Dear Azami: Dyadic Delights

They say love conquers all. That may or may not be true at the Commander table. Either way, Jess is feeling romantic enough to help out a lovely duo with their latest Commander deck problems!

Join The SCG Tour<sup>®</sup> in Louisville February 20-21!” border=”1″ /></a></div>
<p>This week’s article is being written on Valentine’s Day, a somewhat polarizing holiday. Opinions vary from “I think it’s manufactured by Hallmark to sell cards,” to an indifferent “I honor my partner(s) 365 days a year,” to the full-on “I put real significance on the experience I have on this day.” And that’s not even to mention the single people who feel left out or taunted by this holiday. You are your own valentine, and that’s awesome too!</p>
<p>(Plus, you get to go crush at Game Day, and that’s usually a great way to spend an afternoon.)</p>
<p>My frame of reference is moderate bemusement. I try to have a good, fun day of it, while having no expectation about what that experience should involve. I’m having a peaceful time as a result. I am sitting here, writing away to the sounds of a storm, while my partner streams a Sealed event in the background. Tonight we’ll have cherry pie a la mode.</p>
<p>I tend to go for the simpler pleasures.</p>
<p>Whether or not this is a holiday one enjoys, it is most definitely a Thing. One can’t help but to see the omnipresent marketing of it for the weeks leading up, where even the most basic of sweets, housewares, and clothing ends up emblazoned with some sort of heart-shaped symbol. </p>
<p>The day was on my mind when I choose this week’s viewer email. I liked it particularly today for two reasons: it specifically mentioned impending nuptials, and it included a pair of decklists. Here, see for yourself!</p>
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Dear Azami:

I got into Magic a couple of years back and settled on Commander as my format of choice, mostly because it’s great for multiplayer games. My group plays a pretty casual game; power level is moderate and can spike, but never super high. Having being recently married I’ve got little time to play, let alone to work on my decks so I was hoping you could help me out with tuning either of my two favorite decks. I’ve gone ahead and submitted lists for my two Commander decks and you can pick what it is you want to tweak.

Budget is a bit of a concern (weddings are expensive!) so if we could limit either deck to about $50 or less that would be ideal for me. Living in Australia means I can’t really take full advantage of the generous voucher your column provides, but it certainly helps with the shipping.

The first deck is my Roon of the Hidden Realm deck, my longtime favorite commander and deck. I really enjoy playing it but often find it struggles to finish a game despite riding the value train to a massive advantage. Also the mana is effective, but rather slow.

The second deck is my second (Magic) love, but hasn’t been touched at all since I first put it together: Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper. Beating down with “very angry flying wheat” is amazing, and this is threatening to dethrone Roon as my number one pick. I totally love playing it; however, I recognize what I have is a far shout from a powerful deck.



Roon of the Hidden Realm

Acidic Slime

Avenger of Zendikar

Bane of Progress

Cloudgoat Ranger

Eidolon of Blossoms

Emeria Shepherd

Ephara, God of the Polis

Eternal Dragon

Eternal Witness

Fathom Mage


Galepowder Mage

Geist-Honored Monk

Glen Elendra Archmage

Karmic Guide

Lavinia of the Tenth


Murkfiend Liege

Oracle of Dust


Prime Speaker Zegana

Reclamation Sage

Resolute Archangel

Restoration Angel

Sandsteppe Mastodon

Solemn Simulacrum

Sower of Temptation

Sphinx of Uthuun

Stonehorn Dignitary

Sun Titan

Sunblast Angel

Ulvenwald Tracker

Void Attendant

Wall of Blossoms

Wall of Omens

Whirler Rogue

Artifacts / Enchantments:

Argentum Armor

Azorius Cluestone

Chromatic Lantern

Commander’s Sphere

Darksteel Mutation

Hedron Archive

Mind Stone

Quarantine Field


Sol Ring

Spirit Bonds

Swiftfoot Boots

Thousand-Year Elixir

Instants / Sorceries:

Beast Within

Fated Retribution

Kodama’s Reach

Planar Outburst

Return to Dust

Revoke Existence

Rush of Knowledge

Stubborn Denial

Swan Song

Ugin’s Insight

Valorous Stance


Venser, the Sojourner


Arcane Lighthouse

Azorius Guildgate

Canopy Vista

Command Tower

Evolving Wilds

Glacial Fortress

Halimar Depths

Homeward Path

Lumbering Falls

Mosswort Bridge

New Benalia

Seaside Citadel

Selesnya Sanctuary

Simic Growth Chamber

Sunpetal Grove

Temple of Enlightenment

Temple of Mystery

Temple of Plenty

Temple of the False God

Tranquil Cove

5 Forest

6 Island

7 Plains

Noyan Dar:


Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper

Archetype of Imagination

Azure Mage

Burnished Hart

Chasm Skulker

Clever Impersonator

Grand Arbiter Augustin IV

Halimar Tidecaller

Lu Xun, Scholar General

Phyrexian Ingester

Scourge of Fleets



Artifact / Enchantment:

Dreamstone Hedron

Everflowing Chalice

Future Sight

Jace’s Sanctum

Mind Stone

Sky Diamond

Sol Ring

Swiftfoot Boots

Sword of the Animist

Teferi’s Moat

Unstable Obelisk

Ur-Golem’s Eye


Jace, Architect of Thought

Instant / Sorcery:

Aether Gale


Artificer’s Epiphany

Call to Mind

Compulsive Research


Cyclonic Rift

Dig Through Time



Distorting Wake

Dragonlord’s Prerogative


Fell the Mighty

Hallowed Moonlight

Into the Roil

Jace’s Ingenuity


Ojutai’s Command


Planar Outburst




Rite of Replication

Scatter to the Winds

Sphinx’s Revelation


Stroke of Genius

Stubborn Denial

Telling Time

Treasure Cruise

Ugin’s Insight

Vapor Snag

Wing Shards


Blighted Cataract

Drifting Meadow

Evolving Wilds

Halimar Depths

Mage-Ring Network

Myriad Landscape

Prairie Stream

Reliquary Tower

Remote Isle

Secluded Steppe

Temple of the False God

Tranquil Cove

11 Plains

14 Island



Doubled decklists suggest a new strategy to me, and I’m going to try it out. This week, instead of messing with ratios of draw to removal to ramp and whatnot, I’m going to upgrade specific cards on a one-for-one basis. Sometimes I’m a bit rough on decks, taking out entire themes and whatnot; this time I tried to keep more in the spirit of “tuning.” I did screw up the budget, though, but you’ll see why.

Let’s start with Noyan Dar, and the card that knocked me over the budget.

Commander #1: Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper



Mystic Confluence is a pricey card these days. There’s a chance that Misha already has it, since it was in a Commander precon… but if not, it’s probably a good idea to get a copy now. Flusterstorm’s price history is a telling comparison point. While I doubt Mystic Confluence will end up a $70 card, I am glad I got a playset before the latest price hike, and I’m even happier that my three Flusterstorms should be sufficient for all but the most niche of Legacy decks.

(Monoblue Martyr is, alas, out of range of my current collection. Flusterstorm does work in that deck.)

As for why the specific one-for-one here, Clever Impersonator is a cool card because it does everything. But this is a spell-themed deck; if you want a spell that does everything, you can’t get much better than Mystic Confluence. If, however, you do not want to spend $15 on a single card, here are three more suggestions that might work well in this deck: Remand, Tithe, and Blatant Thievery. Together, they come to about the same price.



It’s always hard cutting a card I love, but every card isn’t a good fit for every deck. Here, even though the deck will be drawing many cards, Chasm Skulker doesn’t otherwise interact with your spell-based theme. Instead, Eye of the Storm is an interesting finisher. If I read it and Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper correctly, and I think I do, Eye of the Storm gives you a bunch of cast triggers each time it goes off. This means you can animate your whole team in one or two turns, trading off a temporary vulnerability to certain Wrath of God effects for an overwhelming position.



Of course, animating your lands leaves you open to blowout from cards like Sunblast Angel. Terra Eternal handily fixes that, turning all your land creatures into Colossuses. Colossi?



That comparison would probably have made more sense talking about this card. One of those “why did they print this” futureshifted cards has suddenly gotten pretty sweet with the advent of creature-lands. It’s equipment just for your creature-lands that gives indestructible and gets to pop illusions or buff your team anytime it attacks. Not bad for an “unplayable” card.

Both of these cards, and several of the ones coming up, replace nonspell cards. I tried to mostly cut from the permanents and brought in as few permanents as I could, but here and there one or two were too good to pass up for the theme. That having been said, I also kept in some powerful creatures as a backup for when spells won’t get it done.



This is good because of its versatility. It is a relatively cheap spell that can be protection or removal depending on the needs of the moment. It replaces Willbender, a creature that does these things less elegantly and for more mana.



I think the deck needed more action, which is why I cut one of the mana rocks. Refraction Trap is cheap, can help protect your 3/3s from Anger of the Gods or trading off with attackers or blockers, and is removal to boot. What’s effective about this card is that people rarely expect such effects.



Speaking of under-appreciated effects in Commander, few people watch out for Fog effects, at least in my experience. One-sided Fogs are the best, and one that can mess up an opponent’s day whether or not they’re attacking you are particularly strong. This does all that and has Awaken. Good stuff!



Another means of protecting your board state is through counterspells. While one-mana counterspells are powerful, I think it’s worth changing out Dispel for a slightly slower, slightly more versatile card. Muddle the Mixture has transmute, one of the abilities that made Amulet Bloom such a powerful deck; on Tolaria West, transmute let you get any land or Summoner’s Trap. Here, you just get the ability to search up draw spells, a mana rock, a better counterspell, and Cyclonic Rift. So that’s good.

Also, my usual antipathy for Cyclonic Rift is somewhat lessened since it is on-theme.



It’s a better denial!



Not all protection is proactive; every once in a while it can be nice to have some chump blockers or to get yourself out of the Danger Zone, lifewise. Righteous Confluence can do those things, and it also lets you snag a bunch of enchantments if need be. The confluences are good and this is a perfect deck for the two you can play.

The next couple of cards are all based on the same thought: cantrips are good in a deck where they turn your lands into flying spaghetti monsters!



Here’s a cantrip that helps you do more on an opponent’s turn!



Here’s a cantrip that’s so powerful it’s banned in Modern!



Here’s a semi-cantrip that sometimes draws you multiple lands as a bonus!

All told there were thirteen substitutions this side of the deck. The updated list is as follows:

The Cost

And this is where I blew a hole in the budget. It’s a small hole, but when the sea is churning, every leak counts. Mystic Confluence, as explained, popped me over the top of my $25 budget. I just wasn’t happy with any other version. Again, plenty of good cards to replace it with (even just Brainstorm would probably be fine, given Future Sight). Here’s the breakdown:



Encircling Fissure


Refraction Trap


Treasure Hunt


Terra Eternal


Eye of the Storm


Darksteel Garrison


Overwhelming Denial






Muddle the Mixture


Valorous Stance


Righteous Confluence


Mystic Confluence




Commander #2: Roon of the Hidden Realm

Next I tackled the Roon deck. I liked it from my first look, and not just because I think it’s awesome to see someone exploiting the at-will Processors from Battle for Zendikar. It’s a solid deck, and it showed a lot of thought was put into it. There were a couple of moments, like with Murkfiend Liege, where I contemplated cutting something before seeing it in the broader picture. I always enjoy those moments.



I couldn’t really see much of a point to Argentum Armor, though. I think there’s an interesting way to incorporate an equipment subtheme into the deck, say with Stoneforge Mystic to get it and Kor Outfitter to switch it around as needed, but this is not that build. Conjurer’s Closet adds another enters-the-battlefield trigger each turn, and it does so in the end step, giving whatever Mulldrifter you target a pseudo-vigilance.



I know, I know, Deadeye Navigator is, as they say, “OP.” In many decks, where it represents an alternative powerhouse, I would not think to include it. But it’s directly on-theme in a way I can’t ignore.

Revoke Existence is not a creature. Neither was the next cut.



Swan Song is a good counterspell in a deck like this. Roon of the Hidden Realm can deal with the token, and it’s cheap. That having been said, now that I’m adding in a way to have more control over when your creatures come back onto the battlefield, and that means Mystic Snake becomes a better call. Mystic Snake plus Deadeye Navigator is hard to disrupt.



On a one-for-one basis, Rush of Knowledge will probably draw more cards than Eldrazi Displacer. But within a Mulldrifter deck, Eldrazi Displacer is the far superior card. It’s a creature, it’s a handful, it’s colorless, and it gives you another way to use Mystic Snake to its full potential.

Sounds good.



Unfortunately, now that Eldrazi Displacer is a presence in the deck, I need to mess up the manabase a tad. There has to be some way to generate some “wingding” colorless mana. Crumbling Vestige interacts well with bounce-lands, like the Temples or New Benalia, and it makes you any color you need for its first turn. I like it for Commander, honestly.



Since I tend to be a cyclist when it comes to sets of lands, I couldn’t really see a compelling reason to keep the singleton creature-land. Perhaps I am missing an interaction. Don’t get me wrong; I love the enemy color-pairings creature-lands from Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch. They’re powered perfectly for Commander, it seems, and that’s a cycle I’ve been waiting to see completed for a long time. But not every card is for every deck, and this deck needed more ways to make the “wingdings.” Krosan Verge does that and tutors up your Battle lands, which is quite cool. Myriad Landscapes can’t do that, and it’s now a $5 card.



