Norin the Wary - Illustration by Heather Hudson

Norin the Wary | Illustration by Heather Hudson

Nothing, and I mean nothing, hits quite the same as playing your commander on turn 1. Well, except maybe making your commander hit the field every turn. Norin the Wary offers you exactly that, entering the battlefield basically every turn then fleeing with a sardonic quip whenever basically anything happens.

You may become wary yourself looking at Norin. How do you build a blink deck without access to white or blue? Let’s find out!

The Deck

Den of the Bugbear (Adventures in the Forgotten Realms) - Illustration by Jeff Easley

Den of the Bugbear (Forgotten Realms) | Illustration by Jeff Easley

This Norin the Wary Commander deck looks to blink Norin in and out of play as many times as possible and capitalize on each of those ETBs by generating various types of advantage. You either deal direct damage with cards like Impact Tremors or amass an army of tokens with Genesis Chamber and the like. You also make sure each hit counts by doubling (or tripling) your damage output with various Furnace of Rath effects.

The Commander

Norin the Wary

Time Spiral’s Norin the Wary is a cautious human warrior with a Savannah Lions statline and an effect that makes it “run to the hills” whenever a player casts a spell or a creature attacks. As a character Norin has more than a few sarcastic quotes on cards ranging all the way back to Alpha (e.g., Jade Statue).

Norin never connects with anything in combat since it exiles itself before the declare blockers step. Luckily for you Norin won’t even have to touch your opponents to seize victory.

Norin’s triggered ability means it most likely exiles itself and returns at the end step of every turn, assuming your opponents are playing the game. I’d usually advise against a strategy that assumes anything about your opponents but I think this is a safe bet considering Magic is really hard to play without casting spells or attacking with creatures.

Norin’s cheap mana cost means it’ll hit the field turn 1 and be a pain to deal with or remove for the entire game.

Start Blastin’

In the immortal words of Danny DeVito as Frank Reynolds, “So anyways, I start blastin’.” There’s no reason Norin the Wary shouldn’t be on the field as soon as you hit that first Mountain. Then the fun begins!

Impact Tremors

Your main damage output in this deck comes from ETB effects, mostly on enchantments. Impact Tremors is the cheapest and most common effect, and it doesn’t discriminate on which opponent it damages each time Norin hits the field.

Warstorm Surge

Warstorm Surge is much more expensive, but it scales you with the handful of larger creatures you’re running.

Witty RoastmasterTerror of the Peaks

Witty Roastmaster and Terror of the Peaks take those effects and slap them on bodies, giving you consistent access to your ETB damage or an extra trigger to double up on that damage.

Outpost Siege

Outpost Siege is your final ETB-pinger. It can help dig through your library in a pinch, but its Dragons mode is the preferred choice when possible.

Hamletback Goliath

Hamletback Goliath loosely fits into this category, but it’s also a punishment for your opponents’ big creatures.

Double-Barreled

Fiery Emancipation

All those enchantments are great, but a measly one or two damage per ETB isn’t enough. You need to think bigger, and it doesn’t get much bigger than Fiery Emancipation. Red’s damage doublers and triplers are infamous powerhouses, churning tons of advantage out of relatively weak effects.

Sure, Warstorm Surge only generates two damage off of Norin the Wary, but it becomes a veritable inferno once you’ve combined it with Torbran, Thane of Red Fell and Jaya, Venerated Firemage.

Furnace of RathDictate of the Twin Gods

Don’t be afraid to drop Furnace of Rath or Dictate of the Twin Gods.

Pandemonium

Pandemonium rounds out the symmetrical effects, but don’t worry about giving these to your opponent. You want to go as wild with your damage output as possible and won’t bother to worry about your own life in true red fashion. This speeds the game up, hopefully faster than your opponents can play.

Punishers

Sulfuric Vortex

Squeezing extra damage here and there goes hand-in-hand with your extra damage effects, making cards like Sulfuric Vortex feel right at home.

Tibalt, Rakish Instigator

This deck struggles against lifegain decks in long-running games, so you want to shut those down immediately with Tibalt, Rakish Instigator.

SpellshockPyrohemia

Spellshock pumps out a bit more damage at least once during a player’s turn, and Pyrohemia makes for great removal once Norin is safely tucked in exile.

Hitting the Field

Norin the Wary only returns to the battlefield a maximum of once per end step, but there’s no reason you can’t fill your turn with even more creatures.

