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Woo Brews – Ninja Bear Around the Web

I had plans for another article, but I have to drop everything and write about [ccProd]Disrupting Shoal[/ccProd] because of everything that happened over the last week.

I’ve been working on the Ninja Bear Delver deck for a while now, put up a couple videos and articles. A lot of people showed interested in the deck, but the world did not turn upside down.

Then, in the same night, LSV put out a video slicing through a Modern 8-man with Ninja Bear Delver, and Chas Andres released an article about speculating in Modern.

This combination caused a chain reaction. LSV influenced players rushed to pick up their copies of Ninja Bear Delver. Simultaneously, financial driven speculators converged on [ccProd]Disrupting Shoal[/ccProd].

Overnight [ccProd]Disrupting Shoal[/ccProd] skyrocketed from nothing to something. First on Magic Online, then American paper, then European paper.

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We can learn a lot from this. First of all, speculating is something that you can do, and if you act at the opportune times, it can be quite profitable. I received a “thank you donation” from a guy who had picked up 100 copies of [ccProd]Disrupting Shoal[/ccProd]. That’s 25 buy transactions and 25 sell transactions for as much as a grand.

A speculator picking up 100 copies is also the demand of 25 players looking for playsets. That means that a few speculators can really manipulate the markets, and as these speculators sell out we will see the price drop, which has already happened.

Where the price settles is a big question mark, but the fact that this can even happen tells me that a lot of people believe in the deck. A lot of people believe in me, a lot of people believe in LSV, and a lot of people believe in [ccProd]Delver of Secrets[/ccProd]. That’s awesome.

The deck is good right now, and it’s entirely possible that the deck will be good for years. I can see the deck carving out a small portion of the metagame and holding it. I really hope that happens.

However, life is unpredictable. Maybe [ccProd]Wild Nacatl[/ccProd] gets unbanned, [ccProd]Phantasmal Bear[/ccProd] becomes horrible in combat, and [ccProd]Disrupting Shoal[/ccProd] is no longer useful. Time will reveal all.

Ninja Bear Delver

For reference, I am including my list of Ninja Bear Delver here. I haven’t changed a card in the past two weeks and have continued to enjoy winning.

If you have any questions on matchups or card inclusions, check back to my previous articles, linked above.

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Ninja Bear

[deck]Main Deck
18 Island
2 Mutavault
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Serum Visions
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Phantasmal Bear
4 Vapor Snag
4 Remand
4 Snapcaster Mage
4 Cryptic Command
4 Ninja of Deep Hours
4 Disrupting Shoal
Sideboard
1 Echoing Truth
2 Hurkyl’s Recall
3 Vendilion Clique
4 Hibernation
4 Vedalken Shackles
1 Wurmcoil Engine[/deck]

Disrupting Shoal Around the Web

I’ve been amazed by the amount of discussion Ninja Bear Delver has sparked. A lot of people really like the deck, a lot of people hate it. The only constant is having an opinion.

In particular I’ve been keeping my eye on the MTGSalvation and Magic: the Redditing questions on the deck, and I figured it would be a good move to go through some of the more interesting questions and comments here.

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I saw a lot of people downplaying LSV’s results because of how “lucky” he was/is. I watched the LSV videos and I saw the same things, but had a different interpretation.

Obviously, there were a lot of moments where LSV would say “I want to draw X card” and X card appeared in his hand. There were also a lot of times where X card didn’t show up. When you say what card you want to draw every single draw, and draw several times a turn, it will happen just about every game.

The bottom line is that you do have control over what you draw, especially in a deck like this—you can’t draw X if you didn’t sideboard it in, and your chances of drawing X are high if you know you want to draw it and cast [ccProd]Serum Visions[/ccProd] after [ccProd]Serum Visions[/ccProd].

Now, things could have gone worse and Luis could have actually lost a game—but this is a Hall of Fame Player playing Hall of Fame Magic and it’s hard to watch him get bashed on.

So, treat yourself. Figure out what card you want to draw, announce it, and dig for it. You’re going to get lucky all the time.

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Keep. Always keep. Pros never mulligan.

I mean, would you really mulligan this?

[draft]Island
Island
Gitaxian probe
Remand
Snapcaster Mage
Cryptic Command
Vapor Snag[/draft]

Now, this deck would love an early threat, but it can win without it. In my experience mulliganing a hand with lands and spells is not as effective as saying “keep” and drawing an 8th card.

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I’ve been getting asked about [ccProd]Wurmcoil[/ccProd] vs. [ccProd]Batterskull[/ccProd] over and over so I figure I should get something in writing. It seems like a reasonable question until the actual reasonable question is asked. “What is Wurmcoil for?”

[draft]Wurmcoil Engine
Batterskull[/draft]

[ccProd]Wurmcoil[/ccProd] is for Jund.

Ok, so?

Well, what cards does Jund play?

[ccProd]Tarmogoyf[/ccProd]. Jund plays [ccProd]Tarmogoyf[/ccProd]. [ccProd]Batterskull[/ccProd] is smaller than a [ccProd]Tarmogoyf[/ccProd]. This is embarrassing enough to end the discussion, but there is also [ccProd]Ragine Ravine[/ccProd], any small creature plus [ccProd]Lightning Bolt[/ccProd], [ccProd]Abrupt Decay[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Maelstrom Pulse[/ccProd].

