Burnout is becoming more common for Magic: the Gathering players. Releasing new sets every few months, it can occasionally be quite tiring staying up to date with every new thing. Magic: the Gathering Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty took a risk reinventing an older set and, for the most part, it pays off.
Magic: The Gathering Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty New Mechanic - Reconfigure
Reconfigure is a mechanic tying the gap between a creature and equipment. It can be played for its usual stats and effects or attached to a creature you control for a nice buff. It choreographs your moves on the battlefield but the bonuses it gives are worth that extra piece of information.
The likes of a Leech Gauntlet is an artifact creature that can swap around and give your creatures lifelink. Then, when the equipped creature dies, it goes back to being an artifact creature. This can actively incentivise losing your creatures as doing so gives you the artifact creature back. This can be especially deadly with Bronzeplate Boar, which gives equipped creature +3/+2 and trample.
Magic: The Gathering Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty New Mechanic - Modified
This is more of a new keyword than anything else. Essentially a creature that is modified is one that has an aura, enchantment or counter on it. With Reconfigure, you can swap this status back and forth between your creatures. Then, some cards play into this by giving you special bonuses for having modified creatures.
Essentially, these two mechanics come together to force you to put your hands on the table and choreograph your plans. In return, you get some really powerful bonuses. Goro–Goro, Disciple of Ryusei gives you a 5/5 flying dragon for 5 mana any time a modified creature is attacking - a great way to increase your forces. This is a pretty big bonus, especially for a red deck that may not have the best card draw.
Before we move onto the next section, it's worth paying honorable mentions to compleated, a new card exclusive ability that lets you pay life for a planeswalker in return for less loyalty counters. It doesn't seem fair to call it a whole new mechanic given how limited it is but it's too cool of an inclusion to skip.
Magic: The Gathering Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty: White
White is a color that benefits from special equipment a great deal. It's awful fond of getting tokens in, buffing them and sending them out again. It tends to give it a decent bit of speed but leaves it high and dry near the end game.
Luckily, it does a few interesting things to buff what white is good at. We have seen a few sets work on white's weaknesses recently but this set has a few interesting board wipes, flash cards, and a great planeswalker, really adding to what white does great. That planeswalker is The Wandering Emperor. It comes with flash and can be activated at instant speed the turn it comes out.
This means you can play it defensively or throw it in at the end of someone's go to get two activations quickly on the field. With them, you can put 1/1 counters down, create 2/2 samurais with vigilant or even exile a tapped creature. It doesn't have an ultimate but it has enough versatility to really justify its place in your deck. White certainly won't change the way you play white but this set gives it a nice sense of urgency. Flash cards and a few good board wipes add much-needed versatility and that commander is a great buff to the whole battlefield.
Magic: The Gathering Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty: Blue
Being the color of choice for control players, this set doesn't synergize awfully well with the new mechanics. If you're playing a deck that isn't too loaded with monsters, you won't really get the best of what it has to offer. This being said, there are still some decent cards in here to mess around with.
Notably, the saga cards like Inventive Iteration and Behold the Unspeakable give a certain choreography to your battles that can be creatively flipped with good counters and control. This choreography is something Futurist Operative can play into. Being an unblockable creature with the potential of doing three damage each combat, just leaving the mana up can be enough to scare an opponent into acting - even if activating them is a little expensive.
Surprisingly, some of my favourite cards this time around are creatures. Still not quite enough to play into the new mechanics but otherwise great. Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant is a 7 mana 5/5 creature that copies the first instant, sorcery or artifact you cast each turn. As well as this, it cancels the first artifact, instant or sorcery your opponent plays each turn. This can essentially lock down the battle for a player low in card draw capability. Even when blue has creatures down, they still control the opponent.
Magic: The Gathering Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty: Black
Black plays into the ninjutsu aesthetic of this set really well. Even the cards that aren't quite as great on a technical level are a lot of fun to work around. Take Assassin's Ink as an example. For 2 black and 2 colorless, you can destroy any creature or planeswalker. Working at instant pace, it costs 1 less colorless mana for controlling an artifact and 1 less for controlling an enchantment. Given the deck wants you to play the two, this gives you a 2 mana instant removal at almost any point.
Playing into reconfigure, Blade of Oni is a 1 black / 1 colorleess artifact creature with menace. If you attach it to a creature for 2 colorless / 2 black, it becomes a black demon, has base power and toughness 5/5 and gains menace. Being both an artifact and enchantment, this ticks off Assassin's Ink's two requirements and gives ninjutsu creatures an excellent buff.
Black is pretty inconsistent this time around but a lot of fun to play. This is the type of set I love to play
Magic: The Gathering Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty: Red
Red isn't shaking things up too much this time around but it doesn't need to. Get in there, hit things hard and fast, lose if you play past turn 10. What's not to love? Surprisingly, Red has one of my favourite saga cards in the entire set - Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. For just three mana, you can get a couple of nice effects off but, when it is finished, you transform it into a 2/2 creature that can copy any non-legendary creature you control. It gains haste and must be sacrificed at the beginning of the next end step. This is an excellent card that has tonnes of versatility in almost any red deck.
Being an expert in burn, red plays into the modify mechanic with the likes of Kami's Flare and reconfigure with Ogre-Head Helm. Ultimately, red plays to its strengths this time around and comes away feeling much better for it.
Magic: The Gathering Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty: Green
Green has a few solid additions this time around but didn't really surprise me like some of the other sets. Enchanting and changing creatures adds an extra layer of complexity to your creatures and ninjutsu is a fun mechanic when added to trample. This being said, I can't help but feel like they could have had a little more fun here.
Spring Leaf Avenger is an interesting ninjutsu card. They are a 6/5 5 mana card that can be ninjutsu'd in for 4. Every time they do damage, the player can return a card from their graveyard to hand. This is a really solid addition to any creature heavy deck - giving some interesting graveyard recursion. Green can be a pretty upfront color so sagas like Jugan Defends the Temple is a great way of applying pressure on all fronts. Green is a relentless color and this set knows it.
Magic: The Gathering Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty - Verdict
When looking at whether or not a Magic: the Gathering set is any good, there are so many little factors you have to pay attention to. Does it balance the colors well? Does it do justice to the theming? Is it fun? For the most part, Magic: the Gathering Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty does all three of these well. The set feels full, interesting and dynamic, paying homage to the original iteration of the set whilst expanding on the formula.
Even though I think this perhaps works at its best in the context of commander, there's more than enough here to justify everything new. Each color has a central dragon and ninjutsu in all forms adds a really fun complexity to each combat. Although many may be getting a little bit of burnout from the constant Magic additions, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty
The Magic: the Gathering Innistrad Midnight Hunt cards used to produce this article were provided by YRS Truly.