Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty First Impressions: Modern

Which Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty cards have the best chance of making a mark in Modern MTG? Four SCG creators give their First Impressions of the set.

Boseiju, Who Endures
Boseiju, Who Endures, illustrated by Chris Ostrowski

Welcome back to Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty First Impressions week!

All week long, various members of the SCG Staff have shared their thoughts on the Top 5 Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty cards in each format. On Monday, we gushed about red’s resurgence in Standard. On Wednesday, we sang the praises of Secluded Courtyard in Pioneer. Today, we’ll close things out with Magic’s most dynamic format — Modern!

To add a little fun to the mix, a scoring system has been put in place so that we can get an idea of what card ranked in what place in the aggregate to close out each article. The scoring system is as follows:

  • 1st — 5 points
  • 2nd — 4 points
  • 3rd — 3 points
  • 4th — 2 points
  • 5th — 1 point

Today we kick things off with the co-host of Dominaria’s Judgment, Ari Lax!

Ari Lax

  1. Boseiju, Who Endures
  2. Otawara, Soaring City
  3. Greasefang, Okiba Boss
  4. Michiko’s Reign of Truth
  5. Tameshi, Reality Architect

I’m taking a gamble at the end of my list there. There are a bunch of safe bets like Lion Sash, but Tameshi, Reality Architect has some really stunning loop potential. Turning all your lands into Lotus Blooms for a turn, drawing a triple per turn cycle with Aether Spellbomb or just leaving that up to protect Tameshi itself, or just good old-fashioned graveyard-grinding someone out are all easy ways to win once you get this Moonfolk going.

My risk taking continues with Michiko’s Reign of Truth. It’s a bit of an ask to assume a different artifact aggro deck could supplant Colossus Hammer, but Michiko’s Reign of Truth is efficient enough it might just make Affinity a player in Modern again. Not these fake Azorius decks saying they are Affinity or Neoform piles, but actual Affinity like it’s 2004 and a Standard ban is coming way too late. Even if the deck isn’t a high-tier contender, it’s going to see a disproportionate amount of nostalgia play.

Greasefang, Okiba Boss is the same story as Pioneer, but the path to success is much more obvious in Modern. As evidenced by my forays into Rakdos Vampires with Urza’s Saga, there’s a ton of overlap in the discard-artifact-graveyards space already and this just acts as another game crushing plan you can integrate alongside things like Asmor and the aforementioned Cookbook. Maybe the Vampire theme has to go from my initial brews, but you can pry Voldaren Epicure from my cold dead fingers.

All that fun is done though, and there’s no way anything other than the channel legendary lands are the most important cards for Modern when all is said and done. The two topping this list are the obvious two, and that’s even beyond the overlap in colors with Shardless Agent and the fact both of them answer Chalice of the Void.

The story with Otawara, Soaring City ends approximately there at beating Chalice of the Void or Teferi, Time Raveler when it isn’t just chilling as a costless land in your deck… but the Boseiju, Who Endures discussion has a lot longer to go. Is Wrenn and Six plus Boseiju enough of a plan against a bunch of the weird linear decks that generic midrange can ignore Gruul Belcher or Amulet Titan? Is this the card that ends Blood Moon as a threat for Amulet Titan? Did we just get incidental-Naturalized out of a lot of fun in Modern? I don’t think any of those is quite the case, but Boseiju is going to push hard on the balance of the format. If you were looking for a fresh metagame spin for Modern, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty is assured to deliver it on the back of this single rare land.

Bryan Gottlieb

  1. Boseiju, Who Endures
  2. Moonsnare Prototype
  3. Lion Sash
  4. Mirrorshell Crab
  5. Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance

Whereas my Standard list was all about finding cards that can push new archetypes, my Modern list is about identifying cards which play well with or against the existing themes of the format. This makes Boseiju, Who Endures the clear #1 card for me, since any green deck can play it and Modern places a huge premium on interacting with cards that can otherwise shut down your whole strategy. Tron lands, Blood Moon, Chalice of the Void, and a host of other problematic permanents are going to find themselves dusted by Boseiju in the coming months, and I’m thrilled about it. You love to see the best card in the set for Modern encouraging healthy gameplay rather than just breaking everything in half.

Moonsnare Prototype might be a bit narrower, but it’s no less important for the artifact decks that have really struggled in Modern since losing Mox Opal. Gerry Thompson made the argument that this card isn’t even that much worse than Mox Opal in terms of output, and I’m inclined to agree. Add in its role as a late-game removal spell in mana-rich decks that resemble the old Urza builds, and I think this card has immediate format-warping impact.

Lion Sash would be a big get for white even if Stoneforge Mystic couldn’t find it. But it can, which makes the card an absolute home run. Add in Aether Vial for even more fun!

Mirrorshell Crab gets to participate in some of the most unfair strategies in all of Modern, the cascade decks. It’s a little slow in the typical Living End approaches, but it’s a worthwhile option in some sideboarded games. It might be most interesting in conjunction with Throes of Chaos, since it’s a very reasonable three-mana card that won’t mess up a cascade that starts at four. Let’s hope this remains a fringe interaction for the sake of Modern’s health.

Finally, we close out with Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance. There are a lot of good Polymorph effects in the format, and the less a deck like Indomitable Creativity must give up when adding in token makers, the better. The introduction of Sokenzan means that they give up almost nothing at least for the first couple copies. Whether your end-game is Primeval Titan, Archon of Cruelty, or Serra’s Emissary, Sokenzan should make getting there just a bit easier and even gives you two shots at comboing off or two monsters at once.

