Merfolk: Rise from the Abyss

Last week we saw how Modern Horizon 2 is destined to totally upset the balance of the static Modern format, and which decks could become competitive in the metagame thanks to the new additions. This week we analyze a deck that is doing well during the first week of tournaments: Merfolk!




Walter Scuderi - Modern - Merfolk

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Creature (28)
Lord of Atlantis
Master of the Pearl Trident
Merrow Reejerey
Silvergill Adept
Svyelun of Sea and Sky
Tide Shaper
Instant (4)
Force of Negation
Artifact (4)
Aether Vial
Enchantment (4)
Spreading Seas
Land (20)
Cavern of Souls
Minamo, School at Water's Edge
Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
Waterlogged Grove
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
Merfolk Trickster
Tidebinder Mage
Grafdigger's Cage





Aether Vial is the most important card in the deck. Playing it on the first turn gives you a huge advantage and is the best start you can make.



Cursecatcher is an archetype staple. It slows down your opponent and forces them to wait to resolve key spells, which works to your advantage.



Tide Shaper is a nice addition for this deck, since it has the same effect as Spreading Seas and can also attack.



Suspend is the cheap tempo card that this deck was missing. By gaining two tempo turns, you can better face aggressive decks, and you’ll have an answer to ubiquitous cards like Urza’s Saga or Living Weapon. It’s a needed removal for this color — remember when you had to play Dismember, and pay four life, to answer combos and threats.






Lord of Atlantis and Master of the Pearl Trident are practically identical except that Master doesn’t give +1/+1 to the Opponent’s Merfolk too. These two Merfolk champions give +1/+1 to all our aquatic friends and possess islandwalk, which works well with the deck’s 8 Spreading Seas to prevent blockers from your opponent.



Silvergill Adept is your draw spell. It allows you to put a piece on the ground without losing a resource because it makes you draw a card, which is important in this deck that runs out of gas. You will see later how Svyelun helps this archetype regain competitiveness.



Spreading Seas prevents resource loss and, by turning your opponent’s land into an island, ruins their mana base and allows you to use islandwalk. 





Merrow Reejerey is a staple of this archetype. The card gives +1/+1 to all other Merfolk and taps or untaps permanents, making it the only card in this deck with this ability. This ability is useful against decks that develop the board and have many blockers, and it will help you adapt when you can’t use islandwalk.



Svylenun of the Sea and Sky, a Merfolk with multiple abilities, is the most important card that Modern Horizon 2 could give to this deck. Its attack provides a card draw, which helps counteract the deck’s tendency to exhaust resources. Your creatures’ Ward 1 slows down your opponent by forcing them to spend an extra mana for removal. Finally, it’s indestructible if you control two other Merfolk, so it can safely attack even if your opponent has blocks. It’s absolutely the deck’s MVP.




Now we look at how this deck performs against the best-performing decks in the format and how to sideboard against them.










Pressure from your opponent could be a problem, and their spot removals are good against your deck.


Your hope to win is to put more pressure on the board than your opponent and play Svyelun turn three, which is the key card against this archetype. Its 3/4 means it doesn’t die from Bolt and, against a deck that plays only 19 lands, increases the cost of spells by 1 mana, which could be decisive.


The situation improves post-side because Dispel is better than Force of Negation in this spot, Tidebinder Mage slows down your opponent’s creatures, and Suspend gives you needed time.







This match-up depends on do not allow them to resolve their Amulet of Vigor. If you can counter your opponent with Force of Negation, then your 8 Spreading Seas can put pressure, and your opponent has no removal. However, the situation worsens if your opponent resolves Amulet, though this is a common situation for all decks.


Post-side 4 Counterspells counter Primeval Titan.









This match-up is similar to the one against Blitz, except your opponent doesn’t have flying creatures, so you’re able to block with your creatures. Your opponent will have more spot removal, so it’s important to play Svyelun as soon as possible.


Like against Blitz, Dispel is important, and Tidebinder Mage forces your opponent to use a removal, granting you some time. Finally, Suspend gives you time against aggro decks.











This is an even match-up where your opponent is slow and doesn’t have mass removal in the first game. While you can easily develop your board, in game one you only have 2 Force of Negation to stop combos. Your situation improves during game two. Your opponent will play Mystical Dispute, Anger of the Gods and other annoying cards, but you have Dispel, Counterspell and the Merfolk Trickster that can stop Emrakul for a turn.


Unfortunately, you are forced to keep Suspend to remove the Madcap Experiment and Platinum Emperion combo.


The match-ups aren’t the best, but they’re not that bad either. The deck is capable of coming back from losing positions it may encounter. 


If you are a lover of this archetype, then it might be time to give this Merfolk deck a chance!


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