While getting ready for this article, I looked up the word “ninja” in the thesaurus and it said, “Ninjas cannot be found.” Well played, Ninjas. Well played. Lucky for you, we found some of the best ninjas and spells for you and your Gladiator decks! Let’s jump into the cyberpunk world of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty and see what the standout blue cards are!
Discover the Impossible
Casting spells for free!? It has to be busted, right? Discover the Impossible sits in a unique place when considering it against other card draw spells in the format. The most obvious comparison for this card would be Supreme Will, since both let you look at a certain amount of cards and put one into your hand for three mana. Supreme Will additionally has the flexibility of being a Mana Leak. However, you could also cast Discover the Impossible and hope to hit a counterspell. Even if you don’t hit a counter though, you could still hit removal such as Swords to Plowshares to deal with a threat or a card draw spell like Opt. Being able to look at five cards to find those two drops is a decent amount of cards too. However, even with all that in mind, Discover the Impossible is still inconsistent and three mana to pick one card of five is not the best value if you don’t get the free cast. Regardless, I do like the design of this card and would like to see if Wizards continues releasing this type of draw effect.
Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant
Ah, welcome Jin-Gitaxias! We’re so glad you could join us. After all, why should Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider get all the fun? Jin-Gitaxias will see play mostly in Reanimator decks. Since Jin-Gitaxias is expensive at seven mana, playing him in a fair deck isn’t very reliable unless you’re a Ramp deck of some kind. Even then, a 5/5 with no keywords isn’t necessarily where a ramp deck wants to be. However, in an “unfair deck” such as Reanimator, being able to copy reanimation effects such as Late to Dinner will be very powerful. Even though you will need multiple reanimate spells and targets to fully take advantage of this. Jin-Gitaxias could still copy any card draw or tutor spells you play though to help you find those effects or threats though! On top of that, his second ability makes it so that your opponent has a harder time interacting with you while you’re copying spells is the gravy on top of all this.
Kairi, the Swirling Sky
Big beautiful blue Dragons? Sign me up! Kairi will be mostly compared to Iymrith, Desert Doom, since they’re both big flying threats with Ward. Iymrith has Ward 4, which she loses when she becomes tapped. That extra cost in Ward is relevant since it keeps the opponent from casting the same removal spell that could target Kairi a whole turn later. However, Kairi can attack without losing that extra protection. Additionally, Kairi has slightly higher base power and toughness, making her better in combat. This comes at the cost of having a higher mana value by one though. Plus, in Control, if you have to wipe the board with Kairi out, you still get the value from her death trigger. However, it is worth noting that Kairi has to die to get her effect. Since there are a lot of exile effects that are being played, you may not get her dying benefit as much as you would like. After considering all of this, I feel like Kairi is worth testing over Iymrith in specifically Control decks. Your threats are limited in Control and you want to be able to close out the game with them. Iymrith losing her Ward 4 makes it much easier for your opponent’s to answer her as a threat if you do start attacking her and Kairi has higher power and toughness.
I’m not a Combo player, but I do know that artifacts that draw cards are something that many Combo players will swarm to. Often called “eggs”, these types of cards are typically played in artifact Combo decks that play and recur these types of cards for value until they assemble some kind of win condition. Along with its draw two ability, this card has the added benefit of being able to put it right into your graveyard and still drawing a card for a single mana. The appropriately named Eggs deck hasn’t become competitive yet. But as it gains access tocards like this that help add consistency to the deck, it could become more powerful. If Combo isn’t your thing, then you could still play this as a fair card. In Control decks, this card works out similarly to Behold the Multiverse where you only pay two mana at a time. Putting this on the field does make your opponent’s artifact removal relevant when it may have been a dead card before. The Channeling ability of the artifact is similar to the Cycle ability of Hieroglyphic Illumination. This offers additional flexibility for how you want to use it. This egg will most likely see play in a variety of Combo and Control decks.
