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Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Pauper Review: Red, Green, and Artifacts

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We're back with the second half of the Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Pauper review, covering the set's Red, Green, and Colorless cards. The set's looking great and has a ton of sweet cards to play in the format of commons - so much so I had to split my review into two parts! If you want to check out the first half, you can find it here. With that, let's not waste any time and dive straight into the review!

Akki Ember-Keeper

Akki Ember-Keeper

This card is really sweet. The two-mana 2/1 package isn't bad on its own and only gets better with its ability. Getting a bunch of modified creatures together to make this get good value is tough, but if you can make it happen, it's not hard to get a ton of value from this. What's more, getting multiples of these on the board at once can net you even more tokens. There's a lot of hoops to go through to make this work based on what the format currently has available to it, but this is certainly a card that's worth watching.

Ambitious Assault

Ambitious Assault

Burn Bright never really went anywhere, but a Burn Bright that can cantrip is a lot better for my money. It's still not a perfect card, and you do need to have a modified creature to make it any amount of good in the first place, but if you can make it happen, it can pay off in spades.

Crackling Emergence

Crackling Emergence

A 3/3 for two mana is a big deal for aggro decks. The catch, though, is that you need to basically give up a land in the process to do so. The problem with that is that a lot of aggro lists in Pauper hardly run any lands at all, and giving up just one can be extremely detrimental. The benefit is that should your land creature die, it actually gets to stick around and you just lose the enchantment, but it's still a fairly tall ask. If this does show up much, it'll be a two-of at most. I can't imagine any kind of aggro deck that wants to play with fire running four of these.

Experimental Synthesizer

Experimental Synthesizer

I really like this card a lot. We've seen this song and dance before: a card that cantrips when it comes into play can be picked up and flickered for all kinds of value. It's even better in that you get the same thing when it leaves the battlefield, meaning you can double up with the bounce effects. The kicker with this one is that you have to play the card the same turn or lose it for good. All that means here is you likely won't be wanting to play this in the first turn or two and wait until you're likely to be able to play whatever you end up hitting.

It also works great with several other effects. Affinity still loves sacrificing artifacts for value, and this does that excellently. The deck still may prefer Ichor Wellspring to this to ensure an actual card draw, but it's still a viable option. You can also do Kuldotha Rebirth shenanigans as well if you're feeling frisky. It's been a while now since we last saw that card, but it may just be time for a return soon! And if all else fails, you can sacrifice it to itself for a small token. Just an incredibly powerful package all in one card and probably one of the best cards in the set.

Explosive Entry

Explosive Entry

One-off artifact hate is nothing new in Pauper nor in Red decks, but getting a counter in addition is. Still, sorcery speed isn't the greatest (as you can't use this as a combat trick) and most dedicated Red decks would probably just rather use Gorilla Shaman or Smash to Smithereens instead.

Gift of Wrath

Gift of Wrath

This one's expensive, but I like the value you get out of it. +2/+2 and menace isn't bad, though a bit pricey at four mana - especially if the creature gets removed. However, if it's able to stick, you get the attack buffs and if the creature does die, you still get a token. It's a big risk, though, and I doubt it's worth that risk trying this in your decks.

Ironhoof Boar

Ironhoof Boar

I'm normally not huge on giant Red creatures like this, but there's a lot of versatility in this package. If you can't actually cast it (which, let's be real: in many games you won't) then it's a really solid buff spell. If the game goes long enough and you are able to actually cast it, however, you get a giant hasty beater coming in hot. It's got the potential, now we just have to see if it can live up to it.

Kami of Industry

Kami of Industry

This card is really sweet. Five mana is a lot, and you're not going to be attacking too much with this, but it can really get you a ton of easy value. There's a number of sweet artifacts you can grab back with this, and most of them will give you some excellent card draw even if you do nothing else with them. It's not an easy card to get out, and I do think its limited options in the format will hold it back for now, but this is definitely one I'd keep my eye on. It's a good one.

