Mythical Magic – What does Rivals of Ixalan mean for Merfolk?

Hello everyone! Today’s topic will be: what does Rivals of Ixalan bring for the fishy tribe of Merfolk. Rivals of Ixalan is not a grand set so the length of this spoiler season will be shorter. Cards get reviewed fast and people are already brewing new lists and have their brains racing! So let’s delve in to the exciting world of Ixalan and think about new cards!



Standard did not benefit a lot from Ixalan because tribal decks are nowhere near the top. Energy decks rule the meta as well as decks with Hazoret the Fervent and the all too powerful standard card: The Scarab God. Ixalan’s impact for the standard meta was really weak. I think Wizards of the Coast wants that Rivals of Ixalan will give a lot more for competitive standard. For Merfolk standard deck there are two really exciting cards: Merfolk Mistbinder and Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca. Energy decks can make card advantage and Red decks have the tempo. I think there is a place for a Merfolk deck that is played similarly like Mono-Black Zombies did. Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca is a huge late game option. The Merfolk cards in standard at the moment are weak so we really hope that new cards will make the deck playable.

Merfolk Branchwalker is the only way to generate card advantage. We will get Silvergill Adept reprint which will help a lot. Problem with standard merfolk is that once we lose the control of the board state, we might as well scoop. And we can’t be as fast as Ramunap Red is so rushing is not really an option. Kumena’s second ability helps us by pulling us out from stalled board states but giving us card advantage. If we just can get merfolks in play, we will take over the game quickly.



Deeproot Waters is awesome way to generate Merfolks. It really is a  huge boost that they are hexproof tokens, so they are safe from spot removal. What do you think about this list:


4 Kumena’s Speaker
4 Merfolk Branchwalker
4 Merfolk Mistbinder
4 Silvergill Adept
4 Jadelight Ranger
4 Deeproot Elite
4 Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca
2 Deeproot Waters
2 Unsummon
2 Blossoming Defense

Jade Bearer

Swift Warden

4 Botanical Sanctum
4 Unclaimed Territory
7 Forest
5 Island
2 Woodland Stream


The concept of the deck is lots of comes into play effects. We try to gain different types of advantage from all the Merfolks. I like how the deck is now filled with quality two-drops now. Merfolk Mistbinder is another two-mana Lord that pumps up the whole team. Silvergill Adept and Merfolk Branchwalker both get you a card. Vineshaper Mystic is also a card that pushes in early damage to run over the opponent. A three-mana 3/5 is playable in the format.  Attacking for three damage on turn two and then seven damage on turn three with nine power on the board sounds awesome!

The weak point of our list is the lack of removals. If we fall behind in the early game, we might have trouble at catching up. Unsummon is the best tempo play we could have. Bouncing Hazoret the Fervent or Glorybringer is a great to me. I would also like to try Blossoming Defense for helping me fizzle more expensive spells and gain tempo.


Now let us get to the Modern part (Yey!). Merfolk Mistbinder is just awesome option for the Modern lists:

4 Kumena’s Speaker
3 Cursecatcher or Jade Bearer
4 Lord of Atlantis
4 Master of the Pearl Trident
4 Merfolk Mistbinder
4 Silvergill Adept
4 Deeproot Elite
2 Merrow Reejerey
4 Collected Company
2 Mutagenic Growth
1 Dismember

Spreading Seas

4 Misty Rainforest
4 Polluted Delta
2 Breeding Pool
2 Island
4 Botanical Sanctum
4 Mutavault



You might think I am out of my mind to cut Aether Vial but I think we want to have all gas. It becomes all about jamming Lord after Lord onto the battlefield. I also run extra one drops such as Cursecatcher and Dismember so I don’t fall behind so easily. Mutagenic Growth is there to protect the Lords from damage-based removal such as Lightning Bolt. Once again, we have Silvergill Adept and Deeproot Elite to help to smooth out the deck and the rest of the deck are Lords. I like Merrow Reejerey a lot as it can go off casting multiple lords in a single turn. I also added Collected Company to push the number of Lords and act as card advantage. This list is plain aggro without interaction. We hope to have lethal turn  4.

Tell me what you think about these thoughts! These are some ideas and I hope that this article will open up constructive conversations about Merfolk’s future.

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Mythical Regards

Roope Keskitalo


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