Merfolk



  • This is my favorite vintage deck to play. I was surprised that there hasn't been a thread dedicated to our favorite blue demons yet. So, post your decklists! Here is my current list. SB is a mess and changes frequently depending on the meta.

    Artifact: 5
    1 Black Lotus
    1 Mox Sapphire
    3 Null Rod

    Creature: 24
    4 Cursecatcher
    4 Lord of Atlantis
    4 Master of the Pearl Trident
    2 Merrow Reejerey
    2 Phantasmal Image
    4 Silvergill Adept
    4 True-Name Nemesis

    Instant: 11
    1 Ancestral Recall
    1 Dismember
    1 Flusterstorm
    4 Force of Will
    3 Mental Misstep
    1 Misdirection

    Land: 19
    4 Cavern of Souls
    10 Island
    1 Strip Mine
    4 Wasteland

    Sorcery: 1
    1 Time Walk

    Sideboard: 15
    SB: 3 Grafdigger's Cage
    SB: 2 Dismember
    SB: 1 Echoing Truth
    SB: 2 Flusterstorm
    SB: 2 Hurkyl's Recall
    SB: 2 Mindbreak Trap
    SB: 3 Steel Sabotage



  • @Naixin I like Merfolk too. Ever since Joel Lim won champs with them, I've been amazed at just how good they actually are. Cavern of Souls is an amazing card.

    One question I've always had is, why the heck don't these lists run fetchlands? I mean, they do run Brainstorm and Ponder right? They do want to not draw lands on the last turn of games. They do want to play around potential Stripmines... are 3 fetches too much to ask? I'm really asking. Why is that the case?



  • @Topical_Island said:

    @Naixin I like Merfolk too. Ever since Joel Lim won champs with them, I've been amazed at just how good they actually are. Cavern of Souls is an amazing card.

    One question I've always had is, why the heck don't these lists run fetchlands? I mean, they do run Brainstorm and Ponder right? They do want to not draw lands on the last turn of games. They do want to play around potential Stripmines... are 3 fetches too much to ask? I'm really asking. Why is that the case?

    I don't think all Merfolk lists run Brainstorm. I usually don't. Ponder has its own shuffle effect built in if you need it. The thinning aspect to fetches, especially at your suggested quantity of 3, is so minuscule that it's not worth it. So really that just leaves Strip Mine. Which is restricted, so unless you're unlucky enough to get locked in Strip/Crucible, it shouldn't be an issue.



  • @rcwraspy I don't understand how a small positive advantage, "Isn't worth it"... I hear this all the time. Can actually unpack this for me? Do we mean not worth the extra monetary cost of fetch lands? We agree it thins land and that that's a good thing right? Even if it's only a little good... its still good. Fetches also pair with Ponder, since you might want to take 1 or 2 cards with a Ponder then shuffle away the third...

    With 50 cards left in the deck, the difference between drawing a land after 2 fetches is about 1%. So that's even just about 3 turns into the game, and that advantage will be seen on every ensuing turn. 1% + 1% + 1% and so on. In a game that goes even 7 turns of so, there is a very real chance that one won't see an island that one otherwise might have seen. Do we really think that losing 2 life makes us 1% less likely to win the game? I just don't understand this. To say nothing of the pairing with Ponder, or the resistance to Jace "fatesealing" us, or the benefit of playing a fetch turn 1 against Shops that pack Stripmine. This just seems like it's free advantage to me.



  • You're talking about a 1% reduction in chances of drawing a land at the cost of 5% of your life. 99% of the time the fetchland will have no effect on your draws. Some percent of the time you'll fetch and still want to draw another land. So, is the 1ish% of games that you win because you drew an extra non-land higher than the percentage of games come down to 1 or 2 life?



  • I would actually consider fetchlands if splashing a color but so far, I found mono blue to be most consistent. I've tried UB to splash for Demonic Tutor and Vampiric Tutor because of how good Time Walk is in this deck, so I tried tutoring for it. I've also tried UW for amazing SB options (Containment Priest, Kataki, Rest in Peace, etc), but it ended up just bein clunky.



  • @WashableWater Right, exactly the correct question. I'm calcing as you win more games fetching.



  • @Topical_Island And I disagree.

    Firstly, in about 1% of games, you will not draw an extra land. This does not mean you win an additional 1% of those games. The set of games we are concerned with is a subset of that 1%; these are the games that you won because you drew one virtual extra card, and that virtual extra card that you drew wins the game. I believe that this is quite below 1% of games.

    On the flipside, I believe that more than 1 in 100 games come down to 1-2 life.



  • @WashableWater That is a totally fair analysis. I don't really agree because as I've mentioned, there are multiple other uses for fetch. I suppose the slumping use of Brainstorm explains some of this. At least it answers my question for what the heck is going on. I remember looking at those list and just not understanding at all what the thought process was.

    (Again, the math is not 1% one time... its 1% each time you draw a card...)



