Inspired by the multiplayer deck thread here, I've been playing Norin the Wary exclusively in 1v1 and have been making alterations as such. I'd like to start a primer on playing this surprisingly effective deck in 1v1 competitive EDH.
The object of this deck is to cripple your opponent. Sometimes this comes from land destruction or nonbasic land hate, sometimes it comes from stealing their stuff, sometimes it comes from wiping the board in a situation where you're left with the advantage, and sometimes it comes from dealing 2 damage at a time, relentlessly, to them.
The deck has a relative lack of tutors, so it thrives on the fact that most of its cards have synergy with multiple other cards, including the general himself.
The deck tries to maintain a very high average power level of its cards. Without too much card drawing capabilities, it relies on capturing a big advantage from the first big spell it resolves. In a format where it is very rare for an opponent to have two counterspells available to cast in the same turn, winning is often attained by casting two major threats in one turn; the first is countered and the second ultimately wins the game.
Primary win conditions:
Confusion in the Ranks - Norin will leave play on all of my turns (via attacking and then hiding, if I have no spells to play), coming back to give me one of my opponents' creatures. Quite quickly, I will have all of their creatures
Pyrohemia - because you control Pyrohemia and Norin, you can stack the end of turn abilities such that Norin is back in play when the Pyrohemia trigger resolves. Pyrohemia wins an astounding number of games; against control decks, it can often win purely off of itself plus the damage done to my opponent by a Mana Crypt, Mana Vault, or their own lands
Obliterate - I have a half-dozen enchantments which give me a wild advantage if they're the only permanent left in play after this spell. Additionally, I typically can float a bunch of mana when I play this spell, due to mana artifacts and various Gauntlets of Power. My last advantage with it is simply the knowledge that I know it's coming. I'm perfectly comfortable sitting on 8 mana and keeping lands in hand, going down to 10 life knowing that I can cast this and recover much quicker than my opponent.
Warp World - I have a bunch of mana artifacts in this deck, a large number of permanents (88% of the deck or thereabouts), and don't forget that tokens count as permanents too. Like Obliterate, I typically float some mana when I cast this, so I can also drop something nice like a Memory Jar or Crystal Ball afterwards (of course, if I end up with land in play from this spell, they'll be untapped, so I can use them as well). This card is a great board reset if I'm losing, and a great way to go from a stalemate to a major advantage.
Pandemonium - with Norin, this pecks away at my opponent's life. It also has synergy with a number of other cards in the deck, specifically the token generators and even the Gauntlets of Might.
Other card choices:
Blasphemous Act - this typically costs around 4R, which is why I list it as a 5cc spell. Beyond Sword of Fire and Ice, there is not much that can survive it. Additionally, my Norin will always ensure it costs no more than 7 mana (-1 for Norin, -1 for the at least one creature I want to kill), and Norin will never die itself to this spell.
Mind's Eye - one weakness of this deck is that it can run out of gas. I'm actively looking for a better card drawing solution... this card is a holdover from the original multiplayer decklist, where it certainly shines much more.
Crystal Ball - perhaps a better term than card drawing would be card quality. This card is amazing at ensuring card quality. As I mention above, the deck often wins with one big bomb. I'm happy to play draw-go for a few turns as long as I'm scrying with this guy, knowing that I'll be able to drop a couple bombs soon, and one of them will get through.
An-Zerrin Ruins - who doesn't want to play a token Homelands card?! This came up in a discussion about how to neutralize an opponent's general, but has a bunch of other possibilities too. I also find it is annoying enough to bait a Disenchant from my opponent, allowing me to keep the real game-winners like Confusion in the Ranks, Pandemonium, and Pyrohemia on the board for a much longer period of time.
Moggcatcher - I'm not a fan of having so few creatures in my deck because I feel my opponents typically have just enough removal to deal with everything I want to put down. But if it stays on the board, this guy is outstanding. The other tutor creatures, too, help me find the perfect card for the situation, and I have a few ways of reusing them (Kiki Jiki, Cloudstone Curio). If there was a dozen powerful non-creatures that could fill this role, in a semi-tutorable way, I'd gladly go for that instead, but it's tough to find toolbox cards in mono-red.
Please let me know if you would like other card explanations.
What's next for the deck?
