One of the interesting things in Modern Horizons are several Ninjas and Ninja-related cards. I run a Vela the Night-Clad deck which add to the evasive nature of my creatures and gives a little extra oomph to the Ninjutsu ability. Ninjas are few, and most of them aren’t really that good – especially the first batch from Betrayers of Kamigawa had a few low-impact ones that hardly make it worth the effort. But it’s fun, having creatures jump in and out of the game. There where a few later ones that feel a little more powerful, and now there is a whole new batch. But are they worth it?
Ninjutsu by itself has synergy with my commander, and the bar isn’t that high. Still, a Ninja deck is also about other cards. Having a Ninja swapped in for another Ninja isn’t really what we’re going for, it’s changing evasive creatures into Ninjas and doubling up on enter-the-battlefield effect (or leave-the-battlefield effects, with Thalakos Seer) that makes it shine. Deck space is limited, even if Ninjas themselves aren’t really large in numbers.
The Ninjutsu ability is cheap, only and 3/3 is a decent body. The indestructible is handy when attacking with multiple creatures. That’s a situational effect, but if you also have another cheap Ninjutsu card, it might make more than one attacker indestructible. This card is all about the cheap Ninjutsu cost.
Ninjas are all about their saboteur abilities. And this is a great one. Getting a double Thief of Sanity ability can create so much value. This is one of those newer Ninjas that actually feel good to hit with.
Drawing cards is good, and this one is a Ninja of the Deep Hours that shares its ability with your other Ninjas. There still aren’t many other Ninjas, but the Infiltrator certainly rewards playing as many Ninjas as possible.
This works well with Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive, and doubling itself can get out of hand quickly. If Mist-Syndicate Naga comes out early enough, it has the potential to overwhelm the board.
Probably a worse Mist-Syndicate Naga. The Illusions are small, evasive creatures though, so they can help setting up future Ninjutsu effects.
I get it. The “saboteur” ability is just doing extra damage. Even though it has Ninjutsu, it feels like a vanilla creature though. It’s not bad, but it does feel like where the new Ninjas begin to falter. I know you can’t compare commons to rares, but for paying 4, look at Fallen Shinobim and while this has an extra point of damage, that’s it. It doesn’t compare at all.
Oh, now we don’t even get Ninjutsu anymore. I have enough much better unblockable creatures in my deck. While Phantom Ninja can use the (sparse) tribal effects, just compare it to the cheaper Changeling Outcast. The latter is also a Ninja (because Changeling) but at a third of the cost. We lose 1 point of power and the ability to block, but blocking (or dealing damage) isn’t really the role of these cards. I can’t find myself to include Phantom Ninja in my deck, when there are so much better options.
No Ninjutsu, no evasion. Even token Ninjutsu would have tied it into the Ninja theme and this doesn’t. Lifelink is ok, but there are better sources of extra life than this guy, and at the very least less conditional. So, it’s a pass for me.
So, that’s 8 new Ninjas. A few great ones but 3 that feel really ‘meh’ and are only worth to include for thematic reasons. Changeling Outcast is a nice ‘bonus’ ninja. Still, with so few Ninjas in the game at all, having 3 that are great is still a a luxury. Fortunately outside new Ninjas there are also a couple of Ninja-related cards.
Cunning evasion isn’t exactly a Ninja card, except for the theme and because it really, really synergizes with Ninjutsu. If something goes through, its likely the Ninja of your choice goes through and the way it’s done looks really fun. It also helps the “enter the battlefield” cards in the deck, and helps Vela trigger. So, while it’s not an actual Ninja, it really belongs in a Ninja deck.
Smoke Shroud is basically an extra Sai of the Shinobi. Nothing dramatic, really, but it’s difficult to get rid off. How a cloud of smoke using to escape grants +1/+1 I don’t know, but the extra evasion should be helpful.