Magic: The Gathering's Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Is Overflowing With Old And New Mechanics
Today marks the first day of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty preview season for Magic: The Gathering, and it’s looking to be an exciting start of the year for the trading card game. Neon Dynasty marks the first return to a fan-favorite plane in 20 years, but instead of working with the same tropes used back in the day, Kamigawa has received a bit of a glow-up.
Set in the present day, 1200 years after our previous visit, Kamigawa is now home to a cybernetic civilization full of robotics, body modifications, and of course, plenty of neon lights. It’s now Magic’s most high-tech plane, a Japanese-inspired cyberpunk realm that I never thought we’d ever see. However, the Kamigawa of old is not lost, as this advanced society lives in balance with the kami, spirits, and nature we know and love.
Like the new Kamigawa, the set's mechanics are a mix of old and new, merging various eras of the game more than just in the story. Speaking of story, there will be some spoilers to explain the set’s mechanics, so be warned. Wizards has already kicked off the narrative of Neon Dynasty on its website, which follows new ninja Planeswalker Kaito Shizuki in his search for his old friend, the lost Emperor of Kamigawa. It’s going to some wild places, and it’s the most excited I’ve been in the Magic story in years. Do yourself a favor and give the stories a read.
And now, without further ado, here’s the absolutely packed slate of mechanics for Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty:
Sagas return in the first premiere set of the year for the third year in a row, but they’re doing something very different this time around. Usually, when a Saga’s final turn comes, and its final chapter resolves, it leaves the battlefield and goes straight into the graveyard. On Kamigawa, however, these stories come to life when the last chapter is read, exiling and flipping to the other side of the card, revealing a creature that’s here to stay on the board.
In the running for coolest new mechanic is Reconfigure, a way to turn creatures into weapons! Certain creature cards will come with a Reconfigure cost that, when paid while that card is on the battlefield, attaches that card to another creature, essentially making it an Equipment. That same cost can be paid to unequip the creature, to return it as a separate entity on the battlefield. This mechanic solves the problem of Equipment sitting on the battlefield doing nothing when cast and instead offers another body to gum up the board. I’m excited to see how this plays out in practice. Plus its an absolute flavor win with the whole cyberpunk motif.
Modified and Ability Counters
Ability counters have returned for the first time since its grand debut in Ikoria to grant permanent keywords like flying, indestructible, trample, and vigilance. Nothing about them seems to have changed, as they are still counters that bestow abilities. However, some cards now care about these counters and other modifications as well.
Like the Historic mechanic from Dominaria, “Modified” is a catch-all term for creatures that have a counter on them of any kind, have an aura you own attached to it, and/or have an equipment attached. Spells or creatures may have rules text that cares whether something has been “Modified” to enable an effect, but the keyword itself doesn’t do anything in particular.
It’s not Kamigawa without ninjas, and their primary mechanic is back! That’s right, until Neon Dynasty rotates, get ready for secret strikes from your opponent’s hand during combat. Mechanically, Ninjutsu hasn’t changed. You still pay a cost for Ninjutsu to swap out an unblocked attacking creature to replace it with your ninja, which hits the board in its place tapped and attacking. There’s plenty of shenanigans to utilize with Ninjutsu, so mastering the strategies and timing will be key to unlocking its usefulness.
Returning mechanic Channel lets you make use of your cards in hand, even if they aren’t used for their primary purpose. Channel lets you pay a cost and discard that card to perform the effect written in the rules text. An example of this is Boseiju, Who Endures, a legendary land that taps for one green mana on the battlefield, or can be Channeled for two mana to destroy a target artifact, enchantment, or non-basic land an opponent controls. They get to search up a basic land from their library and put it on the battlefield untapped, but this will undoubtedly be a powerful effect.
Phyrexian Mana and Compleat
With the Magic story going into high gear for the first time in a while, it’s time to officially welcome back the devious Phyrexian Praetors. We saw Vorinclex last year in Kaldheim, and now the blue representative Jin-Gintaxias is experimenting on a beloved Magic character. Resident Kamigawa Tamiyo has fallen into the Praetor’s grasp, becoming the first Planeswalker to undergo the Phyrexian Compleation process without her spark being destroyed in the process. Unfortunately, that means our favorite Moonfolk researcher has now turned to the dark side, having had her entire being replaced with artificial materials. Tamiyo, Compleated Sage shows off her new Phyrexian look and shows the return of Phyrexian mana. Phyrexian Mana lets you pay two life instead of colored mana, a not so steep cost to kind of fix your mana or bring out a spell earlier than expected.
According to our press briefing, two cards will use Phyrexian mana, one being Tamyio, Compleated Sage, which gets an awesome Phyrexian language version, just like recent printings of Vorinclex and the other Praetors.
Tamiyo’s “Compleated” static ability is a hybrid blue and green Phyrexian mana, allowing you to pay for the Planeswalker with blue mana, green mana, or 2 life. Though, if life is paid, Tamiyo comes into play with fewer loyalty counters as a result. Giving into the way of the Phyrexians has its consequences, after all.
That's all for the mechanics, but not for our Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty content for preview season. We'll be debuting our exclusive preview card on February 3 at 11 a.m. Central and it happens to use one of the mechanics above! Let us know which one you think it will be in the comments below.
Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty will release on Magic: The Gathering Arena on February 10, with physical prerelease events starting on February 11. The full paper set release will be a week later on February 18.