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 Post subject: Mono Blue Tribal Merfolk
AgePosted: 2019-Jun-24 2:29 pm 
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Joined: 2012-Nov-27 4:39 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Midgard
Any thoughts on where to take tribal Merfolk in mono Blue? Looking at 3-7 player groups, very casual/beginner meta. I'm not sure I want to make it heavy counterspell, but there'll be some number available. Mill is a possibility, but Merfolk don't really support it (outside of Ambassador Laquatus, who is the current commander). I've also considered utilizing a bunch of extra turn spells, but I'd still need a direction for the Merfolk. Going pure aggro doesn't seem right and stuff like tribal Elves, Dragons, and Angels will likely win against that. Maybe tons of clone effects?

Creatures - 33
1x Adaptive Automaton
1x Augur of Bolas
1x Cache Raiders
1x Caller of Gales
1x Coralhelm Commander
1x Coralhelm Guide
1x Cosi's Trickster
1x Cryptoplasm
1x Cursecatcher
1x Grimoire Thief
1x Harbinger of the Tides
1x Lord of Atlantis
1x Lullmage Mentor
1x Master of the Pearl Trident
1x Master of Waves
1x Merfolk Looter
1x Merfolk Sovereign
1x Merfolk Wayfinder
1x Merrow Reejerey
1x Sage of Fables
1x Saprazzan Heir
1x Scroll Thief
1x Seafloor Oracle
1x Silvergill Adept
1x Simic Fluxmage
1x Spark Double
1x Stonybrook Banneret
1x Stormtide Leviathan
1x Tidebinder Mage
1x True-Name Nemesis
1x Wake Thrasher
1x Wanderwine Prophets
1x Wonder

Enchantments - 5
1x Curse of Verbosity
1x Followed Footsteps
1x Merrow Commerce
1x Spreading Seas
1x Training Grounds

Artifacts - 4
1x Darksteel Ingot
1x Dowsing Dagger
1x Sapphire Medallion
1x Sol Ring

Instants - 10
1x Abjure
1x AEtherize
1x Cackling Counterpart
1x Counterspell
1x Dissipate
1x Fact or Fiction
1x Force of Will
1x High Tide
1x Rewind
1x Sage's Dousing

Sorceries - 10
1x Aether Gale
1x Beacon of Tomorrows
1x Concentrate
1x Distant Melody
1x Distorting Wake
1x Preordain
1x Serum Visions
1x Temporal Mastery
1x Time Stretch
1x Time Warp

Lands - 37
1x Blighted Cataract
1x Ghost Quarter
1x Haunted Fengraf
29x Island
1x Lonely Sandbar
1x Mutavault
1x Remote Isle
1x Skyline Cascade
1x Soaring Seacliff

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Last edited by Segrus on 2019-Jun-25 2:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mono Blue Tribal Merfolk
AgePosted: 2019-Jun-24 3:54 pm 
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Joined: 2012-Feb-07 4:15 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Yeah... mono-blue merfolk is definitely weird. The only general who explicitly supports it is Kopala, Warden of Waves, who is by no means a bad card but it much more of a member of the 99 than the command zone. She doesn't really have anything around her that screams "build around me!" aside from the fact that she likes other merfolk. Maybe a heavy equipment/enchantment theme to capitalize on the psuedo-hexproof she provides?

Regarding other merfolk generals Laquatus, Galina, Talrand, and Mistform Ultimatus don't offer much aside from being a member of the tribe. I guess bonus points to Laquatus for having an awesome name. The remaining one is Thada Adel, who is my favorite mono blue card commander and has a lot of cross-synergy. Most of the good merfolk have abilities that synergize with what she wants to do, and she in turn provides a relatively reliable source of both ramp and card advantage.
_______________________________________________________________________________

Ignoring what the generals themselves do, it seems that there are some clear patterns with merfolk as a tribe. They seem to have two specific angles: shenanigans involving attacking and being unblocked, and drawing you cards. As mentioned, these themes pair perfectly with Thada, but there are also a fair number of non-merfolk generals that fit the bill as well. The clear number one is Thassa, God of the Sea, who also fits perfectly with a merfolk army. Other honorable mentions include Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive and Kefnet the Mindful.

Segrus wrote:
Going pure aggro doesn't seem right and stuff like tribal Elves, Dragons, and Angels will likely win against that.

I'm not actually sure about this. Aggro merfolk certainly isn't as fast as elves or goblins, but it is far more resilient due to its focus on drawing cards. You aren't playing the lightning fast aggro deck that intends to win on turn 5, but the aggro deck that wins the long-term war of attrition while also punching your opponent in the face every turn. You'll sacrifice sheer speed and efficiency for the ability to shore up the weaknesses that tribal aggro usually suffers from: namely a dearth of removal and a tendency to run out of gas.

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 Post subject: Re: Mono Blue Tribal Merfolk
AgePosted: 2019-Jun-24 11:41 pm 
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Joined: 2012-Nov-27 4:39 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Midgard
Thank you kindly for the very detailed response. You've made a lot of good points to consider.