Koth of the Hammer, Teferi's Puzzle Box, and An-Zerrin Ruins are certainly subpar in the power department. I'd like to find replacements for them. One of the Gauntlets of Might could probably go too. Beyond that, I'm not sure where to go with the deck. It has a tough time against super-fast decks (especially combo) because its only instant-speed removal is Chaos Warp. A mana-denial-based update might help, because it does seem to win a striking number of games via cards like Blood Moon, Ruination, and even things like Goblin Settler recursion. In fact, given the comes-into-play effects in this deck, and the fact that the bodies they are attached to are so fragile, it might be worth it to add a Mimic Vat. But I'd love some suggestions.
I'd like to shore up the mana base a bit, partly by reducing the number of high casting cost spells, and partly by removing a few specialty lands and replacing them with mountains. I find myself mulliganing frequently with this deck, due to lack of red mana in my opening hand, and/or having a bunch of high casting cost spells with no acceleration.
I'm considering Voltaic Key - do bear in mind there are only 7 cards it would work with (I'm not counting Solemn Simalcrum, but am counting Everflowing Chalice, which is often just set to 1). And for Chalice at 2, Sol Ring, and Mana Crypt, Voltaic Key is just adding 1.
Thran Dynamo could be interesting - I am considering exchanging Gilded Lotus for something lower casting-cost, like Fire Diamond. Thran Dyanamo would be a nice way to take baby steps here and make sure I need to go all the way down to Fire Diamond. The colored mana is nice though; something like Warp World can occasionally be tough to cast due to the RRR.
Temporal Aperture is interesting! The down side is that I'd rather have the card in my hand to save for an appropriate time (typically, when I know my opponent has the mana for only one counterspell, or better yet none), but for the mana cost this seems like some reasonable card draw.
Thankfully most of the deck isn't too expensive. All of the expensive cards, save Imperial Recruiter, are colorless, so you may already have them for other decks. Imperial Recruiter is definitely excellent, but is far from crucial to the deck.
(yes I miscounted on my original list and put two extra cards)
Mana Vault was never untapped, unless I was winning by a ton already.
Teferi's never really had the effect I'd hoped for. I found that against control decks, they'd be shuffling counters back into their deck, and I'd be shuffling the bombs I had left in my hand. No real gain from that.
Fork sucks in this deck. It's awesome when it works, but it almost never works.
Koth is powerful, and I love dropping him on turn 3, but the synergy with the rest of the deck is just poor.
Temporal Aperture has underwhelmed so far. It's just so mana-intensive, and it's crippling to spend a turn's worth of mana for a mountain.
Cloudstone Curio is kind of underwhelming, as is An-Zerrin Ruins. I also find that I pretty much never tutor for Squee, Goblin Nabob or Mogg War Marshal. I'd like to add more permanents for things like Warp World, so I'll probably replace them with something that stays on the board. Probably put Mind's Eye back in there for Temporal Aperture too. Not happy about it, but I'd much rather front-load the mana cost of my card loading rather than back-load it.
I also want to begin putting a few more mountains in there in place of some colorless lands. Darksteel Citadel will be the first to go, then perhaps Buried Ruin and Vesuva. Despite the number of permanents in the deck, I'm considering an Oblivion Stone.
There are occasions where I can drop Khalni Gem and only have to bounce one land back to my hand, and that is so darn enjoyable. But it's probably not common or effective enough to make it worthwhile.
I'm in the process of testing the removal of Buried Ruin, Darksteel Citadel, and Vesuva in favor of 3 mountains. And also adding Fire Diamond. So perhaps with this added colored mana, Worn Powerstone would be better.
Word of Seizing is amazing. There are a few combos you can use with it: Helm of Possession or Skullclamp to perhaps kill what you take, Kiki Jiki to make a copy of it, etc. You can sometimes steal something you can sacrifice to itself (Sterling Grove or Mindslaverfor example). You can snag Azami, Lady of Scrolls before- or mid-combo, and they can't respond by using it, thanks to split second, so you get a free draw too. Or use it to take a Wasteland (again, before they can respond), and 2-for-1 their own mana base. Using Edric to block another of his (former) team's attackers is always nice. One of the most common uses I've found is to temporarily take a Sword of Fire and Ice that is giving me a hard time, attach it to one of my guys, and then blow Pyrohemia for a few points to wipe the board (except for my safe pro:red guy). Takes about 10 mana, but that usually isn't a problem for this deck.
