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Commander Deck Tech: Satoru Umezawa, Infinite Ninjutsu

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Commander Deck Tech: Satoru Umezawa, Infinite Ninjutsu

Today I bring a ninjutsu combo deck with Kamigawa Neon Dinasty's new legendary creature: Satoru Umezawa

By Vinicius, 12/27/21, translated by Humberto, with help from our readers

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After the first spoilers of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty I figured WotC would give a slack in the news during this holiday season. Yes, I was naive enough to be taken aback by the preview of Satoru Umezawa... On Christmas Eve! Anyway, if they wanted to get someone hyped thinking about Magic while they were preparing supper, they could do it with me. Yeah, I'm that kind of addict who keeps thinking about how to combo with new card while seasoning the crumbs I'll take later for Christmas dinner at my mother's house. I was really intrigued thinking of ways to explore this new commander in a deck other than the predictable ninja tribal, and the result pleased me so much that it resulted in this article.

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Merry Christmas, Satoru Umezawa!

The Commander's Characteristics

First, I think we must talk about the potential of this commander and highlight what really caught my attention about him. At first glance, it turns out to be useful in a Ninjutsu themed deck, granting you additional draws with your first Ninjutsu. A second closer look reveals that his second ability, if properly exploited, allows you to drop huge creatures for a fixed cost of 4 mana, while also benefiting from the surprise factor and the inherent recursive quality of the

ninjutsu

ability. That alone is enough to base an aggressive deck (as I see many already doing), combining both small evasive creatures (Slither Blade, Dimir Infiltrator, etc) with impactful bombs (Blightsteel Colossus, Emrakul, the Promised End, among others). Both of these applications are valid, each focusing more on one of Satoru Umezawa's abilities and still taking some advantage of the other. While I recognize that these are interesting lines within the casual context, my proposal is different. The deck I'm going to present here isn't focused on dealing damage with huge creatures, nor is it Ninjutsu-themed. The idea is to exploit the commander's potential - especially his second ability - in making combos.

Satoru Umezawa Commander Decklist

Here is the deck I created after a few tests:
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The Infinite Ninjutsu Combos

This is a deck highly dependent on the commander, as its main wincondition is through “Infinite Ninjutsu” combos. These combos are only possible thanks to the interaction between Satoru Umezawa and any creature with an ETB ability that untap lands: Peregrine Drake, Great Whale, or Palinchron.
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Under certain conditions generated with the help of other cards in the deck, playing any of these creatures through

ninjutsu

allows you not only to recover the mana spent to put it into play, but also to have mana left over to activate another creature's ninjutsu right after and repeat the process, generating infinite ETBs and sometimes mana too. The result of this "Infinite Jutsu" depends precisely on the other cards involved in the combo and the setup established by them. Here are the main possible combinations considering some favorable scenarios:

1) Satoru Umezawa + Peregrine Drake + Any creature with ninjutsu {1}

With Satoru Umezawa in play and at least five mana-generating lands, attack with Peregrine Drake. After the opponent declares no blockers, tap all five lands to generate mana and activate the creature's 1 mana

ninjutsu

in your hand (Skullsnatcher or Mistblade Shinobi) and return the Drake. With the ninja already in play (tapped and attacking) now activate the

ninjutsu {2}{U}{B}

of the Peregrine Drake in your hand, returning the ninja. Drake comes into play again, tapped and attacking, untapping the five lands used to initiate the combo. Now just repeat the process as many times as you want, generating infinite

ETBs

. If any of the five untapped lands generate two or more mana (Dimir Aqueduct, Temple of the False God, Lotus Field, etc.) you also get

infinite mana

. In very rare cases where you have 5 mana or more with only 2 lands (Dimir Aqueduct+Lotus field, for example) you can perform the same combo by replacing Peregrine Drake with Cloud of Faeries.

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2) Satoru Umezawa + Great Whale or Palinchron + Any creature with ninjutsu {3} or less

Identical to combo 1, but it is possible to use any creature with

ninjutsu

cost {3} or less. Also, if the creature's

ninjutsu

ability cost {2} or less, you get

infinite mana

without needing to use lands that generate more than 1 mana (as long as you have enough lands).

3) Satoru Umezawa + 2 Creatures with ETB that untap lands.

If both creatures involved in this “Jutsu Relay” have ETBs to untap lands (Great Whale+Cloud of Faeries or Palinchron+Peregrine Drake, for example) and the number of lands/mana is enough, it's possible to do the same combo of

infinite ETBs

with only the

ninjutsu {2}{U}{B}

given by the commander. Often, it is also possible to get

infinite mana

, depending on the lands' setup.