Now, if we have a spare 9 mana laying around, we can reset our smaller-than-[ccProd]Tarmogoyf[/ccProd] creature. And if we have a creature the opponent has been unable to kill we can equip, so long as it’s not a [ccProd]Phantasmal Bear[/ccProd].

Or we could play [ccProd]Wurmcoil Engine[/ccProd], which is bigger than [ccProd]Tarmogoyf[/ccProd], and does other things too.

If you need more convincing, I encourage you to watch M2G2 of Luis’s videos. He won the game on the back of a [ccProd]Wurmcoil[/ccProd], where a [ccProd]Batterskull[/ccProd] would have merely traded with a [ccProd]Kird Ape[/ccProd].

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I could “ignore the trolls” here, but this comment is actually pretty reasonable and I wanted to address it.

People behave according to their self-interest. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just the way it is.

So why would I release a deck that I thought was awesome instead of saving it for Pro Tour Valencia? Is it not in my self-interest to be secretive and play an unknown deck as opposed to revealing my cards to everyone?

Hasp is right that I am acting in self-interest here, but that doesn’t mean I have to be disingenuous. So what is my primary motivation here? Why would I publish it?

I publish this deck because it is my job to publish this deck. It pays the bills, week after week after week. I am allowed to have an awesome lifestyle if only I play Magic: the Gathering this week and write about it.

It would be nice to crush Pro Tour Valencia but it doesn’t make a big difference either way. Win or lose, I will come back to producing content as that is my predictable breadwinner in an unpredictable game.

Furthermore, I don’t mind hurting my personal chances of tournament success in exchange for deckbuilding glory. If Ninja Bear Delver and Living End both make the Top 8, missing Day 2 wouldn’t feel nearly as bad. I look for every opportunity to emotionally divest from my own tournament performances, and this is one of the ways I do it.

Good question honestly. As for the future of the deck, we will see.

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SAY CAR RAMROD! SAY CAR RAMROD!

Various people have written about their success with the deck, and that’s awesome. I have a feeling that if I put the deck down and never played it again it would continue to flourish and evolve in the hands of blue mages.

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I’ve seen a lot of players question the “anti-synergy” between [ccProd]Delver of Secrets[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Ninja of the Deep Hours[/ccProd]. I’ve seen a lot of players question the creature base in general. [ccProd]Delver of Secrets[/ccProd], [ccProd]Phantasmal Bear[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Ninja of the Deep Hours[/ccProd] have all come under fire.

Lueseto eloquently defends the creature base. Thanks bud!

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Brentane is right about [ccProd]Gitaxian Probe[/ccProd].

I have been asked various times what I think the best card in the deck is, and there was a time that I said [ccProd]Cryptic Command[/ccProd].

After noticing that my results were drastically better in games I led with [ccProd]Gitaxian Probe[/ccProd] compared to those I didn’t, I flipped. [ccProd]Gitaxian Probe[/ccProd] is the best card in the deck and the reason to play it.

But why? I just think information is that valuable. Imagine playing against LSV, and LSV gets to check the contents of your hand for free a couple times a game. You have no idea what LSV is holding. How would you ever win?

However, the power of [ccProd]Gitaxian Probe[/ccProd] is really in the hands of the caster. Brentane is right that not everyone is going to have good results with this deck—the players that do will be the ones to make the best use of information of the opponent’s hand.

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I agree with Sasky that [ccProd]Vedalken Shackles[/ccProd] is much better than [ccProd]Threads of Disloyalty[/ccProd]. I began with [ccProd]Threads of Disloyalty[/ccProd], switched to a mix, then went to 4 Shackles. The card is absurdly OP in the matchups it’s good against. It’s just a game-ender if it isn’t removed, and not everyone can remove it.

On the other hand, I’d like to direct Sasky to my primer on the Melira Pod matchup from two weeks ago. It seems to me that [ccProd]Vedalken Shackles[/ccProd] is pretty ineffective against an active [ccProd]Birthing Pod[/ccProd]. I find the matchup to be won on the basis of tempo more often than not, and that is why I board in [ccProd]Hibernation[/ccProd] and leave [ccProd]Vedalken Shackles[/ccProd] in the board.

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I see a lot of players like Valanarch make blanket statements about this (and other) deck’s matchups.

I find this kind of thinking limiting, as the win percentage of a deck like this might be 50% in the wind depending on the pilot.

This deck does not play against GR Tron. You play this deck against a player who is playing GR Tron. There is a difference. We’re not talking computer simulations over 1000 games determining the winner. We are talking micro decisions over 1 match cascading into an eventual winner.

Now, I believe that you don’t win against Tron, Jund, or Affinity. But I believe there are a lot of players out there that do, and they do because they take responsibility for their own matchups and focus on plays to improve them. You can choose to be like these players.

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NullPointerException is not alone in wanting more threats and 3-drops in the deck. I think it’s a fine goal, even though I am not going to do it myself. It comes down to preference. My advice is to try it out for yourself—you might be right and that way at least one person will know. Maybe you will be able to convince other people too.