  • @Naixin said:

    I would actually consider fetchlands if splashing a color but so far, I found mono blue to be most consistent. I've tried UB to splash for Demonic Tutor and Vampiric Tutor because of how good Time Walk is in this deck, so I tried tutoring for it. I've also tried UW for amazing SB options (Containment Priest, Kataki, Rest in Peace, etc), but it ended up just bein clunky.

    If you've looked to splash just to tutor Time Walk (which I agree is great for this deck), I assume you've tried Mystical Tutor? Thoughts on that one? Just not enough potent instants/sorceries in case you drew both Mystical and Time Walk?



  • @rcwraspy I've tried it but I'm not sure how I felt about a tutor that puts a card on the top of your deck. I have considered, and will probably try Mystical Tutor as well as Temporal Mastery. It seems cute but when it works, it works.



  • @Naixin said:

    @rcwraspy I've tried it but I'm not sure how I felt about a tutor that puts a card on the top of your deck. I have considered, and will probably try Mystical Tutor as well as Temporal Mastery. It seems cute but when it works, it works.

    Gotcha. You mentioned Vampiric so I assumed the top of deck clause didn't much matter.



  • I think this is a good time to revisit this deck. I recently got SLAPPED by Merfolks running Damping Sphere and I think that it will help boost this deck slightly. Perhaps a split of 2 Null Rod, 2 Damping Sphere in the main. Or even 3 rods and 2 spheres.

    I know that Merfolk will probably never be tier 1, but I think it's a fun deck and Damping Sphere only helps. Here is my current list:

    // Vintage Merfolk

    // 60 Maindeck
    // 7 Artifact
    1 Black Lotus
    1 Mox Sapphire
    3 Null Rod
    2 Damping Sphere

    // 22 Creature
    4 Cursecatcher
    4 Lord of Atlantis
    4 Master of the Pearl Trident
    4 Silvergill Adept
    4 True-Name Nemesis
    2 Phantasmal Image

    // 11 Instant
    1 Ancestral Recall
    4 Force of Will
    3 Mental Misstep
    3 Daze

    // 19 Land
    10 Island
    4 Cavern of Souls
    1 Strip Mine
    4 Wasteland

    // 1 Sorcery
    1 Time Walk

    // 15 Sideboard
    // 4 Artifact
    SB: 3 Grafdigger's Cage
    SB: 1 Null Rod

    // 1 Creature
    SB: 1 Faerie Macabre

    // 2 Enchantment
    SB: 2 Energy Flux

    // 8 Instant
    SB: 2 Hurkyl's Recall
    SB: 3 Wipe Away
    SB: 1 Surgical Extraction
    SB: 2 Flusterstorm

    Some changes i'm considering:

    1. -1 MD Null Rod, +1 MD Damping Sphere (not sure which card is more powerful MD atm)

    2. -1 Energy Flux, +1 Hurkyl's Recall. Hurkyl's Recall is insane vs shops with a Damping Sphere out

    3. -3 Wipe Away, +1 Grafdigger's Cage, + 2 Tormods Crypt/Surgical/Dredge hate. I originally had Wipe Away as a clean answer to Griselbrand or Oath, but it's been underperforming.

    Any other suggestions?



  • @naixin I've been waiting for this. I think it's a great idea. I wonder if you trim more Null Rods in the main, since drawing more than one is so bad in this thing and because Damping does a similar job, albeit by different means, against those most broken decks where Null Rod is the most valuable.

    My first instinct when I saw Damping, was to run to a Cavern Deck of some kind, and just mainboard Hurkyl's with a single Null Rod, and 3-4 Damping. While this seems odd even to me as I say it, consider this. If you are Vintage Merfolk, then you are playing against Xerox, Shops, or Paradoxical more than 50% of the time. Xerox should just be a good matchup whether we run Rod or Damping or neither, because Cavern into islandwalkers is just our jam. Shops is probably hurt more by a set-up where we run Damping and mainboard Hurk, than it would be my a Null heavy main. Damping and Hurk is basically preboarded for Shops. As for Paradoxical, it can't beat us when Null is on the table, but it probably can't beat us with Damping on the table either, in most cases. So it's probably not hurting us that much in the meta to replace Null with Damping. Add to this that main boarding Hurk, which is really to attack Shops, allows us to hold up counters to Paradoxical as well.