4) Satoru Umezawa + Any creature with ETB that untap lands + Any creature with any ETB ability

It is possible to create any other redundancy through the Infinite Jutsu combo by replacing one of the pieces involved with any creature with a useful ETB effect, such as card draw, life drain, or mill. This combo is more difficult to make, as it requires you to already have infinite mana through one of the previous combos or to have a very specific land setup. You will need to activate

ninjutsu {2}{U}{B}

2x each loop. So, for you to have enough for the combo, you need to be able to generate the 8 mana of the specific colors with the amount of land you can untap (7 for Great Whale or Palinchron, 5 for Peregrine Drake, 2 for Cloud of Faeries). That is, the less you can untap, the more lands that generate 2+ mana you'll need in your setup, which can be difficult (or very unlikely, in the case of Cloud of Faeries). The deck has an entire package dedicated to facilitating this, presented later on. Since it's only possible past the threshold of these game conditions, this combo is occasionally used as a wincondition. There are numerous choices of creatures that can serve as parts, depending on your budget and what you want. I like the idea of ​​using cards that have utility beyond the combo. Here are some useful ETB options chosen by me as win conditions:
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- Baleful Strix: A low-cost cantrip with evasion. It also serves as a deterrent because of deathtouch, preventing certain attacks from being aimed at you. Can be used to generate

infinite draw

and seek another combo or wincondition. - Vela the Night-Clad: Classic card in Ninjutsu decks. Vela not only has evasion, but also grants to other creatures. Serves as a finisher while on the battlefield or if it's one of the combo pieces. - Malakir Bloodwitch: Another evasive finisher that takes life totals without targeting. - Archon of Cruelty: This one is interesting because it has multiple functions in a single card. Outside the combo, he is a bomb and a removal. As a combo piece, it serves as both a finisher and a source of

infinite draw

. - Gonti, Lord of Luxury: Alone, a useful ETB to use opponents' resources. As part of the combo, it exiles all opponents' libraries.

Manabase, Acceleration and Fixing

As stated earlier, the combo scenarios in the deck are highly dependent not only on the mana curve, but also on the lands' setup. There are three ways to solve this complication and enable the “Infinite Jutsu” loop with ETBs that untap land. The first and best of these is through the good old Panharmonicon, who passively doubles the amount of untapped land by triggering the ability one additional time. The second is by running lands that generate 2 or more mana (eg, Dimir Aqueduct, Temple of the False God, Lotus Field, etc). And the last one is using accelerators that increase the mana produced by your lands, like Crypt Ghast, Nirkana Revenant, High Tide and Bubbling Muck.

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Note that in the latter case, the additional mana generated will always be selective for some lands on the board. A High Tide, for example, only improves the capacity of your Islands. However, often this will be enough. Remember that having a lot of mana is not so essential here. You only need your 5 or 7 lands to be able to generate the eight mana of the specific colors to activate the two ninjutsus. Still, your mana base should consider the importance of having land that are islands and/or swamps. With that in mind, it's a good idea not to overuse non-basic lands, except those with the island or swamp subtype, such as Watery Grave, Fetid pools, Sunken Hollow, etc. You can also facilitate this process with any of these three cards:
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.

Alternate Winconditions

Usually, the biggest weakness of decks that are very combo-focused is their reliance on certain cards. This can be an issue in certain playgroups where mill effects or library exile are common. Although most combos in this deck have several redundant pieces, betting only on them ends up creating the need to use many tutors, which can make the deck expensive. I consider the use of alternate winconditions to the Infinite Jutsu combo as something personal. I particularly find it cloying to just play one tutor after another looking for the pieces of a combo that will end the game quickly. Therefore, I always prefer to “spice” my decks with some synergies that allow me to use combo pieces for other things besides just trying to combo. This makes the experience of playing with the deck smoother, although it eventually makes it less efficient.
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For Satoru Umezawa, I decided to save some slots to exploit his ability to put some powerful creatures in play. I chose some tactics based on taking out one opponent at a time. Blightsteel Colossus and Atemsis, All-Seeing can kill a player with a single hit, and Etrata, the Silencer can also do so with much higher difficulty. Etrata is still interesting, as it can't be blocked and also serves as a removal. Remember that, a creature is still considered an attacker until the end of the combat phase. Therefore, it is possible to deal damage with Etrata, trigger its ability and return it to another creature's ninjutsu hand before it is shuffled, thus circumventing its biggest drawback. Although these are less efficient ways to achieve victory, they are good options if you want alternatives to not be too dependent on the combo.

Conclusion

That's all for today, and I hope you enjoyed this deck tech of Kamigawa: Neon Dinasty's brand-new commander! If you have some suggestions, leave it in the comments!
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Vinicius

Martial arts teacher and content producer about Magic. Player in love with the Commander format, presenter of the Offline Kitchen youtube channel.

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