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DIGITAL DEBATE WEDNESDAYS: Pirates v Ninja: Dawn of Memes

Welcome back to Digital Debate Wednesdays! Every Wednesday, the staff of The Ace of Geeks will get our keyboards ready for a good, old fashioned nerd argument, and you get to hang out with us! Feel free to email us any ideas you might have for future debates, or let us know in the comments! Until then, here’s this weeks topic:

Listen, folks, it’s been an exhausting couple of months. The amount of scandals and debates we’ve had internally and externally about very important issues has been just draining. We all need a break every now and then. So let’s take a nice, deep breath, and look into a slightly less important – oh who am I kidding, this is probably the most important question we’ve ever asked!
Pirates vs Ninjas. Go. Bonus points for describing the fight and why oneside would win. The longer and more thought out your answer, the more I’ll respect you.
Ellie Collins: Winner: Pirates
Reason: Guns.
I’m not going for respect at all lol. That’s the Pirates’ way!

  • Mike Fatum: I dunno. Their guns are awful slow to load.
  • Mary Anne Butler: But ninjas have gun powder.
  • Ellie Collins: As do pirates, and they come with multiple guns fully loaded. Many pirates were known for carrying 6 guns on their person ready. Ninja won’t get very far after one bullet.

Ben Worley: Pirates contain the swagger, the the confidence, and the unconventional thinking to cut through the swaths of codes and structures of the ninja.

  • Rowan Hansen: How much do you know about the “codes and structures” of the ninja?
  • Ben Worley: Is… is there a measurement? The caricatures of these concepts often involve Ninjas having strict codes of what is and isn’t acceptable, I thought.
  • Rowan Hansen: That would be samurai. The only thing ninja consider unacceptable behavior is lack of loyalty toward their own ninja clan.
  • Ben Worley: Okay.

Mark Foo: Please refer to the rule of inverse power for Ninja. One ninja beats many pirates, but multiple pirates versus multiple ninja goes top the pirates. This is science.
Jim Lucky: Cyborgs, because YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!
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  • Jarys Maragopoulos: Rrrrr don’t make me upvote you on principle.
  • Mark Foo: I NEVER ASKED FOR THISSSS.
  • Mike Fatum: Ninjas beat Deus Ex Cyborgs because better at stealth. Pirates beat Deus Ex Cyborgs because all Deus Ex Cyborgs can DO is stealth.
  • Jarys Maragopoulos: Wrong on all counts, Jensen is a cyborg Ninja
  • Jim Lucky: Something something, glass shield…
    Something something, Titan Aug…

Mike Fatum: To me, this Very Important Question depends entirely on WHEN the fight happens. If a group of Pirates fight a group of Ninja in a pitched battle, I feel like the Pirates will win in the end. If Ninja do their Ninja-y thing and creep up on the Pirates while they’re dead drunk on rum, well, then the Pirates lose. At sea? Pirates. In a forest? Ninja. There’s too many variables! Who wrote this question?
Tyler Dent Hayes: Assuming we are referring to an “all pirates vs. all ninja” scenario, pirates win on three points: Diversity, Camaraderie, and Strength.
Diversity: “Ninja” refers to a very specific group of people from a single country during a single period in that country’s history. “Pirate” refers to a wide variety of seafaring criminals, spanning the entire globe and persisting from the beginning of human seafaring efforts to the modern era. The pirates simply have a force of numbers the ninja do not have by virtue of what they are; even if all ninja band together they are up against everything from Caribbean plunderers to British privateers to machine-gun wielding African sea-bandits.
Camaraderie: While doubtless there are many practitioners of some flavor of “ninjutsu” in the modern era, there is a massive amount of division over who the “true” ninja are; also, ninja are by dint of their roles in feudal Japanese society very independent figures and not suited to squad or army tactics. Pirates are known for their friendships between shipmates (“matey” is one of the most pervasive quotes from pirates in pop culture; meanwhile, ninja are mostly known for glowering intensely in the shadows and perhaps a snappy pre-assassination one-liner). Pirates will band together for this grand battle in a way the ninja simply will not.
Strength: As mighty as ninja are portrayed, ultimately ninja are spies and assassins, more trained in infiltration, sabotage, and the quick surprise strike than any true stand-up combat. Pirates, meanwhile, are used to surprise attacks of their own, followed by relatively protracted ship-to-ship combat and boarding actions. While ninja would doubtlessly cause massive initial damage and sow chaos in the early going, after the pirates rallied (because again, Camaraderie), their overall number, strength, and allyship advantages would overwhelm the ninja, who now lack their principle edge and do not have the organization of their foes.

