Last updated on June 14, 2022

Boseiju Reaches Skyward (Branch of Boseiju) - Illustration by Zezhou Chen

Boseiju Reaches Skyward (Branch of Boseiju) | Illustration by Zezhou Chen

Editor’s note: Looking for an updated guide to draft strategy for Neon Dynasty? Our Ultimate Draft Guide is now available here!

It’s been almost 17 years since we last visited Kamigawa. I wasn’t playing back in 2004/2005 so I always felt like I missed out a little as a big fan of Japanese history and culture. But Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty is finally here and I couldn’t be happier to share this set with you.

Today I’ll be reviewing each and every card in this exciting new set in the context of Limited; that is for Booster Draft and Sealed deck. This is entirely based on my first impressions of the cards and I’ll naturally assume that all of the draft archetypes work, but that won’t be the case once we start playing with the set. My hope is that the info here is useful in informing your first few experiences playing with the set.

Ready? Let’s get started!

Rating Breakdown

Spirited Companion - Illustration by Ilse Gort

Spirited Companion | Illustration by Ilse Gort

On top of explaining each card, I’m also going to rate each one out of 10. Here’s a breakdown of what each rating means:

Before we get started, Neon Dynasty features a couple new mechanics and returning favorites from the original Kamigawa block. There are also the usual ten Draft archetypes built into the set, so putting these in context will help us to look at the set list and figure out how everything works.

The Set Mechanics

Artifacts, Enchantments, and Legends

This set’s key theme is to find a way for it to show how modern Kamigawa embraces modern technology while honoring its history. This is something that’s very much present in modern day Japan as the country boasts modern cityscapes interlaced with traditional Shinto shrines.

Wizards is illustrating this by having a heavy focus on both enchantments (representing the old ways) and artifacts (representing the new ways). There are also a lot of legendary permanents harkening back to the original Kamigawa block’s main theme. While these aren’t mechanics it’s still worth pointing out that these are themes in the sets, so having these types of cards is often an upside.

Channel

Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire

No, not that Channel.

The last time we saw channel it was an ability that let you discard a creature card in your hand to get a modified version of that creature’s ability as a one-shot. It’s a fair bit different this time, since this ability is different from what the card would otherwise do, and it also appears on cards other than creatures.

This mechanic is great, as are pretty much any mechanics that give you more options with your cards. It’s important to remember that channel is an activated ability that can be used at instant speed, and it also can’t be countered unless there’s a counterspell that specifically counters activated abilities.

But yeah, this mechanic is very powerful. More options is a great thing and I imagine many of these cards will be high picks.

Double-Faced Sagas

Sagas are back, but they’ve had a massive power increase since their last appearance.

If you’re not familiar with sagas, they’re enchantments that have a series of “chapter abilities.” You put a lore counter on the saga and trigger its first chapter ability when it enters the battlefield. It triggers and adds another lore counter at the start of your pre-combat main phase, triggering the next chapter ability. The saga sacrifices itself once all of its chapter abilities have been used.

These new ones come with a twist: they transform into a creature on their final chapter ability, which is a huge difference. You can view these almost like creature cards that are suspended for a couple of turns in many cases, and you even get some very powerful upsides before the card become a creature.

This also looks like a very strong mechanic to me. Sagas were already decent, and now they bring a significant upside when they end. I expect these to be extremely powerful. We’re also seeing them at common for the first time, which makes them much more impactful on the Limited environment.

Modified

Goro-Goro, Disciple of Ryusei

Modified is a new keyword that refers to any creature that’s being buffed by an equipment, aura, or counter of any kind. This doesn’t actually do anything on its own much like the “historic” keyword we saw back in Dominaria. I can’t really rate this as a keyword since it doesn’t do anything by itself, it’s just new wording. It does have a draft archetype that relies on having modified creatures out, though.

Ninjutsu

Thousand-Faced Shadow

Probably the most beloved mechanic from the original Kamigawa, ninjutsu is a brilliant mechanic that makes for some great and really fun gameplay.

This is an activated ability that lets you swap the ninjutsu card in your hand with an unblocked attacking creature on the battlefield. The ninja enters tapped and attacking, and many of them influence combat by having an ability that triggers when it deals damage or by buffing your creatures.

This isn’t a mechanic that’s just powerful without trying. Ninjutsu massively pays you off for building your deck well. It’s also helped out by cheap evasive creatures and creatures with enter-the-battlefield triggers. When we last saw ninjutsu back in Modern Horizons, the deck was very powerful with cards like Faerie Seer to help it function.

You should be mindful that you can’t only draft ninja creatures if you’re drafting ninjas; they also need the support to get them across the finish line. That said, they’re worth it when they get there.

Reconfigure

Lion Sash

Our last mechanic is an alternate spin on equipment. We’ve seen WotC try to solve the problem of equipment over the last few sets. If you’re unfamiliar with this problem, equipment are extremely hard to balance for Limited. Their equip costs are often either too high which makes them unplayable, or they’re too cheap which makes them extremely powerful. They take up precious slots in your deck that aren’t creatures or removal spells, and this is really hard to justify.

We got equipment that gave you a free equip in Zendikar Rising, and in Kaldheim we saw a cycle of equipment that gave you the option to create a creature token plus a free equip if you paid a little extra.

Reconfigure is Wizards’ latest answer. These cards are equipment creatures that function as normal artifact creatures when they’re played, but then they also have a reconfigure cost that equips them to another creature you control. These should function exactly like artifact creatures with an upside; you can essentially combine your creatures into one bigger threat that can attack blockers when they’re outclassed.

It’s also worth noting that reconfigure allows you to unattach the equipment too, something that equip doesn’t let you do. This is very relevant on creatures since you can unattach them to use them as blockers after combat. This is another very powerful mechanic, and it also plays into multiple Draft archetypes. I imagine most of these are going to be extremely valuable.

Shrines

Go-Shintai of Shared Purpose

We have shrines back! And now they’re enchantment creatures. As someone who owns a shrines Commander deck, I’m incredibly hyped for these.

They’re all creatures this time around and they trigger on the end step. All of their triggers scale up based on the number of shrines you control, like the ones that came before. You’re going to need different ones since they’re legendary, at which point they all trigger and they all get better.

Each color has one uncommon shrine and you’re probably only going to be able to play one or two for the most part, so I’ll be evaluating them based on that. If we can get a multicolor shrines deck going then that would be awesome, but the use case for these is going to be just one or two.

Vehicles

Surgehacker Mech

For the first time since the Kaladesh block, vehicles are back in a big way! We’ve seen a few of them in sets before but never in this great a number, so I just wanted to do a blanket statement on how vehicles play out.

Vehicles generally don’t play out very well and their crew costs are the most important factor in their playability. Crew 1 and crew 2 are really easy to work with, but crew 3+ tends to require more work. White can make 1/1 Pilot tokens that crew vehicles as if they had two extra power which I imagine will go a long way towards crewing bigger vehicles in the set.

The Draft Archetypes

Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos (alternate art) - Illustration by Sennsu

Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos (alternate art) | Illustration by Sennsu

Like most modern draft sets, Kamigawa Neon Dynasty is designed with draftable archetypes available in all of the ten two-color combinations. When you find yourself in a particular color combination, it’s always worth remembering what those colors are trying to do and drafting accordingly.

  • Azorius (): Vehicles and Pilots
  • Dimir (): Ninjas
  • Rakdos (): Sacrifice
  • Gruul (): Modified
  • Selesnya (): Enchantments
  • Orzhov (): Artifacts and enchantments (the cards pay you off for controlling at least one of each)
  • Golgari (): Graveyard matters and recursion
  • Simic (): Channel and ramp
  • Izzet (): Artifacts
  • Boros (): Samurai and exalted (benefits for attacking with a single samurai)

White Cards

Ancestral Katana

Ancestral Katana

Rating: 3/10

Ancestral Katana looks like a strong equipment to me. Getting a +2/+1 bonus for just one mana to equip is a pretty good rate. Unfortunately I think this has a lot to compete with in this set thanks to reconfigure creatures likely being a lot better than this.

Not to mention that a deck not playing many samurai won’t want to spend three mana to equip this. This could be good enough in the right deck, but I don’t think it’ll get there as often as you’d like.

Ao, the Dawn Sky

Ao, the Dawn Sky

Rating: 10/10

Fun fact, the word “Ao” means blue in Japanese. I haven’t seen the Japanese translation of the card so I can’t confirm that’s what they’re going for, but I found it funny that white gets a dragon and its name is blue.

Anyway, Ao, the Dawn Sky is absolutely disgusting. Serra Angel would already be an easy 7, so give it a ridiculous death trigger and we’re right up there. You either get to overrun your entire board when Ao dies or go digging for a new one.

The first mode limits you to just four mana’s worth of cards, meaning you’ll most often get a single 4-drop or a pair of 2-drops, both of which sound like incredible options. Short of your opponent countering or exiling Ao, it’ll have a huge impact on the board, help you catch up from a bad position, break a board stall, and is just exceptional. What a way to start off the set’s white spells!

Banishing Slash

Banishing Slash

Rating: 7/10

Banishing Slash looks absolutely incredible to me in this set specifically. Something that’s always worth remembering is that Disenchant and Naturalize effects are actually just straight-up creature removal in a set with a heavy focus on enchantment creatures, artifact creatures, or both.

Although this card is held back a little bit by costing and being a sorcery, it kills a lot of creatures for just two mana and it can kill a whole lot more of them once they’ve attacked. You even have this incredible bonus of creating a Samurai token if you control an artifact and an enchantment, at which point it becomes almost as good as Ravenous Chupacabra.

This is a great card all round and an early candidate for white’s best non-rare card in the set.

Befriending the Moths / Imperial Moth

Rating: 4/10

I’m having difficulty with this first saga. I remember the trainwreck that was Triumph of Gerrard back in Dominaria, but I think Befriending the Moths is a fair bit better than that.

Granting a +1/+1 to any creature and giving it flying is pretty significant if you’re trying to push damage through. And then becoming a 2/4 flyer is a very nice endgame. It’s hard to view any of these sagas as actively bad since they all end up as creatures, so that’s my take on this one in particular. It seems like a good playable.

Blade-Blizzard Kitsune

Blade-Blizzard Kitsune

Rating: 5/10

2/2 double strike creatures tend to be pretty powerful since just a single buff does so much more damage. While I’m not sure how ninjutsu will factor into Blade-Blizzard Kistune since four damage out of nowhere isn’t that likely to swing combat in your favor, this card is perfectly fine without it. Ninjutsu is a nice bonus and modifications work very nicely with it.

Born to Drive

Born to Drive

Rating: 4/10

I’m very much not interested in an aura that only buffs my creature and does nothing else. Oakenform is just not a playable Limited card. What I’m really interested in is Born to Drive’s channel ability to discard and make two Pilot tokens. Three mana for two 1/1 tokens at instant speed is a decent rate, and the aura can be a bonus for when there’s an opening to make that powerful.

There may very well be a point in the game where the aura grants a very big bonus and your opponent can’t take advantage of it, at which point it is strong. That seems like a good deal whichever way you look at it.

Brilliant Restoration

Brilliant Restoration

Rating: 1/10

This is one card I’d love to be wrong about. The problem is that you can’t just put a situational 7-mana sorcery in about 99% of Limited decks and expect to get away with it.

I’d love to be able to build around Brilliant Restoration and I hope that it might work when I do, but this is generally just not going to hit the mark. You have to build around it If you want to use this; you can’t just slot it into any deck and hope it works. I’ll generally be picking a couple up for Commander decks and leaving it at that.

Cloudsteel Kirin

Cloudsteel Kirin

Rating: 6/10

Cloudsteel Kirin starts out life as a simple 3/2 flyer for three, which is a pretty good rate to get already, but it ends up turning into a must-answer threat. That being said it is pretty easy to answer. Having only two toughness as a creature and being an artifact makes it vulnerable to a lot of spells and abilities.

This card is strong and requires your opponent do something about it, but it’s not a game-ending threat or anything like that. It’s a fair bit better than your average playable.

Dragonfly Suit

Dragonfly Suit

Rating: 3/10

Even in the Vehicles deck, I’m not sure how many slots in your deck will be able to be dedicated to vehicles. I think you can do better than a 3/2 flyer for three mana. Crew 1 is great, but that still requires you to tap a creature every turn to get Dragonfly Suit to attack.

In our last experience of a set with a high number of vehicles back in Kaladesh we found that these sorts of vehicles like Sky Skiff ended up being fine, but nothing special. I’d at least hope to get some vehicles with good abilities or larger stats before looking at this one.

Eiganjo Exemplar

Eiganjo Exemplar

Rating: 5/10

We had to have at least one creature with literal exalted. It’s great to see it on a 2-drop, something we actively wanted to draft for this deck in the first place. That also means Eiganjo Exemplar gets to attack as a 3/2 on turn 3 and potentially even with the support of your turn 3 samurai.

This is a great white common and probably exactly what you want to pick up for the Samurai deck. It’s also an enchantment so it also looks decent in the green deck.

Era of Enlightenment / Hand of Enlightenment

Rating: 4/10

While being a very slow 2/2 with first strike and a couple of turns of summoning sickness, Era of Enlightenment is a nice little package that does a lot to help to set up in the early turns. It’s very reminiscent of The Birth of Meletis, an exceptionally strong card, and I expect this one to play out pretty similarly, even when getting the rewards in a different order.

The Fall of Lord Konda / Fragment of Konda

Rating: 7/10

The Fall of Lord Konda’s first mode targeting mana value instead of power and toughness is a pretty significant change compared to other similar effects. It means that this is always able to trade up on mana despite a lot of potential targets being removed from contention.

I like when sagas give me a removal mode straight away and some extra value later on. Sadly its second chapter ability doesn’t do anything and the creature to reward you for your patience is a chump blocker that draws you a card. I like that quite a bit but I was hoping for something with a bit more board presence.

I guess you can’t expect too much from the rest when you get a good removal mode upfront. Still a great card and not one I’m likely to cut. Also a great one for flickering thanks to the very powerful first ability.

Farewell

Farewell

Rating: 5/10

Farewell indeed. The neon art for this card is easily one of my favorites in the set. The card itself looks great too, but it’s a little bit costly for Limited. Board wipes are a bit tricky in Limited.

On one hand, there are many insurmountable board states that just need to be answered. But at six mana, your opponent will be the first player with the opportunity to rebuild afterwards which often leaves you on the back foot anyway.

It’s worth noting that this is a pretty flexible sweeper. Choosing to only exile all artifacts or all enchantments sometimes hurts your opponent more than you, so that’s a really nice upside to have. This card definitely has a place in the format but it’s likely not as good as you think at six mana.

Go-Shintai of Shared Purpose

Go-Shintai of Shared Purpose

Rating: 5/10

Go-Shintai of Shared Purpose by itself lets you pay one mana to make a 1/1 Spirit token at the every end step. It’s a little vulnerable as a 1/3, but getting a 1/1 without spending a card is a huge upside as long as you can spare the mana each turn.

If you combine this card with literally any other shrine and start making a pair of tokens or more, it gets out of control very quickly. I imagine that some of these shrines won’t be good enough by themselves and will need to be built around but this white one looks good enough to be a solid card, and that’s a great spot to be in.

Golden-Tail Disciple

Golden-Tail Disciple

Rating: 4/10

You can’t go too wrong with a cheap lifelink creature. Golden-Tail Disciple sadly doesn’t have a creature type that’s relevant to the set’s archetypes but it’s still an enchantment so there’s at least that. Just your bog standard Limited playable.

Hotshot Mechanic

Hotshot Mechanic

Rating: 4/10

It really doesn’t take much for Elite Vanguard to be a playable card. The inherent downside of 1-mana creatures is often that they struggle to trade up and they get outclassed by 2-drops. Hotshot Mechanic doesn’t have those downsides and will sometimes be able to trade for even 3-drops.

It’s hard to know this early how relevant its ability will be, but Azorius does have a specific focus on vehicles so it could definitely be useful. Even with all that aside, a 2/1 for is just a good solid card.

Imperial Oath

Imperial Oath

Rating: 3/10

Imperial Oath is a pretty hefty ask at six mana, but it has a good impact on the board. 6/6 stats spread across three bodies is a good rate and the scry 3 is just icing on the cake that lets you find a good play for the following turn.

I’m sure that there’ll be a deck that wants an effect like this at the top of their curve, but funnily enough it won’t be the Samurai deck (or any other aggressive deck). Casting a 6-mana spell like this isn’t something that most decks want to do, but it’s good enough that it should find a home somewhere.

Imperial Recovery Unit

Imperial Recovery Unit

Rating: 5/10

Now this is a vehicle I can get behind. Your 2-drops are normally pretty likely to trade off in the early game, making Imperial Recovery Unit fairly likely to have targets. The versions of this effect that we’ve seen in the past have been on very vulnerable creatures that are likely to die in combat but a 3/4 is significantly more likely to live through to the following turn. Crew 2 is also a very reasonable cost to pay and most of the creatures in your deck should be able to satisfy this.

Imperial Subduer

Imperial Subduer

Rating: 5/10

Samurai decks want to stack up these various exalted-style triggers and Imperial Subduer is a desirable one. If you look back at cards like Master of Diversion, Territorial Hammerskull, or even Distracting Geist from Crimson Vow, we’ve seen versions of this effect do very well in other Draft formats.

Getting rid of pesky blockers is even more valuable than usual here since you’re only attacking with one creature, and multiple copies of this will all still trigger at the same time. I think this effect is going to be something you really want in your Samurai Exalted decks. It’ll be less playable in other decks, but 3/2 creatures are hardly embarrassing to play these days and they trade off pretty effectively.

