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By: jcf, Jose Freitas
Apr 13 2022 11:36am
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Hello my friends! Today I would like to address the "Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty" limited format.

I know it has been there on MTGO for a while, but honestly I don't like to write for a limited format near release. I feel like there are already some pretty good release articles on the net already. I prefer writing after I have had a bit of experience with the format and I feel I can offer some personal insight on it.

With a lot of matches, win and losses, a couple trophies on NEO draft queues and a NEO sealed qualifier under my belt: at this point I unsheathed enough swords in the world of Kamigawa to bring something to the table.

I would like to write a bit about the ten archetypes, the alternative on some of the color pairs and bring a couple powerful or at least representative combos for each archetype.

Overall I believe Neon Dynasty is a balanced format, every archetype is playable provided they are reasonably open or with a bit of luck in the early picks.

Please, be aware that the level of competition of MTGO drafts these days can be quite high. If you decide to go for it, be prepared. Some of the players there are very difficult to beat.

I believe drafting might be slightly easier on MTG Arena on average. Also - in theory - you can draft there for free, so that is an option to consider as well.

That said, let's talk about those archetypes and combos!

1) Green White Enchantments:

Let's start with my favorite: green and white have a couple of strong payoffs for playing a bunch of enchantments in your deck. 

Cards like Generous Visitor, Jukai Naturalist, Sky-Blessed Samurai and Weaver of Harmony can take this archetype to the top. It doesn't hurt that sagas are pretty solid and - of course - enchantments. Boseiju Reaches Skyward is particularly strong.

One combo I love and is very fit for this archetype is: Season of Renewal and Shigeki, Jukai Visionary. In the late game these two cards can generate recursive value, taking it over most times - as long as the board is stabilized. This combo also works well with black green decks, we'll get to those soon.

I also love the interaction between Invoke the Ancients and Boseiju Reaches Skyward. Both are strong cards and Boseiju really helps reaching the mana necessary to cast Invoke.

Keep in mind Boseiju Reaches Skyward also works fine with Roadside Reliquary, as long as you have a couple artifacts in your deck to enable full mode on Reliquary.

Finally, to mention a cool combo using both green and white, I will highlight the combination of Brilliant Restoration, Invoke Justice, Greater Tanuki and Sunblade Samurai

Certainly not a combo you get to build everyday, but it can be fun and spicy if you manage to pull it of. The channel creatures will help you build the manabase and fill the graveyard enabling the reanimation spells, extra coolness points if you pull that one of.

The downside of white green enchantments is that it is rarely open. Green in particular is a strong color and players will often grab it early on the draft table. I don't recommend you force green very hard if you feel it isn't open. Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty is a very balanced limited environment, finding the open lanes will usually give you a good deck in basically any archetype.

2) Red White Samurais/Warriors:

I will jump right into one of the most aggressive archetypes now.

Red White Samurais/Warriors has this unique and strange payoff engine.

It gives you a bonus for attacking with a lone creature of the samurai or warrior type.

I think this archetype can be quite strong, but it is tricky both to build and play. Gameplay often relies on this "window of opportunity" to be very aggressive early on and finding ways to finish your opponent before they can take over the late game. Early removal can help a lot here also. Imperial Subduer can be another great tool to make sure you can connect some combat damage each turn.

It is an archetype that can slowly chew opponents life with evasion and bonuses while adding to the board and suddenly going for an alpha strike to finish them off. It certainly has the tools for that. 

It is not an archetype that can generate a lot of value on the late game, meaning you want to keep fast aggressive hands most of the time.

It is not very difficult to find this archetype to be open on the draft portion, so if you find some great payoff for it early you can often jump into it safely.

One of my favorite combo within this archetype is: Peerless Samurai and Imperial Oath. Oath is an awesome card (even better inside this archetype), but it can be a bit difficult to cast sometimes, especially in a aggressive deck. Peerless Samurai helps reducing the cost to five or even four mana if you find a couple, and it is not a bad creature on its own.