  • Mike Fatum: So much respect.
  • Melissa Devlin: Your argument presents the very reason there is a debate. Because the same arguments could be flipped in a single pirate vs single ninja scenario. Pirates strengths are also their weaknesses. Also what definition of win are we going by? Because pop culture seems to have answered that with Ninja when it comes to idealization. Do you know how many of the rogues look like ninja in WoW? Stealth and the weapons they’ve used and their mythos is saturated throughout multiple cultures and (like it or not) romanticized. Pirates some what have been but because they are still a real thing then less so. Oh wait, reality? You got here? In that case the mythbusters have had two specials for each so they would be even if it were not for the fact that pirates actually exist still. No real ninja to fight them. Ninja as a concept are still cooler – they’re in all black don’t you know. That should seal the argument right there. 🙂 (edited because I am marrying Jarys and should know by now the plural of ninja has no s.)
  • Tyler Dent Hayes: As I said, my argument is for “all pirates are fighting all ninja.” In the battle for the zeitgeist, I agree that ninja might edge pirates, though pirates persist in the form of Jolly Rogers on everything and excessive association with rum.
  • Melissa Devlin: I understood your argument was all vs all which is why I specified one on one, as a nod to your well presented argument.
  • Mike Fatum: NOW FIGHT TO THE DEATH.

Joe Hadsall: I feel like this debate is leaving out ninja-pirates.

  • Tyler Dent Hayes: MULTICLASSING IS AN OPTIONAL RULE ONLY.
  • R Steele Earl: Didn’t see this before I added 2¢. Strongly agree.

Scott Woodbury: The age old nerd debate. I love it. I would have to say if this was a war between the Ninja faction and the Pirate faction, the Pirates would win in the long run. Yes the first few battles would favor the Ninjas, however over time the Pirates would discover methods of dealing with such a sneaky adversary. Pirates fight dirty, and don’t mind crossing moral boundaries and hit below the belt. This is a long game, and the Pirates knows this.
Ninjas hiding in a forest?
Burn the forest down.
Ninjas hiding in alleys?
Burn the town to the ground.
Ninjas hiding on your boat?
Sink the boat and get the Ninjas in the water, then drown the Ninjas.
Ninjas rely on a food source?
Remove the food source. Salt the earth.
Ninjas frequent a water source?
Poison the well.
Rinse and repeat as needed.

  • Rowan Hansen: You say this, but ninja were never bound by anything so high handed as “morality”, nor stupid enough to face such a well armed group in open conflict. What would their opening moves be?
    1) identify any and all command structure and people of authority
    2) place people close to those people, learning how to pirate from the pirates themselves
    3) in a single night, blow up as many of the pirates’ boats at once, leaving a few alone where ninja are posted in order to continue gathering information
    4) while that is happening, simultaneously strike as many of the aforementioned leaders and authorities at once, using any combination or armed force, poison, misdirection, betrayal by other pirates intentionally lead astray, etc.Why do the ninja win? Because pirates are primarily defined by two traits: ambition and greed. How do you overcome a numerically superior or better armed foe? Turn it against itself, or give it no target to strike. Played smart, no ninja would ever have to physically FIGHT any pirate in order to beat them. They just have to a) start a witchhunt among the pirates to weed out ninja and kill them, sacrificing a few actual ninja in order to throw the greater part of the pirate forces into disarray, b) arrange for many pirates’ aeconds whose ambitions outstrip their abilities to assassinate their captains (because there are always some), c) wait for the inevitable drunkenness to set in and either poison all of them when they’re deep in their cups or slit their throats while they sleep it off, or d) blow them up with their own gunpowder. The only way ninjas xould wver possibly lose against pirates ia if the ninjas weren’t fighting like ninja at all (see: practically every movie featuring ninja EVER).
  • Scott Woodbury: You assume ninjas are making the first move…The pirates in turn could identify the home harbor of the ninja, get a dozen ship of the lines, and bombard the port and anything that approaches them for weeks at a time before the ninjas knew the pirates where their enemy.

