The Great Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Commander Deck Update

Commander Rules Committee member Sheldon Menery updates his suite of decks for Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. How many cards from the new MTG set made the cut?

The Reality Chip, illustrated by Campbell White

The best part of a new set is in figuring out which cards go into your existing decks.  When it’s a set as amazeballs as Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, you know you’re going to have plenty to do.  The good news is that it’s fun, because you get to comb through a few hundred cards to find both the ones everyone’s talking about and the hidden gems. 

The trouble, of course, is finding room in those decks.  Most of them were designed to be decent at the mid-range of Commander power, which is the zone I like to play in.  There are a few that are spicier, but my target game is the one that’s going to go double-digit turns with no one threatening to win before about Turn 6.  If you like a faster game, that’s great; for me, I like one to unfold a little more slowly.  For those of you just joining this conversation, I also make the self-limiting promise that I’m going to put only one copy of any new card into the suite.  When building new decks, I’m free to use these cards (even with the new decks I’ll build from this set’s available commanders), but for now I get only one—which is going to sometimes mean tough choices. 

My process is pretty simple.  My primary motivation is adding these cards where they go best.  It’s not a case of seeing where a deck might be underperforming and fixing it.  Sometimes the new cards are strict upgrades to the cards that are already there (as Stunt Double was to Clone, for example).  I’ll obviously be looking at individual cards that aren’t carrying their weight in order to make room for the new ones, but that’s really a secondary angle.  As we play games on the Commander RC stream, I do make notes on cards that I might later replace, knowing that I do this thing several times a year. 

I went into this exercise of updating my now-61 decks thinking there’d be around 30 cards to put into them between the main set and Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Commander.  Let’s see how accurate my prediction was.


Ao, the Dawn Sky

Into: Ruhan of the Fomori Do Over

My first thought was to put Ao into Merieke’s Esper Dragons. The mana value average of that deck is pretty high, though. I’d always be looking to hit something other than creatures.  In the Ruhan Do Over, the curve is much tighter. I’ll also never whiff on the Ao trigger when choosing the mode that looks at the top seven cards.  The deck goes wide enough that putting two +1/+1 counters on every creature is likely to total up to serious value.

The Fall of Lord Konda

Into:  Heliod, God of Enchantments

I think I’ll use this mostly for Chapter I, exiling someone else’s large creature.  It’s nice that it will replace itself when it dies, especially since there is enchantment recursion in the deck. 


Into:  Purple Hippos and Maro Sorcerers

Most of the folks I’ve talked to about this card consider it an upgrade to Austere Command, Akroma’s Vengeance, or the most obvious, Merciless Eviction.  I’m taking a different tack and considering it an upgrade to Final Judgment, offering more flexibility at the same price.   

Invoke Justice

Into:  Karador Do Over

Invoke Justice goes into a deck that likes to have stuff in the graveyard and makes use of +1/+1 counters.  I might worry a little about the four pips, but white is the primary color in the deck. By the time I want to cast Invoke Justice, I’ll likely have the right amount of colored mana.

Lion Sash

Into:  Rin and Seri, Together Forever

Best Cat in the new set has to go in the only Cat deck I have (since taking apart Arahbo, Roar of the World, which I really need to put back together, if for nothing other than those sweet Secret Lair cards).  Lion Sash is a high-impact card in Commander, since graveyards are pretty import.  The main line of play I see in mid-games with Lion Sash is to cast it, hold up some mana, and then eat stuff at end of turn of the player to the immediate right.  Then we can reconfigure (at a very low cost) on the next main phase and do some bashing.

Release to Memory

Into:  Marchesa, Long May She Reign

This deck can get a little grindy, so I want to upgrade a few of the offensive weapons.  There’s probably an Inkshield in its future as well, since attacking in order to get the monarch crown is definitely a thing that happens.  Some graveyard control is always good; giving the double whammy of wrecking the graveyard and getting a swarm of creatures is a winner.

Selfless Samurai

Into:  Ruhan of the Fomori Do Over

Ruhan is a Warrior and sometimes like to attack alone.  Giving it lifelink means getting value even though it doesn’t have evasion.  I hadn’t initially thought to do a deep dive into the Samurai and Warriors in this set for other decks, instead saving them for building Isshin, Two Heavens as One.  I might need to reconsider and put a Samurai and Warrior subtheme here.


Inventive Iteration

Into:  Lazav and Clones

I don’t have a dedicated artifact deck, so I wanted to look for one that can often have artifacts in the graveyard in order to take advantage of Chapter II.  This deck has Mind Stone and Wayfarer’s Bauble that are commonly it the graveyard.  It also an Isochron Scepter package in it.  Since the Scepter is frequently and justifiably the target of removal, it seemed right to be able to regrow it.

Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant

Into:  Dreaming of Intet

If you’re not going to Entomb and Reanimate this version of Jin-Gitaxias, you put it in the deck that can generate enough mana to cast it.  You also play it in a deck that can take over a game; after all, you’ve already told your opponents what the deck can do.  It’s a strong card that I’d only play in a strong deck (although to be fair, this one isn’t strong on the time axis).  Maybe I’ll swap it over to You Did This to Yourself if I ever get around to taking out the Sunforger package from the deck with only thirteen creatures in it.

Kairi, the Swirling Sky

Into:  Merieke’s Esper Dragons

Sometimes, this deck likes to just beat down with Dragons.  Other times, it likes to play with control elements.  Kairi, the Swirling Sky can help it do either.  It’s not lost on me that one of the permanents I can return if it ever gets hit with targeted removal is Merieke Ri Berit herself, thereby killing the creature I’ve borrowed and getting her ready to snag another.

March of Swirling Mist

Into:  Pako and Haldan

A battlefield sweeper is one of the worst things that can happen to this deck because it generally means recasting two cards in order to get back to running at full speed.  It makes sense to have a little extra protection.  I honestly see myself mostly just casting it to save the two commanders, but it’s nice to have flexibility. 

The Reality Chip

Into:  Animar’s Swarm

The more opportunity we have to play cards with Animar, Soul of Elements, the better.  The effective card draw that we get from reconfiguring The Reality Chip onto something means that we can turbo into the deck and get a true swarm.  If a battlefield sweeper happens, at least we still have our Jellyfish, which can for a reasonable cost be attached to something new.


Junji, the Midnight Sky

Into: Oldest Stickfingers

Every creature in my graveyard is a valid target for Junji’s dies trigger.  Most of the creatures in your graveyards are, too.  My ideal curve in this deck is Old Rutstein when I have three mana, Old Stickfingers with X=2 when I have four, and then follow up with Junji.  Either it starts bashing or someone kills it, which likely means something else starts bashing. 

Mukotai Soulripper

Into: Glissa, Glissa

You might think it would make sense to put a black Vehicle into my only Vehicle deck, which happens to be helmed by Glissa, the Traitor as well (it was the Glissa Do Over).  Mukotai Soulripper makes more sense in the main Glissa deck, which has heavy artifact creature and modular components.  Crew Mukotai Soulripper with Arcbound Reclaimer, then sacrifice the latter to the attack trigger, netting a total of three counters on Mukotai Soulripper.  Later bring back the artifact creature with Glissa’s triggered ability.  Scrap Trawler is another nice one to crew with in this deck, since it’s not going to do much attacking on its own.

Okiba Reckoner Raid

Into:  Glissa Vehicles

Here’s the one that goes into the Vehicle deck.  After it transforms into a creature on Chapter III it’s not particularly combat-worthy.  It does, however, make for a nice crew contingent.  It giving Vehicles menace then makes them harder to block. 

Reckoner's Bargain

Into: Kresh Into the Red Zone

This is just my kind of card.  I’ll almost always be sacrificing a creature in order to put counters onto Kresh, the Bloodbraided.  Hopefully, there’s also a Stalking Vengeance on the battlefield.  A little lifegain and a little card draw on a very inexpensive instant make this a common worth playing. 

You Are Already Dead

Into: Ikra and Kydele

Speaking of commons worth playing, being able to take out something large that you chump-blocked with is already valuable.  The card replacing itself makes it a star.  This is kind of a shenanigans card, so I’ve slipped it into my highest-shenanigans-ratio deck.


Atsushi, the Blazing Sky

Into:  Prossh, Was Karrthus Do Over

I built this deck in the Do Over phase (so like seven years ago or more) out of extra foils I had lying around.  Then I later just slapped Prossh onto it as commander to prove the point that the card is a little busted even if you don’t build around it.  I don’t pull it out that often, and I should.  It’s a fine battlecruiser-level deck that can get there occasionally.  Atsushi slots right in because it’s a fellow Dragon and its sacrifice means something.  If I ever get around to assembling the Hofri Ghostforge deck I designed last May, Atsushi would probably go there instead. 

Fable of the Mirror-Breaker

Into: Kresh Into the Red Zone

If wanting to make copy after copy of Anathemancer or a hasty Lord of Extinction makes me a bad person, then I don’t want to be good.

Komainu Battle Armor

Into:  Karazikar Goad is GOAT

I’m not sure that my win percentage with this deck is above 25%. I do know that the fun factor has pegged the needle.  Komainu Battle Armor means more goading, which takes this one to eleven. 

