Good Games columnist, Sam Maher is back with his take on the first Magic release of 2022!
After 20 years, Magic is finally heading back to Kamigawa and we’re going back in style! Magic’s first take on a cyberpunk-style world still maintains a lot of the rustic Japanese-inspired flavour of the original block. The artwork, flavour, and overall aesthetic are off the charts cool, and that’s not even getting to the gameplay.
This article is going to help you get ready for the Kamigawa Neon Dynasty pre-release. Whether it’s your first pre-release or your one hundred and first, I’m hoping you’ll be able to get lots of helpful advice below.
How does a Good Games pre-release work?
This section is for those who have not attended many pre-releases before. The format for the pre-release is sealed deck. You will be given a pre-release kit that contains six boosters of Kamigawa Neon Dynasty (each with one rare/mythic, 3 uncommons, and 11 commons), and a special stamped foil promo rare or mythic rare from the set, plus a spindown die to help you keep track of your life total. You don’t need to bring anything else, everything you need is in that kit—although, if you have some sleeves for your deck, that will make shuffling easier, so I would recommend bringing those. The store will provide basic lands for everyone to borrow, and you can have as many as you need.
Kamigawa Neon Dynasty Mechanics
Let’s have a chat about the mechanics that you are going to see on your Kamigawa Neon Dynasty cards. Some are new, some are returning, all look sweet.
Reconfigure is a new twist on Equipment where the Equipment is also a creature as long as it is unattached. When you play these, they will act exactly like regular creatures—they have power and toughness, abilities, summoning sickness—everything just like normal. But they are also Equipment, but instead of having an Equip cost they have a Reconfigure cost, which works just the same as Equip but it means the creature is no longer a creature when it becomes attached and you can also pay the Reconfigure cost to unattach it.
Most of these cards are going to be great inclusions in your pre-release sealed deck. Equipment can be powerful in sealed, but their downside is that if you have no creatures, they don’t do anything. The Reconfigure Equipment perfectly mitigates that downside by providing you a creature when you need it and an Equipment otherwise. The Reconfigure Equipment also happen to synergise beautifully with…
Modified is a new term that encompasses any permanent with an Equipment, Aura you control, or counter on it. There are a variety of cards that interact with Modified creatures, mostly concentrated in Red and Green, such as Akki Ember-Keeper, Invigorating Hot Springs, and Walking Skyscraper.
If you have some of these Modified payoffs, keep an eye out for options in your pool for enabling them. Reconfigure Equipment will be a great option, as will any of the many cards that add +1/+1 counters. I’d try to steer clear of auras, as they are mostly fairly weak.
Sagas are probably my favourite card type in all of Magic, so I’m so happy to see them return. All of the Sagas in the set have a twist: on their third (and final) chapter, they exile themselves and return to the battlefield transformed as an enchantment creature. Here are some examples:
Would you like to befriend the moths?
Or do you prefer to draw 4 cards?
Now, Remember that because the Sagas exile themselves and then return, the creature side does have summoning sickness, so it won’t be able to attack until the next turn. Unless, you know, it has haste:
Ninjutsu was a fan favourite mechanic from the original Kamigawa block (and in a few supplemental sets), and is probably the mechanic I’m most excited to play with in the new set. The way it works is while the Ninja is in your hand, if you have an attacking creature go unblocked then before damage you can pay the Ninjutsu cost, return the attacker to your hand, then put the Ninja into play tapped and attacking. Most of the Ninjas have a combat damage trigger, so their value is being able to sneak them into play and draw a card, kill a creature, make a Treasure, or some other cool effect.
If you’re looking to build a Ninja-focused deck, keep a sharp eye out for cheap evasive creatures, especially those with an enter-the-battlefield effect. My favourite is Network Disruptor, who can also tap down opposing blockers to get in additional Ninja hits.
Channel is also a returning mechanic from the original Kamigawa block. Channel lets you discard the card from your hand for a cost to get some effect. Channel cards are usually really good in sealed, because they offer flexibility: often a cheap Channel effect early in the game, or an expensive late game win condition.
One thing to note: Channel is an activated ability, you are not casting the spell. This means you can do it at instant speed and your opponent can’t counter it. This also means counterspells are weaker in this format, so I would avoid running them in your sealed deck.
Kamigawa Neon Dynasty Limited Archetypes
Each two-colour combination in the set has a defined archetype, so try to keep these synergies in mind while you are choosing the two colours for your sealed deck.
