This is a very clever use of the ability counter mechanic, and as a result, Biting-Palm Ninja doesn’t actually need to make use of the ninjutsu ability in order to get its bonus going. That said, it’s probably not powerful enough outside of a Ninja-focused deck since it only gets to do its thing one time. I do expect to see this in Standard, though – at least, I’ll be giving it a try!
Blade of the Oni
I love the idea of attaching this to creatures that get extra value based on how much damage they deal. The dream is always to get cards like this onto Cold-Eyed Selkie, but unfortunately, many of the creatures that would care about this effect are already big enough or have ways to grow themselves to the point where this isn’t that useful.
Skullport Merchant gets downsized here and loses its Treasure token, but as a huge upside – it only costs one mana! This is a huge boon for sacrifice decks that want to draw cards, especially ones that are looking to leverage Blood/Clue/Treasure/etc. tokens into more cards and trigger effects like Marionette Master.
Go-Shintai of Hidden Cruelty
This may be my favorite of the Go-Shintai since it actually provides repeatable removal and can even take something off the board the turn you play it. Not much more to say than I already did about the Shrines in general, though.
Ooh, a (kind of) modal Fleshbag Marauder! I like the idea that you have some modicum of control over which option you get, though you are also subject to the whims of any opponent with a sacrifice effect available. That said, I think players are unlikely to bother exercising that option too often since their sacrifice benefit is likely to be worse than just letting their opponents also sacrifice some creatures.
Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos
I wrote an article about Hidetsugu already, and I think he looks like a fun commander for high rolling on the second ability or just taking advantage of the first ability as a great sacrifice outlet.
Opponents are unlikely to have a creature, an enchantment and a planeswalker simultaneously, but I don’t think there’s quite enough value here for five mana and such a restrictive cost.
Junji, the Midnight Sky
This was never going to be Kokusho, and that’s fine. That said, this is still a very strong card! Flying plus menace means this is frequently unblockable, and the dies effect is very powerful. The reanimation mode’s restriction means it isn’t a great candidate for Dragon-heavy decks, but it does make Junji a great target for Makeshift Mannequin, Apprentice Necromancer and other temporary reanimation effects. The worst case of Mind Rotting everyone and making them lose life isn’t amazing, but as fallbacks go, it’s fine. And yes, this looks like a solid mono-black commander choice.
Nashi, Moon Sage’s Scion
Now this is a powerful Ninja! There should be a solid card for you to play each time this hits, on average at least, and while spending life can be a little onerous, you can choose to include some of black’s powerful life drain abilities if you find yourself activating this too much. That said, since this is unlikely to be your commander due to the “from hand” restriction of ninjutsu, I don’t think investing too heavily into that is advisable.
Okiba Reckoner Raid
Everyone loves a magical rat biker gang, but unless you’re going for aesthetic, heavy Vehicle synergy or both, this probably isn’t the card for you.
This is an interesting tradeoff with Deadly Dispute. Which would you rather have, a Treasure token or some life? I’m usually going to be more interested in the Treasure, since that’s going to add more to any sacrifice synergies I might have, but if you want another solid instant-speed sacrifice effect that draws you cards, this could be fine. I could also see this in a Witherbloom deck that focuses on life gain in quantity, with Willowdusk being the best commander I can think of here.
Unless you can reliably do the work to have an artifact and an enchantment on the battlefield, I don’t think this is worth playing. Even though it’s exile removal, the sorcery speed makes this pretty unexciting if you can’t also get a card back from your graveyard in the bargain.
Tatsunari, Toad Rider
Setting aside the complexity here (the fact that you get a legendary token that also has an ability on casting an enchantment is kind of a lot), I like the flavor here – Tatsunari and the army of Frogs hop over opponents’ defenses. There are 31 Commander-legal Frogs in Sultai, and a lot of them are really terrible, but if you’re looking for a fun Frog commander for some games of Not Very Supported Creature Type Commander and want to go outside of just plain Simic, Tatsunari is the obvious choice. After all, adding black lets you play all-stars like Yargle!
Tribute to Horobi
I’m less interested in using the back side of this card and more interested in finding ways to leverage giving away Rat tokens for personal gain. Grismold decks may be interested in this for more fun with Syr Konrad, Blood Seeker, Morbid Opportunist and so on, as sometimes those decks misfire when Grismold isn’t in play.
I may be overrating this, but in sacrifice-focused decks that have easy control over creatures dying, this could be a lot of fun. Of course, it does have to survive a turn cycle before it gets going unless you can give it haste, but that’s the risk you take with a lot of creatures. I’ll be trying this out in my Juri deck that focuses on sacrifice and treasures, along with a few other cards from this set!
If you’re going wide with +1/+1 counters using something like Marchesa, the Black Rose, I think Unforgiving One is another piece of the recursion puzzle. I think counter-themed decks are the best way to leverage “modified” for cards like this that care about quantity of modified creatures, since they mean you don’t have to fill your deck with more artifacts and enchantments than creatures. That said, Equipment that comes in attached to tokens or that have living weapon are great options with this too. It’s worth noting that Unforgiving One doesn’t require other modified creatures to attack – you just have to have enough!
Eric Levine, also known as RagingLevine, is an accomplished Magic Judge, having head judged many Grand Prix events as well as the Mythic Championship. He's been writing about Commander since 2012 and enjoys building casual, fun decks to play with friends after long days at tournaments.