If you’re an Arena player with a limited budget, here’s the list of cards you can craft with your Arena wildcards on day one – guilt free – without feeling like you’re wasting any value. If you’re more interested in strategy than finances, then consider this to be the list of cards that I think will be most widely played from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty in Standard, Alchemy and Historic.
There’s no need to follow this power ranking completely. The most expensive thing to do on Arena is to switch frequently between decks and colors. On the other hand, if you can hone in on a smaller number of color combinations or strategies that appeal to you, all the better. Craft the cards that fit your preferences and ignore the ones that are likely to idle in your collection.
I’ll start with a quick note from my first day of playing the set: be careful with Ninjas!
For starters, creatures with ninjutsu give you tons of gameplay options. Keep in mind that you can wait on them, perhaps saving them to reset a permanent with a powerful enters the battlefield ability on a later turn. Alternatively, remember that you can simply cast them for their mana cost as normal creatures. It’s easy to get swept away by certain play patterns, and miss out on other strong options.
Second, I found it very easy to click through combat and miss my opportunity to use ninjutsu. Take it slow and be careful to execute properly, especially if you’re planning to do something unusual during combat.
Common wildcards are fairly trivial, but here are a few commons which I think will be major players.
6. Commune with Spirits
Enchantments is a clear theme in Kamigawa, and if your deck is made up of mostly enchantments and lands, Commune gives you highly efficient card selection.
5. Okiba Reckoner Raid
I’m quite impressed by the rate on Okiba Reckoner Raid. For one mana, you get a four-point life swing and a 2/2 with some decent abilities. Granted, the 2/2 comes on a bit of a delay.
4. Voltage Surge
Shock with upside, and that upside is especially in a deck that wants to be sacrificing artifacts. (See below!)
3. Moonsnare Prototype
2. Experimental Synthesizer
Experimental Synthesizer is awesome. Frankly, I won’t be surprised if it winds up being one of the best cards in the set. For one mana, it’s easy to get two cards of value out of this plus a disposable permanent to sacrifice to something like Deadly Dispute.
Rare wildcards tend to be the scarcest commodities, so I’ll spend the most time on those. But first, I have my top uncommons and top five mythics.
1. Spirited Companion
This was a slam-dunk for me. In the same pattern as Elvish Visionary and Thraben Inspector, Spirited Companion is going to be a multiformat all-star. It was the first card I crafted, and so far every deck I’ve built has started with four Spirited Companions.
4. Behold the Unspeakable, Essence Capture and Disruption Protocol
Okay, I’m playing fast and loose with the whole “Top 5” thing, but tied at this position I have three pretty sweet blue uncommons. I can’t really say which is “best” because they all play different roles and go in different decks. Of the three, I’m most sure about Essence Capture because, as a reprint, I’ve played with it before and had a good experience.
3. Silver-Fur Master and Jukai Naturalist
2. Kumano Faces Kakkazan
For one mana, you get three power and toughness and an extra point of damage. That’s an amazing rate.
1. Rabbit Battery
A 1/1 haste for one mana isn’t great, but it’s fine. The real payoff here is being able to give future creatures +1/+1 and haste for such a reasonable rate. That adds up to a lot of damage over the course of a game. The pair of Kumano Faces Kakkazan and Rabbit Battery might just revitalize Mono-Red.
You don’t need as many mythic wildcards as rare wildcards, since staple four-ofs (like dual lands) tend to be normal rares. Nonetheless, your mythics are often the most powerful cards in your deck, and it can be stressful to run out of wilds, particularly as a new player. Here are my picks for the most useful Neon Dynasty mythics.
5. Tezzeret, Betrayer of Flesh
Tezzeret can only go in an artifact-heavy deck, but he represents a major payoff for such an archetype. Between card advantage, board presence and an easily-accessible ultimate that wins the game, he checks all the boxes.