Welcome to Need for Speed 3: Tokyo Draft. White-blue is all about vehicles, with some powerful mech suits ready to be crewed by Pilot creatures with abilities that either help them crew bigger vehicles or give some ability that works when crewing. If you’ve got 4+ vehicles in your pool keep an eye out for this archetype and don’t touch the brakes until your opponents are dead.
Master Splinter is here to coach all of your Blue-black Ninjas (and there is even a Ninja Turtle in green!) straight into the red zone. As we discussed before, look through your pool for some powerful Ninjas like Moon-Circuit Hacker that you can pair with cheap evasive creatures like Network Disruptor. Try to fill the rest of your deck out with removal, bounce spells, and other ways to keep forcing the Ninjas through for value. Just so you know, you get bonus points for pretending that your Covid mask is a Ninja mask while you slowly grind away your opponent’s will to live. You’ll make lots of friends that way, trust me.
Black-red artifact sacrifice
Do you like to play with your food before you eat it? You do, don’t you? Don’t worry, I won’t tell your Mum. If you would like a socially acceptable way of engaging in your habit, check out this spicy deck. We’ve seen black-red sacrifice decks before, but they usually involve sacrificing creatures. Neon Dynasty shakes things up and has made black-red all about sacrificing artifacts for value. You want to build this deck in two halves: cards that sacrifice your artifacts, like Oni-Cult Anvil, and cheap artifacts that provide you some value when they enter or die, like Experimental Synthesiser.
Have you ever wanted to just be a baboon in a hot spring? Well make sure you pack your dice and get ready to start throwing +1/+1 counters around like it’s Arcbound Ravager’s birthday party. Red-green is all about modifying your creatures, so if you’re a fan of loading up on Equipment and counters and just making some beefy dudes, this is likely the archetype for you.
Are you that player at your Commander table that just can’t get enough of Enchantress decks? This is your time to shine! Green-white is all about Enchantments and Neon Dynasty is stuffed full of Enchantment Creatures, Sagas, and Auras, so there’s an endless supply of Enchantments to trigger all of your enchantment-matters cards. Sagas are already effectively 3-for-1s, so if you can fill your deck with them you can generate a metric butt load of value.
White-black artifacts + enchantments
Nobody likes having to make difficult choices, so if you’re fan of Artifact decks and Enchantment decks, why not combine them? White-black has a really cool twist in this set, with a whole set of cards that pay you off for having both an artifact and an enchantment. There are plenty of both card types in the set—including Artifact Creatures and Enchantment Creatures—so there’s no shortage of enablers. Because the requirement is harder than usual to attain, given that you need two different conditions to be met, the payoffs for this archetype are quite powerful and should make for some explosive gameplay.
Black-green graveyard recursion
“Guys, we’ve got a problem! We forgot to define an archetype for black-green for the new set, what should we do?”
“Uhhh, I dunno, maybe just graveyard…stuff?”
“Stuff? Don’t you think we need something a bit clearer?”
“Nah, it’ll be fine”
Green-blue channel / ramp
Do you like sky turtles? Of course you like sky turtles, that was a stupid question, never mind. Green-blue is all about ramping with mana dorks and land auras while filling your deck with flexible Channel cards that play well in the early and late game. This deck looks like a lot of fun, as it has the best chance of being able to cast the big 6- and 7-drop Channel creatures. If you’re a fan of big-mana green decks, keep an eye out for the ramp enablers in your pool that can make it happen.
We all know that one guy/gal that likes to just sit at the table and play with their cards on their own for 10 minutes before eventually just passing the turn without actually killing you. You should probably recommend blue-red to them at the pre-release, because this deck can get up to some shenanigans. There are cards that trigger off artifacts entering the battlefield, leaving the battlefield, being sacrificed, being copied, the works. It all works like a crazy machine. If you’ve got the good payoffs for the deck, keep an eye out for the cheap artifacts that will be the little cogs that make your whole deck tick. (Bonus: I drafted blue-red in my first draft of the format and it was sweeeet).
Red-white Samurai/warriors attacking alone
Leeeeeeroy Jennnnkins! Red-white has a cool twist in this format: instead of the usual boring aggro deck, we’ve got an “Exalted”-style deck built around one Warrior or Samurai (of which there are plenty) attacking alone. There are plenty of payoffs for attacking alone, including buffs to the creature, draw cards, removing blockers, and more. If you’re a fan of Voltron-style decks where you just suit up one creature with all of your Equipment and other enhancements, give this one a spin if your pool allows.
Pre-releases are my favourite events in the Magic year, I never miss them. If you build a sweet deck or manage to crack some sweet rares and mythics, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @Calm_Mirror with a picture, I’d love to hear from you!