The 8 Spiciest Decks from the Neon Dynasty Championship

Posted in NEWS on March 11, 2022

By Frank Karsten

In total, 458 decklists were submitted for the Neon Dynasty Championship. Yet some stand out more than others—either because they use interesting new combinations of cards or because they were brought to the tournament by a big team or well-known deck builder.

Here's four Historic and four Alchemy decklists that excited me the most—and all of them rely heavily on new cards from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty.

Shinji Kawabata - Mardu Greasefang

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Based around a new enabler from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, Mardu Greasefang is an interesting new combo deck that is now legal in Historic. The plan is to get Parhelion II into the graveyard, say via Goblin Engineer, and to recur it Greasefang, Okiba Boss as early as turn three. The combination of a massive attack on that turn and a pair of 4/4 Angels that stays behind is usually enough to win the game.

Five players registered a Mardu Greasefang deck, and there are also two Esper Greasefang players, but I like Shinji Kwabata's version the best for several reasons:

  • Kawabata's list is all-in on the combo plan. The deck is basically comprised of lands, combo pieces, card selection spells, and discard spells to protect the combo. There's no plan B with alternative threats, but that's also not necessary. As a result, the list is clean, focused, and consistent.
  • There are three copies of Wishclaw Talisman. This card not only finds Greasefang when you didn't draw it naturally but also synergizes particularly well with Goblin Engineer. When you activate Wishclaw Talisman, you can hold priority and respond by sacrificing it to Goblin Engineer to return, say, Portable Hole from your graveyard to the battlefield. When Wishclaw Talisman's ability resolves, it tries to do as much as possible, which means that you get to search your library for Greasefang and put it in your hand, but your opponent won't gain control of the artifact because it's already in the graveyard. Perfect!
  • The list has 25 lands. This may look like a lot, especially for a Faithless Looting deck, but with an two-card combo like this, you want to mulligan aggressively and keep as many hands as possible that have both combo pieces. It sucks when you have to mulligan a hand with Greasefang and Goblin Engineer because you only have a single land, so upping the land count will improve consistency. As someone who has done a lot of work on the math behind mana bases, I applaud Shinji Kawabata for including more lands than other Greasefang players.

Glenn DiGirolamo - Rakdos Aggro

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Sideboard (15)
1 Lurrus of the Dream-Den 4 Thoughtseize 3 Abrade 4 Fatal Push 3 Soul-Guide Lantern

Glenn DiGirolamo is the only competitor who submitted Rakdos Aggro in Historic. The list stands out because more than half of the nonland cards in the main deck stem from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. If you've drafted red-black recently, you'll be familiar with the artifact sacrifice synergies, such as sacrificing Experimental Synthesizer to Oni-Cult Anvil. This creates a 1/1 token, drains the opponent, and allows you to play the top card from your library that turn. To ensure that you can usually cast that card and to simultaneously enable Lurrus of the Dream-Den as the companion, the creature curve stops at two.

Speaking of creatures: Every creature in this deck is an artifact! This makes Patchwork Automaton into quite the formidable threat, especially once you start recasting Reinforced Ronin to boost it every turn. It also means that Unlicensed Disintegration is reliably active to deal three damage on top of clearing a blocker. All in all, this deck features a lot of spicy synergies, and with 12 one-mana creatures and 10 direct damage spells, it can cobble together some quick wins.

Takashi Niitsuma - Boros Tokens

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Takashi Niitsuma brought a unique decklist that marries two disparate game plans.

The main game plan is to cast Indomitable Creativity on turn four. You'll have drawn it at that point in roughly half of the games. As the only artifact or creature cards in the deck are two copies of Serra's Emissary, you'll be able to sacrifice any creature token to put a guaranteed Serra's Emissary onto the battlefield (provided you didn't accidentally draw both of them). A 7/7 flier that gives you protection from creatures will beat most opposing creature decks.

But what if you don't draw Indomitable Creativity? Without Expressive Iterations or other card draw spells to find it consistently, that is an important question. Takashi Niitsuma's solution was to emphasize the token theme. You can curve out with Legion's Landing or Satyr's Cunning on turn one, Forbidden Friendship or Rase the Alarm on turn two, and then beef them up with Intangible Virtue to produce a fast clock. Wedding Announcement and Heroic Reinforcements also fit perfectly in this plan, as they not only create extra tokens but also buff all of the existing ones. Two new token creators from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, The Wandering Emperor and Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance, pushed the deck over the top.

Justin Gennari - Simic Paradox Engine

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Simic Paradox Engine decks have been around in Historic for a while, but only as a fringe archetype. The two key cards are Emry, Lurker of the Loch and Paradox Engine. If you have both on the battlefield along with a Chromatic Sphere and a nonland mana source, you can sacrifice Chromatic Sphere for mana, draw a card, activate Emry to replay it from the graveyard, untap everything, and loop until you've drawn your deck. Afterwards, you can use Karn, the Great Creator to grab Aetherflux Reservoir from your sideboard, cast a few more spells, and win the game.

There are also multiple infinite mana loops possible. One involves two Mox Ambers. You can tap one for mana, activate Emry to replay the other from the graveyard, untap everything with Paradox Engine, lose one to the legend rule, and loop until you've generated infinite mana. Alternatively, if you control enough nonland mana producers (for example, you might control Llanowar Elves, Mox Amber, Mind Stone, and Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy to double their mana production) then you can grab Ancestral Statue from your sideboard with Karn, cast it, untap everything, bounce itself, and loop until you've generated infinite mana.

