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Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Limited Set Review: Black and Red

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Welcome back! Today we will be looking at the Black and Red cards of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. Enjoy!

This article is the second of four, and in it I will be evaluating every Black and Red card - scoring them on a scale of 1-5. These ratings are purely based on Limited formats and have no bearing on Constructed play. I would also like to note these ratings are based on how I believe the card will perform in an AVERAGE Sealed or Draft deck. Often this means a lower score for cards with great potential in a highly synergistic deck.

Rating - Explanation

1- Ideally not making the cut in any of my Limited decks.

2- Not good, but a necessity for curve filling and smoothing out draws.

3- Value cards I am happy to fill my deck with.

4- Cards to get excited about and Premium Removal.

5- Reserved for cards that will win the game if left unanswered.

Black

Assassin's Ink
Assassin's Ink - 4 - When you hear "premium removal" this is what people are talking about. Without the mana reduction ability this card is good, with it it's insane. Definitely a first pickable spell in draft.
Biting-Palm Ninja
Biting-Palm Ninja - 3.5 - Three-mana 3/3s with keywords are always an amazing pick up. Removing the counter to get some information and card advantage is just a great perk. I am glad this is a rare because I am not going to like seeing this on the other side of the table.
Blade of the Oni
Blade of the Oni - 4.5 - On the surface this equipment is an aggressive creature that is well above rate on its own. Getting to make smaller creatures bigger once attacking with a 3/1 is no longer profitable is a huge bonus. The thing I like most about this card is that artifacts have a lot of synergy with graveyards. Even if an opponent is able to kill this it will not be difficult to find a way to get it back into play.
Chainflail Centipede
Chainflail Centipede - 2 - Without any keywords this little bug misses the mark. As a slightly over-cost creature I would expect it to transfer over a bit more of its stats to the reconfigured creature. If the deck is looking for artifacts this is fine, but nothing exciting.
Clawing Torment
Clawing Torment - 1.5 - With the number of X/1s in the format it would not surprise me if this gets played as a sideboard removal spell more than as a damage dealer. I cannot see playing a ton of these main deck, but it is a fine filler card when short on playables.
Debt to the Kami
Debt to the Kami - 3 - I don't love that this always hits the weakest creature or enchantment the opponent has, but it is instant speed so that helps find better targets for the spell. The flexibility of targets and the spell's speed makes this playable.
Dockside Chef
Dockside Chef - 2 - Dockside Chef is a bit small to be excited about without a fair amount of synergy for sacrifice in the deck. Without ways to get cards back from the graveyard or token generation I doubt I will be looking to play this card. It is an enchantment for decks that care about that as well.
Dokuchi Shadow-Walker
Dokuchi Shadow-Walker - 2 - 6 mana is a lot for a 5/5 vanilla creature. As one of the weaker ninjas I would really want to see some other synergies before getting excited to play this. With a few smaller creatures or etb effects to help reliably ninjutsu this into play this will be playable.
Dokuchi Silencer
Dokuchi Silencer - 3.5 - Bring a smaller creature, Dokuchi will likely only connect with an opponent once, but getting to turn the smallest creature in your hand into a removal spell can be a huge swing. For the low cost of 2 mana this ninja is a great deal.
Enormous Energy Blade
Enormous Energy Blade - 1.5 - I get the flavor of the card, but in a set full of amazing equipment I am very disappointed. The card looks so cool, but the cost to equip being to tap the creature means this will likely not see play in Limited.
Go-Shintai of Hidden Cruelty
Go-Shintai of Hidden Cruelty - 3 - The more I look at this set the more I like the Black shrine. The number of X/1 creatures almost makes this playable. The creature itself is a bit expensive, but it is a relevant card type and will shut down so many creatures. If the deck has any other Shrines this turns into a bomb real fast!
Gravelighter
Gravelighter - 3 - The ceiling here is rather high. 3 mana for a 2/2 flier is decent and drawing a free card post-combat is really good. Sometimes the sacrifice effect can be awkward and prevent you from casting it when the opponent has no creatures in play, but you can get a positively asymmetrical trade at times as well. Definitely worth picking up.
Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos
Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos - 4.5 - Hidetsugu is a game ending bomb. The only reason this is not a 5 out of 5 is that it does need to survive one turn cycle before getting to ruin an opponent's day, but that's exactly what he's going to do!
Inkrise Infiltrator
Inkrise Infiltrator - 2.5 - I love everything Inkrise Infiltrator does for the ninja deck. Having a cheap flier to enable ninjutsu is super important, and this doubles as a decent threat later in the game.
Invoke Despair
Invoke Despair - 2.5 - This cycle of rares are all powerful, but they are extremely difficult to cast. In any deck that doesn't lean heavily into the single color these will be largely uncastable for most of the game. I am still likely to play these a fair amount of the time in decks that are only 2 colors - Ideally only 1.5 colors.
Junji, the Midnight Sky
Junji, the Midnight Sky - 5 - Each of the mythic dragons in this cycle are amazing in Limited. They are all game winning bombs. The only thing I wanted to point out about this one specifically is the text "a graveyard", this dragon doesn't just give you back your best creature... it gives you the best creature played in the whole game! INSANE!
Kaito's Pursuit
Kaito's Pursuit - 2 - Every set has an iteration of Mind Rot. Kaito's Pursuit falls in the middle of recent examples in terms of quality. The bonus is useful but can be hard to setup for the same turn when you want the discard effect.
Kami of Restless Shadows
Kami of Restless Shadows - 3 - 5 mana for 3/3 is pretty pricy but the ETB trigger can make up for it in the right deck. As long as you have a decent target in the graveyard you'll get some value, but to actually get card advantage, you need a Ninja or Rogue... two creature types that aren't hard to find in Black.
Kami of Terrible Secrets
Kami of Terrible Secrets - 2.5 - This Spirit fits the Orzhov theme of having both an artifact and an enchantment on the battlefield. 4 mana for a 3/4 is mediocre but if you can reliably trigger the card draw ability this is worth playing.
Leech Gauntlet
Leech Gauntlet - 3 - Lifelink on a bear is already above rate for 2 mana...throw in reconfigure and this card working with artifact and modified synergies and you have a 2-drop you want in any deck.
Lethal Exploit
Lethal Exploit - 3 - Cheap removal spell that is always worth playing but won't always hit what you want it to. 2 mana for -2/-2 sounds like Olivia's Midnight Ambush but the bonus is much worse and more difficult to setup.
Life of Toshiro Umezawa // Memory of Toshiro
Life of Toshiro Umezawa // Memory of Toshiro - 3 - Saga of Umezawa's Jitte is a reasonable card. Cheaply costed and provides value in all three chapters. There are a lot of X/1s in this format so there's a decent chance to get a full card's worth of value out of one of the first two chapters and the creature it transforms into is a decent rate that can provide some ramp.
The Long Reach of Night // Animus of Night's Reach
The Long Reach of Night // Animus of Night's Reach - 2.5 - There are scenarios where this card misses but on its face it is a two for one, albeit you get the two that your opponent wants you to get. It synergizes nicely with the back side creature as it will often put at least one creature in the graveyard to fuel its attack trigger. Playing these in multiples can be nuts.
Malicious Malfunction
Malicious Malfunction - 2 - These mini-wraths are tough to evaluate in a vacuum. They often won't be good enough to kill what you want to kill, but they can be huge blowouts against Boros and you can potentially set up combat in a way to take advantage of this. Ideally this begins in the sideboard but as long as it doesn't punish your own deck too much, it can be a reasonable 23rd card.
March of Wretched Sorrow
March of Wretched Sorrow - 4 - This cycle of rare spells has a lot of text but rarely are you going to care about the first section in Limited. That being said, it is still a very flexible removal spell that also gains you some life in the process.
Mukotai Ambusher
Mukotai Ambusher - 2 - Reasonable to play if you have Ninjutsu or artifact synergies, but otherwise it is just an overcosted lifelinker.
Mukotai Soulripper
Mukotai Soulripper - 3.5 - 2 mana and Crew 2 for a 4/3 Vehicle is something I will always play. Even if you don't have a lot of things you want to sacrifice, its stats are good enough on their own and it gives you the option to do so.
