What We Know About Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty So Far
Magic the Gathering has a stacked lineup of releases slated for the new year. One of the first is called Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. The set in its essence combines the new and the old in bright splashes of color inspired by many facets of Japanese culture. It’s set that Magic the Gathering players are excited for based on aesthetics alone. There are other players who are skeptical as the previous Kamigawa block was widely regarded as less than good. So will this set prove to be a disappointment or will Wizards of the Coast bring the old into the distant future successfully? Let’s take a look.
Promotional Poster by Wizards of the Coast
A Familiar Plane with A New Twist
Magic the Gathering players are no strangers to the plane of Kamigawa. The name itself is meant to translate to “divine river” or “river of the gods” as Wizards of the Coast combined the kanji for “god” and the kanji for “river.” The 2004-2005 block of Kamigawa included Champions of Kamigawa, Betrayers of Kamigawa, and Saviors of Kamigawa. All of these sets were heavily influenced by Japanese culture as Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty will be too.
Kamigawa is a world that is ruled by constant back-and-forth of the kami, aka the spirits and minor gods of the world, and the mortals. The world is split in two: the Reikai, the spirit world, and the Utsuhiyo, the mortal world.
The major overarching event that Magic the Gathering players may remember from this block was the Kami War. War was ignited when the feudal lord Konda performed a powerful arcane ritual to free a legendary dragon spirit known as O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami, with the help of his moonfolk and allied wizards. He successfully trapped the spirit and ceased aging, but his bid for power enraged the other gods. The spirits took their vengeance on the entirety of the mortal world in a war that raged on for twenty years until a part of O-Kagachi was set free and Konda was defeated.
The sets of the previous Kamigawa block introduced several new mechanics, which is where the majority of Magic the Gathering players find issues. Champions introduced the Arcane subtype, sorcery and instant spells that were meant to represent the kamis’ abilities. Betrayers brought Ninjutsu to the game; a mechanic that allowed players to put a ninja card from their hand into the battlefield tapped. Saviors brought the most changes with mechanics like Channel, Sweep, and Wisdom. This last set also introduced the first spell that was intentionally made to be uncastable.
Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty is set a little over a thousand years after the events of the first Kamigawa block. It’s MTG’s first science fiction set. And, it follows a young planeswalker by the name of Kaito as he tracks a man with a metal arm who has attacked the emperor. The set is rumored to tackle the idea of modernity versus traditions, and that rumor seems to so far prove true with the cards that we’ve seen so far from the set.
The Cards So Far
The first character in Kamigawa that Magic the Gathering players are introduced to is also the first planeswalker. Kaito Shizuki phases out at the beginning of your end step when he enters the battlefield, meaning that he cannot be targeted during your opponent’s turn because a phased permanent is treated as though it’s not there at all.
The set also introduces breathtaking full-art land cards that resemble the Japanese tradition of woodblock printing. Wizards of the Coast have aptly named them Ukiyo-e basic lands. Luckily, these lands can be found in every type of booster pack offered in the Neon Dynasty set so Magic the Gathering players can easily collect perhaps the best-looking lands that MTG has ever released.
Magic the Gathering players will also see the return of some familiar kami but reimagined for this futuristic setting. The dragon cycle from Champions returns with a new cycle of dragons. The first that we are introduced to is Atsushi, the Blazing Sky. The fiery red dragon spirit has flying and trample and gives you two options to choose from when the kami dies. You can create three treasure tokens or exile the top two cards of your library, where you can play them until the end of your next turn.
The neon in Neon Dynasty comes with the introduction of this next card. Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos has been chosen by Wizards of the Coast to be the legendary creature card that gets the newest treatment. A huge variety of MTG cards feature a soft glow treatment, but Hidetsugu exclusively gets the neon ink treatment. The treatment makes the card truly feel like it’s glowing and makes it the prized find for Magic the Gathering players. The card comes in four neon colors, three of which can only be found in Collector Boosters with less than 1% of packs containing the neon ink. The red ink is the rarest to find followed the green ink with the blue ink being the easiest to find. The yellow neon ink card is only available through local game store that tout the WPN Premium title, so Magic the Gathering players ask your LGS if they qualify!
A Neon Dream Come True
The mix of traditional Japanese culture with cyberpunk is bound to be appealing to more than just Magic the Gathering players. It’s a set that holds a lot of promise in attracting new people to the game. If it’s executed correctly perhaps it can undo the hatred of Kamigawa sets of the past and bring appreciation to the amazing artwork that this set is already bringing. Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty prereleases are set to begin on February 11th and the full set releases on February 18th. Contact your local Coliseum of Comics to reserve your booster box today!