Upgrades Unleashed Upgrade Guide: Unleashing 5 More Upgrades

Here we go again. Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty’s release is the end of the week, and that means we’ve got two new Commander decks to talk about. In this Upgrades Unleashed Upgrade Guide, I’ll talk about the new Red-Green Modification deck. So get your biggest anime hair on, ’cause we’re diving straight in.

A Brief Note on Budget

That is, after I give my obligatory announcement about budget. This article is supposed to get your creative juices flowing. I’m throwing out as many cool ideas as I can think of. Feel absolutely free to take my recommendations exactly, or run with them in a totally different direction.

Because I want to be as thorough as I can, I don’t want to exclude any cards based on their price. This might mean I make suggestions that are outside individuals’ price ranges, but I don’t mean this exclusively. When available, I’ll definitely mention cheaper alternatives. Hopefully everyone will be able to find something that works for and inspires them in this article.

If you don’t have the Upgrades Unleashed deck yet, you can buy one on Amazon.

Upgrades Unleashed Kamigawa Commander Deck

Upgrades Unleashed Decklist

Commander (1)
Chishiro, the Shattered Blade

Creature (29)
Acidic Slime
Agitator Ant
Akki Battle Squad
Ascendant Acolyte
Champion of Lambholt
Forgotten Ancient
Genesis Hydra
Goblin Razerunners
Grumgully, the Generous
Kaima, the Fractured Calm
Kami of Celebration
Komainu Battle Armor
Kosei, Penitent Warlord
Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin
Loyal Guardian
Orochi Merge-Keeper
Ox of Agonas
Primeval Protector
Rampant Rejuvenator
Rishkar, Peema Renegade
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Spearbreaker Behemoth
Tanuki Transplanter
Taurean Mauler
Towashi Guide-Bot
Ulasht, the Hate Seed
Walking Skyscraper
Whiptongue Hydra

Sorcery (10)
Chain Reaction
Collision of Realms
Kodama’s Reach
Rampant Growth
Rishkar’s Expertise
Shamanic Revelation
Smoke Spirits’ Aid
Soul’s Majesty
Vastwood Surge

Instant (5)
Beast Within
Chaos Warp
Hunter’s Insight

Enchantment (10)
Bear Umbra
Concord with the Kami
Elemental Mastery
Invigorating Hot Spring
One with the Kami
Ordeal of Nylea
Rhythm of the Wild
Shifting Shadow
Snake Umbra
Unquenchable Fury
Lands (37)
Cinder Glade
Command Tower
Exotic Orchard
Game Trail
Gruul Turf
Opal Palace
Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
Raging Ravine
Temple of Abandon
Mossfire Valley
12 Mountain
14 Forest

Artifact (8)
Arcane Signet
Blackblade Reforged
Mage Slayer
Sol Ring
Swiftfoot Boots
Sword of Vengeance

One of each basic lands is a special Japanese full art basic land.

Upgrades Unleashed General Upgrades

Chishiro, the Shattered Blade Kamigawa Commander Precon

At first glance, this deck’s commander is all over the place. Chishiro, the Shattered Blade is a Gruul Snake that’s also a Samurai that makes Spirits. It also wants you to play Equipment or Auras, but in a go wide way rather than a go tall Voltron way. Oh, and by the way you can also use counters, but not just +1/+1 counters, so use whatever counters you can get your hands on.

On the one hand, it can feel really difficult to know which way to go with Chishiro. If you narrow down to one or two of any of these themes, though, you can create an awesome deck to take to Commander Night.

Before I explain five cool upgrade paths, I want to talk about a few things that any version of this deck should upgrade.

The Mana Base

This deck, like many before it, comes with a decent mana base. However, we can always make improvements. There are nine lands that can tap for either of this deck’s colors, an Oran-Rief, the Vastwood, 26 basic lands, and an extra copy of Mossfire Valley. Note that the deck comes with two copies of Mossfire Valley, so you shouldn’t play with the deck until you remove one of them.

About four to five of the dual lands in this deck enter the battlefield tapped. I’ve mentioned before that I think an optimized deck includes more dual lands that enter untapped. Even still, there is a broad spectrum of potentially acceptable mana bases.