Nashi, Moon Sage's Scion
Nashi, Moon Sage's Scion - 3.5 - Every time you hit with this creature you get to play one of the top cards of one of the two libraries... that sounds like good card advantage to me, especially when it can sneak in with Ninjutsu and is reasonably costed. Having to play the cards mana costs with life instead of mana can be positive and negative... letting you play extra spells early but if you're low on life late it will not be any help.
Nezumi Bladeblesser
Nezumi Bladeblesser - 3 - Artifacts and enchantments are everywhere in this set and this rat is thankful for it. Both deathtouch and menace are good abilities and they work very well together if you have both an artifact and an enchantment.
Nezumi Prowler
Nezumi Prowler - 2.5 - A two-mana 3/1 is fine on its own and it has a decent ETB effect plus a chance for artifact/ninja synergies makes this a reasonable card to play.
Okiba Reckoner Raid
Okiba Reckoner Raid - 2.5 - 1-drops rarely make the cut in my deck but this Saga has a chance. The first two chapters are low impact, combining to drain for 2 in a format without lifegain synergies, but getting a 2/2 menace for 1 mana, even on a two turn delay, is pretty good.
Okiba Salvage
Okiba Salvage - 3 - 5 mana is about what you expect to pay for a reanimation effect in limited. There is some extra flexibility to get a vehicle and having the opportunity to put counters on things when you meet the conditions, helps work with modified themes as well.
Reckoner Shakedown
Reckoner Shakedown - 1.5 - Three-mana discard spells are rarely worth playing. At least this one isn't completely dead against a hellbent opponent since you get a couple counters out of it, but this should be starting in the sideboard and even then, rarely brought in.
Reckoner's Bargain
Reckoner's Bargain - 2 - The Neon Dynasty version of Deadly Dispute won't likely get to $5 common status but these cards are always playable at instant speed. They can blank removal spells, or just get some value out of a creature or artifact that no longer impacts the game.
Return to Action
Return to Action - 2 - Most sets lately have some form of this effect, and it's pretty much always playable but never exciting. Play this if you have bombs worth protecting or a ton of ETB effects you want to retrigger.
Soul Transfer
Soul Transfer - 4 - A sorcery speed Hero's Downfall that exiles is already great. Having the chance to return a creature from your graveyard to your hand is just a heck of an upside on a premium removal spell.
Tatsunari, Toad Rider
Tatsunari, Toad Rider - 4 - Who doesn't like a creature that lets you create a legendary Toad token? Stats are on rate and when you play an enchantment you either get a 3/3 or drain for 1. The activated ability is a nice bonus but you do not need Blue or Green mana in your deck to play this card.
Tribute to Horobi // Echo of Death's Wail
Tribute to Horobi // Echo of Death's Wail - 4 - The first two chapters let you know that the creature this transforms into it has to be good and it is. You give your opponents two rat tokens... and then steal them when this flips... and then those rats can become fresh cards for your hand.
Twisted Embrace
Twisted Embrace - 4 - Unconditional removal stapled to an aura that gives a small bonus is great. It has more risk than a normal removal spell because you need a target to enchant but it also has a lot of upside with effects that return a permanent to your hand, or can get a permanent or enchantment out of your graveyard.
Undercity Scrounger
Undercity Scrounger - 3 - One of the few ways to make Treasure tokens in the set, this is a reasonably costed body that is an artifact itself and can help splash, ramp, and provide artifacts to sacrifice for cards that want it.
Unforgiving One
Unforgiving One - 2.5 / 3.5 - With no synergies this card is fine, perfectly good stats for 3-mana. It really shines with the right number of modified creatures in your deck and some decent cheap targets in the graveyard.
Virus Beetle
Virus Beetle - 2 - This version of Ravenous Rats has some extra synergies as a cheap creature on the play that could enable Ninjutsu and just by being an artifact. These cards are always playable but can often end up on the cutting room floor.
You Are Already Dead
You Are Already Dead - 2 - The name of this card feels like it should have been in AFR but it's certainly playable in this set, if not exciting. We tend to see this ability attached to a creature, sometimes with flash, and those can often be pretty good. This substitutes "draw a card" for the body and is cheaper so still worth playing.

