I find Jade Fox, Headmistress to be an underwhelming tech III ninjutsu card. I’m curious what other people think of her after some discussion in the discord. Sirlin contends that she is NOT underwhelming because you win the game when you play her. To me, that is the definition of a tech III unit and not sufficient argument that Jade Fox is in a fine place. Anyway, this thread is an easier way to promote discussion and see how other people feel about Jade Fox. Is she exciting? Have you won many games using Jade Fox? Do you find her to be underwhelming? I will attempt to explain WHY I find her underwhelming, first by looking at other White Tech III options.
I. White Tech III
A. Hero’s Monument
Hero’s Monument only costs 5 and you get an 8/8 unstoppable, untargetable, indestructible unit…which can’t patrol. But the monument itself also buffs your heroes by +1/+1 and it doesn’t take many attacks to win with an 8/8 unstoppable unit, which can conveniently also permanently break their tech III and force them to win with tech II and heroes. Hero’s Monument does not seem underwhelming! You get a considerable amount of stats for your 5 gold investment and your heroes get a bit stronger. Regardless of the win rate of Hero’s Monument and Daigo, the card seems powerful to me (and I imagine other players).
B. Oathkeepr of Kor Mountain
Oathkeeper has some issues, like being legendary without sounding legendary (he’s not named, like Jade Fox is), but winning the game for 7 gold is a tangible possibility. He is cheaper than Jade Fox, but cheaper doesn’t mean better! For your 7 resources you get a 7/8 swift strike unit with resist 2. That sounds amazing as an attacker who can snipe most ground units/heroes without taking damage and as a unit that is difficult for your opponent to deal with due to resist 2. But wait, there is another ability: Pay 2 gold -> Sideline all patrolling units! Sometimes, you can use that ability the turn you play Oathkeeper, assuming you already have a good board to pick and choose what you want to destroy on your opponent’s side of the board. Without patrollers you could attack their buildings, heroes, or base. Oathkeeper also has some text about how you have to choose to either stop playing cards from your hand (aside from workers) or you stop drawing and discarding at end of turn. Despite this minor drawback (and his lack of a proper name), Oathkeeper reads like a strong tech III unit. Many people in the discord were quick to point out that he is probably White’s best tech III option.
C. Jade Fox
Jade costs 8 resources, which is the most out of any White Tech IIIs. What does she deliver, the most powerful army of ninjas? Well, kind-of. You get a 4/6 Ninja lord with flying and swift strike who gives all your other ninjas flying and swift strike and she arrives with four 1/1 Ninjas! Unfortunately, she does not affect the Ninjutsu hero Setsuki which is a bit of a flavor fail, similar to how Fox’s Den School does not benefit Setsuki, the ninja hero at all. But aside from that small disconnect, what can you do with her?
II. Jade Fox’s abilities
A. Vanilla Test
For those that aren’t familiar with it, the “vanilla test” is used in Magic to evaluate limited cards. Generally you want a card that gives you at least as much power and toughness as you spent in resources. A 2/2 for two passes the test while a 2/2 for four fails. Well, Jade Fox gives you 8 power of flying, swift-striking ninjas spread over 5 bodies. In some ways, that’s a big benefit because most spells are single target and with 6 HP, Jade Fox is difficult to kill (especially since she has 4 power of Swift Striking which means she needs to be attacked by a minimum 5 HP unit/hero). She does not have any defensive abilities like untargetable or resist, so spells that destroy or change units are quite good against her, though as a tech III unit many can not target her. The fact that the entire package is all flying means they are excellent against an opponent trying to win with fliers, but poor to defend against a ground army. Jade is great at killing ground units though!
B. Ninja Lord
Jade has another important aspect to her - she buffs your existing Ninjas with flying and swift strike too. Notably, the White starter has 2 ninjas in it as Tech 0 cards (Fox Primus and Fox Viper). Neither have flying or swift strike, so these are really good upgrades for tech 0 cards! In Tech I, you have Inverse Power Ninja…which is a big wombo with Jade Fox. Probably the worst tech I you could play in conjunction with Jade Fox since she brings along 5 bodies when you play her. To my knowledge there are no other ninjas in any other techs or starters so that covers synergy with Tech 0 and Tech I - 2 units, Fox Viper and Fox Primus.
Ok, what about Tech II? Ninjutsu has 3 more ninja units as well as a building which can turn any unit into a ninja. Glorious Ninja is probably the best of the bunch, but already has Swift Strike. Jade Fox does give him flying which is a big upgrade. Flying Fox, as its name suggests, already has Flying, but Swift Strike is a big upgrade, allowing it to perhaps pressure other small fliers or anti-air units like Water Elemental and live to tell the tale. Overall though, Swift Strike on Flying units is situationally powerful.The final ninja in Tech II is the Cute Raccoon, who does not have either Flying or Swift Strike, but does come with unstoppable (with another Ninja), and unattackable (with another Cute Animal). The Swift Strike seems like a big upgrade while the flying is mostly useful if you wish to attack enemy fliers, otherwise unstoppable will already let the Coon go after whatever you want.
