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Tatsunari, Toad Rider Art by Justine Cruz

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Limited Set Review: Black



Assassin’s Ink

Assassin's Ink

Rating: 4.0/5

This is an amazing instant speed catch all removal spell whether or not you have either cost reduction active. In Neon Dynasty you are almost always going to have an artifact or enchantment out making this Heroes Downfall with the potential upside to be even cheaper. Usual disclaimer to use instant speed removal before blockers so you don’t get wrecked by ninjitsu.

Biting-Palm Ninja

Rating: 3.5/5

This ninja gets around the usual discard drawback of them being out of cards by giving you the option to just keep the menace counter on him instead. He doesn’t even require a ninjitsu enabler as just dropping this guy on turn three will usually give him a free lane to crack in on the next turn.

Blade of the Oni

Rating: 4.0/5

Now this is an equipment creature that I would love to open! A 3/1 menace for two is a card I would play in every deck so anything beyond that is just free real estate. Later in the game this just starts demonizing your dorks to bash your opponents face in as a 5/5 Menace. The only real drawback is that one toughness leaves it fairly vulnerable to removal.

Chainflail Centipede

Rating: 2.0/5

This is another equipment creature where you don’t really want either version in your deck, but sometimes the option to have either regretfully makes the cut.

Clawing Torment

Rating: 2.0/5

Playable in an extremely aggressive deck to move blockers out of the way while pinging away at your opponent. This is also a fine sideboard card against any deck with multiple creatures with one in the butt.

Debt to the Kami

Rating: 2.0/5

I’ve never really liked playing this type of removal in limited. Letting your opponent decide which creature to sacrifice means you are always getting their worst creature unless you happen to catch them with their pants down. At least it will be a lot easier to pick off a saga or an enchantment creature with this this, but I still don’t want to play more than one in my main deck.

Dockside Chef

Rating: 2.5/5

This is so much better than similar effects by not requiring him to tap to use his ability. This chef can even eat his own cooking and sacrifice himself to draw you a card. Great glue type card that will end up winning you games without being obvious that it’s why you won.

Dokuchi Shadow-Walker

Rating: 2.0/5

While most ninjas sneak in quietly for some cool effect, this ones trick is that it slams your opponent in the face for five damage. That’s a huge damage swing early on and puts them on the back foot immediately. Unfortunately, sometimes you end up having to play him as a vanilla 5/5 for six mana which is a one way ticket to frown town.

Dokuchi Silencer

Rating: 2.5/5

I promise you that your opponent isn’t going to be silent when they get surprised with this one. It’s rarely ever going to get to hit more than once so treat it like it’s a one-off removal spell in your hand. Requiring discarding an actual creature is a very real cost, but you do have the option to pitch the one you just brought back to ninjitsu this in.

Enormous Energy Blade

Rating: 1.0/5

Oh come on… They aren’t even trying to hide it anymore. Outside of being the Bird Watcher art of the set, this doesn’t bring anything to the table besides being way too expensive for something that taps on equip.

Go-Shintai of Hidden Cruelty

Go-Shintai of Hidden Cruelty

Rating: 2/5

This is another card that really needs another shrine or two in play to have a chance to shine. On it’s own, you can pick off one toughness creatures and hold back your opponents side with deathtouch. Still an overcosted death toucher with a situational ability isn’t going to win you a lot of games.

Gravelighter

Rating: 3.0/5

Ninjitsu will incentivize your opponent to make early trades letting you get some extra value off of this. If they decline to block, you can still force a sacrifice trade that your opponent already showed they didn’t want to make. Being an evasive threat makes it easy to bounce this with a ninja and lets you start the fun all over again.

Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos

Rating: 4.5/5

An on rate, easily splashable creature with an amazing ability tacked on for free. Most games will snowball quickly in your favor when you’re drawing extra cards while getting to shoot down their creatures or blast them in the face every turn. Even if you’re not in Rakdos you should be able to grab some dual lands to splash for either the ability or this card itself.

Inkrise Infiltrator

Rating: 2.0/5

Not as good as Network Disruptor , but still a cheap, effective way to enable ninjitsu. It even has the option to slap in for some real damage later in the game.

Invoke Despair

Rating: 2/5

Not nearly as good as some of the other cards in this cycle. It’s worth playing if you don’t have to twist your manabase too much, but don’t despair if it doesn’t make the cut. The problem is that it will usually pick off your opponents two worst cards and draw you a card which isn’t great for what is functionally a seven drop.

