The Fish Are Back

Daniel Cheshire • February 20, 2018

So, it’s no secret that in Ixalan the fish didn’t quite have what it took to be a thing; there seemed like plenty of support and options to build around, but there was just no pay off.

So I eagerly awaited the Rivals of Ixalan spoilers, and boy, was not let down.


Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca is the pay off we needed, and one that does a little bit of everything. Modal cards are often so good because you get options for many scenarios, and that is what our new non-traditional merfolk lord does.

Board stall? Make all your creatures bigger. Need to dig for answers or more creatures? Draw some cards. Need to push through an equally big and wide board? Make our legend unblockable. Kumena is the key to merfolk being great in standard.


Of course, Silvergill Adept was reprinted as well, and with some pretty sweet new art. Silvergill's good in any deck surrounded by fish. It’s a free card that is rarely a 2/1 for long, if you know what I mean. But I don’t need to tell you about him…

So, with the Standard bannings it's pretty safe to say the meta is unsolved. No pro tour also, as we have been treated to a modern one this time around. This gives us a little bit of time to brew free of pro influence.

The list I've built is very similar to the one that's been yielding 5-0s online recently. It is an aggressive deck with 7 one drops and 16 two drops. A few tempo cards and enough juice to grind out those Approach decks.

4 Deeproot Elite
3 Jade Bearer
1 Jadelight Ranger
2 Jungleborn Pioneer
1 Kopala, Warden of Waves
3 Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca
4 Kumena's Speaker
4 Merfolk Branchwalker
4 Merfolk Mistbinder
4 Silvergill Adept
1 Tempest Caller
2 Crashing Tide
2 Spell Pierce
3 Unsummon
4 Botanical Sanctum
5 Forest
4 Hashep Oasis
5 Island
4 Unclaimed Territory

2 Baral's Expertise
2 Blossoming Defense
2 Entrancing Melody
2 Naturalize
1 Negate
2 Nissa, Steward of Elements
2 River's Rebuke
2 Spell Pierce

We draw an awful lot of cards in this deck between Silvergill Adept, Merfolk Branchwalker and Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca. Deeproot Elite is not quite Thalia's Lieutenant but it’s the best we're going to get in fish. Not that I am putting this card down, because it really is great. Jungleborn Pioneer adds two counters to any merfolk you want. And of course, last but certainly not least is Merfolk Mistbinder, about which I really don’t need to say anything. It's the most traditional lord in the deck. Could they have given it forestwalk and made me happier? Yes. But WOTC doesn't do landwalk anymore and this probably would just be insane.


Spell Pierce is a great addition to Standard, and it shines brightly here. I recommend saving it for those pesky Fumigates and Settle the Wreckages. We also have other great tempo spells with Unsummon and Crashing Tide. Note also that these can be used on our own creatures, saving our lords or even a Silvergill to get another card when you cast it again.

So, that's my merfolk list and like I said, I've had great success with it. I feel it can really struggle against some of the GB snake counters deck that I’ve seen floating around just because they can go as tall and as wide as us. Tempest Caller shines through here and helps save the day for the merfolk, though.


That’s all from me folks, happy fishing.