I would also like to highlight Mothrider Patrol as a solid piece on this deck. It is easy to overlook this card - and for most decks it is not that strong. But inside this one, it can be awesome.

Mothrider is an warrior, meaning it gets the bonuses for warriors and samurais. Evasion helps it connect and later you can use the tapping ability to set up an alpha strike turn.

Imagine: Mothrider plus Asari Captain plus Eiganjo Exemplar. At this point you already have a 5/2 flying attacker, pretty neat. As you add more and more samurais to the table you get more bonuses, making Mothrider even harder to block.

Scrapyard Steelbreaker is another interesting warrior to keep in mind. It can be hard to block if you have a couple artifacts in play and it also gets the bonuses from samurais.

There are some notable combos outside the samurai theme also: Blade-Blizzard Kitsune plus Ironhoof Boar can be awesome.

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I also like either Go-Shintai of Shared Purpose or Imperial Oath with Ambitious Assault, it can simply finish games. If you find the token creators, consider at least one Ambitious Assault in your list.

Finally, an awesome card in general and specially for this archetype is, obviously, Tempered in Solitude. You can use one, sometimes even two copies in your list if you have the build arounds for it.

3) Red Green Modifications:

While that is not an archetype you see all the time, it is actually quite strong when the pieces come together. Red green is supposed to give you bonuses for having modified creatures and sometimes that does work.

The cherry on top of this archetype is definitely Walking Skyscraper. Those monsters are big enough to define a good portion of the games they get to hit the board.

The tricky part is having enough good enablers for the modification bonuses, since those cards are also desired for other archetypes.

Invigorating Hot Spring is - of course - an amazing enabler and one of the reasons to get in this strategy to begin with. If you manage to distribute counters to four different creatures you can cast Walking Skyscraper for only four mana, even if you reduce its cost to five mana it is already an awesome deal.

Go-Shitai of Boundless Vigor, Jukai Preserver, Kappa Tech-Wrecker, Kumano Faces Kakkazan, Roaring Earth, Generous Visitor are also strong enablers.

Keep in mind equipment creatures as well. Also, don't forget a land enchanted with Harmonious Emergence also counts as a modified creature. 

If there is an archetype fit for Towashi Guide Bot, this is it. Not only does it give you an extra modification, if it sticks into play you might start drawing cards for only one mana or even for free. With Invigorating Hot Spring in play you might even draw a card the turn you cast it. 

I also love the combination of Walking Skyscraper and Boon of Boseiju. It can both give somebody +8/+8, which is quite a deal for only two mana, or it can untap Walking Skyscraper giving it hexproof. Versatile and powerful!

Invoke the Ancients is a dream in this strategy, giving you two modified creatures at once while being a very strong card on it's own.

Searchlight Companion and Coiling Stalker can be okay also, this color pair doesn't get a lot of evasion to enable ninjas and those two can be solid if you need modification enablers.

Finally, another interesting interaction to keep in mind is Twinshot Sniper and Season of Renewal, Sniper can help filling you graveyard to take full advantage of Renewal while slowing down opponent's early threats.

4) Blue Black Ninjas:

This is a strong archetype in Neon Dynasty and honestly I believe it is a bit underplayed. Interestingly, the archetype doesn't rely that much in individual card power but rather on interactions and tricks that can make combat hell for your opponent.

Every ninja in the set is at least playable.

Overall, creatures that give you some enter the battlefield effects or even leave the battlefield effects are fine for this archetype.

Searchlight Companion is nice giving you both an effect and some evasion.

If there is an archetype interesting in playing Network Disruptor, this is the one. Same is true for Kami of Restless Shadows, a slow card but can offer great value late game.

Don't overlook High-Speed Hoverbike also, tapping things over and over again can be something.

Circuit Mender is another solid card that actually draws you a card if you manage to bounce it, another to keep an eye on is Virus Beetle.