Top 3 Black Commons

  1. Twisted Embrace
  2. Lethal Exploit
  3. Nezumi Bladeblesser

Red

Akki Ember-Keeper
Akki Ember-Keeper - 3 - Gruul's main theme is "modified", so this card fits in nicely and also can play into a Boros go wide theme as well. Modified creatures will often trade up and getting a 1/1 to stick around after is nice.
Akki Ronin
Akki Ronin - 2 - This is one of the weaker options for the Boros Samurai deck but it is certainly playable. The deck wants to be attacking so isn't generally in the market for 1/3s but the rummage ability is nice for pitching excess lands.
Akki War Paint
Akki War Paint - 1.5 - While Modified and Enchantment themes exist in this set, you can find better options than this to trigger them. This is begging for a 2-for-1 and you didn't really even gut much temporary advantage out of it.
Ambitious Assault
Ambitious Assault - 2.5 - Trumpet Blast has always been a fun card in aggressive decks. This one is actually a lot better than the typical pump spells we get because it offers a chance to replace itself. Honestly, I like this card a lot for any creature deck.
Atsushi, the Blazing Sky
Atsushi, the Blazing Sky - 5 - Despite its name, this fiery beast is no dead fish. All of the mythic dragons are bombs and this is the cheapest one to cast, fitting a Red aggressive theme. Having its death ability help refuel you for the next turn is nice.
Bronzeplate Boar
Bronzeplate Boar - 2.5 - An expensive Reconfigure cost but giving +3/+2 and trample is no joke. This has acceptable stats on its own and the Reconfigure ability is just a bonus.
Crackling Emergence
Crackling Emergence - 2.5 - Cheap decks will want to play this, but most decks will find better use for their mana in the early and mid game.
Dragonspark Reactor
Dragonspark Reactor - 1 / 3 - This card will do nothing in a lot of decks, but in the right artifact deck, this is terrifying. It is not hard for that deck to get this up to 7 or 8 fairly quickly and all of a sudden you can't take damage anymore or you just die when this explodes.
Experimental Synthesizer
Experimental Synthesizer - 2.5 - Cheap artifacts often overperform and this has a chance to draw two cards and make a 2/2 with a relevant creature type as it dies. Great sacrifice fodder or to trigger artifacts matter cards like Dragonspark Reactor.
Explosive Entry
Explosive Entry - 2.5 - Shatter is probably more maindeckable in this format then any since Scars of Mirrodin block. Putting a counter on a creature helps support the Modified theme in Gruul. The first one of these should likely always be in your main deck.
Explosive Singularity
Explosive Singularity - 3.5 - Stoke the Flames was a heck of a card and this is a jumbo-sized version. 10 mana is certainly a lot to cast but adding effectively Convoke to the card makes it castable and the ultimate in late game reach. Kicked Urza's Rage has won many a game of Limited and this is cheaper.
Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki
Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki - 3.5 - Callbacks to well-loved cards from the original Kamigawa sets add a great flavor to the set and this Saga of Kiki-Jiki is no different. Chapter 1 on its own would be playable and the rest just makes it better and better.
Flame Discharge
Flame Discharge - 4 - Heat Ray has been a premium removal spell in Limited for years and Flame Discharge adds some extra efficiency if you have a modified creature. Having a removal spell in Red that scales into the late game to help it deal with large Green monsters is powerful.
Gift of Wrath
Gift of Wrath - 2.5 - Auras historically have suffered from being too vulnerable to 2-for-1s. In recent sets, we have started to see Auras that leave something behind when they leave the battlefield. In this case, a 2/2 menace token, plus the initial buff makes this worth playing...but beware casting it into open mana.
Go-Shintai of Ancient Wars
Go-Shintai of Ancient Wars - 3 - All the Shrines in this set are playable and even though the effect on this card is weak, it is still a 2/2 first striker for 3 mana, with some small bonus. Worth playing both on its own and to support other Shrines.
Goro-Goro, Disciple of Ryusei
Goro-Goro, Disciple of Ryusei - 4 - This is a bomb in a deck that can support modified well. Even if you have to suicide a modified creature...you get a 5/5 Dragon back... seems like a pretty good trade most of the time.
Heiko Yamazaki, the General
Heiko Yamazaki, the General - 4 - This general is one of my favorite cards in the set. There are so many good artifacts in the set. With a lot of artifact creatures, there are more likely to be targets in the graveyard for this to bring back.
Invoke Calamity
Invoke Calamity - 1.5 - Arguably the worst in the cycle, at best you are saving 1 mana, and that's if you can find enough Red sources to cast a 1rrrr spell. If you have enough cheap removal and if you can support the mana cost this is worth playing... that's too many ifs for me.
Ironhoof Boar
Ironhoof Boar - 2.5 - This big pig is exactly what you want in the top end of an aggressive Red deck. It has haste, tramples through, and can double as a cheap combat trick with its Channel ability when you draw it in your opening hand and don't get enough mana to cast it.
Kami of Industry
Kami of Industry - 2 - A monkey who looks scarier than it is. 3/6 is beefy and tough to attack through but most Red decks are looking to be aggressive. Getting one cheap artifact back for one turn will only be useful in certain decks and certain board states.
Kami's Flare
