Kyodai, Soul of Kamigawa is a White Dragon Spirit creature from Magic the Gathering’s Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty set. While its Red counterpart, Atsushi the Blazing Sky, is certainly flashier, Kyodai has its own interesting attributes. It has both Flash and Flying and costs four mana to cast, with three of its value requiring just generic mana. Also, when Kyodai enters the battlefield, you choose another target permanent to become indestructible as long as Kyodai is on the field.
Already, being able to keep one of your key cards from being destroyed is worth playing this Dragon. Since it has Flash, it will often be cast on your opponent’s turn, either to prevent something of yours from being destroyed, or to surprise block an opposing attack. So, not having Haste isn’t an issue. But, Kyodai has a second ability, one that we may not see come into play much in Standard, but one that can’t be ignored. For WUBRG (one of each of Magic’s mana colors), Kyodai gains +5/+5 until end of turn. This makes Kyodai a heck of a surprise blocker, but the intensive color requirement is going to make that very situational.
Fortunately, thanks to many decks playing many ways to make Treasure tokens which can tap for any colored mana, you can use these Treasures to make Kyodai’s alternate effect work. Plus, if you’re playing five-color Tiamat anyway, Kyodai looks like a very playable card. The very fact that Tiamat herself can tutor Kyodai to your hand will make opponents think twice before attacking. Who knew five-color Dragons in Standard could look so threatening, especially alongside Atsushi that makes Treasure tokens itself?
Because of that second ability, though, Kyodai is likely pigeonholed to five color Dragon decks, as a 3/3 is going to be a bit too fragile to survive and not hit back hard enough to matter. Plus, needing nine available mana to pull off a surprise block doesn’t seem all that possible in Standard, although with Goldspan Dragon and other Treasure token engines around, it’s certainly not impossible. But, in Modern, this is just not playable, since Lightning Bolt can pop it for three damage instantly.
Kyodai, Soul of Kamigawa in EDH / Commander
The major issue with Kyodai in EDH is it can only appear in five color decks thanks to that second ability cementing its five-color identity. Sure, there are multiple good five-color Dragon Commanders, and Kyodai seems good enough to protect your Commander or other key piece. The pump ability is certainly relevant, though, and can be used on offense much more easily in Commander where mana resources are much greater. Of course, there are plenty of Dragons who can pump into oblivion, but the combination of abilities, especially having Flash, is an interesting consideration. Also, four mana to cast a Dragon is slightly below average, so it’s not a huge resource investment, and thanks to its pump ability may draw out opponent’s removal.
Of course, on the flip side, Kyodai, Soul of Kamigawa can be a Commander itself. But, is it demonstrably better than something like Niv-Mizzet Reborn, Tiamat, The Ur-Dragon, Scion of the Ur-Dragon, or even Morophon, the Boundless? Where Kyodai has an edge is that this Dragon can get big in a hurry and take out players by itself with Commander damage. It’s also particularly fun alongside Ramos, Dragon Engine, who can produce WUBRG twice in one turn just by removing five +1/+1 counters from it.
Imagine a five-color Dragon Voltron deck; well, you don’t have to because Kyodai allows for just that. A 13/13 mono-White Dragon is extremely scary and you don’t need too many Equipments or Auras to get that power number to 21, either, especially when you have literally every card in Magic the Gathering history at your disposal. Also, thanks to being a Spirit, and the crazy amount of support for the tribe in recent sets, you could build a Spirit Tribal deck around Kyodai, too.
Kyle Massa of EDHREC reluctantly gave Kyodai the “over” grade for the Over or Grade series he writes for each new set. His reluctance comes from the fact that while five-color Commanders always break the 600 deck mark on EDHREC after one year from release, Kyodai seems less powerful and pushed than most of its five-color counterparts from recent years.
Still, Kyodai is among much more limited company as a mono-colored Legendary Creature with a five-color activated ability. This means while it’s seen as a five-color Commander in the format, it only requires White mana to actually cast. Wizards of the Coast has said before that colorless or mono-colored Legendary Creatures that serve as five-color Commanders can cause some issues in the format, thanks to their ease of casting. Yet, they are obviously not stopping in creating them.
To be honest, it’s not exactly too easy to build around a lot of five-color Commanders, thanks to their abilities being strong, yet also restrictive. Kyodai, though, doesn’t really have any restrictions to hold it back. The path to getting the most out of Kyodai is blatantly obvious, hit hard and fast and don’t bother to ask questions later. It seems that simply from being the fan-favorite plane of Kamigawa, people will go out of their way to break it, especially because of the massive card pool Kyodai allows you to draw from.
In the early going, EDHREC listed only a smattering of decks built around Kyodai, Soul of Kamigawa. The majority of these early lists focused on the Spirit Tribal aspect, building around the Spirit Dragons of Neon Dynasty in addition to Kyodai. This leads to a control-oriented strategy that combines Dragon support with the Shrines, which have effects that build off of one another. This may be the stickiest strategy, but the Voltron strategy could be built in with very little effort; all you need to do, after all, is produce a ton of mana to activate Kyodai’s pump ability multiple times.
There’s, of course, the possibility that Kyodai will be the first five-color Legendary Creature in the past three years to miss the mark as a Commander. The enter-the-battlefield effect is good, but hardly game breaking; Aegis Angel does the same thing and is rarely played among a super popular tribe. What makes or breaks Kyodai in the long run is having flash and the ability to pump to incredible heights. Is it a “hipster” choice among the many overpowered but often restrictive other five-color Dragon Commanders? As someone who’s always rooting for the underdog, I’m unafraid to champion Kyodai, Soul of Kamigawa as one of the more underappreciated Legendary Spirit Dragons from Neon Dynasty.
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