Will the Real Slinn Voda Please Swim Up?

Sea Monster tribal. Those 3 words tell you a lot about a deck, such as that there are some real heavy restrictions on it because it has to include some of Magic’s durdliest creatures in order to be a tribal deck. “Tribal” screams “75% at best” but “Sea Monster tribal” screams “Is there a number below 0?” and that’s incorrect. People really underestimate decks like this and Gathering Magic’s Alan Marling has demonstrated time and again that a Sea Monster tribal deck shouldn’t be left alone. As much as Sea Monsters like Leviathans, Octopuses (Octopi? Octopuses?), Krakens, Serpents are durdly, a new commander has come along and he’s got a lot going for him. First of all, he has what every Marling Sea Monster deck has going for it — it’s Blue. Blue is a pretty decent color in Commander as you well know so while being restricted to Blue durdly creatures isn’t ideal, having access to Blue spells IS ideal. The other thing Slinn Voda has going for it? He references Merfolk.

We’re going to build a “text box tribal” deck, meaning we have access to any creature type in Slinn Voda’s text box, which means we’re barely restricted at all. According to a study I never conducted, 85% of all Blue creatures in Magic are either Merfolk, Krakens, Leviathans, Octopuses or Serpents (I should have actually counted — 85% seems low). The few remaining Blue creatures are Wizards, Sower of Temptation, and Tarmogoyf. With access to, again, the vast majority of Blue’s creatures, we should have no trouble building a formidable deck that uses a giant, slow, durdly Blue creature with a built in Whelming Wave.

Slinn Voda, the Rising Deep

It’s obvious we’re attacking the “restrict yourself to inspire creativity” 75% build path for this deck, but we need to remember that the caveat to that is “the rest of your deck had better be pretty good” and I don’t think that will be a problem. Our secret weapon is that we have Merfolk to fill in the bottom of our mana curve, a lot of merfolk are good utility creatures that even scale decently well in to the late game, and we have Blue spells. Our creatures aren’t great, but we can just steal theirs or bounce them. We’re going to need a LOT of mana late game, but early game we can just trip them up with permission magic, utility Merfolk, and our greatest asset of all — our commander is Slinn Voda and they are going to underestimate us. Let’s see what a deck based around this absurd concept might look like.


Whelming Wave
This looks like . . .  a lot of fun, actually. I think I went a little overboard (look, it’s going to take me way too long to write this article if I have to be consciously checking myself for nautical puns. I’m going to make some by accident, let’s just let it go and save ourselves some anguish) with the merfolk strictly for the reason that a lot of the rest of our bounce utility doesn’t share Slinn’s love of the finned friends and therefore bounce our Merfolk. If you want to modify the deck, the first thing you might want to look at is tightening our Merfolk down to just the ones that have good ETB effects. Bouncing Master of Waves or Merfolk Trickster with Whelming Wave is a feature, not a bug, but when you start adding Merfolk like Empress Galina and Thada Adel, Acquisitor into the mix, things get murky (I said ignore them these are all purely accidental) and you might want to just use Merfolk you’re glad to bounce. I actually added Crystal Shard and Erratic Portal because I love the idea of looping Jolting Merfolk or bouncing the stuff you’re supposed to return with Overtaker. While we’re on the subject, how GOOD is Overtaker? I love it! It’s a creature I rarely include in 75% builds because while it’s great to borrow a blocker and throw it in harm’s way or steal their combo piece so they can’t go off, I don’t like to give stuff back. If you use Crystal Shard when you control the creature, you can opt not to pay the mana and you can throw that creature into their hand rather onto their board. Overtaker is not an everyday 75% inclusion, but with it being erratad to be a Merfolk Shapeshifter and the deck needing ways to swipe their stuff, it made the cut. We still have good old Thada Adel, Vedalken Shackles, and Bribery so don’t worry, this isn’t a deck full of half-power 75% cards — we’re really going for it.

If you think there are too many creatures and want to cut some, cut Merfolk and Serpents that just appear to be in the deck because they’re big. Lorthos, the Tidemaker is at home in any big, Blue mana deck, but Pearl Lake Ancient is not and if you feel like your meta would force you to run something like Counterspell, Capsize (I didn’t include some durdly, nautical stuff people usually jam like Pull from the Deep but Capsize makes the cut even if it’s called something else) or some card draw, feel free. This is a base deck and you can customize it as long as you keep the spirit of the deck alive.

Flow of Ideas
Read AE Marling’s articles about Fish Monster decks for inspiration! If he’s good enough to write card flavor text and fantasy novels, he’s an evocative enough author to inspire you to make some flavor-based inclusions if that strikes your fancy. Want to make this deck a fun, non-75% tribal deck? You might find yourself having more success than you should with a big, durdle monster deck. I have been on the receiving end of a monster beating from Marling’s creations more than once and I can attest to their efficacy. Put nautical-themed cards in from Ixalan’s vast array of pirate cards. Include Pull from the Deep, Flow of Ideas, High Tide, Inundate, Wash Out. Include Peer Through Depths or Aether Gale. Jam some more big old monsters like Isleback Spawn or get cute and help your creatures find the best nautical routes to value town by including a Deadeye Navigator to show them the way. The thing about the base of this build that you’ll come to find out is that as much as you try to make it flavorful and durdly by adding sea monsters, wave-based spells and nautically-named draw spells, you’re not actually really making the deck worse. You stabilize, stick a few monsters, wipe everyone else’s boards away and beat defenseless opponents with giant monsters. It sounds crude yet effective, and it is. It’s both. If you want to make like Captain Guy Fieri and take a boat ride to Flavor Town, you might be disappointed that your deck isn’t worse.

If you wanted to go all merfolk, that’s not the worst idea, either. The Sea Monsters are fun, but a pile of Mono-Blue merfolk would be pretty effective if you can bounce every other creature repeatedly. You have to cut stuff like Whelming Wave in favor of Cyclonic Rift, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Slinn Voda isn’t the worst Merfolk commander ever. It’s certainly not the best, but it’s not the worst. It’s a thing you can do and you only have to change about 40% of the current build to do it. Add more utility Merfolk and you can start piling on creatures that give each other counters and you’ll find a lot of your creatures have multiple ways to make them unblockable. Quicksilver Fountain makes it so your Islandwalk is very effective, Deepchannel Mentor is great for all of the merfolk in the deck that are Blue (all of them) and if you start slinging +1/+1 counters around, Ixalan has some great synergy there, including a creature that makes your creatures with counters Unblockable.

If you want to add more spells to steal their stuff, my other articles with Blue commanders have dozens of suggestions, from Aethersnatch to Chamber of Manipulation. Go nuts. It won’t make it more 75%; but, if you’re like me and you like to steal their stuff and beat them with it, it might make the deck more fun.

If you think the deck is perfect as-is, you’re probably wrong, but I thank you for the vote of confidence. Remember, building 75% is as easy as just having the ethos in mind when you start out, being mindful that you’re not building a bad version of something else and trying to envision ways the deck could get stale or boring and avoiding them. Winning every game is boring, for reference. On that note, I’m going to get out of your hair and let you start building a Slinn Voda (sounds like a Star Wars bounty hunter, doesn’t it?) deck of your own. Flavorful doesn’t always mean durdly and this deck could be the one that teaches your opponents that lesson the hard way. Until next time!


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