Intercessor’s Arrest

Intercessor's Arrest

Rating: 5/10

Pacifism and Arrest variants have done really badly in recent sets for a variety of reasons. I’d certainly hope that they’re reasonable this time around because Intercessor’s Arrest ticks all the boxes of what you want this card to do.

Its only downside is, as usual, leaving the permanent on the battlefield so that it can be bounced, sacrificed, or flickered. But at least it leaves very few avenues for the card itself to remain useful, so this card is one of the better ones we’ve seen and should play out well.

Disenchant effects are a lot more playable thanks to the nature of the format which detracts from this a fair bit. I think it still should be a fine card, but it’s not as reliable as you might expect.

Invoke Justice

Invoke Justice

Rating: 6/10

Invoke Justice is a card I’m struggling to evaluate. On the one hand, is an impossibly difficult mana cost to pay. Most decks will never be able to cast this on five and even on six, seven, or even eight mana. We saw this play out with Unnatural Growth back in Midnight Hunt, a card which was ultimately not good enough in Limited because of the cost.

But Invoke has a really huge impact on the game. You can return any permanent but (let’s be honest) you’ll probably be returning a creature. Then you also get four +1/+1 counters and you can also put all of those counters on the creature you get back given the way the card is worded. Those counters can also go on existing creatures and push them over blocking creatures or whatever else you want to do.

You’re basically getting the value of two 5-mana sorceries for the cost of just one, but the color commitments are too great. I’m hard pressed to rate this higher based on the cost. But the card is extremely powerful if you do pull it off. Oh, and it’s part of a cycle, so more cards for me to agonize over!

Kitsune Ace

Kitsune Ace

Rating: 4/10

While Kitsune Ace has a very obvious home in the Vehicles deck, it’s also just a 2/2 for two which can probably slot into any deck. It’s also very possible that you’ll want a vehicle or two in your non-Azorius decks, so this is bound to come in handy no matter what deck you’ve built.

Kyodai, Soul of Kamigawa

Kyodai, Soul of Kamigawa

Rating: 9/10

You might look at Kyodai, Soul of Kamigawa and notice the cost and figure it’s not going to be good enough for Limited. And you’d be right; you won’t be activating that ability. But the rest of Kyodai is really good anyway.

Four mana for a 3/3 flash flyer is a decent rate, but Kyodai’s triggered ability is where it really shines. Granting indestructible to one of your creatures lets you flash Kyodai in to save a creature in combat or protect it from a removal spell, both of which will eat a card straight away and then Kyodai itself needs to be answered.

It’s very hard to play Kyodai and not get a 2-for-1 right off the bat. It’s also a great rate and easy to cast. Just incredible all around.

Light the Way

Light the Way

Rating: 2/10

I’ve always been a fan of Rescue since I often use my bounce spells on my own creatures anyway, so I might as well get a cost reduction for doing it. That being said, it’s not a playable card in most situations; I’m just a bit weird.

But Light the Way is interesting, shifting the card into white and giving you a different option. Though that option is only a fairly weak combat trick so I’m not too impressed. I could see this making it into your deck in some niche scenarios and it does let you reset sagas, but that’s not an effect I’m likely to spend a whole card on.

Light-Paws, Emperor’s Voice

Light-Paws, Emperor's Voice

Rating: 2/10

Light-Paws, Emperor’s Voice doesn’t look like something that was designed to work in Limited. For starters you have to be running multiple auras in your deck, of which there are only a couple good ones (like Twisted Embrace), and you then need to draw and cast the more expensive ones first.

This was clearly a plant for Constructed where it certainly has applications in a few different formats, including as a great auras commander. But in Limited, this new kitsune friend is going to be only marginally better than Glory Seeker.

Lion Sash

Lion Sash

Rating: 9/10

It’s a kitty Scooze! Many of us have seen how powerful Scavenging Ooze can be, and Lion Sash is miles better in almost every way.

First of all, getting the +1/+1 counter when you exile any permanent (of which this set has a lot) is a pretty big boon. Next, the ability to reconfigure it is huge. When I think of equipment cards that give raw power and toughness bonuses I think of Vulshok Morningstar, an absolutely nuts card that’s still one of the best common equipment ever printed.

Sash only needs to exile one card to become a Morningstar and then it gets out of control beyond that point. It does need fodder to work, but all of the set’s archetypes are focused on permanents and it can exile cards in any graveyard. It’s very likely there’s at least a couple of cards in the graveyards by the time you play this. It even randomly hates on the Golgari archetype in the set, just in case it needed more upside.

I’m really struggling to see the downside here and it has a ton of upside. This is basically the card that Patchwork Crawler wishes it was.

Lucky Offering

Lucky Offering

Rating: 2/10

I don’t really like the restrictions on Lucky Offering, being a sorcery and only affecting mana values of three or less. That said, this is still going to function as creature removal a decent chunk of the time so it’ll be a very effective sideboard card.

I think the number of decks that won’t bother with artifacts is likely to be great enough that you shouldn’t start this in the main, but I could definitely see that changing as the format evolves.

March of Otherworldly Light

March of Otherworldly Light

Rating: 7/10

March of Otherworldly Light has some great applications in Constructed and it doesn’t pull any punches in Limited either. This is like a white Fireball in many ways; it can scale up as the game goes on and exile any creature at any point on the curve.

The downside is that you always end up spending more mana than the target that you’re exiling but I think the flexibility behind what it can target makes up for that. I wouldn’t recommend you ever exile cards to reduce its cost unless you absolutely have to, but at least the option is still there.

Michiko’s Reign of Truth / Portrait of Michiko

Rating: 2/10

Big buffs that you can’t even guarantee the size of are never all that good, especially when they don’t grant trample or some kind of evasion to try and at least make sure that damage matters. Otherwise the damage is very easily chump blocked and effectively negated.

You can make small, ineffectual creatures into threats, but you can’t even be sure if that plan will work without knowing how big of a buff you’re getting in advance. Ending in a creature is a bit of a saving grace, but Michiko’s Reign of Truth isn’t really a card I’m likely to want to dedicate a slot in my deck to.

Mothrider Patrol

Mothrider Patrol

Rating: 3/10

I’m not convinced that a 4-mana tap ability is enough to make Mothrider Patrol all that much better than just a Suntail Hawk. Having said that, warrior is a very relevant creature type that triggers all of the samurai exalted effects and it’s a very nice ninjutsu enabler if you’ve crossed over any ninjas from other colors into your deck.

I doubt this is an unplayable card, but I don’t think it’s likely to reach the heights of the great 1-drops we’ve seen in a lot of recent sets.

Norika Yamazaki, the Poet

Norika Yamazaki, the Poet

Rating: 6/10

The first of the Yamazaki sisters paying homage to the classic Champions of Kamigawa card Brothers Yamazaki, Norika Yamazaki, the Poet looks like a really nice build-around for your Samurai decks. The rating is a little hard to pin down since it will always hinge on what kinds of enchantments you have in your deck.

If you’re lucky enough to have a bunch of Spirited Companions or Sunblade Samurais in your deck (which I believe are probably the two best white commons), they both combo extremely well with Norika and make it a very powerful engine. If you take Norika early I think it’s worth putting the effort in to make work. The same probably goes for its sister, which I’ll get to in the red portion.

Regent’s Authority

Regent's Authority

Rating: 2/10

One mana for +2/+2 really isn’t all that impressive, and the bonus for targeting an enchantment or legendary creature is only that “part of it is permanent?” I guess that’s a good bonus but +2/+2 wasn’t anything to write home about in the first place, and it isn’t even enough to guarantee your creature lives through the combat or removal spell. I think I’ll be ignoring Regent’s Authority for the most part.

Repel the Vile

Repel the Vile

Rating: 4/10

We’ve seen plenty of Smite the Monstrous variants over the years and they normally fall in the category of “decent but not exceptional.” Repel the Vile definitely still falls into that category, but being able to also exile enchantments give it enough utility that I think I’d rather start at least one copy in the main deck.

It’s definitely something you should always pay attention to since siding it in or out based on the matchup will give you a big edge in BO3 matches.

The Restoration of Eiganjo / Architect of Restoration

Rating: 10/10

This is an incredible set of abilities for just three mana. First you draw a Plains, then you can put a 2-drop onto the battlefield, and then The Restoration of Eiganjo basically turns into Brimaz, King of Oreskos, a really absurd creature in its own right.

A fun thing you can also do with the second ability is discard a permanent and get that same permanent back with the ability, like the Plains you got from chapter 1. So for three mana you get to draw a card, cheat out a 2-drop (essentially only spending one mana on this in the first place), and then it turns into a bomb mythic threat? I keep trying to find reasons to not give this a 10 and I just can’t find any.

Selfless Samurai

Selfless Samurai

Rating: 7/10

So we have a simple 2-drop that grants lifelink to our exalted attacker and can also sacrifice itself to save it from removal or make it win a combat? Sign me up! Lifelink is one of the most relevant abilities in a damage race and it doesn’t even have to attack to be giving that lifelink. I love Selfless Samurai. I don’t need to say anything else.

Seven-Tail Mentor

Seven-Tail Mentor

Rating: 4/10

We’ve seen a lot of variants on this kind of white creature in recent sets with cards like Gavony Silversmith and Basri’s Acolyte, and they’ve always played out pretty well.

While Seven-Tail Mentor seems worse, it very easily creates a modified creature and the worst it will ever be is a 3/4 for four mana that leaves behind a +1/+1 counter when it dies since it can target itself. That all adds up to a nice, solid Limited common.

Sky-Blessed Samurai

Sky-Blessed Samurai

Rating: 5/10

A 4/4 flyer is no joke in combat. The real question you need to ask is how much you’re willing to pay for Sky-Blessed Samurai.

Seven mana is a little too much, six mana is just above average, and it sounds about right when you get to five mana. So at four and below you really feel like you’re getting away with something.

We saw this play out with affinity back in original Mirrodin, though in that set there were tons of 1-drop artifacts and artifact lands to do a lot of the heavy lifting, so cards like Somber Hoverguard often felt like 1-drops. You shouldn’t put this samurai in a deck that isn’t heavy on enchantments, but it’s just going to be absurd in the right deck. And if you ever get lucky enough to cast it for one mana then you’ll really feel like you’re cheating.

Spirited Companion

Spirited Companion

Rating: 6/10

You just can’t go wrong with the puppers. I remember a time when Dusk Legion Zealot was among the best black commons in Rivals of Ixalan, and that was because it drew a card and had a relevant creature type.

Spirited Companion is never a bad card since it immediately replaces itself and it has a very relevant type being an enchantment. Whether you’re the green enchantments deck or the black deck that cares about controlling at least one, this is a card you actively want. This is even an acceptable card in the other color combinations.

Sunblade Samurai

Sunblade Samurai

Rating: 6/10

Another superb white common this time using channel to mimic plainscycling, Sunblade Samurai will help you fix your mana when it’s in your opening hand. And it’s a perfectly defensible 4/4 vigilance for five mana when you draw it late. It’s also a samurai to trigger all of the exalted you might have lying around, and an enchantment for those synergies.

I’m going to assume that this is the best white common and every deck wants to pick it up. Even if something ends up being “better,” every white decks still wants this and I would pick it very highly.

Touch the Spirit Realm

Touch the Spirit Realm

Rating: 8/10

Excuse me? Touch the Spirit Realm does what?

I know this format is going to be more hostile to enchantments than usual, but I never figured my Oblivion Ring variant needed an alternate mode. This is just absurd. An O-Ring effect that hits creatures or artifacts or a 2-mana flicker effect. I’m spoiled for choice! Both modes are just fantastic. Shouldn’t need to say much more than that.

Wanderer’s Intervention

Wanderer's Intervention

Rating: 6/10

The Wanderer must have taken some lessons from Gideon back in War of the Spark because she has clearly learned one of his key spells. Gideon’s Reproach was always a good removal spell when it was around before and I doubt this time is any different.

There are sadly an abundance of combat triggers that Wanderer’s Intervention won’t be able to stop, but those happen when your opponent attacks with just a single creature. This means that sniping it off the board with this will end their combat, which doesn’t seem like too bad of a trade-off. This is just great white removal and welcome in every deck.

The Wandering Emperor

The Wandering Emperor

Rating: 9/10

The Wanderer has revealed her identity as the emperor of Kamigawa and the apparent queen of all combat tricks. The Wandering Emperor has flash and a set of three strong abilities that are all very capable of influencing combat. Either +1 it to save your creature, -1 to make a blocker, or just -2 it to outright exile an attacker.

Even if there isn’t a combat phase happening for this card to dominate, you can flash it in on your opponent’s end step, make a Samurai token, and then make another one on your turn and it even still has a loyalty remaining after that. This planeswalker is a fair bit more “tricksy” than other ones we’ve seen before, but it’s hard to not envision a game where it makes a significant impact at four mana and with three extremely potent abilities.

On top of that you get paid off even more than you would have if you can set up the right situation for its abilities to line up well.

When We Were Young

When We Were Young

Kawaii Rating: 10/10

Actual Rating: 2/10

This has to be one of the loveliest and most adorable artworks in the set. The new planeswalker Kaito was once childhood friends with the Emperor of Kamigawa, now known as The Wanderer, so having sweet artwork of them playing together as children is really heartwarming.

Unfortunately When We Were Young seems just a tad overcosted to me. Combat tricks that pump two creatures have been quite good in the past, but you need the right scenario to take full advantage of them and four mana is a lot to ask to make that happen. It’s not a terrible card, but it’s also not something I’m excited to try and make work.

Blue Cards

Acquisition Octopus

Acquisition Octopus

Rating: 6/10

In a set that contains a whole theme dedicated to making sure you get combat damage through, Acquisition Octopus looks incredible. A 2/2 Ophidian isn’t going to be able to do much by itself, but it’ll get through for some value every now and again.

What I’m really interested in, though, is equipping this to one of the many cheap evasive threats that your deck is almost certainly going to have in order to enable ninjutsu abilities. The combination of those two cards is a very exciting prospect to me, and being an artifact to boot means it’ll likely feel at home in any blue deck in the format.

Anchor to Reality

Anchor to Reality

Rating: 0/10

I’m sure everyone’s first reaction when reading Anchor to Reality was along the lines of, “it’s Tinker for vehicles and equipment.” That’s very true, which is why this is just unplayable.

This is a 4-mana sorcery that requires you to have something out that you don’t mind sacrificing and something in your deck that makes spending two whole cards to cheat it into play worth it. I doubt you’ll find anything that fits that description. You’re better off replacing this with basically anything else. Looks like a kinda cool card for some Constructed strategies but it’s not remotely playable in Limited.

Armguard Familiar

Armguard Familiar

Rating: 4/10

Two mana for a 2/1 in blue needs a little bit of help to be playable, and having a reconfigure cost is just what you’re looking for. It costs four to do that so I’m blown away by Armguard Familiar but it’s still perfectly fine and serviceable and something that your artifact-based decks will be perfectly happy to use.

Awakened Awareness

Awakened Awareness

Rating: 0/10

I just don’t get it. What is Awakened Awareness trying to be? I guess when X is 0 you have a worse Kasmina’s Transmutation, a card that was already terrible.

If you find a way to bounce it after playing it then the creature’s base stats return to normal and keep the counters. It doesn’t even turn a noncreature artifact into a creature. You can also dump a lot of mana into it to make a creature slightly bigger; seven mana makes a creature of any size into a 6/6.

I don’t know about you, but absolutely none of that sounds appealing to me. I think you should just stay away from this card altogether.

Behold the Unspeakable / Vision of the Unspeakable

Rating: 6/10

Five mana is quite a lot to ask for Behold the Unspeakable, but it should be able to fog your opponent’s creatures for a turn and then refill your hand, which is a great combination of abilities.

The creature you get at the end will be powerful at first but you’ll be forced to keep more cards in hand to keep it relevant as the board progresses, something which you often won’t be able to do. But even if this card just ends up being about the first two chapter abilities, it’s still quite good. And any kind of creature is a bonus after that.

Covert Technician

Covert Technician

Rating: 3/10

Unlike many other ninjas, Covert Technician requires you to set up its ninjutsu ability and have something in hand for the trigger to work. That seems like a lot of work for not much payoff.

It’s definitely worth doing when it comes together, but not every deck is able to set it up in the first place. Even the decks that can won’t be able to all the time.

Discover the Impossible

Discover the Impossible

Rating: 2/10

I think we should be able to do better than a 3-mana Impulse effect these days. It’s pretty nice that you sometimes get to cast a free spell off Discover the Impossible, but needing that card to be an instant that costs two or less sounds like too much of a restriction.

You also need the timing to work out; if you find Essence Capture with no creature on the stack then you can’t do it, and you’re also out of luck if you try casting this in response to a creature but find a removal spell instead. This isn’t the worst card in the world but I think you could do a lot better.

Disruption Protocol

Disruption Protocol

Rating: 4/10

We have our Cancel variant for the set and it’s quite a bit better than that. Having an option to cast Disruption Protocol as Counterspell is really strong and I expect that quite a few decks will have a few artifacts lying around to pay for this. You’re even likely to have a creature hanging out that don’t want to get into combat. Equipment are also great since they don’t tap when the equipped creature attacks, so you might as well tap them for something.

Counterspells in Limited are good or bad depending on the speed of the format, so we start bumping the grades up on this card very quickly if this format ends up being slow and grindy.

Essence Capture

Essence Capture

Rating: 5/10

Essence Capture has always been a little difficult to cast at but blue Doom Blades tend to be worth it. Even if you’re only able to leave this open later on in the same, that just makes it more likely that you’ll have a creature to put the counter on, which also gives you a modified creature if that’s relevant.

So yeah, great card and a solid counterspell for blue.

Futurist Operative

Futurist Operative

Rating: 6/10

I really love the story Futuristic Operative is telling. This is just a 1/1 that can’t be blocked at four mana, which is great for enabling ninjutsu abilities even if it’s a little expensive.

