Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Standard Week One Review—What's Hot and What's Not


Image property of WotC | The Wandering Emperor

Wow, friends. Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty hasn't even been officially released in paper and it's already being discussed as one of the best Limited formats of all time. After prerelease last weekend, players have been diving into both Limited and Constructed to see how the new cards play with the meta.


While Limited is certainly taking the spotlight right now, Standard is also feeling the impact of Neon Dynasty.


From an enchantment-focused deck that's on the rise to the reinventing of Izzet control, Neon Dynasty cards are already shaping the format. While things will continue to change in the coming days, the first week is proving to be eventful.


Here's a look at which Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty cards are hot, and which are not, during their first week in Standard.



Jeskai Control Gets a New Face

Many of us pegged Hinata, Dawn-Crowned as an excellent piece for Commander. However, not many people thought the four-mana, Jeskai legend would do much in Standard. Thanks to its incredible synergy with Magma Opus, the Strixhaven commands, and various counterspells, Hinata has found a home.


After the ban of Alrund's Epiphany and Divide by Zero, control has been searching for a new identity. Though it will take time to tell, Jeskai control with Hinata at the helm could be legit.


This list from billsive recently placed third in an MTGO Standard Challenge, going 6-0. It runs four copies of Hinata alongside four copies of Goldspan Dragon. The former effectively turns Abrade into Lightning Bolt and every two-mana counterspell into a one-(U) bomb that shuts down your opponent. Not to mention making all of your other spells cheaper. Oh, and that two-mana Magma Opus plan is still very much on the table.


It will be interesting to see which direction this deck goes in the coming weeks as the meta settles and players adjust accordingly. One thing is certain, you don't want to count Hinata out.



Selesnya Enchantments On the Rise

Somewhere at the bottom of the meta's popularity contest is a formidable deck capable of explosive starts and stronger finishes. That's right, folks, it's time for an enchantment deck in Standard.


This Selesnya build is chock full of synergies that make it easy to create massive creatures that also gain you life. The deck mainly runs around the trio of Jukai Naturalist, Generous Visitor, and Kami of Transience with Michiko's Reign of Truth as the main payoff.


That plan is backed up by Kaldheim's Rune of Might and Rune of Sustenance to give your massive creatures trample and lifelink respectively.


Finally, you have card draw from Spirited Companion, buffs from Weaver of Harmony, and protection from Snakeskin Veil and Sejiri Shelter.


To round things out, the deck runs powerful standalone enchantments like Wedding Announcement, Sparring Regimen, and Circle of Confinement.


As mentioned, this deck can get off the ground quickly and turn into an overwhelming wave of massive creatures. Although it isn't the main plan, the build also generates a ton of life to keep your opponents out of reach.


The Selesyna enchantment deck in our new Neon Dynasty Standard does feel vulnerable to targeted control matchups, however, as it is extremely weak to Fading Hope and similar effects. If the deck gets too strong in the meta, expect competitors to adjust accordingly. For now, though, it could be a nice way to take your ladder opponents off guard.



Mono-White Gets a Tune-Up

Mono-White Aggro took a big loss when Faceless Haven was banned. However, the deck recovered nicely with the release of Neon Dynasty.


This is mainly thanks to two cards—The Wandering Emperor and Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire.


The latter gives the deck an extra piece of removal to push through those final points of damage with very little downside. It's essentially an auto-include in this deck. The only question is how many to run.


Meanwhile, The Wandering Emperor is a powerhouse card in almost every situation. On your opponent's turn, you can flash it in and remove an attacker. You can also create a 2/2 creature with vigilance to grow your board presence. The flexibility and potential swing it offers are huge for this deck and essentially every other deck that can run it.


It remains to be seen if Mono-White can continue to hang at the top of the refreshed meta. If it does, though, it will likely have these two cards to thank.



Azorius / Tezzeret Artifacts Stand Strong

Most of us expected the focus on artifacts to arrive in the upcoming Dominaria and Brothers' War sets. However, WotC came out strong with plenty of playable artifacts in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty.


