Keeping with the guilds theme I’ve had going for a while now, I decided that this time I would brew up a deck around the Azorius guild. However, I didn’t really want to build a deck around their new leader from Ravnica: Allegiance, so instead I picked another Azorius commander that I’ve had in my collection for quite some time and always wanted to build around. That commander is, Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper.
Noyan is a 4/4 for 5 CMC, which doesn’t sound all that great at first, but he comes with an interesting ability that fits two archetypes that I’ve never really brewed around. Those things things are a spellslinger deck, and a lands-matter deck. I guess I have brewed a spellslinger deck with Kess, but I never ended up building it, instead slotting her into my Inalla Wizard Tribal Deck. I definitely haven’t made a lands-matter deck before, let alone one where your lands are your primary creatures. You see, every time you cast an instant or sorcery spell with Noyan on the board, you are able to put three +1/+1 counters on one of your lands, making it a 3/3 elemental creature with haste. Theoretically this means that you can out of nowhere make an army of man-lands and swing in for a ton of damage on those that are unsuspecting. There are some other creatures we’ve included as well that can help with this game plan, but also can be ways to make an army of tokens too. Let’s look at the deck’s staples first:
These cards are those that are typically included in most spellslinger decks. However, most spellslinger decks are usually different colors, namely Izzet or Grixis (but other combos exist). Azorius decks are typically more control based, but we have to go with our commander’s strengths, so this is how we’re going to roll. Baral, Primal Amulet and Jace’s Sanctum will lower the cost of our spells which is always a boon. We can make armies of token creatures with Murmuring Mystic, Talrand, and Docent of Perfection just by casting spells. Metallurgic Summonings will also get us tokens by casting spells, but their power/toughness will equal the CMC of the spell cast. Lastly, Inexorable Tide can make our man-lands even bigger given the proliferate mechanic. Cast some spells and make all of your land’s +1/+1 bigger for each. One of the biggest issues we’ll have is needing more lands to throw counters on, as well as keep casting spells. So let’s look at how we can ramp in these colors:
Land Tax and Weathered Wayfarer are arguably the best ramp available in white. Both will get you extra lands every turn. Knight of the White Orchid and Gift of Estates are a little more restrictive, but if played at the right time they’ll get you more lands, but only plains. Solemn Simulacrum gives us some ramp and card draw for a fair price. Now that we know we’ll have plenty of ways to ramp and benefit from casting spells, let’s look at our spells themselves.
Blue is great at card draw and card selection. These cards will allow us to look at chunks of our library and get to what we need faster. There are some that also allow us to shuffle if we really need to shake things up a bit.
Any good control deck should have various forms of removal, and I’ve tried to cover the gamut. In some cases we’re using staples like Path to Exile and Swords to Plowshares. In other cases we’re using some different cards that I wouldn’t normally play, but they work in this deck. Destroying non-land permanents (board wipes) are great for this deck as you’ll be able to destroy all the creatures on the board that your opponents control, but you’ll still have your lands. Of course you’ll need to have some counterspells handy so that you can avoid other player’s board wipes or pesky cards like Jokulhaups or Armageddon which will absolutely do you in.
I’ve included a small counterspell package, along with some cards that will proliferate or support for more counter shenanigans, along with ways to take extra turns. A couple of decent tutors for enchantments/spells, and a couple of other tricks like To Arms! and Unity of Purpose which will effectively untap all of our lands if timed properly. Mirrorweave is one I look forward to playing in particular, especially when someone drops a nice Dragon/Angel/Demon that isn’t legendary and I can then make all of my lands into big beaters for a turn.
One thing we’ll want to avoid is our lands being destroyed while in creature form (or in general). Sacred Ground and Terra Eternal help with this immensely. The former will bounce any land that hits the graveyard back to play, and the latter makes our lands indestructible. Diplomatic Immunity is extra protection for Noyan, giving him Hexproof.
This last category are actual man-lands. These are cards that can be turned into creatures for a cost. I’ve included these because not only will they tap for mana, but they can also turn into chump blockers in a pinch, and it’s more desirable to lose these than our 3/3 elementals for the most part. They can also be beefed up with Noyan if we want to go that route.
I’m not thinking this is the strongest strategy for competitive playgroups, but I think it could be a fun to play build that can get out of hand if not put in check. The thought of having either a ton of tokens to swing for tons of damage or alternatively being able to make a bunch of lands pretty big to kill someone with sounds like a blast.