitates value unto itself, particularly in decks with high power, like , , or in the tribal-ETB focused shell of .
To be clear: I don't think this is a mono-black staple or belongs in almost any black deck, but the ones that do want it will really make use of it.
First of all, incredible art. That "Doctor Octopus"-style arm is menacing.
A conditional ceiling, but exiling a creature or planeswalker for only three mana ain't too shabby. What you sacrifice in speed (being a sorcery) you gain in mana value and modality, tacking a -style effect with .
Tatsunari, Toad Rider
(Yes, this is technically not a card that can go into mono-black decks, but the gold set review later this week already has a TON to talk about, so let's tackle Tatsunari in this article to make things easy for that writer!)
Sultai enchantments have never been formally supported... until now. A Ninja without Ninjutsu and who rides a toad but then makes a Frog token (yes, Toads are Frogs, but not all Frogs are Toads, just to make phylogeny more confusing), and cares about casting enchantments, this thing is wacky, and it's eerily similar to Jiraiya from Naruto.
The activated ability means many will likely put , , and maybe here for the value they generate, and because you can just make them smash in as needed. It's basically a form of evasion, which is pretty flavorful since it evokes the fact that frogs as their form of evasion. I think most decks may balance some enchantment effects, including Auras, and trend towards a Voltron strategy, using the activated ability as a means of evasion and threatening commander damage.
I particularly liked the mention of Mason Brantley, since you can sacrifice Keimi and get another creature out of your deck to hand, which, if they're enchantment creatures, can start the process all over again. and are also some neat tech. by my co-writer,
While Keimi's trigger isn't super powerful, I'm an avid fan of , and I'm excited to see what weird brews people come up with for this. Bonus if you can your Keimi so that one enchantment starts to drain even more!
Tribute to Horobi
What an odd card. The first portion of this Saga feels very gift-stocrats-y, similar to or decks that want to gift away creatures to opponents to punish them for having them die.
Yet, as opposed to flipping into something interested killing opponents' creatures, like the original , this is a mono-black creature with haste that cares about sacrificing your own creatures. The flip trigger of getting all Rat tokens is cute, especially if you happen to face a lot of or decks, but not entirely impressive otherwise.
Although niche, check out the "Security" article from way back in the Champions of Kamigawa set, and Horobi's relation with Rats and sacrifice will start to make a bit more sense.
Uncommons and Commons
There are a lot of under-the-radar goodies here that don't brandish the gold or orange symbols, so let's take a quick look at some notable ones!
- : Well, this may be one instance where saying, "I'll cast Dockside," doesn't immediately elicit panic from your opponents. Great art and flavor, and I'm all for more variants.
- 3,782 players are excited to see a new cycle of Shrines. Being a creature and having nascent deathtouch already makes for a rattlesnake effect, but having the ability to slowly remove increasingly more threats as you deploy more Shrines seems excellent.: I know at least
- : A variant, but with an upside and a downside depending on what you're after (more draw, or straight removal?). It's tough to derail 's reach, but in a or this can still pull quite a lot of weight.
- 15 total Leeches!).: More lifelink in black decks is welcome, and I like the flavor of this being a Leech (I'll be honest, I had no idea there were even
- : A flavorful allusion to the infamous . We got a similarly flavored card in in Modern Horizons, but I'm stoked to see this rendition as a Saga, with the added bonus of an enchantment creature on the backside facilitating black-centric spell-slinging.
- : More Ninja tech for you Ninja lovers (personally, I'll just take more Rats). The Ninjutsu cost is low, and since its ETB gives both deathtouch and lifelink, you can either give it to itself or to another creature to make for uncomfortable blocking scenarios. Overall, neat little card!
- : This thing is quite a sleeper in the right shell. Being an attack trigger is always a bit of a risk, but menace helps it get through, and with something like , this has some nice engine potential.
- : Fine, but nothing amazing. There are less conditional shrink effects out there, but the +1/+1 counters synergy can see help with or adjacent decks.
- < 3,000 decks), but maybe this will oust it and add to black's reach towards removing enchantments.: I'd say it's basically a better , which doesn't see too much play as is (
- : , but with another upside: lifegain! or other lifegain-centered decks are going to be stoked for this. Fantastic card!
- : We've officially hit a critical mass of effects, though the two mana may turn others off from one-mana options.
- : Neat Pauper EDH card, and just awesome art.
- : Some neat combo potential with and , but fairly niche. I like it as a general value piece in aristocrat and artifact decks, and it can do even more in tap/untap decks. Maybe it's time to make that Dimir pingers list after all...
- : Another prison-adjacent card for decks, but the artifact typing can help it in other recursion shells.
- Omae Wa Mu Shindeiru." Great flavor, great art, and a neat effect. 10/10.: "
We had , , and . What a ride.
So, what do y'all think? Which black cards are you excited for? Which of the ones I didn't have space for are you excited about? Sound off in the comments below!