Commanding The Table With Noyan Dar

Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper is one of the most powerful new additions to the Commander format from Battle for Zendikar! See how Abe is wielding the Merfolk Ally before you join the Commander Celebration that’s coming to Grand Prix Atlanta!

Who doesn’t love Merfolk and Allies? They just slip around in the water together. They work together like famous pairs, like chocolate and bunnies. After I
saw Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper get spoiled, I have to admit that I immediately began to think of ways to build around him. He really intrigued me.


What’s interesting about Noyan Dar is that he is not in green. Green has a long standing tradition of turning lands into creatures, and here is
someone who’ll do that for you as you cast sorceries and instants all day long, and yet, Noyan can’t work with all of the awesome green cards along a
similar vector.

Getting someone to build around in colors that aren’t normally associated with land-creatures and such is really interesting since it’ll force me into new
directions. My inner Johnny is a big fan of that.

So take it away, Noyan!

And there’s our Noyan Dar deck all locked, loaded, and ready to go.

Noyan Dar triggers when we play an instant or sorcery, which is normally something we’d expect from Izzet decks. Meanwhile he has an ability to turn lands
into creatures-again, that’s normally green. So Noyan Dar feels like a Temur creature to me, not an Azorius one.

Luckily, there are a few major things we can tap into in blue and white. Firstly, blue owns a lot of those Izzet-style cards that like it when you play a
sorcery or instant. A perfect example is Talrand, Sky Summoner. If Talrand is rocking your battlefield, then each time you drop an instant or sorcery, you
not only turn a land into a creature, but you also make a 2/2 flying Drake token. That’s the sort of power that I want!

In addition to those, we have the Jeskai ability of casting triggers when we play noncreature spells from Tarkir block. Those include sorceries and
instants, as they tap into what Noyan Dar is already doing. The best example of this is probably Monastery Mentor, which can produce a 1/1 Monk token with
prowess. Because its usage is mana free and since it produces a creature, we again gain a useful trigger for our deck.

Talrand and Mentors are the sort of space that I want to mine here. Ideally, we want to keep our creature base at a low count so that we can instead run
useful engines and the spells that will trigger them. That’s why I am running just thirteen creatures, and that includes our commander.

With such a low creature count, I have four enchantments that act as triggers as well. Two of them, Jace’s Sanctum and Eyes of the Watcher, will help us
scry as we play the right stuff. The Sanctum even drops our casting costs for our instants and sorceries, which is fine by me. Getting a free scry in a
Commander deck is a strong boon when you want to find the right stuff. Every little bit helps! Even though it’s a bit small in size, Prescient Chimera can
help the big guns with those scrys!

Quiet Contemplation requires a mana to use when you run it, but it has proven itself for me time and time again in similar builds. It’s quiet alright:
quiet at locking down a creature for a couple of turns as you swing over fearlessly and forget about defense for a while.

Finally, check out Skywise Teachings. You can spit out a 2/2 flying Djinn with your noncreature cards, and that gives the deck another layer of
army-building from simply doing what it wants to do anyway. Sure, that ability can require two mana per iteration, but it’s worth it, right? Right!

See also: Scroll of the Masters for making a dangerously interesting threat. No one tends to notice it all by itself until you have enough counters to
matter. Note that you do not pull the counters off the Scroll when you use it.

There are a few untapping notes that I want to dig into with lands and creatures. First, since many of our lands and creatures are the same thing, it’s
going to be really fun to play with cards that affect one or the other. One example that I pushed in my building was untapping. If you untap a
land/creature, then you can reuse it for a lot of things. For example, if you swing with your army, you hurt your manabase. After you attack, you can untap
your lands with something like Sword of Feast and Famine and then keep up the smashing by tapping your creatures for more good stuff or keeping them
untapping so that your army can block and play defense.

In fact, a mass untap effect for lands or for creatures gains a lot of value. A card like Turnabout has always proven very flexible. You can cast it in
someone’s upkeep to tap down their lands to prevent them from doing much, or their creatures to lock them down, or you can use it to make a bunch of mana
on your turn by untapping your lands, or as a surprise by untapping your creatures!

Because your lands and creatures are often one, you’ll find an added level of power with it. I also really like To Arms! in this deck. You can drop it for
two mana any time you have the desire to instant it up and you’ll both untap your team and draw a card. You can tap your team for more mana or use them to
gang block and kill some stuff dead.

In a similar way, Thousand-Year Elixir can keep your team dropping mana by tapping to untap a creature (which can be a land too). While it gives your lands
an activated ability of pseudo-haste, don’t forget that Noyan Dar gives the affected creature haste as well. Awaken cards do the same thing.

I also added in a few creatures that’ll untap your stuff. The Village Bell-Ringer can flash out to block and also untaps your creatures, which can include
your tokens, your real creatures, and your lands. It’s a fun card to drop on out there. Ring that bell!

After that, the rest of our creatures help the team with things like mana (Simulacrum, Hart) or cards for drawing (Jhessian Thief, Walking Archive). The
only other major engine we have is Tidespout Tyrant. The Tyrant can bounce a ton of stuff once it gets going. It even works when you play a creature, so
get ready for a ton of Tyrant tricks. Don’t bounce lands unless someone is abusing them (Volrath’s Stronghold, awaken tricks of their own, etc). Don’t be
that player. Friends don’t let friends bounce Dimir Aqueduct (and similar lands).

One of the dangers of having your lands become your beats is that they could die. Oh noes! I’m not going to run Avacyn, Angel of Hope or anything similarly
annoying. Nope! But they will die, and I can’t just ignore that and pretend it won’t happen. So how else can I help the team stay alive? Because we have
some tokens in here, I did toss in a single copy of Rootborn Defenses, but what else?