Another card I like for this archetype is Suit Up. Against Ninjutsu, opponents are incentivized to block a lot, either to avoid ninjas coming into play or connecting. This often gives you a window to cast this combat trick while opponent is tapped out. 

If you want to try alternate cool combos inside these colors, you can combine Okiba Salvage and Mirrorshell Crab, giving you potentially a 7/9 creature with ward. Another super cool interaction is Satoru Umezawa and Walking Skyscraper. The problem with those combos is that they are not very consistent, so they come at risk, but a ninja Skyscraper would be a beautiful thing to see.

5) Blue Red Counterburn:

In theory, red and blue would be about big artifacts, or at least casting a lot of them with the aid of Enthusiastic Mechanaut. While I do think Mechanaut is a very solid card and you should play it most of the time. I don't think the big artifact theme worked out very well.

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Anchor to Reality is an example, the card is simply not good enough to see play, the best vehicle you can grab with it would be Thundersteel Colossus, but you need so much going on to make it work and the payoff is not worth the effort.

What I really love about blue and red is that it has access to great instant speed removal, good quality card advantage and counterspells.

Playing counterspells in limited comes at a high risk, because if you can't deal with opponent's early threats you are often obligated to tap out to add to the board to not get outraced.

This risk is mitigated if you manage to grab some instant speed removal, meaning you can deal with threats at end of opponent's turns.

Cards like Kami's Flare, Seismic Wave, Voltage Surge, Flame Discharge and Tamiyo's Compleation are gold for this strategy.

To draw extra cards we have Mnemonic Sphere, Acquisition Octopus, Thirst for Knowledge and of course: Behold the Unspeakable.

The difficult part is getting a critical mass of removal spells, since those are high picks for most players, but sometimes the color pair is open and the archetype does come together.

Thirst for Knowledge is actually not a very high pick for many other decks and it works extremely well in this one. Keep in mind that in limited, in the late game, discarding two lands is often not a problem at all, since we have to play excess lands anyway.

6) Blue White Vehicles:

Just like the blue red big artifacts deck, this archetype has some troubles within.

Vehicles have both a card and tempo subtle disadvantage: first, you need two cards to make one vehicle work, also you are actually paying mana for those two cards so you need a very solid payoff to compensate that investment.

The difference here is that some of the uncommon and rare vehicles are powerful enough to make it worth it. 

Prodigy's Prototype in particular is quite an engine inside those decks, it doesn't even need to get in the red zone to create extra pilots, enabling more and more vehicles to be crewed.

Another very strong card for this archetype and for any blue deck, honestly, is Mindlink Mech.

Any creature with strong abilities will be awesome crewing this guy:

Surgehacker Mech is another already strong card that excels in this archetype.

All said and done, you don't actually have to go heavy on the vehicles theme to have a strong blue white deck. Keep in mind we still have access to good blue card draw and white is rich in efficient removal.

Blue white control is a real deck when it comes together. Farewell is one of the cards that really drives us towards that direction. Wanderer's Intervention is another cheap solid removal for this archetype that isn't very hard to grab. While you cannot use it end of turn, like red removal, it is cheap enough to deal with attackers and leave some mana open for counterspell in the same turn in a reasonable timing.

Vehicles actually don't combine very well with the control frame but I guess one copy is playable if it is strong enough to compensate the lack of synergy.

7) Black White Artifacts and Enchantments:

This one is a strange cookie. Black and white is supposed to give you payoffs for having both artifacts and enchantments in play. Cards like Assassin's Ink, Banishing Slack, Kami of Terrible Secrets, Soul Transfer and Naomi, Pillar of Order fit within the theme.

When We Were Young is a fine card (criminally underplayed I would say) but it actually fits better in aggressive decks. Usually black and white is more focused on grinding, generating value and having removal for the key creatures on the opposing side.

Spirited Companion and Virus Beetle are both very welcome in this type of list, but there are plenty of other solid artifact and enchantment creatures to pick.