Stomping Ground Chishiro Deck Upgrade

Here is a list of a bunch of the best options for dual lands in these colors:

There are also a good handful of gold lands that count as dual lands in this deck.

Some individual upgrade paths will also have a few utility lands that fit into their own unique decks. I’ll mention those lands in the sections where they fit.

Which Lands Should You Cut?

As far as what to replace with these lands, obviously the extra Mossfire Valley. Other than that, the total number of lands in this deck are pretty appropriate (37 lands total). There are a lot of basic lands, so you could afford to cut a few of those. Don’t cut too many, though, because basic lands are important, especially if you want to utilize cards like Kodama’s Reach and Rampant Growth.

Depending on how much you value their utility, you might want to consider taking out Raging Ravine, Temple of Abandon, Gruul Turf, and any other dual land that enters tapped. If you like what these lands offer the deck, feel free to keep them. They do, after all, tap for either of your colors. If you want to upgrade them to lands that don’t enter the battlefield tapped, however, it will likely improve your deck’s consistency.

What to Take Out

Most of the cards in this deck actively contribute to the deck’s strategy. However, there are some that are just there as utility creatures. I don’t necessarily think you should cut out too many utility cards from your deck, but I do think that your utility cards should also synergize with your commander and theme. For example, these cards don’t care about the modified creatures, any of the commanders’ tribes, or any kind of Voltron strategy:

Don’t misunderstand me here. I don’t think you should take all of these cards out of the deck (Except Collision of Realms. That card is bad). However, while you’re looking for cards to include in the deck, look for cards with similar abilities to these cards that also care about what your commander is doing.

If you can find cards that serve both purposes, you might find that they will be even better in your deck than cards that are simply powerful.

5 Ways to Upgrade Upgrades Unleashed

Now on to the main event. These are my five ideas for taking this deck:

  1. Equipment
  2. Auras
  3. Counters
  4. Goad
  5. Tribal

Please let me know if I left anything out. Chances are, with this commander, I did.

Power Level

At the beginning of each of the next sections, I included a range of numbers. That range is what I expect this deck to be able to perform at on a 1-10 power scale (Based on the power scale established by the Command Zone Podcast). For more information on the Commander power scale, you can take a look at the table below.

Power LevelNameDescription
1-2Jank Very little synergy among cards. No Commander staples. Under powered on purpose.
3-4Casual Some synergies, but lacking the strong ones. The deck still lacks focus. Mana curves mostly neglected. A deck that a new player would build.
4-6Focused Synergy exists, the deck has a focused gameplan, although it doesn't always win in the exact same way, usually after turn 13. Includes staples and a small amount of tutors. On the same power level as most Commander precons.
7-8Optimized Powerful and varied synergies between the cards. A decent number of good tutors. Good mana curve. Has an efficient and consistent way to win on turns 10-12 (level 7) or 7-9 (level 8). Some social rules — like no mass land destruction, no consistent combo wins — still exist.
9-10Competitive The most powerful decks, on competitive EDH level. Quick and explosive, can win on turns 4-6 (level 9) or 1-3 (level 10). No social rules, no jank cards. Only the most powerful commanders and strategies can reach this level.

Actual power levels may vary, but let those numbers be a guide when considering upgrading this deck in those ways.

1. Equipment (5-7)

The obvious first consideration with this deck is to modify your creatures using Equipment or Auras. Oftentimes, decks that run a lot of these cards want to put them all on a single Creature, usually the commander themselves, and knock everyone out with damage from that one card. This deck, however, looks like it’s changing the look of this archetype ever so slightly.

After doing a deeper dive into what Equipment would work well with Chishiro, I realized that Equipment by itself could fill up a full upgrade guide. There are so many things that Chishiro enables. I will try to keep it brief, but there is a lot to say about how to focus on this upgrade path.

Eggs and Cheap Equipment

First, Chishiro wants you to do two things with your Equipment: have them enter the battlefield, and attach them to your Creatures. When most people think about Equipment decks, they jump right to Swords of X and Y and other objectively powerful cards. Those are all great, and you can definitely run them if you want to. However, this might not be the best home for those cards, since they cost so much mana to cast and equip.

