With such a powerfully thematic new set on the way, a lot of attention is given over to the reveal of new mechanics. Of course, new tech like reconfigure and modified expand Magic and create the most new opportunities for deck building and gameplay, and that’s why a set is often judged by the mechanics it introduces.
But sometimes a returning mechanic is just as exciting – and it’s the appearance of Saga enchantments in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty that has me most fired up from the spoilers thus far!
These complex, temporary enchantments offer boundless opportunities for playmaking. And between Dominaria, Theros Beyond Death and Kaldheim, there have already been some iconic Saga designs. Now, Neon Dynasty is adding a fresh twist to the formula: every new Saga concludes its final chapter by transforming into an enchantment creature! Talk about living history!
A THOUSAND YEARS OF STORIES
Sagas are just perfect for a plane like Kamigawa, and for this set in particular. The original Kamigawa block gave a lot of emphasis to legends – people, objects and places – as well as the storytellers and historians who recorded their deeds.
Sagas offer some of the most dense storytelling-through-mechanics of any Magic design, making them the perfect vehicle for re-telling those old legends in a distinctly new way.
Other new Sagas are helping WotC to fill in that time gap with some flavorful allusions to what brought Kamigawa to its current advanced state. Even these tiny seeds of lore can build interest from players and eventually blossom into the narratives and heroes of future sets.
Again, it’s worth considering how impressive it is that a card type can capture the idea of temporality, allowing for events of “hundreds of years ago” to be printed in the same set as the legends of “a millenia ago” and the heroes of Kamigawa’s present – and yet we aren’t confused about which is which.
TECHNOLOGY VS. TRADITION
Of course, the appearance of past and present side by side in Neon Dynasty boosters is no accident. The clash of progress and tradition is a central theme of this set, both in story and in its mechanics. From a card design perspective, these seemingly-conflicting ideals have been represented by artifact and enchantment synergies, respectively – hence a set which features both Vehicles and enchantment creatures.
Magic has always used enchantments to represent ancient traditions, natural magics and the power of faith, as opposed to the technological flavor inherent to artifacts.
Not only do Sagas invoke the idea of history directly with their mechanics, but this trigger-based, set-and-forget gameplay also contrasts with artifacts, which are traditionally designed around activated abilities.
This distinction between the new and old in Kamigawa is the kind of thing that’s not fully apparent just glancing over spoilers, but in play, I can imagine the natural contrast of enchantment vs. artifact decks will really add to the atmosphere of the set, particularly in Limited.
NOT JUST YOUR STANDARD ISSUE ENCHANTMENTS
I personally love what these Sagas do for the gameplay of Neon Dynasty, especially for Constructed formats like Standard and Historic. Presenting powerful yet slow effects which both players are aware of can warp the game in interesting ways. I generally feel like any card design that can succeed without front-loading all its value on the first turn is good for format health.
But there are also subtle, encouraging signs here of how Neon Dynasty might play out for Limited and Commander. Despite the theme of conflict between future and past, there is also room for a harmony between artifacts and enchantments – particularly in blue-white. These colors represent the current ruling powers of Kamigawa, and how they are able to combine the strengths of both tradition and technology, which seems like a great flexible archetype to look for in Draft.
The expansion of both the card pool and available mechanics for newer card types like Sagas and Vehicles means this set might finally be the coming-of-age moment for Commander decks themed around such cards. That’s certainly the case for our new tailor-made Saga commander: Satsuki, the Living Lore.
A two-mana utility commander is one of the strongest assets any archetype can have – and that’s not even the only new Saga-specific utility to play with!
A NEW CHAPTER IS ABOUT TO BE WRITTEN
So there you have it – the skinny on the new Saga cards in Neon Dynasty. I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to say about these cards in our upcoming Draft Guide, not to mention the many other cards that will define this new set. With so much rich detail and nuance captured both in their mechanics and flavor, I couldn’t be happier with this definitively Kamigawan crop of Sagas.
Tom’s fate was sealed in 7th grade when his friend lent him a pile of commons to play Magic. He quickly picked up Boros and Orzhov decks in Ravnica block and has remained a staunch white magician ever since. A fan of all Constructed formats, he enjoys studying the history of the tournament meta. He specializes in midrange decks, especially Death & Taxes and Martyr Proc. One day, he swears he will win an MCQ with Evershrike. Ask him how at @AWanderingBard, or watch him stream Magic at twitch.tv/TheWanderingBard.