Dom Harvey

  1. Boseiju, Who Endures
  2. March of Otherworldly Light
  3. Lion Sash
  4. Moonsnare Prototype
  5. Tameshi, Reality Architect

I wrote a few thousand words on Boseiju already, so I won’t repeat myself here. If it’s not at the top of your list for Modern, you’re kidding yourself. Otawara, Soaring City would probably take the #2 slot here, but that one is much less interesting, and I’m happy letting Boseiju stand in for the whole cycle (though Boseiju itself is doing most of the heavy lifting there).

March of Otherworldly Light suffers from comparisons with other removal spells, but those miss the point. Yes, it’s no Prismatic Ending — but it doesn’t need to be! Your Endings are heavily taxed in most matchups already. Having redundancy there to free up your Endings for their ideal targets gives you more freedom in planning out the game. March’s instant speed makes it valuable against a dashed Ragavan or an immediate Colossus Hammer + equipper line. Crucially, March is a one-mana removal spell for Urza’s Saga, a bane of the Azorius Control decks I expect will pick up March.

I don’t have anything more to say about Lion Sash. It’s a solid role-player and the first copy makes your Stoneforge Mystics even stronger, whether or not they survive.

Moonsnare Prototype is the card that might bring Urza, Lord High Artificer back to Modern in a big way. It’s easy to be drawn in by the flashy artifact payoffs in the set, from Tezzeret, Betrayer of Flesh to Reality Heist, but there was never any shortage of cards like that in Modern. What has been missing since the loss of Mox Opal and Arcum’s Astrolabe is a cheap artifact that ties the room together. Prototype is the best candidate for that role in recent memory.

Tameshi, Reality Architect is the wildcard on this list. I’m betting that somebody smart will figure out the Lotus Bloom shenanigans that will make this the second coming of Second Sunrise or Krark-Clan Ironworks. What might make a combo like that viable is that Tameshi can also play a great fair game, especially with Urza’s Saga (which sadly but understandably can’t fetch Lotus Bloom) as a target to buy back with the activated ability. 

Ross Merriam

  1. Moonsnare Prototype
  2. Lion Sash
  3. Boseiju, Who Endures
  4. Experimental Synthesizer
  5. Mech Hangar

When it comes to cards printed in a Standard-legal set, in order to see play in Modern, they must be cheap, produce mana, or enable a powerful synergy. And checking more than one of these boxes is preferable. So that’s what my list is populated with.

In fifth is the speculative Mech Hangar, which may not look cheap when you see a cost of four effective mana to activate, but as a land it’s so easy to slot into a deck, and Modern is the format that has enough powerful Vehicles and enablers to build a strategy around crewing them. I’m not sure a deck like this will materialize now, but with the push from Wizards of the Coast (WotC) towards those synergies recently, I expect it’s only a matter of time, and Mech Hangar will be a big part of it.

Experimental Synthesizer checks the cheap box at one mana, and it’s easy to sacrifice artifacts in Modern for no mana, making this into a better version of Ichor Wellspring, which was a big part of the Ironworks Combo deck that eventually led to a ban. At this low a price, Synthesizer could also find its way into prowess decks as a standalone card as well as any deck with Arcbound Ravager.

Boseiju, Who Endures makes my list, but I think it’s being misunderstood and overrated. It’s not the raw power of this effect that makes the card valuable, but how easy it is to slot into so many decks at virtually no cost. And having an extra way to disrupt Urzatron decks or answer key cards like Colossus Hammer or Urza’s Saga is always welcome. I doubt the Wrenn and Six lock happens that often, but the fact that it costs you virtually nothing to gain that opportunity makes it an easy inclusion in many decks.

Lion Sash doesn’t enable key synergies, but we already know Scavenging Ooze is a solid Modern card, and this one is even better. And that’s just comparing the cards straight up. The fact that this one is tutorable off Stoneforge Mystic or findable with Ingenious Smith only sweetens the deal for the white card. Expect it to pop up with regularity.

Top of my list is Moonsnare Prototype, because fast mana has always been at the center of Modern’s most broken decks, and artifact payoffs, while numerous, have been missing the base of solid artifacts they need to enable those payoffs since the bannings of Arcum’s Astrolabe and Mox Opal. With Moonsnare Prototype offering an easy Springleaf Drum for decks that don’t want to play many creatures, they should have enough to compete again. And the incidental interaction ensures that it’ll be relevant into the late-game rather than rot in your hand.

And now, without further ado, the SCG Staff’s Top 5 Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty cards for Modern are…

5. Greasefang, Okiba Boss — 3 points

Greasefang, Okiba Boss

T-4. Otawara, Soaring City and March of Otherworldly Light — 4 points

Otawara, Soaring City March of Otherworldly Light

3. Lion Sash — 10 points

Lion Sash

2. Moonsnare Prototype — 11 points

Moonsnare Prototype

1. Boseiju, Who Endures — 18 points

Boseiju, Who Endures

We hope you enjoyed our first impressions on Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty’s impact on Standard, Pioneer, and Modern. Be sure to keep your eyes out for our Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Exit Interviews right before Streets of New Capenna preview season so you can see how well (or not well!) the SCG Staff did with their initial thoughts on Magic’s newest set.

Until then, enjoy Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty!