5 Early Tips for Neon Dynasty Draft

Nicolai Dolinar • February 23, 2022

Neon Dynasty just came out, which means it's a great time to be a Magic player, especially one who enjoys draft. While exploring a new Limited format can be one of the best experiences in the game, I know it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what is good and what is better left in the sideboard. If you're feeling a bit lost, or are just looking for some advice to get to the next level in your drafts, here are 5 tips that can help you settle into drafting Neon Dynasty.

Enchantments and Artifacts are Everywhere

Usually the cards you care most about are the creatures, with a few removal spells or bonus effects like card draw in the mix as well. In some formats there is a specific focus on artifacts (like Mirrodin or Kaladesh), or maybe on enchantments (I'm looking at you Theros!), but in Neon Dynasty, both artifacts and enchantments take center stage.

In fact, over half of the commons and uncommons feature one of these two types. This is not always obvious at first glance, but it should certainly affect how you draft and play. During the draft, it's important to know these themes are supported, so if you are deciding whether to pick a card like Sky-Blessed Samurai you should know there is a good chance you will see other enchantments. It also means that a card like Fade into Antiquity is much stronger than it would normally be, and is elevated from a pure sideboard card to one you are happy to run in the maindeck. I have drafted very successful decks that care about artifacts, and also ones that care about enchantments. Both viable strategies if you want to find more success in Neon Dynasty.

Splashing is Easy

Some sets are naturally conducive to more splashing, as fixing is everywhere and there are powerful cards that make it worthwhile to put a little strain on your mana base. Neon Dynasty is one of these sets. First, the gainlands have returned, which means that a card like Swiftwater Cliffs will sometimes take the place of a basic land in your packs. This naturally opens the door to more splashes and to smoother mana overall because having access to multicolor lands helps you get the colored sources you need for a splash. Additionally, green gains access to some excellent fixing in the form of Greater Tanuki (and the less powerful Grafted Growth if you really need it), and all of the colors can play Ecologist's Terrarium or Network Terminal if they are looking to splash.

The final piece of the puzzle is Uncharted Haven, a land that fits into any color combo and helps you fix your mana. With all of these tools it's relatively straightforward to play one or two powerful single pipped cards in a third color if you they will improve your deck. Ideally you should try to only play a single basic land of your third color while still getting 3 sources of that color, as that will keep your mana consistent while allowing you to gain some power. For example, a red black deck that is splashing blue could be happy playing something like a Dismal Backwater an Island, and an Ecologist's Terrarium to search it up, with maybe a Network Terminal as additional fixing.

As always, please splash responsibly!

Modified is not a Build Around Mechanic

With every new set comes new mechanics, and it's often tempting to try and maximize the new cards by going deep on one of these keywords. Modified is a new ability that rewards you for having creatures with counters, auras, or equipment on them, but in my experience it's better as a supplemental mechanic rather than the focal point of your deck. You are not going to be building a deck where every card cares about Modified and you are rolling in the payoffs.

Instead, you may have a few Modified cards that you can enable and maximize with proper deck construction and gameplay. That is totally fine, not every mechanic has to be the star of the show, but it is important to recognize that Modified is not going to be the lead singer in the rock band that is your deck.  There are a few cards that get a lot better when you enable them, but you will not find the density of payoffs and enablers needed to build a full deck that cares about the mechanic.

Sagas are Awesome

The new Sagas are awesome! Not only do they have powerful effects, but the fact that they flip into creatures makes them so much more dangerous. Not only are you getting decent effects with the first couple chapters, but now you are getting a permanent effect that is going to stay in play and help you win the game! It also helps that most of the creatures you get from Sagas are vastly over-statted compared to the mana value of the Saga to compensate you for the wait, which means that you are getting a pretty sizeable mana advantage.

Okiba Reckoner Raid essentially gets you a Vampire Spawn with Menace for 2 less mana, and Boseiju Reaches Skyward is getting you at the very least a 4 mana 6/6 that drew you two lands. Most of the other Sagas get you powerful creatures too, as well as some effects in their earlier chapters. I'm especially fond of the sagas in green, blue, and black, but across the board, most of the Sagas pack a punch.

Synergy is Everywhere

Neon Dynasty is a format that is full of synergy. It is not simply about playing the biggest creature and killing what your opponent plays, it's often about assembling the pieces of your gameplan and then using them to overwhelm your opponent. You can do some truly ridiculous things in this set, even with just commons and uncommons, so being on the lookout for combos is essential.

Something as simple as an Oni-Cult Anvil can be the centerpiece of a whole deck of synergy, giving you a stream of artifacts to fuel payoffs like Dragonspark Reactor and Scrapyard Steelbreaker. A Jukai Naturalist in the right shell might let you play your entire hand by turn 4, and a card like Heiko Yamazaki, the General can combo with a Ninja's Kunai to form a continuous loop of 3 damage a turn. That's not even mentioning the slow, but infinite, value loop you can assemble with Colossal Skyturtle and Season of Renewal! There is so much to do in this format, and a ton of cards that work well together, so make sure you look for ways to power up your deck with synergy.

Bonus Tip: Be Careful in Combat

It's worth noting that because Ninjutsu is making its return in Neon Dynasty, combat becomes extra tricky. When deciding if you will block a creature, you still have to weigh the fact that they might have a combat trick (as you would in a typical set), but now you must also consider whether leaving it unblocked will let your opponent punish you with a Ninja! The punishment is especially real with a card like Virus Beetle, where letting them pick it up with a Ninjutsu trigger gets them a ton of value.

If you are finding combat to be difficult in Neon Dynasty, I'd recommend looking up all the Ninjutsu cards in the set and all the combat tricks in the set, just so you know what you might be up against. Knowledge is power, and the situations you face will feel a lot less daunting when you are aware of what cards your opponent has access to.

I've been having a blast playing this format, and I hope that my advice can help you enjoy the set a bit more too. Until next time, happy drafting!