Bone Saw Upgrades Unleashed Upgrade Guide

For this deck, you want Equipment cards that are cheap to cast (since Chishiro makes you a 2/2 with Menace when you do) and cheap to equip (since Chishiro gives equipped Creatures counters). For the sake of efficiency, I would try to keep my equipment’s casting and equip costs as low as possible. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:


There are also a ton of Equipment cards that equip themselves to a Creature immediately upon entering the battlefield. This mechanic is nice in a general way, since you are skirting the upfront equip cost, but also synergizes nicely with Chishiro.

When the Equipment enters the battlefield, you choose a Creature you control (Chishiro, for example) and attach it to that Creature. Then, Chishiro will make you a token, which will be attachable for whatever your next Equipment spell is.

Embercleave Upgrades Unleashed Upgrade Guide

Here are the cards I’m referring to:

Hammer of Nazahn is a great card in a deck like this, because it gives any Equipment spell you cast this same ability. This can make a card like Bloodforged Battle-Axe even more powerful than it otherwise would have been. Each token copy that enters the battlefield brings a 2/2 Spirit with it thanks to Chishiro, and the Hammer lets you equip the Axe tokens right away.

(As a quick note, you cannot attach an Equipment like Relic Axe to a token made by Chishiro when it first enters the battlefield. You have to choose targets for Relic Axe‘s ability before you create the token with Chishiro.)

Living Weapon

There is another type of Equipment spell that does a very similar thing to the above-mentioned cards. Equipment with Living Weapon will create a 0/0 Germ Creature Token when they enter the battlefield and attach themselves to it.

Chishiro adds a free 2/2 to this equation, and will then put a +1/+1 counter on the Germ at the end step. Now, you can move the Equipment to another Creature without killing the Germ. Not only that, but the Germ and whatever other equipped Creature will continue to grow, since +1/+1 counters count as Modifications.

Nettlecyst Upgrades Unleashed Precon Improve

Here are all the Living Weapon cards that fit in these colors:

Oops, All Equipment

Bludgeon Brawl Upgrades Unleashed Upgrade Guide

I promise, this will be the last thing in the Equipment section. This idea is just too cool to not include somewhere. Way back in New Phyrexia, there was an innocuous little Enchantment called Bludgeon Brawl. Basically, this card was the earliest version of Reconfigure. At it’s weakest, it lets your lowly Sol Rings also pump your Creatures up a little bit. When we look to abuse it, though, it can do some really insane things.

There are a handful of cards in Magic that let you transform non-Artifacts into Artifacts. Specifically, I’m referring to Mycosynth Lattice. In tandem with Bludgeon Brawl, each non-Creature permanent you control enters the battlefield and triggers Chishiro to make a 2/2 Spirit. Then, you can pay that spell’s mana value again to equip it to the new token. If that permanent was a land, you can pay 0 to attach it to the new Spirit, and get two free +1/+1 counters it on the end step.

To a lesser extent, Liquimetal Coating, Liquimetal Torque, and Myr Landshaper can also let you do fun little things like this. They each have their drawbacks relative to Mycosynth Lattice, but are probably worth running in the deck. Especially since there are so few of this effect in the game.

Also, being able to turn things into Artifacts lets you utilize cards like Reclamation Sage and Viridian Revel more effectively.

New Cards From Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty

Ogre-Head Helm

What to Take Out

This version of the deck is really trying to dial into the Equipment part of the deck, so you can probably cut all the cards that modify your Creatures in other ways. For example, you can cut anything that cares about Auras or Counters in order to make room for more Equipment cards.

Furthermore, you probably don’t need many Creatures, since Chishiro makes all the tokens you need. Feel free to keep any cards that you want, but consider this when making those final difficult decisions on which cards stay and which ones go.

2. Auras (4-7)


Both of the deck’s commanders have the potential to synergize really well with this strategy. Depending on which one you choose, the deck might look kind of different. For example, if Chishiro is your commander, you will probably want a lot of powerful offensive Auras.

