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  1. #1
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    BUG Ninja Faeries

    I've been wanting to restart playing Modern since Modern Horizons gave me my favorite mechanic back -- Ninjutsu. The mechanic is only good with a critical mass of dinky value creatures, which we now have in Ice-Fang Coatl. This list has been evolving for a bit, but after about 100 games playing it against myself playing the top tiers I'm confident in it.

    // 60 Maindeck
    // 4 Artifact
    4 Arcum's Astrolabe

    // 20 Creature
    4 Faerie Seer
    4 Ice-Fang Coatl
    4 Coiling Oracle
    4 Stoneforge Mystic
    4 Fallen Shinobi


    // 11 Instant
    2 Assassin's Trophy
    4 Force of Negation
    3 Fatal Push
    2 Abrupt Decay

    //2 Equipment
    1 Batterskull
    1 Sword of Fire and Ice


    // 20 Land
    1 Breeding Pool
    1 Overgrown Tomb
    1 Watery Grave
    4 Polluted Delta
    1 Snow-Covered Forest
    1 Snow-Covered Swamp
    3 Snow-Covered Island
    1 Hallowed Fountain
    4 Misty Rainforest
    2 Flooded Strand
    1 Godless Shrine

    // 4 Planeswalker
    3 Teferi, Time Raveler
    1 Liliana, the Last Hope


    // 15 Sideboard
    // 3 Artifact
    SB: 1 Nihil Spellbomb
    SB: 1 Executioner's Capsule
    SB: 1 Mycosynth Lattice

    // 3 Creature
    SB: 2 Plague Engineer
    SB: 1 Walking Ballista

    // 5 Instant
    SB: 2 Surgical Extraction
    SB: 1 Fatal Push
    SB: 1 Assassin's Trophy

    // 5 Planeswalker
    SB: 4 Karn, the Great Creator
    SB: 1 Ashiok, Dream Render






    The worst matchup is humans, which is why there's so much sideboard for it. Leylines + Surgicals along with maindeck Nihil Spellbombs make dredge extremely in our favor, but due to its popularity I don't want to run any less.

    Force of Negation is a powerhouse card to keep yourself not-behind until your deck can start gaining card advantage everywhere. It also helps when you have that card advantage to maintain the lead, since mana spells are only good when you have the mana up to pay for them. Seriously, this card singlehandedly will change Modern. Every single deck that wins before turn 4 abuses a single card engine, and this shuts it off. It's like playing against old Belcher in Legacy with Force of Will, you can win matchups that were previously determined by your opponent's luck. 1-2-3 Karn is never going to be oppressive again because of FoN. That was my most hated matchup because it just felt like dumb luck before. It just sucks that FoN is virtually dead against Humans.

    Fallen Shinobi: his ability is absolutely dirty against every deck. Even just getting 2 lands while being a huge threat and knocking out 5 life is huge, but grabbing at least 1 good card makes it insane. He is single handedly winning the Humans matchup because he uses their bullshit against them (hello Reflector Mage or a team of chump-blockers). Against control, they're terrified of him hitting a planeswalker. Most other decks are trying to cheat big things into play with Izzet Phoenix, Eldrazi Tron, or Dredge. With Shinobi for the late game we can focus on what Faeries in general does best... stalling.

    Ingenious Infiltrator After much playtesting with it, it just didn't make the cut. Most of the time the best thing it could do is draw a card while resetting a creature, but Modern is fast enough that you don't want to trade a chump blocking Ice-Fang for a tapped 2/3. Even worse, sometimes you draw hands where you don't have any low-costing dorks but you drew all your ninjutsu creatures and you're stuck with 3 over-costed creatures. It ended up getting cut from 4-of to 0-of in the course of testing.

    Ice-Fang Coatl is pretty all around good, being blue for Force, drawing a card, but most importantly has flash. I was playing this deck with Faerie Seer instead as basically a ninjutsu target, but my pre-board matchup vs. humans was literally 0%. Like their worst draws vs my best draws I'd still lose. Ice-Fang has done a huge part in bringing that matchup back, with all of your basics being snow. That means around turn 4 or so you'll usually have deathtouch online, which stalls them out a ton. Humans aren't great at topdeck wars from a stalled boardstate, and we are, so that's the route to victory. Against most other decks it's just a nice way to do something when holding up Spellstutter mana.

    Assassin's Trophy is the best removal I've used in Modern. The basic land very rarely matters, but the ability to hit all the new planeswalkers, random crap like Altar of Dementia or Pyromancer's Ascension, Hollow One/Gurmag Angler, and just literally everything makes it invaluable. I think the main reason is that most decks, with the exception of UW Control, don't ever plan on casting something for more than 2 mana. Against UW Control you'd be happy to give them a land to shut off whichever planeswalker they have. With the ability to flash them back with Snapcaster, you can easily deplete every non-UW Control deck of their basics.

