Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni – Betrayers of Kamigawa
Date Reviewed: February 11, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 4.25
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I have to confess to a degree of bias in this review, because Ink-Eyes is one of my favorite cards of all time. It’s a combination of the viciousness and badassery conveyed by Wayne Reynolds’ art, how powerful you feel when she steals something from your opponent’s graveyard (compounded when it’s something huge), and the way she surprises people who get cavalier about blocking. Creatures this powerful aren’t supposed to just appear out of nowhere, and yet she does it in a way that invites interactions like Burglar Rat (on-tribe!) and feels much more fair than the way Uro does it.
The only thing I don’t like about playing her is having to go back to regeneration, which is one of the most awkward and needlessly complex abilities in Magic’s history. But you can always house-rule it so that it works like the Icehide Troll-style indestructible-and-tap ability at your table. And really, that’s a pretty small price to pay for a creature that’s just so cool.
The “queen” of the Ninjas, Ink-Eyes is easily among the most feared members of the fan-favorite tribe; being able to reanimate creatures out of graveyards is a potent effect, and she’s even able to stave off some removal spells on her own. A single unblocked attacker can turn into a massive headache if you have mana open and Ninjas on hand, since the vast majority offer brutal on-hit effects, and few embody the tribe’s brutality as much as this one does. Back in Kamigawa-block Standard, Ink-Eyes was a big threat, and her notoriety was enough to earn commemoration in From the Vault: Twenty as 2004’s representative card.
That said, Ink-Eyes isn’t a perfect creature: her stats are merely okay for today’s game, and she herself can’t slip through defenses unfettered without help (after that first swing). And if you can’t get a creature through unblocked, hard-casting her looks a lot worse. With all of that said, Ink-Eyes is hardly bad; while five mana is a bit high for Modern prospects, even with Ninjas seeing intermittent play in the format, you can play her effectively if you’re willing to put in the legwork, and she’s a hard-to-counter bomb that can blow a game wide open in one turn.
Constructed: 3 (I don’t recommend her in today’s game, but the effect is still incredibly brutal if you can play around her strengths)
Limited: 5 (not Betrayers of Kamigawa‘s unbeatable bomb rare, but it was right beneath it)
Commander: 4.5 (ninjutsu doesn’t work from the command zone, hence Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow; still, excellent as part of the 99)
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