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Dig Through Time — Champions of Kamigawa
Today’s article travels back to the first set from everyone’s favorite Shinto-inspired block that we’re almost certainly never going to visit ever again: Champions of Kamigawa. This set introduced some much-beloved creature types like monk, samurai, and advisor. The set also introduced some legendarily bad mechanics: Arcane and Splice onto Arcane, Spirits and Soulshift. While those mechanics are widely regarded as bad, we did get Bushido and flip cards out of Kamigawa. Despite having a controversial frame, flip cards played in a design space that paved the way for the double-faced cards we all enjoy today. Perhaps the number one reason Kamigawa is so popular with EDH players is its theme legends. If it was a rare (or sometimes even uncommon) it was legendary, and so a lot of mono-colored commanders were born. Azusa, Lost but Seeking, Boseiju, Who Shelters All, Ghostly Prison, Sakura-Tribe Elder, the Spirit Dragon cycle, and other staple cards were all introduced in Champions of Kamigawa. Cards like these are famously good, but did other useful cards fall through the cracks? Oh, my goodness, yes! Let’s take a look.
Samurai of the Pale Curtain is an excellent piece of graveyard hate that sees play in 204 decks. It’s so good that I was surprised that I had never heard of it before. Like Rest in Peace, Samurai of the Pale Curtain completely turns off reanimator commanders and shuts down graveyard combo decks like Sharuum the Hegemon or Athreos, God of Passage. If you run it under a commander with green in its color identity, like Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa, you can add Dryad Militant to remove anything that touches the graveyard.
Sensei Golden-Tail plays Samurai of the Pale Curtain the most at 23 decks. In fact, most of the top commanders for this card are from Kamigawa block, including Takeno, Samurai General, Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, Patron of the Kitsune, Isamaru, Hound of Konda, Opal-Eye, Konda’s Yojimbo and Nagao, Bound by Honor. That’s fine, but this card is so much more than a gimmick, tribal, or theme card. It’s legitimately strong. If you’d rather not spend $8 on Rest in Peace, why not pick up a copy of Samurai for less than 50 cents?
Hey! I’m Squelching Here!
Squelch sees play in 167 decks, and is a useful and fun trick. It counters a fetchland or, after allowing a planeswalker to tick up to its ultimate, counter the walker’s activation, likely killing it. Is it quite as good as Disallow? No, but aside from Voidslime, what is? The fact that it draws you a card and only costs two to cast makes it a potentially worthwhile inclusion in a control or chaos slot.
Talrand, Sky Summoner runs Squelch in 36 decks, which is more than any other commander. The next top commander, Baral, Chief of Compliance, only has six decks that include Squelch. This card can just be goodstuff in the 99, or part of a dedicated control package. Either way, it’s not something your opponents will expect, and it’s fun to resolve. If you liked trying Rerout from my Ravnica article, give Squelch a go in your next brew.
Fear the Weaver
Reweave sees play in 139 decks, and is a pretty interesting spot-removal spell. If you’re not in white or green, it removes problem enchantments, just be careful that you don’t cheat something worse out. If you’re not in white or black it can permanently deal with a difficult creature, which is nice. Reweave even gets rid of problem lands at instant speed. It’s very unlikely that your opponent is going to polymorph out something scarier than the Cabal Coffers you force them to sacrifice. It has the potential to help or hurt whoever it targets, so be careful what you do with it.
Talrand, Sky Summoner, again, plays Reweave the most at a whopping 13 decks. If you want to run more than one Chaos Warp, or you’re just not playing red, give this a home in your next Jalira, Master Polymorphist, Riku of Two Reflections, or Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder build.
Bone Daddy Warbucks
Nezumi Bone-Reader is a great little sacrifice outlet that sees play in just 278 decks. Perfect for when you want to take control of your opponent’s hands, this card lets you expend your tokens or low-value chumps for either card parity or advantage. It doesn’t give you the same pinpoint effect as Corpse Traders, but it also costs significantly less mana to cast and to activate. If you’re running Sheoldred, Whispering One, Balthor the Defiled, Meren of Clan Nel Toth, or some other reanimator-themed commander, it might even be better to target yourself with Nezumi Bone-Reader’s ability.
Marrow-Gnawer plays this card the most at 121 decks. Since making lots of tokens to sac to the Bone-Reader is very strong, putting this in Ghoulcaller Gisa, Nath of the Gilt-Leaf, and Prossh, Skyraider of Kher offers several activation opportunities. If you really hate your friends, run this with a Bottomless Pit package, and no one gets to have cards.
The Night Stalker
Night Dealings is an excellent repeatable tutor that sees play in 265 decks. This is another card that I’m really surprised doesn’t see more play. I suppose it does make itself a big target, and it’s a big mana sink if you hope to activate it the turn it gets cast, but if can protect it, this card gets you anything you need from your deck again and again.