But this card really shines in the late game since you can attack with impunity and spend the mana to untap it after no blocks have been declared to get your full three damage in. It’s going to be a massive pain to deal with for most decks at that point and a very reasonable win condition when on your side.

Futurist Sentinel

Futurist Sentinel

Rating: 3/10

We saw this exact card printed back in Aether Revolt (Irontread Crusher) where it was largely unplayable. I’m optimistic that things will be different this time around since there’s a dedicated vehicles archetype that might want Futuristic Sentinel.

You can crew this card in more ways than back in Kaladesh, like with Mobilizer Mech or with the 1/1 Pilot tokens that some cards in the set make. It still doesn’t look that impressive given that the crew cost is far too high for most decks. I’d love for my optimism to be rewarded but we’ll have to wait and see.

Go-Shintai of Lost Wisdom

Go-Shintai of Lost Wisdom

Rating: 2/10

Our blue shrine is probably the worst of the bunch, changing around from being the best of the bunch by far in Champions of Kamigawa. You’re only milling your opponent for one card per turn while a 0/4 Wall isn’t doing a great deal on the board. Milling for one card each turn just isn’t an effective clock, especially when you have to pay mana to do it.

But Go-Shintai of Lost Wisdom starts adding up if you throw other shrines into the mix, so you shouldn’t count it out just yet. This is just not a shrine I’d run on its own but I’d be very happy to pick it up late if I already had others, or if I was going for the mythical 5-color deck.

Guardians of Oboro

Guardians of Oboro

Rating: 5/10

I love me some cheap oversized defenders with upside. A 3/4 with no downside on blocking makes for a really annoying obstacle for your opponent to deal with.

You should be able to reconfigure something onto Guardians of Oboro later on and start going to town if it survived the early onslaught and you need to start attacking. I doubt the ability to let your other modified defenders attack will come up very often, but it could be a nice upside in certain situations.

Inventive Iteration / Living Breakthrough

Rating: 8/10

We’ve seen a couple of sagas in the past like The Eldest Reborn and Elspeth Conquers Death designed this way and they’ve always been exceptional.

Chapter one dealing with a threat on board and chapter two gaining a bit of card advantage into chapter three giving you a good creature is a sequence that dreams are made of. And at four mana Inventive Iteration is the most aggressively-costed version we’ve seen so far. The card is great and should be an awesome bomb rare in any blue deck.

Invoke the Winds

Invoke the Winds

Rating: 8/10

Like I said with the white Invoke spell, quad-color spells are incredibly hard to cast. But stealing your opponent’s creature or artifact is one of the most powerful effects blue has access to so I have to imagine Invoke the Winds is worth straining your mana for. One of my favorite rares to draft back in Strixhaven was Tempted by the Oriq, a very similar card in that was always a bit difficult to cast but it all became worth it when you stole a 10/10 Fractal token.

I’d probably just take this card early and try to push my mana base towards blue if I ended up there by the end of the Draft. Even if you can only manage a typical 9/8 mana base, casting this when you have eight or more mana is still going to be game-breaking and well worth the wait.

Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant

Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant

Rating: 4/10

Yet another Phyrexian praetor has infiltrated its way into a new plane, but Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant is sadly not the powerhouse that its cohort Vorinclex was in Kaldheim. Seven mana for a 5/5 with no keywords is laughably bad so its abilities have to be worth the cost.

Countering the first spell your opponent plays on their turn is really strong but limiting it to only artifacts, instants, and sorceries feels very restrictive. All your opponent needs to do if they have removal for Jin is bait out the trigger with any other card that would trigger it and then kill it. Copying your own spells is a huge upside, but you’re not likely to be able to get your free copy in the same turn at seven mana. Having to wait a whole turn before you get your value is too much of a downside.

While Jin is a really cool card for all sorts of Constructed games, it just seems overcosted and clunky in Limited. It doesn’t do much to catch you up from behind and needs some support to help you break board stalls. While nowhere near unplayable, this is just not a card I’ll be excited to open.

Kairi, the Swirling Sky

Kairi, the Swirling Sky

Rating: 9/10

“Okaeri” (pronounced similarly to Kairi) means “welcome home” in Japanese and oh boy is Kairi, the Swirling Sky welcome in my home. It’s hard to argue with a 6-mana 6/6 flyer that even has ward 3 for some added protection.

Where Kairi shines the most is its death trigger. There are no instant or sorcery themes in the set so it’s possible the second mode won’t be very useful, but bouncing multiple creatures sounds incredible to me. You can bounce your own creatures to reuse their triggers, bounce problematic creatures on your opponent’s board, or bounce all tokens for free. But all of that is often going to be a moot point as a 6/6 flyer that’s hard to kill is likely more than enough to finish a game.

March of Swirling Mist

March of Swirling Mist

Rating: 7/10

This is a weird effect with quite a few different applications, and it’s hard to see what the best way to play March of Swirling Mist will be. I like it as a huge overrun effect where you just phase out all your opponents in one go for not much mana instead of making your creatures bigger. It’s like the ultimate board stall breaker in that case. You can also phase out some of your own creatures to have them dodge removal spells in a pinch.

What gets me about this is how cheap it is to target lots of creatures in one go, something that my instincts tell me is a bit of an oversight. Maybe WotC never expected us to just phase out our opponent’s board and kill them the next turn, but that’s probably what’ll happen.

A knock to it is that all it does is Fog for a turn if you’re playing from behind, but it’ll still be able to steal quite a few games.

Mindlink Mech

Rating: 7/10

Mindlink Mech is a rather curious vehicle, but one that I think can be summed up with one word: ninjas. The big advantage to the way this card works is that you can give it the abilities of any creature on your board, and quite a few of the ninjas in the set have sweet abilities that trigger when they deal combat damage to a player (a task made trivial by being a 4/3 flyer).

You can also just give it lifelink, double strike, or whatever else might be nice depending on the situation. This makes it a very flexible card while also just being a great rate as a 3-drop 4/3 flyer for a crew cost of only one.

Mirrorshell Crab

Mirrorshell Crab

Rating: 6/10

I must have been very good this year, because this is like all of my Christmas presents at once! Or at least it would be if it weren’t for the fact that there are about three stupid cards in this set that look just as ridiculous to me.

The obvious problem with Mana Leak variants is that at some point in the game it becomes less and less likely that you’ll be able to counter something with them. This drawback often makes the more expensive versions close to unplayable. But what if my Convolute also happened to be a Hexplate Golem if I drew it later? Sold! Oh, and Mirrorshell Crab also counters abilities like other channel cards, which is going to be very relevant.

Mnemonic Sphere

Mnemonic Sphere

Rating: 5/10

Every blue deck should play Mnemonic Sphere no matter what. It’s as simple as that.

Cycling for one mana makes the opportunity cost to play this so incredibly small that there’s almost no downside to just playing every copy you can find. Then you’re up on cards when you have time to play and crack it. I don’t know how high you can prioritize it in a Draft but draw spells are always at least decent and you’ll be happy adding this to your deck.

Mobilizer Mech

Mobilizer Mech

Rating: 6/10

This does quite a lot for just a 2-mana vehicle. A 3/4 flyer is no joke, and crewing another vehicle for free is a great way to compensate for Mobilizer Mech’s high crew cost.

It sounds like a great build-around for the Vehicles deck and the 1/1 Pilot tokens that white can produce will satisfy this immediately even if crew 3 is quite a high crew cost. I’m not sure how useful it’ll be outside of a vehicle-heavy deck, but it looks like a key card in that deck at least.

The Modern Age / Vector Glider

Rating: 5/10

At just two mana you get quite a lot of good value for what you’ve paid in. Two loot effects followed by a 2/3 flyer looks like a great deal to me. The Modern Age can help you dig for things you need in the early game and you can toss away excess lands to find more spells in late game. What’s not to like?

What’s even sweeter about this is how well it enables ninjas. Bouncing Vector Glider with a ninjutsu ability sets you up to replay it as the front side and get more loots going.

Moon-Circuit Hacker

Moon-Circuit Hacker

Rating: 5/10

Moon-Circuit Hacker is a nice spiritual successor to Ninja of the Deep Hours, a card that was the poster child for how good ninjas can be in competitive play for a long time.

While only getting to draw a card outright on that first hit is certainly a downside, it only costs one mana to drop in and a 2/1 with no evasion was unlikely to get any more hits in anyway. Being able to loot on any successive hits that you’re lucky to get in is still great. This is going to be a key card for the Ninjas deck and probably one you want to pick up early.

Moonfolk Puzzlemaker

Moonfolk Puzzlemaker

Rating: 4/10

Flying Horned Turtles have played out really nicely in recent Limited sets and Moonfolk Puzzlemaker gives you a nice bonus for attacking, crewing vehicles, and whatever else you can put it together with even if it’s not buffing itself like others tend to. It looks like a nice playable that fits well into a few different archetypes overall.

Moonsnare Prototype

Moonsnare Prototype

Rating: 4/10

While getting a functional printing of Springleaf Drum is incredibly exciting for Constructed and I’m sure has applications across multiple formats, Moonsnare Prototype isn’t all that exciting in Limited. But its channel ability is a powerful one. An uncounterable way to answer an annoying threat and also force your opponent to essentially skip a draw step if they want to keep the card sounds like a good deal, even if five mana is a little bit much to pay for it.

I think having the option of a Springleaf Drum for your artifacts deck that can also Aether Gust a permanent away is a good combo. And being an artifact means it’s likely you can also recur it in some way.

Moonsnare Specialist

Moonsnare Specialist

Rating: 6/10

Mistblade Shinobi is back and looking better than ever! This time it can be cast as a 4-drop Man-o’-War or get value by ninjutsu-ing down in combat. These kinds of cards are always good in Limited and Moonsnare Specialist looks like a really strong design. Easily one of the best blue commons.

Network Disruptor

Network Disruptor

Rating: 5/10

Now this is the enabler you want for your Ninjas deck! Cards like Network Disruptor have been really bad in the past but I want to stress how important context is for this card.

A cheap flyer lets you sneak a ninja down early, and the ability to tap a permanent when it enters even lets you get a second attack with your ninja to connect in some scenarios. You don’t really want to play this outside of Ninjas but it looks like exactly the thing you need to get your ninjas into the red zone in that deck.

Planar Incision

Planar Incision

Rating: 3/10

2-mana flicker spells often struggle to find a home in Limited since you really need to be flickering something with a good enters- or leaves-the-battlefield trigger to be paid off for spending a whole card. But like Teferi’s Time Twist back in War of the Spark we have a particular type of permanent that’s good to reset: sagas.

Resetting a saga to get its chapter abilities to go off again looks like a very nice application for Planar Incision, even if the +1/+1 counter ends up wasted. There are also a few cards with abilities that trigger on leaving the battlefield to combine well with the ninjas theme, so I’m hopeful there are a few nice things to do with this card.

Prosperous Thief

Prosperous Thief

Rating: 5/10

Getting a Treasure token on combat damage is no joke, and the fact that it triggers when your other ninjas deal damage makes Prosperous Thief a really annoying creature for your opponents.

Every time you successfully ninjutsu something in with this in play you’ll net a Treasure token. Not only are those tokens just good, I have to imagine that having random artifacts on the board is going to be greatly beneficial for the right build. You can’t go wrong with this card even if it’s not going to run away with the game.

The Reality Chip

The Reality Chip

Rating: 7/10

It’s really hard to know what to make of The Reality Chip. What you really want is have it equipped, at which point you have a Future Sight in play, but it offers no protection whatsoever so the creature you equip to can be killed to stop you accessing the top of your library.

That said, the payoff is really strong and more than likely worth going for. I like that it can sit in play unattached until you see something on top of your deck that’s easy to cast and then reconfigure it to play that card right away. Then you’re just getting more and more value if your opponent can’t deal with this or the creature it’s attached to on successive turns.

Reality Heist

Reality Heist

Rating: 4/10

It’s always really scary when Wizards prints a card that actually has affinity for artifacts, but I think it might be at least safe for Limited in this case.

You really need to be casting Reality Heist for four mana or less for it to feel worth it, but fortunately you only want to resolve it in a deck that was heavy on artifacts anyway. You probably have a few of them in play at that point so it should all balance out.

I could definitely see this being a powerful card in a very heavy artifacts deck, but anything short of that and I’m not even remotely interested.

Replication Specialist

Replication Specialist

Rating: 7/10

A 3/4 flyer for five is something I’m already happy to play, but tack on a crazy ability that lets you copy every artifact you play and you have one incredibly impactful build-around.

You don’t need to do much at all to have Replication Specialist be a good card in your deck and you’ll be creating more board presence by using this ability with an abundance of artifact creatures in the set. This can get out of control really quickly and it’s going to be one of the best cards in your deck if you also manage to build around it.

Saiba Trespassers

Saiba Trespassers

Rating: 4/10

A 3/5 vanilla creature for five mana is pretty embarrassing, but one that’s a split card with a 4-mana Frost Breath seems perfectly reasonable to me. Frost Breath has always been a fine card and playing it as a creature when you just need some board presence is a really nice upside.

Short Circuit

Short Circuit

Rating: 3/10

We’ve seen this kind of effect before and it always borders between mediocre and terrible. Losing flying and working on vehicles are nice upsides, but I don’t think that’s anywhere near enough to push Short Circuit out of the mediocre range into actively playable.

Skyswimmer Koi

Skyswimmer Koi

Rating: 6/10

I’m not sure why WotC all of a sudden realized that Phantom Monster was okay to print with upsides in every set but I’m here for it. Skyswimmer Koi is going to be good in every blue deck, and it’s even better if you get a couple free loots out of.

Spell Pierce

Spell Pierce

Rating: 1/10

Spell Pierce has been a very powerful Constructed card over the years, but it falls way short of the mark in Limited. Early in the game when your opponent won’t have two spare mana to cover this cost they’re far more likely to be casting creature spells anyway. Later in the game, paying two extra mana should be fairly trivial and the number of opportunities you’ll get to catch them out will be minimal.

You could definitely side Spell Pierce in aggressive mirror matches and against decks with expensive must-counter spells, but this is going to be unplayable the majority of the time.

Suit Up

Suit Up

Rating: 5/10

Blue really doesn’t want combat tricks, but a card with the ability to ambush a creature with your uncrewed vehicle or win a few combats while also drawing a card is something worth looking at again. Just like Startle from Midnight Hunt, it’s really easy to get a 2-for-1 out of Suit Up which often makes the setup for it worthwhile.

Tameshi, Reality Architect

Tameshi, Reality Architect

Rating: 7/10

Tameshi, Reality Architect is in the wrong section of this review because if we were to not factor in its white ability it would be completely unplayable. But it’s really powerful as an Azorius card.

There should be a few nice artifacts and enchantments in the graveyard that have either been channeled or traded off by the time you have a bunch of mana available to pay for it. Tameshi then lets you buy back any of them and draw a card while all you have to pay is some mana and bounce a land. That effect is great and can be done over and over again, making it a very powerful card.

You definitely need to be playing Azorius for it to work or you could splash the white easily enough, but it’s well worth the setup.

Tamiyo’s Compleation

Tamiyo's Compleation

Rating: 5/10

We’re fairly familiar with blue removal spells in Limited by now. Charmed Sleep and Capture Sphere are the go-to standards when designing this slot in a set and Tamiyo’s Compleation is a very nice upgrade. It’s not enough of an upgrade to make the card significantly stronger than it used to be, just a nice bonus and one that will surely be welcome.

Tezzeret, Betrayer of Flesh

Tezzeret, Betrayer of Flesh

Rating: 8/10

Tezzeret is back and causing havoc on a whole new plane. This time round his card isn’t pulling its punches.

Planeswalkers are strongest when they have a way to protect themselves, which Tezzeret, Betrayer of Flesh’s -2 ability does very well. You’ll need a throwaway artifact to turn into a 4/4 which is definitely a bit of a downside, but upgrading it to a creature that can block for your planeswalker is going to be a pivotal move.

If Tezzeret does this and survives to your next turn, you can throw it away to make another 4/4 or start accumulating a ton of advantage by drawing more cards and throwing away chaff. The card’s static ability is likely to more relevant for Constructed but it’s a huge bonus if you can find a way to work it into the equation.

Tezzeret looks like an extremely powerful planeswalker that you’ll want to build around and the set is very well set up to allow you to do that.

Thirst for Knowledge

Thirst for Knowledge

Rating: 6/10

Magic has evolved a lot in the 19 years since Thirst for Knowledge was first printed. It was even restricted in Vintage at one point. But times have changed and Thirst is still a very solid card even if it’s no longer the busted draw spell it once was, and one you should be very happy to pick up.

The most common modes will be to discard two excess lands to it or just to throw away a random useless artifact, both of which are very fair compromises when you get to draw three whole cards. You don’t even need a ton of artifacts in your deck to play it, but I’d still want at least a few just in case.

Thousand-Faced Shadow

Thousand-Faced Shadow

Rating: 9/10

I never in my wildest dreams thought we’d be given a ninja that’s somehow both an enabler and a payoff for the same archetype!

Thousand-Faced Shadow can be dropped on turn 1 where it functions as an evasive creature that guarantees your ninjutsu abilities. Later in the game having been returned to your hand, it ninjutsus itself in and has a devastating effect by giving you a free token copy of one of your other creatures. This is everything I want for my Ninjas deck and should even be good enough in decks that only have a few of them.

Black Cards

Assassin’s Ink

Assassin's Ink

Rating: 8/10

It shouldn’t be too hard to satisfy at least one of Assasin’s Ink’s conditions and make this a Hero’s Downfall given how common artifacts and enchantments are in this set. You might even get away with casting this for two mana in the right deck, which is just ridiculous.