Non-permanents in this deck have a super high bar for inclusion in this deck, and Word of Seizing I've found definitely meets that bar.
I'm trying with a friend to build a competitive mono red control in the french metagame (it's his deck). It's very very hard, but at least the deck will steal some victories, and humiliate some expensive, ultra competitive lists.
First of all, you should use the french ban list, so sol ring, mana crypt, strip mine will turn into mountains.
Then I'd lower the curve heavily. I know the deck can produce stupid amount of mana, but hoping to cast karn usefully is a utopia. Mind slaver does nothing in 1vs1, and I think extraplanetar lents are better than caged sun. Who plays mountains anyway? Artifact destruction is not that common (you need to keep the lents only a turn, then it's too late already), and the sun comes into play way too late. Gilded lotus is too slow for acceleration as well.
Outrage Shaman's impact on the game isn't enough, you can find better. I don't see volcanic fallout, it's the best red card.
You removed koth, but he is one of your few wincons+ a mana doubler, he is really good.
Pyrohemia is just awesome, thank you for the idea!
I've considered Extraplanar Lense, but I find artifact destruction to be incredibly common, and I hate losing a land like that. You are right it may be better than Caged Sun though. The +1/+1 tends to hurt me more than it helps (Skullclamp).
Mindslaver does a lot more 1v1 than in multiplayer. I'm not sure what you mean here. In 1v1, I control 100% of my opponent's turns for a round. In 4-player, I'd control 33% of my opponents' turns.
Agree Gilded Lotus is slow. I'm considering a swap for Thran Dynamo or something else.
Outrage Shaman works pretty well for me. It's one of my few spot removal cards, and typically does enough damage to kill whatever I want. With Kiki Jiki, it becomes quite fun.
Koth was no good. It doesn't have much synergy with the rest of the deck, and was dying pretty quickly because I often don't have many blockers that early in the game. My mountains are much better used for casting my powerful spells than they are trying to ping for 1 damage each turn.
I'd run skred over the shaman. It's less efficient with kiki-jiki, sure, but otherwise it will kill any thing the shaman would.
I'm almost never playing multiplayer, but I m guessing that in a game with 4 players, control someone's turn to turn him into an ally, and knocking out someone else by playing 2 against one seems pretty efficient.
On the other hand, in 1vs 1 competitive metagame, you ll spend a lot of mana just to tap your opponent s mana. Against edric, doran, isamaru, wydwen, gran arbiter 4, most of the time you won't be able to do much if it resolves.
Skred will generally do more damage, yes. And it costs less.
In favor of Outrage Shaman, however, is that it's a body, it's a permanent for Warp World, it's tutorable by four different cards in my deck (as opposed to just one for Skred), and it can get recurred with Kiki Jiki. I think you underestimate how often the final two points are relevant.
I am trying out Extraplanar Lens in place of Caged Sun at the moment, but so far I've been too afraid to cast it. Also dumped Scroll Rack as it was largely terrible, in favor of a Mountain.
Also as for Mindslaver, if I get to use it against any of those decks, I'm pretty happy. Typically I'll be able to attack a couple of their guys into mine, and/or have them play some guys and Pandemonium their own critters. Having essentially free reign during my next turn, too, is often helpful against Wydwen and Grand Arbiter. I play a lot of high-casting cost bombs which can individually win the game on their own (*ahem* Warp World) so knowing I can resolve one of them is pretty nice. (Although if I resolved and used Mindslaver, I probably could have done a Warp World pretty safely too).
Mindslaver is one of my favorite cards... it's not as game-breaking as Warp World, but there are a number of instances where it can be cast and used in the same turn, and can break a game wide open. Just today, I was able to pop it and have my opponent return their Genesis to their hand with its own ability, breaking a soft lock I was under wherein I was getting hit with Acidic Slime clone every turn. There are some situations where very few cards can win you the game, and Mindslaver can win all of them.
Interesting, though I removed Squee a while ago. It was really only useful with Chandra (assuming she lived for a while and thus I was winning anyways). I know there are some other odd circumstances it might be useful like with a ton of mana and Skullclamp, or to chump every turn, but it's few and far between. Temple Bell has worked well for me so far, letting me keep my mana open and giving me the first main phase with the card we each get.