Mogis, God of Slaughter plays Night Dealings the most at 18 decks, but can you think of a black deck where this isn’t useful? Put it in Nekusar, the Mindrazer, Saskia the Unyielding, or Vela the Night-Clad. Go crazy and put it in Phenax, God of Deception! Okay, maybe not really in that last one, but you see my point. Consider dropping that Increasing Ambition (or maybe dropping that Demonic Tutor, Mr. Sean Whatson) in favor of Night Dealings.
Soul Glad to Blast You
Soulblast is a finisher for decks that go tall or wide, and sees play in 169 decks. Blowing up your board isn’t a big deal if it ends the game by Flinging all of your creatures at one player’s face. Let me point out that it’s instant speed, so it doesn’t have to be a finisher. You can use it in response to a wrath effect to make the person wiping the board pay for their actions. Play it in a desperate ploy to kill the person resolving Craterhoof Behemoth or Triumph of the Hordes. Your other opponents will thank you for it. Really! This also gets around those pesky Propaganda and Dueling Grounds effects, for when you’re stalled out on combat and have nothing better to do.
Omnath, Locus of Rage plays this card the most at 39 decks. It must feel really good to Soulblast a board full of Omnath’s elementals for all those extra three-damage triggers. Some other top recommendations from EDHREC include Krenko, Mob Boss, Thromok the Insatiable, and Xenagos, God of Revels. If you often find yourself sitting on a hefty amount of creature power and want additional ways to weaponize that power, why not throw in a Soulblast?
Ride the Snake!
Kashi-Tribe Reaver sees play in 119 decks, and, like Voracious Cobra, is a rattlesnake card that happens to have “snake” as a creature type. Leaving it up as a blocker makes your opponents rethink whether they want to have their best attacker frozen out for the next turn. Not even creatures with vigilance get around the Reaver’s ability, since it taps them down; though Reconnaissance will still allow them to untap their creature after damage has been dealt.
Kashi-Tribe Reaver doesn’t see much play outside of snake tribal decks. Seshiro the Anointed plays this card the most at 45 decks, and the other top commanders are all snakes, as well. I think Reaver is potentially better than that. If your political game is on point, it’s like a green Ghostly Prison that survives most boardwipes. I would think about trying this in Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury, Surrak, the Hunt Caller, or Multani, Maro-Sorcerer. Definitely consider it for any mono-green deck’s defensive slots.
Behind the Green Door
Glimpse of Nature is a little bit more played at 427 decks. Green has a couple of big draw spells like Rishkar’s Expertise and Shamanic Revelation, but those cost four or more mana. This little sorcery turns all of your mana dorks into cantrips for a single green. If you’re playing a Gruul commander, and have a haste enabler online, you can chain Llanowar Elves into Fyndhorn Elves into Elvish Mystic into Birds of Paradise, etc. You can also run Cryptolith Rite to turn all of your one-drops into mana dorks.
Since it’s used as part of the combo to draw your whole deck out in Animar, Soul of Elements (Cloudstone Curio + any colorless creature) it’s no surprise that Animar plays this card the most at 121 decks. Really, though, it’s not bad in any deck that runs lots of cheap creatures and/or generates loads of mana. Try it in Marath, Will of the Wild, Karametra, God of Harvests, or Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa.
Get Some Junkyo in the Trunk
Junkyo Bell sees play in 63 decks, and is a great way to take your strategy from wide to tall. Diversifying your strategy in terms of number of small creatures versus size of a single creature’s power can be a key component of closing out the game. I like running white-weenie swarm as much as the next guy, but sometimes your friend Paul is locking your Grenzo goblin tribal deck out of combat with a Silent Arbiter, and you just need to teach him a lesson with one really big goblin.
At nine decks, Ghoulcaller Gisa plays Junkyo Bell the most. Other decks that make lots of little tokens like Jazal Goldmane, Krenko, Mob Boss and Talrand, Sky Summoner are good candidates for Junkyo Bell. Also, this would be an absolute beast in a Rhys the Redeemed deck with a little bit of trample enabling, or even Predatory Focus. Pick one up, I’m sure you’ll find something to put it in.
Imi Statue is a slightly more meta-dependent hate card that sees play in 36 decks. Obviously, it combos well with Mycosynth Lattice and Unwinding Clock. Apart from that, it is some good tech against Daretti, Scrap Savant, Breya, Etherium Shaper, and other artifact-heavy decks.
Imi Statue sees the most play in Brago, King Eternal at 4 decks. It’s not so much specifically good in any builds, as much as it’s generally good at gluing up an artifact combo-heavy meta. If you’re running into lots of artifact shenanigans, but don’t feel like picking up a Stony Silence consider trying this out.
This week, I thought I’d give Kresh the Bloodbraided a chance to highlight some of our tall/wide shenanigan cards. I built in a great deal of token support that comes together to throw out one or two very big punches to close out the game. I hope you found something you like today, and please check back again in a few weeks where we’ll dig through the dusty attic of another plane for forgotten treasures.