4. The Dragons
The power level on these Dragons is through the roof. I’m not sure yet if they’ll be “format staples,” but you can play them in any deck of their corresponding color, and I guarantee you won’t be making much of a mistake. If there are one or two colors you particularly like to play on Arena, you can craft your legendary Dragon on day one, and you’ll get plenty of mileage out of it.
3. Blade of the Oni
Blade of the Oni is one of the strongest reconfigure cards in the set. As a two-mana 3/1 menace, it’s a good, aggressive creature at face value. Later on, you can equip it onto a disposable creature to make a massive, deadly threat.
2. Kodama of the West Tree
I predict that most green creature decks will have at least some small modified theme, and Kodama of the West Tree is one of my favorite cards in the set. Between channel, creature-lands, leveling up Classes and tons more options, you’ll always be able to make good use of the extra lands it lets you pull from your library.
11. Weaver of Harmony
I’ve been enjoying Selesnya-based enchantment strategies, and Weaver of Harmony has been a big part of that. In addition to boosting your stats, Weaver can copy an enters-the-battlefield trigger, or the ability of something like Ranger Class.
10. The Restoration of Eiganjo
A great Saga for smoothing your draw. You get a Plains up front, which you can use to make your land drops, or to discard to chapter two. Chapter two has the floor of ramping you quickly to five or six mana, but it can also be used to return a nonland permanent from your graveyard. It all culminates in a very strong creature that packs a punch when it goes unanswered.
9. The Marches
The blue and green Marches are a little more unusual and difficult to set up, but March of Otherworldly Light, March of Wretched Sorrow and March of Reckless Joy are clearly all quite good. I like that these cards scale with your mana investment, but that you can also pitch spells from your hand if you need to catch up and earn yourself some room to breath in a close game.
8. Lizard Blades
Lizard Blades is yet another reconfigure card. As a cheap double-striker, it pairs well with other Equipment or ways to pump your creatures. Later on, it can attach to something bigger to make a deadly evasive or trampling (for example) double-striker.
7. Lion Sash
Reminiscent of Scavenging Ooze, Lion Sash can grow massive and gives you control over the graveyard, which is becoming a more and more important zone in today’s Magic. I predict this to see play in all of Standard, Alchemy and Historic.
6. Thousand-Faced Shadow
Thousand-Faced Shadow is a little bit subtle, but it represents both enabler and payoff for the ninjutsu mechanic. It’s the best one-drop in the format for a Ninja deck, but also packs a punch later since you can use it for some early ninjutsu, and then activate its own ability once it’s back in your hand.
5. Surgehacker Mech
Thousand-Faced Shadow and Surgehacker Mech are both archetype-specific, but they’re certainly among the premier cards of their respective strategy. With just a small number of Vehicles, Surgehacker Mech will kill your opponent’s best permanent, and then hang around as a must-answer threat.
4. Tribute to Horobi
A cheap and powerful black Saga, Tribute to Horobi will set you up for a significant advantage going into the midgame.
3. The Reality Chip
Like Blade of the Oni, The Reality Chip comes down as a highly relevant creature on turn two, stemming the bleeding against aggressive creature decks. In the midgame, you can equip it to a creature, and even two turns of playing cards off the top of your library will bury the opponent in value. I’ll be starting all of my blue decks with one or two copies.
2. Reckoner Bankbuster
Reckoner Bankbuster earns top billing because of how universally applicable it is. In addition to being cheap and colorless, slower decks will want it for the ability to draw three cards, while creature decks will want it for the efficient beatdown Vehicle. The fact is that you get both all the time, and Reckoner Bankbuster will rarely disappoint you.
1. Legendary Lands
All of the legendary lands are great, and represent significant upgrades over their respective basic lands. You should default to playing one or two copies of each in your one and two-color decks, with more sometimes being possible. You can feel particularly safe crafting Boseiju, which will be a multiformat all-star, and Eiganjo, which I predict to be the best one for Standard play.
Let me know what I missed, and which cards you’re most excited for coming out of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty.