I’ve finally found a deck that I’m happy with. By that, I mean that I’ve started winning matches.
In the past few weeks, I’ve made day two of an SCG Open and Top 8 of a GPT at Gamer’s Gauntlet. These results may not seem spectacular, but for me this is a bit of a break through. I’m notorious for top sixteen finishes, always losing right when it counts. I’m also notorious for going on tilt after a bad tournament and selling my deck, claiming that I’m quitting Magic.
Not this time, at least not for a couple more weeks.
As many of you know, the deck consists of cheap lords and a few utility creatures. I should also give some credit to Master of Waves, as that card has gotten me an excessive amount of free wins. Master of Waves and his fishy minions have gotten a new friend recently, a much debated addition to the deck named Harbinger of Tides. When he comes into play, he bounces a tapped creature, he’s also a bear and most relevantly, a merfolk creature. As an alternate cost, you can pay two additional mana to cast Harbingerwith flash but much more efficiently, you can put him into play with Aether Vial at instant speed, usinghis ability on a Tasigur to force your opponent to delve again (if they can) or bounce a Pestermite tocounter Splinter Twin. Unfortunately for me, this card has underperformed and often just been a sad fishy bear on the table. Between the Open and the GPT, I shaved off a Harbinger and replaced it with a third Master of Waves to give the deck a better top end. I was happy with this change and will probably be cutting Harbinger down to two copies for future events. It’s not that the card is bad, it just isn’t something that I want to see multiple copies of when I’m facing down a Kitchen Finks and a Siege Rhino.
Everybody likes drawing cards and Silvergill Adept draws a card for the low price of…nothing, reveal a Merfolk creature from your hand and you get a card. This is really sweet against Jund that just wants to kill everything. When playing against Jund or any other deck for that matter, you should play your Silvergill Adept before your lords, this way when they wait to kill something more important, they take a hit from the gills. On the subject of Jund, always cut your Aether Vials. I know this takes away the hyper-aggressive starts that make Merfolk a powerhouse but in an attrition matchup, you need more of your draws to be creature to maintain a reasonable board state. Bring in Tidebinder Mage and tap down a Tarmogoyf and even more importantly, bring in Kira because that card is one of your only ways to shut down the attrition war that they’re crushing Merfolk in. If you’re playing against a skilled Jund pilot and you don’t draw Kira, you’re gonna have a bad time. Don’t forget Relic of Progenitus to shrink Tarmogoyf and prevent a giant Scavenging Ooze gaining life and taking over the game.
I have a few more things to note on the sideboard. Don’t play five pieces of artifact hate, just don’t. I learned my lesson. I do think it’s important to play three or four Hurkyl’s Recall to make it through any Modern tournament. Affinity is a terrible matchup but you need to beat it to have success at a high level. A strong draw and a Hurkyl’s Recall to slow them down can make winning reasonable.
I’ve been considering splashing white to edge out this matchup and I do think it’s a viable option. Winning with a Stony Silence is a cake walk in comparison to the speed bump that Hurkyl’s Recall provides. This does make the deck a bit less consistent but having access to mainboard Path to Exile may be worth it. Rest in Peace is no joke either, shutting off your opponent’s graveyard permanently for two mana is pretty sick.
Regardless of your color choices, Merfolk has plenty of room for tweaking. Harbinger of Tides is the most obvious addition to the deck but that’s not the only tech you can bring to the table. Some people prefer Cosi’s Trickster over Cursecatcher. Those people are crazy, don’t associate with them.
Now as real Magic cards go, Hibernation is a reasonable sideboard option. It beats Elves and can punish other green decks with a three mana blow out that can hugely turn the tides of a game. I’ve done quite a bit of testing with Thassa, God of the Sea as well but she just doesn’t make the cut. Thassa is a win-more that’s only worth the investment if you have a good board state, in which case your lords will win the game anyway. The scry is good but a potentially better option is Monastery Siege. A few weeks ago, I would have said that same thing about Siege that I said about Cosi’s Trickster but I’m starting to see how it could be effective. Jund is trying to run you out of cards and the Khans mode could cycle you to a creature every turn and if they’re low on mana, the Dragons mode could even function like Kira.
Unified Will is a card that I’ve previously ignored that may also be effective as a cheap counter for a variety of matchups. One more option that I’ve seen is additional land destruction on top of Spreading Seas. You can play Tectonic Edge, Ghost Quarter and even Sea’s Claim. These can punish greedy mana bases and shut down decks like Tron and Amulet Bloom.
Merfolk is a lot of fun to play as well as one of the most powerful fair decks that you can play in Modern. With all of the available customizations, you can cook up many different fishy brews for your local meta-game. Unlike many decks that can be shut down by a single sideboard card, Merfolk is a bit more resilient. Even the dreaded Choke can be beaten with non-basic blue lands that function exactly the same as Islands. I’d recommend the deck to anyone. It’s given me results that I’m happy with and I can only imagine what it could do in the hands of a good player. Make a splash at your next Modern event and sleeve up Merfolk!