But all of that is kinda moot when this card is still likely the best non-rare black card in the set even if you’re casting this for four mana. Not to mention that the cost reduction is just the icing on the cake; removal is incredibly important in Limited and this is as good as you’ll ever see it.

Biting-Palm Ninja

Biting-Palm Ninja

Rating: 7/10

I really like Biting-Palm Ninja’s design, where the menace counter allows you to get one good attack in without needing to ninjutsu it in. Your reward is a one-time Thoughtseize, which is a pretty strong payoff.

The downside to Thoughtseizes in Limited is that they’re bad when you draw them late and your opponent has run out of cards. But not to worry, you can just keep the menace counter and keep sending in difficult-to-block attacks!

Blade of the Oni

Blade of the Oni

Rating: 9/10

Equipment like Blade of the Oni that give massive buffs to the creature it’s equipped to are few and far between. They’re usually horrifically overcosted and not worth using when they do come up.

But this one comes in well under the cost I’d expect and even does work as a 3/1 menace 2-drop until you get to a point where you can start equipping it. This makes it more vulnerable to removal which is definitely a downside for a card so powerful, but that shouldn’t take away all of the power from a card that’ll probably just dominate a game for you.

Take this and enjoy turning your throwaway 1/1 creatures into stupid big demons.

Chainflail Centipede

Chainflail Centipede

Rating: 3/10

I’m not at all impressed by Chainflail Centipede. It attacks as a 4/2 which isn’t too bad, but it’s a terrible blocker that barely helps your other creatures when you reconfigure it. You can get some use out of it but I imagine you can do better.

Clawing Torment

Clawing Torment

Rating: 2/10

Stab Wound this is not. Clawing Torment is cheap interaction but not something that’s all that useful on the board. There isn’t a lot that you can kill with just -1/-1. The shrunken creature will still be able to attack and use its abilities and the loss of life just isn’t enough to become scary.

This looks like a sideboard card to me. I wouldn’t start it in my main decks early in the format.

Debt to the Kami

Debt to the Kami

Rating: 3/10

Exiling aside, Debt to the Kami is a functional reprint of Pharika’s Libation that’s still just as good. Edict effects aren’t great since you only rarely kill what you actually want to kill with them, but they’re still functional cards and having a mode to hit enchantments is nice. But this is far from premium removal.

Dockside Chef

Dockside Chef

Rating: 5/10

Cards like Dockside Chef have ended up being very strong in the past and this set has an archetype that wants to sacrifice artifacts and creatures. While you’d probably prefer this card to be a little more expensive with a less vulnerable body like with Skullport Merchant, being cheaper means you’ll probably be able to play and activate it in the same turn without too much fuss. It can also sacrifice itself in a pinch.

When all is said and done, this card is likely a key role-player for a couple of different decks and one that you’ll be very happy to pick up.

Dokuchi Shadow-Walker

Dokuchi Shadow-Walker

Rating: 4/10

Casting Dokuchi Shadow-Walker for its full cost is less than ideal, but getting a 5/5 for just four mana doesn’t seem too bad. Ninja of the New Moon was a perfectly serviceable card in Modern Horizons and a 5/5 plays out a lot better than a 6/3 does.

I’d expect this to fall into that same category of a perfectly solid Limited common for the Ninjas deck.

Dokuchi Silencer

Dokuchi Silencer

Rating: 6/10

It was probably just wishful thinking to expect a functional reprint of Throat Slitter in this day and age, but that doesn’t make Dokuchi Silencer bad. You’ve probably got at least one creature card in your hand if you’ve ninjutsu-ed it into play and trading that card for your opponent’s best creature or planeswalker is likely going to be a good deal. You may only be trading 1-for-1 but you’re doing so under your terms, and that’s always something that you can work in your favor.

Enormous Energy Blade

Enormous Energy Blade

Rating: 3/10

Enormous Energy Blade has the hallmarks of a card that I may very well be underrating. +4/+0 is a massive bonus and costing only two mana to equip makes it fairly easy to do, unlike the unplayable Greataxe. Tapping the creature it attaches to is a problem since you won’t be able to get an attack in the turn you play it, but equipping it post-combat ready for a more devastating attack next turn helps you get around that a little bit.

I think the biggest problem is ultimately that it’s not giving your creature any toughness, which is what it really needs to help it survive combat. It’s an incredibly aggressive card so equipping it to flyers and other evasive threats is likely the way to go. I’m initially skeptical but it’s a really cool card so I’d love for the format to prove me wrong.

Go-Shintai of Hidden Cruelty

Go-Shintai of Hidden Cruelty

Rating: 6/10

Go-Shintai of Hidden Cruelty is one hell of a powerful shrine. You get to kill off a 1-toughness creature at the end of every turn when it’s on its own, and when more shrines are thrown into the mix you start killing a lot more.

The ability to clear out all of your opponent’s tiny creatures will be completely useless against decks that don’t even have any to begin with, but it’s still a 2/2 with deathtouch that will trade 1-for-1 with one of their creatures. If that’s the floor on this card then I’m very excited for it.

Gravelighter

Gravelighter

Rating: 6/10

I’m trying to find Gravelighter’s downside and I’m really struggling. Either a creature has died, in which case you get a Wind Drake that cantrips, or you get a Fleshbag Marauder that flies. Either way you’re getting a great deal, and this card should be powerful no matter where you play it.

It is worth noting that the Rakdos deck is its most natural home since you have more control over which mode it uses. Not to mention that you’ll like the second mode more.

Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos

Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos

Rating: 10/10

I’m having a hard time reading Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos and finding the downside. All I’ve come up with so far is that it needs two colors. Oh no.

Hidetsugu looks absolutely bonkers. A 4/4 for four mana that’s also a sac outlet for the Rakdos deck is a great start, but its red ability is really something else. For three mana you get to effectively draw a card (we need a good name for this red card-draw effect) and you get some free damage you can use to kill a creature if you’re lucky enough to hit a spell?

This is basically the ultimate pinger. You also get to see how big the card is before deciding what to target with the damage thanks to the templating of the effect. Reading this card just takes you from one upside to another and it’ll just run away with the game if it’s left alive for too long, providing a constant revenue stream of card advantage and free kills. It’s just awesome.

Inkrise Infiltrator

Inkrise Infiltrator

Rating: 4/10

Cheap flyers fit right at home in the Ninjas deck, and Inkrise Infiltrator also seems reasonably at home in other black decks. You’ll basically be happy to see this when you’re playing Ninjas and you won’t be particularly embarrassed if you have to play it elsewhere.

Invoke Despair

Invoke Despair

Rating: 2/10

Casting Invoke Despair would be somewhat underwhelming even without the restrictive casting cost. In most cases your opponent chooses to sacrifice their worst creature and their worst enchantment and then lose two life while you draw a card.

It’s not bad, but I’d want a little more control over what’s being killed for five mana. But then you factor in the incredibly difficult casting cost of and I’m looking at a card that I don’t think is worth it. Unlike the blue and white invoke spells, casting this might not make you much better off on the board than before which is a risk I’m not willing to take when I have to strain my mana base for it.

Junji, the Midnight Sky

Junji, the Midnight Sky

Rating: 10/10

It’s no wonder that Junji, the Midnight Sky shares its name with world-famous horror manga author Junji Ito, because I’m horrified by what this card can do. A 5/5 flyer with menace is extremely hard to block so it’ll make short work of your opponent’s life total.

And its death trigger is absolutely devastating. Getting to reanimate any creature from either graveyard is really powerful. Even if you’re only getting something small back it’s an immediate 2-for-1. And getting some other ridiculous threat back means that killing Junji might not even be a good plan for your opponent since they then have to wrestle with a different 5- or 6-mana creature.

There are going to be a fair few creatures knocking about in graveyards too with channel in the format even before factoring in the usual trade-offs that happen in a game of Limited. Junji is just absurd and another big hit for the spirit-dragons cycle.

Kaito’s Pursuit

Kaito's Pursuit

Rating: 4/10

It doesn’t take much these days to make Mind Rot a playable card. Granting a bit of evasion to your ninjas on the battlefield and hopefully getting in another hit is bound to be worth it. You’ll need to be in the mood for a discard spell, but Kaito’s Pursuit is a pretty good version of the card and one I’d happy to put a copy of in my main deck.

Kami of Restless Shadows

Kami of Restless Shadows

Rating: 3/10

Kami of Restless Shadows reminds me a lot of Barrow Witches; a fairly weak 5-drop with the ability to bring back a creature with a type you care about. This Kami doesn’t seem to be that impressive, but a single copy to top out your Ninja decks isn’t the worst. And you might even have a bomb rare creature that you don’t mind putting on top of your deck for next turn.

Kami of Terrible Secrets

Kami of Terrible Secrets

Rating: 3/10

I’m not really interested in a vanilla 3/4 for four so I’d have to be reasonably certain that I could trigger Kami of Terrible Secrets’s ability before it makes my deck. The card is powerful when it does, but I wouldn’t want to play it without a high number of artifacts and enchantments.

I’d probably have to be in the Orzhov deck which cares about getting that work and wouldn’t bother in any other deck.

Leech Gauntlet

Leech Gauntlet

Rating: 5/10

While four mana is a lot to pay to equip something that only grants lifelink, we are talking about one of the most powerful mechanics for winning races. Being a 2/2 lifelinker for two by itself is already great, so getting to then grant that lifelink to something bigger later on is a great combination. I expect Leech Gauntlet to be very good in a race.

Lethal Exploit

Lethal Exploit

Rating: 6/10

As we saw with Olivia’s Midnight Ambush, two mana for a -2/-2 instant spell with upside is very strong. It’s just enough to let you kill most creatures that cost up to three mana, plus each modified creature you control helps you scale Lethal Exploit up for bigger threats.

There are a lot of ways to get a modified creature in this set so I imagine this’ll be closer to a Last Gasp with upside, which is an exceptionally good Limited card.

Life of Toshiro Umezawa / Memory of Toshiro

Rating: 5/10

A Kamigawa set was always going to be full of cool homages to not just parts of the lore but also memorable cards. Getting an activation of Umezawa’s Jitte for the first two chapters is definitely interesting.

The most ideal situation is one where you can make use of Life of Toshiro Umezawa’s -1/-1 mode to immediately kill something. You have less control over the second ability, but it’s still a very good deal for two mana if you killed one thing with the first mode, gained some life, and made a 2/3 creature at the end.

This card’s value will scale depending on how likely you are to get the abilities to matter. If there are a lot of 1-toughness creatures around in the format then this card’s stock goes up dramatically.

The Long Reach of Night / Animus of Night’s Reach

Rating: 3/10

I never like cards too much if they let my opponent pick what mode suits them the most. They could discard lands or sacrifice useless tokens to The Long Reach of Night’s first two abilities, effectively giving you little to no value for your investment.

When it finally becomes a creature it’s one that has no power unless your opponent has creatures in their graveyard, and they may not even have enough creatures to make it a valid threat. There are too many unknowns for me to like this card all that much and I don’t think I’ll be taking it.

Malicious Malfunction

Malicious Malfunction

Rating: 3/10

Infest variants live and die by the formats they’re printed in. If the format is all about cheap aggressive creatures then Malicious Malfunction will be great like back in Ravnica Allegiance with Cry of the Carnarium.

But without knowing how this format will play out I’m going to tentatively call it a medium removal spell that will often start in the sideboard. Still, it could very well be much better than that depending how the format shapes up.

March of Wretched Sorrow

March of Wretched Sorrow

Rating: 8/10

While March of Wretched Sorrow might not be exactly Death Grasp, a big X damage spell that gains you life is a very powerful Limited card. This lets you kill off any creature you want and gain a ton of life to keep you in the game at the same time. Costing just and being an instant are big upsides that more than make up for not being able to hit players.

You should take this to play in any black deck. You’ll be very happy with the results, though I doubt you’ll be exiling any black cards to it anytime soon. You don’t need to for it to be a great card anyway.

Mukotai Ambusher

Mukotai Ambusher

Rating: 4/10

If I have to cast Mukotai Ambusher as a 4-mana 3/2 with lifelink then that’s definitely not the worst. And it’ll feel really good when I’m activating its ninjutsu ability. This is a great little common for the Ninja deck and even works elsewhere.

Mukotai Soulripper

Mukotai Soulripper

Rating: 7/10

Mukotai Soulripper is an absurdly big vehicle for just two mana and a decent sacrifice outlet for the Rakdos deck. If you can get Treasures or throwaway creatures/artifacts to keep sacrificing to this, it’s going to dominate the board very quickly.

And you don’t even need to sacrifice anything. A 4/3 is often going to attack unimpeded on turn 3 anyway.

Nashi, Moon Sage’s Scion

Nashi, Moon Sage's Scion

Rating: 10/10

Nashi, Moon Sage’s Scion is already appearing in discussions for best Constructed card of the whole set and it’s easy to see why. The ability to not only draw a card but cast a free spell from a choice of two is extremely powerful. Casting the cards from your opponent’s deck is an effect I really like playing with, especially in Limited where you can almost guarantee that you’ll find something that works for you.

If you want to guarantee multiple hits with Nashi you could even get a little tricky and ninjutsu it back to your hand after damage has been dealt since it’s still considered an unblocked attacker until the end of the combat phase. Then just ninjutsu it back the next turn and get another trigger.

Either way this has to be one of the strongest ninjutsu triggers in the set and one that’ll really feel dirty when you get to cast a 6-drop for free on turn 4.

Nezumi Bladeblesser

Nezumi Bladeblesser

Rating: 4/10

Nezumi Bladeblesser ooks like a pretty average Limited common to me. It should be fairly easy to give it one of these keywords and it gets quite a bit more powerful if you can reliably get both active, but I think one is the more typical scenario.

Nezumi Prowler

Nezumi Prowler

Rating: 6/10

Nezumi Prowler seems like a really annoying card to play against since combats where you block one attacker and another one gets through are very common, and this little guy really punishes opponents for lining up blocks like this. Much like Blacklance Paragon back in Throne of Eldraine, this has those uses when attacks line up nicely but you can just have it target itself and gain three if you need to gain some life.

More than anything else I like the options for combat that this gives you and it’ll be extremely difficult for your opponent to resist a “free” block that you can then take advantage of.

Okiba Reckoner Raid / Nezumi Road Captain

Rating: 5/10

I bet you’d love Okiba Reckoner Raid if you were ever a fan of Biker Mice from Mars. This is effectively a 2/2 menace for just one mana which is an exceptionally good deal. Even though it has this ultra-summoning-sickness effect that means it won’t be able to attack until turn 4 if you played it one turn 1, it makes up for it in some way by having the first two chapter abilities hit the opponent for you.

If you had a 1/1 for one that got two guaranteed hits in no matter what and then became a 2/2 menace, that’s a card you’d be very happy to play in any aggressive deck. I think this looks like a great card overall.

Okiba Salvage

Okiba Salvage

Rating: 3/10

Zombify effects have lost a fair bit of their luster these days, but I think Okiba Salvage has some potential in this set. Channel gives you a nice way to dump sizable creatures into the graveyard early and this card can take advantage of that.

That said, this doesn’t fit in just any random deck. Not to mention that setup cost alone means there are going to be plenty of black decks that just don’t want this. Make sure you have some ways of enabling this if you play it.

Reckoner Shakedown

Reckoner Shakedown

Rating: 1/10

I wouldn’t want to play a 3-mana sorcery that gave two +1/+1 counters to one of my creatures, so you really want Reckoner Shakedown to just be Coercion. The problem is that Coercion isn’t a very good card either.

This is a decent sideboard card that I’d bring in if I saw some nasty bomb rares that I needed to deal with or something along those lines. But a general rule is that you shouldn’t be starting cards like this in your main decks.

Reckoner’s Bargain

Reckoner's Bargain

Rating: 3/10

Altar’s Reap needs to come with a relevant upside these days and gaining some life isn’t quite good enough. Especially since you’re not likely to be sacrificing anything with a high mana value unless you’ve stolen it from your opponent.

Reckoner’s Bargain is just good enough to play if you need more ways to sacrifice but you’re generally better off sticking to permanents that let you sacrifice things over and over again.

Return to Action

Return to Action

Rating: 2/10

These types of tricks hit hardest when the creature returning gives you some additional value for re-entering the battlefield. The lifelink does matter on a card like Return to Action and will help you win some damage races, but only gaining +1/+0 really reduces the number of situations where this is its most effective.

Soul Transfer

Soul Transfer

Rating: 9/10

Why does my Hero’s Downfall need more options? Just… why?

I’d have been very happy with just the first mode on a sorcery and we could call it a day, but getting an expensive Raise Dead on top is a nice failsafe. The godly scenario of getting to choose both modes is like a dream come true.

I’m not sure Soul Transfer will be able to do that very often, but I couldn’t care less when the weakest this card can ever be is something I’d never cut from my deck under any circumstances.

Tatsunari, Toad Rider

Tatsunari, Toad Rider

Rating: 8/10

There’s a lot that’s confusing me about Tatsunari, Toad Rider. It’s a ninja that has no synergy with the other ninjas in the set. It cares about enchantments but doesn’t have white in its activation cost. But all-in-all, the card is very good.

You get a legendary frog creature that can be traded off to make room for another one every time you cast an enchantment spell. Even if you don’t get to trade off poor Keimi you still have a drain trigger that you could make use of. The unblockable ability is also pretty sweet but it’s worth noting that you need a frog to target for it to work, so you’ll need Keimi in play for Tatsunari to ride off into the sunset.

All of this adds up to a really nice build-around and a very powerful creature.

Tribute to Horobi / Echo of Death’s Wail

Rating: 7/10

Giving Rat tokens to your opponent is obviously a very bad thing to be doing, and you really don’t want to be casting this if they can make use of them straight away. But against any other opponent, getting to the point where Tribute to Horobi transforms puts you massively ahead on board.