The abundance of cheap, powerful artifacts along with lots of strong vehicles has given us the makings of a promising Azorius tempo/control deck.


Tezzeret, Betrayer of Flesh has seriously outperformed expectations during the set's opening week as a key component of this build. The ability to dig through your library while also creating big bodies from your early game plays is massive. Though you won't use it often, the ultimate is also a game-winner from a value standpoint.


Alongside the likes of Lion Sash, Moonsnare Prototype, Reckoner Bankbuster, and Portable Hole, Tezzeret is having a moment in the sun. This is the type of deck that takes time to fine-tune, so keep an eye on it in the weeks to come.



Red Deck Wins Returns?

Mono-Red has been notably absent from the metagame essentially since Throne of Eldraine rotated out. Although the deck isn't back on top just yet, some of Neon Dynasty's aggressive red cards are giving RDW players hope.


Notably, Rabbit Battery and Lizard Blades show off the spicy new reconfigure mechanic and play perfectly on-curve. Meanwhile, the new saga, Kumano Faces Kakkazan, offers bonus damage upfront as well as another attacker that you don't have to pay for two turns later.


On the top end, Reckless Stormseeker and Thundering Raiju swing in with haste while also buffing your board the rest of the game.


It's also interesting to see Chandra, Dressed to Kill finally finding a home in this build. The extra (R) mana each turn can be huge in this deck—as can the card advantage she provides.


As mentioned, the Mono-Red build isn't Tier 1 just yet. At this point, you're probably still better off splashing into a second color to diversify your attack patterns. However, the makings of a solid Mono-Red aggro build are there and it is refreshing to see.



Channel Lands Make a Splash

No one should be surprised that Neon Dynasty's new channel lands are having an impact. They were some of the most hyped cards from the set. A week into its release, it appears that is for good reason.


All five of the channel lands are seeing play in Standard (and basically every other format) thanks to the advantage they provide with basically no downside.


While Boseju, Who Endures and Eijango, Seat of the Empire are undoubtedly the most popular, the other three will likely find their way into impactful builds soon enough.



Ninjas Aren't Looking Great

Often billed as the plane of ninjas, Kamigawa's latest set has offered up some underwhelming options. As of now, a top-tier Standard ninjas deck hasn't risen its head. That doesn't mean it won't happen.


However, outside of Thousand Faced Shadow and Biting-Palm Ninja, the deck doesn't seem to have the ability to finish games consistently. Building around rogues like Zareth San and Krydle of Baldur's Gate seems to work better than a pure ninja build. Thieving Skydiver is also an interesting addition to combat the increased number of artifacts in the format.


As much as I'd like to see a ninjas deck in Tier 1, that simply hasn't happened yet. While the Neon Dynasty ninjas look much stronger in older formats, their impact on Standard has been minimal at best.


Whether that will change in the future is unclear. It feels like the ninja deck is missing a key piece somewhere, but perhaps someone will find a way to make it work.




Mythic Dragons in Hiding

Much like the channel lands, Neon Dynasty's mythic rare dragon cycle also got plenty of hype during spoiler season. So far, those dragons don't seem to be making much of a splash in Standard.


Perhaps it's the amount of bounce and exile removal being played that's scaring people off. It could also be the fierce competition in the slots they represent.


Ao fits awkwardly in aggressive white decks. Atsushi is up against Thundering Raiju, Moonveil Regent, and Manaform Hellkite. Junji fills the same slot as Lolth and key board wipes in most black decks. Kairi is one mana less than game-winning bombs like Hullbreaker Horror and the new Jin-Gitaxis. Kura is battling Wrenn and Seven and powerful sorceries at five mana while being overshadowed by an abundance of four-drops like Esika's Chariot.


It will be interesting to see if these dragons can find a way to make an impact in Standard as time passes. Surely someone will find a way to take advantage of some or all of them. For now, however, they are definitely one of the set's biggest letdowns.


 

That's it for our look at the first week of Neon Dynasty in Standard! What do you think we missed? Got a spicy new brew that you want to share? Let us know in the comments below or on social media.

 

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