Modern Merfolk Deck-Tech

Arran Sahota | 22nd May 2018

Here I’ve done you guys a bit of a deck-tech for my Modern mono blue Merfolk, I’ve listed a decklist below, along with matchups and the best sideboard options.

This was my first proper modern deck and I have constantly taken this to FNMs, getting solid results like 4-0 and 3 -1. It’s a deck that can take a lot of practice but is a whole lot of fun.

Nevertheless, my list is always changing, ( I have actually just changed it back from Blue/Green ) and there are so many ways to play this deck and that’s a big reason as to why I love it so much.

I hope a bit of my knowledge will give you guys an insight and maybe even make you want to give it a go! Or maybe help with a Merfolk deck you’ve already got going (It is after all; the best tribe).

The deck is more of a tempo deck than agro, and trying to play it like an aggro deck can lead to a lot of messing up; it can actually be quite strategic! It also tries to stick with a nice low curve as well as being able to change the board state at a fast pace, by either bouncing creatures back to players hands, countering key spells and timing your Lords with Aether Vials to stop direct trades in combat.

The Deck:

4 Lord of Atlantis
4 Master of the Pearl Trident
4 Merfolk Trickster
4 Silvergill Adept
4 Harbinger of the Tides
2 Merrow Reejerey
3 Master of Waves

4 Spell Pierce
4 Spreading Seas
4 Aether Vial
3 Dismember

1 Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
1 Minamo, School of Water’s Edge
4 Mutavault
2 Cavern of Souls
12 Islands

2 Deprive
2 Familiar’s Ruse
2 Tidebinder Mage
2 Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
3 Echoing Truth
1 Hurkyl’s Recall
3 Relic of Progenitus

The Basics

The core of the deck is very stable and stays the same despite colour adding or subtracting, running your two Islandwalker lords (Lord of Atlantis and Master of the Pearl Trident) then Silvergill Adept which is essential to give you that early on draw advantage. Harbinger of the Tides who is able to bounce creatures to keep that tempo going, and so you don’t get overrun. Spreading Seas to secure your Islandwalk. Dismember for the tougher creature matchups. Master of Waves for the final blow on the top end of the curve.

The Land

The land base consists of two non-basic lands Oboro, Palace in the Clouds and Minamo, School of Water’s Edge just to give you that security against cards like Choke and Boil which could ultimately just destroy your game. Mutavault for obvious tribal reasons as well as being a good way to push the last bits of damage through. Then two cavern of souls for those control match ups.

And everything else

Cursecatcher. It’s seen in most lists for modern Merfolk but can lack vs a lot of decks, for example, Jund has a strong planeswalker base, notably Liliana of the Veil which Cursecatcher can’t stop. As well as more aggro decks such as 5 colour Humans (which is at the top of its game right now), he doesn’t put up worthy blocks or attacks, and can only really hit dismember as a counter.

Merfolk Trickster. This new addition from Dominaria was a big reason I decided to go back to playing mono blue Merfolk from Blue/Green, it can stop most of the Modern meta at the moment. For example, a creature losing flying AKA affinity decks, which has always been a big struggle for Merfolk to get around. The double blue also really pushes the devotion up for the Master of Waves for a good finisher. Even being in the position of playing vs control you can flash Trickster in, in their upkeep and keep tapping down a land with the Merrow Reejerey trigger, this can win you more games then you may think.

Spell Pierce. To begin with, I was running only 2 Spell Pierces, 4 Cursecatchers and 4 Masters of the Waves, but seeing that Spell Pierces can stop decks like Burn, Tron, Jund, Storm, Control decks and Scapshift decks, it can single-handedly win games for you, this makes it really important to have.

Merrow Reejerey. Its a super strong card, however, it gets hit by almost every removal in the format, get to turn three and using all your mana to then have it killed by a one mana instant makes your game take a definite step back and wastes a turn. Though only having two still lets you play cards for zero mana by untapping and tapping your lands, also the synergy with the Merfolk Trickster and Harbinger of the Tides is really strong, and really brings that tempo to the game and makes your opponent feel behind on the board state.

Master of Waves. A great finisher and having four double blue creatures it puts a lot of pressure on your opponent.

Sideboard Shinanagens

This is what I have prepared for my game two’s, tailored to the most played decks in the current meta.


