Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow – Commander 2018
Date Reviewed: March 3, 2022
Commander [EDH]: 4.42
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
There was a time when many of us thought Yuriko, and similar Commander callbacks, were the closest we’d ever get to a major ninja theme in new cards. I’m glad that time is gone. But don’t get me wrong: Yuriko is a card for all times, if only because ninjas will always be a popular tribe in casual. The fact that not all of them are very efficient might make casual the best place for her; though it remains to be seen what impact Neon Dynasty‘s new ninjas have in the bigger formats, the ninjutsu playstyle tends to be a little slow in Modern and Legacy.
If you have doubts about the commander callout, note that the fine print on her ability states that it also works from your hand. That little factoid also gets around the issue of her ability not being a surprise when she starts in the command zone: remember that even if she’s your general, you’re allowed to choose to let her go to your hand if she gets bounced (or you bounce her yourself).
Limited: 3/5 (Yuriko was in Mystery Booster, which is an odd and huge format with a low percentage of ninjas, but even if she’s a singular threat, she can do good work)
Commander [EDH]: 4/5
In many ways, Yuriko is the Ninja commander, thanks to her unique variation of ninjutsu being able to fire from the command zone. That alone makes her a massive issue in Commander, since it allows her to duck around the commander tax if you can meet the criteria of a single unblocked attacker; remember that ninjutsu is an activated ability and not a proper spellcast. She’s also perfectly functional from your hand because commander ninjutsu can still trick her into play from your hand.
As for her ability, it’s certainly vicious in spite of her low power; if you can take advantage of ways to reorder your deck (Mystical/Vampiric Tutor, Brainstorm, and Sensei’s Divining Top might work), that can make for a massive life swing in a single card. And she extends it to all Ninjas you control, not just her. Ninjas tend to like to operate as a low, close-to-the-ground archetype on their own, and you can easily parley a swarm of Ninjas into a massive hit. She’s a feared Commander for her ease of entry and her card advantage, and that’s unlikely to change outside of a ban (which seems unlikely).
So, the other question: is Yuriko good outside of Commander? Believe it or not, she sees some sparing Legacy play, as part of the format’s Ninja deck. She’s not a star, but she serves a useful function to recycle value creatures like Baleful Strix, eke out a bit more advantage from your extant Ninjas, and just do rude things like reveal Force of Will for hits to the face. She’s narrow, but it turns out that her efficient body and vicious effect are still well-suited for a format that sometimes has trouble with tricked-in creatures. She’d probably be more of a force in Modern, but she is not legal there, and it’s unlikely she’d join the fray in a direct-to-Modern set all the same.
Constructed: 3.25 (narrow, but she has a niche)
Limited: 3.5 (you’re not likely to have a Ninja deck in her Limited appearances, but remember that she can work just fine on her own)
Commander [EDH]: 4.75
The famous ninja commander that is widely popular among commander players since it came out. Being able to ninjutsu from the command zone is a big deal because it doesn’t suffer from repeated commander extra costs if you use commander ninjustu. Getting a Dark Confidant trigger that hurts both you and your opponents is great-ish because you’re not the only one taking the hit and you’re the only one getting value from it! I think this is the perfect ninja commander for ninja tribal decks and having Neon Dynasty bring us more ninjas will only help this deck and make it more popular for the foreseeable future.
Constructed: 2/5 (considering it can’t ninjutsu)
Commander [EDH]: 4.5/5 (as a commander)
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