Twinshot Sniper Art by Brent Hollowell

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Limited Guide: Part 2 – Best Spells and Archetypes


Today we are perusing the best spells to draft in the excellent-looking Neon Dynasty. If you missed part one, you can check it out below:

Before we jack in, I want to quickly discuss the format of this guide and touch on how this can be utilized in your Draft and Sealed events:

Guide Format

Before we continue on to the best spells, I want to elaborate a little on the structure of this article and provide a little context for new readers. Within each section below, I will begin with the ‘Bomb’ rares. These are cards that should be picked over any common or uncommon in drafts. In Sealed these are cards you will happily splash. Outside of the odd pack 3 completely out of the color scenario, Bombs are windmill slams in Draft.

Commons and Uncommons are your bread-and-butter though, and identifying the strongest ones not only improves your selections but also your insight into Draft signals. Seeing above-average cards wrapping around the table or just going later than expected can help you find greener (or another open color) pastures. After presenting the best cards I will then discuss the potential set archetypes the color can fit into.

My approach to a fresh Sealed pool is to first go through each color and put all of the cards I am excited to play in separate piles (in this guide I will be highlighting a selection of such spells). Comparing these piles between each color gives a good indication of where you are strongest. There are still other factors such as the quantity of filler within each color, quality rares you opened, splashing potential of your pool, etc… But, sorting out the cards this way can be insightful and is always useful. For example, you can establish a curve with your quality spells and this will inform your decisions as you make choices filling in the deck.

Alright fellow high-tech low-lives, let’s have a look at some of the best Limited spells this set has to offer!


White

Bombs

White is packing some serious firepower here, but as we go through the different Bomb sections I wouldn’t sweat the Mythics so much since they will be seen very infrequently. Rares like Kyodai are more of a concern though, because the card is absolutely ridiculous for a Rare. Indestructible counters are going to be impactful enough, let alone being able to place one at instant speed. The 5-color ability is cute but totally unnecessary for this to be a Bomb.

Cloudsteel Kirin is more questionable, but having the ability to completely prevent your opponent from winning while it is in play made me feel like it belongs here, especially since a 3/2 flyer for 3 is already an excellent deal. Keep in mind once this sticks to a Creature it is going to be very difficult to remove since it is no longer a Creature itself when equipped. Still, if you are way behind on the board it’ll still be tough to win since your opponent can take you into negative life and finish you off if/when they draw a removal spell.

Commons

White is only okay at common. There are some clear bonuses for Samurai attacking alone, and cards to set it up such as the tap-down effect on Mothrider Patrol. There is certainly a trend of playable 1-drops in this set, which leads me to believe it is going to lean much more Aggro than Crimson Vow. The synergies are smaller and even the value-oriented mechanics such as Sagas, Ninjutsu, and Channel revolve around Creatures. Lifegain is also almost nonexistent, with only one of the best White cards in this article featuring it.

Uncommons

While White was fairly meh at common, it is absolutely stacked at uncommon. I can’t remember ever listing this many uncommon spells in a single color for any set in the last four years of doing this (woah). Outside of Touch the Spirit Realm which is White’s finest removal spell, Selfless Samurai and Blade-Blizzard Kitsune are the most exciting to me here.

The latter has kind of an awkward Ninjutsu cost but I am perfectly happy hard casting it for three. Double strike is looking pretty solid in this format with so many playable low toughness creatures. I am also digging the Samurai attacking alone mechanics, and Selfless Samurai would be an ideal support in those decks providing Lifelink and Indestructible in a pinch. The rest of the cards here are all very solid, and I like that there is a lot of support for different archetypes. Let’s take a look at the possibilities for White:

Potential Archetypes

If you add Blue it is clear that Vehicles are going to be a priority. Although I am not too thrilled with the selection overall, if I found something like Mechtitan Core and/or a couple High-Speed Hoverbike I will probably go for it.

On the Enchantment side we have Green, which would be a natural home for a spell like Sky-Blessed Samurai. It does feel like there are enough Enchantment creatures, Shrines, Sagas, etc. to support an Enchantment-focused deck in this set, and many of the cards are perfectly fine on their own so it won’t take a risky investment to accumulate some Enchantments early and hope to find payoffs like it did in some previous sets.

