The Merfolk of Ixalan

Hey everybody,
I’m writing about one of my favourite Magic decks in recent months today – following on from the Ixalan set at the start of the year, I’ve been wanting to talk about my Ixalan Merfolk deck for quite some time. Let’s get to it!

Ixalan was the 76th expansion for Magic the Gathering, and is something of a meso-American theme, with exploration and pirates being a main theme and tribal being the main focus. When the set initially released in September last year, I was all for making a Vampire deck, as I do love the tribe, although in Ixalan the vampires come in black and, oddly, white. However, as I opened up some packs, I began to realise that I had a lot of Merfolk creatures, and opportunities began to present themselves.

I think it wasn’t really until this Spring when I finally built the deck, and I have been quite surprised with just how powerful it can be. There is a lot of synergy within the tribe in this block to make the Merfolk really quite powerful, from buffing them with +1/+1 tokens, to making them unblockable and giving flying, etc. Let’s take a look!

Creatures
Merfolk Mistbinder (4)
Deeproot Elite (4)
Seafloor Oracle (2)
Sworn Guardian (2)
Mist-Cloaked Herald (2)
Herald of Secret Streams (2)
Vineshaper Mystic (2)
Deeproot Champion
Kumena’s Speaker
Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca
Kopala, Warden of Waves
Tatyova, Benthic Druid (2)

Instants
Negate (2)
Spell Pierce
Dive Down (2)
River Herald’s Boon (4)

Enchantments
Deeproot Waters (2)

Land
Woodland Stream (4)
Hinterland Harbour (2)
Botanical Sanctum (2)
Island (9)
Forest (8)


So there we are!

The idea, I guess, is that you place as many +1/+1 counters onto the creatures as possible, and the Herald of Secret Streams makes them all unblockable. The ability to have an army of unblockable Merfolk is actually quite easy here, because the deck is so tightly-constructed. So often in my decks, I find myself wanting to incorporate a number of different effects through using a breadth of different cards, but here it’s almost totally different, and I just want to double-down on the idea of these Merfolk creatures doing their thing.

The great thing about building a deck like this – indeed, any tribal deck, really – is that you’ll always be able to do something with your cards. I mean, a lot of decks that are built around something happening usually need to assemble that combo, and will need to spend a lot of time searching through the library to do so. Here, though, there isn’t a great need for sequencing of cards – obviously, it’s better to have actual Merfolk creatures out before you then play something like Vineshaper Mystic or River Herald’s Boon, but there is no need to assemble the combo because the entire deck just works with itself – it’s almost like it’s all one big combo! It’s not so much the idea of redundancy in a deck, just that the deck has been built so that it doesn’t matter if a specific legendary creature isn’t yet out, or whatever. In fact, the legendary creatures included in the deck are almost there for flashy distractions, and it doesn’t matter if they are removed etc, because the heavy lifting is going to be done by the mass of unblockable, hexproof Merfolk themselves!

It’s been quite something to see this deck in action, I must say, and I do think of it as one of my favourite decks that I’ve managed to build!