Finally, our first Ninja! It makes me sad to say that the most classic Ninja, Ninja of the Deep Hours, is outshined by this new kid on the block. Moon-Circuit Hacker is a very efficient threat that will help you draw cards. In Tempo decks, the ideal play pattern with this card will be: play a one mana 1/1 flier on turn one (Spectral Sailor, Siren Stormtamer, etc.); safely attack with the flier; Ninjitsu Moon-Circuit Hacker for one mana to deal two damage and draw a card; then replay your one mana threat or hold up a one mana spell like Spell Pierce or Dive Down. Don’t forget that Moon-Circuit Hacker loots any other time you deal damage with it to a player except for the turn it is played. So you will only get the pure card draw once unless you return it back to your hand again. Moon-Circuit Hacker is also an enchantment, which makes it more vulnerable to some removal. However, it is still a cheap and efficient threat that will enable the Tempo decks to start taking over the game and provide them with the resources to control the game until victory.
Speaking of one mana 1/1 fliers, we’ve been gifted a new one that has a relevant enter the battlefield (ETB) effect! Network Disruptor is an excellent Tempo threat, especially if you have ways to abuse the ETB (such as returning it to your hand with Ninjutsu!) As established with Moon-Circuit Hacker, one mana 1/1 fliers are valuable threats in the early game for Tempo decks. However, this one isn’t too bad to draw in the late game either. Being able to tap a blocker to get in extra damage or tapping a land down to cut off interaction from your opponents could win you the game. Additionally, it’s worth noting that Network Disruptor is an artifact, which would help achieve Delirium for something like Dragon’s Rage Channeler. I would expect to see Network Disruptor in most blue Tempo decks.
Tezzeret, Betrayer of Flesh
Tezzeret has returned and he still loves his artifacts! Tezzeret will be most commonly played in the previously mentioned Eggs deck. Since that deck has many cheap artifacts, Tezzeret can enable those cheap artifacts to either be 4/4 creatures to protect him or attack. Additionally, his passive ability helps make the activated abilities on some of the artifacts cheaper. Suddenly using the mana ability on Guild Globe is looking a lot better. Plus, Tezzeret’s first ability is a miniature Thirst for Knowledge, which allows you to loot and discard two cards or an artifact. However, the discard may as well be an upside since Eggs tends to want to load up its graveyard with artifacts to reuse them later.
The Reality Chip
Throughout Magic’s history there have been some great type lines, such as Ammit Eternal being a Zombie Crocodile Demon and Frilled Mystic being an Elf Lizard Wizard. But a Legendary Artifact Creature Equipment Jellyfish is definitely up there in the best type lines of all time. Plus it’s a great card! Looking at the top card of your library by itself can be useful for helping you plan out your turns or having more information about the best way to sequence the spells in your hand. However, if you’re able to Reconfigure The Reality Chip, being able to play lands and cast spells off the top of your library is potentially game-winning and a simple way to accrue a lot of value. Five mana is a lot to spend for this effect in Gladiator, however, it being split over two mana and then three helps make the cost easier. I would expect to see this played in blue Midrange or creature-heavy decks. It could see play in Control, especially if you have ways to make tokens such as Archon of Sun’s Grace, but I’m not sure if playing it as an 0/4 wall to block Aggro threats is worth the inclusion in those decks.
Another one mana 1/1 flier!? This set was made for me. This one also happens to be really cool. 90 percent of the time Thousand-Faced Shadow will be played as the one mana 1/1 flier. However, if you draw it in the late game and have multiple creatures on the battlefield, things can get interesting. Copying a Mu Yanling, Sky Dancer’s Elemental Bird, or even a 3/1 flier such as Brazen Borrower could give you the power needed to win the game. You could also copy Sea-Dasher Octopus or a creature that’s mutated with them to draw extra cards. For the Ninjutsu effect you will need to attack with multiple creatures to take advantage of its abilities, and returning a creature to your hand could be a downside. However, much like Moon-Circuit Hacker from earlier, there are ways you can still take advantage of this, such as with an ETB creature. The sky’s the limit with this Ninja! I expect Thousand-Faced Shadow to be played in most blue creature decks.
Wait, you actually made it past all those ninjas? And survived? Wow, nicely done! Please let me know what blue cards I missed below in the comments or if you agree or disagree with any of my opinions. Happy brewing, blue mages!
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I’m a passionate Magic player who plays a lot of Gladiator and Limited! I’ve been playing since Kamigawa block and have been a loyal blue mage for the majority of that time. My favorite decks are UW Control or UB Tempo!