Birgi, God of StorytellingGrinning Ignus

The most consistent way to generate infinite ETB effects in this deck is through a two-card combo. Birgi, God of Storytelling and Grinning Ignus generate just enough mana to indefinitely cast the Ignus from your hand (but not generate any extra mana, importantly). This ends the game with any of the “blasters” listed above on the field.

Hanweir Garrison, Kari Zev, Skyship Raider, and Loyal Apprentice all have attack triggers that pull double-duty by creating creatures and exiling Norin, in case you haven’t yet.

Mogg War Marshal, Myr Battlesphere, and Seasoned Pyromancer all bring a creature or two (or four) with them.

Lightning BerserkerReinforced Ronin

This deck calls for one creature with dash and another with “dash,” Lightning Berserker and Reinforced Ronin, respectively. The Berserker’s built in fire breathing lets you dump extra mana into more damage in response to your Warstorm Surge trigger, and Reinforced Ronin is a consistent ETB until you don’t need it anymore.

Your noncreature token generators include Daring Piracy, Goblin Assault, and Stensia Uprising, but Genesis Chamber is the real value considering it triggers for each Norin the Wary effect.

Den of the BugbearDwarven Mine

Den of the Bugbear and Dwarven Mine can both eke out an ETB or two in a pinch.

Mirror March

Next is the odd one out: Mirror March, which is really swingy. It can theoretically quintuple your damage output from a single creature’s appearance, but it can also completely whiff.

Firecat BlitzDragon Fodder

Firecat Blitz and Dragon Fodder are best saved for when you need just a bit more damage to finish off an opponent. It might be in your best interests to flash Firecat Blitz back immediately after tapping out for it if it gets down to the wire.

Conjurer's Closet

You’ve also got Conjurer’s Closet for good measure.

Fuel for the Fire

This deck is thirsty for quite a few specific cards. You have to make do with other ways to get cards out of your library and onto the field without access to any great tutors.

The typical Skullclamp, Solemn Simulacrum, Faithless Looting, and Thrill of Possibility are the bread and butter here.

Tome of Legends

Tome of Legends has the potential to draw you a lot of cards, but there are more interesting ways for red to dig through its library than just loots and draws.

Warp WorldGlimpse of Tomorrow

Enter Warp World. This classic chaos card and its MH2 partner Glimpse of Tomorrow are hilarious ways to ruin your opponents’ board state and flip your board into a smattering of new damage effects and creatures. And Norin the Wary scampers off to exile before these spells resolve, so it’s safe from being shuffled into the library (and thus returned to the command zone).

Possibility Storm

Possibility Storm works in the same way, making it impossible for your opponents to plan while you sit comfortably knowing you could cast any spell from your library and still get an ETB off Norin the Wary.

Chaotic Insurance

This deck is relatively fragile, relying heavily on a few key cards to reliably deal damage each turn and a few more to reliably pump that damage. Red’s access to hexproof or immortalizing its permanents is limited, but you’re not optionless. Luckily you don’t have to worry about Norin the Wary dying to any spell or combat-based effects.

Red has access to a few counterspells, but they’re all great fun to run. A Chef’s Kiss redirecting that Vindicate is always a laugh, and nobody ever expects a Mages’ Contest in response to a board wipe. And Pyroblast is here, of course.

Abrade, Mizzium Mortars, and Lightning Bolt are all light removal of one kind or another, but there are edge cases when you want an instant ready to save Norin from a removal ability on a creature.

Lightning Greaves

You should never leave home without your Lightning Greaves!

The Mana Base

Mono red decks aren’t known for ramp. That’s unfortunate because this deck needs to get to six or more mana as soon as it can to really start blowing up.

Classics Sol Ring, Honor-Worn Shaku, and Wayfarer’s Bauble are all here, but you also have Caged Sun. It’s a little slow to be considered “ramp,” but it more than makes up for itself if it’s played soon enough.

Seething Song

Seething Song is the only ritual, but it really helps in a tight spot early game when you’ve cast Norin the Wary but nothing to trigger when it hits the field.

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

You can’t really afford to miss a land drop before turn 6, so this deck runs 36 lands. Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle is a great way to finish off the mana base with 30 Mountains.

The Strategy

Norin the Wary wants to do one thing: leave the battlefield and come back again. Here’s how to help it along.