    I had creaturelands in here, Mutavaults in particular, but you just never want to be attacking with them. Against control decks, the normal place to really want that ability, you would rather just run as many basics as possible. UW Control abuses the crap out of decks that don't run at least 4. They typically have as many Field of Ruin as you'd have creaturelands anyway. The weird 2-2-2 basic land base I'm running is less awkward than you'd expect since the majority of our 2 drops have a colorless mana in their cost so give you a lot of leeway there. It kinda sucks we have both Bitterblossom and Ice-Fang Coatl to worry about casting on turn 2 but with 8 fetches I haven't found it to be a real problem.

    If there's interest I'll post more thoughts on sideboarding and what to look for in each matchup. I'm practicing this a bunch against the top tier decks in preparation for GP Minneapolis (although I'm still on the fence about going).
    Last edited by Phoenix Ignition; 08-26-2019 at 05:16 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: BUG Ninja Faeries

    Looks like a very fun list, fundamentally powerful. I don't think you'll have any problems with the control or combo decks, but the faster agro decks like Burn and Humans will be challenging. Collective Brutality is a somewhat odd choice, I don't think you'll escalate it very often. The flexibility is nice but I could see Thoughtseize in those slots. Cabal Therapist seems actually kind of decent as well, for 2 reasons: Bitterblossom tokens turn into a discard engine and it has menace to get your ninjas through in combat. I would want something to boost the small dudes, maybe 1x Rancor or 1x Sword of Fire and Ice.

    Good luck with this, ninjas are badass.
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  3. #3
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    Re: BUG Ninja Faeries

    Collective Brutality is in for a couple reasons. At one point I had 3 in just because of how good it was in game 1. Aside from being an all-around decent card, it is the only thing in the deck that gains us life -- no small feat considering sometimes 2 more turns is all you need for Bitterblossom to win for you. Escalate is used semi-frequently to pitch extra lands, which you do tend to draw a decent number of from ninjas + ice fangs. I'm halfway considering a Chemister's Insight for a similar land pitching ability, but 4 mana is pricy for something that could be better (at 4 mana you could get Cryptic Command in here, which I've tried but cut).

    CoBru is actually a great card against Burn and other really quick decks, killing their early creatures while gaining life and hitting a burn spell, but its added bonus is in pumping goyf +3/+3 or more when you pitch a Bitterblossom that you don't want to cast against them usually anyway. Against Humans it's much worse than other removal but still hits Meddling Mage or Freebooter in the first couple turns allowing you to slow down their exponential growth enough to get your other preventative measures in place. Being a "hand hate" that can also kill creatures is the biggest plus.

    The interesting change to Modern with the addition of Force of Negation is I don't think hand hate is absolutely required anymore. Thoughtseize hurts with Bitterblossoms and in general against aggro since it makes you play a turn 1 untapped land, which usually means you take damage from a dual at some point later on (or take 5 on turn 1). Most of the reason to play Thoughtseize over Inquisition is the go-big style decks but they get punished quite hard by Force. I ended up cutting all non-Cobru hand hate just because they're such bad cards mid-late game, generally.

    Burn isn't as much of a problem since we can slow them a lot with removal + spellstutters + Force while allowing Goyf to end the game fast. Humans are very problematic and Blast Zone could potentially go higher than 1 if I really can't get that matchup in check.

    Right now the "finish the game fast" slots are all Goyfs, but I agree that a Sword of ______&_____ could be very good in here. 5 mana for its first use is always the main issue, and Goyf just being a big blocker helps a lot of the time.

    I'll have to think about Cabal Therapist, I haven't considered it at all yet. It'd need some extra hand-looking effects for it to be really effective but menace is actually incredibly good so that alone makes it potentially worth it. Also, having the potential to just absolutely screw people over is always nice. At this point I don't know what I'd cut. It's kind of nice with Bitterblossom but the first turn you'd get that to work is turn 3 and I think you pretty much always sac this guy on turn 2 to disrupt your opponent.

    The main question I guess is which matchups that I'm having problems with right now does it help in (does it help against Humans?)? I'd have to think about the answer to that more and/or just test more.

    Thanks for the input!

  4. #4
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    Re: BUG Ninja Faeries

    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenix Ignition View Post
    Collective Brutality is in for a couple reasons. At one point I had 3 in just because of how good it was in game 1. Aside from being an all-around decent card, it is the only thing in the deck that gains us life -- no small feat considering sometimes 2 more turns is all you need for Bitterblossom to win for you. Escalate is used semi-frequently to pitch extra lands, which you do tend to draw a decent number of from ninjas + ice fangs. I'm halfway considering a Chemister's Insight for a similar land pitching ability, but 4 mana is pricy for something that could be better (at 4 mana you could get Cryptic Command in here, which I've tried but cut).

    CoBru is actually a great card against Burn and other really quick decks, killing their early creatures while gaining life and hitting a burn spell, but its added bonus is in pumping goyf +3/+3 or more when you pitch a Bitterblossom that you don't want to cast against them usually anyway. Against Humans it's much worse than other removal but still hits Meddling Mage or Freebooter in the first couple turns allowing you to slow down their exponential growth enough to get your other preventative measures in place. Being a "hand hate" that can also kill creatures is the biggest plus.

