Deck Highlight: Modern Esper Shinobi

At first glance, what we have here is a three-color midrange deck emphasizing individual card quality. Bitterblossom and Lingering Souls are two of Modern’s most resilient threats, and backed up by a healthy mix of removal, discard, and permission, they make a great shell for a deck.

On top of all that, however, we have ninjas! As anyone who played Modern Horizons Limited will know, Fallen Shinobi is one of the most powerful cards printed in a highly powerful set. It’s a perfect pairing with flying tokens and Brazen Borrower – which often get through unblocked – as well as the efficient Esper spells which help to control the board and set it up. Finally, a midrange deck with a balanced game plan is often the best suited to take advantage of the value Fallen Shinobi provides, whether it might come in the form of a Rift Bolt, a Growth Spiral, a Thoughtseize, or a Reflector Mage.

Another card worth highlighting is Kaya’s Guile, which this deck plays in four copies between the main deck and sideboard. This card has a killer ability against many of the major archetypes in Modern from Dredge to Bogles to Burn. Typically, you’ll be able to choose the most potent of these abilities and produce a Spirit token for your troubles.

My instinct is that Fallen Shinobi is better than Zareth San, the Trickster. Trickster requires the opponent to have a relevant permanent in their graveyard, whereas Shinobi is strong under pretty much all circumstances. Importantly, Shinobi can be ninjitsued off of any creature, while Zareth San doesn’t work well with Spirit tokens or Vendilion Clique. I’d be looking to swap Zareth San for another cheap card like Inquisition of Kozilek, Bloodchief’s Thirst, or even a Serum Visions.

This deck appeals to me due to its ability to play a normal, fair game of Magic, but also its ability to drop the hammer when the opponent puts the shields down. Finally, there’s little that’s more fun than beating an opponent with their own cards. Fallen Shinobi can certainly provide some memorable moments, and a diversity of gameplay experiences.

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