Under the Sea

Merfolk is one of the most beloved and storied tribes in Magic’s history. It was one of the first tribal decks to do well in competitive events, and has put up winning results in every format from Lorwyn era Standard all the way through Vintage. The Merfolk we’re seeing in Ixalan aren’t necessarily similar to the ones we’ve seen before, but that won’t stop the Fish fans. Merfolk have enough dedicated followers in Modern that, if a competitive Merfolk deck exists in Standard, someone will find it:


Merfolk Branchwalker
This is a pretty exciting take on Merfolk, and it highlights a number of really interesting tools that the tribe gained in Ixalan. It all starts with Merfolk Branchwalker. This card isn’t Silvergill Adept, but it does a pretty good impression of it, and forms the backbone of this deck. Kumena’s Speaker gives you a way to get off to a quick start, while River Sneak and Herald of Secret Streams provide a way to generate damage turn after turn. There’s not really a Lord in the way that we’re used to in this format, but Vineshaper Mystic and Metallic Mimic do a pretty good job, and are less vulnerable to removal spells since +1/+1 counters will hang around anyway.

In addition to that aggressive core, Corbin has thrown in Rishkar, Peema Renegade. This card pumps your team, and allows all your incidental +1/+1 counters to let you generate mana. This gives you the option of going big instead of relying purely on your aggressive Merfolk curve to get there. Corbin is playing Nissa, Steward of Elements and Skysovereign, Consul Flagship as the top end of his curve, but there’s also the possibility of cards like Tishana, Voice of Thunder or Shapers of Nature as a late-game engine that can get powered out early with Rishkar mana.

If you are one of the many fans of the Merfolk tribe and are looking for a good place to start for your Standard list, look no further. There’s always a question of how much interaction you want to make space for, and what the exact number of Kopala, Warden of Waves or Rishkars you want are, but those will vary based on what the format looks like and what you expect to play against at your local store. Regardless of how you build it, it looks like Merfolk has the tools to be a competitor in this Standard season, and I can’t wait to see if the metagame shakes out in a way that puts them at the top of the competitive scene.


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