Zen – CnC (Casual and Competitive)

Zen, Tamer of Purpose
(Zen, Tamer of Purpose | Art by Lius Lasahido)

Welcome back to CnC! Through this series, we’ll break down just what each hero brings to the table, from abilities to playable cards and equipment to interactions with other heroes. Looking at Blitz, CC, and UPF, we’ll see which heroes are winners, playable, fun, or need more support.

Ninjas have been a fan-favorite since day one. They’re quick, they’re cunning, they’re flexible, and they all hail from beyond the Mistveil. Today’s Ninja is no different. Zen has mastered his inner Chi as well as those of other living beings. We can definitely say he’s a cat person, and if you’re one too, you’re gonna love this hero.

What Does Zen Do?

Young Zen has four intellect and 20 life, while adult Zen has four intellect and 40 life. He’s a Mystic Ninja hero, which means he can use generic, Mystic, Ninja, and Mystic Ninja cards. His once-per-turn effect is an instant payed only with Chi. It creates a Crouching Tiger and searches your deck for a combo card which you can play this turn.

Weapon and Equipment

Just like any regular Ninja, Zen has access to daggers and swords, but his signature weapon is a Ninja staff. Tiger Taming Khakkara has a simple yet effective trait. While it is on the pricier side when talking about Ninja weapons (two resource for two damage), giving your next Crouching Tiger plus one is well worth it.

You can also use pretty standard Ninja equipment, but it’s important to think about your Tigers. Tiger Stripe Shuko should be included in your equipment slots, but also some other legendary things like Twelve Petal Kāṣāya and Traverse the Universe. Other than the Mistveil head piece previously mentioned, you can also play the ever-popular Ninja mask (Mask of Momentum and Mask of the Pouncing Lynx). While there’s no wrong piece for the leg slot, you’ll want Ninja legs. It’s your choice which ones you pick.

Going more commoner, Breaking Scales and another Ninja mask, Mask of Three Tails, will do just the trick, with your hands supporting combo pieces and the mask here available for breaking practically any turn (more on combo lines later).

Core Cards for Zen

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first – the more transcend options, the merrier. Zen’s hero effect can only be activated with Chi and he doesn’t have a passive, and not taking advantage of your hero’s only ability isn’t smart. So be sure to pack your deck full of Rising Sun, Setting Moon, The Grain that Tips the Scale, Preserve Tradition, Homage to Ancestors and the lot. Sacred Art: Jade Tiger Domain is also a piece you need, like all other Mystic heroes. Pumping Tigers will be important in this deck.

So what do you do to make your Tigers maul for more? Well, you can use your Tiger Form Incantation, then the Roar of the Tiger as well as make your tigers Untamed and blow your opponents away with Wind Chakra. But you won’t want to keep your entire pressure on kittens alone. Hit em with the good old Tiger Swipe, Pouncing Qi or even Chase the Tail. Other attack actions you’ll want in your deck include Aspect of Tiger: Body and Levels of Enlightenment. They’re not really here for the Tigers, but a cheaply costed three-attack for three block with go again potential is a Ninja classic.

We’ve covered the basics, now let’s take a look at the formats he can be played in and see if he’s playable, fun, a winner, or needs more support.


This segment doesn’t need any additional explanations. He’s a Ninja in Blitz, THE format for Ninjas. You don’t need defense reactions or blocks, you don’t even really need attack reactions, just cheap attacks with go again and a billion Tigers. Lots of reds, the occasional blue for Chi, and a good draw engine. You’ll go through your deck at least once, so make sure you at least put down some pitch, and attack with your weapon every once in a while. You can dish out damage with just a card or two, at least enough for your enemy to think twice before letting that damage pass.


Two words: power house. You can literally claw your way to 40 damage per turn, no sweat. Your foundation will be the little kitties – create as many and play as many. Pump them with cards we talked about before and make sure you have some cards to follow them up.

Sure, you may encounter some problem matchups or cards along the way, but just make sure you block them appropriately. Like mentioned before, you can dish out a fair amount of damage with just a card or two in hand. Sure, that five- or six-attack maybe won’t cut it in CC, but that’s why you sideboard. Get an opponent with lots of block? Just throw in more Tiger generators and pumpers. They might be able to block the first two or three cats coming their way, but the fourth and fifth ones will pass.


Remember all those combo cards you used after your Tigers? Say hello to Mauling Qi, which you will want in your deck. Like most Ninjas, sharing is caring when it comes to Ultimate Pit Fight. You don’t want alliances; you’re a hunter. In some cases, targeting out a single opponent rather than attacking everybody at once might be a better strategy, but you’re just gonna have to read the table to figure that one out.

In the case that you do decide to declare war against everybody, look to the Ira deck from Round the Table for your Tiger support – you can find them in this article.

Overall Score: Winner / Fun to Play

Yes, he deserves both titles. Ninjas have always been fun to play and powerful, but Zen is just something different. He’s a Ninja dedicated to the fluffy whisker wearers and nobody’s stopping him (except maybe Nuu). He was the most played hero at US Nationals and will continue to be played as long as LSS doesn’t nerf the entire Ninja population.

Further Reading:

Part the Mistveil Review – Ninja & Generic

The Best Part the Mistveil Cards for Blitz

Introduction to Mystic in Commoner

Valera tried Magic in highschool then forgot about it. Some years later, she fell in love with broken FaB heroes (like Data Doll MKII) and tribal commander MTG decks. A shapeshifter, collector, traveller, writer... Who needs free time?