A 3/3 flyer that lets you sacrifice creatures to draw cards is a very good rate for a 2-mana initial investment and getting your tokens back is even better. While there are obviously situations where this will work out poorly for you, I think those are made up for by the times where it ends up being a 5/5’s worth of stats plus a way to draw cards for just two mana.

Twisted Embrace

Twisted Embrace

Rating: 6/10

That is quite a lot of text for what basically amounts to a worse Hero’s Downfall at sorcery speed. You really need to make sure the coast is clear before casting Twisted Embrace because this aura won’t resolve and you won’t get your trigger if your opponent tries to kill or bounce your creature in response.

Unfortunately since it only enchants an artifact or creature you control, you can’t stick it on an opponent’s creature to have it kill itself or one of its compatriots.

This is still a nice way to kill a creature and put an enchantment in play for the cards that care about it, and likely the best black common.

Undercity Scrounger

Undercity Scrounger

Rating: 5/10

I love slow and defensive cards that provide a steady stream of value and Undercity Scrounger is exactly that. Your creatures will die (or be sacrificed) pretty frequently in the right deck and being able to create free Treasures may even end up paying you back for the mana you invested in this.

There are no sorcery speed restriction on this card either, letting you leave this ability open during your opponent’s turn and even block with it. I like the options that a card like this provides and I’m sure it has a home in a few decks in the format.

Unforgiving One

Unforgiving One

Rating: 4/10

I really don’t know what to make of a card like Unforgiving One. Just how many modified creatures are you going to have in play when you’re a color that doesn’t care about making them? Attacking with it seems easy enough since it has menace, and it gets in even more easily than before if you modify it. I just don’t know how often you’re going to get this ability to work.

Virus Beetle

Virus Beetle

Rating: 5/10

Virus Beetle is a great common that does a lot of work in every black archetype in the format:

  • With white, it’s an artifact that satisfies the artifact/enchantment clause.
  • It’s great to bounce with ninjutsu if you can sneak a cheeky attack in with blue.
  • With red, it pays off immediately and becomes an easy thing to sacrifice.
  • It’s great to recur from the graveyard with green.

Commons like this that overlap into multiple strategies always end up finding a home somewhere, and I love the kinds of things we can do with it.

You Are Already Dead

You Are Already Dead

Rating: 4/10

I love You Are Already Dead. Love everything about it. We’ve seen a lot of cards in recent sets like Manticore and Jarl of the Forsaken that let you finish off creatures that were previously damaged, but this is a really sweet new take on the card.

Swapping out a creature for a draw is fine and reducing the cost all the way to one makes it a lot more flexible. This card is far from being as powerful as Annihilate since you’ll often have to lose a creature in combat to satisfy the damage clause in the first place, but helping your creatures trade up without compromising on card advantage makes for an all-around good card.

Red Cards

Akki Ember-Keeper

Akki Ember-Keeper

Rating: 4/10

Akki Ember-Keeper doesn’t seem like a terribly bad 2-drop but it’s hard to know how often you’re likely to be triggering this in an average game at this point.

I like the idea of a 2-drop that can maybe attack for a couple of turns before being outclassed before giving you a nice bit of value when you start trading off bigger creatures. It can also become modified itself and still create a token when it dies. Seems solid and I’d be pretty happy playing it.

Akki Ronin

Akki Ronin

Rating: 2/10

While the exalted trigger on Akki Ronin is nice, the 1/3 body is not. If this was a 2/2 or a 2/1 then it would easily go up a few grades but I’d rather not be putting this in my decks as it stands.

Akki War Paint

Akki War Paint

Rating: 2/10

+2/+1 is a pretty big buff for only one mana plus Akki War Paint modifies one of your creatures, but it still comes with all of the horrendous downsides of being an aura. It opens you up for 2-for-1 plays for your opponent and just won’t be impactful enough to drive the win home in many situations.

I think it’ll be much easier to make modified creatures using equipment and counters so you shouldn’t ever need to worry about playing this card. Just leave it in the board.

Ambitious Assault

Ambitious Assault

Rating: 4/10

Cards like Ambitious Assault have been decent in the past but the problem has always been finding a good opportunity to cast them. Spending a whole card just to get some extra damage through is usually only good if it wins you the game. But getting to draw a card if you have a modified creature in play means you’ll be very happy to just throw this out to help creatures trade up or even to get a little bit of extra damage since the card replaces itself.

While this still isn’t something I’m excited to play, giving it more opportunities to be castable does make it better. Go-wide aggressive decks actively want this.

Atsushi, the Blazing Sky

Atsushi, the Blazing Sky

Rating: 10/10

I really wanted to keep up the trend of talking about what puns or references I can see in the names of the spirit dragons, but nothing actually came to mind for Atsushi, the Blazing Sky. Atsushi is a masculine name that means “compassionate warrior” in Japanese. So at least I gave you a fact, even if it wasn’t funny (like I’m sure my others totally were).

Anyway, Atsushi is yet another bombtastic powerhouse card. A 4/4 flying trampler for four is absurd and starts hitting hard immediately. The death trigger lets you pick exactly what you need for the situation. Do you have lots of mana but no spells? Draw two cards. Do you have lots of cards in hand but are a little short on mana? Have three Treasures. You just can’t lose.

Bronzeplate Boar

Bronzeplate Boar

Rating: 7/10

A 3/2 for three with trample is already a pretty legitimate card, but the reconfigure ability to then start attaching Bronzeplate Board to other creatures and have them trample over is just nuts. Five mana is a lot but I think this card looks obscene when you balance that out with it acting as a creature in the meantime.

I know we as Magic players like our ridiculous comparisons to old cards, so this looks very comparable to Loxodon Warhammer, a card that would easily be a 10/10. The boar starts out as curve filler and ends up as the thing that actively wins you the game, and that’s a fantastic card all round.

Crackling Emergence

Crackling Emergence

Rating: 5/10

Two mana is a little bit deceptive since you’ll be enchanting a land. I think it’s better to think of Crackling Emergence as a 3-drop that takes a land out of commission as long as it’s in play.

So is that any good? As it happens, yes. A 3/3 haste for three has proven itself good in recent sets and you still have the option if you need to use it for mana. It’s also worth noting that this creates a modified creature which is very good in the Gruul deck.

Dragonspark Reactor

Dragonspark Reactor

Rating: 3/10

You can only play Dragonspark Reactor in a deck that’s very heavy on artifacts. It needs a lot of charge counters to be worth paying four mana to kill something, at which point I’m honestly more interested in the damage it can deal to my opponent.

If all this did was hit a creature then It would be too much mana and time to invest to be worth it. It’s also a really bad top deck when you draw it in the late game, so it’s not going to be worth playing a lot of the time. I still think there’s enough potential here for it to be played in some decks.

Experimental Synthesizer

Experimental Synthesizer

Rating: 4/10

Right, so hear me out. What if you took Ichor Wellspring, yeah? And you made it cost one mana and, why not, just for fun, it had a built-in way to sacrifice itself? That seems to be where we’ve ended up with Experimental Synthesizer.

The red way of drawing a card is a lot worse than just straight up drawing and you can’t realistically play this on turn 1, but this card has more than enough utility to make it into every artifact-based deck and be a very solid draw engine.

Explosive Entry

Explosive Entry

Rating: 3/10

Like I said already, destroying artifacts is often as good as destroying creatures. Making a modified creature is also a nice upside. But I think Explosive Entry will miss enough of the time that it might not be worth main decking.

We just have to wait and see how the format plays out. If Izzet Artifacts is the best deck in the format then I’m probably never cutting this from my main.

Explosive Singularity

Explosive Singularity

Rating: 7/10

You might be asking yourself, “why is a bigger Stoke the Flames worthy of being a mythic rare?” Well that’s a great question and I have two answers for you.

First, Stoke the Flames was an absolutely busted card that often played out as a 4-damage burn spell that cost no mana. And second, 10 damage is an absolutely ludicrous amount of damage for a spell to be dealing.

Not only does Explosive Singularity kill any creature in this set, it also kills most players. Ten mana is a lot to ask even with convoke, but the payoff of outright winning the game is likely to be worth it. We saw games end very quickly to Inescapable Blaze only a couple of years ago and casting this card for six mana seems very achievable.

Fable of the Mirror-Breaker / Reflection of Kiki-Jiki

Rating: 7/10

What’s not to love here? For a grand total of three mana you end up with a pair of 2/2 creatures and get to discard two lands to draw two real cards. Everything on Fable of the Mirror-Breaker screams value, and your final prize being an only minorly-watered-down Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker is just incredible.

There’s just no downsides. Take it, it’s a great card.

Flame Discharge

Flame Discharge

Rating: 8/10

An instant speed Fireball effect was always going to be a powerful card, even without the ability to get a couple extra damage on top of what you paid. The reason why these cards are so good is that they scale up as the game goes on unlike other red burn spells.

You can spend a little bit of mana to kill a 2- or a 3-drop in the early game and spend a lot more to kill a 7-drop later. No other red spells are capable of that, making Flame Discharge the best removal spell you’re likely to find in this color.

Gift of Wrath

Gift of Wrath

Rating: 4/10

I think I mentioned before that I don’t like auras. Well I actually do like Gift of Wrath. Four mana is quite a lot to pay but getting +2/+2 and menace is pretty powerful. What I really like is the ability to get a 2/2 menace token when this card leaves play, almost like a red Elephant Guide.

Four mana is still a lot and you need to make sure not to get blown out by an interactive spell in response to you casting this, but you have a decent card as long as you avoid that issue.

Go-Shintai of Ancient Wars

Go-Shintai of Ancient Wars

Rating: 5/10

While Go-Shintai of Ancient Wars doesn’t look as good as some of the other shrines at first glance, the ability to ping your opponent for one damage every turn can really add up over time. Three mana for a 2/2 first strike is okay, though not that impressive. But the end step trigger is likely better than you think it is.

I’d compare this to cards like Kessig Flamebreather and Thermo-Alchemist where the damage looks fairly weak but then all of a sudden the board is stalled and getting free damage through starts to look really appealing.

Goro-Goro, Disciple of Ryusei

Goro-Goro, Disciple of Ryusei

Rating: 9/10

You have to jump through a few hoops to get there, but getting to a point where you can make a free 5/5 dragon for just five mana is absolutely absurd. Getting a modified creature into play shouldn’t be that hard in a red deck and you might as well just attack with your free Dragon token regardless of what might be waiting to block it if you can make one.

The fact that this can be done every turn with no other restrictions makes me very scared of how Goro-Goro, Disciple of Ryusei will cascade into a swarm of big dragons that you won’t be able to stop it. This is an excellent card and I didn’t even need to talk about its first ability, which is also pretty great.

Heiko Yamazaki, the General

Heiko Yamazaki, the General

Rating: 6/10

Our second Yamazaki sister is a mirror image of its white counterpart, this time casting artifacts from the graveyard. It’s hard to tell which one will be more desirable but I’ll give the nod to Norika Yamazaki, the Poet with an additional mana and no cards that I obviously want to buy back.

Norika works well with two of the best white commons while Heiko Yamazaki, the General doesn’t have anything near that good at the lower rarities. That said, Heiko should still be extremely good since getting free spells every turn is something worth enabling. You’ll really start to really go bonkers with this card when you start picking up some of the very powerful channel artifacts that red has at uncommon.

Invoke Calamity

Invoke Calamity

Rating: 0/10

These kinds of cards are always a bit tricky to cast in Limited, but add in a restriction on its mana values and the casting cost and I think Invoke Calamity is just far too much to ask for.

I like this card in a few different Constructed decks but it’s too hard to get good value in Limited. Just pick it up for your Commander decks and move on.

Ironhoof Boar

Ironhoof Boar

Rating: 4/10

Bloodrush, the Gruul mechanic from Gatecrash, showed us just how powerful it can be to have creatures that also function as combat tricks. +3/+1 and trample isn’t the best since it doesn’t do much to help your creature survive combat, but having the option of also crashing in as a 5/4 haste trampler later in the game makes Ironhoof Boar quite good.

Being expensive in a color that doesn’t want expensive cards limits its power level a fair bit but it still looks like a good card.

Kami of Industry

Kami of Industry

Rating: 3/10

I’m not sure that you’ll be able to afford spending five mana to cast Kami of Industry. A 3/6 is a good body, though not one that hits very hard.

The obvious archetype you want to draft this for is the Rakdos Sacrifice deck where you can hopefully pair it with something that will sacrifice the artifact you get back for some value. Its stock does go up in that specific case, but it seems below where I’d want my 5-drops to sit otherwise.

Kami’s Flare

Kami's Flare

Rating: 7/10

I couldn’t really care less about the conditional two damage to the player, Kami’s Flare is your standard 2-mana burn spell that does three damage to a creature. It’s great that it’s common and it’s likely the best red common, if not the best common in the set.

Kindled Fury

Kindled Fury

Rating: 2/10

We’ve seen Kindled Fury a few times before and I’ve never been a big fan of it. Maybe I’m just against combat tricks in general, but other players tend to like this card more than I do.

It’s a functional card but the number of situations where you’re actually rewarded are few and far between so I’d rather stick to other tricks and removal in my decks.

Kumano Faces Kakkazan / Etching of Kumano

Rating: 4/10

As far as aggressive 1-drops go, Kumana Faces Kakkazan looks pretty powerful. You get one guaranteed damage in and a +1/+1 counter on your next creature and then it’s a 2/2.

This loses a lot of its luster the later you draw it so it’s not quite as good as it could be as far as Limited is concerned. Still, it seems pretty good and would be welcome in any red aggro deck.

Lizard Blades

Lizard Blades

Rating: 7/10

Fencing Ace variants are bound to perform well in a set with so many ways to enhance them further, even more so when you have the ability to attach Lizard Blades to any creature.

Double strike is still one of the most powerful keyword abilities in Magic and not one that we see for so cheap very often. Most creatures become very potent threats with this equipped and it also brawls pretty well by itself.

March of Reckless Joy

March of Reckless Joy

Rating: 6/10

March of Reckless Joy is an interesting way to design a red X draw spell. You basically have a Dig Through Time that lets you see as many cards as you can pay for.

Being an instant is excellent since you can end-step this on your opponent’s turn and then untap to use the best card(s) that you find. It’s not a guarantee that the format will be slow enough to let you to make good use of it but I’m pretty sure any red deck will be happy to use this to restock the board if it is.

Ogre-Head Helm

Ogre-Head Helm

Rating: 7/10

There’s just not much of a downside to a 2-drop 2/2 that also functions very similarly to Vulshok Morningstar. Ogre-Head Helm’s ability to sacrifice it or the equipped creature to refill your hand seems like the sort of thing that isn’t likely to matter all that often but you’ll be very glad it’s there when you get it to work.

There’s just not much that can go wrong when you play this card.

Peerless Samurai

Peerless Samurai

Rating: 4/10

We’ve seen a fair few 3-drop 2/3s with upside recently and I think Peerless Samurai is one of the better ones. The exalted trigger is pretty good but what I really like is the menace, making this the ideal samurai creature to attack with and trigger all your other exalted triggers. While it doesn’t hit especially hard by itself it can become a very dangerous threat with enough support behind it.

Rabbit Battery

Rabbit Battery

Rating: 6/10

We really have come a long way since Raging Goblin. 1/1 haste creatures for one mana get outclassed incredibly quickly, but not this bunny! For a measly tax of , every creature you play can attack immediately and gets +1/+1 to boot.

Giving what amounts to a kicker cost to every creature you play for the rest of the game is an incredible deal and you get all of that for just one mana, plus Rabbit Battery starts out as a creature that can attack. Outstanding card.

Reinforced Ronin

Reinforced Ronin

Rating: 5/10

Reinforced Ronin is a really cool design that reminds me a lot of Zurgo Bellstriker. Dashing this creature in to swing combat in your favor or get early damage for just one mana is a pretty good rate. It’s also cheap enough that you don’t really mind too much when it bounces itself in the end step.

Having cycling (let’s be real, it’s just cycling) is a big upside and it synergizes so well with the rest of the card that this will never really be that bad of a draw. We’ve seen quite a few cards that recur artifacts from the graveyard, which also combines really well with being able to cycle this.

All of that in one neat little package makes me think that quite a few decks will be happy to have this. I hope this turns out to be a good card in the format.

Scrap Welder

Scrap Welder

Rating: 7/10

We’ve come a long way since Goblin Welder, but Scrap Welder still packs a punch. While the ability only downgrades your artifact to one with a lesser mana value, this enables sacrifice synergies in the Rakdos archetype. Not to mention that there are plenty of cheap artifacts that are likely to go to the graveyard. It’s also an ability you can use at instant speed so you could even use it to get extra value from an artifact that’s about to be destroyed by a removal spell.

And did I mention this is just a 3-mana 3/3 with no downsides? That would already be a card most red decks want to play without considering the ability.

Scrapyard Steelbreaker

Scrapyard Steelbreaker

Rating: 4/10

A simple 3/4 for four with a nice upside is always going to be at least playable. Scrapyard Steelbreaker is great at brawling since it’s impossible to profitably block or attack into it as long as you keep mana open with a supply of artifacts to feed its ability.

You don’t ever need to activate this to make it good. Just the threat of activation will often be enough to see you over the finish line.

Seismic Wave

Seismic Wave

Rating: 7/10

While Seismic Wave looks weird at first, it’s just a burn spell that deals three total damage to any nonartifact creature while also being able to go to the face for two. That already starts it off as a 6 or a 7 in my books, and you’ll sometimes be able to get a sweet blowout and kill a bunch of 1-toughness creatures along with it.