+2 Tidebinder Mages
+2 Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
-4 Spell Pierce
Tidebinger Mages are good for locking down their Mantis Riders before they go to combat, also maybe even their Noble Hierarch so they can’t curve out.
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner counters targeting, including things like Reflector Mage’s ability and Izzet Staticaster, which can really stunt their game and help you keep your board.


+1 Hurkyl’s Recall
+3 Echoing Truths
-4 Spell Pierce
Hurkyl’s Recall, there is only one in the sideboard and is kind of lucky pull, but once you’ve pulled it can be game over for them pretty quick.

B/R Hollow One

+2 Tidebinder Mage
+3 Relic of Progenitus
-2 Spell Pierce
-3 Dismember
Tidebinder Mage locks down Flameblade Adept which is such a strong card in the early game, as well as Flamewake Phoenix, who’s flying, is going to be hard for the Merfolks to stop.
Relic of Progenitus comes into the board to stop Bloodghast, Flamewake Phoenix, Faithless Looting’s flashback and if it’s timed right can stop an early Gurmag Angler with all the delving.


+2 Tidebinder Mage
+2 Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
+2 Relic of Progenitus
-4 Aether Vial
-2 Spell Piece
This matchup is going to grind out and the last thing you want to top deck is an Aether Vial, so dropping them after game one is always the best thing to do.
Tidebinder Mage for Scavenging Ooze, Tarmogofy and Bloodbraid Elf to lock them down.
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner is amazing vs all the removal in the deck and can really hold your board together.
Relic of Progenitus stops Scavenging Ooze eating everything, keeping it small and keeping their life total low and Tarmogoyf just making 0/1 again.

Jeskai Control

+2 Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
+2 Relic of Progenitus
-2 Spreading Sea
-1 Dismember
-1 Island
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner great for their spot removal and helps keep the board alive.
Relic of Progenitus for their Snapcasters to stop them flashing back anything, as well as logic knot.
Spreading Seas drop is always off and on because drawing a card is great but they’re already gonna have an island out.
Dropping the one Island, as you know Path to Exile will give you lands.


+2 Familiar’s Ruse
+2 Deprive
+2 Tidebinder Mage
-3 Dismember
-3 Harbinger of the Tides
Familiar’s Ruse is great to try to counter their burn spells and to return a creature to your hand, like Silvergil Adept or Merfolk Trickster to later replay it for their enter the battlefield trigger.
Deprive is a counterspell with a small cost of just returning a land to your hand.
Tidebinger Mage to lock their Goblin Guild, Grim Lavamancer and Monastery Swiftspear which are the bigger threats, and you can also lock down Eidolon of the Great Revel.

G Tron

+2 Deprive
+2 Familiar’s Ruse
-3 Dismembers
-1 Cavern of the Souls
Between Deprive and Familiar’s Ruse, you should be able to counter their bigger threats and even having Spell Pierce to counter planeswalkers or even Expedition Maps to stop them finding their last piece can be the win or loss of the game.

Grixis Death Shadow

+3 Relic of Progenitus
+2 Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
+2 Familiar’s Ruse
-4 Aether Vial
-3 Dismember
This is very similar to the sideboard for Jund as the games will go on for longer and there will be a lot of back and forth.
Relic of Progenitus stops flashbacks and delve creatures which are painful in the early game.
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner as this deck is Red/Black there will be a lot of spot removal.


+2 Deprive
+2 Familiar’s Rush
+2 Echoing Truth
+3 Relic of Progenitus
-3 Master of Waves
-4 Harbinger of the Tides
-2 Spreading Sea
Storm will be tough and a lot of countering the right spell at the right time, putting both Familiar’s Rush and Deprive into max your counterspells.
Echoing Truths is great to clear up their token goblins from the card Empty the Warrens.
Relic of Progenitus to hopefully stop their past in flames and keep them from going off.


+2 Deprive
+3 Echoing Truth
-4 Harbinger of the Tides
-1 Merfolk Trickster
Deprive countering Daybreak Coronet is a massive deal breaker, making sure their creature can’t get lifelink is really key.
Echoing Truth can be used during combat to make their creature is slightly smaller by bouncing key enchantments to their hands.

Overall the Merfolk deck has done well and will always be a strong deck with a good presence in the modern format.rc204_master.jpg

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