Black kind of splits the difference, allowing you to benefit from Enchantment and Artifact synergies, while Red is pretty committed to the Samurai deck. I think White has some really good options here and I am liking the color quite a bit on paper.


Blue

Bombs

Blue is packing a few intimidating Mythics as well, including possibly the scariest iteration of Tezzeret yet in Limited. I like seeing him here though, it suits the Artifact theme quite well. The Reality Chip is the only broken Rare though in my view. It’ll be a little slow to get going but can be a wall for you early, and then it is just a stream of free spells. It’s completed busted and I wish it were Mythic.

Commons

Now these are some really great commons. I love how Network Disruptor synergizes with the Ninjas. It’ll be great in your opening hand, and even if you draw it late you can at least tap down a key blocker. While the set looks to be fast I don’t think it’ll be too fast for Skyswimmer Koi. The base stats already feel pretty pushed for a common, and its ability can do wonders to mitigate flooding as the set is stuffed with playable Artifacts.

Uncommons

I am a huge fan of Prosperous Thief. A 3/2 for two with a free attack seems good, and the Treasure could get tasty if you find dockside chef in the same deck. Artifacts generally matter in this set, and I like how Replication Specialist can ramp that up or just do a fine Griffin impression.

I love how flexible Blue is in this set. It has tools to support faster tempo-based play as well as more controlling and/or Artifact-oriented compositions. Let’s see what else Blue may have up its sleeve:

Potential Archetypes

Red and White look to support the Artifact route, while Black favors Ninjutsu-tempo. Green appears Midrange but good lord Colossal Skyturtle is an amazing card. Playing a Ramp archetype in this set could be interesting, both both Ninjas and Samurai are going to be putting on some serious pressure. Blue showed off several solid defensive tools in this section though, and I really like it as a main color regardless of the Archetype in Neon Dynasty.


Black

Bombs

There is definitely a trend forming of each color getting a Legendary Dragon Spirit and Equipment Creature Bomb, and I am all for it. These cards ooze Kamigawa and these Black ones are great exemplars. Hidetsugu is another callback to Kamigawa of yore, and this iteration looks pretty sweet. I don’t think it is a broken card, but the abilities synergize nicely. I suspect the average cmc is going to be lower for decks in this set so don’t expect huge burn damage, but getting 2-4 damage and a free spell is kind of nuts for three mana.

Commons

I am not too thrilled with the selection here, but Lethal Exploit and Twisted Embrace are going to be the best options at common. You have to be careful to not get blown out playing Twisted Embrace into removal, but Iroas’s Blessing did just fine in Theros: Beyond Death and this version should too. The Creatures here are only okay, although I do like how all of them enable Ninjutsu decks. The potential of bouncing Virus Beetle is pretty cool.

Uncommons

Black is looking a lot stronger at Uncommon. Assassin's Ink is going to be Murder most of the time, rounding out the Black removal. I actually really like Leech Gauntlet. There really isn’t much Lifelink in the set, and I think it is going to be really impactful despite the high equip cost. Everything here is slick actually, and I would be happy to draft any of these spells reasonably early.

I even considered Go-Shintai of Hidden Cruelty, but I think it falls short. My read on the Shrines is the White one is the best while the others all look playable if you have 2+ Shrines in your deck. I am feeling kind of mixed on Black for Neon Dynasty. Maybe it is just a come down from it being so excellent in Crimson Vow, but unless I find some of the Uncommons I don’t foresee forcing the color this time around.

Potential Archetypes

Of the archetypes, I am most excited for Ninjas when it comes to Black. The removal suite and flying creatures are going to provide natural support for the Blue Ninjas, and Black has a couple good ones of its own.

Black-White is also looking pretty solid. It seems loosely focused on accumulating Enchantments and Artifacts, but if you can simply collect some of the best Uncommons from these colors I think you’re going to be in good shape.

Black-Red seems a little too focused on Artifacts. We’ve gotten used to sets with abundant Artifact tokens but I am not seeing that here. I am seeing a lot of good Artifact creatures and equipment though, so I am still keeping my mind open to it.


