Phyrexia: All Will Be One is coming and with it ten more planeswalkers ready to offer card advantage, board pressure, opponent pressure, deciding games when unanswered. But do they really have what it takes to shake up the meta?
Today, we'll discuss a Kamigawa native planeswalker, new to the Magic: The Gathering universe, who will have their second version released alongside the new set: Kaito Shizuki.
About Kaito Shizuki
Kaito Shizuki is a Kamigawa native who was orphaned as a child, as his parents were victims of a radiation accident in the Towashi Laboratory. As the access to technology to correctly treat their illness was restricted, his dad went to the black market, and was consequently arrested shortly after. Without access to treatment, both his dad and mother passed away, leaving Kaito and Eiko behind as orphans, taken in by the Imperial Palace in Eiganjo.
He appears to be very playful, though he worries about his sister and opposes the rules enforced by the Imperial Castle, and constantly defies them, by accessing out of bounds parts of the castle or stealing food from banquets. In one of his rebellious streaks, he ends up having contact with the Empress, with whom he starts developing a "secret" friendship.
As the times passed, Kaito received martial training, but he didn't identify with the imperial life, and after the Empress disappeared, he leaves Eiganjo Castle with the goal of finding the man with metal claws for arms (Tezzeret) and his friend.
Kaito was built on a design which mixed classic and modern themes: he has the stealth of a ninja, a telekinetic ability and swordsmanship talent, which he acquired through his Imperial training, and he uses these abilities alongside Kamigawa's technological advancements, as his drone is a trusty tool when it's time to do some sleuthing.
His spark lights up when he comes in contact with the Spark Kami, Himoto, which today is found in his drone Tanuki, which occasionally takes the shape of his mask.
Kaito escapes the Gideon Jura style hero pattern, as he has his own motivations and follows his own path to his goals, just like his predecessor Toshiro Umezawa (Champions of Kamigawa, Betrayers of Kamigawa, Saviors of Kamigawa; for those who enjoy keeping up with the lore, read these three books, they're worth it!). Very fittingly, they both carry the black mana in their identities.
Besides that, his telekinetic ability, creativity and curiosity link him to the blue mana. He is very loyal to his closest friends, does everything he can to protect them and has as his personal goal, after the events of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, to rescue his friend Tamiyo of Phyrexia.
Card Analysis - Kaito Shizuki
Kaito Shizuki is a three-mana planeswalker with three triggered abilities and one passive. He comes in with three loyalty markers, and can offer card advantage (in case you have attackers in that round), card select, is very useful in reanimate strategies, and/or can put a body with evasion on board.
His passive prevents the opponent from removing him from the board with one attack in the following round, practically guaranteeing a second trigger of his abilities or forcing your opponent to answer him in the upkeep phase. His "Ultimate" is interesting, as it allows for a board refill or even the entry of a decisive creature, depending on the deckbuilding.
He works as fuel for decks — he won't be your win condition, but the longer he is on board, the bigger his impact in the game. His natural home is in Midrange and Reanimate based decks, though he doesn't see much play in the latter due to the presence of Fable of the Mirror-Breaker.
Card Analysis - Kaito, Dancing Shadow
He shows himself as a versatile card, with a first triggered ability which is both offensive and defensive, as it takes out the opponent's best creature out of combat and can be the piece that unbalances a locked board, or it simply avoids the opponent's decisive creature from punishing you turn after turn.
Besides that, his first ability works as a source to trigger his passive ability, bringing back one creature to the hand and allowing another round of triggered abilities by this planeswalker to start. This new trigger can serve as card advantage due to the second ability, or as a way of putting on board a body with deathtouch.
By analyzing this card by its own, we can see a balance and good synergy, and his first ability makes him protect himself. The creature generated by the third ability is useful both as a protection, and as a way to trigger the passive ability, by draining two lifepoints when it leaves the board and getting one more loyalty ability trigger, opening up potentially 4 damage for the moment you need to be the beatdown.
