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Champions of Kamigawa

Champions of Kamigawa
CHK logo
Set Information
Set symbol
Symbol description Torii Gate
Design Brian Tinsman (lead)
Brandon Bozzi
Randy Buehler Jr.
Elaine Chase
Brady Dommermuth
Mike Elliott
Bill Rose
and Mark Rosewater
Development Brian Schneider (lead)
Brandon Bozzi
Elaine Chase
Mike Elliott
Matt Place
and Henry Stern
Art direction Jeremy Cranford
Release date October 1, 2004
Plane Kamigawa
Themes and mechanics Spiritcraft, Flip cards, Legendary cards, Arcane
Keywords/​ability words Bushido, Soulshift, Splice
Set size 306 cards
(110 commons, 88 uncommons, 88 rares, 20 basic lands)
Expansion code CHK[1]
Development codename Earth
Kamigawa block
Champions of Kamigawa Betrayers of Kamigawa Saviors of Kamigawa
Magic: The Gathering Chronology
Fifth Dawn Champions of Kamigawa Unhinged
For the novel, see Outlaw: Champions of Kamigawa.

Champions of Kamigawa is the thirty-third Magic expansion and was released in October 2004 as the first set in the Kamigawa block. The prerelease was September 18, 2004.[2]

Set details[ | ]

Champions of Kamigawa contained 306 black-bordered cards (88 rare, 88 uncommon, 110 common, and 20 basic lands). The card Brothers Yamazaki appeared with two different pictures, while the art of the basic lands of each type formed murals.[3] The story takes place on the plane of Kamigawa, which is thematically based on feudal Japan and related legends and myths.[4][5] The Legendary supertype replaced the creature type "Legend" with this set. Every rare creature in the set, plus several uncommons, are Legendary.[6] The "Legend rule" was changed; whereas before another legend with the same name could not be played, two legendary permanents with the same name now caused each other to be put into the graveyard.[7][8] The set also made minor rules adjustments for targeting, and introduced the evergreen keyword "Defender", which was retroactively applied to all previously printed cards with the type Wall and formally detached the creature type from its rules baggage. The expansion symbol of the set is a torii gate (a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of or within a shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the profane to the sacred).[9] Champions of Kamigawa restored colored mana symbols in the text box, which had been missing since Eighth Edition.

Marketing[ | ]

Champions of Kamigawa was sold in 75-card tournament decks, 15-card boosters, four preconstructed theme decks and a fat pack. The booster packs featured artwork from Myojin of Cleansing Fire, Myojin of Seeing Winds, Myojin of Night's Reach, Myojin of Infinite Rage, and Myojin of Life's Web. The prerelease card was a foil alternate art Ryusei, the Falling Star. The set was accompanied by a novel by Scott McGough. A 1/1 Spirit Token for Forbidden Orchard et al. was offered as a Magic Player Reward.

Flavor and storyline[ | ]

The plane of Kamigawa is threatened as the spirits that are the essence of everything on it suddenly and inexplicably begin to wage war with its mortal inhabitants.[10][11] Michiko, daughter of the warlord Konda, abandons the shrinking safety of her father's fortress to consult holy monks and the orochi, trying to decipher the cause of the Kamis' rage. Yet when Michiko meets Toshi Umezawa, a thief and black magic user, she realizes that to avert the complete destruction of Kamigawa, she may have to make some unthinkable alliances.

To represent the war, the cards of the set are mostly divided into two groups: The physical beings with their regular magic, and the Kami spirits with their "arcane" magic.

Tournament impact[ | ]

Champions of Kamigawa, as well as the rest of Kamigawa block, was met with mostly negative reactions from players.[12] The fact that all rare creatures were legendary was seen as cumbersome and annoying, particularly in mirror matches. Further, Flip cards were perceived as confusing and hard to keep track of. The set also was a significant downgrade in terms of raw power and card playability, and thus was often overshadowed by its predecessor Mirrodin block and successor Ravnica block.

Themes and Mechanics[ | ]

Champions of Kamigawa introduced the keywords Bushido, Soulshift, and Splice, the first sorcery and instant subtype Arcane, and the visually striking flip cards.[13] Of these mechanics, the Arcane subtype, Splice, and Soulshift represented spirit-world magic. The flip cards contributed to another major mechanic throughout the block: legendary creatures (and permanents). The set also featured the first legendary enchantments, the Honden Shrines.

