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By: JXClaytor, Joshua Claytor
Sep 29 2008 9:12pm
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Ever since I started to play Magic, I have loved swinging with stupid blue fish.  I may have been one of the most dissapointed people when Merfolk were phased out for Wizards (Yeah, like Wizards are blue!) and one of the most excited when they finally made their triumphent return to Magic.  Lord of Atlantis has long held the mantle for the creatures from the deep blue sea, but other lords just outclassed him.  Why play Lord of Atlantis when Goblin King and Lord of the Undead just had a better legion of followers?  Merfolk of the Pearl Trident did not exactly inspire any tournament players to go out and grab a playset of the Merfolk Lord! 

Lord of Atlantis came back to Magic in the Timeshifted subset of Time Spiral.  He's going to be leaving us soon, and I would say for the better land of Extended, but really, could fish be played there?  I have no idea, and that is not what this article is about.  From his return in 2006 to the Standard format when he was nothing more than a small fish in a big pond, to his exiting the format as one of the stars of the show, Lord of Atlantis was a key part of the format, or at least he was for about a year, when Lorwyn came out and gave the fishy fellow a ton of guys to command!

Lord of Atlantis

Anyways, Fish may not have been the deck to play when Lord of Atlantis came back to Standard, but right now, in the Pre Shards of Alara format, he is part of one of the best decks to play!  Of course when you spend your summer vacation putting people into the top eight of their National Championships, or just win them, people are bound to notice!  I of course was not one of those people, opting to watch these events play out from the comfort of my own home instead of actually going out and maybe trying to qualify for US Nationals.  School might have had something to do with that though, so I guess I can let myself slide!  

Anyways, since Shards is coming out soon, and I am busy with school work, I wanted to give myself the chance to play Merfolk in Standard at least one last time before the deck would change.  I signed up for one of the PE's tonight, and was one of the lucky twenty four to do battle!  Let's take a look at the deck that I played. 

I tried to make this deck as stock as possible.  I did not really want to spend too much money buying back in, but of course had to as I needed to buy the rares for the deck.  The sideboard is also somewhat suspect, as I did not want to play Teferi's Moat.  I actually want my five drops to try to win the game for me, instead of stalling out the board, so I took a cue from the Fae deck and added (Razormade Masticore).  Runed Halo is another addition that does not see much play in Standard Merfolk, but I wanted to toy around with it, since the deck has a really awkward matchup with the Red Deck (which sees a ton of play.) and Kithkin (I am not sure if it sees a lot of play or not.)  The only thing I would really want to change is adding a fourth Mutavault and a fourth Sower of Temptation to the main.  Both of those are currently three ofs because I do not actually own a fourth copy of the cards.  I really miss my collection sometimes, but I do get to say I am a good husband!  

Sometimes though, I think I would have rather kept my Force of Wills!

On to the tournament! 

I was playing in event 76725 for those of you wondering.  It started at 8pm EST, and I figured well, Standard should be fast, I can enter this event, and be done before I need to go to bed.  It's currently 1030 pm, and I need to be in bed before 11 so I can wake up and be my perky self for work tomorrow.  It's looking like I may have to drop to actually have a good day tomorrow.  Sigh.

Round one:  UW Lark

This matchup in theory is a pretty easy one if I play right.  I get some men in play, bash face, and counter Wrath of God.  It goes pretty much like that in game one, as I get a really good draw and curve out up to a man on each of my first three drops.  I won the roll, so I was able to counter his only Wrath of God, and attack for the kill shortly there after.  

Game two, I am on the draw, and was feeling pretty good about my sideboard strategy which included bringing in two larks of my own for the Sygg, River Guides that I have in the main.  I want 'Lark to be in the main here as the game could go long, and I need some way to break out of a empty board post Wrath.  It never really got to that point though, as my opponent stuggled for mana during the game, and was overrun by guys with fins.
Wrath of God


Round two:  Kithkin

Not exactly a matchup that I want to see, the deck has some stupid starts, and since he won the die roll, I would be on the back foot all game long.  I hoped that his first turn play would be some chump, but it was Goldmeadow Stalwart and that guy is just one of the few I like seeing turn one.  I kept a fairly mediocre hand that was terrible against Kithkin (Wish I had a giant buddy list to see what he was playing first off.  Sarcasm over, but really, BRING BACK REPLAYS WOTC!)  but I do not think a good hand would have won me the game.  He hit multiple Spectral Processions over the course of the game, and finished me off on turn five with a Wilt-Leaf Liege off of a Windbrisk Heights.

Game two went a bit better, as I got the hand that I need to actually stay in the game with Kithkin.  I had a turn one Cursecatcher, followed by a turn two Runed Halo (naming Figure of Destiny, which was awesome since he had TWO in play!) and then I started to do some dumb stuff.  My turn three play was a Banneret, which led to a turn four banneret, which led to two Merrow Reejery and a Lord of Atlantis all on the same turn.  That turn allowed me to swarm past his small defenses for the win.

Game three was anticlimatic.  He had a very aggressive start, and I was on the back foot again.  I just could not make any breathing despite taking his Wizened Cenn with my Sower.  I think this matchup is pretty bad and could be improved, but I just do not know how to do it in a Blue White list of merfolk.

Sideboard in 2 Runed Halo, Out 2 Sygg, River Guide. 