Be careful with Intercessor's Arrest and The Long Reach of Night "nombo" when playing these colors. Both are very solid cards on their own but they won't interact well together.

8) Black Green Midrange Value: 

This archetype is similar to Black White in many aspects, as it is also trying to generate value thru permanents. Kami of Terrible Secrets and other payoffs for artifacts plus enchantments are actually playable here as it is not so hard to set them up.

Gloomshrieker or Twisted Embrace combined with Geothermal Kami are among the bread and butter to make this archetype work.

Blossom Prancer, a very solid card on its own: is another one that combines extremely well with Gloomshrieker, potentially bringing you a ton of value.

Even a couple of the black ninjas are welcome, bouncing your enter the battlefield value generating creatures. 

9) Blue Green Sagas: 

Blue green is funny, it is supposed to be this ramp big spells color but it works better simply as a midrange good stuff deck.

Blue and green are both rich in very strong midrange spells, providing both card advantage and fat bodies to fill your side of the battlefield.

It is essential to have a plan for the early game though, otherwise you run a severe risk of being trampled before you get to deploy your powerful spells. Cards like Fang of Shigeki, Kappa Tech-Wrecker and Master's Rebuke can help you survive that stage.

I also think Bamboo Groove Archer is actually solid in this archetype as early defense. It is the only archetype I would use Bamboo Groove Archer maindecked.

Later you are looking for the great sagas: Behold the Unspeakable, Boseiju Reaches Skyward among others.

Keep in mind Colossal Skyturtle can loop with Season of Renewal to get back infinite creatures and enchantments to hand, although it does cost a lot of mana to do that. It is a great late game tool.

Blue green is an insane archetype if you find those colors open, keep an eye for that but I recommend you don't force that archetype very much, green isn't open very often and the deck can be a bit clunky if you don't find the right pieces.

Both Suit up and Awakened Awareness offer an interesting interaction with Behold the Unspeakable and Boseiju Reaches Skyward. Power and toughness will add up instead of replacing. Let's say you cast Awakened Awareness with x=3 on Vision of the Unspeakable, your flyer will gain four extra power and toughness instead of becoming a 4/4. Pretty cool!

10) Black Red Sacrifice:

This archetype is quite strong and slightly underplayed as well. It relies a lot on synergy rather than individual power level of cards.

Lots of aggressive cheap creatures, equipments, payoff cards for sacrificing creatures and artifacts will combine to give you both an early aggressive position and ways to punish your opponent for blocking. 

It is quite hard to deal with this deck when it is well built and well played.

Cards like Oni-Cult Anvil, Akki Ember-Keeper, Dockside Chef, Sokenzan Smelter and Undercity Scrounger will combine to grant you value, extra creatures and artifacts.

Equipment creatures like Simian Sling, Chainflail Centipede and Bronzeplate Boar are another important piece in the mix, making each small creature more effective mid to late game while enabling the Akki Ember-Keeper ability.

Since we are on black and red already, how about combining Seismic Wave with You Are Already Dead? Seismic Wave is a solid piece of removal and You Are Already Dead isn't bad as long as you have some expendable dorks around, like Virus Beetle. Together they can provide you a great output. Extra points if you combine You Are Already Dead with Twinshot Sniper!

11) Multicolor Goodstuff:

NEO has pretty reasonable fixing and three, four and even five color decks are quite possible and can be very powerful sometimes. If you manage to build that manabase, you can just grab the best cards on each color and often abuse those extra powerful rare cards you grab in multiple colors.

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The cost of course is both the greater risk of getting color hosed and losing some picks to grab mana fixing. The payoff can be huge if you get a bit lucky.

My favorite combo inside that has to be: Spinning Wheel Kick and Hinata Dawn-Crowned. I did pull that one of once and it was simply glorious. Hinata will severely reduce the cost of Spinning Wheel making it much more dangerous than it already is for your opponent. Extra coolness points for having that rainbow of mana in your mana base.


That is it for today, my friends. Hope you liked this article. Battle well