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Welcome back, Big Daddy Brewers! The past couple of articles have been chalked full of new cards thanks to Ixalan, and this one will be too! Today we’re going to look at one of Magic’s oldest and most renown tribes in Merfolk. Tishana, Voice of Thunder is one Magic’s newest legendary Merfolk creatures, and I wanted to build a deck with her at the helm. I think there are a few different directions that you can go with her though they’re all going to want you to focus on going wide in someway. My choice was Merfolk tribal. Then we get a bonus list this week as we look at Bant Merfolk! We’ll start with Tishana’s straight Blue/Green build before diving into the Bant list.


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“Tishana, Voice of Thunder ” by Anna Steinbauer; ©2017 by Wizards of the Coast

The List:

Commander: Tishana, Voice of Thunder

1 Cursecatcher
1 Tidal Warrior
1 Coralhelm Commander
1 Harbinger of the Tides
1 Kiora’s Follower
1 Lord of Atlantis
1 Master of the Pearl Trident
1 Merfolk Branchwalker
1 Merfolk Looter
1 Metallic Mimic
1 Sea Srcyer
1 Silvergill Adept
1 Silvergill Douser
1 Stonybrook Banneret
1 Thrasios, Triton Hero
1 Tidebinder Mage
1 Waterfront Bouncer
1 Cold-Eyed Selkie
1 Kopala, Warden of Waves
1 Lullmage Mentor
1 Merfolk Sovereign
1 Merrow Reejerey
1 Seasinger
1 Selkie Hedge-Mage
1 Streambed Aquitects
1 Thada Adel, Acquisitor
1 Thassa, God of the Sea
1 Tishana’s Wayfinder
1 True-Name Nemesis
1 Wistful Selkie
1 Master of Waves
1 Merrow Harbinger
1 Tempest Caller
1 Tidal Courier
1 Kruphix, God of Horizons
1 Grave Sifter
1 Prime Speaker Zegana
1 Wanderwine Prophets
1 Aquitect’s Will
1 Rapid Hybridization
1 Arcane Denial
1 Counterspell
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Nature’s Lore
1 Reality Shift
1 Regrowth
1 Beast Within
1 Cultivate
1 Kodama’s Reach
1 Krosan Grip
1 Explosive Vegetation
1 Skyshroud Claim
1 Kindred Summons
1 Sol Ring
1 Simic Signet
1 Quicksilver Fountain
1 Spreading Seas
1 Steely Resolve
1 Song of the Dryads
1 Bident of Thassa
1 Kindred Discovery
1 Zendikar Resurgent
1 Alchemist’s Refuge
1 Blighted Woodland
1 Breeding Pool
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Command Beacon
1 Command Tower
1 Evolving Wilds
7 Forest
1 Hinterland Harbor
12 Island
1 Lumbering Falls
1 Mutavault
1 Myriad Landscape
1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
1 Path of Ancestry
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Rogue’s Passage
1 Temple of Mystery
1 Yavimaya Coast
1 Yavimaya Hollow


Breakdown:

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One of Merfolk’s strongest features as a tribe is not only how cheap its lords are to play, but how many there are. There are five lords in this deck including Metallic Mimic. Six if Coralhelm Commander manages to level all of the way up.


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Some Merfolk cards have or give Islandwalk. These cards help ensure that our opponents control an Island. Giving an entire board state +1/+1 and what amounts to “cannot be blocked” for only two mana is part of what puts Merfolk’s lords over the top.


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Tishana’s color combination gives the typically non-Green tribe access to some of the strongest ramp spells in the format. While most of the creature base costs three mana or less the Commander costs a hefty seven mana to cast. The ramp helps the deck get to a point where it can cast multiple spells in a turn to empty its hand, cast the deck’s expensive Commander to refill its hand, and then do it again.


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Almost all of the deck’s card draw comes from its creatures. When the deck isn’t relying on Tishana to refill the grip, then it is using attack/damage triggers or cast triggers from Zendikar Resurgent. The deck is playing an abundant thirty-eight creatures which doesn’t leave a lot of room for card draw spells after adding interaction and ramp. Instead, the deck wants to leverage its large creature count into its card advantage.


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The deck’s interaction suite is not large. Some of the Merfolk help gain tempo and disrupt opponents by bouncing creatures, but mostly the deck is counting on its spells to be sufficient. The deck has at least one way to answer every type of problematic permanent or spell, but it will mostly look to cast those answers in key spots.


