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Much Abrew: Neo-Ninjas (Modern)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. This week, we're heading to Modern to play one of my favorite tribes: Ninjas! We've played Ninjas a couple of times in the past, most notably after Modern Horizons came out and gave us Ingenious Infiltrator. But the tribe got a ton of powerful new tools from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, ranging from one-drops like Thousand-Faced Shadow to interaction like Biting-Palm Ninja to a Ninja planeswalker in Kaito Shizuki! How good are these new additions? Are Ninjas a threat in Modern? Let's get to the video and find out on this week's Much Abrew About Nothing

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Much Abrew: Neo-Ninjas

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  • Record-wise, I ended up 7-3 with Ninjas, which is a pretty solid record. (I played a bunch of matches with the deck. What can I say? I really love ninjutsu!). While the biggest advantage of Ninjas is their ability to snowball card advantage thanks to Ingenious Infiltrator and Ninja of the Deep Hours, we also got to see the deck's ability to grind out long wins in some matches, chipping in with random evasive creatures while having just enough disruption to say alive.
  • While Ninjas was solid overall, we also got to see the weakness of the tribe: if our opponent can kill our evasive Turn 1 creatures like Changeling Outcast, Thousand-Faced Shadow, and Ornithopter, we sometimes get stuck with a handful of expensive Ninjas that we really want to ninjutsu into play. The games where we had to hard-cast Ingenious Infiltrator, Ninja of the Deep Hours, and friends were rough. These cards are great when ninjutsued into play, but they are super clunky when hard-cast for four mana. If you ever play against Ninjas, the easiest way to keep the deck in check is to keep the evasive creatures off the table to prevent ninjutsu.

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  • The plan of the deck is pretty simple: play Changeling Outcast, Thousand-Faced Shadow, or Ornithopter on Turn 1 and then get either Ingenious Infiltrator or Ninja of the Deep Hours into play on Turn 2, with the help of ninjutsu, to start drawing cards. This card draw finds us more Ninjas, removal to force through more attacks, and counters to protect our creatures and snowballs into a win fairly quickly. Later in the game, we have cards like Biting-Palm Ninja for disruption and some sneaky tricks with Thousand-Faced Shadow copying creatures for even more value.
  • While our Ninjas get all the headlines, the removal is extremely important to making the deck work. Although Ninjas often have extremely strong combat damage triggers, they are also generally pretty small, which makes them susceptible to most removal, meaning that protecting them and clearing blockers out of the way are essential. For this, we turn to cards like Fatal Push, Vapor Snag, Dismember, Drown in the Loch, and Disrupting Shoal, which are incredibly good in a Ninja deck. 

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  • Disrupting Shoal is unplayable in most Modern decks—even though free counters are great (see: Force of Will and Force of Negation), needing to discard a blue card of a specific mana cost is tough. But Disrupting Shoal is perfect in Ninjas. Thanks to Ingenious Infiltrator, Ninja of the Deep Hours, and Kaito Shizuki, our deck draws a ton of cards once it gets going, which means we usually have something we don't mind discarding. Plus, we have a mixture of blue cards from one mana to four mana thanks to our ninjutsu Ninjas, which are often cheaper than their mana costs suggest, meaning that we can counter pretty much all of the most important cards in Modern for free. Most importantly, unlike Force of Negation, we can cast Disrupting Shoal for free during our turn, which lets us use it to protect our Ninjas during combat. My only regret is that I only played three copies of Disrupting Shoal rather than four. It's really good in the deck.

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  • As far as our new Ninjas, Thousand-Faced Shadow was as good as advertised, giving us an evasive Ninja on Turn 1 and doing some sweet double-ninjutsu tricks later (we had one game that we won by triple-ninjutsuing off the same creature to use Thousand-Faced Shadow in order to clone a creature and then returning it to our hand to put a bigger Ninja into play for lethal). Biting-Palm Ninja was okay but not as great as I expected, mostly because it felt a bit slow against aggro. It was still great against midrange and control, but it might be a bit more matchup-specific than I thought. Kaito Shizuki was high variance. Its floor was drawing a couple of cards and saving us a bit of damage, which isn't especially exciting for three mana in Modern, but considering its ceiling is pretty much "win the game" thanks to its ultimate, it's still solid in general. Finally, Moon-Circuit Hacker might be the card I underrated most. On paper, it looks bad compared to Ninja of the Deep Hours since it loots most turns rather than drawing a card, but only costing one to ninjutsu and being just two mana naturally (so it's less likely to get stuck in our hand if we don't have a cheap, evasive creature to ninjutsu off of) are a big deal. Next time I take Ninjas out for a spin, I plan to add some more. It felt great in the games where we drew it.

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  • A quick word on one card not in our deck because I'm sure I'll get asked about it: Satoru Umezawa. Satoru is a really fun card, but I don't think it's especially good in Ninjas, mostly because giving everything ninjutsu of four isn't very exciting when most of your cards already have ninjutsu of one, two, or three. While being able to Anticipate once a turn when we ninjutsu is nice, I'm not sure that Satoru Umezawa is worth it in Ninja tribal. But don't worry, it's hilarious with big finishers like Blightsteel Colossus, so even though it didn't make the cut in this deck, I expect we'll see it in action before long.
  • So, should you play Neo-Ninjas in Modern? I think the answer is yes. Ninjas is a blast if you like tempo decks with sneaky synergies that draw a ton of cards. The new additions are a huge deal and make the tribe a ton better. Whether or not Ninjas will end up a true top-tier option in Modern remains to be seen, but they are certainly super fun to play and good enough to win a lot of matches too!


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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