Lizard Blades

Into:  Animar’s Swarm

When you cast Lizard Blades in an Animar deck, it adds a counter.  When you attach it to Animar, people start dropping pretty quickly.  There are several other large creatures in the deck that would also benefit from double strike, like Old Gnawbone or whatever we’ve bloodrushed with Rubblehulk

Unquenchable Fury

Into:  Rin and Seri, Together Forever

The deck creating lots of tokens means there’s always something to attach Unquenchable Fury to, as well as always something we won’t mind throwing into even an unfavorable combat. 


Ascendant Acolyte

Into:  Zegana and a Dice Bag

This deck has already moved away from the evolve deck that it started life as.  More cards that come out leveraging +1/+1 counters just mean that most of the evolve cards will be gone faster.  Ascendant Acolyte is just going to be beyond immense sometimes in this deck.  And then double.   

Greater Tanuki

Into:  Karador Version 3

A card that makes sense mostly in Karador, Ghost Chieftain or Old Stickfingers decks, Greater Tanuki is the new Dog version of Krosan Tusker.  And now we can have the argument over which is better. 

Jugan Defends the Temple

Into:  Zegana and a Dice Bag

I really won’t need to use the triggered ability of Remnant of the Rising Star all that often, if ever, to get full value out of this card.  I’ll be happy to spend extra mana to add counters to creatures that already enter with them, especially with Doubling Season or Hardened Scales on the battlefield.

Kodama of the West Tree

Into:  Zegana and a Dice Bag

Redundancy for Crowned Ceratok, Kodama of the West Tree will help thin the deck and provide beatings at the same time.  See also previous comment about how this deck has reshaped.

One with the Kami

Into:  Pako and Haldan

Because fellow Commander Rules Committee (RC) member Scott Larabee has called my Pako and Haldan deck a not-family-friendly word, I figured I’d go all the way with it.  I’ll be putting both One with the Kami and Grumgully, the Generous into it, going infinite with the Goblin Bombardment I’m also putting in. Alternately, just flashing it onto Pako, Arcane Retriever in response to some targeted removal will net a pretty big Spirit token. 

Rampant Rejuvenator

Into:  Zegana and a Dice Bag

No, really.  This deck is changing.  One thing that won’t change is Forgotten Ancient.  Expect Mr. Babycakes to slip lots of counters onto Rampant Rejuvenator.

Shigeki, Jukai Visionary

Into: Oldest Stickfingers

Early in the game, Shigeki will be land ramp that gets reanimation targets into the graveyard. Later, it’ll be a combat trick to still do land ramp while also making Old Stickfingers (and some other creatures in the deck) larger.  This card might have the best synergies of all the Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty cards with one of my decks.

Tanuki Transplanter

Into:  Saskia, Who Does Not Yield

Saskia sometimes struggles with generating enough mana to do all the stuff it wants to, so Tanuki Transplanter will help.  It also runs Mirari’s Wake for an extra bump to power and therefore mana production. 


Hidetsugu Consumes All

Into:  Karazikar Goad is GOAT

In this deck, tokens irritate me, I don’t care much about my graveyard, and then there’s that other part.  I’m really just playing the card for Chapters I and II.  If the trigger from Vessel of the All-Consuming happens, then great.  Card is probably pretty scary in a deck with Fiery Emancipation in it.

Tamiyo, Compleated Sage

Into: Roalesk Proliferate

Step 1: Search for deck with Doubling Season in it (with proliferation bonus).  Step 2: Jam in new Tamiyo, knowing that the +1 ability is going to be very good no matter what. 

Artifact and Land

Boseiju, Who Endures

Into:  Halloween with Karador

The card that’s making you think about dusting off that Petrified Field or Scaretiller, Boseiju, Who Endures is just good in any deck.  I don’t have any that do a lot of putting cards from my graveyard back into my hand and I’m playing Crucible of Worlds in exactly zero decks, so it just becomes a case of putting one of the set’s marquee cards into one of my marquee decks.

Circuit Mender

Into: Glissa, Glissa

This deck is all about looping artifacts in and out of the graveyard. One that both gains life and draws a card is just all kinds of perfect for it. 

Otawara, Soaring City

Into: Digging Up Muldrotha

I’m putting this into the deck that’s most likely to get double usage out of. Like in Karador, it will replace a spell, not a land.  It will also make me think about playing Trade Routes, which is a sweet interaction.

That’s 35 cards, a little over my original estimate.  Of course, that doesn’t count all the cards that are going to go into new builds suggested by Isshin, Two Heavens as One; Hinata, Dawn-Crowned; and Satoru Umezawa.  It’s not the largest number of cards from a single set that I’ve put into the suite, but it’s pretty close.  This set is officially bonkers, but you already knew that.

As always, if you’d like to discuss any of the details of this piece, especially if you think I’ve really missed a card that you think should go into one of my decks, pop on over to the Commander RC Discord server.  There’s a dedicated channel for discussing everything I write.  The link is right on the front page of the RC website.  I look forward to chatting with you there. 

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