Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Ultimate Draft Guide and Limited Archetype Breakdown
Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty has officially been spoiled in its entirety. That means we are now heading out of spoiler season and into brewing season.
With the set's release on Arena (and pre-release weekend in paper) coming up later this week, there's no better time to take a look at Neon Dynasty's Limited environment.
Today we'll look at the main draft themes for the set, signpost cards you should be paying attention to, as well as commons and uncommons worthy of first-pick status. We'll also do a rundown of all the Neon Dynasty set archetypes to get you prepped for your first Sealed event or draft.
Without further ado, let's dive in!
Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Limited Themes
From a mechanic standpoint, Neon Dynasty is shaping up to be a complex and interesting set. There will be lots of moving parts as well as new mechanics that feel familiar yet foreign at the same time.
We're also getting a lot of new vehicles in the set—something we haven't seen in a while. It will be interesting to see how those play with the rest of the mechanics in Limited.
Perhaps the most notable Neon Dynasty mechanic for Limited is reconfigure. It is found on artifact creature cards that can also act as an equipment. Typically, having to play multiple equipments alongside strong creatures in Limited is a challenge.
Reconfigure creatures help negate this by giving you a body on the battlefield when they come in. Then, when you have a better creature in play, you can attach the reconfigure creature to it.
This feels like a mechanic that's ideal for Limited since it gives you much-needed flexibility and opens up new lines of play for decks wanting to run equipment. Early on, you have a threat that can attack. Later in the game, reconfigure creatures also double as a mana sink.
With eight reconfigure cards at either common or uncommon, there should be plenty of room to experiment with this mechanic in Limited.
In a Kamigawa set, getting ninjutsu back was inevitable. Neon Dynasty offers 12 common or uncommon cards with the ninjutsu mechanic. It also appears on multiple green cards and a white uncommon, along with the typical Dimir colors, which will keep your opponents guessing.
Ninjutsu opens the door for some huge blowouts during the combat phase as a well-timed play can swing the entire game. There's also no shortage of evasive creatures to help turn on your ninjutsu cards in Limited.
Typically, the mechanic rewards aggressive strategies. However, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty ninjas come with abilities that fit a variety of builds. It seems like WotC wanted to put an emphasis on other themes—like vehicles and reconfigure—rather than ninjutsu. With only a handful of ninjutsu cards in the set, it doesn't feel as front-and-center as it has in the past. As such, it will be interesting to see how ninjutsu plays out this time around.
Speaking of, we're seeing WotC get more aggressive with vehicles in this set. Ever since the busted rides we saw during the Kaladesh era, vehicles have been rather tame (Esika's Chariot aside).
Neon Dynasty has several vehicles with interesting abilities, such as Imperial Recovery Unit, Mobilizer Mech, and Prodigy's Prototype. These are poised to be good picks in the uncommon slot.
Though less impactful for Limited, the rare vehicles of the set look even stronger.
Another interesting mechanic for the set is modified. It applies to creatures that are equipped, enchanted by their controller, or have a counter (of any kind) on them. As such, it isn't that difficult to achieve.
Most of the payoffs are minor, typically granting another ability, however they can definitely have an impact on the game. A few of the more common ones include haste and trample. However, you'll also find everything from drawing extra cards to dealing damage and buffing other creatures.
Modified will certainly be an important Limited mechanic for this set, especially if you're playing Gruul colors.
As mentioned, Limited is all about flexibility. Few cards offer better versatility than those with a channel ability. While the flashy rare land cycle has been making waves in Constructed circles, Neon Dynasty's other channel cards will have an impact in Limited.
Although you're generally paying a high cost for whatever effect the channel ability offers, it's often pure upside. Having channel on a card is far better than not having it and gives you another way to spend all your mana.
Noteworthy channel cards for Limited include the likes of Colossal Skyturtle, Mirrorshell Crab, and Twinshot Sniper. That said, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the common/uncommon channel cards play.
Neon Dynasty Set Archetypes
Highlighted by gold signpost cards, Neon Dynasty offers 10 archetypes (some more unique than others) for Limited. While it's difficult to get a feel for how the archetype works without playing with the cards, it's certainly interesting to speculate.
Here are the main Limited archetypes for Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty.
Azorius: Vehicles Matter
Arguably one of the most interesting archetypes of the set, Azorius is dipping away from its usual control-focused identity to highlight vehicles in this set.
There are plenty of opportunities to create Pilot tokens that efficiently crew vehicles. You also have access to some of the best vehicles in the set. Combined, that's a formula for a solid aggressive strategy. Crewing your vehicles early and swinging for lots of damage while benefitting from their extra abilities will be powerful.