While it may enter the battlefield tapped, and cost life to use Hall of the Bandit Lord gives Roon of the Hidden Realm haste. That would be enough, but as a colorless-producing land it also helps your Eldrazi Displacer. Pretty cool.



I also brought in one basic Wastes. It’s mostly for this creature to fetch:



Again, Ugin’s Insight draws you more cards on a one-for-one basis, but over time Borderland Ranger represents more consistent card advantage in a Roon of the Hidden Realms deck. Plus, the card can search up your Wastes, which makes your Eldrazi Displacer a bit more reliable.



Fiend Hunter works well with the Oracle of Dust and Void Attendant. You can get an initial card permanently exiled by responding to the enters the battlefield trigger with Roon of the Hidden Realm’s ability, and then process the temporarily exiled one. And Fiend Hunter stays on the battlefield, ready to do gross things with Deadeye Navigator and friends. Worst-case scenario, you can also flicker it to use it on one of your own creatures as protection from a mass removal spell on the stack.



Reflector Mage seems like a really good card in Commander. It’s also a mean way to lock a person out of ever having their Commander on the board, unless they’re playing Derevi, Empyrial Tactician, that is. I’m pretty sure you can use it in a way that’s powerful and not mean, but that’s going to have more to do with the decisions you make in game and not the inherent power of the card.



Venser, the Sojourner is a powerful card. It and Flickerwisp let you flicker more than just creatures. With this ability, Quarantine Field, while an X-for-one, is actually less powerful. If you Flicker it, you get no enters-the-battlefield trigger because it enters the battlefield with no counters, having not been cast. Detention Sphere both gives you a potential two-for-one and plays well with the Flicker theme. Further, it’s really strong against tokens and can even take out a kicked Rite of Replication (although usually the initial enters-the-battlefield triggers are going to be enough to win that player the game).



For some inexplicable reason I thought Greenwarden of Murasa was just a slightly tweaked Deadwood Treefolk. Then, while I was shouldersurfing a game of Limited in which my partner was looping Crush of Tentacles with the Greenwarden of Murasa, I realized my error. For what it’s worth, I think Deadwood Treefolk would also do well in this deck, should you find the spare slot.



While a permanent +5/+5 each flicker seems pretty powerful, this deck doesn’t have +1/+1 counter synergies. It’s just a boost, which is powerful, but that slot can be used for other ends. Specifically, Linvala, the Preserver! Unlike her prior incarnation, Linvala, Keeper of Silence, this Linvala is not a pure hate card. She is proactive, not reactive. She spawns Angels (though at a confusingly irregular 3/3 size) and gains you life. And she does them both at the same time. Add in her very relevant keyword and you’ve got yourself a great card for a Mulldrifter deck.

At the end of all this, I had switched up another fourteen cards. Here’s what that ended up looking like:

Roon of the Hidden Realm
Jess Stirba
Test deck on 02-16-2016
Magic Card Back

The Cost

I was planning to make up the slight overage from this set of changes in the other decklist, and would have were it not for Mystic Confluence. Still, I came close: $25.76, and that’s going to be in budget assuming you don’t have to buy a Wastes. Here’s the breakdown:



Borderland Ranger


Crumbling Vestige


Fiend Hunter


Mystic Snake


Conjurer’s Closet


Detention Sphere




Greenwarden of Murasa


Krosan Verge


Deadeye Navigator


Reflector Mage


Linvala, the Preserver


Eldrazi Displacer


Hall of the Bandit Lord




Unlike in the last list, the cost is more evenly distributed across the new cards. There are only three which are below $0.50, and the most expensive card tops out at less than half the cost of Mystic Confluence.

I am more than a little sore about that Mystic Confluence. It is just an amazing feeling to play with that card. Way more fun than it should be.

The Wrap-Up

All told, my changes totaled out to $52.75. For 27 cards, that’s not too shabby… and again, it’s dramatically less if the Mystic Confluence is out of the picture. While it’s a shame the $20 store credit to StarCityGames.com that all chosen submitters to Dear Azami receive won’t cover much more than postage, I imagine you can console yourself with the comparatively lovely summer weather. It must be a gorgeous season for a wedding. I wish you nothing but the best.

Want to submit a deck for consideration to Dear Azami? We’re always accepting deck submissions to consider for use in a future article. Only one deck submission will be chosen per article, but being selected for the next edition of Dear Azami includes not just deck advice but also a $20 coupon to StarCityGames.com!

Email us a deck submission using this link here!

Like what you’ve seen? Feel free to explore more of Dear Azami here, in the Article Archives! And feel free to check Jess’s own Command of Etiquette column on Hipsters of the Coast for more Commander and casual content. Now on Thursdays!

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