For myself, this deck has a bit of a funny origin. I was passed a foil copy of Noyan Dar one day and asked to make a workable deck out of it a few years ago. I can’t be entirely sure if I actually succeeded, but I can say that what I did manage to make is something I’ve really enjoyed playing it over the years.
Recently people became a bit more curious about this commander and I noticed there wasn’t much information available regarding this commander online. I decided to write a short primer to go over the basics of how my build works. I’ll refrain from going over every card in the deck as most are self explanatory, but I hope to give any readers some insight into some of the things the deck can do.
Looking at our commander, for a modest investment of 3UW, you get a 4/4 body with no immediate impact on the board who demands more mana and spells for the chance to assemble your own beat stick.
Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper reads: “Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, you may put three +1/+1 counters on target land you control. If you do, that land becomes a 0/0 Elemental creature with haste that’s still a land.” This means that for every instant and sorcery we cast with our commander on board, we can either begin to make another hasty creature, or stack counters on one land to create a giant elemental with haste. The latter is how we will often try to win.
The basic plan is simple, though getting there takes some effort. Run up enough counters on a land creature that is either difficult to remove or instantly lethal, and hit each opponent until you are the only one left. To do this, we are relying heavily on a few lands. The most obvious choice is Inkmoth Nexus. When fired up into a 1/1 flier, the nexus will retain any +1/+1 counters placed on it from being an elemental. Add those together with infect and you have a lethal combination. Due to gaining haste from Noyan’s effect, you will only need to chain together 3 spells to go from a freshly played land drop to lethal flier in a single turn.
Your secondary options are Darksteel Citadel and Cascading Cataracts. While these lands don’t have infect, they are indestructible and will retain this as creatures. These are most often going to be the lands you will be protecting and swinging at your opponents with. In Commander, the most common threats you will see these lands face are Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile.
We are usually out of the range of things like Toxic Deluge unless they pay a lot of life, but be wary of edict effects like Crackling Doom and Plaguecrafter! As with any game of commander consider the other decks at the table and what kind of cards you will likely see before expending a valuable counterspell. Try and play conservatively and focus on finding a land or two to begin buffing during your first few turns.
Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper
Sea of Clouds
Snow-Covered Island x7
Snow-Covered Plains x4
Temple of Enlightenment
Dig Through Time
Force of Will
Pull from Tomorrow
Swords to Plowshares
View from Above
Crush of Tentacles
Dance of the Manse
Drawn from Dreams
Finale of Revelation
Flood of Tears
Slip Through Space
Noyan works well with 3 types of cards. Cantrips like Ponder or Preordain will offer a useful effect and a redraw for cheap while also piling on counters. Slip through Space will even let you attack unopposed by pesky blockers.
Counterspells will deny your opponents their most powerful spells while buffing your land. Mass bounce effects, especially in multiples, work to nauseating effect with our commander.
Cards such as Devastation Tide, Crush of Tentacles and Flood of Tears keep the board clear and force your opponents to waste their turns casting the same spells over and over while you swing with your unaffected land. The bounce effects can also allow you to get a second crack at some enter the battlefield effects such as Snapcaster Mage,Spellseeker and my personal favourite, Kederekt Leviathan, allowing you to chain multiple board bounces together.
Pauper powerhouse Arcum’s Astrolabe is a searchable redraw that helps smooth out our mana and can be cheaply recast after a Devastation Tide. Similarly, the fast mana everyone loves to hate Sol Ring, Mana Crypt and Mana Vault can be tapped down to pay for the spell and then recast immediately after to drop Noyan Dar and friends back on board.
Cards that will get you funny looks
(If the sight of your commander wasn’t enough)
Tomik, Distinguished Advokist is both a hatebear shutting down Ramunap Excavator and Crucible of Worlds based land ramp decks which have become ever more prevalent in commander with the advent of Field of the Dead, while also protecting your lands from Strip Mine effects, and even creature removal while they are animated.
Victory Chimes is a strong mana rock that allows you to play politics by giving mana to those in need, but most often it will be used to cast your stuff. Untapping during each untap step, it often allows you to cast an extra spell or two when you otherwise couldn’t.
Teferi’s Response isn’t to be confused with Teferi’s Protection. This sneaky card will counter any one spell OR ability that would target a land you control. If you counter a permanent’s ability this way, such as a Helm of Possession attempting to steal your land, it will also destroy the offending permanent. Either way, you also get the benefit of drawing 2 cards.
Why no awaken?
To put it simply, most of the awaken cards are simply not good. Part the Waterveil, Scatter to the Winds and Planar Outburst being probably the strongest offerings. The main issue is that most are simply over costed for what they actually accomplish, even before considering the very mana hungry awaken cost. I would instead recommend playing cheaper spells with bigger upsides.
The deck as I have it runs no infinite combos to help offset some of the fun synergies and powerful cards such as the fast mana rocks and Mana Drain. In azorius colours there are no shortage of available options featuring infinite turns or mana to draw out your deck and win. There are also much better commanders for those builds as they don’t offer any additional synergy with our commander.
Instead we have a light but potent combo involving View from Above. As Noyan Dar is a blue & white permanent, you can cast this spell to give as many or as few creatures flying as you wish until the end of the turn so long as you have the mana. For each cast, you’ll also make your newly evasive land creature permanently stronger.
Noyan is a great commander for teching a lot of lesser known spells. For example, Reality strobe & Chronomantic Escape make use of suspend in a unique way to give you periodic value, bouncing a large threat or protecting you from damage. For a low investment, you get both a cast trigger and a free spell in a few more turns.
The deck runs multiple evasion granting effects for lands in Slip through Space, Artful Dodge, View from Above and Rogue’s Passage. If you find yourself needing more, Distortion Strike and Herald of Secret Streams are excellent choices.
“Free” spells like Snap and Treachery are also some great additional choices and are both cards I would personally run if I could find the space. In my build, I choose to run Frantic Search for looting and the much underrated counter Unwind.
As a fun option, there is a particularly janky combo that the deck can run. If you can use Noyan Dar to animate a Griffin Canyon, you can then give it all creature types with either Wings of Velis Vel or Shields of Velis Vel, with Wings being the better all around option. Once it has all creature types, you can use the land to infinitely untap and buff itself before swinging in for lethal.
Make no mistake before attempting to build a Noyan Dar deck, the card was clearly never designed to be even remotely competitive. This is a card designed for players who want to assemble an unlikely win condition and attempt to steal the odd game here or there. If this sounds appealing to you, it might be a deck worth pursuing.
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The good news is, even with fast mana and strong counterspells, the gameplan of the deck forces it to be a lower power commander, making it an excellent choice if you want to play in a less cutthroat commander pod.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the deck and feel free to suggest tech or cards that you think would work well! I hope this helps give more prospective Noyan Dar players a starting point for building the deck!