Hello, readers! Today, we are going to go through one of my favorite Draft format blocks. The mechanics of this block don’t have a huge impact on Modern yet, but with such a new format, you never know what’s going to be the next thing that breaks it! I am, of course, talking about the Kamigawa block. Let’s get to it!
Champions of Kamigawa
The Legend rule changed to what we know it as today in this set. Before this time, when you had a Legendary permanent, no other Legendary permanents with the same name could be cast or played. Now, you can cast or play the Legendary permanent, but it blows up any other Legendary permanents with the same name as a state-based action.
Bushido was a mechanic that was way more important in Limited than in Constructed. There are no relevant cards with Bushido that are played in Modern currently, so this will be brief. Essentially, any time a creature with Bushido X blocked or became blocked, it got +X/+X until end of turn. Multiple instances of Bushido would stack and trigger independently. (See Konda's Hatamoto for an example of a Bushido card.)
Once again, these types of cards have yet to make a splash in Modern; however, I have seen some brews trying to break Erayo, Soratami Ascendant. These cards only have the characteristics of their “non-flipped” side everywhere but the battlefield, and they only have the characteristics of the “flipped” side on the battlefield if they are indeed “flipped.” They all have some condition for flipping and then they flip when that condition is met.
This mechanic was also way more important in Limited, and will barely make a ripple in Modern. Soulshift X is a triggered ability that says “When this permanent dies, you may return target Spirit card with converted mana cost X or less from your graveyard to your hand.” An example of a Soulshift card is Venerable Kumo.
This one might see play and might not. Splice is a mechanic that works like this: You cast an Arcane spell, and you may reveal a card with “Splice onto Arcane” from your hand and pay the splice cost. When you do that, you add the effects of the “Splice onto Arcane” spell to the initial spell, but the Splice spell doesn’t go to the graveyard with the initial spell; it stays in your hand! Some great examples are Glacial Ray and Evermind.
Betrayers of Kamigawa
Ninjutsu is an activated ability that functions on cards in your hand with the ninjutsu ability. You may pay a cost and return an unblocked creature to your hand to put the ninjutsu creature onto the battlefield attacking the player or planeswalker that the bounced creature was attacking. Unblocked has a specific meaning here; for a creature to count as “unblocked,” it has to be during the declare-blockers step after blockers have been declared, but before the end-of-combat step ends and creatures stop being attacking or blocking creatures. This means that even though your 2/2 in the pre-combat main phase isn’t being blocked right now, you can’t ninja in your Ninja of the Deep Hours.
This mechanic fell flat on its face. I don’t think it made an impact in Constructed or in Limited. Offering functions like this: “Offering [creature type]” means that you may sacrifice a permanent with that subtype when you cast this spell. If you do, you may cast this spell as an instant and reduce its mana cost by the sacrificed permanent’s mana cost. This tracks the colored and generic mana cost of the sacrificed permanent and will reduce the cost of the offering spell accordingly. Any colored mana cost of the sacrificed permanent that isn’t used by the offering spell will reduce the generic mana cost of the offering spell. An example card would be Patron of the Kitsune.
While not a new keyword ability or mechanic, this set is where the popular Blazing Shoal comes from. This set also introduced the rules that make the Shoals function. The Shoals all say that you may remove a card of a certain color from your hand with converted mana cost X instead of paying the mana cost for the Shoal. The converted mana cost of the removed card then becomes the value of X for the Shoal. The popular play right now is to remove a Progenitus or other high-casting-cost Red spell to pay for a Blazing Shoal on a creature with Infect for a really quick win!
Saviors of Kamigawa
Channel and Sweep
These words on cards from this set no longer actually have any rules meaning at all. You pretty much just follow the directions after the ability word. For Channel, you pay a cost and discard the spell with Channel to get the effect. For Sweep, you return some number of a basic land type to your hand to get an effect. Example cards are Barrel Down Sokenzan for Sweep and Shinen of Life's Roar for Channel. Neither of these mechanics have made an impact on Modern decks yet.
This mechanic was used to moderate success in Standard on the spell Enduring Ideal. I think Modern might be too fast for an Enduring Ideal deck to win, and players who want to play a big enchantment to win the game will probably stick with Hive Mind. Epic allows you to get the effects from the Epic spell at the beginning of each of your upkeeps. However, there’s a big drawback in that you can’t play spells for the rest of the game. These spells are all very expensive and don’t win you the game that turn. Coupled with their drawback, it makes it difficult to make a case for Epic spells to be relevant in Modern.
Those are all the mechanics from the Kamigawa block. There are a couple other card cycles like Myojin and Kirin and Glasskites, which were fun little cycles, but they are very intuitive and didn’t have any real new rules mechanics. I hope you enjoyed this trip through the block. Tune in next week for fan-favorite Ravnica!