Kami's Flare

Kami's Flare

This is basically Searing Blaze without the need for landfall to be active. What it does need active, though, is a modified creature. That's something Burn - the deck that would likely want this - doesn't really have any of aside from, say, Keldon Marauders. As such, I think this one's a miss, but has the potential if creatures with counters become the main deck standard for the deck at some point in the future.

Scrapyard Steelbreaker

Scrapyard Steelbreaker

If you want a pricey artifact sacrificer, here you go, I guess. It's certainly no Atog, and the cards people are trying out in its absence are way better than this. If you were looking to try this as a replacement in your Affinity decks: don't.

The Shattered States Era // Nameless Conqueror

The Shattered States Era // Nameless Conqueror

This card is a house, but the problem it faces is that in many decks that would want it, it's just too expensive. It could have a home in more midrangey decks like Boros Bully and Boros Monarch, but even there I think I'd rather just stick with options they already run like Rally the Peasants over something like this. One time Act of Treason isn't exciting, and a 3/3 trampler with haste is fine, but not as great as it sounds by the time you're at turn seven where it would be coming back that way.

Towashi Songshaper

Towashi Songshaper

Glaze Fiend's been getting some decent love in Affinity since the banning of Atog. While I'd certainly argue this one isn't nearly as good as that, I do still think there's potential to be had here. It's cheap, aggressive, and gets big fast from all the artifacts that Affinity spits out. Would definitely not be surprised if this saw some play.

Bamboo Grove Archer

Bamboo Grove Archer

There's a lot going on here between reach, good power and toughness, and the enchantment card type for a low mana. That's not to say anything about the channel ability either, which can take out flying creatures. Problem is, for as much is going on here, it still largely feels like it's not doing much of anything. The channel cost is too much to be realistically good and having defender makes the enchantment side not so great as you can't attack with it in Bogles (or any other deck realistically).

Careful Cultivation

Careful Cultivation

This card is super sweet. This seems like a pretty easy fill in for Bogles. You can use it on either side and get great value, be it as a buff or making a creature that can eat an edict effect. There're more uses than that though. With Pili-Pala this creates infinite mana of any color, and with Devoted Druid you can get ten Green mana in one shot. Three mana is still pretty expensive and there is solid competition in Bogles for that slot, but there's enough going on here that I love it and think it's going to be an excellent role player.

Coiling Stalker

Coiling Stalker

Hey, a Green ninja! This card is great and lets you get in for some sneaky damage and put extra counters everywhere. I actually like this as a possible Stompy card, more so than I do most of the typical Stompy contenders. Going turn one Skarrgan Pit-Skulk into this on a later turn can let you reset your Pit-Skulk and get the bloodthirst counter as well. You can also do things like get Burning-Tree Emissary value, get additional Eldrazi tokens off Nest Invader, or reset Rancor targets. The package just feels right here, and while it remains to be seen if it can be good enough, I'm a big fan of the potential in this card.

Commune with Spirits

Commune with Spirits

Commune with the Gods has seen a bit of play in Bogles before and this is somewhat comparable. It might not be nearly as good, as Commune with the Gods finds creatures and goes just a little deeper in your deck. This costing one less and having the cards not go into your graveyard isn't nothing, though, so I think there's probably an argument either way. That's especially true with Bogles where there's sooo much variation between lists from one week to the next. This probably won't be a common choice, but I'd definitely expect to see it.

Fang of Shigeki

Fang of Shigeki

We've seen one-mana deathtouch creatures before in Green and they never see any play. However, being an enchantment as well is relevant for decks like Bogles. The thing is, though, what are you going to be blocking to warrant utilizing it? I doubt this will be played in the end, but there is definitely potential.

Favor of Jukai

Favor of Jukai

Large permabuff or a one time strong buff is excellent. I think the aura side is just a little too expensive to make it, but there's a lot of power to be had here. If it can work, it will beat your face in. I just don't think it will show up much, if at all, but I wouldn't be surprised to die to it here and there.

Greater Tanuki

Greater Tanuki

This is comparable to Krosan Tusker, which hasn't seen play in a very long time. The main difference between the two is a smaller mana cost and additional trample for the Tanuki or an additional card draw from the actual cycling on the Tusker. Overall, though, Tusker doesn't see play, and I don't think this will either, but for any deck that wants one this is now an option.