The Shattered States Era / The Nameless Conqueror

Rating: 3/10

Most sets these days give us a Threaten effect to go along with our sacrifice outlets. But that’s a little bit too much to ask at five mana. I like that we get a little extra for our mana but it’s still a lot to ask for upfront when you really want to be sacrificing the creature you steal, and that sometimes costs some mana on top of what you paid to steal it.

Simian Sling

Simian Sling

Rating: 5/10

I remember looking at Scorch Spitter and thinking it was complete rubbish. Not only did that card have tribal synergies in Core Set 2020 but being a 1-drop that could always guarantee one damage when it attacked made it a very strong card, and one that I definitely underrated at the time.

I won’t make that mistake with Simian Sling. It’s the exact same card but is still useful when you draw it on turn 7. I doubt you could ask for a better 1-drop in your red aggro decks. It’s an artifact for Izzet and creates modified creatures for Gruul.

I don’t know what it is that’s making WotC print all of these great 1-drop monkeys in red lately but I’m all for it.

Sokenzan Smelter

Sokenzan Smelter

Rating: 5/10

Like I said many times over the set reviews I’ve done so far, you don’t have to do much to 2-mana 2/2s to make them playable. Sokenzan Smelter has some upside, but not one that looks all that impressive.

Sacrificing an artifact is exactly what the Rakdos deck wants to do, but you’re only upgrading it into a 3/1 haste which isn’t really that impressive. Turning an artifact creature into one of these is rarely going to be an upgrade since 3/1s trade with any blocking creature. But it’s still an upside to the card and there are decks and situations where it’s going to be fantastic.

Tempered in Solitude

Tempered in Solitude

Rating: 2-7/10

Tempered Solitude is probably the most difficult card to evaluate. On the one hand, we’ve seen Furious Rise a few times and it’s been really good when you get it going. Costing two mana is great but it’s really hard to tell how easy it’ll be to guarantee being able to attack with a creature.

If you can do it really reliably then this card is obscene. That’s my reasoning at least. It could be as good as a 7/10 if it can reliably be triggered but as bad as 2/10 if it’s just too hard to work. I really hope it lands closer to the 7 because I love it when aggro decks let me draw loads of cards.

Thundering Raiju

Thundering Raiju

Rating: 9/10

This is a ton of damage output to be getting from a single card. Thundering Raiju is essentially a new Hellrider, a card that was busted in Limited and also pretty devastating in Constructed while it was around.

Raiju can immediately attack as a 4/4 the first time you play it, putting the counter on itself. You can keep growing it on successive turns like a creature version of Raging Ravine, making it harder and harder for your opponent to deal with. Or you can start throwing counters elsewhere if Raiju is already big enough, modifying your other creatures to get extra damage in and spread the love around.

Raiju does it all and looks like a quintessential Limited bomb rare to me.

Towashi Songshaper

Towashi Songshaper

Rating: 4/10

I love 2-mana 2/2s with upside. That’s all Towashi Songshaper is really, but that makes it a perfectly fine playable that you’ll be happy playing in a lot of decks.

Twinshot Sniper

Twinshot Sniper

Rating: 8/10

I don’t feel like I need to bother with Twinshot Sniper. It’s a split card with one half being Shock and the other being Flametongue Kavu.

I didn’t think they made cards like this anymore, yet here we are in magical Christmas land. This is probably just the best non-rare in red and possibly the whole set. Incredible.

Unstoppable Ogre

Unstoppable Ogre

Rating: 4/10

4/1 is a really bad stat line, but I enjoy creatures with this trigger on them. Unstoppable Ogre will especially shine in the Samurai decks where you really need to make sure that the way is clear for your one creature to attack. It’s even a warrior so it can also act as your exalted creature.

This looks like a good little package to me overall.

Upriser Renegade

Upriser Renegade

Rating: 5/10

Upriser Renegade needs a little work but getting a 2-mana 3/3 is probably worth the effort. It’s a bit annoying that you can’t just modify it to get a bonus but I suppose you can’t have everything.

Not gaining any toughness means that the extra bonuses for multiple modified creatures have diminishing returns. A 5/3 still trades with the same creatures that a 9/3 does, and so on. But it’s worth the 2-mana investment once you get a bonus.

Voltage Surge

Voltage Surge

Rating: 6/10

It seems red didn’t have enough burn spells and needed another one. I’m perfectly happy not sacrificing an artifact and just getting a Shock, but throwing in an extra two damage if I have something I can sacrifice is upside I never knew I wanted.

Voltage Surge is an incredible card and definitely a high pick.

Green Cards

Azusa’s Many Journeys / Likeness of the Seeker

Rating: 5/10

What you have here is basically an Explore that gives three life with a 3/3 creature over time instead of letting you draw a card. I’d say that’s a pretty good deal.

Explore did give you the option of finding the land off the card you drew which is something Azusa’s Many Journeys can’t do but this is just as good a lot of the time. It didn’t need to do too much to be playable anyway as an enchantment for two mana in this format.

Bamboo Grove Archer

Bamboo Grove Archer

Rating: 5/10

I really love 3/3 defenders for two mana. They plug up the ground so nicely and are really annoying to deal with for your opponent because they don’t want to waste removal on something that can’t attack, but they can hardly attack creatures into such a big wall. Their downside has always been a lackluster performance when you draw them late, but being able to channel this as a Plummet makes up for that a thousand times over.

Bamboo Grove Archer won’t be attacking under its own volition unlike other variants, but maybe you can get some Guardians of Oboro shenanigans going to make up for that. I love this card and I imagine I’ll be drafting a lot of these.

Bearer of Memory

Bearer of Memory

Rating: 3/10

At six mana to activate, Bearer of Memory is only going to be relevant in the very late game. This isn’t a particularly bad way to spend your mana at that point, but being a vanilla 3/2 up to that point means this is never going to be much more than a slightly below average playable card.

Blossom Prancer

Blossom Prancer

Rating: 7/10

What’s not to love? Blossom Prancer is a big 4/4 reach for five mana that draws you a good card when it enters the battlefield. It gains you some life even if you miss.

I’d always play this if it only gave you life, and I’d definitely play it for the Impulse effect. Just an incredible card and one that I’m very happy to play.

Boon of Boseiju

Boon of Boseiju

Rating: 2/10

I don’t think I’ll be playing Boon of Boseiju any time soon. The size of the combat trick doesn’t often make much difference since +3/+3 is just as likely to save a creature in combat as +6/+6 is.

Untapping the creature is nice since it gives you some good ambush options, but this isn’t really much of an upgrade over something like Titanic Growth which was barely playable before.

Boseiju Reaches Skyward / Branch of Boseiju

Rating: 6/10

And the award for coolest and most original artwork in the set goes to: Boseiju Reaches Skyward. The classical woodblock artwork is a style that dates back as far as the 8th century in Japanese history and to see it reimagined on a Magic card just makes me beyond happy.

I’m also pleased to inform you that this card is in fact very good. A 4-mana spell that draws you two Forests isn’t too bad, but you’re definitely on board when it became a 6/6 reach creature in a couple of turns. I’d advise you to never use the second chapter ability, but it could definitely work well in buying back one of the legendary channel lands if you’ve been lucky enough to get one.

This is a great package all around and coupled with the absolutely awe-inspiring artwork it’s one card I’m incredibly excited to get to play with.

Careful Cultivation

Careful Cultivation

Rating: 5/10

I started reading Careful Cultivation and began forming what I was going to write in my head; once again having to mention that auras suck, and you shouldn’t bother playing them. But then I got to the channel ability and I had to rewrite everything on the fly.

This card’s channel ability is what I care about here. 2-drop mana dorks are very powerful in Limited, and while the aura isn’t plan A it’s still an alternate mode for when you’re late in the game and Llanowar Elves just won’t cut it anymore.

Coiling Stalker

Coiling Stalker

Rating: 3/10

Coiling Stalker doesn’t really thrill me. There are a few green ninjas in the set and they’re going to be a fair bit harder to make work than your average blue or black ninja. But even when you do get this to work it’s very small and the trigger on it isn’t that powerful.

It’s definitely good to enable modified and it can buff itself so it’s not completely useless. It can also make for a mediocre aggro 2-drop, but I think you can do better.

Commune with Spirits

Commune with Spirits

Rating: 1/10

Even good versions of Adventurous Impulse aren’t usually worth playing. I could see playing Commune with Spirits if my deck was mainly made up of enchantments, but even then there’s still a fairly high chance of only finding lands and nonenchantments when you really want a spell to cast.

This kind of effect is just too unreliable and not something you need to be playing in your Limited decks.

The Dragon-Kami Reborn / Dragon-Kami’s Egg

Rating: 0/10

I’m just not seeing it. For three mana I’m expected to wait two turns for a 0/1 AND then have it die? and the payoff I get for that is that I might be able to cast a creature for free? Assuming of course I found a good enough one with the first two chapter abilities.

Yeah, I don’t think so. I could just not put The Dragon-Kami Reborn in my deck and cast an actual creature instead and it would have an immediate impact.

Fade into Antiquity

Fade into Antiquity

Rating: 5/10

A nice little reprint from original Theros, Fade into Antiquity is probably just as good as creature removal in this set (I think I said that already). Hitting both artifacts and enchantments means it’s sure to have at least a couple good targets against any deck in the format so it looks great to get started with.

Fang of Shigeki

Fang of Shigeki

Rating: 5/10

I’ve been a fan of 1-drops with deathtouch ever since I was holding back Nessian Asps with my silly and innocuous Sedge Scorpions. I hope Fang of Shigeki will be just as good. It even has some tribal and enchantment synergies to boot.

Favor of Jukai

Favor of Jukai

Rating: 2/10

I’m not all that fond of auras or combat tricks. Giving me a card that’s one or the other doesn’t sound terribly appealing to me.

If Favor of Jukai ends up good then sure, I’ll happily stand corrected. But I’ll probably just leave this in my sideboards and moving on for now at least.

Generous Visitor

Generous Visitor

Rating: 7/10

I remember Pious Wayfarer catching everyone off guard in Theros: Beyond Death with how powerful it proved to be. I doubt many will be surprised that Generous Visitor becomes a lot better if you make the buffs permanent. And apparently a lot cuter too.

Being cheap means you can drop this in on turn 1, or even on the same turn as an enchantment spell and start getting buffs right away. It also helps make modified creatures. I just have to assume that this card has incredible synergy with the set and that most green decks with at least a few good enchantments will want to use it.

Geothermal Kami

Geothermal Kami

Rating: 4/10

Geothermal Kami is a decent size for a 4-drop. While the ability might look strange to some players, remember that returning an enchantment to your hand lets you reuse its ETB trigger.

You also have a bunch of sagas in this set that you can reset to use their chapter abilities again. It shouldn’t be too hard to find a couple of these synergies in your average green deck, and a vanilla 4/3 isn’t too bad even if you can’t.

Go-Shintai of Boundless Vigor

Go-Shintai of Boundless Vigor

Rating: 7/10

Our final shrine is a real powerhouse. It’s basically Packsong Pup or Nessian Hornbeetle that you have to pay mana to trigger. That’s a fair downside, but it gets out of hand very quickly if you add a second shrine into the mix since you’re suddenly getting two counters every turn.

Go-Shintai of Boundless Vigor even has trample so your opponent won’t have any opportunities to chump block it once it grows bigger than their board and it should end the game very quickly.

Grafted Growth

Grafted Growth

Rating: 3/10

New Horizons was a decent card back in War of the Spark and I could see the same thing happening with Grafted Growth. While WAR cared about +1/+1 counters because they could be proliferated, this format cares about them because they create modified creatures which is definitely enough to warrant playing this card.

Giving you splash options at common is also nice in case you want to go that route.

Greater Tanuki

Greater Tanuki

Rating: 5/10

Our latest entry in the slot of Craw Wurm with upside is a real doozy. There are hundreds of Colossal Dreadmaw memes all over social media, and now we get one that trades in one toughness to be a split card with Rampant Growth?

Sign me up. I don’t care, I just want Greater Tanuki. Now.

Harmonious Emergence

Harmonious Emergence

Rating: 4/10

Like its red counterpart, Harmonious Emergence effectively functions as a 5-mana 4/5 with vigilance. But you’ll often still be able to use the land it’s enchanted to for mana on the same turn that you get an attack in thanks to vigilance.

This isn’t a bad deal overall. I’d consider this a decent, average playable.

Heir of the Ancient Fang

Heir of the Ancient Fang

Rating: 3/10

This one really depends on how easily you can get a modified creature on the board. A vanilla 2/3 for three is awful, but a 3/4 for three is pretty decent.

I think the times when Heir of the Ancient Fang works and is a 3/4 just aren’t good enough to make up for the times when it doesn’t. But at least it’ll also be another modified creature, so this might actually be something you want depending on the deck.

Historian’s Wisdom

Historian's Wisdom

Rating: 3/10

If Historian’s Wisdom always drew a card then I’d be interested, but the restriction feels too harsh. +2/+1 isn’t even a big enough bonus to guarantee that that creature will be the biggest one in play. Playing this on a bigger creature to guarantee that is also a bad idea because it opens you up to even bigger blowouts than usual.

Like I said before, there are much easier ways to create modified creatures and far better enchantments.

Invoke the Ancients

Invoke the Ancients

Rating: 8/10

Getting a pair of 4/5 creature tokens is definitely an effect worthy of my attention. Like all of the other quad color spells Invoke the Ancients is going to be pretty hard to cast, but green is set up to accomplish this a lot more easily than the other colors.

Green gives you lots of ways to add extra green mana and make this cost a lot more palatable than the others. This has to be the easiest of the bunch to cast and it’s definitely giving you more than enough value for your mana.

Jugan Defends the Temple / Remnant of the Rising Star

Rating: 8/10

Our first mythic rare saga does quite a lot of work. Jugan Defends the Temple is a bit slow to get going since the real payoff comes from the creature on the back side. Remnant of the Rising Star lets you turn all of your creatures into 5- or 6-drops of a commensurate size, which makes for some incredible top decks.

Top decking 2-drops on turn 10 is horrendous, but always having the option to spend all of your mana to make them as big as you need is an effect strong enough to win you any game in very short order. And you get a Llanowar Elves and a pair of +1/+1 counters until you get to the point which isn’t a bad deal for three mana, but it still makes it a tad on the slow side.

When all is said and done this card is still incredibly powerful and it also smashes really hard by itself if you ever manage to get all the way up to five modified creatures in play.

Jukai Preserver

Jukai Preserver

Rating: 6/10

We’ve seen our fair share of common 4/4s for four (it can put the counter on itself) in recent Limited sets and Jukai Preserver is quite special. It can put the +1/+1 counter wherever you want, always creating a modified creature in the process. But the best part about it is its channel ability.

This has every chance to generate a 2-for-1 trade in combat, something that you don’t expect to get out of a common for three mana. While doing so is very situational the choice between either a good 4-drop creature or a potential blowout combat trick is a great one to have.

Jukai Trainee

Jukai Trainee

Rating: 5/10

Play with Jukai Trainee for long enough and you’ll figure out exactly why bushido didn’t make a comeback in this set. This ability is miserable to play against and this will play out as a great aggro 2-drop in any deck.

It’s essentially just a 2-drop 3/3 with the only downsides being that it’s weaker to damage-based removal and it deals slightly less damage to players. But I’m perfectly happy with that as long as it’s that big when battling other creatures.

Kami of Transience

Kami of Transience

Rating: 9/10

Where’s the downside? That seems to be a game we’re playing more and more frequently these days.

I was happy enough knowing that my Grizzly Bears with trample grew every time I cast an enchantment. But Kami of Transience also comes back to my hand from the graveyard for free if an enchantment dies? I didn’t need it to do that to be satisfied, but given that it does, I’ll take it.

There’s just so many upsides to this card that it’s hard to not just give it a high rating right off the bat. I imagine I’ll be winning with this a lot. Or possibly losing to it a lot depending on how lucky I get.

Kappa Tech-Wrecker

Kappa Tech-Wrecker

Rating: 7/10

Ninjas in a half shell… turtle power! Magic finally has a ninja turtle among its ranks and Kappa Tech-Wrecker really does some work.

The deathtouch counter it gains makes it a modified creature so this gives you that without even trying if you need it to key your other effects off. The main thing here is that Donatello exiles an artifact or enchantment that your opponent controls on dealing combat damage, which just so happens to count most of the creatures in this set!

Black got a card that sort of looks like Throat Slitter, but this one is doing a far better impression and is bound to be one of the better green non-rares.

Kodama of the West Tree

Kodama of the West Tree

Rating: 7/10

WotC is finally finishing their cycle of Kodamas from all the way back in the original Kamigawa block. Kodama of the West Tree is pretty interesting for Limited.

On the one hand it doesn’t do anything beyond being a 3/3 with reach. But it automatically gains trample and starts fixing your mana when it hits if you modify it. It’s also flexible because it can grant these abilities to your other modified creatures and start giving you a nice bit of value.

It’s going to be only an average playable when you don’t have ways to modify your creatures, but even just one modification gives you a bunch of value right away.

Kura, the Boundless Sky

Kura, the Boundless Sky

Rating: 9/10

Rounding out our five mythic dragons we have Kura, the Boundless Sky. “Kura” is a feminine name that apparently means “treasure house,” which just begs the question of why it doesn’t make Treasure but Atsushi does…

Well no matter, because Kura is still just as ridiculous as its counterparts in the other colors. This dragon isn’t quite as big but it still packs a punch, and it won’t be outclassed by anything thanks to deathtouch. Its death triggers aren’t the best, but the one I like the most is the ability to make an X/X token. That token should be at least a 5/5 by the time you’ve played it.

Just like Junji, leaving a big creature behind when it dies means that it’s usually just a terrible idea to deal with it since the next creature your opponent has to handle will be just as annoying.