Red

Bombs

Red doesn’t really have any outright Bombs, and these three are at a similar level as a few other Red Rares. I wanted to highlight these though because I love Goblins (I forgot Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker was a product of Kamigawa, very cool!) and am excited about Lizard Blades for the same reasons I was high on Blade-Blizzard Kitsune in the White section.

Out of everything in these articles I am most conflicted about this section. There are about seven Rares I could list (including the Legendary Spirit Dragon Atsushi, the Blazing Sky) or I could list zero since they could be considered borderline. I split the difference.

Commons

Voltage Surge and Kami's Flare are great, but beyond that Red is really thin at Common. It is becoming a bit of a pattern that each color has decent removal and middling Creatures. It definitely feels like Neon Dynasty is going to lean much more Pauper than Crimson Vow, and I suspect it will be jarring for some players. Aggro strategies are looking very appealing, especially for the first week or two after release.

Uncommons

Okay then, here the pattern is defied in that I actually prefer the Creatures to the removal in this section. Twinshot Sniper is my favorite among them, what a sweet card! I think you are going to hard cast this most of the time, but the Channel ability is nice to have and could blow out someone casting Twisted Embrace, for example. Rabbit Battery is amazing as well due to the one R equip cost. I think it would be a great fit for RW Samurai decks, allowing you to cast an important Creature and get attacking right away. Let’s see what else we can do with Red:

Potential Archetypes

Yeah, I really think the Samurai deck is going to be strong. Red seems to have some decent removal and Equipment support for the superior White Creatures. I don’t want to write off the Artifact routes at this point, but they do seem a bit more durdly than I feel comfortable with. GR seems like a wild card and will largely depend on how strong Green is. Let’s take a closer look at that!


Green

Bombs

Kura is a shoe-in but I hesitated a little on the Saga. Ultimately I do think it is a Bomb because it does so much, setting you up to easily win drawn out games if the resulting Creature is not removed. Even if it is removed you still got a mana dork and two +1/+1 counters out of the deal. In that way it is similar to Kura in that you are still ahead in value if/when it gets blown up.

Commons

Green seems to favor Ramp and Modification (auras/counters), but also comes with some reasonable 1-and-2 drops. I like the idea of an aggressive Green deck that can also drop something like Tales of Master Seshiro or Blossom Prancer on turn four. The question is whether it’ll be able to out-muscle the other decks in the format fast enough. Things like incidental Vigilance and Lifegain will help, but midrange decks may get awkward with so much tempo and evasion running around. Master's Rebuke is as solid as Green removal gets though, so time will tell.

Uncommons

Same kind of thing at Uncommon, just upgraded! Roaring Earth looks amazing, and I think Webspinner Cuff will be really important for answering the Flying/Ninjutsu threats. Everything else here is nice to have, but nothing too crazy. Green seems kind of one-dimensional in Neon Dynasty, running out Creatures and putting +1/+1 counters on them. Let’s have another look at the Archetypes and see where this concept may fit best:

Potential Archetypes

At this point adding White or Blue makes the most sense to me. Having some access to Flying is going to be so important for Green, and the Enchantment theme comes through pretty well for Green-White.

It is so early to rate colors at this point, but I am leaning toward White and Blue as just being really strong overall. The remaining three offer reasonable support, but I am hoping to be in White or Blue for one of my colors in the early days of the set at least. As the metagame is formed and I get some good experience with set, I will return with a full Draft Guide and more concrete conclusions.


Multicolor Bombs

It would be remiss if I didn’t mention these:

Really digging the addition to the Umezawa clan, but why couldn’t he be Mythic? Tamiyo is obviously amazing but will be a scarcity to see (in Limited, at least).


Conclusions

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty is looking like an amazing set and I can’t wait to play it! We will see how it goes, but the needle certainly looks to be moving back toward Pauper after the extreme Prince of Crimson Vow. I am excited by this and think the set is going to be refreshing in many ways. The mechanics are intricate and players are going to face a myriad of difficult choices in their Drafts, Sealed pools, and games. I wouldn’t want it any other way, and hope this guide will make it that much easier to make some of those decisions. That’s all for now, see you on the ladder (and maybe in the singularity someday)!

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Compulsion
Compulsion

I have been playing MTG for 20 years and am an infinite drafter on Arena. I teach high school chemistry full time and have a two year old daughter.

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