  • Arcane spells - some instant or sorcery spells have the Arcane subtype, which represent spells or abilities used by the kami. It does nothing by itself, but other cards may interact with it.[14][15]
    • Splice onto Arcane - spells having this keyword can be "attached" to another Arcane spell for additional mana investment. The "spliced" spell remains in the player's hand able to be reused another time.[16]
  • Spirits - due to the nature of Kamigawa, this block contains a large proportion of creatures with the subtype Spirit. These spirits represent the kami themselves, and numerous cards in the block interact with them in special ways to provide synergy.
    • Soulshift - a keyword that appears on Spirit creatures and allows them to return another Spirit creature from the graveyard to its owner's hand when they perish.
    • "Spiritcraft" - many Spirits have abilities that trigger when another Spirit or an Arcane spell is played.
  • Bushido, or "way of the warrior", increases a creature's power and toughness by the Bushido number when it combats another creature. (This is usually compared to flanking, which weakens (-1/-1) the blockers of the creature.)
  • Flip cards - flip cards have a special Card frame with the top and the bottom halves of the cards holding text boxes, the bottom being upside-down, and the art of the card in the middle. If certain conditions specific to the card were met, the card could be "flipped" (the card was turned 180 degrees), changing into a different card permanently.[17]

Creature types[ | ]

The following creature types are introduced in this expansion: Advisor, Monk, Moonfolk, Samurai, Zubera.

The following creature types are used in this expansion but also appear in previous sets: Assassin, Barbarian, Cleric, Demon, Dragon, Fox, Goblin, Hound, Ogre, Rat, Rogue, Shaman, Snake, Soldier, Spirit, Warrior, Wizard.

Counter types[ | ]

The set introduces the following counter types: Aim counter, Devotion counter, Divinity counter, Theft counter, Training counter.

Cycles[ | ]

Champions of Kamigawa has ten cycles.

Cycle name {W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Honden Honden of Cleansing Fire Honden of Seeing Winds Honden of Night's Reach Honden of Infinite Rage Honden of Life's Web
Each of these uncommon legendary Shrine enchantments grants their owner something depending on the number of Shrines they control. Each of these cards was reprinted in Eternal Masters
Myojin Myojin of Cleansing Fire Myojin of Seeing Winds Myojin of Night's Reach Myojin of Infinite Rage Myojin of Life's Web
Each of these legendary Spirits enters the battlefield with a divinity counter if they were cast and is indestructible as long as it has this counter. The counter can be removed for a powerful effect.
Deceivers Harsh Deceiver Callous Deceiver Cruel Deceiver Brutal Deceiver Feral Deceiver
Each of these common Spirit creatures has the abilities "{1}: Look at the top card of your library", and "{2}: If that card is a land, this creature gains an ability and/or a bonus".
Legendary Lands Eiganjo Castle Minamo, School at Water's Edge Shizo, Death's Storehouse Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers
Each of these rare legendary lands produces colored mana or can be tapped to give an ability or bonus to a legendary creature.
Spirit Dragons Yosei, the Morning Star Keiga, the Tide Star Kokusho, the Evening Star Ryusei, the Falling Star Jugan, the Rising Star
Each of these rare legendary Dragon Spirit creatures costs six mana, has flying and an ability when the creature is put into a graveyard from the battlefield.
Zubera Silent-Chant Zubera Floating-Dream Zubera Ashen-Skin Zubera Ember-Fist Zubera Dripping-Tongue Zubera
Each of these common 1/2 Zubera Spirit creatures costs {1}M and has a triggered ability when it goes to the graveyard that grows with each Zubera put into a graveyard from the battlefield this turn.
Rare Flip Creatures Kitsune Mystic Jushi Apprentice Nezumi Shortfang Akki Lavarunner Budoka Gardener
Each of these rare creatures enters the battlefield as a humble youth and flips to become a legendary master.[18]
Uncommon Flip Creatures Bushi Tenderfoot Student of Elements Nezumi Graverobber Initiate of Blood Orochi Eggwatcher
Each of these uncommon creatures enters the battlefield as a humble youth and flips to become a legendary master.
Flash Enchant Creatures Indomitable Will Mystic Restraints Ragged Veins Uncontrollable Anger Serpent Skin
Each of these aura enchantments has flash and enchant creature.
Cycle name {W}{U} {U}{B} {B}{R} {R}{G} {G}{W}
Nap lands Cloudcrest Lake Waterveil Cavern Lantern-Lit Graveyard Pinecrest Ridge Tranquil Garden
Each of these dual lands produces either {1} or one of two allied colors of mana. If tapped for colored mana, they do not untap during their controller's next untap step. They are functional reprints of the allied dual lands in Tempest.

Pairs[ | ]

Champions of Kamigawa has one matched pair.

