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Tribal Guide: The Book of Merfolk

Tideshaper Mystic, by Mark Tedin, owned by Wizards of the Coast © All Rights Reserved.

During this time of the year, the last thing that I would even consider doing, is going for a swim. I don't want to think about water for another six months. However, I'm always in the mood for tribal, and Rivals of Ixalan had a lot to deliver. I'm actually quite glad I waited for RIX to come around, because unlike Goblins, Merfolk have far fewer numbers. However, there's potential nonetheless.

Where Merfolk lack in quantity, they gain elsewhere, making them a deadly weapon worth your attention. With lethal mechanics at your disposal, and choices in color variation, you have the option to craft a deck to your own play style.

Why Play Merfolk?

So I mentioned the down side before. Despite the surge from the Ixalan block, our numbers for viable merfolk are limited. At a first glance, it feels like the deck has been predetermined. However, we need to take a closer look at the mechanics existing.

Above and below show an array of "unblockable" creatures at our disposal. Merfolk tend to have a reoccuring theme of Islandwalk, and means of turning lands into Islands until end of turn. Aside from that, the below shows examples of strict unblockable creatures, including a potential commander, Deepchannel Mentor. This is a potential option, but with such a high CMC, and so many merfolk with the means of breaking through opponents' defences, I would save it for another build. It can be the final puzzle piece for another deadly weapon, but not best here.

Pauper EDH is a very "creature heavy" format. Many games (multiplayer games in particular) tend to come down to all players building strong creature walls, then trying to sort out how to break through those walls. A commander such as River Sneak will certainly solve this issue. If you feel so inclined, it would be flavorful, but you may find it a bit too slow. For the Merfolk build, focus the commander energy elsewhere.


Merfolk have a very special gift. They can get through defenses. They are a lethal weapon. Your commander needs to let you make that weapon even stronger. The direction you take, or the colors you want to use, that is up to you. You have some freedom. So listed below are the top 5 tribal merfolk commanders.

All five of these potential commanders are intended to be a major support to your merfolk 99. Merrow Reejerey and Merfolk Mistbinder operate similarly, one having minor advantages over the other. Aside from adding vicious damage to unblocked creatures, Inkfathom Witch gives an option for adding black. As well as running a mono blue vigilance-esque build with Merrow Commerce, you have an additional simic option with a bit of extra options. Shapers of Nature will give you a chance to brew a bit different from the other four commanders, and the advantage of card draw. Pick your weapon according to what you want most!

Essentials for the 99

I'm going to start this section with creatures, as this will be the most variant area. I have mentioned before that this would be a less general article than my previous talk about Goblins, because the abilities of merfolk are a bit more specific. There are two traits of merfolk that are important to understand in our 99. We discussed the first above. The second, being a lot of ETB effects.

Aside from your essential creatures that break through defenses, you should also prepare for creatures to give your offence extra power. Depending on which strategy you wish to utilize, you may have several opportunities to blink creatures repeatedly. Below are a listing of some final pieces to make your weapon more dangerous. Silvergill Douser will certainly help you defend yourself in tight situations.

There are few necessary enchantments to equip when preparing for battle. In many cases, opportunities to guarantee your Island Walkers do their work will be a blessing. In many circumstances, you will find that Aura Flux will do a lot of work to dampen the impact of your opponents, which they will rarely expect.

As far as non-permanents, there are very few things to note that will generally great for all Merfolk, so let's just mention these two. The combined utility of bouncing a creature and card draw from Crashing Tide will always be welcome, and your island walkers will be very happy about Aquitect's Will.


The purpose of this series is to help you save as much time as possible. At this point in time, there isn't as much to say about Merfolk. Your options for a strict tribal theme are limited, so if nothing else, your time is best used. With hopes over time, we will be given more Merfolk toys to use in the future.

Share with me your Merfolk build, and let me know what cards you utilize most in your game play. I look forward to seeing your brews, and am eager to bring you the next chapter soon, talking about Vampires and Werewolves. Prepare for the Tribal Guide, "The Book of Innistrad," coming in the following weeks!



#Blue #Green #Black #Merfolk #Tribal


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