Welcome to Part 4 of our Kamigawa Neon Dynasty Draft Guide. Today we are taking a hard look at the Top Commons in each color. MTG’s latest draft set is a complex one and whether you're playing on Magic Arena or in Paper, preparation is key to success in your first online events or at prerelease.
In some limited environments, when power trumps synergy, it's possible to get away with static pick orders. Kamigawa Neon Dynasty however, is a highly synergistic set and when synergy reigns, static pick orders fall apart fast. As such this article won’t simply present you with a ‘top five commons’ for each color. Instead we discuss the merits of individual cards and how their value will vary depending on the strategies your deck is employing.
To get the most out of this article it’s important to have a solid understanding of the major archetypes of the set. So check out our archetype guides first if you need to brush up on that. Without further ado, let's get into it.
White is a flexible color in this set, capable of leaning in several different directions. Boros, backed up by red cards, has an aggressive game plan whilst Azorius can either be aggressive or controlling. Orzhov, led by black’s value based commons, falls into a more midrange shell, whilst Selesnya goes all in on powerful enchantment based synergies.
One card which all four of these decks will want is, Imperial Oath. It’s unusual for a six mana sorcery to make the top commons, however, this card packs a heavy punch, creating three 2/2 bodies with vigilance. On top of that, the Scry 3 allows you to dig deep into your deck ensuring you won’t run out of steam in the near future.
Another high pick card is Spirited Companion. With the magic words ‘draw a card’ printed on it, this enchantment creature will be outstanding in the synergy decks. Whilst the 1/1 body might seem mopey, this set is stuffed full of 2/1 creatures it can trade with. On top of that it can crew vehicles or be modified to turn it into a relevant threat.
One for the midrange synergy decks, Era of Enlightenment won’t slot into an aggressive game plan. Fairly slow to get started this card does still represent a lot of value for decks set up to appreciate it. A 2/2 first strike body following a scry 2 and a gain 2 is an awful lot of value for just 2 mana.
A 2/3 for three mana, Golden-Tail Disciple may not look like a top common at first glance. Lifelink however, good in most recent sets, makes racing extremely difficult for your opponent whilst the body matches up well in the format. Additionally the enchantment creature type pulls its weight in the more synergy driven decks.
Intercessors Arrest is white’s top common removal spell. Capable of enchanting any permanent, this aura can deal with creatures, vehicles and planeswalkers. Great in any deck, this enchantment also synergises nicely with the themes of Orzhov and Selesnya. It suffers however from the problem facing all aura based removal, that a permanent can be ‘bounced’ out from underneath it. With bounce effects available in both blue and white at common, Intercessor’s Arrest goes down slightly in value but is still a very high pick.
With powerful ninjas at common, Blue is capable of playing either an aggressive or controlling game. Azorius and Dimir can both be built on a spectrum ranging from tempo aggro to control. Simic tends to be more midrange, whilst Izzet leans on the aggressive side. Whichever direction you choose to take, there will be no shortage of value as ninjutsu allows the constant playing and replaying of cards from your hand.
It's hard to believe that a combat trick would make the top commons of any color, let alone blue, however Suit Up does just that. With blue revolving around the ninjutsu mechanic, this card puts your opponents in a tough spot. Unable to put a foot right when facing an attacker, ninjas punish those who fail to block whilst Suit Up blows out those that do.
A two mana saga, The Modern Age lets you dig through your deck before it flips into a relevant threat. While this card may seem slow, the format typically grants you enough time to extract maximum value and the loot effect is badly needed, in a set where card draw is thin on the ground. In addition, once the card transforms you will find the 2/3 flying body matches up well on the battlefield.
The premium two drop in blue based aggro decks, Moon-Circuit Hacker is a force to be reckoned with. For anyone who lives under a rock, a one mana 2/1 which draws you a card is extremely good. The trick of course is enabling ninjutsu, which is why Network Disruptor is such a high pick. The play pattern of Network Disruptor into Moon-Circuit Hacker is a powerful way to start any game of magic!
Network Disruptor is a premium common card for any blue based ninja deck. A cheap, evasive threat which can enable the ninjutsu ability, this little guy even has a relevant enter the battlefield effect. Outside of aggressive decks this card won’t be a high pick. However get stuck with a handful of ninjas, powerless to enable ninjutsu and you will surely regret having passed this card.
Whilst Moonsnare Specialist will perform well in aggressive decks, it’s actually just a great card all round. Using the ninjutsu ability is obviously great value but hard casting this for four mana is still a reasonable deal. The tempo advantage gained from bouncing your opponent's best creature will feel great whether you are in the lead or attempting to stabilize. In addition the option to return a creature to your own hand means that Moonsnare Specialist laughs at aura based removal.
Black is one of the stronger colors in the set. With powerful removal, value creatures and synergy pieces, black is capable of playing an aggressive or midrange game. Dimir and Rakdos lead the charge as the two most aggressive decks. Whilst Golgari plays as a midrange ‘good stuff’ pile and Orzhov leans a little more on synergy.
One of the top commons in the set is Okiba Reckoner Raid. A 2/2 menace for one mana is insane and the life drain matters to both aggressive and defensive players. In addition, those who can lift this up with ninjutsu will be especially happy.
An all round solid two drop, Virus Beetle will force your opponent to discard a card as it enters the battlefield. This little guy has a surprising amount of utility as it enables artifact synergies and makes great fodder for sacrifice. In addition the 1/1 body is perfect for trading off in a format full of two mana 2/1s.
Twisted embrace is a top quality piece of removal. This card can deal with almost any threat for four mana. As if that wasn't enough, it leaves a +1/+1 counter and an aura lying around too. The obvious downside of this card is the risk associated with casting it into open mana. A well timed removal spell from your opponent could see you on the wrong side of a two-for-one so pick your spots wisely.
Whilst Clawing Torment won’t fit into controlling or midrange shells, it’s an absolute beating in an aggressive deck. Its ability to remove a blocker is key for those strategies and the points of damage really add up over multiple turns. At just one mana this card really is efficient and capable of swinging games in your favor.
Kami of Terrible Secrets is a powerful synergy piece for black. In many decks this reads as a four mana 3/4 body that draws a card on entry. Although, due to a lack of enchantments, this card may underperform in Rakdos, it’s worth picking up early in the other color pairs.
Red is one of the more cohesive colors in the set since on the whole its pairs are aggressive. With efficient removal and aggressive creatures, it is often hoping to end the game before it’s opponents can establish a board presence. Some of the most successful red decks choose not to add a second color, preferring to remain mono colored.
Regardless of which red archetype you find yourself in, you’ll be happy to pick up a copy of Kami’s Flare. This powerful removal spell is great if you don’t have a modified creature on board and even better if you do. Three damage for two mana has been a limited staple for sometime now and it never fails to perform
Rakdos and Izzet, the more synergistic of red’s color pairs, would love to pick up multiple copies of Experimental Synthesizer. This one mana artifact provides a cards worth of value as it enters the battlefield and one on its way out too. It’s also a key player in the mono red aggro decks where a very low curve means it rarely fails to provide a card.
Voltage Surge is essentially shock with upside. Sure you can’t go face with this variant but the option to sacrifice an artifact to deal four damage will surely come in handy. Please note that this is red’s only way of dealing four damage at common. As such it’s a good idea to ensure you have some expendable artifacts in your deck if you're lucky enough to pick up one or two of these.
Towashi Songshaper is red’s premium two drop creature. Great for an aggressive start, this 2/2 gets a power bump whenever an artifact enters the battlefield. With the right curve out, this card can connect for a surprising amount of damage in the first few turns of the game.
Simian Sling is a great aggressive card. This one drop can peck in for early points of damage before turning into a highly relevant equipment in the late game. The fact that it's an artifact scores points in Izzet and its ability to modify other creatures fits nicely into Gruul’s theme.
Green is a powerful color with solid removal, plenty of fixing and large creatures. Thanks to the enchantment creature type, which appears on several top commons, the color is also highly synergistic. Gruul is the most aggressive color pair whilst Golgari leans more midrange. Simic is typically midrange or ramp, whilst Selesnya leans hard into the enchantment synergies.
Even seeing some constructed play, Tamiyo’s Safekeeping is a highly efficient protection spell. Able to blow out removal or save your creature in combat, this card makes life extremely difficult for your opponents. Keeping just one mana open to hold this up is a reasonable ask, given how much value it can provide.
A generically powerful green common is Master’s Rebuke. This two mana ‘bite’ spell should take care of most threats when teamed up with a large enough beast. This card being instant speed is a big deal, allowing you to easily pick a spot where you can't get blown out.
Fang of Shigek is a premium one drop at common. In a ninja deck this card is a solid enabler. Whilst on defense, this little guy can hold back an army, threatening to trade for almost any creature. In addition, its deathouch plays extremely well with Master’s Rebuke, taking down even the largest threats.
Tales of Master Seshiro is a powerful saga that plays well in an assertive strategy. The potential of this saga is unlocked when it’s cast into a board full of beefy creatures. The counters are often enough to enable attacks and the vigilance means there’s no fear of a crack back. By the time the third chapter resolves the board is often in a very favorable state.
Recent animate land effects have been poor in limited, often falling on the side of unplayable. Not so with Harmonious Emergence, however. The 4/5 body this creates is huge in the format, red in particular has real trouble dealing with a creature of this size. In addition, the major drawbacks of animating a land have been largely nullified by the text on this card. Firstly there’s no risk of this land being destroyed and secondly, thanks to vigilance, it can still tap for mana after attacking.
This guide wouldn't be complete without a quick note on the colorless cards. There are eleven colorless cards at common which is a relatively high number. Most of these are junky and unlikely to see much play but a handful might make the cut.
Searchlight Companion might not seem impressive at first glance but two bodies for three mana is a reasonable rate, especially when one is flying. Enabling artifact synergies, this card also plays well in a ninja deck, as an evasive threat which provides a body when it hits the board.
Whilst five mana for a 3/2 body is arguably clunky, the format is just slow enough to allow Shrine Steward a chance to breathe. Its ability to draw aura based removal or a shrine card means it can take on a toolbox like nature in the right deck.
With all the benefits of being an artifact and a modification, Ninja’s Kunai makes damage based removal available to every color pair. Dealing three damage for three mana is reasonable even if tapping a creature could be a steep cost in some scenarios. You’ll be happy to pick this up if removal ends up thin on the ground during your draft.
A three casting cost mana rock, Network Terminal provides essential fixing for those decks that require it. In a format with little access to pure card draw however, it’s the loot ability that tips this over the edge. With a high number of artifact creatures running around, there’s usually something available to tap down and this ability can easily pull you ahead in a long game.
In many formats a one mana 1/1 is simply not good enough to play. Iron Apprentice however manages to buck that trend due to the ‘gluey’ nature of the card. This little guy fits into several decks, providing sacrifice fodder in Rakdos or an extra artifact trigger in Izzet. It can also provide a modified creature for Gruul or an early ninja enabler for Dimir.