Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Set Review - Green

(Kodama of the West Tree| Art by Daarken)

Kamigawa: Krypton Dynasty

Did you know that neon, the noble gas, actually glows red and orange? Krypton is the noble gas that goes green in neon lights! Green is my favorite color in Magic, and I've always enjoyed writing the green set reviews when I get the chance. It's usually full of so many insane cards that do way too much for their mana costs, and it also generally tends to get the most powerful cards amongst a set's mono-colored cycles. However, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty breaks that trend by actually providing some cycles of cards where green is not only not the best color, but is actually in contention to be the worst of some of the cycles in Kamigawa! It's really cool to see other colors get the spotlight while green takes a backseat for a change.

Before I get into the regularly scheduled card review, there's one quick thing I'd like to mention first, and that's Satsuki, the Living Lore. The reason that I bring it up isn't to review it or evaluate it as a commander, but simply to point out that this is the first commander to ever be printed with the word "Saga" in its rules text, and is the first commander to benefit strictly from Sagas. Because there are six new green Sagas in the new Kamigawa set, I don't think I, as a writer, or you, as a reader, will enjoy me saying "this belongs in Satsuki" over and over again. Satsuki only has 23 Sagas to choose from, so chances are good that you'll run all of them with her! So let's address right now that the new Sagas will fit well with Satsuki, just to get that part out of the way and make the evaluations more interesting as we get to them.

Without further ado, lets jump into Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty!


Mythics


Jugan Defends the Temple

Jugan Defends the Temple reminds me of my first set review, where I reviewed the very first Sagas from Dominaria. This Saga epitomizes the original vision for Sagas, with simple, pure efficiency over time. Every chapter is absolute value for its cost. For three mana, you get a dork, then get to put some counters onto your board next turn. It's very Rishkar, Peema Renegade. Then, once it flips, you've basically got a cheap, mono-green Chorus of the Conclave, and you can make all your creatures enter with tons of counters, which'll turn this thing into a massive 7/7 trampler fairly easily. The floor on this card is great, since you get a mana dork and some counters, but the ceiling is great, too!

Enchantresses may not need this card explicitly, but they probably won't mind another enchantment-based mana source. Kyler, Sigardian Emissary likes the Human Monk token and the extra counters. All the new commanders that care about Modifications should take note, too. This Saga is going to put in tons of work in +1/+1 counter decks that have lots of Modified little creatures, as well as decks that generate tons of mana that you can sink into the X cost effect on the back half.

Kodama of the West Tree

This card is insane... in the right deck, of course. Any deck that's playing any level of strategy involving Modified creatures will benefit from Kodama in the 99. Generally, those strategies all tend to give lots of buffs to their creatures, so providing them with trample allows some additional ways to commit to combat and gain benefit from Kodama's damage trigger. Combat-damage-based ramp is exciting, too! I could totally see Kodama performing well in decks like Reyhan, Last of the Abzan, Hamza, Guardian of Arashin, Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest, anything with Hydras, Galea, Kindler of Hope, or even Atraxa, Praetors' Voice, with an emphasis on go-wide strategies where giving trample to multiple creatures is more beneficial than giving it to one creature. I don't see Kodama being particularly effective in Voltron strategies with Equipment, as you may choose to just run Sword of the Animist instead, or another Equipment that supports the theme better while also providing trample.

While spectacular in the 99 of many strategies, Kodama may be a lot less effective in the command zone. It could potentially become its own Voltron strategy for mono-green, but the go-wide strategy that Kodama would truly get to shine really benefits from having access to other colors. If you do choose to use Kodama of the West Tree as a commander, filling your deck with lots of little creatures that you can make larger with anthems and counters will be a lot more effective. Add to that the absurd ramp you'll get with combat damage, and you'll ramp away in no time!

Kura, The Boundless Sky

Kura gives us a few interesting possibilities, both in the command zone and in the 99, because it can search for any three lands, not just basics. Notably, you could grab the Tron lands (Urza's Power Plant, Urza's Mine, and Urza's Tower) to push ahead on mana. You could grab Field of the Dead to swell the board, or Maze of Ith to defend yourself. However, these lands all get sent to your hand, which means that it will take three turns to play them unless you have access to Exploration effects, like Azusa, Lost but Seeking. With repeated casting and some sac outlets, this could be a decent (but convoluted) value engine.

I imagine that Kura will be extremely effective as a heavy hitter in most land- and ramp-heavy decks, and creating the X/X token equal to your land count is sweet if you have any type of token-doublers or Populate effects. Kura will find a great home with the likes of Adrix and Nev, Twincasters, Ghired, Conclave Exile, and definitely Sasaya, Orochi Ascendant!