Junji, the Midnight Sky

Rating: 4.5/5

Hey look, another busted mythic dragon. If they somehow manage to deal with your 5/5 flying menace then you get to bring a creature back from either players graveyard or wreck whatever hand they have left. Take this, crush dreams, profit.

Kaito’s Pursuit

Rating 1.5/5

Mind Rot effects have been on the upswing for the last year or so in limited. Unfortunately that comes to an end with Kaito's Pursuit as giving some of your creatures menace isn’t much of a fallback option when your opponent already have an empty grip.

Kami of Restless Shadows

Rating 2.0/5

The extra mana would be worth the extra power and toughness on this Gravedigger if it could bring any creature back to hand. Having to put any non-ninja or rogue on top of your deck drops this to borderline playability. While comes into play abilities are more valuable in a set with ninjitsu, a five mana 3/3 is rarely going to go unblocked to take advantage of the opportunity.

Kami of Terrible Secrets

Rating: 2.5/5

I’ve always loved Phyrexian Rager type creatures that replace themselves when they come into play. This one required jumping through some hoops that your deck probably has in it anyway and provides a better body. I would bump this up half a grade in any deck that can reliably trigger it on curve and drop it half a grade in any deck where it’s not likely to trigger.

Leech Gauntlet

Rating: 3.0/5

I’m perfectly happy playing a 2/2 lifelink for two so every thing else is like when McDonalds accidently drops an extra ten piece nugget in your bag. In this case, it’s a pretty sweet bonus as after slapping in a few times, you just reconfigure this onto your much larger creatures to make racing impossible.

Lethal Exploit

Rating: 3.0/5

I’m always down for cheap removal that can also act as a combat trick by shrinking your opponents creature. While totally fine at the going rate of -2-2 for two mana, this has the potential to hit something much bigger if you have some modified creatures hanging around.

Life of Toshiro Umezawa

Rating: 2.5/5

Your mileage with this is going to vary heavily based on if you get to pick off a creature with the first stage. The backside of this is certainly nothing to write home about especially when you get it turn four at the earliest.

The Long Reach of Night

Rating: 2.0/5

Giving your opponent the option to either discard a card or sacrifice their worst creature isn’t very punishing unless they are already starved for resources. It’s also going to be much later in the game before the backside creature is big enough to be relevant so this is a reach to make the cut.

Malicious Malfunction

Malicious Malfunction

Rating: 3.0/5

While there are a lot of creatures that get wrecked by this version of Cry of the Carnarium , it’s value does go slightly down in a format with a bunch of vehicles. If you pick this early enough, you can grab some of those vehicles for yourself as well as three toughness creatures to make it a much more one sided malfunction.

March of Wretched Sorrow

Rating: 4.0/5

This is a slightly overcosted removal spell that has the potential to swing a race all on it’s own. The instant speed coupled with the life gain is going to destroy an opponent who unknowingly swung into this. While it’s highly unlikely you use the option to exile cards to reduce the cost, it is always nice to have in case of emergency.

Mukotai Ambusher

Rating: 2.0/5

I’ve made my distaste for three mana aggressive creatures with only two toughness well known. So it’s going to take a lot more than lifelink for me to want to play a four mana one. The only reason this isn’t graded lower is that it is a huge life swing when you ninjitsu this on turn two, but even then it is still going to just get blocked by a random bear the next turn.

Mukotai Soulripper

Rating: 3.0/5

Dropping this on turn two can be a nightmare scenario for your opponent. If you follow it up with channeling Born to Drive , you have pilots and enough sac fodder to keep this menacing monster growing.

Nashi, Moon Sage’s Scion

Rating: 3.0/5

This card is going to have one of the biggest deltas in performance based off what flips when it hits. If you pay six life and drop a huge bomb off it, the game is pretty much over while if you hit two land you just spent four mana and bounced your unblocked creature to deal three damage. The fragility of being a 3/2 means that, barring extraneous circumstances, this is only going to get that one hit in.

Nezumi Bladeblesser

Rating 2.5/5

This rating is assuming that you have a decent number of artifacts and enchantments in your deck. The combination of menace and deathtouch mitigates some of the problems with attacking with a two toughness creature. If you somehow don’t have any artifacts or enchantments, this just shouldn’t be in your deck.

Nezumi Prowler 

Rating: 3/5

This is going to completely obliterate some poor opponent who thought they made a good block on a first striker. It can even target itself to gain some life when you ninjitsu it in on turn two. It’s important to note that it’s ability doesn’t require the ninjitsu cost to be paid so you can just play it to hook a creature up before combat.