Eldrazi Conscription Best Cards for Upgrades Unleashed Precon

Cards like:

Just like with the Equipment strategy, you’ll want to spread these out onto a lot of different creatures if you can. If this is the case, you will want to fill your deck with other Creatures that like being enchanted:

Storm Herald is a card on this list that I have been hoping to find a home for since it was printed. Hopefully this deck is the perfect place for it. If that is the case, you are going to need some cards to help you fill up your graveyard. Among other cards, there is an Aura that could double up its utility in this case: Moldervine Cloak.


One cool thing about Chishiro is that he doesn’t actually care where your modified Creature came from. If they are a Creature, and they have an Equipment/Aura/counter on them, he’ll put more counters on them.

Genju of the Cedars

This is neat when you want to run Auras that animate your lands:

You’ll have to be careful not to lose all of your lands to a board wipe, but this could be a great strategy for modifying your Creatures.

Since we’re talking about Lands here, I guess I should bring up something that I’ve already wanted to say and something that will come up again in this section. Auras, quite a bit more so than Equipment, tend to be extremely mana hungry. You probably noticed many of the cards I’ve recommended already have high mana values. This means you’re going to need to have a lot of ramp. Fortunately, Auras have you covered here too:

Furthermore, classic Enchantress cards like Setessan Champion and Enchantress’s Pressence will come in handy in this deck.


Speaking of cards with high mana values, I want to bring up cards with Bestow. Similar to Living Weapon, Bestow gets to modify a Creature and also be a Creature that you can modify. You can cast a Creature with Bestow as an Aura targeting a Creature you control. That triggers Chishiro in all the ways we’ve talked about previously.

The great part about Bestow, though, is that it hedges against one big weakness that a lot of Auras decks run into: board wipes. Typically, when an enchanted Creature dies, all the Auras enchanting it fall off and go to the graveyard. When a Creature is enchanted with a Bestow Creature, however, if it dies in a board wipe the bestowed Aura changes back into a Creature and stays on the battlefield. This lets you rebuild a bit faster in a pinch.

Boon Satyr Chishiro Precon Upgrade

There are not a ton of Creatures with Bestow in these colors. This is an exhaustive list of red/green Bestow Creatures:

I also included all the relevant Licids. These don’t have Bestow, but they can attach themselves to Creatures similarly. The rules around Licids are extremely complicated, and I won’t go into them here. Just know that they are similar, but different, to Bestow Creatures.


If, instead of Chishiro, you wanted to run Kaima as your Auras commander, you would probably run very similar cards. You could likely include all or many of the powerful offensive effects.

Kenrith's Transformation How to Improve Upgrades Unleashed

However, you could also run a bunch of defensive Auras that would protect you from your opponents’ scary threats:

Just as good as stopping your opponents from attacking you, though, is remembering that with Kaima, they have to attack each other when you enchant them. The following cards either do more damage to your opponents when a goaded Creature gets through to them, or actively helps you by doing so:

Don’t forget, any Aura that says Enchant Creature on it can also enchant an opponent’s Creature. Kaima will then Goad that Creature, as well as buff itself. This is a really cool way to force your opponents to deal with each other while you sit back, relax, and bide your time.

New Cards From Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty

What to Take Out

In the same way as the last section, you’re going to want to focus on Auras and Enchantments with this version of the deck. Feel free to cut anything that worries about Equipment or counters in order to make enough room for all the many awesome Auras you’re going to have.

3. Counters (4-8)

Counters are a strategy that has been around for a long time in Magic. Most sets introduce new cards that interact with counters in one way or another. Because of this, there are tons of cards to parse through for this upgrade path.

While technically both commanders use counters in some way, Chishiro will probably give you the best bang for your buck. Kaima could use Auras that give you counters, but we already talked about some cards like that in previous sections. I’ll focus here on cards that synergize exclusively with counters, and you can pick and choose your favorite enchantments to supplement them if you want.

+1/+1 Counters

One of the easiest kinds of counters would be +1/+1. There are so many cards that use +1/+1 counters that I would never be able to list them all here. I can, however, give you a crash course on some of the best ones. Remember, a lot of the strategies from the first two sections of this article are going to apply here.

