This hand is very close, but ultimately a little too risky. With Goblins often playing cards such as [[Chalice of the Void]], you can’t rely on the two artifacts. Even if you wanted to, they don’t actually do anything — there is no Metalcraft! This leaves you with the lone copy of [[Chrome Mox]] with not much else going on. In theory, you could Imprint [[Ad Nauseam]], cast [[Dark Ritual]], [[Wishclaw Talisman]], [[Mox Opal]], and finally [[Defense Grid]]. But now what? This is also assuming that [[Mindbreak Trap]] didn’t exile [[Wishclaw Talisman]] from the stack. There just isn’t a lot of potential with this hand, and I’d rather just be a little more conservative with a mulligan.
Hand No. 1: (on the draw)
[[Veil of Summer|]] [[Burning Wish|]] [[Lotus Petal|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Bloodstained Mire|]] [[Rite of Flame|]]
This is essentially a perfect hand. Begin by playing [[Bloodstained Mire]], [[Lotus Petal]], [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Mox Opal]], [[Rite of Flame]], [[Veil of Summer]], and [[Burning Wish]] (sacrifice [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] for ) and then [[Empty the Warrens]] for 14 [[Goblin Token]]s. Like most tempo decks, BUG Ninjas does not play any main deck answers to a horde of [[Goblin Token]]s.
While this hand technically has two mana sources and [[Defense Grid]], it’s very weak. The one nice thing about the matchup is you don’t need to worry about [[Daze]] about of BUG Ninjas as it’s not very common. Although, [[Abrupt Decay]] and [[Oko, Thief of Crowns]] are the reasons to play green and are very good against non-land permanents (which is mostly what this hand is). You could try to use [[Chrome Mox]] to cast a cantrip to find a land, but you’re already down and tight on resources to start off the game. This should be a pretty easy mulligan.
Hand No. 3: (on the draw)
[[Veil of Summer|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Wishclaw Talisman|]] [[Lotus Petal|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Polluted Delta|]] [[Taiga|]]
My only concern with this hand is it’s a tiny bit slow. That said, you do have two copies of [[Veil of Summer]] against the deck with [[Thoughtseize]], [[Abrupt Decay]], and [[Force of Will]]. We are on the draw, which means that a first turn [[Thoughtseize]] could happen — it’s not very likely. In lists that play [[Thoughtseize]], it’s usually only played as a two-of if it’s in the main deck at all. On the second turn, I would look to play out [[Lotus Petal]], [[Wishclaw Talisman]], and then [[Mox Opal]] to enable Metalcraft for casting the [[Veil of Summer]]. At this point, we just need to draw a little bit of mana for a protected [[Ad Nauseam]].
BUG Ninjas doesn’t play main deck copies of [[Force of Negation]] (they are in the sideboard) meaning that we’re back to the classic, “It’s only 40 percent that they have it.” We take those odds. [[Underground Sea]], [[Lotus Petal]], [[Lotus Petal]], [[Dark Ritual]], [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Wishclaw Talisman]] (sacrifice [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] for ), and cast [[Ad Nauseam]].
What a clunker! This hand is just too slow against the average BUG Ninjas start. [[Ornithopter]] or [[Changeling Outcast]] into [[Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow]] or [[Ingenious Infiltrator]] and you’re getting buried in card advantage before you can even cast your first two-drop out of the three stuck in your hand. Not to mention most of them are permanent-based which means turning on [[Abrupt Decay]] and [[Oko, Thief of Crowns]].
Hand No. 6: (on the play)
[[Rite of Flame|]] [[Chrome Mox|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Burning Wish|]] [[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Ponder|]] [[Bloodstained Mire|]]
I mentioned how BUG Ninjas didn’t have [[Force of Negation]] in their main deck. The deck does have three in their sideboard, however. This brings the total “Force” count up to seven in post-board games. This makes the [[Burning Wish]] into [[Empty the Warrens]] line pretty bad here as you’re less than a 40 percent favorite. Not to mention, most lists also side in [[Plague Engineer]] which means if they can slow down the [[Goblin Token]]s enough with copies of [[Ornithopter]], it could be an issue. That said, I do think this hand is still a keep. We just need to use [[Ponder]] to find a [[Veil of Summer]] or [[Defense Grid]].
Hand No. 7: (on the draw)
[[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Echo of Eons|]] [[Dark Ritual|]] [[Burning Wish|]] [[Tendrils of Agony|]] [[Rite of Flame|]]
We just went over the odds of [[Force of Will]] and [[Force of Negation]]! Now add in [[Thoughtseize]] or [[Ponder]]/[[Brainstorm]] to dig deeper. This hand is a huge trap.
Hand No. 8: (on the play)
[[Veil of Summer|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Ponder|]] [[Polluted Delta|]] [[Wishclaw Talisman|]] [[Defense Grid|]] [[Tendrils of Agony|]]
This hand is actually really close, but has some unfortunate tension. You want to protect yourself with [[Veil of Summer]] from [[Thoughtseize]], but you also need to cast [[Ponder]] for a second land so that you’re able to curve into [[Wishclaw Talisman]] or [[Defense Grid]]. Additionally, there’s absolutely no acceleration which means that one of the Ninjutsu creatures is going to cause the game to spiral out of control. These are the sort of hands with enough experience that it’s easy to see all the things that can go wrong.
This is another close hand. That said, we have land drops and two cantrips to fix our hand. The extra, “wish effect” can be used as a protection spell, which is a benefit of this hand. I wouldn’t be thrilled to keep, but it’s certainly acceptable.
Hand No. 10: (on the play — mulliganed once)
[[Mox Opal|]] [[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Chrome Mox|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Dark Ritual|]]
Share your answer in the comments below!
I’ll provide my answer in the next article. For now, make sure to post your thoughts!
Bryant Cook has one Grand Prix Top 8 as well as nine Star City Games Top 8s (two wins). Bryant recently won a Legacy PTQ and a Legacy Challenge in the same weekend with v10.8! You can most likely find him teaching others how to cast Rite of Flame or creating Legacy & Vintage content. Bryant is also a host of The Eternal Glory Podcast, as well as a Web Designer, New York Mets fan, and all-around nerd.
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