Kami's Flare - 4 - It can't target players, but sometimes gets a free incidental shock to the face. Seems like a reasonable tradeoff on this Lightning Strike.
Kindled Fury
Kindled Fury - 2 - One-mana combat tricks always have a place in aggressive decks, especially if it enables you to win a combat, like first strike does.
Kumano Faces Kakkazan // Etching of Kumano
Kumano Faces Kakkazan // Etching of Kumano - 2.5 - This Saga is cheap and plays pretty well in an aggressive deck. You really want to play this on turn one and have a follow up 2-drop otherwise it gets much worse.
Lizard Blades
Lizard Blades - 3 - Double strike seems strong in a set where Modified is a theme due to the prevalence of counters, auras, and equipment. This can be pumped up or can just be slotted onto a larger creature... and has both a cheap casting cost and a cheap reconfigure cost.
March of Reckless Joy
March of Reckless Joy - 2.5 - Getting some bonus cards later in the game is always nice in Red. The better quality of cards the deck has the better this will be.
Ogre-Head Helm
Ogre-Head Helm - 3.5 - Cheap casting cost, medium equip cost, but a chance to refill your hand in Red all adds up to a solid package. Best when hellbent, but can toss away a card or two in a pinch if you need to dig.
Peerless Samurai
Peerless Samurai - 3 - A solid piece for the Boros Samurai deck, this card can potentially help you double spell the turn it comes down... and every turn after that as long as you have gas.
Rabbit Battery
Rabbit Battery - 3 - This is more relevant as an equipment than a creature but it being a creature is a nice bonus. Getting to give every creature you play each turn haste for one extra Red forces some very uncomfortable decisions from an opponent.
Reinforced Ronin
Reinforced Ronin - 2 - This card's floor is reasonable since at worst case you can always cycle it but it doesn't have much upside. It can get in some early damage and if you have enough Samurai bonuses this is one you don't mind trading off but there are better options, even at 1 mana.
Scrap Welder
Scrap Welder - 3 - A fixed Goblin Welder, this won't allow you to cheat out huge artifacts, and it being X or less means that you can't repeatedly exchange the same two artifacts... however, at the rate that artifacts will be in the graveyard in this set, this ability will be valuable. All of that comes on top of a 3/3 for three which are good stats to begin with.
Scrapyard Steelbreaker
Scrapyard Steelbreaker - 2.5 - Recurring cheap sacrifice outlets tend to overperform and this Warrior gets big in a hurry if you have expendable artifacts. The threat of activation here will make for awkward combat decisions for your opponent.
Seismic Wave
Seismic Wave - 3 - A three-mana bolt is still good in Limited and there are a lot of X/1s in the format that this can sweep up in the process. This can also be used after combat to finish off already wounded creatures.
The Shattered States Era // Nameless Conqueror
The Shattered States Era // Nameless Conqueror - 2 - 5 mana is more than I want to pay for a Threaten but this comes with a mini Trumpet Blast for chapter 2 and flips into a 3/3 trampler with haste. You are likely to find better things to do for 5 mana but if you have cheap sacrifice outlets then this goes up a notch.
Simian Sling
Simian Sling - 2.5 - The art on this card is a 11/10. What is this monkey doing? Throwing snowballs from the guy's shoulder? Love it. As far as being a playable card this little guy does everything I want it to do in a Red deck. It offers reach and is a cheap way to modify creatures.
Sokenzan Smelter
Sokenzan Smelter - 2.5 - Getting a bear that can upgrade smaller artifacts is good in any deck. Paired with cards like Heiko Yamazaki, the General this can become part of a game winning value engine.
Tempered in Solitude
Tempered in Solitude - 2.5 - Most decks will not be interested in Tempered in Solitude, but I decided to give it a 2.5 rating in this set because it works extremely well with one of the major archetypes in the format. This is everything the Samurai deck wants to be doing so I would keep an eye out for it.
Thundering Raiju
Thundering Raiju - 4.5 - A four-mana dragon that attacks as a 4 power creature the turn it comes in is always an amazing creature. Getting to add counters each turn while also dealing bonus damage is very strong and can end games quickly.
Towashi Songshaper
Towashi Songshaper - 2.5 - This bear has some solid upside in the artifact deck, and there are a lot of artifacts in Red. I love that this is aggressive and great in multiples.
Twinshot Sniper
Twinshot Sniper - 3.5 - With the number of cards that can interact with artifacts in the graveyard it makes the channel side of this card a lot better. Getting to Shock something early or getting a decent size body on the board later in the game is a decent amount of flexibility.
Unstoppable Ogre
Unstoppable Ogre - 2 - How can anything with 1 toughness be called unstoppable? This is very stoppable and hardly playable.
Upriser Renegade
Upriser Renegade - 2.5 - Upriser Renegade will be a curve filler in most decks, but with the amount of equipment and +1/+1 counters in the set it will not be hard to get the bonus from it.
Voltage Surge
Voltage Surge - 3.5 - Shock is always a fun card in Limited. There are a lot of powerful X/1s and X/2s in the format so this is definitely worth running.

Top 3 Red Commons

  1. Kami's Flare
  2. Voltage Surge
  3. Peerless Samurai

Thanks for reading and I will see you tomorrow!

Twitter: @MTGNerdGirl

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