Branching Evolution Upgrades Unleashed Upgrade Guide

And don’t forget about lands that can help you put counters on your Creatures:

Ability Counters

A couple of years ago, in Ikoria, Wizards introduced a new kind of counters. They are called keyword counters. They work very intuitively. As long as a Creature has a keyword counter on it, that Creature has the associated keyword ability. In the context of a Chishiro deck, Chishiro will put the +1/+1 counters on as long as you already have a keyword counter. This lets your counters go the extra mile, so to speak.

Crystalline Giant How to Improve Chishiro Precon

Here is a list of creatures, mostly from Ikoria that use keyword counters. There are probably a few more than this, including the ones from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty.

Charge Counters

Often times, when Wizards need a generic counter name but don’t know what else to use, they use charge counters. You’ve probably seen them on several cards, usually to store up some kind of value that you can cash in on later.

There have been a couple of cards that care about using charge counters. All of them except Coretapper are not Creatures, which is a problem. Chishiro only really cares that your Creatures have counters on them.

Mana Bloom Upgrades Unleashed Upgrade Guide

So let’s go through some of the relevant cards that use charge counters, so you can see what we’re dealing with, then we can talk about how to make them into Creatures:

In addition to these, as a quick aside, there are a bunch of lands that use charge counters as well:

You’ll see that these cards have varied utility. Some add mana, some remove your opponents’ Creatures, some draw cards, etc. That’s all fine and dandy, but they don’t actually synergize at all with our commander.


In a previous section, we talked about turning non-Artifacts into Artifacts. Now, we get to take that a step farther. A large percentage of the cards that use or care about charge counters are Artifacts. There are a small number of cards in the game that can take Artifacts and turn them into Creatures. Many of them are in blue, but a few are colorless, or in green.

Titania's Song Chishiro Precon Upgrade


Using these cards, Chishiro can turn your haphazard mismatched Artifacts into a formidable army.

Moving/Removing Counters

Contagion Engine How to Improve Upgrades Unleashed

Another thing to consider when trying to get creative with your counters deck, is how can you manipulate the counters that you have? In the case of +1/+1 counters or charge counters, you likely want to increase the number that you have. Consider cards with Proliferate.

You can also move counters from one permanent to another. There are only a few cards that can do this, but it’s handy if you have one when you need it. The cards I’m thinking of are Nesting Grounds and Power Conduit. Technically, The Ozolith can also move counters around, but it’s a bit trickier.

New Cards From Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty

+1/+1 Counters

Charge Counters

Keyword Counters

What to Take Out

Once again, you can cut any of the cards that aren’t dealing with counters. Furthermore, you can cut out some counters cards if you don’t care especially about the keyword counters or other random counters. Basically, focus as much as you can on the theme, then fill in the blanks if you have any.

4. Goad (4-7)

For this section, I’m going to list all the available Goad cards for these colors. There aren’t very many of them. However, if Kaima is your commander, then any of your Auras count as Goad spells. For that reason, this section has the potential to look a lot like the Auras section. Feel free to include your favorite Auras from there.

Geode Rager Upgrades Unleashed How to Improve Deck

However, in the event that Kaima is not on the battlefield, you might also want these Goad spells, so your deck doesn’t just fall apart:

I’m also including Vow of Lightning, Vow of Wilderness, and Assault Suit as honorary Goad cards. They will end up doing exactly what you want the deck to be doing.

New Cards From Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty

All the new Goad cards already come with the Neon Dynasty precon. If you already bought it, congratulations.

What to Take Out

For Goad, you could likely take out all the cards that don’t say Goad and aren’t Auras. Again, try to find ways to have enough card draw, ramp, and removal that still contributes to the deck’s strategy. After that, most of the cards that come in the box can go.

5. Tribal (3-6)

If you have read my articles before, you are likely aware that I like to look at each of the commanders’ tribes and see what they could possibly contribute to that tribe on a larger scale. Often, I find that they don’t really add much. Sometimes, though, I find some real gems.


Snakes are a classic tribe from Kamigawa. In the old block, they cared about dealing combat damage and ramping mana, as well as buffing up other Snakes.

Seshiro the Anointed How to Improve Upgrades Unleashed

Here are some of the most interesting Snakes from those sets:

These outline the themes for the deck pretty clearly, but I think there are other great Snakes that can fill out the rest of the deck:

There is a surprising amount of synergy among Snakes across the entirety of Magic’s history. Their ability to discourage your opponents from blocking and generate mana actually work really well with Chishiro, who wants you to play lots of mana-intensive equipment and swing in with them. In a weird way, Chishiro ties these seemingly random tribal attributes together.