I've thought about using Thada instead of Laquatus, and my only concern there is the problem of being too complicated. This being a beginner deck and all, a beginning player having to decide whose deck to rummage through and needing to figure out which artifact to exile and whether or not to cast it ends up being a hefty decision making process. It felt like plausibly too much. I agree though that Thada might be ideal.

I also agree, to an extent, they have a shtick with being unblockable and drawing cards. 18 of the 32 Merfolk who can draw cards are mono Blue (in terms of color identity), and only about 9 of those are ones I'd likely put into the deck (many of the ones I'd leave out are one-shot digs, since I'm not sure there's a good way to consistently capitalize on those and they are generally 1/2 vanilla outside of that). The other problem is that most of the unblockable bit revolves around islandwalk, and I'm admitting to not know if the deck should be pushed in that direction.

So here's more on what I'm thinking when it comes to straight aggro Merfolk. On average, Merfolk are 3-CMC for 2/2--unless they're both lords. For 6 mana, you're getting about 4 power. Dragons, on the other hand, are looking at paying 6 mana for a 6/6 with built in evasion (mono Red Dragons will be playing Lathliss as the commander). You get the Merfolk out a little quicker, but Lathliss will likely quickly overtake. Angels aren't quite that efficient, but the mono White build has life gain effects to offset this (which is their shtick). Elves are weaker, but their mana growth combined with Ezuri suggests they'll be as strong or stronger by the point Merfolk is up and running.

Having easier access to draw effects than those decks is definitely good, but I think it'll mean needing to increase the number of counter spells and bounce effects. Maybe some static, rattlesnake-like bounce effects?

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 Post subject: Re: Mono Blue Tribal Merfolk
AgePosted: 2019-Jun-25 1:43 am 
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Regarding Thada, quick question: are you putting Sol Ring in the decks? If you are, that makes the initial decision making a lot easier (attack anyone, they all have Sol Ring), and then after the first search they then know what to look for later.

Regarding the matchups... yeah, there's basically no way around it. All of the color based weenie tribes are exemplary of the color's normal schitck: the green elves ramp and get enormous, the red goblins hit you in the face as hard as fast as possible, the white soldiers/warriors overwhelm you with sheer numbers, the black zombies never die, and the blue merfolk provide an element of control. Your deck would have to have a higher-than-the-others density of removal spells, simply because that's what merfolk synergize with. Trying to beat the elves or dragons at their own game will fail, so you have to play a different one. That being said, any time you can condense the slots into one with a card like Merfolk Trickster or Lullmage Mentor, all the better.

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 Post subject: Re: Mono Blue Tribal Merfolk
AgePosted: 2019-Jun-25 1:56 am 

Joined: 2010-Dec-14 4:04 pm
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Maybe try including some one-sided bounce to slow the other decks down. Inundate and Cyclonic Rift should both work well, and there is also single player bounce to set back the player in the lead like River's Rebuke and Wash Out (at least in this setup it works that way). Aetherize and Aetherspouts can also help when you get attacked.

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 Post subject: Re: Mono Blue Tribal Merfolk
AgePosted: 2019-Jun-25 2:15 am 

Joined: 2012-Oct-24 8:05 pm
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Segrus wrote:
Maybe some static, rattlesnake-like bounce effects?

Dissipation Field may be the only one of these, other than some creatures that bounce or tuck the creature they block.

But in addition to what Coco suggested, you might consider Mirror Match, Illusionist's Gambit, Propaganda, and Crawlspace.

Counterspells are good, but can be hard to use effectively, even for experienced players.


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 Post subject: Re: Mono Blue Tribal Merfolk
AgePosted: 2019-Jun-25 4:01 am 
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I'm actually okay with adding more removal, bounce or otherwise, I just wanted to be sure I wasn't missing some other obvious/non-obvious route for them. The decklist I scribbled last night for reference includes Aether Gale, Distorting Wave, and Aetherize for bounce; it also has Abjure, Counterspell, Dissipate, Force of Will (had one handy, might switch it out), Rewind, and Sage's Dousing for counter spells. I can make space for some more bounce, as I have a few extra turn spells and other nonsense. I'll have to weigh that against draw spells though, I suppose.

Also, good point about Sol Ring. Maybe I should reconsider...and I'm super happy for other suggestions too. Once I'm home and can do card links easier, I'll try to put up the decklist on the initial post so you all can get a better look at what I have so far. I'm pretty confident in all the other lists, just not this one.

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 Post subject: Re: Mono Blue Tribal Merfolk
AgePosted: 2019-Jun-25 8:32 am 
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I agree with most of what Kong's already said; I think Thada Adel is an OUTSTANDING option for playing mono-blue merfolk, especially if you're looking for an aggro/control build that'd play similar to a 60-card disruptive aggro, fish deck.

But this is not any easy style of deck to play (especially in EDH), and I think it's true that the choices Thada requires are especially time consuming for a newbie (in fact, I think most players struggle with it).

