It’s shaping up to be quite an exciting week for MTG players: tomorrow, we’ll be getting some kind of significant banlist update and most likely a balancing changes to the Alchemy (and Historic) formats. Then just a few short days after, on Thursday, January 27, the official previews will begin for the February set Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. We’ve already seen quite a few spoilers thanks to a series of leaks over the last few months, but there are still a ton of cards that have yet to be seen by the general public.
Before the beginning of the preview season for each set, MTG’s head designer Mark Rosewater (often shortened to MaRo) gives us a bit of a teaser about what we can expect from the set over on his Tumblr, Blogatog. It usually includes abilities, creature types, and other unusual or noteworthy text that will appear on cards from the set, along with some clues about returning characters and more. This morning, MaRo published the teaser for Neon Dynasty:
MaRo’s teasers are always chock full of information and insight into the set, and it’s definitely worth giving the full list a read. Here are just a few of the things that caught my eye:
Returning Legendary Character from Champions of Kamigawa
Despite the fact that the original Kamigawa block was considered something of a design flop at the time (in part because it was grossly underpowered compared to the previous Mirrodin block), it has become a fan-favorite in the years since. Many of the cards and characters from Kamigawa are now beloved by the community for both their flavor and the power that some of them hold in formats like Commander, so it’s exciting to see that we’ll have at least one returning classic character even in the plane’s distant future.
So who could be the returning Legendary Creature that MaRo is referring to? The original cycle of Kamigawa Spirit Dragons were all from Champions, but given that we’ve already seen previews for a whole new set of dragons, that seems less likely. However, there are a ton of other legends that he could be referring to, from Kiki-Jiki to Azusa to Eight-and-a-Half-Tails.
Kiki-Jiki and Azusa definitely fit under the description of “popular legendary creature” and seem like possible contenders for a return, but there are a dozen other cards that MaRo could be referring to. For those curious, a quick search on the Gatherer (Wizards of the Coast’s card database) can pull up all of the legends from Champions of Kamigawa for you to browse and speculate about.
The Completion of a Five-Card Cycle “years in the making”
Often times, when MaRo and Magic’s other designers refer to a five-card cycle, the cycle in question is made up of one card of each of Magic’s colors that are similar in design. These cycles have been present since the very beginning of Magic. However, not all cycles in MTG represent the five colors, and an astute Redditor u/Nylon_MTG points out that the cycle in question could be Kodama:
Although all of the Kodama cards are green, adding a card for Kodama of the West Tree would constitute a five-card cycle, and it seems likely that this could be the one in question assuming the Legendary Spirit is still around in present-day Kamigawa.
Two Popular Cycles Return with “a new twist”
We already know that one of the cycles being referred to here is the five Legendary Spirit Dragons, but what about the second? It’s possible that we could see a new version of the Honden cycle from Champions of Kamigawa:
While they weren’t particularly competitive, the shrines from the original Kamigawa were very popular among players – so much so that we got a new cycle of shrines not too long ago back in Core Set 2021. The M21 shrines were powerful enough to at least see some play on the Arena ladder, and it was something that many players enjoyed playing around with if nothing else. Given their popularity, it would not be surprising to see a new cycle of shrines in Neon Dynasty… perhaps a with a cyberpunk/technological spin?
The Legend Rule Does Not Apply and Other Interesting Mechanics
In addition to the hints and clues, Rosewater also likes to give some specific lines of text from some of the cards in the set, and as usual, we’ve got some wild ones.
• “The ‘legend rule’ doesn’t apply to permanents you control.”
This line stands out to me as something a lot of players might be interested in, especially for more casual formats. While they aren’t always competitive in 60-card formats, cards that circumvent the “legend rule” that prevents players from controlling more than one of the same legendary permanent have been both popular and very powerful in Commander-style formats.
The most recent example of a card like this is Helm of the Host, a card that didn’t do much in Standard, but has become a standby for many decks in the Commander and Brawl. After all, who doesn’t want to make copies of their commander?
There are a number of other eyebrow-raising lines of text here, such as “Whenever you cast an artifact, instant, or sorcery spell, copy that spell.” I don’t need to tell anybody who plays Standard that copying certain sorceries (ahem… Alrund’s Epiphany) can be an extremely powerful strategy, and the versatility of this ability to copy spells as well as artifacts could be quite strong depending on the context of the rest of the card.
Another one that stands out is “that ability triggers an additional time.” This is a very vague descriptor without any kind of context, but we’ve seen cards like Panharmonicon, and later Yarok, the Desecrated, be popular as well as extremely powerful even in 60-card competitive formats to some extent.
Blink-style decks are already reasonably strong in Historic thanks to cards like Soulherder and Inquisitor Captain (although the latter of which may be subject to an upcoming nerf), and if the card in question actually is something similar to Panharmonicon, it could be a player in that archetype. However, without knowing the context, the card may have nothing to do with enters-the-battlefield effects and could double up triggers that are completely unrelated. Still, we’ve learned that doubling triggers is no joke.
Turtle Ninjas, Fox Pilots, and More
There’s always some interesting creature types that show up in MaRo’s teaser, and this one includes some enchantment creatures, snakes, rats, and more. I’ve personally always loved the snake tribe from the original Kamigawa and can’t wait for the return of the Orochi and the ratlike Nezumi.
Another personal point of interest for me is the daughter of Tamiyo, one of my favorite planeswalkers, receiving a legendary card of her own! What are some of the tidbits from Mark Rosewater’s teaser that have you the most excited for Neon Dynasty? Got any predictions? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll keep you up-to-date with the latest news and spoilers concerning Kamigawa’s return. We’ll see you on Thursday!