Samurai cards are found almost exclusively in Kamagawa sets. Not many other places have the right setting to have Samurai on them. What’s more, original Kamigawa Samurai were not very powerful. They had an ability called Bushido, which made them more powerful when they block or are blocked. However, it also left them a little weak when they were not blocked.

Isao, Enlightened Bushi Chishiro Precon Upgrade

Here are some of the notable ones from before Neon Dynasty:

There are quite a few more than this, but they are pretty simple. Neon Dynasty adds a new element to the Samurai tribe, which could potentially help them be stronger. The new Samurai cards want you to attack with a single Samurai at a time. Many of the new cards help buff up that one singular attacker, which can leave the rest of them behind to defend you with Bushido. Here are a bunch of the new Samurai to exemplify what I mean:

A lot of the new Samurai cards also care about Warriors attacking alone, so you could probably include Grunn, the Lonely King as an honorary Samurai if you wanted. Also, Altar of the Goyf and Sigil of Valor could be good fits in this deck.

Lastly, the new Samurai mechanic is very similar to an old mechanic called Exalted. There are not a lot of Exalted cards in these colors, but Cathedral of War is a land that could slide in really easily and Goblin Champion is a Warrior and therefore kind of fits in. I’m not totally sold on Samurai being a powerful tribe. If you try them out, though, and like them, I would love to hear about it.


I wrote about Gruul Spirits in a different upgrade article last year. You can find that information in this article under the Aristocrats section. Basically, I talk about a Kamigawa mechanic called Soulshift. It lets you recycle Spirits back to your hand when the Creature with Soulshift dies. This can be really handy in an Aristocrats-style deck, which wants to be sacrificing things for repeatable value.

Neither Chishiro nor Kaima really synergize that much with this strategy by itself. However, there is another mechanic from original Kamigawa block that ties everything together nicely. Specifically, there were a handful of Creatures that would put ki counters on themselves.

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Here are some examples:

These trigger when you play a Spirit or Arcane spell, which is perfect for this deck.

The Myojin were also great Creatures that had counters on them. The two original ones in red and green were Myojin of Infinite Rage and Myojin of Life’s Web. The new ones are Myojin of Roaring Blades and Myojin of Towering Might. They all put some kind of counters on themselves, which Chishiro counts as modified, and have a huge effect.

Lastly, there really are a handful of Spirits that care about +1/+1 counters. Phantom Nantuko, Phantom Tiger, and Phantom Wurm are all really difficult for your opponents to deal with. Jugan, the Rising Star and Shimatsu, the Bloodcloaked are synergistic for multiple reasons. Thundering Mightmare, Ugin’s Conjurant[/c], and Willow Geist are new cards that fit well in this deck.

So even though Chishiro doesn’t seem like much of a Spirits commander, it is probably very reasonable to be able to pull off this deck.

New Cards From Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty




What to Take Out

There are three Snakes, five Samurai, and three Spirits in this deck. Depending on which version of the deck you build, those are really the only cards I would recommend keeping in the deck. That should leave plenty of room for the recommendations I made or whatever else you want to include.

Upgrades Unleashed Upgrade – Conclusion

It’s been a long one, but we finally made it to the end of another upgrade article. Let me know what you think about these ideas, especially if you build one of these decks. Additionally, if you want to get ahold of me for whatever reason, you can find me on Instagram or Twitter.

I also have a podcast called the Gathering: My Thoughts MTG Podcast. You can find that on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. I have episodes going over each of the Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Commander decks, as well as spoilers, predictions, and random hot takes about Magic.

If you’d like to try your luck and open some Kamigawa cards, I talked about, you can get a Neon Dynasty Set Booster Box on Amazon.

Kamigawa Neon Dynasty Set Booster Box

More Content

If you liked this Upgrades Unleashed upgrade article, check out the Buckle Up Upgrade Guide (other Kamigawa Commander deck). Also, here is more great Commander content on CardGameBase.com:

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