Joe Hadsall: Personally, Disney has weakened the pirate from a fearsome criminal to a hapless, drug-influenced conman. Ninjas still remain terrifying and deadly, precisely because of all the unknowns about them. I say ninjas.
R Steele Earl: In a case by case basis, but not in a pitched, long-term contest (nod to Woodbury) — ninjas every time. The wrinkle I’d like to add is that infiltration is the ninja’a bread and butter. So any ninja going up against pirates is going to prepare by camouflaging as a pirate. This yields the interesting phenomenon of NinjaPirate.
Rephrasing the question to read which is better, pirate, ninja, or NinjaPirate will probably strongly skew poll results toward NinjaPirate.

  • Scott Woodbury: The only issue I have with that is that pirates are naturally suspicious of their own anyway. I could see them including an initiation so severe that even the most prudent ninja would rather just go.. “Nope”…
  • R Steele Earl: Only gotta be invisible for the first punch.
  • Scott Woodbury: Who said anything about only one?
  • R Steele Earl: One punch man, for one.
  • Mike Fatum: ONE PUUUUUUNCH!
  • Scott Woodbury: Warning, this reply can contain unsavory approaches to recruitment and warfare.Trust me pirates can get gruesome …. All new Initiates lose a leg or an arm, or maybe some facial disfigurement?They could even take the extreme route and recruit based on racial background. I am telling you man, Pirates can be nasty nasty individuals. What prevents them from recruiting at all from the ninja infested lands?I would even make the assumption that pirates are very very good at breaking a mans spirit. Think brain washing.
  • R Steele Earl: Could a pirate sneak up on a ninja? If we’re boiling this down to simplest terms, one pirate v one ninja, plus bonus points for first strike… The smell alone prevents pirate sneakiness.
  • Scott Woodbury: You’d be correct, but the post mentioned Pirates and Ninjas plural…
  • R Steele Earl: I’ll make it unfair to my side: could fifty pirates sneak up on two ninja?
  • Scott Woodbury: They don’t have to sneak up, they just need to blow up, most likely with a cannon, where the supposed ninja will be.
  • R Steele Earl: So… The pirates are relying on precise intel and trajectory mathematics to fire their cannons from a liquid, moving surface at a target they can’t see.
  • Scott Woodbury: Great thing about explosives, like horseshoes, you only need to be close.
  • R Steele Earl: You also have to know the game of horseshoe has started. Question… who tipped off the pirates that ninjas were coming? Probably a ninja. With misinformation.
  • Rowan Hansen: Great thing about avoiding blind fire- you just have to make your oppenent THINK they know where you are.
  • Scott Woodbury: You assume they care about collateral damage. Consider that pirates will use a scorched earth approach and pick their treasure from the rubble. Pirates deal with information too, they too have to be subvert, maybe not sneak in the shadows, but they need to find out naval locations for their enemies, time tables, which captains head which ships, load out of enemy ships, and locations of secret and/or buried treasure.
  • R Steele Earl: Technically just the captain has to do all that. Which paints a pretty huge ninja-flavored target on his back. Which is where the ninja will likely be aiming for to begin with. What with that whole attack-without-being-seen thing they’re sort of partial to.

Chris Brecheen: Gonna write a book one of these days about pirates vs. ninjas* and the child born of an illicit union between them. But they have to come together to fight a bigger threat….zombies. And it’s actually going to be an important extended metaphor. Hopefully filled with lots of literary stuff.
*No I’m actually not kidding.

