What happens when the wordiest set in the history of Magic: The Gathering gets released in Standard? Well, the answer is a lot!
Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty is now on Magic Online (MTG) and MTG Arena, and already players are discovering interesting ways for this set to interact with the rest of the format. Today I’m highlighting my favorite interactions, combos, and all-around cool things that can happen in games thanks to this teched-out set. Hopefully, this is the fuel you’ve been looking for to rev up your engines so you and your crew can go build some awesome decks!
Look, it’s my last month. Let me have my terrible jokes!
1. Hinata, Dawn-Crowned and the cheapest Magma Opus you’ll ever cast!
We begin with the coolest two-card combo to hit Standard since Omnath, Locus of Creation plus untapping. I initially dismissed Hinata, Dawn-Crowned for Standard as it screamed “Commander product placement,” but boy was I wrong. I just never accounted for spells that created multiple instances of mana reduction. So, for example, when Hinata’s combined with Magma Opus, it can help reduce its cost to exactly a blue and red mana. Yeah…
Now, this does involve having exactly six targets for Magma Opus. You’ll need to deal one damage to four targets, and tap two other permanents in the process. This will most likely cause it to not be the most efficient, as you’ll sometimes have to deal one damage to things needing more to die, or even the Hinata itself, but it still comes with a two-mana 4/4 Elemental and two cards. That’s not bad!
What makes this combo competitive is how good Hinata is outside the best-case scenarios. It will cheapen your Negates so that you can more easily protect the Kirin Spirit when you cast it in the early turns. It’s also reducing the cost of your removal spells by one, and your Shatterskull Smashings by two. This card is seriously primed to be an absolute all-star in midrange decks for the next year, and I’ve already been dabbling with it myself on the Arena ladder.
This list is far from tuned, but I’ve been having fun with it. One of the biggest issues I’ve had is that the optimal time to cast Hinata can sometimes also be the turns I want to cast Goldspan Dragon. I will say it is nice to slam Hinata on Turn 4, make them waste their turn killing it, and then cast Goldspan Dragon on the following turn. Other times, it’s just not fast enough, and I feel my hand gets bogged down with too many creatures. A balance seems important; I just haven’t found it yet.
2. Prismari Command and all the mechs it destroys!
While we’re on the Jeskai Midrange topic, let’s highlight the next card on the list. Yes, I know Prismari Command isn’t from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, but it did get a serious boost in functionality thanks to all the mechs that’re now running around. Truth be told, my next version of Jeskai Midrange may give up on the Unexpected Windfall + Galvanic Iteration shenanigans and move closer to playing four copies of the Command. Seriously, it’s been that good for me.
There are just so many new artifacts running around, especially in aggressive decks, that make for some tasty two-for-ones. Not only that, but Prismari Command helps ramp when your hand has the spells you want, and can sift when it doesn’t. These 29- and 30-land decks are usually pretty smooth, but the flood can be real sometimes.
3. Rakdos Sacrifice on the back of Oni-Cult Anvil and Experimental Synthesizer.
Experimental Synthesizer is a pretty interesting card, but the real struggle comes with trying to envision the optimal turn to cast it. This feels like an off-brand Expressive Iteration that you’d want to cast on Turn 3 to maximize the likelihood of being able to play something off it, but one shot at it is a lot worse than three. Not only that, but it’s also important to sacrifice it for cheaper than its activated ability cost. Its floor is a four-mana 2/2, which is nowhere near Constructed power level.
Luckily, this card was released alongside Oni-Cult Anvil. Combined, these two cards can act as a seriously good card advantage engine for a low-to-the-ground Rakdos Sacrifice deck. Now, I heard rumblings that Gerry Thompson will cover this deck in great detail later this week, so I won’t spend too much time theorizing on it. Instead, I’ll just show off the list I’ve been working on. We’ll get to see how close I got to his list he’ll release later this week!