March of Burgeoning Life

March of Burgeoning Life

Rating: 0/10

Just don’t. Honestly.

March of Burgeoning Life has all the hallmarks of a card that was good at some point in design but they kept tacking restrictions onto it until it reached its current unplayable form. It might see a little play elsewhere, but the “same name” clause makes it unplayable garbage as far as you’re concerned in Limited.

Moving swiftly on.

Master’s Rebuke

Master's Rebuke

Rating: 6/10

Master’s Rebuke is what we like to see. Solid green removal, and at instant speed. Rabid Bite has proven itself time and time again and this set should be no different, especially when bumping it up to instant speed.

Orochi Merge-Keeper

Orochi Merge-Keeper

Rating: 5/10

You can never go too wrong with a simple 2-drop mana dork. The extra modified clause isn’t too important on Orochi Merge-Keeper but it is nice, and it looks like there are a lot of things to sink your mana into in the late game.

Roaring Earth

Roaring Earth

Rating: 7/10

Roaring Earth looks absolutely incredible to me. An enchantment that makes a +1/+1 counter on landfall is something that’ll create modified creatures for you and grow your team to the point where early blocks are impossible for your opponent when it comes to the early game. The fault with cards like this is what they’ve outstayed their welcome when you draw them late.

Except that this card can be channeled to turn 1 of your lands into a huge creature. Where’s the downside? You could even pick it up with Geothermal Kami later in the game to channel it after it’s given you a bunch of counters. Everything about this looks great to me and I’d be very happy to pick it up.

Season of Renewal

Season of Renewal

Rating: 4/10

Given the sheer number of enchantment creatures in this set it shouldn’t be too hard for Season of Renewal to buy back two creatures. You’re going to want that as an option a lot of the time.

I’m not sure how often you can afford to play this, but the card is definitely good as long as you can reasonably guarantee being able to pick up two cards with it. It should fit into some decks.

Shigeki, Jukai Visionary

Shigeki, Jukai Visionary

Rating: 5/10

Now this is my kind of card! A slow creature that generates marginal amounts of value over time. Limited unfortunately isn’t very welcoming to cards like this these days. You often don’t have the time or spare mana to spend doing not much of anything.

But Shigeki, Jukai Visionary’s channel ability is very nice. Wildest Dreams was always a decent card and getting to do that as an instant is even better. It’s not the best legendary ever but it definitely has some applications.

Spinning Wheel Kick

Spinning Wheel Kick

Rating: 6/10

Spinning Wheel Kick is a hard one to evaluate. It’s a Rabid Bite for four mana and at six+ you get to bite multiple targets. That’s pretty good, but the 4-mana mode is horrendously overcosted.

If this was just 6-mana to Rabid Bite two turrets I think it would be strong, even though a 6-mana sorcery is a little hard to resolve. As it stands this card is still a fair bit better than that, so I assume it’ll be quite strong.

Spring-Leaf Avenger

Spring-Leaf Avenger

Rating: 9/10

Not only does this ninja have absurdly large stats for its cost, it also has a great damage trigger. If you get caught out by Spring-Leaf Avenger’s ninjutsu cost you’re going to feel like you’ve lost.

Taking such a huge chunk of damage while your opponent picks up their best dead creature is demoralizing at best. I just hope that you’re lucky enough to open this card and be the one dishing out the punishments instead of being on the receiving end.

Storyweave

Storyweave

Rating: 4/10

Storyweave’s value is as a powerful combat trick. +1/+1 counters are permanent unlike other combat tricks that give bigger buffs, giving you some extra value after the trick has done its job.

Not only that, it also lets you immediately transform any saga you have into its creature side and then ambush with that. It’s also worth noting that doing so triggers its second chapter ability if you’ve yet to do that, which gives you a modified creature regardless of the mode. This card is basically just a better Feral Invocation on balance, and that’s a card I like quite a bit in Limited.

Tales of Master Seshiro / Seshiro’s Living Legacy

Rating: 4/10

Like to white’s similar saga Befriending the Moths, this ability to create +1/+1 counters with the first two chapter abilities is a little weak but is going to be great in certain spots. It does create modified creatures which is definitely something to pay attention to. But finally turning into a 5/5 vigilance creature is where Tales of Master Seshiro’s power really is.

5/5s have very profound effects on most board states, even if you have to wait a little while before getting it.

Tamiyo’s Safekeeping

Tamiyo's Safekeeping

Rating: 2/10

Snakeskin Veil has proven itself to be a worthwhile card to play, but leaving a +1/+1 counter on the creature is a big upside while gaining two life isn’t that big of a deal. Tamiyo’s Safekeeping can be used in more situations thanks to indestructibility, but that’s not going to help out in combat as much as you’d think given that it won’t help your creature kill bigger ones with no power bonuses.

I’m skeptical about how good this card can really be, but it could definitely turn out differently as the format progresses.

Teachings of the Kirin / Kirin-Touched Orochi

Rating: 7/10

You don’t need to invest a lot of mana upfront for Teachings of the Kirin and you get a decent amount of value from it. Self-mill isn’t really a thing in this format but there’s a bit of graveyard recursion in Golgari, so I’ll take it.

Right out of the gates you get a 1/1 Spirit token that grows into a 2/2 on your next turn which is enough to make the two mana worth it. But then the saga transforms into a pretty decent creature that can grow itself and make more tokens. I don’t think this is going to win you games by itself but any 2-drop that gives a good amount of incremental value should be a good card.

Weaver of Harmony

Weaver of Harmony

Rating: 6/10

I have to assume that a tribal lord for enchantment creatures is something that the enchantment-heavy decks are going to be very interested in. Weaver of Harmony’s second ability is a little less relevant though it does copy the chapter abilities on sagas, which is definitely worth paying attention to.

I doubt you’ll want to play this outside of a straight Selesnya Enchantments deck but it should be pretty strong there.

Webspinner Cuff

Webspinner Cuff

Rating: 6/10

Starting out life as a Hitchclaw Recluse isn’t too bad, but Webspinner Cuff turns any creature you have into a great blocker that’s annoying for your opponent to get through once you start equipping it.

A very solid card all around that reminds me a lot of Kaldheim’s Elven Bow.

Multicolor Cards

Asari Captain

Asari Captain

Rating: 5/10

5-drops are likely to be at a premium in the Samurai deck, but Asari Captain is a very decent one to top out on. The haste ability is a little weird since I imagine this deck would rather be using all of its triggers to pump a less valuable or more evasive samurai but it hits very hard when it comes down.

Colossal Skyturtle

Colossal Skyturtle

Rating: 8/10

Colossal Skyturtle is just absurd. Honestly, just read it. It reads like a card that was designed exclusively for me and I can’t get enough of it!

I’d want to have a huge 7-mana flyer in my deck but it also happens to be a split card with Disperse and Recollect modes for some reason. I’m seriously just at a loss for words.

I don’t think I could ask for many better ramp payoffs. If these keep getting passed to me in Drafts I’m going to have a hard time drafting any other color combination.

Eiganjo Uprising

Eiganjo Uprising

Rating: 7/10

What a weird X spell, especially when Boros apparently only wants to be attacking with a single creature. All of a sudden you’re giving me a big spell that makes a hoard of them?

Eiganjo Uprising definitely does some work. Let’s look at it this way: if you cast it for an even value of X then your opponent gets an odd number of tokens which matches up very nicely against your new menace tokens. If X is 4, you get four hasty tokens while your opponent’s three tokens can only block one of yours.

If your opponent has creatures on the board then you’ll probably want to cast this so that it gives them the worst number of creatures to block your alpha strike with. Either way this is sure to be a game changer on most boards and one that you’ll be happy to play with.

Enthusiastic Mechanaut

Enthusiastic Mechanaut

Rating: 7/10

2-mana 2/2 flyers are always good and giving you a cost reduction on something you were going to play anyway is a great upside. Casting Enthusiastic Mechanaut on turn 2 and following up by attacking in the air and playing a 4-drop on turn 3 will put you way ahead right from the start.

Given that the Izzet strategy in the set is all about artifacts, this is a great card and one that really pays you off for being in this archetype.

Gloomshrieker

Gloomshrieker

Rating: 7/10

Wait a minute, you’re telling me there’s an Eternal Witness in the set, and it’s a kitty? Yes! All of the yes!

Okay, it’s not literally Eternal Witness, but Gloomshrieker is damn close. Restricting it to only getting back permanents is hardly even a downside, especially with all the permanents you’ll be channeling away. This is just amazing and you should play it in every deck that can cast it.

Greasefang, Okiba Boss

Greasefang, Okiba Boss

Rating: 8/10

You shouldn’t need much of an excuse to run an undercosted 4/3 creature in Limited. But just to be sure, you also get a very powerful ability that lets you buy a vehicle back from your graveyard.

Even if it gets returned to your hand at the end of the turn that’s a lot better than putting it back into the graveyard. It just means that you’ve gone the long way but you have drawn a spell. And this happens every turn at no cost to you? Yep, I’m on board with Greasefang, Okiba Boss.

Hidetsugu Consumes All / Vessel of the All-Consuming

Rating: 4/10

Hidetsugu Consumes All looks like an incredible card for Constructed but its abilities are a little weak in Limited. I don’t care much about exiling graveyards, and 1-drops are still few and far between. It’s a 3/3 trample that can grow itself a bit when it transforms which is definitely good but not so much when you’ve spent three mana and waited two whole turns for it.

This does kill all creature tokens so the front isn’t all bad. But I don’t think this ends up being more than just a moderate playable.

Hinata, Dawn-Crowned

Hinata, Dawn-Crowned

Rating: 4/10

Anime fans will likely be familiar with the name Hinata since it’s very commonly used for anime characters, including Naruto’s love interest. Sadly Hinata, Dawn-Crowned won’t be doing all that much in Limited games.

Don’t get me wrong; a 4/4 flying trample for four is really good, but its other abilities aren’t particularly interesting. Not to mention that costing three different colors is just not something that this set is set up to do. This isn’t much more than a design for Commander players, but I’m sure my greed will allow me to play this at least once in the format.

Invigorating Hot Spring

Invigorating Hot Spring

Rating: 7/10

Invigorating Hot Spring looks like a pretty epic build-around card for the Modified deck. Not only does it make it so that your next four creatures automatically become modified but they also gain haste.

This looks very reminiscent of Rhythm of the Wild, which ended up being a very good card in Ravnica Allegiance. Except this time you don’t need to choose between haste and a +1/+1 counter. You just get both.

Isshin, Two Heavens as One

Isshin, Two Heavens as One

Rating: 6/10

Another 3-color legend planted here for Commander, Isshin, Two Heavens as On is still very difficult to cast but gives you a pretty sizable payoff if you can manage it. It already costs red and white, the two colors that support samurai, so it’ll probably ramp up what your deck wants to do if you can splash the black for it.

Doubling all of your samurai-themed exalted triggers is a really powerful effect and one that’s presumably worth going through all this effort. The splash isn’t going to be too easy, but there is the 5-color tribal land that you could pick up to make it easy. I’m not sure if it’ll actually be worth it but the payoff exists if you want to go for it.

Jukai Naturalist

Jukai Naturalist

Rating: 7/10

The enchantment counterpart to Enthusiastic Mechanaut is a little bit worse since lifelink on a small creature isn’t as useful as flying. But Jukai Naturalist’s ability to make enchantments cheaper is really what you care about here, and this card is very good at what it does.

You’ll want this in every Selesnya deck and you’ll want to take it early once you know you’re in that archetype.

Kaito Shizuki

Kaito Shizuki

Rating: 9/10

We finally have a ninja planeswalker and it’s the real deal.

The most common play pattern with Kaito Shizuki is going to be to use its -2 to make a ninja token, phase it out, and then +1 it to draw a card the next turn. The key here is that you’re phasing Kaito out because you have all of your mana to protect it in the following turns when it phases back in. It’s almost like Kaito untapped all of your lands to give you options on how best to use it on future turns.

While making 1/1s and drawing a card every turn isn’t the most impactful thing a planeswalker could be doing, it really adds up over several turns. And Kaito does its best to make sure you get those extra turns to take full advantage of it. Plus its unblockable tokens just stick around and get damage on every single turn, giving you an inevitable clock that your opponent is forced to deal with.

The Kami War / O-Kagachi Made Manifest

Rating: 1/10

I’m sure I don’t have to explain how good The Kami War is. It’s obviously very strong and has a lot of extremely powerful abilities. Unfortunately for you, costing all five colors makes it wildly unplayable in Limited.

I’m still hopeful that some kind of deck might be able to cast this in the format, but that won’t be happening at least 99% of the time.

Kotose, the Silent Spider

Kotose, the Silent Spider

Rating: 8/10

The extraction text on Kotose, the Silent Spider is a little confusing but completely irrelevant (except you get to look at your opponent’s hand and library). Kotose just says that when it exiles a card from your opponent’s graveyard when it enters the battlefield and you can cast that card as long as Kotose is still in play. Simple enough.

That also makes this a very strong card. Not only is it effectively drawing you a card, you get to choose what card that is (to some degree). Even if it just nets you a cheap creature to play that’s a great amount of value from a single 5-drop. And you’re really getting away with something good if you manage to bounce it with a ninjutsu ability.

Naomi, Pillar of the Order

Naomi, Pillar of the Order

Rating: 5/10

Naomi, Pillar of the Order’s power level heavily depends on how easy it is for you to get an artifact and an enchantment into play. It’s unplayable without them but it’s like a mini-Grave Titan with them.

I don’t know how good I can realistically say this card is without knowing how easy that will be for the Orzhov deck to accomplish. For now let’s say its’ about average and then see how the archetype develops. If you can satisfy its condition most of the time and do so very easily, then it looks amazing.

Oni-Cult Anvil

Oni-Cult Anvil

Rating: 7/10

Another great archetypal build-around for the set. Oni-Cult Anvil acts as both a sac outlet for your Rakdos decks and also a payoff for just two mana, giving you artifact creature tokens whenever you sacrifice something.

This is pretty much perfect since you normally only get cards that are one or the other. Enjoy having both of them on the same cheap card!

Prodigy’s Prototype

Prodigy's Prototype

Rating: 7/10

The Vehicle deck can really come together nicely with Prodigy’s Prototype leading the charge. I’d imagine the Pilot tokens are going to be really key in making sure this deck works cohesively. Having a card that provides a steady stream of these tokens is perfect as this strategy’s build-around card.

I think this might be exactly the kind of card you want to bring everything together.

Raiyuu, Storm’s Edge

Raiyuu, Storm's Edge

Rating: 9/10

As far as exalted triggers go, getting an extra combat phase is one of the better things you could be getting. You can use this combat phase to trigger all of your other exalted abilities again, or you could just get in for one big alpha strike with your whole team now that you’ve used your Imperial Subduers to tap their blockers.

However you decide to spend Raiyuu, Storm’s Edge’s gift, this is an absurd effect and a very cheap way to get it.

Risona, Asari Commander

Risona, Asari Commander

Rating: 7/10

As a 3/3 haste for three, Risona, Asari Commander is already very much within the realms of playable. Gaining and losing indestructibility all the time looks like it’ll be annoying more than good, but dealing combat damage to your opponent isn’t always as easy as it’s made out to be as we’ve learned from how the monarch ability plays out in one-on-one games.

If it means keeping an indestructible counter on Risona it might be very difficult for you to get a hit in. That said, it is blanked by leaving a 3/4 back to block so you’re never going to lose out too badly. This card’s grade is based largely on its raw stats which are pretty good.

Satoru Umezawa

Satoru Umezawa

Rating: 8/10

Satoru Umezawa looks like another great build-around card for ninjas. Giving every creature in your hand a ninjutsu cost is really sweet. Maybe you’ve seen social media’s memes of Emrakul finally being able to be a ninja?

Anyway, the card’s first ability is what really shines to me since getting a free Anticipate every time you do what you’ve designed your deck to do is absolutely amazing. You may end up so overloaded on cards that you won’t know what to do with them and I love it when that happens.

Side note, Satoru is also great in Commander.

Satsuki, the Living Lore

Satsuki, the Living Lore

Rating: 3/10

I think Satsuki, the Living Lore really misses the mark. Being a build-around for sagas specifically rather than enchantments is a little too restrictive. Tapping to put lore counters on your sagas means you get the creatures a turn earlier, but I don’t think it’s worth spending a whole card just to do that.

If this card had a better body than just a 1/3 for two then I could see it being useful, but as it stands it just looks really underpowered. I’d like to see it do more.

Silver-Fur Master

Silver-Fur Master

Rating: 7/10

A ninja lord is long overdue and Silver-Fur Master is very nice. Turns out you don’t need to deal damage to be a good ninja, because using the ninjutsu ability on this acts as a really strong combat trick for the rest of your team. A great card all round.

Spirit-Sister’s Call

Spirit-Sister's Call

Rating: 1/10

Spirit-Sister’s Call is a really difficult card to even figure out what it’s trying to do. It lets you reanimate a permanent at the end of your turn at the cost of another permanent of the same type. And each card can only be brought back once since it then gets exiled if it leaves play again.

I really don’t know if that’s something I ever want to be spending five mana to accomplish. If it was somehow giving me those permanents without such a heavy cost then I might be interested. As it stands I really don’t see how this is any better than just playing a vanilla creature instead. Please prove me wrong.

Tamiyo, Compleated Sage

Tamiyo, Compleated Sage

Rating: 8/10

Poor, poor Tamiyo. Our first compleated planeswalker spells out a very ominous storyline for the future of the game. But that’s not something I’m especially qualified to commentate on. How is Tamiyo, Compleated Sage in Limited?

I think it’s pretty good. Its +1 ability is very reminiscent of the original planeswalker card from all the way back in Avacyn Restored and starting at five loyalty means it won’t be long before you get to make Tamiyo’s Notebook, a permanent that’ll start winning the game for you pretty quickly.