Rares

Invoke the Ancients

Invoke the Ancients is extremely straightforward. The heavy green cost relegates it mostly to mono-green and two-color decks that are slanted heavily toward green. With the high number of green-inclusive token decks out there, you're very likely to get additional tokens through the various doublers, like Doubling Season or Parallel Lives. Unfortunately, most of the great token decks are not mono-green, so I mostly see this as just a generic inclusion for big creatures in mono-green, for instance by powering out Ghalta, Primal Hunger super quickly, or as support in a token deck, like Adrix and Nev, Twincasters and Trostani, Selesnya's Voice.

Kami of Transience

Kami of Transience feels to me like green's attempt at making a Phoenix. It'll be fine in enchantment decks where it would reliably get counters, but it'll mostly be a fairly small body. The return-to-the-battlefield effect isn't as good as it looks, since it's not that reliable to trigger; usually when you lose an enchantment, it's because you lost a lot of them at once, not one at a time over multiple turns. The fact that this card isn't itself an enchantment really holds this card back. I wish it was in the right colors for Ghen, Arcanum Weaver, but alas. My guess is that this card's best home is Kestia, the Cultivator since it's a creature she can Bestow and since she has lots of enchantment creatures that may die a little more often, which would keep this creature coming back to hand pretty consistently.

March of Burgeoning Life

This 'March' cycle of instants is super cool, and for once it's nice to see other colors get the spotlight in EDH, not just green (although this will likely be fantastic in other formats). To that end, March of Burgeoning Life is a very hit-or-miss card in EDH. Exiling green cards from your hand means you need to be pretty firmly in green, either with one or two colors, if you really want to hit a big creature. Alternatively, you can run this in a ramp-heavy, multi-colored deck and ignore the first part of the card. March of Burgeoning Life probably only works in four situations:

  1. You could run this in a deck that runs Shadowborn Apostle, Relentless Rats, Rat Colony, or Persistent Petitioners, as these are the only creatures in the format you can have multiple of in your deck. Then again, most of these tend to not use commanders with green in them, and even then, wouldn't you just rather include another copy of said creature?
  2. You could run this in a deck revolving around Spy Kit, where you give one of your creatures every name and use this card as a one-time tutor. However, Spy Kit decks have been attempted before, and they're not easy to make work. This is quite a number of hoops to go through to get the card out, while also including enough payoffs for the Equipment itself. If you're able to make this strategy work, I'd love to see the list!
  3. You could play a 'goodstuff' deck and hope that people are running the same creatures as you. However, that not only means you're banking on opponents playing the same creatures as you, but you're also hoping you have this card in hand and the appropriate mana at the right time, and the creature still enters tapped. Kind of a long shot.
  4. You may choose to include this in a pretty tight meta. If you know all the cards in an opponent's deck, and if you know that they regularly play creatures that you also have in your deck, then that could be a specific case where out-of-game knowledge may inform your card choices.

Myojin of Towering Might

Not just once, but twice green was the runt of the litter in a cycle! What a nice surprise! Usually green always has the generically best cards in a cycle, but this one's fairly simple, just distributing eight counters and temporarily giving creatures trample. I can see this being solid in something like Grunn, the Lonely King, where the high devotion cost isn't too much of an issue and where you want to buff one big creature. Maybe Xenagos, God of Revels would use it, with the Myojin targeting itself before Xenagos pumps it to the heavens. Hallar, the Firefletcher might enjoy a big boost, but it's somewhat expensive to make that happen there. And of course, Hamza, Guardian of Arashin likes this one very much, too. Outside of that, though, it's not going to be all that unique. The more creatures you'd use this on, the more it feels like you're better off with a simple Overwhelming Stampede that turn instead. There is something to be said about being able to use this ability at any time, but that also means you're telegraphing this card in advance and giving opponents lots of information, which allows them to plan accordingly. This is a fun card with some straightforward homes, and it's nice for the big green card not to feel ubiquitous and over-the-top.

Shigeki, Jukai Visionary

This is my favorite card in the set. Let's break down some of its uses:

  1. Without any other support, it's four mana across two turns to fill the graveyard and ramp.
  2. With a haste-enabler, you can do this over and over again continually ramp and mill yourself, provided you have the mana. With haste, this is effectively a Buyback spell.
  3. It's also an instant-speed Wildest Dreams with that Channel ability! It can't get back legends, but it can get back anything else! Four mana gets back one card, six mana gets two cards, eight mana gets three, and so on.
  4. If any of the cards you get back can also return this card to your hand from your graveyard, you've got a super-recursive cycle of powerful card advantage.

Shigeki is a powerhouse that can support all sorts of themes. The Gitrog Monster would love to send lands into the graveyard from your library and bring them back. Sidisi, Brood Tyrant would love the self-mill that this creature brings. In the command zone, use cost-reducers, haste-enablers, or even infinite mana combos to allow Shigeki to mill your entire deck, then put the whole pile right back into your hand! The options are insane, and abusing these abilities will get out of control really quickly.