- 4 Shambling Ghast
- 1 Voldaren Bloodcaster
- 3 Fell Stinger
- 4 Bloodtithe Harvester
- 4 Voldaren Epicure
- 2 Dockside Chef
- 3 Agadeem's Awakening
- 4 Deadly Dispute
- 3 The Meathook Massacre
- 4 Oni-Cult Anvil
- 4 Experimental Synthesizer
- 4 Voltage Surge
4. Weaver of Harmony and its pack of Wolves.
Now, I’m not confident that Selesnya Enchantments as a deck has legs in a competitive Standard environment. It’s a pushed archetype, that’s for sure, but at the end of the day it’s a synergy-driven strategy in a format with very pushed mythic rares. This means that if a deck like Izzet Dragons or Jeskai Midrange picks apart the early turns, catching up to a Goldspan Dragon is just not really doable. That said, these decks have some wickedly “free” synergies that might be enough.
One of those synergies is Weaver of Harmony and Ranger Class. Weaver of Harmony is an interesting card in that it’s a lord for enchantment creatures, yet also can boost the abilities of noncreature enchantments as well. This makes it a major threat to deal with as early as Turn 2. If the opponent doesn’t, then you can cast Ranger Class and activate Weaver of Harmony’s ability with the 2/2 Wolf trigger on the stack, resulting in an additional Wolf token. Later on, it can copy a Borrowed Time trigger, netting you two creatures exiled.
Honestly, I’m one of those boomer Magic players who usually hates power creep, but I’m all for them pushing lords, and Weaver of Harmony is definitely pushed.
5. Witherbloom Command is not only playable, it’s actually good!
All right, let me explain before you roll your eyes at Jund Guy over-hyping Jund things. For the first time, Witherbloom Command will be able to return spells from your graveyard to your hand in the form of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty spell-lands. This isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, and for sure wouldn’t be enough to make the Command playable, but there’s much more happening than just synergies with lands in the graveyard.
Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty has created a resurgence of noncreature permanents being played. Not only that, but these reconfigured Equipment creatures are adding to the pile of potential targets for Witherbloom Command’s second ability that destroys noncreature permanents. This will create more early-game two-for-ones against aggressive decks while also giving the Command more utility in the late-game when it’s returning Takenuma, Abandoned Mire from the graveyard.
I don’t have a decklist for this just yet, but it’s something I think we should all have in our back pocket if these Rakdos Sacrifice, Mono-Red Aggro, or Azorius Artifact decks stay popular.
Long live Golgarigari!*
*Ignore all Golgari decks if Jeskai Midrange becomes popular. Prolonged Golgari brewing may result in losing, frustration, annoyed friends, delusions of grandeur, and irresponsible crafting. If you experience any of these symptoms for more than one week, please seek immediate help from a trained Izzet professional. Star City Games is not responsible for any wildcards wasted in any attempts to make a possible splash work, including Sultai, Abzan, Jund, Four-Color Midrange, or Five-Color WAIDWML (What am I doing with my life?).
6. Disruption Protocol and all these artifacts.
This one is pretty on the nose, given it’s all included in Disruption Protocol’s text box. It’s a pretty great text box, though, if I say so myself. Universal counterspells haven’t really been in a great place in Standard for the past few years. There are two reasons for this. First, dedicated control isn’t good, meaning most decks on the control spectrum tend to play permanents like Goldspan Dragon or have combo finishes like Wilderness Reclamation + Explosion or Alrund’s Epiphany + Galvanic Iteration.
Second, Magic has changed, leaving three-mana counterspells in the dust. Decks are just too fast for such a reactive one-for-one interaction, making it more valuable for control decks to play out more like tap-out strategies trying to keep up on the battlefield.
Disruption Protocol does cost three mana, but can easily have its cost reduced in later turns. This is great when trying to double-spell to catch back up on some lost tempo. I honestly believe this is the best place for counterspells to be in, because a true Counterspell-type card is simply too powerful for Standard but a three-mana counterspell is too weak. This strikes a great balance of allowing control players to get the powerful effect they’re looking for without fear of it being oppressive.
