Merfolk

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I was thinking about making a merfolk deck, and obviously I don't have a working list (I consider myself an ideas man more than anything (often bad ideas)). One thing I was mulling over is the importance of a few cards. Those being: Cryptic Command, Sygg river guide, Wavecrasher and probably most importantly, Path to Exile. I am getting an inkling that Path will be 100% required (but I am unsure and hence am begging for help!). The other ones aren't boding so well with me.

 Cryptic command sits at 4 and without it I feel merfolk can be played with a top curve of 3. Wavecrasher is really crazy since there is no more mana burn, but without Sygg he gets chumped and together you get a package of 4-8 cards. Now, blue can filter into that, especially considering the deck can run Preordain, Ponder and Silvergil Adept. However, it is just more slots that could be devouted to counterspells and path to exile.

 Finally, Sygg is always felt iffy to me. He can do some really stupid stuff to be sure, however, again, the list doesn't feel flexible enough.
Of course I'm sure I've gone mad. The little man who crawled out of my eye was quite clear on this.
Merfolk's strength is in the combination of Counterspells and Aether Vial. White is a useable splash, but its not required, due to Dismember. Mono-Blue seems stronger simply because of dismember.

1 drops you should use:
Vial
Cursecatcher

2 drops you should use:
Silvergill Adept
Lord of Atlantis
Coralhelm Commander

3 drops you should use:
Merrow Rejeerey
Merfolk Sovereign
Wakethrasher seems like an unnecessary overkill, but works best with Merfolk Sovereign.

So that there if you go 4 on everything is 28 slots used. You then have around 10-12 slots for Counterspells + 3 Dismember, and 20-22 slots for Land. Go from there. Id probably use 3 Cryptic Command, 3 Dismember, 4 Mana Leak and if theres 2 slots, Spell Snare.
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Merfolk's strength is in the combination of Counterspells and Aether Vial. White is a useable splash, but its not required, due to Dismember. Mono-Blue seems stronger simply because of dismember.

1 drops you should use:
Vial
Cursecatcher

2 drops you should use:
Silvergill Adept
Lord of Atlantis
Coralhelm Commander

3 drops you should use:
Merrow Rejeerey
Merfolk Sovereign
Wakethrasher seems like an unnecessary overkill, but works best with Merfolk Sovereign.

So that there if you go 4 on everything is 28 slots used. You then have around 10-12 slots for Counterspells + 3 Dismember, and 20-22 slots for Land. Go from there. Id probably use 3 Cryptic Command, 3 Dismember, 4 Mana Leak and if theres 2 slots, Spell Snare.



You know, I completly forgot about Dismember despite it being in a different modern deck I play. Aside from Sovereign I use every other card you listed though
Of course I'm sure I've gone mad. The little man who crawled out of my eye was quite clear on this.
From what I've seen people brew on the interwebs: many people will be using (or trying to use) Punishing Fire, which can be very bad news for 'folk if they get it going early on. I would recommend playing up to 4 pieces of land destruction maindeck (Spreading Seas, Ghost Quarter, probably not Tectonic Edge due to the 4 land requirement) to combat it. It will also help against Tron and Twelvepost if these decks live up to the hype.
In Legacy, Blue is the best color. Let's punish blue, in Modern. And they listened!
From what I've seen people brew on the interwebs: many people will be using (or trying to use) Punishing Fire, which can be very bad news for 'folk if they get it going early on. I would recommend playing up to 4 pieces of land destruction maindeck (Spreading Seas, Ghost Quarter, probably not Tectonic Edge due to the 4 land requirement) to combat it. It will also help against Tron and Twelvepost if these decks live up to the hype.



Good idea!
Of course I'm sure I've gone mad. The little man who crawled out of my eye was quite clear on this.
I highly doubt Merfolk will ever be a Tier 1 Modern deck due to the lack of "free" conterspells in the format. The reason Merfolk works in Legacy is because they can run out a main phase threat and follow up with a daze or force of will. Without that, you either have to choose to play your creature or lose tempo to hold out a mana leak. 
Free counterspells are irrelevant when no ones aim is to kill you turns 1 and 2. Aether Vial is probably the key card here. It allows you to both put on an offensive, and hold up mana for counterspells.
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Free counterspells are irrelevant when no ones aim is to kill you turns 1 and 2. Aether Vial is probably the key card here. It allows you to both put on an offensive, and hold up mana for counterspells.



Yeah, zoo doesn't have win conditions they drop on turn 1 or 2....

Not having force or daze basically means that your guys have to grow faster than your opponents, and that's not always possible in a meta where removal is much more prevalent than in legacy. What's worse is that there's not much a fish list can do against resolved gamewinners like Melira or living end. Also factor in the inability to tempo your opponents out of the game by not having wastelands, and you have an archetype that doesn't have any good matchups.

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Free counterspells are irrelevant when no ones aim is to kill you turns 1 and 2. Aether Vial is probably the key card here. It allows you to both put on an offensive, and hold up mana for counterspells.



