Pirates versus Ninja. Ninja … versus Pirates. Given that I write stories about pirates and not ninja, surely I side with the pirates on this? Whoa-ho-ho-hold up a minute there, bucko, don’t go jumping to conclusions. Let’s take a minute to think about the issue at hand. I mean, this is harder than it looks. Direct comparison is almost impossible. Take the chopping off of a hand. How would a pirate react to this? What about a ninja? It seems that the ninja would run away and develop an amazing one-handed fighting style, then return many years later to exact his silent and deadly revenge, whereas the pirate would probably just blind his attackers with the arterial blood spurting from his stump and keep on fighting. Later he could get a cool hook. Which is better? It’s hard to judge. That’s a good example of why ninja vs pirate is such a difficult comparison.
Now if you’re talking more realistically, as in historical pirates versus historical ninja, then my money’s on the pirates. Ninja weren’t really the ultra-skilled combatants popular media has made them out to be, they were more like spies. They used disguises and stealth to infiltrate enemy territory and set fires, gather intelligence, occasionally carry out an assassination or two, but generally they avoided direct conflict. Their greatest strength was ‘patience’, and they were far more likely to run away from a fight than (for example) chop a dude’s head off with their bare hand. They used weapons like shuriken to distract and scare their enemies, striking from the shadows, but hardly anyone actually died from a shuriken strike unless the wound wasn’t properly cared for and became septic. Pirates, on the other hand, at least the decent ones, were basically made of iron. Look at Edward Teach–more popularly known as Blackbeard–as an example. He wasn’t even one of the tougher pirates, relying more on intimidation and good leadership than brute strength, and it still took being shot five times and hacked all to pieces to finally take him down.
So yes, pirates win. Sorry, ninja fans, that’s just how it goes. What, you were expecting something different? It’s not “Miya Black, Ninja Princess”, is it? Although that would be kind of … but no, it’s not. It’s Miya Black, PIRATE Princess. Ninja are still great, of course. They’re just not quite as great as pirates.
As a final comment, Monkey Island. There’s no ninja game as good as that. (Fun Fact: Did you know Orson Scott Card wrote the swordfight insults for The Secret Of Monkey Island?)