Okiba Reckoner Raid 

Rating: 2.5/5

This makes me really wish that saga creatures had haste since it would be the equivalent damage of playing a two power creature for one mana. The menace makes up for it by making it easier to attack later and the bonus menace on all your vehicles is just gravy. It’s not even worthless later in the game since you still get a couple of drains off of it.

Okiba Salvage

Okiba Salvage

Rating: 2.5/5

Without the bonus this is a pretty meh card that really depends on what else you have in your deck to bring back with it. Though if you have an artifact and enchantment, it’s pretty big game to turn something like a 3/3 flyer into a 5/5.

Reckoner Shakedown

Rating: 2.5/5

This is one of the best designs I’ve ever seen on getting around the downside of discard. Even with cycling or other effects you always have that “what if it’s just a land” decision you have to make before playing it. This lets you take a peep, see they only have a land chilling, and bash in with your suddenly large monster. Of note, it’s not even required to take the card if they do have something so you can always pump up the jams if you need to.

Reckoner’s Bargain

Rating: 2.0/5

Sure, it’s great to use this in response to removal, but we aren’t in the Forgotten Realms and this isn’t Deadly Dispute. The life gain is fairly negligible when you are preferably going to be sacrificing something cheap and insignificant.

Return to Action

Rating: 2.5/5

I know we’re used to paying one mana for these return to the battlefield effects, but the lifelink and the extra power can do some real work. We’ve historically not played these effects early in the format and by the end we have one in every deck so I’m just going to start off playing it this time.

Soul Transfer

Rating: 4.0/5

Three mana unconditional creature and planeswalker removal is normally a no doubt first pick barring a bomb in the pack. This one tosses in exile in exchange for being sorcery speed. But wait there’s more, how about you get to bring something back from your graveyard too and all it takes is having a couple card types that are probably in your deck anyway. Great card that I will gladly take when I see it.

Tatsunari, Toad Rider

Rating 3.5/5

Tatsunari produces some serious value as long as you have some enchantments in your deck. If you played any Crimson Vow, you remember how far ahead you pulled when you sacrificed Biolume Egg on turn four. This is going to have a similar effect with a decent size evasive creature just popping up out of nowhere on top of whatever else you just played.

Tribute to Horobi

Rating: 3.0/5

It sure was awfully nice of you to give some free creatures to your opponent so they could ninjitsu your face off. As long as you have some plan to mitigate that problem, the backside of this is a bargain for only two mana. I don’t think it’s “board it out against ninjas” bad as people have been telling me, but the grade does reflect that a good portion of decks will have them.

Twisted Embrace

Rating: 3.0/5

In most cases this is just going to be sorcery speed four mana removal with a little bonus thrown in. That’s phenomenal when you are the beatdown and they are tapped out, but something just feels wrong about possibly losing your removal spell and a creature to an opposing removal.

Undercity Scrounger

Rating 1.5/5

I really want to like this card, but it certainly isn’t a Skullport Merchant or even a Sailor of Means . It needs to not have summoning sickness and have another creature die to produce a treasure. By the time you have that going, do you really need treasures when the only real late game use for them is Reckoner's Bargain.

Unforgiving One

Rating 2.5/5

While a 2/3 menace for three does teeter on edge of playability, this one does play well with the themes of the set. Ninjitsu benefits from menace and if you have enough modifications around this can turn into a must deal with value engine.

Virus Beetle

Rating: 2.5/5

Burglar Rat and their brethren have always been annoying and playable cards in limited. They also have the bonus of being a bad creature that your opponent doesn’t want to trade for since you already got a card off of it. This beetle also has the benefit of making them hold back a blocker because they never want to let you ninjitsu it back for another free card. On top of all that, this is an artifact so you are only an enchantment away from all of those sweet synergies.

You Are Already Dead

Rating: 2.0/5

Similar to Bladebrand , but with the benefit of not setting yourself up to get blown out when you try to play it. Either letting first strike damage happen or waiting for combat to end before hitting their monster with this is a much better scenario for you.

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j2sjosh
j2sjosh

Josh is a member of the elite limited team The Draft Lab as well as the host of The Draft Lab Podcast. He was qualifying for Pro Tours, Nationals, and Worlds literally before some of you were born. After a Magic hiatus to play poker and go to medical school, he has been dominating Arena with over an 80% win percentage in Bo3 as well as making #1 rank in Mythic.

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