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Commanding Raiyuu's Samurai


Hello happy people! I hope that you are having a most wonderous day today! Today we are taking a deep dive into another Commander deck built around a new dork from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty.

This is my fifth deck I've built around it thus far. Here are the first four:

  1. The first was built around Hidetsugu. This deck uses several big cost cards that have cheaper play costs like Blasphemous Act, the evoke-ing of Mournwhelk, the delve of Tombstalker and the suspend of Greater Gargadon to get big damage triggers and then be castable that turn. Love it a lot!
  2. The second deck I built around was an Orzhov enchantments and artifacts-matter build around uncommon newcomer, Naomi, Pillar of Order. (You can find it here). I tossed in tons of artifacts, enchantments, and creatures that counted as one or the other, like Esper Sentinel and Agent of Erebos. Then I used those types for removal of stuff like Dispeller's Capsule, Duplicant and Seal of Doom. Then I tossed for, for game winning, the powerhouse of Nettlecyst and other similar pumping effects for a Commander damage win if needed. Check it out!
  3. The third deck I created was around Tatsunari, Toad Rider. This deck played around 20 enchantments to get triggers off his cast ability to make his legendary fun, like Rhystic Study and Sylvan Library, around 15 Frogs and changelings to use his ability on like Yargle, Glutton of Urborg and then some Voltron-ish and unblockable elements. You can check out this fun build here.

Woot, woot!!

Now which new tribal build am I looking for this week?

Raiyuu, Storm's Edge

It's this Boros Human Samurai. This is a Relentless Assault on legs. Love it a lot! The good thing is that as of the writing of this article, he hasn't even appeared yet on EDHREC.com (2/7/22) so that means that there is no canon yet established for building around, which is nice to build a deck around.

This ability obviously reminds one of the Bant ability exalted on cards like Noble Hierarch, but there are a few issues in Commander with the Boros Samurai/Warrior attacks alone trigger. First of all, winning with smaller stuff on a 40-life format is more difficult than it may seem, especially against multiple players. That's the general issue with Boros Aggro winning in Commander. The second issue is that exalted and this new ability want you to have a big board built up with vulnerable dorks and then build up a single powerful dork. The synergy wants you to load the board down with stuff to get those triggers but then punishes you for overextension with the many sweeping effects commonly played in the format. That's not good for the home team.

And then, finally, have you actually looked at all of the creatures and Samurai in this set in Boros colors? There're just 17 according to Scryfall, but they have a big confusing amount of stuff going on. One is clearly minted in the Gruul archetype and cares about modified stuff, a white one is giving out counters on arrival, one sucks unless you have a ton of enchantments to drop its cost by a few mana, one cares about artifacts and another cares about enchantments. It's a bit...scattered. So...what am I going to do?

Got it!

Check out Raiyuu again! Note what key word is missing from his trigger? Exactly, good job gentle reader. It's missing the word "other." Therefore, if Raiyuu is attacking by himself on the first combat step, you can untap and net another combat damage step! Good stuff! I am going to use this need of artifacts and enchantments from the various Samurai to build up a Voltron way of killing more quickly with Raiyuu.

I also will begin with a two-card game winning combo that requires one each of an enchantment and artifact that each piece will work quite well on its own. Since a heavy number of cards in this deck are coming from Raiyuu's set, we'll be showing and taking a lot of time with it. Also note that most of the three sets from Kamigawa have been passed by as time has faded their edges. Take, as a good example, the previously heavily played Konda, Lord of Eiganjo. This was regularly seen at the multiplayer table despite his 7 mana casting cost, but only 682 decks run it as a card or Commander in the format today according to EDHREC.com.

Sword of Feast and Famine
Aggravated Assault

I came up with this combo as I reviewed the weird requirements for the Samurai. The Sword is a powerful piece of equipment, and it's here for that combat damage trigger to untap your lands and of course force a discard, which is key to get card advantage. You'll want to tap your lands for stuff first, and then untap and keep on going to double your land-based mana each turn. And then you have the Assault. You use the Assault in your first main phase, give yourself another attack step, and then untap those five lands after smashing face, and then keep on keeping on. Give your key attacking dork unblockable with something like Rogue's Passage or Whispersilk Cloak for the turn. Also note that in this brew, the attack triggers of your Samurai will increase with each attack. Good stuff!

