Looking to win with Black-Blue in Kamigawa Neon Dynasty? Then look no further than our Dimir Ninjas Archetype Analysis. This NEO draft guide explains the key concepts which make the deck tick, before detailing every crucial card in the archetype. After that we study the composition of the deck before taking a look at a winning example. Let’s get into it.
A great archetype to find yourself in, Dimir Ninjas is one of the more powerful decks in the format. With a relatively linear style it plays an aggressive game. Looking for a fast start this deck likes to pile pressure on early and keep the opponent on the back foot as much as possible. It does this by making great use of the headlining mechanic ‘ninjutsu’ which is prevalent in both blue and black.
Whilst the ninjutsu cards bring real power to the deck, this power can only be unlocked with an unblocked attacking creature on board. As such, we find that cheap, ninjutsu enabling threats are crucial to making the deck tick. The best such ‘enablers’ have either evasion, an enter the battlefield effect, or sometimes both. The evasion makes it easy to switch on ninjutsu whilst the ETB provides further value when they are recast.
Despite aiming to race, this deck can still grind into the late game. This is partly due to ninjutsu which can be used to generate recurring value, as well as a handful of quality cards which provide draw and selection. Dimir Ninjas also has a powerful removal suite at its disposal which can be used to neutralize blockers and push through damage.
You won’t need much incentive to draft this deck as it’s one of the top performing archetypes. Since the commons in black and blue both run deep, you will often find yourself in Dimir for that reason. Although powerful uncommons and rares can easily pull you in too. Starting any draft with a handful of ninjas will draw you towards this color pair, the natural home for ninjutsu.
As discussed, ninjutsu enablers are crucial to this deck’s success. With the right enablers, Dimir Ninjas can get off to a fast start and have your opponent sweating before they’ve even cast their first spell. The absolute most premium of these is Network Disruptor. This card can come down on turn one, enabling ninjutsu as early as turn two. Cheap to recast, this card also has an aggressive ETB. This allows you to tap down your opponent’s creatures and really keep the pressure on in later turns.
Another excellent enabler, Virus Beetle comes with a powerful discard effect. When you're pressuring your opponent early, forced discard is a great way to tighten the noose around their neck. Without evasion it’s harder to get this guy in unblocked but the times you recast it and snag a second card can be truly backbreaking.
Costing just one mana, Okiba Reckoner Raid provides two points of life drain before spitting out a 2/2 with menace. A little slow, this won’t enable an early ninja, however menace means it often gets in unblocked. When you're playing an aggressive game the life drain really matters so replaying this becomes an excellent option.
At three mana, Searchlight Companion is less cost effective but still a solid choice. You will find the 1/1 spirit useful on the board when racing and turning on artifact synergies can matter. It’s the combination of flying and the ETB however, that makes this a good enabler for the deck.
If you are struggling to find other enablers then don’t worry because Inkrise Infiltrator can still do the job. A little over priced at two mana, this flier does at least have an activated ability which makes it even harder to block.
Last but not least we find Iron Apprentice. Lacking evasion, this won’t always be able to get a hit in. Against a slow opponent, however, it can still get there. Casting this on turn one is generally going to be better than passing the turn, so add a few of these to your deck if you are low on one drops.
This archetype is well supported with ninjas at common. Don’t let this fool you into thinking they are late picks however. If you see these cards then snap them up before others do.
The premium common two drop for this archetype is Moon-Circuit Hacker. This ninja will draw you a card when it hits your opponent, provided that it entered the battlefield the same turn. Pretty easy thing to achieve given it has ninjutsu. With a ninjutsu cost of a single blue mana, it’s possible to activate this on turn two and recast an enabler in the same turn. Talk about efficiency.
A call back to Man-o’-War, Moonsnare Specialist is an excellent tempo play. Capable of entering the battlefield for just three mana, this card will keep your opponent off balance even when hardcast for four.
Whilst this card is powerful in its own right, it becomes really broken if you are able to create a chain of ninjutsu effects. To achieve this, have the Specialist enter the battlefield and then return it to your hand, with another ninja, during the same turn. This little trick gives you a bounce effect on the stack whilst the Moonsnare Specialist sits snugly in your hand ready to be abused again.
Another great option is to use ninjutsu, before damage occurs, to bring in a Moon-Circuit Hacker. Then, once damage has been resolved (but before combat ends) you can replace the hacker with a Moonsnare Specialist. This allows you to draw a card from the Hacker whilst also gaining from a discounted bounce trigger. Please note that if playing on Magic Arena you will need to hold full control to achieve this.