Matched Pairs Description
Rend Spirit ({B}) Rend Flesh ({B}) Common black instants for {2}{B} that destroy the opposite party in the war (Spirits vs. Non-Spirits).[19]

Reprinted cards[ | ]

The following cards have been reprinted from previous sets and included in Champions of Kamigawa.

Functional reprints[ | ]

Champions of Kamigawa has 16 functional reprints:

Colorshifted[ | ]

Notable cards[ | ]

In the tournament scene, Champions of Kamigawa contributed with a large number of finishers, like Kokusho, the Evening Star, Keiga, the Tide Star, Yosei, the Morning Star and Meloku the Clouded Mirror. It also provided excellent green mana fixing, like Sakura-Tribe Elder and Kodama's Reach, and an arsenal of cards that fueled multiple colored control decks, such as Gifts Ungiven. A notable sideboard card was also found in Cranial Extraction.

  • Sensei's Divining Top — A card that saw widespread tournament play due to the ability to set up advantageous draws repeatedly and function as an emergency card-draw. The card was later banned in Extended and Modern, not due to power concerns but because the card tended to slow the game down immensely and was thus detrimental to tournament play. It is also a key piece in the lock with Counterbalance (printed later in Coldsnap) due to its ability to change the card Counterbalance would reveal at instant-speed. Divining Top could also place itself on top of the library, making any spell with a converted mana cost of 1 impossible to resolve.
  • Time Stop — Rules had to be added to the Comprehensive Rules for ending the turn thanks to this card.
  • Glimpse of Nature — A powerful card-drawing engine in conjunction with cheap or zero-cost creatures. Eventually banned in Modern.
  • Azusa, Lost but Seeking — While not highly prized during Kamigawa block itself, her popularity soared alongside that of the Commander format, where she fueled powerful mana-ramping strategies.
  • Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker — A cornerstone for many combo decks abusing enters-the-battlefield triggers.
  • Lava Spike — One of the staples of burn decks in every format in which it is legal.
  • Takeno, Samurai General has the distinction of being a keyword lord of a keyword that has an associated number, referring to this as the "points" of that keyword. No other card in the history of the game refers to a keyword in this way.
  • Hideous Laughter, at sixteen characters, is the longest card name that is entirely encapsulated within another unrelated card name (Tasha's Hideous Laughter). However, multiple newer cards encapsulate longer original spell names verbatim in reference.
  • Mindblaze is the only card that refers to the number of cards contained in an opponent's library, and also the only card that reveals a library.

Theme decks[ | ]

The preconstructed theme decks are:

deck name
Colors Included
{W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Way of the Warrior W
Spiritbane R
Snake's Path G
Kami Reborn B G

Trivia[ | ]

  • Gifts Ungiven was designed to search for cards with different names as a "fixed" Intuition.[20]
    • Intuition was originally designed to search for cards with different names but the playtest card was written as "three cards" and R&D like the way it played at the time.

References[ | ]

  1. Wizards of the Coast (August 02, 2004). "Ask Wizards - August, 2004". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Brian David-Marshall (September 13, 2004). "The Top 10 Reasons to Play in the Champions Prerelease!". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Monty Ashley (May 24, 2012). "Looking at Takenuma". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Mark Rosewater (August 30, 2004). "Now With Added Flavor". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Magic Arcana (September 14, 2004). "A Kamigawa Glossary, Part 1". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Aaron Forsythe (December 10, 2004). "Three of Kamigawa’s Champions". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Aaron Forsythe (September 10, 2004). "Legendary Rules Changes". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Mark Rosewater (October 04, 2004). "Change For the Better". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Brady Dommermuth (October 31, 2006). "Ask Wizards". Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Rei Nakazawa (August 30, 2004). "We Are the Champions, My Friend". Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar (October 04, 2004). "Land of Ten-Thousand Legends". Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Mark Rosewater (January 27, 2022). "The Making of a Dynasty, Part 1". Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Aaron Forsythe (September 17, 2004). "Kamigawa Tune-up". Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Mark Rosewater (September 6, 2004). "Arcane and Able". Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Aaron Forsythe (June 17, 2005). "The Cost of Arcane". Wizards of the Coast.
  16. Mark Rosewater (September 13, 2004). "Splice of Life". Wizards of the Coast.
  17. Mark Rosewater (September 20, 2004). "Flipping Out". Wizards of the Coast.
  18. Magic Arcana (September 28, 2004). "Building Heroes". Wizards of the Coast.
  19. Magic Arcana (October 14, 2004). ""Rend" Renderings". Wizards of the Coast.
  20. Mark Rosewater (August 4, 2023). "How Trivial with Mark Rosewater (Video)". Magic: The Gathering. YouTube.

External links[ | ]