    The interesting change to Modern with the addition of Force of Negation is I don't think hand hate is absolutely required anymore. Thoughtseize hurts with Bitterblossoms and in general against aggro since it makes you play a turn 1 untapped land, which usually means you take damage from a dual at some point later on (or take 5 on turn 1). Most of the reason to play Thoughtseize over Inquisition is the go-big style decks but they get punished quite hard by Force. I ended up cutting all non-Cobru hand hate just because they're such bad cards mid-late game, generally.

    Burn isn't as much of a problem since we can slow them a lot with removal + spellstutters + Force while allowing Goyf to end the game fast. Humans are very problematic and Blast Zone could potentially go higher than 1 if I really can't get that matchup in check.

    Right now the "finish the game fast" slots are all Goyfs, but I agree that a Sword of ______&_____ could be very good in here. 5 mana for its first use is always the main issue, and Goyf just being a big blocker helps a lot of the time.

    I'll have to think about Cabal Therapist, I haven't considered it at all yet. It'd need some extra hand-looking effects for it to be really effective but menace is actually incredibly good so that alone makes it potentially worth it. Also, having the potential to just absolutely screw people over is always nice. At this point I don't know what I'd cut. It's kind of nice with Bitterblossom but the first turn you'd get that to work is turn 3 and I think you pretty much always sac this guy on turn 2 to disrupt your opponent.

    The main question I guess is which matchups that I'm having problems with right now does it help in (does it help against Humans?)? I'd have to think about the answer to that more and/or just test more.

    Thanks for the input!
    Good call on the Brutality write-up, I forget the gain life aspect often. With Bitterblossom it does seem pretty good. I think Therapist being a 1-drop to get in your t2 Ninja makes it worthwile; the Therapy aspect comes when you know your matchup. It's just a thought, possibly bad, possibly good. I figured the extra BB tokens would become brutal in control matchups with Therapist. Repeatedly discarding against UW control seems absurd.

    Sword of Fire and Ice (Feast and Famine, Light and Shadow) would be to break open mid-range matchups. These Swords connecting even once against Jund/BG Rock will be incredible.
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  5. #5
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    Re: BUG Ninja Faeries

    On another note I've made what I think is a big improvement in the deck. I was trying out Cabal Therapist a bunch (wrote up notes on which cards to blind call in every matchup for a few situations) and realized that while it can sometimes hit big, it still wasn't enough to win against humans. That deck you can stall for as long as you want, but if all you're doing is 1-for-1ing on average you'll end up losing. What Cabal Therapist did really well was being a Menace 1 drop to anchor the Ninjutsu's better.

    I also realized that I literally just can't cast Bitterblossoms in aggressive matchups. The 1 life per turn is such a favor for them that it isn't worth the 1/1 token that can only ever end up chump blocking. Putting myself on a clock means they don't need to swing into the Ice-Fangs with Deathtouch or big goyfs. To make things worse, it isn't even *that* good against UW Control. Teferi, Time Raveler and Jace can bounce your token per turn very easily making it another clock you put on yourself, while eventually wrath of goding your pool of tokens when you finally get like 3 of them.

    So with Bitterblossom leaving the deck we lose an easy +2/+2 on Goyf. In addition to that, Spellstutters get much worse because the sweet spot for countering is at 2 cmc. That led me to cut bitterblossom and as a result, goyfs. That removes a lot of the fangs of the deck in terms of ending games quickly.

    Enter Fallen Shinobi. His ability is absolutely dirty against every deck. Even just getting 2 lands while being a huge threat and knocking out 5 life is huge, but grabbing at least 1 good card makes it insane. He is single handedly winning the Humans matchup because he uses their bullshit against them (hello Reflector Mage or a team of chump-blockers). Against control, they're terrified of him hitting a planeswalker. Most other decks are trying to cheat big things into play with Izzet Phoenix, Eldrazi Tron, or Dredge. With Shinobi for the late game we can focus on what Faeries in general does best... stalling.

    To that end, Faerie Seer does a great job of making sure we don't die or get mana screwed, and being the 1-drop with evasion to anchor the Ninjas. Being a 1-drop faerie is also sweet for Spellstutters being active at 2 cmc by turn 2.

    Also, I'm trying a slightly more aggro approach. Took out the Narsets due to lack of non-creatures and added in Mist-Syndicate Naga. That card gets out of control fast and aggro decks can't afford to not leave blockers back for it.

    New list updated in opening post.
    Last edited by Phoenix Ignition; 06-20-2019 at 01:01 PM.

  6. #6
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    Re: BUG Ninja Faeries

    Jeff Hoogland did a stream of a similar concept,
    Maybe it will give you some insight:

    https://youtu.be/2eJktaeZ78k
    I am counted amongst legions of the unrighteous
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