Quick update, since I love trying to finish a match on mwsplay so much.
I play a guy named "Compass" who asks for a "fun" game. He sees me drop Norin, and says "seems like a lot of people are playing him since the primer was posted." I said "I posted the primer", and was quite proud.
I manage to drop a Mindslaver on my turn and pass. He attacks, and I block 2 infectious points with a couple unlucky Siege Gang members, and put myself at 9 counters. He uses Mayael's ability and rips Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre to destroy my Mindslaver. Not looking good. Fortunately Norin the Wary never gives up.
He manages to Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile both of my (his) big guys, then realizes the situation is hopeless when he correctly surmises, "that's gg I guess, you'll just take a guy every turn." Now mind you, this is all going swimmingly at this point. I found evidence that there is at least a fifth person reading my primer (I count myself as a reader to try to increase my self-esteem), and I managed to untap with a 2/1 and 8 mana in play staring down an indestructible 11/11 and an indestructible 10/10 and 9 poison counters, and came back for the win! Who could argue this wasn't a "fun" game - the game featured not one but two huge indstructible fatties, Goblins, a legendary artifact, a Gamble, poison counters, and four legendary creatures, all by turn 7.
The conversation sadly took a turn for the worse at that point. And yet, at the same time, validated every reason for ever playing a Norin the Wary deck:
"Not really fun then. It's basically recurring removal."
"I don't understand what's not fun. I beat you with a 2/1 who is afraid to fight."
"That's not the point of Norin."
"What is his point then?"
"No, seriously - I don't understand."
"His point is to bounce in and out."
"Yes, and that's what he did."
Scroll Rack didn't seem to work too well because by the time I am done dropping (or trying to drop) my threats, I don't have much of a hand. Any other ideas?
* * * * *
Also, of random note, am considering War's Toll. It's rare that I have blockers I want to force someone into, but the land-tapping effect seems to be something people enjoy out of that artifact that does it.
Also, on the chopping block: Gilded Lotus and Khalni Gem. Both only ramp for a few of my spells. Khalni in particular seems to set me back too far to be worthwhile. I will likely put Star Compass in its place.
Cool, agreed. There is a "mana stones" thread here somewhere which is a huge help. I think Prismatic Lens, too, is better than Star Compass in this deck.
Any ideas on digging through my library? Obliterate gets me out of so many jams in slow matches against counterspells, but it's just 1 in 100. The first spoiler card from Dark Ascension looks promising on this front, allowing me to ultimately dig 4 cards further in my deck. Even then though, it's a card which would often be stuck in my hand early on, as I wouldn't want to cast it until I needed an answer more than I needed card advantage.
Mindless Automaton is interesting. I often do end up with dead cards, but I don't want to end up pitching lands to this... I want to play my lands. I guess I'm ignoring the potential for it as a creature though.
Serum Tank is too mana-intensive to just get one card, especially considering the irregularity with which it would work.
Well of Knowledge seems interesting. My Gauntlet of Might cards make this seem advantageous (not only can I draw more cards, but I can play more threats in a turn). Though everyone and their mother seems to be playing Azusa, which is not a great matchup for this card!
I'll try to post my updated list tonight. Off the top of my head, I've subbed Chandra 6cc back in as I felt like there were more opportunities to use the discard-and-draw-three ability against some common matchups - the key part being that I can make my opponent discard their hand. Nothing beats forcing Azusa to discard Primeval Titan and Sundering Titan, only to refill their hand with Forest, Forest, Skyshroud Claim.
Added in Goblin Recruiter who is sometimes kind of slow, but gives me one more way to tutor up Moggcatcher and Kiki Jiki, who win me a ton of games.
And I've found that from our posts above, Bottled Cloister seems to work the best. I typically make it the last card I play from my hand, so if it gets destroyed it's just a 1-for-1 and I don't lose what I've removed from the game with it, because I've removed nothing. Against monoblack, I'd try to get it out there earlier, but beyond that it's my last spell. Love getting the extra card without having to tie up mana for it... and of course, having all of my mana available allows me to cast whatever I draw with it during my turn. Works out well.