But all of these engines were available before. The new elements from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty are Moonsnare Prototype and The Reality Chip. Moonsnare Prototype is yet another nonland mana producer—something that is very important for Kinnan and Paradox Engine—that doubles as a piece of interaction and that reduces the cost of Emry. It fits the deck perfectly.

The Reality Chip is not only another legend for Mox Amber but also an excellent fit for a deck that can generate absurd amounts of mana. With Paradox Engine on the battlefield, casting spells from the top of your library will probably add extra mana to your pool, and you can use Chromatic Sphere or Mind Stone to get past land gluts. I'm excited to seeing how this deck will perform. Amusingly, it may be better positioned in Historic than in Alchemy where Archon of Emeria and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben dominate.

Gabriel Nassif - Orzhov Venture

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Planeswalker (2)
2 The Wandering Emperor
Sorcery (3)
3 Duress
Other (17)
4 Citystalker Connoisseur 4 A-Triumphant Adventurer 4 A-Precipitous Drop 4 Forsaken Crossroads 1 A-Dungeon Descent
60 Cards

The recent Alchemy rebalancing of A-Triumphant Adventurer, A-Dungeon Descent, and A-Precipitous Drop had a big effect, as Orzhov Venture at 7.4% of the metagame is one of the breakout Alchemy archetypes from the Neon Dynasty Championship. Dungeons will be reliably completed with this deck, which means that Nadaar, Selfless Paladin will give other creatures +1/+1 and that A-Precipitous Drop will give -5/-5.

What stands out is not just the deck itself but the list of players who registered it. Andrew Cuneo, Gabriel Nassif, Matt Nass, Raphael Levy, Shahar Shenhar, and Sam Pardee are all playing the same 75 as listed above. Moreover, Brent Vos, Eli Kassis, Jan Merkel, Jaeseok Cho, Kai Budde, Logan Nettles, Luis Scott-Vargas, Martin Juza, Mike Sigrist, Noah Ma, and Reid Duke are all playing extremely similar versions as well.

It seems there were minor disagreements about the last few slots, such as the fourth A-Precipitous Drop, the Needleverge Pathways, the March of Otherworldly Light, whether or not to run a singleton intrepid Adversary or not, and a few sideboard cards. One way or another, when a superteam of Hall of Famers, Pro Tour champions, and long-time veterans all settle on an archetype together, then that's telling.

By the way, speaking of superteams: The Japanese superteam of Kazuki Yada, Kenji Tsumura, Kenta Harane, Rei Sato, Riku Kumagai, Shuhei Nakamura, Toru Kono, Toru Saito, Yoshihiko Ikawa, Yuma Koizumi, Yuta Hirosawa, Yuta Takahashi, Yuuki Ichikawa all registered close to the same Azorius Yorion deck in Historic. I decided not to highlight it in this article because a white-blue control strategy is not particularly unique or novel, but this is the team that has been tearing up events as of late so it's surely a well-tuned list to keep an eye on.

Tanner Lange - Selesnya Tokens

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There's only one list of this kind at the Neon Dynasty Championship, but it's a work of art. There's too many synergies to point out:

  • Suntail Squadron
  • 548563
  • 541124
  • Prosperous Innkeeper
  • Sigardian Evangel
  • 527523
  • Tamiyo's Safekeeping

Simply put, I love it when everything works together.

Óscar Franco - Izzet Calamity

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Oscar Franco and Fernando Palmero García submitted the same 75 cards, and Yo Tezuka registered a very similar version as well. After Alrund's Epiphany, Goldspan Dragon, and Hullbreaker Horror were rebalanced, the core of the Izzet shell remained but new win conditions had to be explored.

The win condition they settled on is Body of Research, which will usually create a 40/40 or bigger. It's pretty difficult to cast in a base blue-red deck, but thanks to Invoke Calamity from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, you to can reliably cast it from your graveyard or your hand as early as turn five. Or in an ideal scenario involving The Celestus, as early as turn four.

One downside to Body of Research is that it can be chump blocked or destroyed pretty easily, but that's where Kazuul's Fury gets in. The modal double-faced card can fling the creature at your opponent directly, winning the game on the spot. This makes for a pretty powerful combo.

Yet these Body of Research players are not the only ones to exploit Invoke Calamity. I already alluded to a Hall of Famer who registered Tasha's Hideous Laughter in the metagame breakdown article, and I'm excited to highlight the actual decklist here.

Shota Yasooka - Izzet Mill

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For years, the big question at Pro Tours was "what is Shota Yasooka playing?"

I'm not sure anyone was expecting the answer to be "Izzet Mill with 3 Tasha's Hideous Laughter as the only mill cards" but Yasooka certainly didn't disappoint. I can already imagine Twitch chat going wild when he's using Invoke Calamity to flash back two copies of Tasha's Hideous Laughter for the win.

I also love how Invoke Calamity allows him to "splash" Farewell in an Izzet deck and to even do it at instant speed. I feel that we're only beginning to understand the ramifications of Invoke Calamity and that we'll be seeing more and more of this powerful spell in the months to come.

In conclusion, if you were looking for a brand new Historic or Alchemy deck to try out, then give one of these decks a try! They're fun, powerful, and you can root for their pilots at the Neon Dynasty Championship this weekend.