Yeah, zoo doesn't have win conditions they drop on turn 1 or 2....

Not having force or daze basically means that your guys have to grow faster than your opponents, and that's not always possible in a meta where removal is much more prevalent than in legacy. What's worse is that there's not much a fish list can do against resolved gamewinners like Melira or living end. Also factor in the inability to tempo your opponents out of the game by not having wastelands, and you have an archetype that doesn't have any good matchups.



You can always use the blue shoal. Merfolk has the same CMC as zoo so if you need the free CS there it is. However Daze still isn't represented.
Of course I'm sure I've gone mad. The little man who crawled out of my eye was quite clear on this.
Want to show me the blue cards that fish runs with 0cmc and 4cmc? Because living end and DoJ are the biggest blowouts against fish, and blue shoal does nothing against it.

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I haven't been on the forum in quite some time, but Modern has definitely piqued my interest due to its present openness, and I've been brewing. Here's my conclusion on merfolk: Blue is weak in modern right now due to the lack of relavant countermagic and efficient draw engines, so building entirely out of the legacy playbook simply will not work.

My solution was to splash black for dark confidant and extra disruption:

4 Breeding pool 
4 Watery Grave 
1 Overgrown Tomb 
3 Misty Rainforest 
2 Verdant Catacombs 
4 Mutavault 
1 island 
1 swamp 
1 forest  

4 Tarmogoyf 
4 Dark Confidant 
4 Silvergill Adept 
2 Lord of Atlantis 
3 Merrow Reejerey 
2 Wake Thrasher 
2 Spellskite 

4 Aether Vial 
2 Inquisition of Kozilek 
1 Thoughtseize 
2 Dismember 
1 Go for the throat 
3 Mana leak 
1 Remand 
2 Sword of Fire and Ice 
2 Sword of Light and Shadow 

Some notes:

Creatures: I don't think I need to defend any of my creature choices (bob and goyf are both merfolk...look at their merman faces!), but the numbers might be off. Spellskite sucks up spells, but it also sucks up slots, and I've been thinking about cutting it from the main for more merpeople.

Swords: These may or may not look strange to people, but here's the reasoning: Merfolk sometimes suffers from a lack of lategame, and this is particularly true with my build due to the shockland heavy manabase and the use of bob to draw cards, so I needed a way to gain life and jump back in to the late game. Light and shadow revives my dead soldiers, gives my life total a boost, and presents a threat in itself. Fire and ice is in there because I'm greedy, and SOFI is about as greedy as it gets. Also, SOFI fills out the removal package...yeah, that's it...

Disruption: I am NOT happy about the lack of decent countermagic...remand is the best counterspell in the format (outside of cryptic command which is not useful for aggro), but I keep switching back and forth between it and mana leak. Still, the more I play with black, the more I think I'll cut mana leaks for more hand disruption spells. I'm not sure about running more removal. Sometimes, I feel like I spend the whole game topdecking for a removal spell and sometimes I feel like go for the throat just rots in my hand. Again though, I might pull counterspells for removal spells...trying to counter spells in modern is one of the most disheartening experiences of my magic career

Mana: Mutavault is getting lower and lower in my estimation...I feel like it ties up my mana and doesn't do much a lot of the time, but, then again, I have also won a lot of games with it. I'm probably going to axe it for ghost quarters and edges though...cloudpost decks are really annoying. 

Sideboard is shaky:

2 thorn of amethyst 
1 chalice of the void 
3 spell pierce 
1 phyrexian revoker 
2 ghost quarter 
2 tectonic edge 
1 phyrexian metamorph 
1 sword of body and mind 
1 sword of feast and famine 
1 spellskite  

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You don't have enough merfolk for Silvergill Adept. Or for the Merfolk Lords to be any good, for that matter.
Testing would say wrong on both counts. I think I will cut spellskite for another couple of merfolk, but that's mostly because I'm not hitting enough spot removal for skite to be worth the slots in most matches, not due to a general lack of 'folk. I almost never have a turn 2 adept with no merfolk in hand, and I almost never play a lord in to an empty board (also, remember Mutavault is a mercreature as far as the lords are concerned). Also, Silvergill adept's 'draw a card' ability works when you play it with Aether vial, but its 'reveal' effect only triggers if you hardcast it, so vial gets around the problem when you don't have enough merfolk in hand. 

I've tried a ton of permutations of this deck from mono U to Ugr to UBg, and this is the one that feels like it's actually holding together as a deck. Having 22 merfolk backed up with bounces, cryptic commands, and remands felt like the right idea at first, but vial simply cannot lift enough of the mana burden that you feel like you can tapout for cryptic. Basically, this deck is seriously injured in the transfer from legacy because there are no free counterspells to give it the early game boost it needs to pull ahead, and, without brainstorm, stocking the yard for tarmogoyf is much more difficult as is drawing in to what you want to see. I think a UWg version could also be built, but, in my opinion, you cannot build merfolk in a way that would be immediately recognizable in the legacy world...it's just too wounded an archetype to make a clean transfer. 
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