There are many such plays available to the pilot of this deck. The ability to squeeze multiple ETB/on-damage effects from your ninjas in this manner is one of the great strengths of this archetype. If you keep your eyes (and your mana) open when playing you will find many such spots in which to flex your skill.
At four mana, Mukotai Ambusher looks pretty clunky. Not so however, as this ninja will almost always come in for two mana, if you build your deck correctly. Additionally the lifelink really matters in racing situations making this a quality ‘two drop’ for the deck.
Moving up the curve, Dokuchi Shadow Walker is a fearsome looking 5/5. Whilst good, this card isn’t as powerful as the other common options and the casting cost is more restrictive. As such you shouldn’t pick it too highly but a copy or two make fine inclusions.
Black and blue are both awash with ninjutsu cards at uncommon. Almost all of these are very powerful, with only a couple of exceptions.
Dimir’s signpost uncommon, Silver-Fur Master, does not let the archetype down. This giant rat gives all your ninjas and rogues +1/+1. Solid in a vacuum, this effect can be devastating for your opponent when it appears on the battlefield at instant speed. The mana discount offered isn't trinket text either. This can be especially relevant if you are trying to ‘chain off’ several ninjas with ETB effects.
Other strong ninjas include Nezumi Prowler. Able to temporarily give a creature deathtouch and lifelink, this card makes blocking especially painful for your opponents. Whilst Dokuchi Silencer turns any creature card in your hand into a removal spell. Both of these ninjas are great pickups for the deck.
A couple of cards that are considerably less desirable are Futurist Operative and Covert Technician. Whilst both of these are playable in the archetype, they really aren't great and seeing them does not give a signal that the deck is open. The Operative is over costed and, whilst it might be useful in a long game, it doesn’t fit well into the low curve deck we are trying to build. Whilst the Technician is better value, its ability often fails to achieve anything and we would rather just have another ninja in its place.
An ideal deck in this archetype will be stuffed full of ninjas and enablers. As such there may not be a ton of space for other cards. That said there are some powerful options that we would like to squeeze in where possible.
Life of Toshiro Umezawa is one such card. This powerful saga can pick off single toughness creatures or enable attacks for a couple of turns before spitting out a 2/3 body. The possibility of a three for one and the flexibility this card offers are just great and that’s not even counting the times you can recast it with ninjutsu. Make no mistake this card is strong, so take it very highly when you have the chance.
Behold the Unspeakable is another very powerful saga. In a set with little card draw, the chance to refill your hand is too good to pass and the first chapter is highly relevant too. With a low curve deck the flying body won’t remain large for long but don’t worry about that, as picking this up with ninjutsu is a game winning play.
It's not immediately obvious that Dockside Chef would be good in an aggressive, tempo oriented deck. However this card plays great if you are attacking in unfavorable circumstances. Being able to cash in blocked attackers for a card is a great boon for an aggressive deck. Add aura based removal to the mix and this cook is looking pretty handy. Possibly its biggest asset though is that it's a one drop. In a deck willing to play Iron Apprentice, this is a serious upgrade.
Another excellent saga, The Modern Age, allows you to filter through your deck before becoming a relevant threat. You will find that the 2/3 flying body matches up well on the battlefield and it's yet another great card to pick up and recast.
Many decks don’t like to play combat tricks but this one bucks that trend. Since your opponents are strongly incentivised to block all your creatures, Suit Up can provide a massive blow out and drawing a card makes it even sweeter. Make no mistake this card is very powerful in the deck but you won’t need to pick it highly as it will often wheel.
Not just a black white gold card, Kami of Terrible Secrets is a way to put a body on the battlefield and keep the cards flowing. It’s easier to turn this on than you might think as Moon-Circuit Hacker is an enchantment and there’s no shortage of artifact creatures available for this deck. This card isn’t simply an auto-include however, make sure you have at least six enchantments and six artifacts before throwing this in your deck.
This isn't a deck that needs much removal, after all we are trying to be proactive not reactive. As such, around two to four pieces of quality removal should get the job done. Anymore than this and we risk diluting our capacity to threaten the opponent.
At four mana, Twisted Embrace is the best choice at common. Capable of destroying any creature this even leaves a +1/+1 counter behind.
An over performer in aggressive builds, Clawing Torment might not look like a strong card. However, its ability to shut down a blocker is what counts and the life loss can really add up.