I think playing mono-blue control with Empress Galina is worth another look. She's a good option for a clone/copy/steal build (which is usually easier to play than a draw-go control build). Plus, there are some good Merfolk effects for manipulating tap/untap (Merrow Commerce, Merrow Reejerey), which are easily supplemented with any number of tap/untap instants and sorceries. There are also solid options for adding similar effects to Galina (like Seasinger or Overtaker), which are pretty low-mana, so the deck wouldn't need a ton of ramp, and could use some counterspells to protect its table.

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 Post subject: Re: Mono Blue Tribal Merfolk
AgePosted: 2019-Jun-25 8:58 am 
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Segrus wrote:
Mill is a possibility, but Merfolk don't really support it (outside of Ambassador Laquatus, who is the current commander).

Well, there's Drowner of Secrets, of course. Drop him with a bunch of merfolk out and Merrow Commerce, and you can do some good milling. Or Intruder Alarm if you just want to combo, although in mono-blue you lose the other piece of that merfolk combo (Stonybrook Schoolmaster).

Also Grimoire Thief, while technically not mill, contributes to the effort.

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 Post subject: Re: Mono Blue Tribal Merfolk
AgePosted: 2019-Jun-25 1:44 pm 
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Kemev wrote:
I think playing mono-blue control with Empress Galina is worth another look.

Oof...~$8-10 to get one, since I don't own one currently. That's a bit unfortunate. I've gotten a lot of cards lately, so I'm going to have to put off trying this direction out. I do think it's an interesting direction, at least for this application, so I appreciate your outlining this. Thank you.

Sid the Chicken wrote:
Segrus wrote:
Mill is a possibility, but Merfolk don't really support it (outside of Ambassador Laquatus, who is the current commander).

Well, there's Drowner of Secrets, of course. Drop him with a bunch of merfolk out and Merrow Commerce, and you can do some good milling. Or Intruder Alarm if you just want to combo, although in mono-blue you lose the other piece of that merfolk combo (Stonybrook Schoolmaster).

Also Grimoire Thief, while technically not mill, contributes to the effort.

I actually have a Bant Merfolk deck that I've started to support the Intruder Alarm combo. :lol:

There's also Training Grounds for Laquatus...but even still, I'm not sure it's enough. Mill already has a tough time taking the table even when you're focused on it; so without going for something like Palinchron or Deadeye Navigator combo for infinite mana, I'm not super convinced on tilting the deck that direction. I'm hesitant to include these infinite mana combos since they don't require Merfolk.

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 Post subject: Re: Mono Blue Tribal Merfolk
AgePosted: 2019-Jun-25 1:59 pm 
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Okay, I added my working decklist to the original post. As in, seriously, I'm aware it's not a great list. That's kinda why I'm here. It's likely I need more than 37 lands, and the extra turn spells are probably coming out.

The other Merfolk deck I have has a Sigil Tracer and Thada Adel, Acquisitor I can pull to add in here, which is probably what I'll end up doing.

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 Post subject: Re: Mono Blue Tribal Merfolk
AgePosted: 2019-Jul-10 11:39 pm 
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I think the deck is getting better, slowly. In a test game I was able to kick a Rite of Replication off of High Tide targeting True-Name Nemesis, and then later landed a big Master of Waves due to that crazy high Blue devotion.

But I still don't think there's enough card draw and counter spells. And switching the Commander to Thada Adel may require me to think about evasion equipment for her. Anyway, just reporting on it.

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 Post subject: Re: Mono Blue Tribal Merfolk
AgePosted: 2019-Jul-18 9:11 am 
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Hmm...what about giving some focus on steal effects? I've got that baked into the commander by using Thada Adel, so while Merfolk in general don't focus on steal effects maybe I should include some? It would help them upset other aggro strategies, which is often Blue's weakness.

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 Post subject: Re: Mono Blue Tribal Merfolk
AgePosted: 2019-Jul-18 9:55 am 
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I think it's a good plan... it's partly why I suggested Empress Galina as the commander. The only problem is that some of the better take-control effects tend to cost alot of money. But since you're building relatively low-powered decks, there should be plenty of Confiscates and Mass Manipulations you could run.

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 Post subject: Re: Mono Blue Tribal Merfolk
AgePosted: 2019-Jul-18 10:41 am 
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Kemev wrote:
I think it's a good plan... it's partly why I suggested Empress Galina as the commander. The only problem is that some of the better take-control effects tend to cost alot of money. But since you're building relatively low-powered decks, there should be plenty of Confiscates and Mass Manipulations you could run.

I guess I'm just afraid of Galina creating some feel-bad problems since she's so blatant with her strategy; she basically reads "Gain control of target commander," especially when my aim is lower level play. And that also incites people to target the Galina player before they even become a threat.
With more general gain control effects, ones not available from the commander zone, it should still be frightening without feeling mean.

I can probably swing something like Vedalken Shackles, because I think I have a copy of it in my Cube I can pull temporarily. Same thing with Gilded Drake, although I don't know if I want to stay closer to the Merfolk theme or not with determining whether to include it. I think I have most other gain control effects besides some of the newer ones. Any other expensive ones you were thinking about?

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