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MTG: Blades and Smoke – Top Five Ninja Commanders

4 Minute Read
Apr 25 2024

None of these MTG Commanders wear an orange jumpsuit, so when they sneak up on your opponent – ninja style, you believe it.

Welcome Planeswalkers and Praetors to our ongoing series about the best casual experience in Magic: Commander.

Ninjas are one of the most interesting creature types in all of MTG. Rather than attacking like a good civil creature, they wait until a creature slips your opponent’s defenses, then unmask themselves to great effect. Most Ninjas have an effect when they damage a player, so sneaking them in is a nasty strategy. They are so deadly, in fact, that one of their number has been in the Top Five for cEDH decks for a long time. If you want to play a deck that will keep your opponent guessing, Ninjas are the way to go.

Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow

The best of the best and the OG Ninja Commander, Yuriko has been the bane of many tables since her introduction. She has the unique ability to appear out of the command zone, making her functionally immune to Commander Tax, and her ability triggers whenever ANY Ninja cracks your opponent. With a Ninja this effective, you won’t need much to deal the finishing blow to your opponent.

Goro-Goro and Satoru

When terrible living machines from a nightmare hellscape are attacking, sometimes you need a little teamwork. Goro-Goro, the goblin samurai trained by a dragon, and Satoru, the descendant of one of Kamigawa’s ancient heroes, were just such a team. Their ability to make Dragons when a creature deals damage the same turn it hits the board is perfect for a Ninja deck. They’ll be cheating themselves in, feeding you massive Dragon Spirits, and vanishing back to your hand. Best of all, this team-up can give all your creatures haste for the low price of two. This is combat aggression at its finest.

Satoru Umezawa

What do you do when you don’t have enough Ninjas? Make EVERYTHING a Ninja! Satoru gives all the creatures in your hand a ninjutsu ability, and once per turn, when one of those quasi-Ninjas drops in, you can do a little deck fixing. If your deck is already full of Ninjas, it’s even easier to get this ability off.

Cazur, Ruthless Stalker/Ukkima, Stalking Shadow

This is an interesting combo for a Ninja deck, but once you read the synergies, it’s perfect. Cazur gives any creature that deals combat damage to a player a +1/+1 counter, perfect for Ninjas slipping your opponent’s defenses. Ukkima, on the other hand, is an unblockable enabler that ALSO deals damage when it leaves the battlefield. Attack with Ukkima, get its leave the battlefield ability when you ninjutsu in your real attacker, buff the Ninja with Cazur, rinse, and repeat. It’s one of the most effective engines available.

Tatsunari, Toad Rider

The Great Toad Sage himself (though with slightly less hair), Tatsunari is an incredible Ninja enabler. Whenever you cast an enchantment spell, you get a Frog that drains your opponents for each future enchantment cast. The best part, however, is that he can give himself and the Frog quasi-unblockable, giving you the perfect route for your Ninjas to sweep in and finish the job.

What do you think of these Commanders?

What is Commander?

For the uninitiated, Commander is a semi-casual format for Magic: the Gathering. You use a deck of 100 cards led by a legendary creature, your Commander.


Aside from basic lands, you are only allowed one copy of each card in the deck. Moreover, you can only include cards in your Commander’s “color identity” or artifacts. Each color and color combo has a unique playstyle and a wealth of mighty generals to lead your deck to victory. is an excellent source for Commander info and can give you ideas on how to build your next Commander deck or tune an existing one.

Author: Clint Lienau
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