Casting this card a turn earlier doesn’t do you many favors but it’s sometimes necessary to start locking down a really nasty rare, and having that option is always nice. Using its -X ability isn’t something I’m looking at since the power of that always heavily depends on the game state. I can’t guarantee there’ll be useful things for you to create tokens of, but Tamiyo does a good job of controlling the board even without giving you a blocker.

Tamiyo looks like a strong design for a planeswalker overall and one that should have a good impact on a lot of boards. It also wins the game eventually, making it a target your opponents have to deal with.

Colorless Cards

Automated Artificer

Automated Artificer

Rating: 4/10

Artifact mana dorks don’t come around very often, but Automated Artificer is surely a welcome card for any deck that has a lot of artifacts to cast. We’ve seen cards like Vodalian Arcanist do a good amount of work in previous Limited formats and this is bound to be similar.

Bronze Cudgels

Bronze Cudgels

Rating: 1/10

In a world where you have access to a lot of equipment that are also creatures, I don’t know why you’d choose to play one that’s not only not a creature but that also doesn’t grant any bonuses unless you put extra mana into it.

Bronze Cudgels can work if you need a mana sink, but you need to be spending at least six mana for this to be anything worth writing home about. And you just won’t get that opportunity very often.

Brute Suit

Brute Suit

Rating: 4/10

A 4/3 with vigilance is no joke and with a very cheap crew cost, attacking and even blocking with Brute Suit should be relatively easy for any deck to accomplish. The Vehicle deck probably wants this more than most of the other common vehicles so pick it up where you can.

Circuit Mender

Circuit Mender

Rating: 6/10

Filigree Familiar was always a great card and now it even works well with ninjas! 2/3s for three aren’t too embarrassing, and one that gives you decent value on entering and leaving the battlefield is a great card that’ll fit into any deck in the format. Being colorless also makes Circuit Mender one of the better early picks in the format before you know what colors you want to be in.

Containment Construct

Containment Construct

Rating: 3/10

The obvious combo here is with channel abilities, except that you’re not often going to have the mana available to channel a card and then also cast it. Especially when you consider that many of the channel creatures are pretty expensive to cast with cheaper channel abilities.

Containment Construct might be something you want to aim for in the right deck. It won’t hurt you too badly if you draw it and can’t use it right away as a Bronze Sable to start you off.

Dramatist’s Puppet

Dramatist’s Puppet

Rating: 2/10

A 2/4 creature with a pretty minor upside isn’t going to excite many players. Proliferating the counters on one target is typically going to grant an extra +1/+1 counter, but doing so isn’t worth playing Dramatist’s Puppet. It won’t even increase the number of modified creatures you control so it’s probably not worth bothering with.

Eater of Virtue

Eater of Virtue

Rating: 8/10

Bonesplitter used to be the gold standard when it came to rates on equipment and starting out as one definitely feels like a good place to me. I really love the flavor that the equipped creature is imbued with the abilities of all the creatures that came before it.

Eater of Virtue will definitely become more and more filthy as the game progresses. You may even get to the point where you end up giving flying, lifelink, and double strike to a creature for just one mana and you’re just winning from there.

Ecologist’s Terrarium

Ecologist's Terrarium

Rating: 4/10

I really like this new design for our “common artifact that fixes mana” slot. Most decks (other than the fastest aggro decks) will be happy to pick up Ecologist’s Terrarium, and it even enables splashing and the mythical 5-color deck that I’m ready and waiting to try out.

Sacrificing this card later is a nice bonus and something that has good synergy with the set, but you’re really interested in its mana fixing aspect. There have been many reasons so far to make you want more fixing.

High-Speed Hoverbike

High-Speed Hoverbike

Rating: 3/10

I can just see High-Speed Hoverbike’s flavor play out in my head as a rat in a biker’s jacket zooms in front of a creature about to attack, turning around to use the classic motorbike drift from Akira. This bike hovers, though, so it probably won’t be able to drift…

Flavor aside, this card isn’t all that impressive. A 2/2 flyer with crew 1 isn’t the best rate and being able to flash it in to tap an attacker isn’t that big of an upside. I’m sure you’ll play this if you’re in Vehicles, but there are other vehicles I’m more eager to pick up.

Iron Apprentice

Iron Apprentice

Rating: 5/10

I didn’t know that we needed a functional reprint of Arcbound Worker but it looks like that’s what we’ve got with Iron Apprentice, and there’s a lot going for it. The most notable thing is that this is a 1-mana creature that’s already modified which is a huge gift for the Gruul decks.

Second, dying won’t often reduce the number of modified creatures you control and its counter just goes somewhere else. It’s also just an adorable little artifact creature that should do quite a bit of work in a few different decks. It’s good to be sacrificed and it might even cost no mana in the artifacts deck. It could even make an impact in Constructed alongside Hardened Scales.

Mechtitan Core

Rating: 7/10

We need Megazord power now! I was a huge fan of Power Rangers as a kid. Looking back it was my first foray into the world of Japanese pop culture (well, I was 3 years old when it first premiered) and is something that shaped my love of the culture to this day.

Mechtitan Core resonates with me so much, especially the alternate art version that I just had to share that with you. The card itself looks pretty good to me. While it doesn’t do anything at first, being able to combine with four of your other artifact creatures or vehicles to create Mechtitan (let’s face it, it’s a Megazord) is a pretty big game. A 10/10 keyword soup creature is going to win the game for you extremely quickly.

While it’s not invincible you can always hold up the mana needed and create it at instant speed to dodge removal. Getting this into play alongside four other pieces doesn’t seem like the hardest thing to do and even just one hit from your brand new Megazord should be devastating enough to swing the game into your favor once it’s done.

Mirror Box

Mirror Box

Rating: 2/10

Most of what Mirror Box is doing only really applies when you have multiple copies of the same legendary creature and also manage to get them all onto the battlefield. This isn’t something you can hope to achieve in Limited.

But other than that this is just Glorious Anthem for legends, so if that’s something you think your deck might be in the market for then it’s something you could try out.

Network Terminal

Network Terminal

Rating: 3/10

WotC has tried all sorts of minor abilities stuck onto 3-cost mana rocks and none of them have really done much. Network Terminal is pretty decent, but it still requires you to have artifacts in play to work with. If you need something like this to ramp or fix you it’s definitely playable, but I don’t think most decks are in the market for it.

Ninja’s Kunai

Ninja's Kunai

Rating: 5/10

Doesn’t Ninja’s Kunai just read as a 3-mana sorcery Lightning Bolt that requires you to tap a creature to use? And one that can be played in any deck? Because that sounds really good to me.

Papercraft Decoy

Papercraft Decoy

Rating: 2/10

As adorable as Papercraft Decoy is, paying two mana for its ability is just not something that you’ll be able to reliably pay. It’s nice with ninjutsu and more reliable to be sacrificed, but you’ll have so much to spend your mana on that this is likely too expensive to use.

Patchwork Automaton

Patchwork Automaton

Rating: 5/10

Patchwork Automaton won’t take very long to become a real threat in the dedicated Artifacts deck, even if it’s cast somewhere in the middle of the game. As long as you have enough artifacts to keep triggering it at a steady pace you could definitely do worse for your two mana.

Reckoner Bankbuster

Reckoner Bankbuster

Rating: 8/10

I got it a little wrong with Investigator’s Journal, but I’m confident I’m right about Reckoner Bankbuster. I may even be undervaluing it.

Any deck can make use of an artifact like this that lets you draw more cards over time. The Azorius deck might even be well equipped to just start attacking with it ahead of schedule. I like that this card can draw its cards while being a very real threat on the board unlike similar cards we’ve seen before.

A lot of opponents won’t be able to attack into it in case you crew it up as a blocker, and a lot of creatures you draw will be able to crew it as an attacker in case they leave themselves open to a big swing. It’s a bit slow overall but something that looks well worth the time and effort you put into it.

Reito Sentinel

Reito Sentinel

Rating: 3/10

I would have loved to see a card like this to help bolster the self-mill strategies in either of the two Innistrad sets, but here we are. Reito Sentinel isn’t all that good without a lot of focus on milling yourself, but you might end up finding a home for this card if you’re like me and you love grindy and slow advantage engines. I’ll certainly try to.

Runaway Trash-Bot

Runaway Trash-Bot

Rating: 4/10

If you have enough artifacts and enchantments in your deck to make Runaway Trash Bot at least a 3/4 then it’s a really good deal. Not many decks will be capable of making that happen though, so this won’t be for everyone.

But when you do get it working it hits really hard. And if this ever gets to crazy numbers like a 10/4 trample, you don’t need me to tell you how strong that is.

Searchlight Companion

Searchlight Companion

Rating: 6/10

Searchlight Companion is easily one of the best commons in the set. A pair of 1/1s for three mana has always been a good rate, but the number of other upsides here is amazing.

It’s colorless so everyone can play it. Half of it flies which is great for ninjutsu. It can be flickered. It provides two bodies for sacrificing. The list goes on. A lot of decks are interested in this and it’s a good candidate for early picks given that it’s colorless and noncommittal.

Shrine Steward

Shrine Steward

Rating: 4/10

There aren’t that many auras that are worth putting in your deck, but all you really need is two hits for Shrine Steward to be worth running. Shrines would be my reason for the card and there are a few auras with nice modes that make this worth running. Especially if you have an Intercessor’s Arrest in your deck so that this can even grab removal.

We’ve seen white versions of this card like Heliod’s Pilgrim and Totem-Guide Hartebeest work very well in the past so this is definitely something you can use with the right setup.

Surgehacker Mech

Surgehacker Mech

Rating: 9/10

It’s funny how I mentioned that crew costs are the most important factor when considering how good a vehicle is. Yet here I am giving my highest vehicle grade of the set to the vehicle with the biggest crew cost. Well, that’s what happens when they print Flametongue Kavu’s personal Megazord as a card.

Surgehacker Mech is just awesome. It deals two damage by itself which is definitely a good use case. But add another vehicle or two into the mix and it’s now killing nearly any creature you want it to while leaving a 5/5 trample vehicle behind. The crew cost is really high but that’s because you’ve already done what you came here to do.

Thundersteel Colossus

Thundersteel Colossus

Rating: 4/10

Trampling haste creatures hit absurdly hard as we were taught by mythic uncommon Charging Monstrosaur. If you can afford to spend seven mana on Thundersteel Colossus then it’s probably worth it. Crew 2 is pretty trivial to accomplish and a 7/7 will make short work of your opponent’s life total.

Towashi Guide-Bot

Towashi Guide-Bot

Rating: 3/10

Recent Limited sets have been fairly hostile to creatures with expensive costs to let you draw cards. So the question is: how reliably can you get Towashi Guide-Bot’s activation cost down to the point where you can happily activate it?

We’ve seen a lot of cards that enable the creation of multiple modified creatures, and this also creates one when it enters. I’m skeptical for now, but if the Gruul deck can make a set of four modified creatures without fussing then this card is a very welcome addition there.

Walking Skyscraper

Walking Skyscraper

Rating: 5/10

Our final spell of the set is a really big one. I’m reminded of Gate Colossus from Ravnica Allegiance, a card that haunts many Limited players even to this day. Thankfully Walking Skyscraper doesn’t have an ability that lets you recur it at will, but it still has the potential to be a very affordable 8/8 trampler if you can support the modified clause, and that may end up proving to be a very dangerous notion.

You need this to cost about six mana to be happy. Any less than that and you’re practically cheating. If you can do that, play this card and it should be great.

Lands

The “Gain” Lands

Rating: 4/10

We’ve seen all of these lands many times before and they’re always around about the same power level. You should definitely play these if you’re in the right colors. You don’t need to prioritize them over good playables in a Booster Draft, but picking them up later over mediocre ones is always great.

Boseiju, Who Endures

Boseiju, Who Endures

Rating: 8/10

I’ve mentioned a lot of times in this review that artifact and enchantment removal is practically the same as creature removal in this set. So discarding Boseiju, Who Endures to kill a creature is just disgusting, and your opponent getting a land to replace it isn’t good enough to make up for what they’ve lost.

One point I want to stress is that the cost of putting this in your deck is absolutely nothing. This is in no way worse than just running a Forest. This is also true of every other member of this cycle. The only reason these won’t get 10/10 grades is just that you can’t pick them all in drafts as highly as some other cards. It’s very possible that they’re just 10s and I’m underrating them.

No matter what, just remember that they’re all very good. It’s not even a question if you open them in Sealed; always play whichever ones fall into your colors.

Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire

Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire

Rating: 8/10

Similarly to Boseiju, having the channel ability being a removal spell is just absurd. There’s no downside to playing Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire. It’s just amazing. Take it and you’ll be happy.

Mech Hangar

Mech Hangar

Rating: 3/10

There’s a very obvious home for Mech Hangar. If you only have one or two vehicles then you’re not it. Running a colorless land instead of a basic is a high enough cost that you have to be careful with putting the right ones in your deck.

This is very much worth it in a dedicated Vehicles deck but useless everywhere else.

Otawara, Soaring City

Otawara, Soaring City

Rating: 8/10

Once again, Otawara, Soaring City is a great interactive effect that also happens to be a land with no downside relevant to Limited. You should always play this and probably take it highly in most Draft decks.

Roadside Reliquary

Roadside Reliquary

Rating: 3/10

I’ll once again reiterate the point that a colorless land is a pretty high cost to run in your deck over a basic so you have to be absolutely sure that it’s something you want to be using. A land that sacrifices to draw two cards is exceptionally rare to come across, so go right ahead if you have enough artifacts and enchantments to make use of Roadside Reliquary.

Secluded Courtyard

Secluded Courtyard

Rating: 2/10

I know plenty of Commander players who are going to love a functional reprint of Unclaimed Territory to add to a bunch of their decks, but I don’t see why Secluded Courtyard is in the set to begin with. There are some tribal synergies for sure, but not enough that I’d see the need to play this.

A good use is one that I’ve mentioned already where you want to splash the 3-color Isshin into your Samurai deck, but I think you’re generally probably better off with a basic land instead.

Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance

Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance

Rating: 6/10

Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance is probably the weakest of the legendary lands, but it’s still incredible. This will always make your deck with such a low opportunity cost. I don’t see taking it over a lot of strong playables and removal is probably always going to be a higher pick, but this is still very strong other than that.

And I’ll say it again: you’ll always play it.

Takenuma, Abandoned Mire

Takenuma, Abandoned Mire

Rating: 7/10

Our final legendary land doesn’t interact with the board but it does function as a Raise Dead, another defect that’s kind of silly to see on a land like this. For the last time, you should always play Takenuma, Abandoned Mire in a black deck no matter what. I’d probably end up picking it over most commons and uncommons.

Uncharted Haven

Uncharted Haven

Rating: 4/10

And finally, the last card of the set is a very surprising one to see. It may not look like it but Uncharted Haven is Evolving Wilds in disguise. This is a land of whatever color you need and it enters tapped. Evolving Wilds is only marginally better since it can also fuel the graveyard.

This is basically the same as the gain land cycle; it’s good fixing that you’d be happy to play if you had it, but picking it up in a Draft isn’t trivial. I’d take it over most mediocre cards but very rarely over good playables.

And Breathe…

When We Were Young - Illustration by Eric Deschamps

When We Were Young | Illustration by Eric Deschamps

There you have it, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty in all of its wonder and glory. If you’ve stuck with me through to the end then I want to take a moment to thank you. This has been an arduous journey and the biggest set I’ve had to review so far.

What did you think of my rankings? Are there any you think were too low, or too high? Let me know in the comments down below or find us over on Twitter. And if you’re looking to draft this set on MTGA, make sure you’ve got Arena Tutor with you to help track your matches and get insight into your picks.

Until next time, matane, oyasumi, and sayonara!

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8 Comments

  • Elton February 8, 2022 8:55 am

    Thanks for writing all this up! Immensely helpful. Any chance of you publishing the number breakdown in a spreadsheet? I always find that helpful to quickly access for Arena drafting.

  • Francesco February 8, 2022 10:47 am

    Twisted Embrace can be only cast on creatures you control, so the trick you describe won’t work.

    • Dan Troha February 8, 2022 11:25 am

      This was fixed, thanks.

  • An Anonymous Drafter February 8, 2022 11:43 pm

    Thank you very much for the writeup! This will be a good guideline for all the firstcomers.
    Though I would have to disagree with one thing – it’s hard for me to imagine that Nashi deserves a 10/10 for the following reasons:
    1) He has no evasion at all (not even a deathtouch!) and has no way to consistantly deliver a hit other than Ninjutsu which the opponent should be always well aware of. It’s going to be extremely powerful once we get him hitting every turn but that seems like slim chance.
    2) Life isn’t exactly free. This on top of his ability design in general makes him not so exciting when you’re behind.
    3) It’s easy to get nothing useful out of it – land, combat tricks, etc. We have some chance of killing the opponent’s useful blocker and wreck them with infinite value train but there’s also enough chance of bricking or getting some average 3 mana 3/2 dude, which I can’t really say is a 10/10 value.

  • Ribky February 9, 2022 1:45 pm

    Thanks for the write-up on this. I’m very excited about this set. There’s a few rankings that might be a little off, but your recommendations are for the most part excellent and the archetypes in this set seem pretty set in stone (with a little flexibility). Again, great write up, thank you!

    • Dan Troha February 9, 2022 2:14 pm

      Awesome! So glad you enjoyed it.

  • ACTIVROOSTER February 11, 2022 10:58 am

    Thanks for the article, learning from it and enjoying as always. I have a question about Awakened Awareness, does it get better than 0/10 if you apply it to an equipment instead of a creature? Do the +1/+1 counters do anything then? Maybe only paired with specific equipment and that’s still awful then?

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