There are lots of cool synergies with Setsuki! Setsuki’s ultimate also gives you four 1/1 Ninjas, but it also gives them Haste and Stealth! Stealth is mostly redundant with Flying, but Haste is very important. If you could somehow play Jade Fox and Fox’s Den Students on the same turn, that would be a really cool combo. Unfortunately it is difficult to set that up as Jade herself costs 8, while Setsuki’s ult costs 4. On the bright side, if you can pull it off, Fox’s Den Students gives Jade Fox herself haste too! I think that if Jade Fox were cheaper and this combo were more realistic in game, that would contribute to making her feel less underwhelming.
So, with all these possibilities, why do I think Jade Fox feels underwhelming?
She provides an evasive army for a high cost. 5 units for 1 card is a great deal, but to be fair, 4 of those units die to every mass removal in the game (Discord, Death and Decay, Firehouse, Orpal, Judgement Day). 1/1s, even with Swift Strike and Flying, are weak units. You get 4 of them, which is a lot, but they are not enough to break a tech alone. Also the Swift Strike will rarely matter because they only have 1 power and with flying they won’t be getting attacked back very often. I guess you really trump The Hive from Vortoss though!
In Magic a “win-more” card is one that primarily helps you win when you are so far ahead that just about anything would have been enough to win. Jade Fox and her army are not just fragile, they are offensive by nature. You can patrol your Ninjas with Jade, but since they all have flying, you are only defending against airborne threats. A ground army could walk directly underneath and win the game. Still, many tech IIIs have this issue (in fact, Hero’s Monument also provides very little in the way of defense - unless you have enough base health that they feel threatened to go after the 6 HP building instead…).
C. Wombo Clan Ninjas
A ‘wombo’ is a combo gone wrong, something that looks like it should intuitively work together, but actually doesn’t. The Ninjutsu tech in general has several wombos, outside of general Setsuki wombos with ninja traits. Ninjas can be invisible, fly, gain stealth, OR be unstoppable. Unfortunately most of these evasive attributes are not additive. If you are invisible, it’s only helpful to also fly in rare circumstances. If you are unstoppable, it doesn’t matter if you have stealth. Flying is very strong but Jade Fox feels underwhelming because ninjas already have SO many ways to be evasive. The flavor here is excellent because these are all things that describe ninjas. However. translated in game terms it is messy and inelegant to have an invisible, flying, stealthed 1/1 ninja token.
A. Not “underwhelming” vs Valuation
Competitive players and Sirlin in the discord repeatedly told me that Jade Fox is not underwhelming. She will win the game if you play her. When I agreed that she will win the game, the argument shifted to my valuation skills. The problem was not with Jade Fox, it was with my ability to evaluate Jade Fox’s abilities in the context of the Ninjutsu tech. I don’t like this line of thinking because most of the razor’s edge balancing in Codex involves the heroes and the starter decks plus tech Is. If those elements are balanced very well, then the next thing to look at would be tech IIs and only afterwards would I evaluate tech III. At any rate, there is a subjective quality to whether something feels underwhelming. Something could be really strong but “feel” underwhelming to read. Should it be changed? Clearly it must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. However, I think if you can change it to appeal to more players and it doesn’t disrupt the balance of the game, then that is a lot of upside!
B. More ‘Whelming!’
So I’ve outlined why I think Jade Fox is underwhelming. What could be done to change her, not simply making her a stronger unit , but making her the epitome of the Ninjutsu tech tree?
More Ninjas! Seriously if she is designed to win the game when you play her, has the weakness that she can’t block because everything she makes has flying (which can’t block ground units/heroes), then give her a giant army! Setsuki’s ultimate already makes 4 ninja tokens. What about 6? What about 8? I think this change wouldn’t significantly alter how often she gets played, but might inspire players to give her a try, potentially for an expensive combo with Fox’s Den Students.
The Ninja Lord should make Ninjas stronger. Other Ninjas you control get +1/+1? Wouldn’t that be nice in case you workered your Safe Attacking on turn 1 and your opponent built a tower? Trust me, if they see you go Ninjutsu, they are building a tower. If Jade Fox gave “other Ninjas you control +1/+1”, she would be 12 points of power for 8 gold (none of it haste). That seems exciting and not underwhelming at all. She would also help some of your Tech 0 ninjas be more effective the turn you dumped 8 gold into playing her, assuming you have any lying around.
Make her cheaper and smaller. There is a monument to Daigo, a Braveheart-looking Oathkeeper, and a Ninja commander. The Ninja commander is the most expensive?? Shrink her down to 3/5 and reduce her cost by a few gold. This would open up the combo with Fox’s Den Students to be more viable/attainable. What is the danger here exactly? Is there a certain match-up she was specifically designed to combat with her precise stats and abilities? Or is she more of a top-down representation of what a Ninja commander should be in Codex?
Make her synergize with Setsuki. It’s a little more text to say that your Ninjutsu hero gains flying, but it feels really weird that they don’t work together considering they are in the same tech and are both “ninjas” from the same school. I don’t think this is really a balance issue, but what do I know?
Make her synergize with Mythmaking by arriving with 4 legendary Ninjas! These could be named tokens and this is probably the smallest balance change possible that would contribute to making her feel less underwhelming without vastly altering her stats. I do think this is not enough, but I liked the idea.