  • Scott Woodbury: Zombies every time.
  • Rowan Hansen: but wut abot robutts
  • Scott Woodbury: What about pirate ninja robots who have been infected with a bot net making them zombies?
  • Mike Fatum:


Jarys Maragopolous: Oh ye of little faith in Ninja….
Look, Ninja and pirates have many clashing strengths and weaknesses, revolving around their district and separate realms. Pirates do best on the high seas, nearest to the equator, never far inland. Ninja do best inland, under the cover of night, settlements, and a peasant class in which to hide. Neither do well in the element of the other and they have little space in common. So let’s use beaches.
On a beach, with both night for the ninja and equatorial heat for the pirate, two groups meet, one is killed, the remainder is victorious.
What do pirates do at night and in the heat? They drink. What do Ninja do? Stalk, work, infiltrate.
What do pirates have that ninja don’t? Guns. Hard to use at night and even then, people, people….pirates did not use guns as we know them, they used pre-rifling, pre-magazine blunderbuses and pistols. Balls fired from both could be dodged by normal people, even without the agility of ninja. Ninja projectiles, throwing stars and poison/glass powder eggs are far faster to reload than those early guns.
At night, possibly drunk, the only other tech advantage pirates would have, a grenade, is nullified. The sparkling charge is easy to see and avoid, the blast is just as likely to catch ninja as the pirates they are in close quarters to, even lobbed at shadowed ninja with bows, this explosive would fall from the trees ninja snipers hide in. If the tree is damaged, they could leap away.
Even ninjaito are faster, more efficient, and of better condition than cutlasses.
If we stepped back from night, made this fight slightly more toward the pirates advantage, the ninja still could use the pirates diversity against them, as infiltration is a major ninja tactic.
Pirates are fun, rowdy, dangerous robbers. Ninja are assassins, pure and simple. Ninja win.
Seth Oakley: I don’t think that Ninjas were even shown to be able to track down IP addresses through multiple proxy servers, so I’m pretty sure the pirates would get away with it.
Mike Fatum:

Scott Woodbury: Pirates would recognize the losing situation of the beach and just bombard the shore line and the towns of the peasants that harbor the ninjas.

  • Rowan Hansen: Most ninja villages are in the mountains, specifically because they’re harder to assail. Even more so against people in boats.

Scott Woodbury:

JC Brown: Ninja is my personal preference, though as mentioned before, there are too many variables to have a truly even match. Both have a strong “home court advantage” Pirates bring the pain: cannonballs, flintlocks, rum. In their floating fortress of hellfire, they are a force of doom. Ninjas in say, a forest, they have the advantage of trees, the soft cover of night, and being able to lay traps.
In a battle on totally neutral ground – an empty field, perhaps, with just the weapons they carry, I think Ninjas still have the edge. They have a subtle grace about them. They spend years learning skills such as how to handle a sword, and how to move in silence, whereas pirates seem to gain “on the job experience – being the victor is what makes them ready for the next fight. I see pirates as the big tornado blowing through, all power and no grace, but ninjas, they strike with purpose, like a surgeon and a precise cut. I’m thinking it’d look like ballerinas versus sumo wrestlers, but with swords. The clear winner – ninjas.
Oh, and the ninjas probably poisoned the pirates rum before the fight killing all the pirates, so still ninjas.

Mike Fatum
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Referred to as a God Among Men, the Greatest Man that Ever Lived, and That Dude Over There…No, The Dude with the Long Hair and the Goatee…Yes, That Guy, Mike has grown up being known and loved around his apartment. In addition to being a successful film director and editor, he loves video games, movies, comic books, board games, and his wife and cat. He’s been friends with Jarys for over a decade now, and they started hosting a radio show together on college that became the genesis for the Ace of Geeks Podcast. When he realized he had so many talented friends who could write, the Podcast became an entertainment website, and here we are.

One thought on “DIGITAL DEBATE WEDNESDAYS: Pirates v Ninja: Dawn of Memes

  1. The stance is always a numbers game, and only for one side. One ninja > A septillion Pirates. The Inverse Ninja LAW (It ain’t no damn theory, baby!) is as true as gravity and my desire to get a robot arm to punch a hole through a bus. IT’S JUST SCIENCE.

    So, in a 1v1, Ninja. Only in a 2v2 would there be some debate on the victor, and that would be decided by first strike. Any greater number than 2 and Pirates win almost comically. Hell, 3 ninja cannot beat even a single pirate. See: 3 Ninjas Kick Back.

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