If you're short on removal then you might be tempted to include Short Circuit in your deck. Please don’t, this card is truly terrible. It doesn’t permanently remove a blocker and doesn't shut down activated abilities either. Include bounce and sacrifice effects in the mix and you will understand why this should remain in the sideboard at all times.
On the whole it's better not to splash in any deck which is looking to close out games quickly. In shorter games there’s less time to find the sources required to cast your splash card and it can often impede your game plan by rotting in your hand. As such we recommend against splashing in this archetype.
There are a couple of Dimir cards however, which might lead you to think that splashing is a good idea. One of these is Prosperous Thief. Whilst this card does create treasure, making splashing possible, it's better to think of it as a way of accelerating your mana. A little mana boost is always nice for a deck that’s trying to beat the opponent out quickly whilst attempting to splash will surely slow you down.
Another potential splash enabler, Undercity Scrounger performs very poorly in this archetype. The 1/4 body is too far removed from Dimir’s aggressive game plan and the tempo loss caused by casting this is a huge hurdle to overcome.
There are many strong rares in both blue and black but most of them can perform well in any color pair. Here we detail a few that will overperform in Dimir. Honestly these cards are not too hard to spot as they all have the creature type ninja.
Biting-Palm Ninja is one of the best rares in the set and can be played in any color combination. That said, it fits right into a dedicated ninja deck. This is great early, when you can snag an important card, but even when your opponent's hand is empty it's still a potent threat.
Tatsunari, Toad Rider requires a little building around as it’s strongest when you can follow up with an enchantment. You don’t need to go wild here but note that the pseudo unblockable ability can only be used if you have a frog to target. Since the fail state is a three mana 3/3, it’s important that we get the trigger. Due, however, to the high number of enchantments available this isn’t too tricky. Once achieved, six points of damage per turn is a very quick clock.
Thousand-Faced Shadow is a card that clearly points towards the ninja archetype. Both an enabler and a payoff, this can copy another creature when its own ninjutsu ability is activated. A powerful effect, copying a creature that creates another trigger is especially brutal. Whilst this ability is clearly excellent, don’t be afraid to simply run this out on turn one. The card's flexibility is a significant part of its strength and the option to switch on ninjutsu for others is a large part of its appeal.
This deck thrives with a high creature count (when counting creatures it's perfectly reasonable to include any spell which generates a body, so let's include the sagas here too). As presenting threats is our deck’s main aim, around 16-20 creatures (including sagas) is a good number to look for when drafting, although this will vary from deck to deck. In order to construct a low curve, it's also important to ensure that a high number of these creatures are one and two drops, with just a handful of more powerful cards higher up the curve.
Thinking about the types of creatures in our deck, it’s a good idea to have at least as many ‘ninjutsu enablers’ as ninjutsu cards themselves. Drawing a fistful of ninjas and no enablers is much more of a problem than the reverse. As such, it’s not extreme to have as many as 10-12 enablers in your deck provided they are backed up by other powerful cards.
Since this deck has a low curve, playing 16 lands can often be the sweet spot and we would only want to go up to 18 in extreme circumstances. As discussed in the chapter on splashing, this is something we would generally advise against when drafting this archetype.
In terms of removal, around 2-4 efficient kill spells will ensure the deck has insurance against bombs as well as providing a way to push through more difficult blockers. Whilst removal is often considered a high pick, just remember that this deck is more interested in presenting threats than answering them.
Finally a couple of selection spells will mean that we can find our threats easily in shorter games and that we don’t suffer from flood when the games run longer. Note that decks with a high number of cantripping cards may be able to skip these entirely.
Please note that whilst these numbers are intended to give a guideline, they are not hard and fast rules. There will be many situations where vearing from this blueprint is correct. In those situations experienced players will know what to do. For the rest, just remember, it’s rarely correct to cut quality cards from your deck especially if you are replacing them with filler.
Looking at this sample deck we can see a high density of one drop enablers and two drop ninjas with just a smattering of more expensive cards. With most of the deck consisting of creatures (or sagas that become creatures), we see just a few removal spells, tricks and card draw. Due to the low mana curve it’s perfectly reasonable to run sixteen lands in this build.
Thank you for reading through this edition of Archetype Analysis. By following the advice outlined in this article, you should find this deck pretty straightforward to draft. Whilst piloting Dimir Ninjas can be tricky, it’s a really fun deck to play, full of rewarding decision making and skill testing moments. We hope you enjoy the games!