Hello all, and welcome to my first Ixalan Standard Deck Tech!
When I was trying to decide on which of Ixalan’s four major creature types I wanted to build a deck around, Merfolk was not my first choice. I was first excited by the opportunity to build a Dinosaur deck, or possibly a Pirate deck. Vampires were never on the top of my list for a Standard deck, and neither were Merfolk. At my local gaming store, I played three prerelease tournaments in which I had three different Dinosaur decks. I realized the power of Dinosaurs after only losing two of the 12 matches I played over the weekend.
Were these the right fit for Standard though? I needed to play some more with the new cards to find out. I decided to try out a draft on Magic Online and ended up playing an odd Green White aggro deck that featured one card that caught my attention, Deeproot Champion. This card was an absolute all-star. I drafted it pack one, pick one, and worked on building the deck around it with combat tricks and equipment. I ended up going 2-1 in the draft, but was sold on the power of Deeproot Champion.
This past weekend I played in a Release Weekend sealed event and ended up playing Green Blue Merfolk for the first time. Although I didn’t have a Deeproot Champion in my sealed pool, I did see the synergy and power that Merfolk can possess. This sealed pool, along with my online draft, inspired me to work on a Green Blue Aggro Merfolk deck for the current Standard season. The goal of this deck is to have fast creatures that can grow through spells, enchantments, and other means to overtake your opponent and put them on a quick clock.
First off, I want to have a look at the cards available from Ixalan that might be best suited for this deck.
As you can see, Ixalan alone has quite a few cards to choose from that could benefit from being in the deck. Now let’s see what the rest of Standard can offer in terms of adding to this deck.
Now that we have a pool of cards to choose from, there are a couple of different directions we could go with this deck. We could play a lot of Energy cards, a few, or none. Here are all the potential cards that would be in the Energy package.
One of the keys to this deck is having the right number of creatures to go with the right number of non-creature spells to make it work. Here’s the list of non-creature spells from our pool of cards broken down by mana cost.
One-Drop Non-Creature Spells
Blossoming Defense seems like a lock for this deck. It can be used to both protect your team and get in extra damage when needed, all for only one mana. Dive Down also protects your creature in a more defensive way. Spell Pierce is a cheap way to counter removal spells and could be brought in from the sideboard to counter some threatening cards.
Two-Drop Non-Creature Spells
The two most powerful ones from this list are One with the Wind and River Heralds’ Boon. Both add two permanent damage, and can also lead to getting a 4/4 attacking creature on turn two. For some decks this might be too much to deal with. Heart of Kiran could be a good choice if you decide that playing Jace, Cunning Castaway is a possibility. Larger than Life won’t work well as a non-permanent source of extra damage at sorcery speed. Cartouche of Knowledge does replace itself, but I still prefer the extra damage that One with the Wind provides.
Three-Drop Non-Creature Spells
Cartouche of Strength wins over Savage Stomp by a hair thanks to it giving a creature trample. I also prefer Cartouche of Strength over Ambuscade because of the permanent extra damage left by the enchantment. Most of the creatures we want to play will be out before turn three, so I don’t think that Deeproot Waters would be a good fit for the deck.
When it comes to Planeswalkers, Jace, Cunning Castaway seems like it would be a great fit for the deck. It will allow you to gain better card selection, and works well with cards like Heart of Kiran and Skyship Plunderer. Nissa, Steward of Elements seems like you would be taking a turn off instead of putting more pressure on the battlefield if you are playing it on turn three.
Now I’m going to break down the creatures available by their mana costs. This will help me determine which creatures and how many of each I want to have in the deck.
Kumena’s Speaker and Siren Stormtamer seem like the best two from this list. Kumena’s Speaker can become a 4/4 on turn two with either One with the Wind or River Heralds’ Boon. Siren Stormtamer will be able to get in some damage quickly in the early game and allow you to protect a creature later in the game. We want to be able to cast a creature on turn one, so Greenbelt Rampager doesn’t seem like a good fit for the deck.
This is the toughest group of creatures to choose from. Deeproot Champion and Merfolk Branchwalker seem to be automatic additions to the deck. Deeproot Champion has a chance to grow by +1/+1 every turn. The decision for the remaining two-drop creatures spots comes between River Sneak, Shaper Apprentice, and Jace’s Sentinel. The remaining creatures won’t find their way into the deck as we just don’t have enough spots for all of them. Skyship Plunderer works very well to build loyalty on Jace, Cunning Castaway, plus it builds +1/+1 counters on your creatures.
With so many Merfolk creatures looking to be in the deck, it makes sense to play one or two copies of Kopala, Warden of Waves. Shapers of Nature could be good in games that you think will go long, but often this deck won’t have many lands in play. Vineshaper Mystic can work well if you have a presence on the battlefield already. Rhonas the Indomitable has an opportunity to attack more often then not, thanks to spells that will bump most of your creatures to four power. Rogue Refiner could help you get card advantage as well as having a strong body.
Jade Guardian is a card that can win the game against mid-range or control decks thanks to how hard it is to remove. If you can make it larger through spells and enchantments, it can become a way to close out the match. Bristling Hydra would be good in an Energy Build, but it doesn’t look like the deck is headed in that direction.
When it comes to lands for the deck, the obvious choice is Island, Forest, and Botanical Sanctum. I’d rather play Aether Hub over Unclaimed Territory, as there are plenty of non-creature spells we want to be able to cast. Let’s have a look at what the deck will look like based on the choices we have talked about above.
Green Blue Aggro Merfolk
2 Siren Stormtamer
4 Kumena’s Speaker
3 Deeproot Champion
3 Merfolk Branchwalker
1 Kopala, Warden of Waves
3 Skyship Plunderer
2 Jade Guardian
2 Cartouche of Strength
3 Heroic Intervention
2 Jade Guardian
1 Rhonas, the Indomitable
1 Dive Down
There you have it folks, a Green Blue Aggro Merfolk deck! Thanks for reading this Standard Deck Tech. I’ll be back soon with another Ixalan Standard Deck!