Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty is Magic: The Gathering’s newest set, and brings players back to the plane of Kamigawa, a cyberpunk realm inspired by Japanese mythology and Shintoism, full of dragon spirits, fox samurai, biker rats, and robots. This will be Magic’s first trip to Kamigawa since 2005, a revisit that’s been put off for more than 15 years due to the original Kamigawa block’s lackluster commercial performance and lukewarm reception on the heels of the significantly more powerful Mirrodin block.
Don’t be fooled by some of Neon Dynasty’s winks to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Voltron. The latest Standard set aims to turn the original Kamigawa block’s reputation on its head, with an injection of flexible artifacts, unique planeswalkers, and legendary lands, seemingly designed to disrupt Magic’s ever-growing list of competitive formats.
For both the tournament halls and the kitchen tables, here are five exciting new cards to consider in some of Magic’s most popular and competitive archetypes.
If you haven’t kept up with the new set over the few months since it was announced, this is the one card you need to know about. Interaction stapled to lands is powerful by itself, as you can answer problematic permanents on your opponent’s board without taking up a spell slot in your deck. But Boseiju isn’t your ordinary utility land — this thing solves so many problems.
Whether it’s a surprise Colossus Hammer threatening to kill you in one hit, a couple Tron lands (like Urza’s Tower and Power Plant) about to make seven mana on turn three, or even a sticky Blood Moon shutting off all your colors, Boseiju can get you out of these pickles with an ability that can’t even be counterspelled.
Granted, removing an opponent’s artifact or enchantment provides them with a free land in exchange, but that impact is usually mitigated by whatever you’re destroying, especially if you’re patient and reserve Boseiju for critical permanents that could beat you by themselves. And since Boseiju comes in untapped, you can usually play at least one in place of a basic forest in practically any green deck, and just use it for mana if the disruption doesn’t matter in the matchup.
At first glance, Lion Sash looks like a color-shifted Scavenging Ooze — a fragile two-mana creature that provides a slow way to remove suspicious cards from opposing graveyards, on an equally slow beater. But thanks to its Equipment type line and Reconfigure ability, Sash could prove a lot more consistent and annoying than its slimy green counterpart.
As an Equipment, you can grab Lion Sash directly from your deck with fetch spells such as Stoneforge Mystic, Tinker, and Steelshaper’s Gift. Then when it’s Reconfigured and attached to another card, it stops being a creature entirely, which helps dodge a lot of the cheap removal that would have easily killed an ooze in its place.
The best part: if your Lion Sash is Reconfigured onto another creature, and that creature is destroyed, Sash returns to the battlefield as its own creature, retaining all the counters you’ve racked up so far. It will force your opponents to spend multiple removal spells to answer this one card.
Another equipment creature with Reconfigure, The Reality Chip is designed to keep cards flowing off the top of your deck, so you never run out of things to do in creature-based strategies that might not have other tools to draw extra cards per turn.
While three mana to Reconfigure the Chip might seem steep, it pairs nicely with a variety of other cards that let you cheat on the Reconfigure cost, and attach it to other creatures for free. At its best, Chip could enable some strategies to play extra cards off the top of the deck as early as turn two.
Using tools such as Magnetic Theft, Puresteel Paladin, or Sigarda’s Aid, you can ignore the Reconfigure cost entirely, since these enablers interact with any type of Equipment spell. By the way, this is all true of our old friend Lion Sash, as well.
Red players rejoice, Reinforced Ronin could be the best one-mana haste creature since Goblin Guide. Ronin comes down early to apply pressure when the coast is clear, dodges Wraths, Teferi, and other sorcery-speed removal, and even replaces itself with the Channel ability if your opponent plays a blocker.
Plus it’s an artifact creature, a helpful way to activate Delirium on cards such as Unholy Heat or Dragon’s Rage Channeler. Red decks in Historic and Pioneer will especially appreciate how well it plays with certain Spectacle cards, especially Skewer the Critics and Light up the Stage. And in Standard, it’s another great way to play two spells on turn three, off a Chandra, Dressed to Kill.
Until now, no other planeswalkers in Magic’s history have had Flash — the ability to cast the card at instant speed or on an opponent’s turn. This has the potential to be such a powerful innovation to traditionally slow planeswalkers, I suspect Magic’s designers spent a little extra time to ensure she didn’t immediately break the game. But in white and at four mana, her designers may have threaded the needle here, with an exciting new addition to draw-go control decks especially.
Across formats, she fits nicely with powerful control staples that enable reactive gameplay and threat activation. She joins cards such as Shark Typhoon and Solitude in a suite of instant speed surprises that can remove an opposing creature or develop your board, while always holding Counterspells. Even midrange white decks can consider bringing her in from the sideboard to beef up Skyclave Apparitions, Spellbinders, and Thalias.
While Boseiju remains the current star of Neon Dynasty spoilers, I’m optimistic The Wandering Emperor has the potential to redefine how annoying controlling white decks will be moving forward.
Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty arrives first on Magic Online and Magic: The Gathering Arena on February 10, with a physical release to follow on February 18.