    This all allows us to play more moxen if we want to, since we would run only 1 Null rod. It also clears more space in our board for the really bad matchups like Oath and Dredge. A full deck could look like this:

    // Vintage Merfolk
    // 60 Maindeck
    // 7 Artifact
    1 Black Lotus
    1 Mox Sapphire
    1 Mox Pearl
    1 Null Rod
    3 Damping Sphere
    // 21 Creature
    4 Cursecatcher
    4 Lord of Atlantis
    4 Master of the Pearl Trident
    4 Silvergill Adept
    3 True-Name Nemesis
    2 Phantasmal Image
    // 13 Instant
    1 Ancestral Recall
    4 Force of Will
    2 Mental Misstep
    2 Daze
    2 Hurkyl's Recall
    1 Mystical Tutor
    1 Gush
    // 19 Land
    4 Flooded Strand
    1 Tundra
    5 Island
    4 Cavern of Souls
    1 Strip Mine
    4 Wasteland
    // 1 Sorcery
    1 Time Walk

    // 15 Sideboard
    1 Mindbreak Trap
    4 Containment Priest
    4 Grafdigger's Cage
    1 Karakas
    1 Surgical Extraction
    1 Ravenous Trap
    1 Energy Flux
    1 Hurkyl's Recall
    1 Null Rod



  • Is Merfolk Trickster from Dom a consideration for Vintage Merfolk?



  • @serracollector I'm not sure if vintage has enough targets for it to be worthwhile. The timing is awkward for ravager. I guess you can flash it in to stall against griselbrand or something but meh.



  • @topical_island I really like the white splash idea. If we're doing this, have you considered more fetches and brain storm or even TCruise or Dig? Also, one card i've experimented with in the past that may be "too cute" is mystical tutor + Temporal Mastery since time walk effects are so good in this deck.



  • @naixin In my limited experience with Merfolk, I've found that Walk itself is just great. It's so good that you often win when you draw it, and lose much more often when you don't. This deck goes lethal on turn 4-6 quite often. While that would be impressive in any other format, it makes Merfolk solidly "mid-range" by vintage standards. In my experience, that means that in many games this deck wins or loses by a single turn. Therefore, Walk is one of the best cards in the deck, as I think you've correctly recognized. However, a second, worse Walk seems like diminishing returns to me, precisely because Walk is so good. If you are going to tutor, just get Walk. If you natural draw one of the two, you want it to be Walk. And because Walk so often wins by itself, you rarely need a second. If you did need a second, then that means that the same job could have been done in most cases by an accelerated clock. So in most cases, a Lord would have been as good, and Lords are much better to draw in an opening hand than is Mastery. While we can't say that adding Mastery is strictly worse, I think we can rightly predict that testing would show that it loses more games than it wins if added.

    The first card I would add to the list is Mox Pearl, if I had space. It lets you drop damping sphere on T1 against shops at a much greater rate, as well as gets you up to Hurk a turn quicker against Paradoxical. I reckon it improves our post board rates a lot, because it lets us get Priest and Null rod and Hurk and Flux and Damping on the table much quicker. (We are at 2 mana or more 10% more often on T1 by adding Pearl.)

    Brainstorm looks nice too. I would have to test on that one. 4 fetches isn't a ton. But I reckon this comes down to using mana efficiently. It feels like this deck will already spend almost all of it's mana every turn?

    Lastly, Chart a Course is a new card since the last time this deck was good. It at least needs a look. Part of me doubts it gets in, somehow, just because of the 2 mana cost? But I also wouldn't be surprised to see lists that run it in multiples either. It does not create damage, but lets us toss our extra lands late if we need to in favor of more useful resources. So it's overall effect is likely to slow our clock somewhat, but to give the deck more finish to power through a rain of Swords against Xerox on turns 5-9.



  • @topical_island I’ve considered adding a lotus petal for the explosive start potential well. I think we should be at 3 missteps. It really helps protect our guys against STP and bolt. I also thought bl 2 Daze is the sweet spot because it forces respect but our hand won’t get clogged by it. I’ll do some more testing and reply with a better deck list tonight. However, so far I’ve found Gush to be underwhelming. With too many draw spells and lower creature density, I almost feel like we’re just being a worse “blue” deck as opposed to a tempo/aggro deck that happens to be blue. Here is what I’ve been playing:

    // Vintage Merfolk UW
    // 60 Maindeck
    // 8 Artifact
    1 Black Lotus
    1 Mox Sapphire
    1 Mox Pearl
    1 Lotus Petal
    1 Null Rod
    3 Damping Sphere

    // 20 Creature
    4 Cursecatcher
    4 Lord of Atlantis
    4 Master of the Pearl Trident
    4 Silvergill Adept
    4 True-Name Nemesis

    // 13 Instant
    1 Ancestral Recall
    2 Daze
    4 Force of Will
    3 Mental Misstep
    1 Hurkyl's Recall
    1 Mystical Tutor
    1 Gush

    // 19 Land
    4 Flooded Strand
    2 Tundra
    4 Island
    4 Cavern of Souls
    1 Strip Mine
    4 Wasteland

    // 1 Sorcery
    1 Time Walk

    // 15 Sideboard
    4 Containment Priest
    4 Grafdigger's Cage
    1 Surgical Extraction
    2 Flusterstorm
    1 Energy Flux
    1 Hurkyl's Recall
    1 Null Rod
    1 Mindbreak Trap



  • @naixin I was actually just going to bring up Lotus Petal myself. It definitely conflicts with Null Rod, but I feel like hitting UU is more important in Merfolk than any other deck, including decks built around Mana Drain.


 

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