Besides the retrofeeding capacity, when we match cards such as Ertai Resurrected, Fable of the Mirror-Breaker in the form of Reflection of Kiki-Jiki, Corpse Appraiser or Obscura Interceptor (among many others), by returning them to the hand, we can cast them again, creating another ETB (Enter the Battlefield) effect and triggering Kaito's abilities twice.
Kaito, Dancing Shadow in Standard
When we talk about Standard, this card can get a spot in Grixis Midrange.
This deck carries a collection of creatures with triggered abilities when they enter the battlefield, such as Corpse Appraiser, Bloodtithe Harvester, speaking of creatures which are common to all versions of this deck, and Wandering Mind and Ertai Resurrected, which show up as options in other versions.
For other existing decks with a blue and black base, Kaito, Dancing Shadow doesn't appear to have anything new to offer, as both in Esper Midrange and Esper Legends there are only a few creatures with ETB effects, so it's more interesting that they remain on board rather than bouncing them.
Besides that, there's the consolidated space of The Wandering Emperor alongside Sheoldred, The Apocalypse on curve 4, which makes even more complicated the chance of this card fitting in the main deck. It can still become a sideboard option against decks that use few creatures on board, but which have a considerable impact, such as Mono-Blue Tempo or even Izzet Control, in which it's necessary to keep up the pressure and create value.
Though the format is close to reaching its maximum power level in this rotation and, with that, new cards are having more and more trouble finding a home, not all is lost for our Kamigawa native friend. This happens due to the arrival of another Phyrexia: All Will Be One card: Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines.
Suggestion - Esper ETB
When analyzing Kaito, Dancing Shadow's abilities, we want to take full advantage of them, and that means, we will always try to use two triggered abilities per turn. For that to be efficient, we need creatures that trigger effects when leaving or entering the board (or, if possible, both).
Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines comes in being able to potentialize this trait and with both, who knows, maybe we'll see the birth of an Esper ETB?
Esper ETB, which I put in as a suggestion, works as an Esper Midrange, trying to create value in the first few turns with cards that create card advantage and controlling the opponent with removals, such as Make Disappear and Ertai Resurrected or delaying them with Obscura Interceptor, Anointed Peacekeeper or Kaito, Dancing Shadow.
In this type of strategy, the ETB abilities are essential, and our planeswalker allows us to repeat this process while we adjust to the strategy that pleases us the most during the match.
Kaito, Dancing Shadow in Pioneer and Explorer
In Pioneer, the meta is already quite structured and the Dimir mix hasn't performed well. The decks that have done that have little synergy with Kaito, Dancing Shadow, which makes the possibility of this card seeing play quite remote in the most played decks.
In Explorer, the recent addition of the new anthology made this format closer to Pioneer state, and presents the same difficulties regarding the blue and black mix, consequently being an inhospitable environment for our planeswalker.
Kaito, Dancing Shadow in Limited
Going into the Limited environment, our planeswalker is a strong addition to decks. The ability of taking a creature out of two combats is very relevant in this format, which allows for continuous aggression without risking getting hit with the opponent's attack.
Another relevant point is that due to a lack of removals, having a planeswalker which can put in good blockers becomes quite important, just as the ability of reusing occasional ETBs of creatures with the passive ability.
It is definitely a card that creates a lot of advantage, but it isn't a planeswalker which wins the game by itself, so it's important to have the "bombs" that punish opponents or good ETB effects that can be reused.
Kaito x Kaito
Comparing both cards, Kaito Shizuki is a more versatile card, in a lower curve with a bigger possibility of fitting in decks that carry blue and black.
On the other hand, Kaito, Dancing Shadow has good synergy with the deck which is at the top of the Standard meta currently, so it's possible it will see more play than its previous version.
Kaito, Dancing Shadow is a strong card with abilities which are synergistic with each other, and he can fit in very well in decks with creatures that have effects when they enter the board.
There are great possibilities it fits in Grixis Midrange, as well as participating in the birth of a deck with an ETB focus, but it should have trouble due to the other 4 drops in the format.
Thank you for reading, see you in the next article! Any questions or suggestions, I'm available in the comment section!