With Ixalan pre-releases happening all over the country, I wanted to take a crack at how Merfolk can possibly penetrate constructed play and see how viable is it exactly against today’s gauntlet decks. Too bad I couldn’t play in the pre-release but I see the power potential of Merfolk and it’s super spicy. Here’s my list of 75.
4 Merfolk Branchwalker
3 Metallic Mimic
4 River Sneak
3 Kopala, Warden of Waves
3 Rishkar, Peema Renegade
3 Rogue Refiner
2 Shapers of Nature
4 Vineshaper Mystic
3 Herald of Secret Streams
4 Attune with Aether
4 Blossoming Defense
4 Aether Hub
4 Botanical Sanctum
4 Unclaimed Territory
3 Spell Pierce
3 Deeproot Waters
2 Dissenter’s Deliverance
3 Prowling Serpopard
2 Shaper’s Sanctuary
The deck is creature heavy and wants to build up on its advantage at every step in the curve. Starting off at the 2-drop slot we already see good value in Metallic Mimic, he’s great at making your next plays bigger. The worst is that it draws out a removal spell which is also good for us. Merfolk Branchwalker should come out ats a 3/2 very often since we run a very low land count and we also play 4 copies of Attune with Aether to further reduce the chance of drawing a land. River Sneak is my personal favorite because it’s a perfect carrier of +1/+1 counters which we will see a lot of at the next curve.
On the 3-drop slot we have plenty of redundancy to make our creatures bigger and more resilient. Kopala, Warden of Waves gives all our merfolks pseudo-hexproof from early removals. With Standard losing Grasp of Darkness, Murder and Anguished Unmaking, people will rely more on Fatal Push and Lightning Strike to kill creatures at instant speed. We are also naturally immune to Walk to Plank which is a bonus.
Rishkar and Vineshaper Mystic serves the same purpose of pumping our board for a bigger attack, or to help us ramp. With all that mana, we can dump them for card draws in Rogue Refiner and Shapers of Nature. I wanted as much card draw as I can have access to without dropping in creature count and they both serve this purpose well.
Herald of Secret Streams is our win-con if early beat down was not enough. Our deck is able to distribute +1/+1 counters consistently that once we drop Herald, we can usually go all in for an alpha strike. Having a Mimic stick on the field works tremendously well but even without it, Branchwalkers, Rishkar and Vineshapers all make sure we get the evasion condition satisfied.
Sideboards are a mishmash of cards right now because it’s still difficult to predict how the meta will be but against standard’s existing gauntlets, we have these bases covered at least.
You can scout your local game store’s meta and develop better sideboard choices as well.
- vs. Ramunap – we side in Spell Pierce, Deeproot Waters and Shaper’s Sanctuary to help protect our creatures and flood the board with 1/1 hexproof. Those he can target will net us card advantage at a minimum.
- vs. URx Control – Serpopard, Spell Pierce come in to make sure our creatures stick. Deeproot Waters is also good because it gives us 1/1s on cast triggers which counter magic will not stop.
- vs. GB Energy – we will not be as good in growing our creatures like this deck thanks to Winding Constrictor. However we are not so far behind too thanks to Uncommon and Deeproot Waters on the side. We can chump block their threats until we draw into Herald of Secret Streams and swing.
- vs. UW Suns – we use the same URx sideboard plan and make sure we counter his first casting of Suns.
There are some cards worth considering as well if you are not fixated with going Merfolk Tribal. Verdurous Gearhulk is good for the ‘go-tall’ plan. Just like how it’s super good in BG Snakes, it also gives the same advantage in this deck.
You can also try splashing black and replace Metalic Mimic with Winding Contrictor instead and maximize the +1/+1 counters flying around.
If you want to use Merfolk on a meta deck, easiest is to splash Herald of Secret Streams into a popular BG Snake/Energy decklist. With so much surplus energy going around, surely the Aether Hubs and Servant of the Conduit will be able to produce atleast 1 blue mana to cast it and swing for lethal. But this just isn’t me 🙂
Stay tuned, I’m cooking something up that should win you the game instantly.