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I’ve seen a lot of players that want to move towards evasion creatures. I mean, [ccProd]Delver of Secrets[/ccProd] can have flying, but aside from that nothing in the deck has evasion. Nothing.

Our evasion mainly comes from the fact that a lot of Modern decks aren’t into blocking. Against decks like UWR, Affinity, Tron, Living End, Scapeshift, and Storm, evasion is not relevant, and would require voluntarily downgrading every creature in the deck.

Against the blocking decks, our evasion comes through [ccProd]Vapor Snag[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Cryptic Command[/ccProd]. These spells allow us to hit the opponent and actually kill them, where smaller evasion creatures would take twice as much time.

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I’ve seen a lot of players defend the deck by talking about how hard it is to play and I think this is basically true. I’ve already talked about the power of [ccProd]Gitaxian Probe[/ccProd] and how much the percentages can vary by pilot.

What Chuckie points out is that a lot of people are going to play against and beat, or watch, and be unimpressed by this deck on account of it losing. Really I think this deck sheds light on the abilities of the pilot. This will hurt the deck in some ways and help it in others.

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For those of you concerned about a turn 2 [ccProd]Liliana of the Veil[/ccProd], go watch LSV’s final match from last week. The card is tough but beatable.

[draft]Deathrite Shaman[/draft]

While we are on the subject of [ccProd]Deathrite Shaman[/ccProd], I wanted to talk about this deck’s strength against the card. Now, the card can be very good against us—the life drain and life gain abilities are both great, and the card can make [ccProd]Snapcaster Mage[/ccProd] awkward to use.

However, we have a very real strength against [ccProd]Deathrite Shaman[/ccProd] in feeding it 0 fetchlands. [ccProd]Deathrite Shaman[/ccProd] is a mana creature first and foremost, and by making the Deathrite player rely solely on their own deck for fuel we make the card much weaker and less consistent at doing its job.

I think any deck in Modern that doesn’t play fetchlands gets serious points on account of this.

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I haven’t written about the Burn matchup, so why not now.

[draft]Goblin Guide[/draft]

First of all, the mono-red deck is really a [ccProd]Goblin Guide[/ccProd] deck. In any matchup, the deck has a good chance of winning when it has a turn 1 [ccProd]Goblin Guide[/ccProd], and its chances drop significantly when it doesn’t. The card is incredibly strong and that’s the way it is.

As for our matchup, we can definitely lose, but I like it. I mean, sure, our creatures are all small and vulnerable. But burn decks aren’t really designed to actually burn creatures. If the red deck burns a Delver on turn 1, they are on 5-6 cards (or less from mulligans) while the opponent is at 20 life. It’s pretty hard for them to win from there.

So the red deck can’t really touch creatures outside of [ccProd]Searing Blaze[/ccProd], and once they do, it’s hard for them to win. So, the small creatures get there with the help of hard counters in [ccProd]Disrupting Shoal[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Cryptic Command[/ccProd]. Unless they start hitting with [ccProd]Goblin Guide[/ccProd].

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And now for the dirty secrets. If Ninja Bear Delver becomes the top deck, it is pretty easy to hate out. There are sideboard cards available that, if popular enough, would force the deck to change completely into another color. Now, that reality is far, far away, but it’s popular.

The other night I stumbled through the internet into Greg Hatch’s stream. Greg was “trying to lower the price of [ccProd]Disrupting Shoal[/ccProd],” because he was unwilling to buy them at 13. At one point I heard him say, “there’s no reason to not run 4 [ccProd]Thrun[/ccProd]s”.

I caught a screenshot of Greg saving his deck as, “Mono-Green Disrupt Lower Price.”

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We’re talking [ccProd]Skylasher[/ccProd]s, [ccProd]Scryb Ranger[/ccProd]s, [ccProd]Great Sable Stag[/ccProd]s, [ccProd]Thrun[/ccProd]s, [ccProd]Mistcutter Hydra[/ccProd]s, and [ccProd]Choke[/ccProd]s.

I tried playing against him myself, and ended up conceding on turn 3 both games. In doing this, I did get to learn the power of [ccProd]Gitaxian Probe[/ccProd], as my attempted stream cheating was invalidated by the power of my deck. The power to see that I would be facing 3 unanswerable [ccProd]Skylasher[/ccProd]s this game, that is.

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Point is, people can beat us if they want. Right now I don’t think they want to. So let’s beat them.

Ninja Bear in Modern Daily Events

I’ve been keeping my eye on Daily Events and watching Ninja Bear Delver lists in most published Daily Events.

This is great stuff, and I hope to see more and more.

The Future of Ninja Bear Delver

I’ve said a few times that the future is uncertain. There are things outside of our control. But there are a lot of things in our control as well. We have power. We have responsibility. We can continue to play the deck. We can practice and plan our matchups. We can take the deck to major tournaments and we can crush. And maybe, some day, we’ll proudly get hated out by [ccProd]Choke[/ccProd]s and [ccProd]Skylasher[/ccProd]s.

[draft]Delver of Secrets[/draft]

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