Now, there’s still a great chance that Disruption Protocol isn’t up to snuff in Standard, as it does come with a fairly strict deckbuilding restriction. Decks like Jeskai Midrange or Izzet Dragons won’t want to play with it. Those like Azorius Control using Portable Hole to help cast it will, but still the mana does not allow for it to be cast on Turn 2. This means finding the best home for it may take some tender loving care by control aficionados. If that’s you, then good luck!
7. Blood on the Snow just made some new friends.
Since the most previous bans in Standard, Orzhov Control has been silently dominating the format. It’s true that the format did not have a ton of eyes on it, given a new set was about to be released, so it’s still not a guarantee that the strategy is powerful enough (especially given how absolutely powerful Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty is for Standard). Regardless, both of these five-mana Dragons seem perfect for a midrange deck that already wants to play Blood on the Snow.
8. Greasefang, Okiba Boss and all the time we’ll waste trying to make it work.
By now you’ve probably heard of the sweetest combo Greasefang, Okiba Boss has with Parhelion II, but sadly we don’t have access to that in Standard. We also don’t have access to amazing discard outlets to get Vehicles into the graveyard, so we must get a little creative with our Vehicle selection and our discard outlets. Luckily for us, Standard games can play out where Vehicles end up in the graveyard through natural causes, allowing us to cast our Vehicle expert later in the games.
- 2 Skyclave Apparition
- 4 Luminarch Aspirant
- 4 Elite Spellbinder
- 4 Fleeting Spirit
- 1 Ao, the Dawn Sky
- 4 Hotshot Mechanic
- 3 Greasefang, Okiba Boss
9. Fires of Yavimaya walked so Invigorating Hot Spring could run.
For years now, Wizards of the Coast (WotC) has printed Fires of Yavimaya-esque cards, and for years they have been lackluster in competitive environments. Even now, the odds that Invigorating Hot Spring is Standard-level good are low. But that doesn’t mean they’re zero! What Invigorating Hot Spring has that the other knock-off versions didn’t is an Anthem effect and the ability to interact favorably with other creatures.
The new modified keyword is just so cool to me, because it opens the design doors to cards like Invigorating Hot Spring. It also allows for sweet interactions between cards like it and Snakeskin Veil. Now of course you’re hoping to protect a creature from a removal spell with Snakeskin Veil, but sometimes those moments don’t line up. Now a stranded Snakeskin Veil can give a freshly drawn creature some much-needed haste in the late-game!
I also love how this card interacts with Invoke the Ancients. Here’s a card that I initially dismissed, since the counter options weren’t that exciting to me. Haste was the missing ingredient which Invigorating Hot Spring can provide, allowing for a pretty explosive Gruul deck. Oh, and it of course is great with Esika’s Chariot, but what isn’t?
10. Mindlink Mech and pretty much every damn non-legendary creature in Standard (plus even some legendary ones).
Finishing off this list with Mindlink Mech feels like cheating on a test. Sure, I probably shouldn’t do it, but at the end of the day, being right is all that matters. Mindlink Mech is likely to be one of the coolest cards in Standard, with more possible combinations of interactions than we’ll probably discover. For now, I think Gerry Thompson is on the best path for breaking this card.
Gerry’s list allows for more synergies than just Mindlink Mech ones, but still can do some pretty cool things with the card. I mean, just giving the card haste on Turn 3 with Rabbit Battery seems pretty sick!
You can also use Mindlink Mech in less aggressive decks, and use Efreet Flamepainter to generate some value from spells cast previously in the game. Efreet Flamepainter has always had absurd abilities, but never the stats or evasion to be playable. Mindlink Mech now gives it the haste it always needed, along with a great evasive body to deliver the goods.