Boros: Samurai Warriors
Typical Boros builds want to throw a hasty army of creatures at the opponent and end the game as quickly as possible. That isn't quite the case here as Neon Dynasty Boros decks will focus on a quasi-exalted theme.
Filled with Samurai and Warrior creatures, many red/white cards want to attack alone, granting some bonus when that happens.
This archetype will need to strike a delicate balance between dodging removal on your best creatures and getting enough damage through without a wide board. It feels fragile and swingy but should make for some tense games.
Dimir: Ninjutsu / Ninjas
Unsurprisingly, Dimir focuses on ninjas and ninjutsu this time around. You'll have lots of opportunities to swap your unblocked attackers for better ones with an ability that triggers after dealing combat damage.
There is also an emphasis on evasion in these colors to help your threats connect around larger blockers. Silver-Fur Master (aka Master Splinter) is arguably one of the best signpost uncommons in the set as it does a ton for the archetype. Consider it a solid first pick if you want to draft a ninjutsu deck.
Golgari: Reanimator / Recursion (surprise, surprise)
It's getting a little old seeing Golgari focus on the graveyard and recursion themes. However, that's exactly what we're getting in Neon Dynasty.
As Star City Games' Ryan Saxe points out, this archetype will likely have trouble being aggressive. It will be interesting to see how it can hang against the other color pairings.
Gruul: Modified Creatures
Gruul focuses on one of Neon Dynasty's new mechanics: modified. Notably, its signpost uncommon is an enchantment rather than a creature. Invigorating Hot Spring also happens to be an excellent card both for the archetype and as a general pick for the colors thanks to the counters and haste it grants.
You'll want to load up your creatures with auras, equipment, and counters in this archetype. Be sure to prioritize these things when drafting while also maintaining a safe number of creatures to use them on.
Izzet: Artifacts Matter
Another color pair deviating from its usual identity, Izzet focuses on artifacts in Neon Dynasty Limited. This set is absolutely loaded with powerful artifacts, so this should be a fun archetype to build around.
That said, some of the best artifacts will be drafted highly as generic mono-colored picks, so it will be important to find your key pieces early on. Regardless, Enthusiastic Mechanaut is a prime first pick given the number of artifacts in the set.
Rakdos: Artifact Sacrifice
Interestingly, Rakdos is also heavily focused on artifacts. The difference between it and Izzet is that you want to sacrifice those artifacts.
There are several key payoffs, including Oni-Cult Anvil, that reward you for saccing artifacts. You also get access to key removal from both black and red, making this an archetype that can play slow or fast depending on the packs you open.
Orzhov: Artifacts and Enchantments on the Battlefield
Orzhov is offering up a very unique archetype this time around. It wants you to have both an artifact and an enchantment on the battlefield to turn on some of its most powerful cards.
This stipulation is intriguing and we won't really know how good it plays until we get our hands on the cards. That said, it's also hard to evaluate. Many of the cards look quite strong but their viability depends on how easy it is to stick an artifact and an enchantment simultaneously.
Selesnya: Enchantments Matter
Playing lots of enchantments typically isn't where you want to be in Limited. However, that's what Selesnya wants in Neon Dynasty.
You'll need to focus on enchantments that bring extra value alongside some of the enchantment creatures to find success in this archetype. Jukai Naturalist is a strong uncommon. However, much of this deck's future likely relies on how good the set's new saga cards are.
Simic: Channel / Ramp
Unsurprisingly, we are seeing Simic play out as the ramp deck once again. This time, it also has the benefit of being home to some of the format's best channel cards.
Powerful channel abilities on cards like Colossal Skyturtle (the signpost uncommon), Mirrorshell Crab, and Greater Tanuki mean you won't be stuck with huge creatures in your hand that you can't play. Instead, you can use their channel ability to stay active in the early game until you can ramp out larger threats.
This is another unique twist on a well-known archetype, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Limited Speculations
Given what we've seen from Neon Dynasty's spoilers, it looks like the set's Limited environment will be quite aggressive.
Further, it appears there will be a larger-than-usual emphasis on the combat phase thanks to things like ninjutsu, the Boros archetype, and channel cards. Spending your mana at the right time will be more important than ever and will likely swing many games.
Finally, the emphasis on artifacts in this set should make for some interesting matchups and play lines. Few archetypes offer a straightforward plan. Most can be tweaked depending on how they interact with artifacts and enchantments throughout the game. Finding the right balance could be a major key to success.
What do you think of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty's Limited environment? Which archetype are you most excited to play? Let us know in the comments below!
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