SCG Daily – Mommy’s Little Monster: Shinobi vs. Dragon Ninja

That’s right kids, Tim Aten has been freed from his Premium shackles and he’ll be here all week, so get him while he’s hot!

It’s been a long time. We shouldn’t have left you without a dope beat to step to.

Step to, step to, step to.

Step to, step to, step to.

Yes, it has been awhile since I’ve written, and for those of you who actually missed me, I do apologize. As I’ve hinted at or stated outright on multiple occasions, writing a good or even “passable” article can be rather difficult. Now that I have an excellent excuse with which to shield myself from criticism – namely, “I’m a little rusty and need time to get back into the swing of things” – I can redouble my efforts to start churning out material.

The first thing you probably noticed about today’s opus (other than the painfully contrived double-musical-reference title) is that I’m not in the Premium section. I hope this quells any suspicions that I’ve turned into a money-grubbing prima donna. As you can see, I am most certainly not money-grubbing.

That was my little stab at humor. Ha ha. Ha. Give it time, folks. My alleged “talent” might return someday. I retain optimism about the future of my writing career since I still haven’t lost my flair for humor in person. For instance, I had the whole car giggling a few times on the way to Upper Deck HQ today… something about Magic for Girls and Kibler and debauchery… man was it funny. Ah geez, I wish you had been there.

Sorry about that. Since I’m not getting paid my normal exorbitant sums* this week, I have even less incentive to maintain a reasonable level of quality. Plus I’m rusty! Plus I’m schizophrenic!** It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission, and it’s easier to make excuses and act indignant than actually produce anything of quality. At least I admit that, unlike some writers.

As much as I’d like to speak in semantic circles for an entire article, protocol demands I actually talk about something relevant to Magic in at least a tangential way. This week I’ll be ranting hypocritically about journalistic sensationalism, providing some anecdotes from the Invitational, and explicating some important points about lingo. Today, though, I’m going to talk about my favorite card in CBS draft… and it’s not Glitterfang.

On May 17th and pretty much every day thereafter, the Invitationalists got the opportunity to wrap our grubby mitts*** around Saviors packs in Champions/Betrayers/Saviors draft. This was before the prerelease even. Man, are we ever special.

In my first stab at CBS, I drafted a miserable W/R piece of excrement whose contents I can barely remember on accounta I’m real dumb. I lost just about every game I played, but when other people used my deck, they won. Go figure.

During the next draft, I pieced together an amazing and synergistic R/B deck and smashed the crap out of Sam “Banonner” Gomersall and Jeroen Remie, becoming enamored with a certain one-mana spirit from the new set in the process. This love affair would continue throughout the week, but the power of Ding would not be my most important discovery. I drafted R/B again during the next 4-on-4, and the card I found myself riding to multiple victories was Okiba-Gang Shinobi. By the time of Saviors’s street release, after many drafts and some pondering on the format, I had developed a somewhat radical stance on the Gang…

I already knew that Okiba-Gang Shinobi was a good card. I would hope that most people already knew that. However, 95% of drafters probably don’t grasp the scope of its mastery despite having won games on its back or having lost to it singlehandedly. It’s actually the stazznoozles.

That one draft didn’t lead to an epiphany on its own; it was just a pivotal point in the comprehension of the power of the rat ninja. Sometimes you have to be on the receiving end of a card to appreciate its merit, and I realized that there was no non-Jitte card I dreaded more on turn 4 than an Okiba-Gang. Inductively, I realized that this must be because Okiba-Gang is one of the most powerful cards in the format.

The brief rant about the Invitational was basically pointless. I simply used it to illustrate just how long I’ve liked the Gang as much as I do. Despite its utter meaninglessness, in the realm of Magic let alone the grand universal scheme of things, I like to garner credit to add to my mystique. Very self-aggrandizing and hence hypocritical, I know.

Anyway, after playing with and against it enough, I avowed to take Okiba-Gang over every Black Betrayers card except Ink-Eyes and maybe Throat Slitter. Most importantly, I figured that Okiba-Gang was actually better than Horobi’s Whisper. I asked Hoaen his thoughts on the card, and when he said it was really good, I asked him if he’d take it over Whisper. He said he wouldn’t go that far, and that he in fact wasn’t sure that it was better than Takenuma Bleeder. I’m sure he’ll soon be singing a new tune.

Last weekend, I was extolling the virtues of the card to Patrick Sullivan, and said extolment made me think of the ongoing Grand Prix in Bologna for some reason. Sure enough, when I clicked on the coverage, there was a passage explaining how Okiba-Gang Shinobi took the third game of the finals for Olivier Ruel. Additionally, one of the undefeated sealed decks was a solid three-color monstrosity sporting Hisoka’s Guard… but it did have a Shinobi.

Okiba-Gang happens to have gotten better with the introduction of the new set and mechanic, but my contention is that it was always better than we gave it credit for. Here’s an invitation to a mini-dilemma in the forums: Okiba-Gang Shinobi or Horobi’s Whisper?

And now, an abridged signoff for an abridged article.

Tim Aten


Cedric Phillips chaperone in London

Morita Masahiko on AIM

[email protected]


*$1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 per article

**I mean, I hope not.

***Would this read better as “meaty paws”?