Godo, Bandit Warlord

The next thing I thought of when I saw attack triggers and Samurai is good Godo. Sure, he's also here to tutor your library for a key piece of equipment and then toss it onto the battlefield. But check out that attack trigger. Swing with Godo and a bunch of Samurai and you can untap the Samurai and then get in another combat phase, with another set of triggers. Godo isn't a Samurai, or a Warrior for that matter, but he's pretty tasty!

Heiko Yamazaki, the General
Norika Yamazaki, the Poet

Check out this pair of uncommon legendary dorks from Raiyuu's set that are related. Sisters? When you swing with a solo Samurai or Warrior you can cast an artifact from your graveyard. I tossed in a few mana rocks that can sacrifice for cards like Mind Stone and Commander's Sphere to loop with this. I have 17 non-dork artifacts in here as well as things like Burnished Hart for mana and Duplicant for removal. And then Norika lets you cast one graveyard enchantment each turn after your attack trigger. I have Aura of Silence and Seal of Fire in here to loop as well as 9 total non-creature enchantments. Good stuff!

Check out the powerhouse of the Human Samurai Asari Captain. This thing can really pump the power of a given dork, like Raiyuu, to a big amount. With his two attack triggers from his own trigger, this could easily give him +4 on the front end twice for a nasty 11/3 attacking without any other pumps. Good stuff, right? Right!

Risona, Asari Commander
Goro-Goro, Disciple of Ryusei

Let's add in two more flavorful legendary Samurai in our colors. The former Samurai punches face and you put an indestructible counter on her, which is great since she can do it out of nowhere. However, she'll lose the said awesome thing after you take combat damage. The latter Samurai is a nice 2-drop 2/2 on curve with two abilities. The first can give your team haste, which is nice for just a single Red mana that doesn't tap it. It's another great mana sink with the second ability. It also combos with Raiyuu with a Sword of Feast and Famine to untap after making a bunch during combat and then afterwards, and you'll do that three times with two total face punches from the two attacks.

Peerless Samurai
Akki Ronin

Check out this pair of three toughness mono-Red common Samurai. The first one can trigger twice with two attacks by a solo Raiyuu. And then the second one is a 1/3 for three mana that will let you cycle a card in your hand for no mana down, which can send needless lands to your graveyard or an enchantment or artifact to recur with the Yamazakis. These also work well as you can draw something to drop for less mana.

Alright, let's turn from Samurai in this set to older things on theme.

Samurai of the Pale Curtain
Moraug, Fury of Akoum

I don't have much room for graveyard removal, but beyond the Sisters(?) Yamazaki (and the free Hall of Heliod's Generosity) I don't have any recursion so I tossed in the Pale Curtain. It can act as a brake on opposing dorks that get cast and recast in things like Aristocrats and land fetch abuse engines. This is on curve, and it shuts down permanents only that head to the discard pile, so your foe's instants and sorceries won't get exiled, so things like flashbacking Deep Analysis and similar cards won't be stopped.

Check out Moraug! I tossed in a handful of Warriors here and there that help the system, but this 6/6 for six mana is the best. As you can see, your dorks get +1/+0 for each time they have attacked which means that that Raiyuu gets +1 on his first attack and another +1 on his second. Then you can landfall into a free Relentless Assault, which will increase your attack triggers a third time!

Let's turn to Samurai support cards next...

Michiko's Reign of Truth

Check out this Saga! It counts as an enchantment on the front end and an enchantment dork on the back in Portrait of Michiko. This will twice pump up a dork (...cough...Raiyuu...cough...) for your total of enchantments and artifacts. That's a big number in this brew! That could easily be a 5/5 or 6/6 bonus to your Commander plus the boosts and equipment from other places for a Commander kill in one hit, or two with two attacks. And then it exiles into an X/X where X is your artifact and enchantment count. Note that its not a Samurai, sad. Also note that it exiles so it cannot attack the turn it transforms. Enjoy it!