Next up: Bant – Jenara Merfolk

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“Jenara, Asura of War” by Chris Rahn; ©2009 by Wizards of the Coast

The Decklist:

Commander: Jenara, Asura of War

1 Cosi’s Trickster
1 Cursecatcher
1 Tidal Warrior
1 Harbinger of the Tides
1 Lord of Atlantis
1 Master of the Pearl Trident
1 Merfolk Branchwalker
1 Metallic Mimic
1 Silvergill Adept
1 Silvergill Douser
1 Stonybrook Banneret
1 Sygg, River Guide
1 Tidebinder Mage
1 Cold-Eyed Selkie
1 Harpoon Sniper
1 Kopala, Warden of Waves
1 Lullmage Mentor
1 Merfolk Sovereign
1 Merrow Reejerey
1 Sage of Fables
1 Shapers of Nature
1 Stonybrook Schoolmaster
1 Tishana’s Wayfinder
1 True-Name Nemesis
1 Vineshaper Mystic
1 Vorel of the Hull Clade
1 Herald of Secret Streams
1 Master of Waves
1 Merrow Harbinger
1 Tempest Caller
1 Prime Speaker Zegana
1 Wanderwine Prophets
1 Tishana, Voice of Thunder
1 Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
1 Ajani Goldmane
1 Ajani Steadfast
1 Tamiyo, Field Researcher
1 Aquitect’s Will
1 Path to Exile
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Farseek
1 Regrowth
1 Collective Effort
1 Cultivate
1 Kodama’s Reach
1 Wargate
1 Skyshroud Claim
1 Summon the School
1 Creeping Renaissance
1 Sylvan Reclamation
1 Austere Command
1 Kindred Summons
1 Sol Ring
1 Chromatic Lantern
1 Spreading Seas
1 Aura Shards
1 Bident of Thassa
1 Cathars’ Crusade
1 Doubling Season
1 Kindred Discovery
1 Alchemist’s Refuge
1 Breeding Pool
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Command Tower
1 Flooded Strand
3 Forest
1 Gavony Township
1 Glacial Fortress
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Hinterland Harbor
1 Irrigated Farmland
9 Island
1 Krosan Verge
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Mutavault
1 Novijen, Heart of Progress
1 Opal Palace
2 Plains
1 Prairie Stream
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Scattered Groves
1 Seaside Citadel
1 Sunpetal Grove
1 Temple Garden
1 Wanderwine Hub
1 Windswept Heath
1 Yavimaya Hollow


Breakdown:

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The Merfolk on Ixalan have a +1/+1 counters matters subtheme to them. When designing the original Blue/Green iteration seen above, I thought that using Herald of Secret Streams as an additional way to give your creatures the ability to not be blocked would be neat, but realized the support for both the tribe and the +1/+1 counters just wasn’t there without adding a third color.


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The first two cards that I thought of to support Herald of Secret Streams were Gavony Township and Cathars’ Crusade. Gavony made sense because it was a simple nearly free addition to the land base and Crusade is an enchantment that rewards casting a lot of creatures. The deck isn’t always going to have Herald on the battlefield, but pumping the deck’s creatures over and over is strong even without the unblockable effect.


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Adding White also meant giving the deck access to the White Merfolk cards from Lorwyn. There is not an abundance of White Merfolk cards and even fewer worth including, but the few that are worth playing are legitimate upgrades over some of their Blue or Green kin.


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Ixalan is not the only plane with Merfolk that cares about +1/+1 counters. One of the strongest cards in the archetype is Vorel of the Hull Clade. It’s not often that people think of Vorel as a Merfolk because it’s rarely relevant, but he is in fact, a member of the tribe. When combined with his Simic guildmate Prime Speaker we see a few extra cards from older sets helping to round the creature suite out.


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What’s a +1/+1 counters deck in Commander without Doubling Season? And what deck plays Doubling Season without some incidentally strong interaction? The answer’s almost universally nothing and none, respectively. This is by no means the most broken Doubling Season combo in the world, but it is powerful, especially when combined with enters the battlefield triggers such as Aura Shards, Kindred Discovery, or Cathars’ Crusade. Casting Summon the School with Doubling Season out creates four Merfolk tokens instead of two. It’s possible to then tap the four Merfolk created to return Summon the School from the graveyard to the hand.


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These two cards combined with any of the “cannot be blocked effects” such as Herald of Secret Streams or an Islandwalk lord while the opponent(s) control an Island creates a combo for infinite turns. Attack with both Wanderwine Prophets and Stonybrook Schoolmaster (and any additional creatures that can get in unblocked damage). When that happens, Stonybrook Schoolmaster’s ability will trigger putting a Merfolk token onto the battlefield. When Wanderwine Prophets deals damage to the opponent, sacrifice the newly created Merfolk token. This will create a loop for extra turns and thus extra combats.


Closing:

Alright, squad, that’s it for this week’s Big Daddy Brews! I personally think that Bant Merfolk is a cool new way to spin the archetype. I’m sure both of these decks will get some new cards from Rivals of Ixalan, but the Bant variant, in particular, might see a new and/or interesting way for Merfolk to interact with counters. I hope to see you next time, feel free to sound off with an thoughts, opinions, criticisms, or concerns in the comment section below.



-Brandon “Big Daddy B” Dauer
Twitter: @BrandonDauer
Instagram: midwest.brandon


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