Thursday, June 08, 2006

Ninjas or Pirates?

Ninjas or pirates? The debate has been raging for centuries now. On the one hand, ninjas are totally freaking sweet, but on the other hand, pirates are really swashbuckling. To help in this debate, I thought I’d lay out the pros and cons of each side, and see if we can come to any definitive conclusions.


1. They wear all black
2. They use shuriken (throwing stars)
3. To escape from enemies, they will use flash powder and smoke, and drop makibishi (like caltrops) behind them
4. They are masters of stealth
5. As a last resort, they will use a sword
6. They mostly work alone (so you keep your profits)
7. They are a highly exclusive group
1. They don’t use guns
2. If they’re caught by the authorities, they will be decapitated


1. They use swords and guns
2. They get a fancy pirate ship
3. They drink lots of rum and generally know how to have a good time
4. You can still do your job if you lose a hand/leg, plus you get a cool hook
5. Anybody can join
6. The group and bad-ass Jolly Roger flag can be very intimidating
1. Silly clothes
2. Your captain might kill you (or if you are the captain, your crew can mutiny)
3. You have to split the booty (Aaarrr)
4. You might have to swab the poop deck
5. Scurvy (unless you put a lime in that rum)
6. If you’re losing the battle, where do you run when you’re on a boat?
7. If they’re caught by the authorities, they will be hanged


Now, to cut out the fat and set pros and cons against each other. Shuriken are at least as good as old-fashioned flintlock guns, so those cancel out. Some of these are just matters of preference: the group benefits are equal to the exclusivity and loner benefits, and the execution methods are relatively equal for each group.

So it would appear that the benefits of being a ninja over a pirate are the clothes, the stealth, and the ability to get out of a bad situation. The benefits of a pirate over a ninja are the ship, the flag, the parties, and the acceptance of disability. The ninjas have no cons that don’t cancel out, while the pirates still have problems arising from being in a group, as well as the scurvy.

I think we can further cancel things out. The flag is about as cool as the pirate clothes, and the stealth is about as cool as the rum. The ninja’s evasive abilities are definitely a trade-off for the pirate’s ship. The pirate’s final advantage is acceptance of disability, but this can be canceled out against the group problems (mutiny and authority). So what we’re left with is the single con of the pirates: SCURVY.


So, basically, ninjas are better than pirates because pirates get scurvy. And I proved it scientifically. So there! Stop your pirate-touting immediately, and get on the ninja train, because there’s no stopping it.


  1. I don't think there are any serious pirates left out there. Everyone wants to be a ninja, although pirates do get to be merry and drunk n a haphazard way, while ninjas get to be totally awesome.

  2. You're absolutely right about that. Also, I was thinking that no one seriously doubts that in a one-on-one fight, a ninja will win 99 times out of 100, and a ninja could also sneak onto the pirate ship while at port and wait for nightfall before slaughtering all the pirates on board.

  3. How would a ninja do against Zorro?

  4. Ninjas are soooooo sweet that I want to crap my pants!


    1. Ninjas are mammals.

    2. Ninjas fight ALL the time.

    3. The purpose of the ninja is to flip out and kill people.

  5. Women can be ninjas . . .

    But can they be pirates?

  6. Women can only be pirates if they have a hook or peg penis.

  7. Are you sure that's a good idea? What if it's yours?

  8. I would like to fight like a ninja but live like a pirate...

    Oh hell... I think I would even prefer to fight like a pirate (ohhh if it could along side Johnny Dep that would be a pert too!*wink)

    Cheers! Kate

  9. well, i think you're right.. ninjas are so much better than pirates.. they'really cool!!

  10. In a one on one fight there are lots of variables and we can't say either would win 99% of the time. It's just not true. First off, pirates were not frequently drunk. They enjoyed the heavy drink but could rarely get their hands on it. Also, scurvy, although a serious problem for a good few pirates, does not set in on most ships. That would be akin to assuming all ninjas get syphilis(which may or may not be true). Another thing: Shurikens don't always beat a flintlock pistol. Sure the pistol isn't very accurate past 20 feet but if it hits it's usually deadly and the inaccuracy and misfires can be discounted by the fact that most pirates carried more than one pistol. Some carried as many as eight. Also, you're leaving out the just as popular ranged weapon of the pirate: the blunderbuss, which is basically a shotgun. It was very uncommon for a blunderbuss to misfire and with the spread of grape shot, they almost always hit their mark. Another point I'd like to make is that mutiny was very, and I mean VERY rare on a pirate ship. It was a frequent way of becoming a pirate ship and crew but once you're a pirate your crew is all you have to defend you. The appointed captain was elected by majority and the rules on board were also determined by majority. The pirate captain didn't have to worry much about authority because the ships usually ran as a direct democracy. He merely made decisions about course and navigation for the most part. And as for the 'If you're losing a battle' part, the only options are fight to the death or join the other side. Of course losing a battle wasn't a problem for pirates until national navies started cracking down. As a pirate captain, you choose your battles very carefully and do go into one if you don't know with certainty that you'll win. I can definitely see where your coming from though considering ninja are much more highly trained in combat and tend to be very fast. Just ponder this though. Blackbeard's capture is probably one of the most famous pirate tales. Why? He took 5 gunshots and over 20 stab wounds before letting death take him. After being shot in the neck(the first wound) he continued to advance on his opponent and actually broke said opponent's sword with one swing and would have delivered a killing blow had not another adversary literally jumped onto his back. The only reason he didn't win that battle was because the pirate hunters had them outnumbered 3-1.