A suggestion from the discord was that she act like Midori - flying on your turn, not flying on your opponent’s turn. This is a great suggestion and would actually be a minor buff that allows her to significantly stall the board unlike White’s other tech III options.
V. Forum Data
Curious as I was about Jade Fox, I decided to do a search and find pbf games where she has been used and how she performed. I found twice as many games where players lost AFTER playing Jade Fox as I could find games where players won after they played her (4 to 2).
A. Teched In (but didn’t draw/use) 
Random Games with Jade tech'd but not used
RACE #3: Anemone (Mono Black) vs. Jake (Mono White)
Casual: Kaelii [Finesse]/Ninjutsu/Discipline vs Shadow_Night_Black [Growth/Balance]/Finesse
[Casual] Dreamfire [Ninjutsu]/Feral/Anarchy vs flagrantangles [Necromancy]/Anarchy/Present [Also built a tech lab for anarchy/Pirate Gunship]
[Casual] Dreamfire (Mono-White) vs. CodexNewb (Mono-Black) [Won with EQ]
RACE #3: YoungBuck (Mono Black) vs. FrozenStorm (Mono White) [Drew Jade before Tech III was built]
[Casual] Wizard [Mono-White] vs Hobusu [Mono-Purple]
Casual Witspur MonoPurple vs Codexnewb MonoWhite [won with Daigo, tech lab - Discipline]
Casual CarpeGuitarrem (Purple) vs. Hobusu (White) [Had the opportunity to play her on turn 9, but was on the defensive and chose to play heroes/levels instead]
[Casual] tie [now MonoBlack] vs codexnewb [now MonoPurple] [won without drawing her]
UrbanVelvet mono blue vs. Dwarddd mono white [drew her and played Glorious Ninja instead, opponent conceded]
Casual Codexnewb Blood/Balance/Disease vs Nekoati Demon/Growth/Strength
Casual: petE vs zhavier (White mirror) [Drew it, but played Snapback and leveled heroes instead]
Casual: prunetracy (Mono White) vs flagrantangles (Mono Blue) [drew it twice (!!), but played other stuff and won]
Black Balance Testing (Frozenstorm v zhavier)
IsotopeX (Mono-White) vs Penatronic (Past/Present/Law)
Casual Codexnewb Mono-Blue vs Frozenstorm [Fire]/Past/Peace
[Casual] Nekoatl [Balance]/Ninjutsu/Disease vs. hardy83 [Strength/Discipline]/Blood
MMM1 Game 1 Codexnewb (White) vs Zhavier (Red)
B. Won using her 
Casual: flagrantangles (mono-Blue) vs Eijolend (mono-Green) [an interesting game where Jade Fox’s lord abilities were relevant and the ninjas beat the Peace engine!]
RACE #3: Jude (Mono White) vs. PiHalbe (Mono Black) [Ninja army for the win!]
C. Lost after playing her 
RACE #3: Mooseknuckles ([Past]/Peace/Balance) vs. FrozenStorm (Mono White) [FrozenStorm’s commentary here is illustrative]
Casual hardy83 vs Unity [Discord killed all the Ninjas]
Persephone (Monowhite) v. mdn1111 (Future/Law/Growth) [“Awkwardly, neither of my specs Tech III units can block a ground unit”, had Discipline Tech Lab]
[Casual] Shadow (Mono White) vs Charnel Mouse ( [Law/Truth]/Discipline) [technically he conceded, but “GG, I have my tech 3 in hand, but it doesnt stop you just walking under all my now flying ninja and kill me, wp ”]
D. Misc Forum Posts re: Jade Fox 
Card Ratings: Tech III [“Ninjitsu (Jade Fox) - D-. Getting 4 1/1 ninjas is nice. Unfortunately, they all have flying, so you can’t block things, and the Headmistress has flying, so she can’t be a brick wall like Blademaster can. If you are in a board stall, and your team is comprised of Ninjas, Jade Fox might let you win, but unlike the Lord of Shadows, she doesn’t protect herself or her troops from removal, and doesn’t go over the top of a Flying based Tech II (although if you are both all flying, then she’s not quite as good as Blademaster at letting you win that fight).”]
Ninjutsu has the amazing Porcupine and Glorious Ninja. Most opponents have learned to play around GNinja but it’s still a big threat. If you can establish a board, Fox’s Den School can help you work towards a winning move.
Faction and spec generalizations? [“In my personal experience though, most Ninjutsu games are won by forcing the opponent to play defensively and then building Tech III and a Strength Tech Lab because Oathkeeper is amazing.”]
I really enjoy Codex and have played many games in person and over the forums. My passion for Sirlin’s games comes from being inspired that he is striving to make the best game possible AND tries to give his customers the most value while still being profitable. I didn’t make this post to call Jade Fox garbage or imply that she was not correctly balanced on release. I am not a competitive Codex player and relied on what other people said in the discord and what I could find in the forums as data to back-up my feelings. My views come from a competitive/casual point of view and over half a lifetime of playing card games like Magic, Hearthstone, etc etc.