The newest Magic set, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty is coming out soon, and it’s certainly an exciting concept. It takes 2004’s Kamigawa setting, which was inspired by feudal Japan, and hurtles it 1200 years into the future, into a world of neon cities and advanced technology, but one that also remains in touch with spirits and traditions.
In this set of 302 cards, a number of classic Kamigawa gameplay designs – such as Ninjutsu, Channel and double-faced cards – return, alongside the new mechanic Reconfigure, which allows creatures to equip themselves to other creatures. Similarly, the new cyber ninja Planeswalker Kaito Shizuki is joined by returning Planeswalkers Tamiyo and The Wanderer.
Today, IGN has four new cards to reveal from Neon Dynasty. The first is a Legendary Creature and Rat Ninja – Nashi, Moon Sage’s Scion:
We asked the team at Wizards of the Coast a little more about both this card specifically and the Nezumi (Kamigawa’s anthropomorphic rats), as well as the theme as a whole.
“We met Nashi when he first appeared in a short story before the events of Kaladesh main set,” says Daniel Holt, Senior UX Designer. “This is canonically a few years prior to the current day.
“In this older story, we learn that Nashi was born in a nezumi swamp village in rural Kamigawa, but his home was burned down and his parents slain by a malicious planeswalker named Tezzeret who believed the nezumi had a valuable artifact. Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, eventually adopts the young rat and treats him like her own child. Nashi’s fur has since grown back but has turned white where his burns used to be, giving him a unique pattern among the nezumi. Although his new family is loving and supportive, he still deals with feelings of being small and an outsider. However, he has learned how to cope with the grief and even make new friends through his interest in technology. He also finds great comfort in the stories his mother has collected around the Multiverse and would like nothing more than to see it for himself one day.”
Nashi’s adoptive mother Tamiyo, meanwhile, “is a pivotal main character in the Neon Dynasty story at assisting in battling the baddies with her scroll magic. Tamiyo also aids in transporting the coveted artifact around the plane to keep it safe from those that wish to use it for nefarious purposes.
“Unfortunately, the story doesn’t go well for Tamiyo, as she is eventually captured by Jin-Gitaxias and turned into a Phyrexian Planeswalker who involuntarily pledges loyalty to the other side of the fight.”
In terms of the Nezumi, who once lived in Takenuma swamp, a lot has changed. “Almost every area of the plane had to be rebuilt following the Kami War and the proceeding 1200 years of habitancy,” Holt explains. “Takenuma Swamp has become mostly abandoned aside from a few secluded outliers and those that venture there for one purpose or another. Jukai Forest has become a sanctuary for mostly spirit inhabitants that disagree with the expanding civilization. Other areas like Eiganjo, Otawara, and the new and largest city of Towashi, have thrived in the reconstruction.
“Nezumi in general have integrated into society more so than in the past days, but mostly exist in the reckoner gangs and other undercity areas of Towashi.”
A core part of Nashi’s identity is his ninjutsu ability, and this mechanic returns from the original Kamigawa block. We asked Game Design Architect Dave Humpherys how well he thinks ninjutsu will fit into modern Magic. “Ninjutsu is still very well poised to add an element of surprise into games of Magic,” he says. “The mechanic can fit well into a variety of aggressive decks. It’s centered in colors where there’s an abundance of evasion and good removal or bounce to facilitate the mechanic. The odds of a deck based entirely around the mechanic is less likely to have a huge impact than certain ninjutsu cards filling into key slots into some decks. Its mere presence in a format carries strength as a threat. It makes it easy to set up scary attacks especially against a tapped-out opponent.”
And for Nashi’s ability specifically, “Nashi is a versatile card,” Humpherys explains. “He works both as a solo threat that you try to clear a path with removal for. He also fits into more aggressive builds trying to take advantage of ninjutsu.”
And for this set in general, black sounds like it will have a lot of options. “There are many [black] cards pointing at some of the set themes,” says Humpherys, “which means for this set you’ll see more focus on artifacts, enchantments, sacrifice effects, and effects setting up ninjutsu for success.”
And speaking of all those things, that leads neatly into the three other cards we have to reveal:
You can see all the cards that have currently been revealed here, but it won’t be long until you can play with them yourself. Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty releases on Magic: The Gathering Arena on February 11 and for tabletop on February 18. You can find out more about it here, and be sure to also read IGN’s in-depth feature on how Magic is evolving and its fans are responding.
Cam Shea has worked at IGN since the before times, and has played more Breath of the Wild than just about any other game. He doesn’t post on Twitter, but does like sharing whatever music he’s currently obsessed with.