We had our prerelease weekend for Kamigawa Neon Dynasty this past weekend. (2/11-2/13) This set saw more event participation than any Magic set in the past year. Technically the past two years, but we’ll be giving 2020 a full pass. This is first full set release of 2022, and the building was packed. We sold so many event seats that we ran through our entire early allotment of pre-release kits and didn’t have any more to sell over the counter to walk in customers!
The panorama also nicely shows off our two distinct lighting styles.
Many excellent moments occurred over the course of the event. Several excellent pulls and big plays. My personal big hit was getting the new Hidetsugu and using him to GREAT effect with many surprise wins using both of his abilities in tandem. Any time an ability lets you hit a player’s face for seven damage generates some REAL quality feels, especially when its on a come from behind from the past few turns.
I too hate it when an Ogre demon hits me in the face with a giant mech suit.
One of our prerelease tables saw one of our regular tables succeed at assembling Magic’s first true Voltron and have the Mechtitan destroy several faces over the course of one of the pods. Which is a pretty good consolation after swapping kits with another player who then opened the Jin-Gitaxis you'll see later on.
Needs more robot lions imo.
So, what makes this set so special? This set represents what may be the longest stretch of time between a plane’s initial appearance its revisit. Not just in terms of real time, but also in terms of how much time has passed on the plane, and the fundamental differences we see between the two! Kamigawa released originally in 2004-2005, so it’s been 17 real years since we’ve visited. The set’s legacy until was not exactly a positive one. On the heels of the Mirrodin block, one of the strongest blocks of all time, and followed by the original Ravnica block, which would become Magic’s most popular overall plane. Kamigawa’s mechanics were not exactly inspired. While a few staples and stand out cards like Top, Jitte, and Kiki-Jiki would have some staying power, none of the themes of the set would really leave a mark. The only Mechanic to return from the previous incarnation is Ninjitsu, which was the only one that saw notable use, or saw any throwbacks in future products. Arcane ALSO sees a bit of use in a Modern deck, but that's incidental.
In the intervening years Kamigawa became a strange cult classic block. It developed a large fanbase who really wanted to see the plane return out of love for the setting, but as most of the community had negative opinions due to the set’s low power level, there was a lot of contention and uncertainty on the part of Wizards to return to the plane.
Whaddya mean SWEEP didn't make a comeback?! BOO!
So here we are at Neon Dynasty. 18 years of real time converted into 1200 years of time in the lore. The plane has changed dramatically, which lets the design move away from many of the poorly conceived mechanics of ’04 and introduce them with a whole new level of flavor, on top of many of the familiar beats that we expect from a mirror of Japanese culture. We’ve gone from the traditional feudal society to an industrial Cyberpunk cityscape. Mecha, cyborgs, technological advancements about, while many still cling to old ideals and are worried about how this technology has angered the spirits. The connection between the new and old aspects of the plane tie together very well, and it makes for excellent presentation.
The addition of Phyrexians as baddies and having a beloved character compleated as part of the story is also a great dramatic hook that has everyone wringing their hands in some combination of fear and excitement.
I prefer Beer Gitaxis, but I guess I'll take it.
But what makes or breaks a Magic set isn’t the lore, the question is are the cards fun to play?
Good news: YES. The drafting and sealed environments have show that every archetype we’ve seen come up has quality success rates. Vehicles, ninjas, enchantments, equipment creatures; all have a place in this new world. I’ve been playing around in standard on Arena, and people are really cranking out new deck ideas with these cards, making excellent combinations with cards thought unusable in previous sets. I got murdered by sword lizards and the Blackstaff just earlier today!
We’ll be keeping an eye on modern and legacy as we move back into our normal schedule, but here at Zulu’s we’re hyped to see how a well-received set like this one will help to reinvigorate everyone’s passion for new cards, deck design, and diversity of play in all formats.
We want to thank everyone who made our prerelease weekend such a massive success, and I encourage everyone to try out some of the cards from this new set. I'm very excited to do some paper drafts this weekend for the release event. If you get the chance you should join us! You won't be disappointed.