Review and Upgrade Guide
Upgrades Unleashed

Unleashed is about right! This Kamigawa Neon Dynasty Commander Pre-constructed deck for Magic: the Gathering comes screaming out of the starting blocks and is a total blast to play right out of the box.

A huge “thank you” to our partners at Unplug Yourself for supplying us once again with these precon decks to play and review, check them out for all your tabletop gaming goodies and news.

Chishiro, the Shattered Blade is the face commander of this deck with Kaima, the Fractured Calm as a possible second commander in the Gruul (red and green) colours. However, we’ll come back to Kaima in a little bit, for now I’d like to focus on Chishiro, cos this commander is super cool. 

Chishiro, the Shattered Blade states that “whenever an aura or equipment enters the battelfield under your control” you create a 2/2 red spirit creature token with menace, which is great cos the deck has about 14 aura and equipment cards to help trigger this ability. On top of that the next bit of text on Chishiro is really exciting because it plays right into the placing of auras and equipment on your creatures. It says that at the beginning of your end step you get to put a +1/+1 counter on each modified creature you control. 

Let’s just clarify quickly: modified creatures are creatures that have either been equipped, enchanted with auras or have counters on them (a new keyword mechanic introduced with Kamigawa Neon Dynasty).

So we want to put lots of auras and equipment on things and then add loads of +1/+1 counters to our modified creatures and good-old-Gruul stompy all over our opponents, that seems like the logical line of play here right? Hell, yeah! And this deck is built to help you do just that. Before we look at the deck stats, let’s take a look at some notable reprints you’ll find in the deck.

Firstly, there are two umbra aura cards that are great in this deck: Bear Umbra and Snake Umbra, not only do these two auras trigger our commander’s first ability, but they protect whichever creature we play them on from begin destroyed while giving a power/toughness buff and a triggered ability. Value! Mage Slayer from Alara Reborn and Fireshrieker, originally seen in Mirrodin, are two excellent equipment cards that make your modified creature just that much more deadly with double strike from the Shrieker and the direct damage attack trigger on Slayer.

Then there are a whole bunch of cards that increase your ability to add counters to things starting with one of my fav enchantments from Ravnica Allegiance, Rhythm of the Wild, which either puts a +1/+1 counter on a creature you’ve just cast or gives said beasty haste! Forgotten Ancient and Taurean Mauler both punish your opponents for casting anything while the ever-popular Agitator Ant offers opponents the boon of adding counters to their own creatures with the price of goading those creatures they modify in this way (goading meaning that a goaded creature must attack if able, but may not attack you or planeswalkers you control).

Champion of Lambholt is an exceptional card for a +1/+1 counters deck as it just gets bigger for each creature you play and it pressurises your opponents by not allowing them to block with any creature that has power less then the Champion. Ordeal of Nylea adds counters to the enchanted creature and acts as two land ramp for 1 and a green, so once again the value is brilliant and then our old goblin buddy, Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin, joins the fray and gains a +1/+1 counter each time he attacks, makes 1/1 gobbos equal to the number of +1/+1 counters on him which you can add to it using Chishiro’s ability, making Krenko bigger and adding even more little gobbos! Fun times!

As for new commander cards, this deck has 14 bright, shiny things to help bring your opponents low. We mentioned the second potential commander for the deck earlier on, but I do feel that because of Kaima, the Fractured Calm’s ability you may need to restructure the deck quite dramatically, taking a very different line from the one used for Chishiro. 

Kaima says that at the beginning of your end step you get to goad each creature your opponents control that is enchanted by an aura you control and then you get to put a +1/+1 counter of Kaima for each creature goaded this way. Since there is only 7 auras in deck to start with and most of them play perfectly into Chishiro’s line, there is not really a great deal of value – in my opinion – in trying to run Kaima as the commander here straight out of the box (although Foxglovelass did an awesome job with Kaima during our Command This! episode with these decks – find the episode on our YouTube channel). 

Of the other new cards, and all of them are very good cards, these are my four favs for this deck: Concord with the Kami is a perfect fit enchantment for this deck giving you such value at the beginning of your send step, while the Kami of Celebration once again brings the value train riding home with its static ability of exiling cards and allowing you to play them from exile and adding +1/+1 counters on creatures you control…hmm…I can think of another deck that might like this card…Prosper anyone? 

Kosei, Penitent Warlord is one of the most interesting cards I have come across in a while and I was so happy to actually pull Kosei off properly in the second game I played with this deck out of the box, enchanting, equipping and adding a counter to the ogre samurai to get full value from his combat damage ability. 

This last card on my list, however, I feel is the strongest card in this deck: Ascendant Acolyte arrived on the battlefield in three games out of the box with more than 12 +1/+1 counters on it and just snowballed from there. Just a total counter matters powerhouse of a card that I would happily play in any +1/+1 counters deck.

So let’s look at the deck stats:


  • There are 7 auras in the deck (one of which you have to target your own creature with)
  • 7 Equipment spells
  • There are 12 sources of ramp in the deck
  • 2 Boardwipes
  • 7 sources of card draw
  • 5 targeted removal spells
  • 3 spirits matter spells (because our commander makes spirits)
  • and there are 17 +1/+1 counters matters cards in the deck out of the box.

I think it’s pretty clear which way they want you to go with this deck and I hope the above notes have showed you just how good that line can be with this deck.

In terms of upgrades I can really only suggest the big budget bombs of Hardened ScalesDoubling SeasonVigor and Branching Evolution to improve this deck. Although you might want to look at Karn’s BastionEvolution Sage and Gavony Township should you not be able to shell out for the more expensive cards. There are also old favs like Rancor, Song of the Dryads and the Modern-banned Splinter Twin which might find a place in your version of this deck once upgraded.

Overall, I am super impressed with the way this deck fires right out of the box and am quite keen to play it a few more times before I decide on what kind of upgrade I’d like to do with it. There are a number of lines you could follow, but for me the +1/+1 theme is definitely the strongest, but you may want to try something more aura and equipment focused. It’ll be your upgrade after all.

Once again, a huge shout out to our partners at Unplug Yourself for providing us with these decks to play with and review.

See you on the battlefield.