Recently, Wizards of the Coast held a press event for their newest Magic set, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. In it, Game Design Architect Dave Humpherys, Game Designer Emily Teng, Product Manager Max McCall, and Magic: The Gathering Arena's Community Manager Megan O' Malley talked about what players could expect and look forward to. Below was what was shown.
Kamigawa Neon Dynasty - Story and Background
As some were able to determine by the more contemporaneous promotional art, Neon Dynasty is set 1200 years after the previous Kamigawa block, Champions of Kamigawa followed by Betrayers of Kamigawa and Saviors of Kamigawa, released between 2004-2005. But while the prior sets were themed after a fantastical version of feudal Japan, Neon Dynasty is more overtly sci-fi. Essentially, after their world was devastated by war, the land of Kamigawa had a chance to recover and grow. This version of Kamigawa, modeled in no small part by modern Japan, is a blend of past and present, where “technological innovation takes place alongside Kami worship, and where hi-tech skyscrapers soar beside more traditional looking structures.”
Since Neon Dynasty is set in Magic: The Gathering's present, Teng decided to explain the story in further detail. The protagonist of this story is the new ninja Planeswalker, Kaito Shizuki. It opens by revealing that Kaito was close friends with Kamigawa's lost emperor, who had disappeared ten years during an attack on the palace by a man with a metal arm. Ever since, Kaito has been trying to solve the mystery as to the disappearance of the emperor and what this mysterious man wanted.
As part of this quest, Kaito has teamed up with an organization called The Futurists, which as the name suggests are all about pushing forward technology and advancement. As part of this search for the missing emperor, Kaito will encounter another planeswalker, Tezzeret, a reoccurring character and planeswalker, who is aiding The Futurists. But Tezzeret is actually working in secret with a sinister foe, the Phyrexian Jin-Gitaxias, experimenting on Kami in secret. As things progress, Kaito discovers that Tezzeret is in fact, the mysterious man with the metal arm.
As for that wandering emperor, she will also appear in Neon Dynasty as a white planeswalker. While The Wandering Emperor did make a brief appearance during The War of the Spark in Ravnica, this current set will help reveal more about her backstory.
Aiding Kaito in this investigation is another reoccurring planeswalker: Taimyo. A Kanagawa native, Tamiyo was a likely shoo-in on the return to Kamigawa, but due to Tezzeret's machinations with Jin-Gitaxias and experimentations on the Kami, they have figured out how to 'phrexianize' Planeswalkers without destroying their sparks. This has led to a terrible fate for Taimyo, represented with his card: Tamiyo, Compleated Sage. This is even represented by the mana cost of Tamiyo including Phyrexian mana. Later on in a Q&A, McCall mentions that aside from this one instance, no other cards in this set will include Phyrexian mana or the associated ability to spend life in place of mana cost.
Kamigawa Neon Dynasty - Set Design and Mechanics
The presentation shifted from lore and story to the gameplay that Kamigawa Neon Dynasty will introduce. Humpherys' part of the presentation started by showing off how the settings blending of the new and the old would be represented in the various card types. For example, the leaning on Kamigawa's traditional values of Kami worship and mysticism would be represented in Enchantments while the more progressive technology would be represented through Artifacts. Humpherys was quick to point out that there will be no zero-sum situation with the different colored enchantments or artifacts. There will be plenty of combos and synergies for players to discover.
This mix of tradition and modernization helped inform creature designs as well. The first is the introduction of modifications. Basically, if one of your creature cards has been enhanced by Equipment cards, enchantment auras you control, or even counters, the creature is considered modified. This is important since a lot of Kamigawa Neon Dynasty's new effects will target modified creatures. Humphreys does mention that some of these new effects benefit multiple modified creatures rather than just one pumped up with abilities and +1/+1 tokens, so take that into account with your future strategies.
Next is the return of one of Kamigawa's more unique mechanics: Ninjutsu. Humpherys actually mentioned that Ninjutsu wasn't originally planned to return in Neon Dynasty. This is due in part to it leading to logistical issues, with the many modifications happening to creatures in the set. Ultimately, Humphreys and the team decided to just keep the Ninjutsu mechanic as it was for fans, arguing that there aren't too many cards in the game to modify creatures. Considering the appeal of Ninjutsu is to play a creature from your hand as an attacker for a surprise strike, it is fitting to have it in a set that has a ninja Planeswalker.
Another returning mechanic is Channel. Cards with this mechanic can be discarded (after paying the required mana cost) to activate the channel ability. Greater Tanuki can be channeled to get a basic land card from your library on to the battlefield tapped for example. It can be especially good for cycling or helping players who are getting manascrewed with multicolor decks. Humphreys did mention that only Enchantments and Artifacts will have Channel in order to simplify things. Although in the case of the Greater Tanuki, it is labeled as an Enchantment Creature, so there is a bit more flexibility than at first glance.
Humphreys continued to talk about Legendary creatures. He mentions that the original Kamigawa set mentions or refers to multiple legends, about 102 possible commanders – only one of which was multicolor – by his own reckoning, which gave the team plenty of fertile ground to bring new in new commanders for players interested in this set. Although the presentation didn't go into any specific Commander decks, they did show off two Legendary Creatures, the mono black Ogre Demon, Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos, and the blue/black ninja, Satoru Umezawa.
Next, Humphreys revealed some returning Cycles for Kamigawa Neon Dynasty. While Humphreys couldn't reveal all of them, he did reveal one: Legendary Dragons with death triggers. But rather than it just being a simple “when X dies, Y happens” trigger like in the original Kamigawa sets, there are two player options now.