Harmonious Emergence

Harmonious Emergence

This is basically the same space as Crackling Emergence above, but has the benefit of fitting in more play because you can fit it in ramp decks. What's more, it's also a much larger creature that you get, making it a massive aggressive threat even at four mana. I'd expect this to show up much more than Crackling Emergence as a result. It won't be too often and will probably be a bit more fringe at least for now, but I definitely expect it'll bring the beats pretty heavily when it does.

Season of Renewal

This is something for decks like Bogles and Tortured Existence, especially when you use it in conjunction with Commune with the Gods. Getting back a creature and a key enchantment is excellent. The one thing really holding this back is that it's three mana, which is a lot in the scope of Pauper. If it has a home anywhere, it'll be one of those two decks, but I wouldn't expect to see it very much.

Tamiyo's Safekeeping

Tamiyo's Safekeeping

Giving something hexproof and indestructible while gaining life in the process is a lot more than it sounds like. However, it won't do very much most of the time so it's a card that will be extremely niche. When it works, though, you'll get very blown out by it. This is the kind of card I'd expect for something like Infect as a way to help the deck deal with the weaknesses that it had.

Automated Artificer

Automated Artificer

Unlike Moonsnare Prototype, this is a mana rock I could see making it in Pauper. At the end of the day, though, I think I'd rather have less fragile and narrow effects like Mind Stone if anything, and that card never sees play in Pauper. As a result, I don't think this will be played, but there's always a chance given it's so cheap and has a decent amount of toughness to prevent aggro decks from crushing you too early.

Ecologist's Terrarium

Ecologist's Terrarium

This is a really interesting way to get lands out of your deck, as once you get it into your hand, you can use its ability later to pump up one of your creatures. I don't think this is good enough to make it in the format, but I like the direction we're going in with designs like this.

Iron Apprentice

Iron Apprentice

This is another sweet card for the counters deck. It's still not a fully viable deck just yet, but we keep getting support for this would-be archetype and it has been tried in recent months. Could this be the card that pushes it over the top? Probably not, but this is definitely yet another step in the right direction. If the deck does show up in the near future, you can probably expect this to be in it.

Network Terminal

Network Terminal

Bonder's Ornament this is not, but it does a damn fine impression of it. This is the kind of card that will slot back into the decks that Bonder's Ornament played, but won't be a perfect replacement either. For one, you still need more artifacts to make it work, and for another it isn't an actual card draw. It's card filtering, which still helps you get through your deck to find what you want, but it's very different all the same. Would certainly expect to see this played, but I think it'll be worse than it may appear at first glance.

Ninja's Kunai

Ninja's Kunai

Three mana for a Lightning Bolt is rarely all that exciting, but being able to spread it out over multiple turns can be pretty solid still. It gives colors opportunities for removal that might not normally have it, which is cool. Still, it doesn't grant any other buffs or anything, so it's kind of a do-nothing boring card until you throw it at something. I don't think it'll make the cut, but it's a pretty cool card all the same.

Thundersteel Colossus

Thundersteel Colossus

If only there was some way to easily generate seven mana in Pauper... This makes for a really solid top-end card for Tron decks, especially post-ban when they're still trying to find their new identity in the format. This is easily crewed by Mulldrifters and goes in pretty hard and fast. It does have pretty stiff competition with Ulamog's Crusher, but this is harder to chump block than the Crusher is. That said, this is also easier to remove by virtue of being an artifact, so at the end of the day it's probably going to be meta-dependent as well as personal preference. Expect to die to this card from time to time in the future, though.


And that's it for the Pauper review of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. This set is excellent and has so much to offer for Pauper as much as any other format and I can't wait to see how it shapes up in the coming weeks. We're already seeing a number of the cards being played so far, and I imagine we're only going to see more soon. What cards do you think will show up, and what ones are you most excited to play?

Paige Smith

Twitter: @TheMaverickGal

Twitch: twitch.tv/themaverickgirl

YouTube: TheMaverickGal

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