How does Ninjutsu work in Magic: The Gathering?

You'll have to think twice before you decide not to block.

Image via [WotC] (

Magic: The Gathering has returned to the plane of Kamigawa, and with it, players must be prepared for Ninjas as they play the new set Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty.

Perhaps the most popular mechanic associated with the Kamigawa is Ninjutsu, a keyword ability exclusive to Ninjas that was introduced in 2005 with the release of Betrayers of Kamigawa.

The ability, which is present on 32 cards, revolves around having an unblocked attacker and paying a certain amount of mana to blindside your opponent with a quick creature swap.

Silver-Fur Master

“Return an unblocked attacker you control to hand: Put this card onto the battlefield from your hand tapped and attacking,” the ability’s text reads.

From a rules perspective, once your opponent has finished their declaration of blockers, and before damage is assigned, you may pay a Ninjustu cost to activate that ability and put your Ninja on the battlefield and have the unblocked creature return to your hand.

The thought process behind the design of Ninjutsu is for you to attack with creatures that your opponent can’t block or are inclined to let attack unblocked. After they attack without being blocked, you pay a Ninjustu cost to swap that creature out for another creature that might have different abilities that provide added utility or damage to your attack.

Additionally, in NEO, Wizards of the Coast has added cards like Satoru Umezawa, which gives players a payoff for activating Ninjutsu abilities from other Ninjas.