Spring-Leaf Avenger

I'm not sure how I feel about green getting access to Ninjutsu. I don't think the green Ninjas will find too much of a home in Commander, other than perhaps in conjunction with Tatsunari, Toad Rider. This Avenger has an interesting-looking ability, but if the low popularity of Nature's Spiral (1,500 decks) is any indication, getting back permanents is a tougher sell for EDH players. I'm very interested to hear other opinions, but I think the green Ninjas all fall into the same category: looking for a home that isn't just 'goodstuff'. It's an Insect, so perhaps Grist, the Hunger Tide likes it most.

Teachings of the Kirin

Teachings of the Kirin does everything Sultai usually wants to do, but all in one card and at sub-par levels. It seems extremely redundant when Jugan Defends the Temple is in the same set. This is a very underwhelming Saga for Commander.

The Dragon-Kami Reborn

This is a much more interesting Saga, though it's probably only supported by Dragon tribal decks or decks that contain a high concentration of haymakers. The lifegain is minimal, but nice, and pocketing two total cards out of the top six is decent, but looking at just three cards per chapter is really limiting. Plus, if you don't have another Dragon, the Egg alone will only get to play one of those cards when it dies.

Expect this Saga to see particular use in something like Mayael the Anima, where you're already regularly searching for huge creatures off the top of the deck. Intet, the Dreamer also runs lots of huge spells to cast for free, and he's a Dragon himself, too. And of course, there's the most obvious home, Atla Palani, Nest Tender, who loves to find more Eggs!

Weaver of Harmony

I'm happy this card exists, but I don't think it should have been green. White has always been the enchantment-heavy color, and giving green the enchantment-creature version of Strionic Resonator feels like yet another thing the color has taken from white.

There are some fun enchantments to double up, too, like Unnatural Growth and Sandwurm Convergence, and Golgari lifegain decks will probably enjoy double-triggering a Sanguine Bond every now and then! Saga decks are definitely the most interested, and any Theros Gods with triggered abilities could make nice use of this little fella too.

An important note is that this goes insane with Intruder Alarm and enchantment creatures, and I'm sure that there are lots of ways to break this and create insane combos with other enchantments in Estrid, the Masked, Sythis, Harvest's Hand, or any other green enchantment-heavy deck.


Uncommons and Commons


Azusa's Many Journeys

Not much to say here! It's mostly just Explore effect with the potential to untap lands in the future. I doubt it will see much play, since the creature side's ability hinges on your opponent to choose to block it. It's probably a good budget option, but I would just treat it like an Explore that turns into a generic 3/3, since that is almost always what it will be.

Boon of Boseiju

Boon of Boseiju is a pretty run-of-the-mill pump spell that allows a creature to deal extra damage after blockers have been declared, and to let that creature block on following turns. Importantly, this auto-kills a single player with Ghalta, Primal Hunger! This card is monstrous for high-cost commanders. If your deck runs tons of haymakers alongside small creatures that usually get in unblocked for chip damage, then this spell will be terrific for you! For example, I believe Reaper King's mana value equals 10, and Gishath, Sun's Avatar and Kamahl, Heart of Krosa love a surprise trampley buff.

Boseiju Reaches Skyward

This is great for decks that regularly play extra lands per turn, like Azusa, Lost but Seeking and Mina and Denn, Wildborn. It only gets basic Forests, which may limit it from use in too many multicolor decks, especially since lands-based decks have a lot of competition for card slots in the 99. I also think Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar might enjoy a backup buddy with this Saga, too.

Generous Visitor

Generous Visitor is super cute and seems to be a great addition to any enchantment-heavy deck that also runs creatures! It's not the best effect of its type - Ethereal Armor and Ancestral Mask still take the cake, especially since those will actually trigger Enchantress effects to help draw more cards - but it'll be a nice addition to budget decks!

Go-Shintai of Boundless Vigor

Put it in Shrine decks! Remember that Shrine is an enchantment subtype, not a creature type, so you can't pull any Maskwood Nexus tricks with this thing. That's okay, though! Go-Shintai of Life's Origin is delighted to play this thing.


Set Review in Review

Thanks for sticking through to the end! I hope you had as much fun reading this review as I did writing it, and I'm super excited for Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty! Personally, I think the green cards I'm most interested in are Jugan Defends the Temple, Shigeki, Jukai Visionary, and Invoke the Ancients. What do you think of the set? Do you think any of the uncommons or commons I didn't mention were notable with certain commanders? Let me know in the comments!

While getting a degree in evolutionary biology, Christian spent all of his free time in college building commander decks after being introduced to the MTG in the Theros block. After spending the last several years building and playing biologically-themed tribal decks and surprising people with wonky builds of well-known commanders, he decided to share his thought and design process with the community, incorporating ideas from his many playgroups into articles, while also spending way too much of his life underwater. Find him on twitter @Evol_Leap!