Chock-filled with vehicles, ninjas, and samurai, Magic: The Gathering's Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty set is one of the strangest Magic printings ever released. Alongside the set's unusual flavor, the mechanics of the set including ninjitsu, channel, and reconfigure are also quite different. While it's always exciting to see new avenues of play emerge, these oddball cards are often difficult to judge.
With Standard rotation soon upon us, the atypical cards of Kamigawa are about to get a new lease on constructed play. After all, the loss of four sets of cards is sure to power down the format as well as dismantle a number of meta decks. That being said, let's take a gander at some of the Neon Dynasty notables that may be in your constructed future.
7 Tezzeret, Betrayer of Flesh
Tezzeret is definitely a build around card forcing you to fill your deck with all kinds of artifacts in order to make it really sing. However, build around cards sometimes end up being the most powerful cards ever printed, and artifacts have already proven their ability to perform across many decks over multiple formats.
Tezzeret is also a planeswalker that can protect himself the turn he comes down as long as you have a noncreature artifact under your control. Turning a noncreature artifact into a 4/4 is a great deal when you consider all of the other value Tezzeret can offer on future turns. Finally, the next set being printed is Dominaria. Previous printings in this setting have featured powerful artifacts, so its fair to assume that this time around won't be any different.
6 Atsushi, the Blazing Sky
Atsushi, the Blazing Sky is a powerful Dragon with a relatively low mana cost of two generic and two red. While it's not quite as fast as the recently popularized card Thundering Raiju, Atsushi does provide nearly assured value thanks to its death trigger. Meanwhile, a Thundering Raiju removed at instant speed leaves you with no value at all. Furthermore, Atsushi is one of few flying creatures ever printed to come with the useful trample keyword.
When Atsushi dies, you get to choose between creating three treasure tokens or exiling the top two cards of your library. You can play those cards until the end of your next turn. In an aggressive deck that can make use of both of these death triggers, Atsushi will be a powerhouse. If you need to apply more pressure and empty your hand, make treasures. If you're running out of gas and need to keep the pressure on, exile the top two. Either way, Atsushi leaves some kind of value on the battlefield as long as it's not exiled. Good riddance, Vanishing Verse!
5 Invoke Despair
Invoke Despair already sees play in some of the best Alchemy decks on the ladder, so it's not a long shot to assume that it will make an appearance in Standard after rotation. In fact, this card could be the new Mono-black control deck finisher. It's really best when played alongside a lot of removal since drawing cards and dealing life loss damage to your opponent is primarily what you want to be doing.
However, it is also nice that this sorcery serves as a solid answer to everything but artifacts and a board flooded with creatures. Of course, we'll still have Meathook Massacre for the tokens, so that really just leaves artifacts as the only potential threat.
4 Junji, the Midnight Sky
Junji is yet another Dragon that has failed to see much play in part due to the overwhelming presence of the removal spell Vanishing Verse. With it vanishing from the format thanks to rotation, we expect Junji will stand a better chance at peaking his head out. The death trigger really is important to get if you want to make playing this Dragon worth it.
When Junji dies, you get to choose between forcing your opponent to discard or returning a non-Dragon creature card from any graveyard to the battlefield. While the discard effect will come in handy, the reanimation trigger is what makes Junji really worth playing. There is no shortage of looting effects like Faithful Mending in Standard currently, so it will be interesting to see whether or not a reanimation deck rises up.
3 Soul Transfer
Yet another powerful black card, Soul Transfer is an incentive to play artifacts. The exile removal function of this spell does perfectly well on its own, but the real value of Soul Transfer lies in triggering both modes when you cast it.
As previously mentioned, Meathook Massacre will still be in the format so having an enchantment on the battlefield shouldn't be all that difficult. All this is really to say watch out for the artifacts printed in Dominaria. They may be the determining factor of whether or not an artifacts deck becomes a top Standard competitor.
2 Invoke Calamity
This is an interesting build around card for a primarily instants and sorceries filled deck. The four red mana required in the casting cost make it a little awkward to play alongside a second color though, and you really want to include this card in a deck that plays blue. On its own, its unlikely that red will have enough cards with draw effects and staying power to make a mostly noncreature deck work.
Nonetheless, Invoke Calamity offers a ton of flexibility if you've been casting instants and sorceries throughout the majority of the game. Notably, Invoke Calamity does also allow you to cast the backside of modal double-faced cards as long as the total mana value of the spells is less than six.
1 Invoke Justice
Like Invoke Despair, Invoke Justice has already proven its power in best-of-one decks that use the card to bring back Velomachus Lorehold and instantly swing in for nine damage in the air. Furthermore, Velomachus' trigger then activates allowing you to cast an instant or sorcery spell of nine mana value or less thanks to the ability being worded based on the Dragon's power.
Alchemy or Historic players could use this trigger to cast Alrund's Epiphany, ending the game on the spot. Altogether, it's a pretty disgusting combo that will leave you with a salty taste in your mouth no matter which side of the table you're sitting on. Thanks to the presence of Faithful Mending, it's easy to see Invoke Justice gaining access to this kind of combo in new Standard as well. Let's just hope that unlike invoking Velomachus, it isn't a combo that instantly wins the game.
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