Spectral Procession



Round three:  Fae

Here is a matchup that I think is pretty favorable for the fish deck.  Fae is really outstanding in type two, and was the focus point of the previous Block Constructed format.  Basically, if you could not beat this deck, you were not going to win and PTQs.  I spent a lot of time working on Merfolk during block season, and because of my playtesting, that showed I could beat the deck.  So I had to have hopes against a powerhouse right?  

Game one I came out like a hungry prizefighter.  I started to hit my opponent with as many ham fists as I could.  Sadly, he had Bitterblossom, and I had no real way to deal with it.  He took some early damage from my Lord powered creatures, and started to come back into the fight after an Ancestral Visions resolved.  My lords were quickly being removed, and my once firm grasp on the game was slipping away quickly.  After my lords were killed, my once impressive army shrunk back to normal size, and looked really weak compared to a board full of Bitterblossom tokens, two Scion of Oona and a Mistbind Clique

Game two was a little better for me.  He had the suspend spell on turn one again, but if he did not have removal, I would have a stupid third turn on the play with multiple lords entering play, and would win on the back of Cryptic Command.  He did not have nearly as much removal this time around, and my fish sticks became fish fillets as they pounded his face in! 

Game three was awesome!  I may not have been on the play, but he did not have the turn one suspend or the turn two Bitterblossom!  Very lucky!  He did however, have Thoughtseize and a ton of removal so we just kinda played chicken for a while.  I would get a threat, he would remove him.  I would stick another one that might poke him for a few points of damage, and then it would be killed off.  It finally came down to me playing a Banneret that he could not kill off.  He got a Bitterblossom down the turn after, but had an Island in play so I was swinging for two (well, one but the other one came from the enchantment.) and just had to protect my guy.  I had a hand full of counter magic, and believe it or not, that guy dealt enough damage by himself to make Bitterblossom a liability, and after a failed Mistbind Clique, I am sitting in the winner's circle. 


Round 4:  ???

My oppponent did not show up, disconnected, and during my time off from playing, I set off to work on a method of creating an Invisible Ink that can help me on my math exam on the tenth!  I wish I were making this up! 

Meh, a win is a win I guess.  I however would have rather taken a loss and went to bed, but since I am still in contention for the top eight, I guess Midnight is looking like a rather neat time to sleep. 


Round 5:  Kithkin

Him: Turn one Stalwart, Turn Two Wizened Cenn Turn Three Wizened Cenn.  Turn Four Reinforce the Wizened Cenn after I try to kill it with a Lorded up Silvergill Adept.  Frown.  Heavily.  Lose my team to that block, lose the game when I draw nothing that can help.

I really need him to draw poorly.  I brought in the Masticores and the Runed Halos, hoping to catch him off guard, but really, I'm just hoping he takes mulligans to 3! 

He has stupid Stalwart one drop again.  Showing a Figure of Destiny, so maybe I will not get blown out of this game on turn two.  I get a Stonybrook down turn two, and might get a chance to take a dumb turn.  He of course, drops two Figures.  I miss my third turn land drop so that is some kind of sauce! He does not attack me, and I get to make two Reejeerey's on my turn thanks to my two Stonybrook guys.  He tries for a Knight of Meadowgrain, and I counter it with Dousing, take my turn tap his two figures with my newly peeled Cursecatcher and attack for 16.  He takes it, and I steel myself awaiting his next turn.  If I make it through alive and draw a fourth land, I can force a third game by tapping his team with my Cryptic Command.  He cast a Cloudgoat Ranger, and if I ever needed to draw another land now is the time.  He decides not to attack, and now I am down to any number of things that could win me the game. 

Lord or Reejerey would give me another pump spell and tap two men, which would give me enough damage to punch through the ground.  The fourth land would turn on Command. 

I of course drew a Sower.  I cast it in the precombat main phase, trying to trick him into giving his ranger flying so I might be able to attack through.  He did not give it flying.  That hardly ever works.  I attack that forces him to block my larger team that kills his entire squad, and leaves me with all of my men intact.  He does the cool Mutavault Mirroweave play to buy himself a turn, but the next turn my Sower flies over and it's on to game three.  

Game three his deck outclasses mine, and beats me rather quickly, even though I gave it the ole college try.  I guess finishing 3-2 is something I should have come to expect by now, but it still upsets me when I come close to top eighting and miss out.  Sigh. I really like seeing my name on the magic page with a decklist next too it! 

I kept myself in contention to top eight from the first round, and enjoyed playing my deck a lot!  I am going to miss Lord of Atlantis, but seeing as how the deck does not lose much of anything when Shards comes in I am going to continue to work on it!  There is something nice about being able to work on a deck that you are very familiar with! 

Here is my post rotation list for UW Merfolk.  Shards did not add any new Merfolk to the list, but that is okay, we have plenty of good men too choose from in the previous block.  

There really is not much to add from the newest set, I really like Hindering Light as a way for me to counter removal on the cheap, and it allows me to counter dumb stuff like Flame Javelin for a very low cost.  Another way to build Merfolk after the rotation is to go in the direction on four color lists that popped up later on in the block season.  Those decks are still very good, and with the lands we have Mana bases have never been easier on the buider!  The four color list can also take advantage of Bant Charm, which would give you another counterspell, or a three casting cost Condemn!   That is for another article though!  Until then, thanks for reading!