Continuing on the idea of Enchantments representing Kamigawa's traditions are new Enchantment Sagas. The twist here is that instead of the Sagas in Kamigawa Neon Dynasty just going away, instead they are exiled then are returned to the battlefield transformed. That is right, these Enchantment Sagas are double-faced cards. It is one way to express the idea of stories coming to life.
Alternatively, Kamigawa Neon Dynasty's more tech-based future introduces another new mechanic: Reconfigure. Basically, this mechanic is tied to Artifact Creatures which double as Equipment. Pay the mana cost, and you can attach the Artifact to a creature, granting them certain benefits. In addition, you can pay the Reconfigure cost again and unattach the Artifact. Doing this can only be done as a sorcery, so it cannot be done as a reaction an enemy card or tactic. As for those benefits, some are straightforward like Simian Sling giving the equipped creature a +1/+1, but others like The Reality Chip allows you to play lands and cast spells from the top of your library.
Next, in addition to Ninja, there will be certain creatures returning in Kamigawa Neon Dynasty. First, there are Samurai, which will have certain effects similar to the Exalted mechanic. If they attack alone, an additional effect occurs like tapping an enemy creature.
Kamigawa Neon Dynasty - Showcase Treatments
As the presentation continued, McCall started showing off the various Showcase treatments coming to Kamigawa Neon Dynasty. The first is the introduction of Ukiyo-e Basic Lands. As the name suggests, it is a set of land cards done in the style of 17th-century Japanese woodblock prints. There will be 10 Ukiyo-e Basic Lands in total, two for each land. Furthermore, while the cards themselves are printed in Japanese in keeping with its artstyle, they can be found in packs of Neon Dynasty from any language. One-third of all set and draft boosters will contain a non-foil Ukiyo-e Basic Land. Each Collector Booster will contain one foil Ukiyo-e Basic Land.
McCall continues with the introduction of a new showcase frame: Soft Glow Treatment. Most of the 6 Mythic Rares and 37 Rares in Kamigawa Neon Dynasty will have an alternate showcase version. This version will sport a neon color aesthetic, including artwork for the front and back of the card. These showcase versions can be found in both foil and non-foil in set and draft boosters.
In addition, there will be Ninja Treatment. The 22 Ninja creatures, and the one Ninja planeswalker found in this set, all have alternate versions in this showcase. Like the Soft Glow Treatment, these can be found in foil and non-foil through set and draft boosters.
Even the Samurai cards will be getting their own treatment as well. This will include The Wandering Emperor planeswalker card.
As per tradition, Kamigawa Neon Dynasty will include borderless planeswalker cards. All four of the new planeswalkers, Kaito, Tezzeret, Wandering Emperor, and Tamiyo, will have borderless alternative art cards. Furthermore, they will feature work by acclaimed artists like Fist of the North Star creator Hara Tetsuo, Hololive artist Lack, and the expressive sketches of Terada Katsuya. These alternate cards can be found, both in foil and non-foil, in set, draft, and collector boosters.
In addition, the Legendary Dragon cards and five Legendary Lands will be getting borderless versions as well. These can be found in set, draft, and collector boosters as well.
Next, there will be Phyrexian Cards. In keeping with the story of Jin-Gitaxias' experimentations, certain cards will be printed in the language of the Phyrexians. These cards will include a special Phyrexian frame. One of the cards that will appear with this Phyrexian language will be Tamiyo, Compleated Sage. Since the story of Kamigawa Neon Dynasty involves this transformation by Tezzeret and Jin-Gitaxias, this makes sense.
Next, the presentation showed off different foil etching cards for Kamigawa Neon Dynasty. In addition to the usual rainbow-colored etching seen in foil cards in other Magic sets, Neon Dynasty will include a different etching that will give cards a metallic sheen. Given the set's sci-fi trappings, this fits. These foil etchings are exclusive to collector boosters.
In addition to the metallic foil etching, collector boosters will be the only set where you can get extended art cards. Every single Mythic Rare and Rare card in Kamigawa Neon Dynasty will have an extended art version available. The only exception to this are the planeswalker cards since their art is already extended by design. These cards will show up in non-foil as well as traditional foil. Extended art versions of the Commander cards will only be available in non-foil.
Finally, there will be a new type of foil for Kamigawa Neon Dynasty. Titled Neon Ink Foil, it is a special neon ink treatment that is silk-screened on top of a traditional foil card. Only Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos will be getting the neon ink foil treatment, but he will come out in four different colors: blue, green, red, and yellow. Blue, green, and red will be exclusive to collector boosters. Yellow meanwhile will be part of a promotion you can through premium stores. This neon ink printing of Hidetsugu will be available everywhere around the world, but will only be printed in English.
Kamigawa Neon Dynasty - Magic The Gathering Arena
Moving on from physical to digital, O'Malley talked about how Kamigawa Neon Dynasty would be coming to Magic The Gathering Arena. First, she did confirm that most of these different alternate showcase versions of the cards mentioned above will also appear in MtG Arena. The neon ink and metallic foil cards will not be making the transition. Some of these alternate cards will be available for direct purchase, both with in-game and premium currency, while others will be rewards for completing certain events in the game.
In addition, there will be new customization items. These will include new player avatars based on the new characters, as well as new battlefields modeled after zen gardens, as well as new pets like Kaito's own origami tanuki Pom Pom (which dabs) and the holographic koi fish.
Kamigawa Neon Dynasty will go live on Magic: The Gathering Arena on February 10, 2022. The physical prerelease will be February 11, with the worldwide release happening on February 18.