Happy December 1st, loyal readers! Winter is steadily creeping towards us and with it high expectations for the new year, higher hopes for new opportunities, and higher heating bills. Brr!
To help us begin to adapt to the idea of a whole new year (albeit a month early), we at Bleeding Cool have another Commander deck tech for Magic: The Gathering for you. Today, we will be focusing on one of the mightiest, most powerful, and most attractive characters that red has to offer us. No other creature could possibly match wits with such a brave-*pfft*. Who am I even kidding? It's Norin the Wary.
Norin the Wary was originally featured in a good amount of flavor text from various older sets, such as Ice Age and Alliances (if you can't find them that's because they've since run far away). He was finally printed as a card in the Time Spiral set which featured many different older characters placed outside of their canonical time periods. Norin was sort of created as a joke, but eventually grew a pseudo-cult following in Modern in a red-white iteration of the "Soul Sisters" deck archetype (wherein the point was to gain a ton of life off of creatures entering play), and a literal cult following on Magic forums like MTGSalvation, where user Gaka's "Heads I Win, Tails You Lose" Commander deck still is written about today. In fact, that particular cult is so large that it even has defunct Facebook pages surrounding it (and I should know – I created it years ago!).
Anyway, that all being said, the decklist we are discussing is from the last iteration that I had updated it to before I dismantled it. It was a great deck but it made many people angry because of all the triggers involved. It doesn't totally matter, I still had fun.
Our goal with this deck is to achieve a Turn One Norin, and then see where we can go from there. Sol Ring is good, great even, but a Turn One Norin is the ideal, and best, play anyone could ever actually make. For realsies.
Creatures that have enters-the-battlefield abilities – Norin the Wary isn't the only creature we want to have come into play at all times. If we had to rely on Norin the entire time, we would be dead in the water. So, we have creatures that have abilities that trigger when they enter the battlefield. Creatures like Siege-Gang Commander or Beetleback Chief make tokens. Solemn Simulacrum ramps your lands, which is often vital for the sake of the rather mana-hungry victory conditions of this deck. Mindclaw Shaman steals big spells from your opponents (take that, Expropriate!), and Invader Parasite makes opponents angry by removing their lands. There's definitely more involved here, but these are good inclusions in this category to lump together.
Utility artifacts – This deck is behooved by the addition of artifacts that can maximize the benefit of creatures entering the battlefield. As an example or three, Cloudstone Curio will let you bounce one of your things when a nonartifact enters play under your control, Genesis Chamber makes a fresh Myr token whenever a nontoken creature enters play (though this is a fully-symmetrical effect, it benefits you more than anyone else while Norin is in play), and, of course, we have Panharmonicon to double all of the enters-the-battlefield effects we have at our disposal.
Purphoros, God of the Forge – We will be discussing good decklist inclusions to run with Purphoros as a commander very soon, but commander or not, the God of the Forge is great in a deck like this which thrives on creatures coming into play. Norin will often be dealing two damage through Purphoros in this way every single turn if we are lucky. Coupling these two with a Myr Battlesphere and a Panharmonicon means we deal 40 damage in one turn. It's disgusting and, of course, it works!
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Zealous Conscripts – This deck would not be nearly as powerful if we didn't have at least one endgame button at our disposal. Kiki-Jiki is a great source of token-copy generation and propagates our enters-the-battlefield theme quite well. Zealous Conscripts makes Kiki-Jiki go infinite and is a thorn in the side of many players due to its theft-based utility.
Confusion in the Ranks – This card is amazing with Norin because it can let you steal creatures whenever he comes back onto the battlefield, which is usually going to occur when an opponent casts a spell or attacks. Most of the time this will somehow involve a creature, so you're probably going to be able to steal that creature before the turn fully ends. Be wary (heh) of sacrifice outlets because if the opponent manages to sacrifice Norin, it'll be a bit of time before you get him back. Norin is worth one red mana. He probably isn't worth three, and definitely isn't worth five.
Goblin Welder – Goblin Welder, Daretti, Scrap Savant, and Goblin Engineer (not shown in this somehow antiquated list of mine) are prime inclusions in Norin due to their ability to recycle artifacts for their enters-the-battlefield abilities. This can also be seen to a lesser, creature-centric extent with Feldon of the Third Path. I personally love switching around my Solemn Simulacrum for my Duplicant over, and over, and over again.
Norin the Wary is a commander that people seldom see coming, and almost always underestimate. The deck surrounding him is top-notch and despite the cries of "jank!", Norin continues to work very effectively. As long as there are strong creatures with powerful enters-the-battlefield abilities, Norin will continue to be a good commander in the format.
What do you think? Is Norin all that and a bag of chips? Is he just the bag of chips? Does he infuriate you? Let us know what you think in the comments!