I have Crucible of Worlds in the deck. Now I intentionally didn’t load this deck up with a bunch of crazy lands for you to abuse with the Crucible. It’s
here solely to bring back dead and dying land/Elementals for another go. It’s a nice Crucible.

But look at another card. Planar Birth. All basic lands in anyone’s graveyard come back to the battlefield tapped, but otherwise, none the worse for wear.
Since the Birth works for everyone, it’s a nice friendly card, and like many nice friendly cards throughout Magic’s history, you’ll likely get more value
out of it. Bring those dead lands back!

After that, it’s time for the real part of this deck to come forward to the center stage. The sorceries and instants.

Now you’ll notice that I am running a mere handful of counterspell effects; I’m running around four. That’s not what I want for this deck. Sure, I could
toss in twelve or 15 counters, but that’s not where I see Noyan Dar. I see him as a more active and aggressive sort of Merfolk Ally.

So where can we go to hit it up?

I think Bribery is the perfect sort of aggressive card to kick us off. You can search up a library for a major threat and drop it down and keep on going.
Meanwhile, you trigger your stuff. You might have noticed in previous articles that I don’t run Bribery that much; I see it in play a bit too often, so I
like to go elsewhere. But Bribery is precisely where I want Noyan to be.

I thought about stuff like Acquire or the various Time Walk variants such as Time Warp. Both can be aggressive as well. While I felt Acquire was too weak,
Time Warp certainly seems to fit. Even if you have a limited team at the time, playing the Time Warp can give you another turn, another land drop, another
card, and more. So what else fits?

The next place I obviously decided to head was to include all of the awaken spells that made any lick of sense in here. Luckily, many of them work
perfectly in this deck. We can counter a spell with Scatter to the Winds, and then get a creature later on. Meanwhile, we can bounce something to the
library with a Roil Spout. Sheer Drop is a feasible creature removal effect, and Coastal Discovery an adequate card drawing spell. Because they all give
you creatures as well later on, they have strong value.

But clearly the king of the awaken effects for this deck is Planar Outburst. Destroying all nonland creatures is a powerful way to clean up the
battlefield, and you can keep all of the cool lands that you just turned into creatures. You can swing into newly denuded defenses and smash face with
land/Elementals. Sounds like a fun plan!

And Planar Outburst is not the only way that we can push this theme either. Check out Planar Cleansing. Since it destroys all nonlands, it will pop off all
of those annoying planeswalkers, artifacts, enchantments, and creatures….save for the land/creature that you have. They get to stay. Even when planes get
seriously ticked off at you, they don’t clean out your lands. I thought about adding in Planar Guide, just for fun, but decided against it at the last
moment. (See also Tragic Arrogance.)

I like bounce in this deck to clear out paths and fight alongside Tidespout Tyrant. You can run a ton of great bounce effects in blue and white. While I
considered some stuff like Cyclonic Rift, I ultimately went with Capsize since you can buyback the spell to run again and again. Capsize remains the single
best targeted bounce spell of all time for that basic reason. The buyback works especially well here alongside Noyan Dar and his friends. In fact, I also
tossed in Mind Games to tap down and lock out a blocker or to keep someone from bringing the heat with a major player. If you like this vector, you could
mine it more with Whispers of the Muse or run some Flashback cards for two triggers from Deep Analysis, Momentary Blink, or something else.

Other bounce effects leapt in, including Displacement Wave. I just added it another deck and it’s playing quite well there, so this is a useful opportunity
to try it out again. Now Displacement Wave has to be played carefully since it’ll blow out any of your Monks, Djinns, or Drakes. But you have the
flexibility to make your bounce spell fit the situation, and note that it won’t bounce your awaken lands either.

Wow, this cardlist is starting to look like a deck! I grabbed some extra removal for our spells to keep the good stuff flowing. In heads some card drawing
(Recurring Insight, for example) and mana fetching (Sword of the Animist, Armillary Sphere). We’re getting close, but I want to toss in a bit more power
and flexibility…

There are a few planeswalkers that seem like solid choices. The best ‘walker I can imagine for this deck is Narset Transcendent. Since most of our nonlands
aren’t creatures, we have a strong chance of getting the +1 ability of Narset to draw a card. And giving rebound to one of the many instants and sorceries
in this deck can seem downright sick. Narset is a great power in here.

A few other cards are more about flexibility. Jace, Memory Adept can always be used to draw a card. You can mill players almost accidentally, but that’s
not really why he’s here. He’s just a cheaper Staff of Nin that can play with libraries and has an ultimate that just blows things up. Jace, Architect of
Thought can shrink stuff that is looking to come your way, and often that ability forces opponents to simply attack elsewhere, which gives you some added
defense after you swing away. And the -2 ability to “draw” a card or two is perfectly fine as well.

Finally, Gideon Jura is powerful card when he’s on a board mostly by himself. Gideon stands alone. You can force folks to head Gideon’s way instead of
yours, destroy some tapped stuff, or turn into a nasty creature to attack from nowhere. Use Gideon to swing from the bench after a sweeping effect like
Planar Outburst or (ironically) Tragic Arrogance.

The last few cards that I tossed in were those that can untap lands as you play them – Rewind and Frantic Search. Both give you an interesting way to untap
lands from nowhere and threaten people with blocks. They play into that theme quite nicely.

If you have the cash, this is a useful place for Candelabra of Tawnos or Snapcaster Mage. Just sayin’.

Whew! There’s ourselves a deck!

Anyways, what did you think? How were you looking at building your own Noyan Dar deck? Did you see anything in here that sparks ideas for your own decks?