Tempered in Solitude
Angelic Benediction

Hello happy enchantment combat triggers! The first uncommon mono-colored enchantment is two exiles with the two attacks of Raiyuu. That's pretty good with Sword of Feast and Famine to untap your lands and cast that each turn, note the use of the word "play" so you can drop an exiled land. The second enchantment costs twice as much mana but has two triggers for when a solo dork attacks. Exalted to pump it and you can tap a target dork that might otherwise have blocked your swing-a-thon this turn. Love it lots here!

Let's push heavily into exalted territory next with Sublime Archangel! I am not running a bunch of non-tribal exalted dorks, but this 4-drop 4/3 flyer is different. It has exalted, yay! And then all your other dorks get exalted as well! That's....pretty powerful stuff. Let's say you control the Archangel, Raiyuu, and just three other dorks and no pumping of equipment or Auras or lands or any other combat triggers. That means Raiyuu will attack and trigger 5 exalteds (his own, the Archangel, three others) and is now an 8/8. Then he attacks a second time, and he is now a 13/13. Game over with Commander damage alone. Pretty nasty stuff, right?

Ancestral Katana
Oathkeeper, Takeno's Daisho

Now let's turn to some Samurai-matters equipment. I am running the common Katana from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. This is a bit slow for the mana, but if you swing with just a single Samurai or Warrior, you can equip them for a single mana, which is better size for the equip cost than Bonesplitter. Since that will be happening a lot, there's no reason not to toss it in!

Oathkeeper is pretty nasty as well. When it dies, if it was a Samurai, that dork returns to the battlefield under your control for free, no mana down. However, do note that if the Oathkeeper is destroyed while equipping a dork, that dork is exiled, so you are likely to run this on Raiyuu to the exclusion of other cards. In the vein of Oathkeeper, I also tossed in Nim Deathmantle which you can use to recur Raiyuu after he is destroyed if you spend four mana.

The Wandering Emperor

Now let's makes some Samurai tokens! As you can see, The Wanderer has returned. This time she is a 4-drop 3 loyalty dork. She is the only planeswalker in the brew. As you can see, she flashes and is the first planeswalker to do so. If you do, you can activate her loyalty abilities that turn, so you can flash her to +1 and +1/+1 counter-ify a dork and give it first strike for the turn as a combat trick. Or you could -1 and make a 2/2 Samurai token with vigilance. Or you could -2 and exile a tapped dork that just attacked you and gain a pair of life. She's good at dropping at the end of a turn and avoiding being attacked by three foes and then you can +1 her to grow Raiyuu. She can make 3 2/2s with her starting loyalty. Good stuff!

Another card worth looking at is Experimental Synthesizer, which wants to be recurred with Heiko Yamazaki. You can easily play more cards since you only used up a single mana with this. Then you can sacrifice this at sorcery speed to make a 2/2 Samurai token with vigilance, and again, you can exile and play, including a land. This will net you up to two cards and a dork and is very recurrable with Heiko Yamazaki.

Lizard Blades

Most equipment in this brew is pretty obvious and I'll skip past it, but this was in the set so I wanted to take a look at it. We don't have that many pieces of equipment that give double strike, which would be very strong for our Commander. It's a Lizard and not a Samurai, but it's pretty saucy.

Now let's turn to lands:

Cathedral of War
Slayers' Stronghold
Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion

I have three lands in my deck that give something a bonus for the turn. The first land here has exalted so that's a free +1/+1 each solo attack for your team. It does come into play tapped so there is a tempo loss by running it, but it's worth it. The second does not arrive tapped and you can spend two mana to pump a dork by +2/+0 and give it haste and vigilance for the turn which is pretty good for the mana investment. Vigilance is better in multiplayer than single player where you can attack an open opponent and then block up to three potential counter attacks. The third land also is untapped, but it requires four mana to tap and gives double strike to the key dork for the turn. I enjoy it a lot when attacking and blocking.

