A few weeks ago, Reddit user /u/Exkzol told me about a beautiful combo of cards. The combo, which I explain fully in this article, is to cast Mirrorweave targeting Contested War Zone which has been made into a creature. When you hit your opponent(s) with your creature-land, you get to take all their creatures! When I was done writing the article, I just couldn’t stop thinking about that sweet combo, so I got to work building a deck around it.
Noyan Dar is a Merfolk on a Mission, and that mission is to Awaken your lands! For the low, low price of just one instant or sorcery spell you can be the proud owner of a 3/3 creature land. Better yet, Noyan‘s ability doesn’t have to target a non-creature land! You can put three counters on a land Noyan has already awakened, which turns any instant into a powerful combat trick. But what instant does Noyan Dar want us to cast?
Welcome to Cantrip Town
Noyan doesn’t much care what the spells you cast do. What he does care about is how many of them you can cast! Every instant or sorcery represents three power and toughness, divided as you choose, so the more spells the merrier! The best way to cast a lot of spells is to play cheap ones that replace themselves in your hand, also known as cantrips.
Instant speed cantrips should be the bread and butter of any Noyan Dar deck. You can simply pass the turn with all your lands untapped, threatening to create huge blockers at the slightest provocation. Just before your turn you can fire off all the cantrips you have mana for, then untap with one huge creature, or an army of 3/3s, or anywhere in between! Of course, sorcery cantrips like Ponder, Serum Visions, and Preordain are extremely worth playing as well. They trigger Noyan‘s ability too, and they can help you set up for those explosive end steps.
In this deck Steady Progress, Tezzeret’s Gambit, and Contentious Plan are excellent cards. They let Noyan awaken a land, we draw cards, and they grow everything we have counters on! This brings us to our next segment:
“Whenever” Is My Favorite Word
This segment is going to be short and sweet. We want to cast a lot of spells for Noyan, and when we do that a lot of +1/+1 counters get thrown around. What if even more counters came out when we cast spells? That’s where Inexorable Tide and Flux Channeler come in. They grow everything with a counter on it, every time we cast a spell. (Flux Channeler specifies noncreature spell, but that’s most of the spells we’re casting)
Real Estate Professionals
As nice as cantrips are for our commander, we need to play actual creature spells too. Most notably, we should play real estate professionals! You might call them land lords. There are not many cards in blue and white that care about ‘land creatures’ – in fact, there is just one. It’s Halimar Tidecaller, and it’s okay.
The lands awakened by Noyan are Elemental creatures, which is something we can work with. Unfortunately, only one creature in our colors cares about Elementals: Master of Waves. This guy is actually pretty powerful, and protection from red is a nice bonus! However, this deck doesn’t have much support for devotion. That makes him mostly just a 4 mana lord, which is only an okay value.
There is, however, one other thing our land creatures have in common: the +1/+1 counters giving them power and toughness! This is something there is considerable support for: Abzan Falconer, Abzan Battle Priest, Skatewing Spy, Ainok Bond-Kin, Cenn’s Tactician, and our good friend Harold! These cards give us ways to up our life total, block more creatures, and get our enormous lands past our opponents’ defenses.
No Sleeves, Plenty of Tricks
Noyan Dar may be shirtless, but our deck still has a multitude of clever tricks to play with. Mind you, these aren’t your granddad’s tricks – these are cards that work differently in this deck than (almost) any other! Here’s what I’m talking about:
To Arms! does something very sneaky in our deck. It’s a cantrip, (and one of only two black-border cards with an exclamation point in its name!) but it does something even greater in our deck: it untaps our lands! If you’ve already awakened all your lands, casting To Arms!, Rally of Wings, Rallying Roar, Rally to Battle, Roar of the Kha, or Tenacity will untap every land you control! That’s something blue and white usually can’t do alone.
Aforementioned Contested War Zone combo aside, Mirrorweave can put in a lot of work in this deck. It removes (probably) all of your opponents’ blockers for that final kill shot, or turns all their attackers into noncreature lands that aren’t attacking!
Masako the Humorless is a great trick to pull on your opponent to achieve a surprise block that can eat some attackers, but she serves a greater purpose in this deck. With Masako on the battlefield, you can tap your land creatures to cast spells and still block with them! Even in a cantrip heavy deck, sometimes our best play is to tap out for an expensive spell. Masako lets us do so without leaving all our defenses down.
Wipe It! Start Over!
If the majority of our creatures are lands, and our opponents are primarily using nonland permanents, there’s only one logical choice: Get rid of ’em! Planar Cleansing allows us to leverage our land-creatures by destroying nearly everything else on the battlefield. Noyan Dar won’t come out unscathed, but we’ll be in an advantageous enough position that it shouldn’t matter. You can achieve nearly the same effect with Fortunate Few, or return those permanents to their owners’ hands using Crush of Tentacles or Devastation Tide.
They Attac, But They Need Protec
The last thing I want to talk about is the downside of awakening your lands – unfortunately, it opens us up to having our mana base getting destroyed by creature destruction. We could always use run-of-the-mill counterspells, or wacky ones like Teferi’s Response, but those only stop one spell. Here are some permanent-based ways to fix it:
Terra Eternal takes the most direct possible approach to protecting our lands, making them indestructible. Sure, it protects our opponents’ lands too, but they can’t block with theirs. Less effective, but still useful, is Sacred Ground. This card brings our lands back (untapped!) after they are destroyed by an opponent’s spell or ability. They won’t be creatures anymore, but at least we won’t lose our mana.
Equinox is a super weird card that I discovered while building this deck. You put this one-mana enchantment onto a land, then you can tap that land to counter a spell if that spell would destroy a land you control. That means this enchantment looks into the future to see if the spell you targeted would destroy one of your lands if it resolved. How neat is that?
That’s Pretty Neat
Thanks, header text. I thought so too.
One more thing to note before I wrap this thing up: a deck like this is extremely reliant on having its commander on the battlefield. Make sure you play Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots in the deck to keep Noyan safe and sound. You could also hold onto a counterspell (especially something like Rewind!) until you can get him protected more permanently. If you can keep him around, the extra value from his ability should prove insurmountable to your opponents!
That wraps things up for me and Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper. I hope some of you are inspired to crush your own friends with giant land creatures! Thanks for reading, and tune in next time when I definitely won’t regret keeping a one-land hand!