Wanderwine Cipher

We all know the Merfolk of Ravnica have surfaced, and with Prime Speaker Zegana in charge, they’re wearing Simic colors. However, this is Dimir Week, and who’s to say there aren’t any secret, rogue-like, fin-walking, leg-swimming guys and gals in the guild of lies? After all, they’re already shapeshifting their legs and fins and whatnot—what’s to stop them from going all Lazav-like and shifting into completely different forms?

Today’s list started with an idea:

Wanderwine Prophets
Stolen Identity

These two blue 6-drops must be able to work together somehow, right? One can make a Merfolk every turn, and the other wants to sacrifice a Merfolk to give us an extra turn! It’s like a match made in heaven—er . . . ocean.

Voidwalk

Voidwalk
As this is a Dimir deck, I looked for other cipher cards to include. Voidwalk seemed to have promise in the right deck, and as the deck evolved more and more, the more it appeared this estranged cipher spell could strongly supplement the Stolen sorcery, sometimes even serving as a replacement. It can even remove key blockers on key turns, though only on its initial casting.

The deck will have Augur of Bolas. Though the deck’s instant-and-sorcery count dropped somewhat from what I’d originally imagined, I still think running three of this Standard staple will be strong. Summoning simulacrums of him will be useful as he grabs more and more instants and sorceries.

Another great Merfolk creature is Silvergill Adept, as a Coral Merfolk with “Draw a card” attached is hard to pass up on. Voidwalk and Stolen Identity will make copies of her, helping us dig even deeper into our deck.

Jolting Merfolk
Next up are a couple weird ones. The first is U/B hybrid, helping raise the black part of the Dimir ratio in a deck I was worried would come out mono-blue. Gravelgill Axeshark, in addition to having at least one person’s favorite card name ever (see TapTapConcede, Episode 1 starting around 29:30), can stall the game until you build up enough card advantage, the combo, or enough unblockable damage, can provide a persistent beater, or can allow Voidwalk to almost act as a Stolen Identity when comboing with Wanderwine Prophets. The first time you hit with the Prophets, sacrifice the Axeshark, return it with persist, and enjoy your extra turn. On that extra turn, when you hit with Prophets, have Voidwalk target the Axeshark, thus resetting its persisted status (a.k.a. its -1/-1 counter). Since Voidwalk returns the creature at the end of the turn, you’ll have to sacrifice a different Merfolk on this turn, but Mr. Gravelgill will serve as Wanderwine fodder every other Prophet trigger.

The other strange Merfolk choice, which is also good with Voidwalk, is the ever-so-popular Prophecy uncommon Jolting Merfolk. Fading—and its younger brother vanishing—works quite well with Flicker and Liberate effects, and being able to spend fade counters for value just makes the prospect that much more exciting. We can remove a counter to tap a creature, allowing us to prolong the game or push through damage with creatures that have encoded spells. With Voidwalk around, we can keep Jolting Merfolk coming back for more and more fade-tapping.

Other Sneakiness

Merfolk Sovereign
In addition to having a bunch of cards that want to be flickered or copied, we want to make sure we’re actually able to trigger our ciphers as much as possible. This means evasion and protection.

Inkfathom Infiltrator is the other U/B card that helps keep my conscience clear for Dimir week. It’s blue, it’s black, it’s a Merfolk, and it’s unblockable! It’s a perfect match for this week’s deck!

Merfolk have a bunch of options for lords—from Lord of Atlantis to Master of the Pearl Trident to Coralhelm Commander to Merrow Reejerey, there are just a lot of options. However, we want evasion more than efficiency, and fortunately, there is one remaining Merfolk lord that is often forgotten. However, she happens to be the best-suited for us. Merfolk Sovereign does the normal grunt work of supplying +1/+1, but she also taps to grant evasion to whatever ciphered-up creature we might have. Without a Jolting Merfolk, this could be key to making sure Wanderwine Prophets connects. The other option was to run a normal islandwalk lord along with Aquitect's Will and/or Spreading Seas, but I want to save card slots and try out some diversity.

Without too many black cards, we may as well add in some more cipher to ensure we end up with a thoroughly Dimir Merfolk concoction. Last Thoughts will provide a bit more card advantage on top of Augur of Bolas and Silvergill Adept along with our other two cipher spells. Let’s just hope Inkfathom Infiltrator, Merfolk Sovereign, and Jolting Merfolk provide enough evasion to push through our encoded whatnots.

Finally, we will want to protect our important Merfolk, whether because they’re Wanderwine Prophets that will combo out and win us the game or because they have one or more cipher spells in their finny grips. Confound is the remnant of a counterspell suite that existed in a previous, Lullmage Mentor–filled iteration of the deck. With 2 mana, we can protect our important creatures from removal while also enjoying that ever-so-advantageous line: “Draw a card.”

An Actual Black Card!

While I wish I could find room for Murders (perhaps you can for your own version), I did make space for three copies of a single mono-black card. Patriarch's Bidding is a great choice for any tribal deck with {B} to support it. It’s great for when you start sacrificing Merfolk to take extra turns with no combo—your opponent will start to see light at the end of the tunnel as you run out of fish friends . . . until you cast this Onslaught gem and refuel your extra-turn extravaganza. Sure, your opponent may rebuy a creature or two, but with Augur of Bolas and Silvergill Adepts to recharge your hand as well as your battlefield, you should be golden.

I think those’re all the cards; here’s the deck:

Shoring It Up

Benthicore
I actually mean, “Wrapping It Up,” but that doesn’t have a water-based pun in it. I apologize for any inconvenience, such as the time spent reading this sentence.

There were a bunch of cards I looked over while building this deck before settling on this list I was happy with, but there are a lot of options. For example, I’ve already mentioned an islandwalk-based version that could make pushing through with cipher-fueled creatures easier. I also mentioned a tokens- and counter-based version with Lullmage Mentor. That version could help keep us alive and keep the opponent from doing anything dangerous [to us]. Lullmage Mentor would also ensure we had plenty of Merfolk to sacrifice to Wanderwine Prophets. If only there were a Conqueror's Pledge for Merfolk! Summon the School gives its best shot, and it could even be good enough for an Azorius Wanderwine Prophets deck, but it’s certainly no Increasing Devotion. Finally, another card I wanted to run was Benthicore, another great Prophets enabler and Voidwalk target. However, the mana curve of the deck was already pretty high, but perhaps you’d consider one for your deck. I cut the one Benthicore I might have run when I searched for the 7-drop transmute card and discovered . . . there isn’t one.

Anyway, that’s it for this week!

Until next time, I’m Andrew saying, “Merfolk minion martyrs made your many turns manifest; make sure to maintain them in memory.”

Andrew Wilson
@Silent7Seven
fissionessence at hotmail dot com