Haste really matters in this brew, so enter running Hanweir Battlements and Flamekin Village. I have Swiftfoot Boots and Lightning Greaves to protect and haste-ify as well as hasting from Goro-Goro and the Stronghold above, but let's toss in two more lands that can tap and provide some haste for Raiyuu to get that swing on.

Axgard Armory

How about this awesome uncommon? As you can see, this arrives tapped but taps for White mana. When you sac it, you search up an Aura and Equipment and then slam them to your hand! Now to be fair we only have only Aura in the deck (All that Glitters) but it's free and it'll turn your commander into a nasty place to attack from. If it's in play or your hands or elsewhere, no worries - you can just grab the Equipment and that's still worth the land. We have 12 pieces of equipment in this brew to fetch out. Although I built it around not actually needing it, since you can win with combat triggers and exalted fun times. You can also get Sword of Feast and Famine for your combo or Trailblazer's Boots to be unblockable. Good stuff! I also tossed in Inventors' Fair to sacrifice and tutor from a land slot.

Let's finish with five cards from Kamigawa; Neon Dynasty and its Commander set.

Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire
Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance

Check out this pair of lands. These legendary lands arrive to the battlefield untapped and ready to rock and roll. They easily replace basic lands. If you don't need the land, you can channel them and get a nice ability. The Seat of the Empire can channel for three mana and shoots an attacker or blocker for four damage, which is nice added removal since we don't have that many removal options in the deck. The Crucible of Defiance can channel for four mana and makes two 1/1 Spirit tokens with haste. Note that these cost one fewer mana for each legendary dork we control, which could be quite high. Also, rules note - channel, like other activated abilities such as cycling, can be done at instant speed. They are also harder to counter with traditional counters like Counterspell and Mana Drain.

Sunblade Samurai

Whoa, Samurai overload! This fun force of fun times can channel for two mana and then you can fetch out a basic Plains into your hand and gain two life. Don't sleep on life gain from that. Note that the Samurai is an enchantment so it can be channeled and then recast in your second main phase with Norika Yamazaki, the Poet. Nice synergy there.

Akki Battle Squad
Ironsoul Enforcer

Let's finish with a pair of dorks from the Commander set. The first is a decently sized 6/6 Samurai for six mana. When a modified dork swings, untap your modified dorks and then you get another combat step after this one. If you attacked with an equipped Raiyuu then that's three attacks you'll get from him that turn. Nice!

Then we have the Enforcer, a 4/4 Samurai artifact which you can recur with Heiko. When it attacks alone (or your Commander attacks alone) you can return, for free, an artifact from your graveyard to the battlefield. Remember the sacrifice for land mana rocks I added like Commander's Sphere and Mind Stone? You have the self-sacrificing Experimental Synthesizer. You have the Burnished Hart, and Solemn Simulacrum and the Duplicant. You have your 12 pieces of equipment. This card has a lot of options for recursion in this build!

How many cards from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty am I running in this build? 23! 2 from the Commander set that debuted with it. I can't remember a time I had so many! Ready for my decklist? Let's do it to it!

Raiyuu | Commander | Abe Sargent

Note that this is also a strong budget option. Raiyuu is under a buck and the vast majority of Boros Samurai are very budget'y as well as most cards in today's article save for my game winning combo which can easily be replaced by Relentless Assault ($1.99 here at CoolStuffInc.com) and another piece of equipment.

I thought about adding in two Brothers Yamazaki, to join the (likely) two Sisters, and while that doesn't violate Rule 0, it does make the deck illegal. Technically. Feel free to do so.

I hope that you enjoyed our deep dive into the latest set as well as Raiyuu's Boros Samurai build! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Commander HQ: Decklists and Strategy for Kamigawa Neon Dynasty's Legendary Creatures!

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