Play Norin turn 1. Do it. Establish dominance immediately. It’s not really a threat since it won’t ever make it to the damage step, but what’s the point of a 1-mana commander if it doesn’t come down with that first Mountain?

Turns 2 through 5 are mostly “setup.” It’s never fun to play battlecruiser-style, so try to stay interactive by pinging some damage here and there with creatures. Don’t be afraid to loot relentlessly to get what you need.

This is also when you should prepare to Warp World or Glimpse of Tomorrow by building up a field of tokens and other permanents. Drop the group slug pieces like Sulfuric Vortex to keep the damage coming. If you’ve got one half of the Grinning Ignus combo, go digging for the other.

You’ll usually end the game with a big play from a Warp World effect, which can turn a relatively ineffective board into a Impact Tremors– and Terror of the Peaks-shaped bomb. Even hitting just two or three creatures when combined with a damage multiplier and an ETB-blaster drops 7-plus damage on each opponent, and it sets you up to repeat it when Norin bounces again.

Combos and Interactions

Grinning IgnusBirgi, God of Storytelling

There’s one infinite combo that really makes this deck work. Grinning Ignus is a weird Future Sight card that… sort of… ramps in red. The Ignus can return to your hand and be recast as many times as you want combined with a Birgi, God of Storytelling on the field.

Cast the Ignus from your hand to trigger Birgi and generate one red mana. Use that one red to recast Ignus, and then do the whole thing over again. The result is infinite ETBs and LTBs, and an infinite storm count (not that you’re worried about that in this deck).

Confusion in the RanksNorin the Wary

I also want to highlight how Confusion in the Ranks works. You might think that being forced to trade your commander for an opponent’s permanent is a horrible idea, except it isn’t!

Norin the Wary exiles itself the next time a spell is cast and is returned to your control on the following end step. You steal at least one permanent each turn, which can quickly get out of hand when your opponents are trying to play threats to attack you with.

Rule 0 Violations Check

The previous combos are what you could call “a huge pain in the ass.” They’re both worth mentioning beforehand if you’re playing in a new pod, and it’s probably worth keeping some sideboard cards around to swap them out if folks aren’t very receptive to the idea.

Be sure to specify that you’re playing Norin and not Norn. People seem to be up in arms over Elesh Norn right now. I wonder why?

Budget Options

This Norin the Wary EDH deck comes in to just over $275 all told. That’s not quite “break the bank” territory, but let’s examine some budget options.

Cheaper

The expensive cards in this deck stick out like sore thumbs, but they’re unfortunately very good. It hurts to cut Purphoros, God of the Forge and Terror of the Peaks, but that instantly saves you an easy $65. Ditch Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and Fiery Emancipation and you’re well on your way to saving over $100 on this deck.

Replacing these cards is difficult, but not impossible. You can always focus on more punishment effects like Harsh Mentor, or double down on mana generation with Fire Diamond and Mind Stone. Erratic Portal is a cheap way to bounce creatures back to your hand to recast later, or maybe a small annoyance for your opponents.

More Expensive

There’s always a way to spend more on Magic cards!

This deck would love a Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, the best dash creature ever printed. A Gamble would go a long way towards tutoring up your combos, too. Fable of the Mirror-Breaker also generates advantage and creates some more ETB effects.

Other Builds

While this Norin the Wary deck is focused on Norin’s ability to bounce in and out of exile, that’s not the only way you need build it.

Other Norin decks are built completely around a chaos theme, running spells like Grip of Chaos or Scrambleverse or Thieves’ Auction. Chaos decks are great fun or insufferably punishing to play against depending on your personal opinion.

They basically do everything they can to make the game unrecognizable from standard Magic, trading permanents and randomly selecting targets so much that everyone’s strategy falls apart. Maybe check out a chaos build if you’re looking for a real weird time.

Commanding Conclusion

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle (Zendikar) - Illustration by Kieran Yanner

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle (Zendikar) | Illustration by Kieran Yanner

Norin the Wary is a unique red legend with an effect like nothing else in its color. It makes for a fun deckbuilding challenge, and its end result varies widely depending on the deckbuilder themselves.

Are there any great combo pieces I’ve omitted from this deck? What’s your favorite Norin the Wary quote from his various flavor texts? Let me know in the comments or over on Draftsim’s Twitter.

Thanks for reading, and be brave!

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