Magic: The Gathering’s expansion Phyrexia: All Will Be One is bringing Kaito, Dancing Shadow, a Planeswalker that will make one deck much stronger.
The upcoming Magic: The Gathering expansion Phyrexia: All Will Be One is set to be released next month. Unlike the many other products Wizards of the Coast is producing for Magic, this set will be a regular Standard-legal expansion. With spoilers already starting, players have ideas for what the updated format will look like. Dimir (Blue/Black) is on the cusp of being a top-tier deck, and the new Planeswalker Kaito, Dancing Shadow will push it up to the next tier.
Generally, sets that come out in the middle of Standard rotations don’t create entirely new decks but instead change and improve archetypes that already exist. This Standard has some extremely powerful decks across numerous archetypes. Many of the other decks are just a notch below the tier-one choices and need one or two cards to allow them to compete with the strongest builds in the set. A lot of the best decks such as Grixis (Red, Black, Blue) and Esper (White, Blue, Black) have very demanding mana requirements due to being three or more colors. Although the lands in Standard are excellent right now, there is still a lot to be said for two-color or mono-color decks that will almost never have mana issues in games. Dimir decks focused on controlling the tempo of the game are going to significantly improve with the release of Kaito, Dancing Shadow.
Kaito Already Fits Into Dimir’s Plans
Dimir generally excels at a strategy focused on playing a slow and controlling game. Counterspells and removal keep the battlefield clear, and the deck wins through incremental damage or one big creature. The new Kaito slots perfectly into these decks with its abilities to draw cards, create creatures and protect itself from enemy attackers. Historically, Planeswalkers that have the ability to keep themselves on the battlefield by impeding attacks are extremely strong.
At a mana cost of 2UB, Kaito comes down on turn four and can immediately produce a 2/2 creature with deathtouch that drains the enemy for 2 life when the creature dies, and if an opponent has an evasive creature, the +1 ability can stop it from attacking for an entire turn cycle. This makes Kaito extremely difficult to kill on the opponent’s next turn after it comes down. Lastly, if the board is under control, Kaito can start drawing cards and give the Dimir deck more options to shut down future threats.
Kaito Has a Never-Before-Seen Ability
Kaito has another ability that has never been printed on any other Planeswalker. When a creature deals combat damage to an opponent, the player can return that creature to their hand, and this allows Kaito to use an extra ability on the current turn. Dimir has access to a lot of creatures that have single mana costs and flying, like Network Disrupter or Thousand-Faced Shadow. At two mana is Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia or Surge Engine. These cards create constant cheap attackers early on and make activating Kaito’s abilities multiple times on a consistent basis very feasible. Kaito, with his ability to do a combination of drawing cards and stopping threats on the same turn, will put Dimir far enough ahead in only a turn or two to win most games.
Unlike early fall sets that start whole new rotations, releases in the middle of the Standard season tend to enhance current decks more than create new ones. Dimir is an archetype that is on the cusp of being top-tier. It is just missing a card like Kaito, Dancing Shadow to give it that extra power boost. Kaito plays perfectly into Dimir’s strengths with its abilities all being focused on board control and card advantage. The extra clause about multiple activations per turn should not be taken lightly, as it’s going to help Dimir decks get ahead and stay ahead. Overall, Dimir is going to be a much stronger contender going forward.