Raise Your Standards – Merfolk, Control, Midrange, & Big Red


Hello and welcome to another episode of Raise Your Standards.  With a Modern Pro Tour taking place last weekend, the pros did nothing to hinder the innovation taking place in Standard.  Any time there’s minimal input from professional players, regular average-Joe’s and average-Jane’s like you and I continue fine-tuning existing deck and finding new places for innovation.  This week is no exception, and there were quite a few neat looking decks to be found on MTGO.  Let’s take a look at a few of them.


The first deck I’d like to look at is Blue-Green Merfolk.  When Rivals of Ixalan was released, one of the first decks to go 5-0 in a MTGO League was a Merfolk deck.  Since then though, there hadn’t been a single Merfolk deck featured.  That all changed recently when WotC showcased two different builds of Merfolk.  This one is my favorite of the two.


U/G Merfolk – (by Akerlund)

CreaturesKumena, Tyrant of Orazca


LandsDeeproot Waters



For me, the most exciting thing about this deck is the fact that it’s playing two copies of Deeproot Waters.  If you’re able to sequence your plays properly, this little 3-mana enchantment can add a ton of Merfolk to your board.  And don’t forget, those freshly summoned Merfolk can be used to activate Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca‘s abilities; even on the turn they come into play.

The main downside to this deck is the lack of permanent removal it has, so you’ll want to be proactive when playing the deck.  Build up your Merfolk with +1/+1 counters from Kumena.  That’s going to be your best route to victory.

One card I would love to see this deck try to incorporate is Nissa, Steward of Elements.  While her 0-loyalty ability won’t trigger Deeproot Waters, it can certainly help to accelerate things by giving you either another creature or a land.  And her ultimate can help give this deck some reach which could be needed to close out the game.

Black Control (with a splash of Green)

The next deck we’ll take a look at is a deck that I think looks absolutely dreadful to play.  However, if you enjoy playing control decks, this could be the thing for you.  Let’s look at Black-Green Control.


B/G Control – (by musasabi)

PlaneswalkersVraska, Relic Seeker






Just upon looking at this deck, I can tell you that it’s not for me.  I prefer to usually be attacking, and this deck seems to have other ideas.  There are a ton of ways to get rid of an opponent’s creatures.  It seems to me that in game 1, your primary means of winning rely on Gonti, Lord of Luxury, Vraska, Relic Seeker, or using Mastermind’s Acquisition to find something from your sideboard to win with (my choice would likely be Sandwurm Convergence).  After sideboarding, this deck can bring in cards that transform it into a more typical midrange deck.  Even though this deck isn’t my style, it did go 5-0 on MTGO so it has potential and I know some of you readers actually enjoy playing control decks.

Green-White Midrange

Our next innovative deck this week is a Green-White deck that is looking to build up its board presence and then make a calculated attack for the win.  Here’s Green-White Midrange.


Edel (5-0)

PlaneswalkersHuatli, Radiant Champion



LandsAppeal // Authority



This is a deck that’s hoping to land a Huatli, Radiant Champion so you can start using her -1 loyalty ability in order to pump up a creature to make a large, must-block attacker.  Appeal // Authority helps with this plan as well as it will give your attacking creature trample or will tap two potential blockers your opponent has.  This is another deck that doesn’t have much removal, so you might need to block aggressively if you want to keep the way clear for a big strike later in the game.

Big Red

The final deck I have for you this week is the latest version of Red decks.  While most Red decks are opting to play along the same lines that they did when Ramunap Ruins was still legal, this new deck takes a slightly different route to victory.  Let’s take a look at Big Red.


Big Red – (by Mazuku94)

PlaneswalkersRekindling Phoenix



LandsTreasure Map



Imagine the look on your opponent’s face when you play a Mountain on turn one and then pass the turn.  They’ll probably feel relieved that you didn’t have a 1-drop creature with haste to play.  But that relief will quickly turn to concern if you manage to curve out over the next few turns, playing Earthshaker Khenra into Pia Nalaar, then Rekindling Phoenix, and finally Glorybringer.  Of course, that’s best case scenario, but still possible.

I love that this is a deck where Rekindling Phoenix can really strut its stuff.  It has quickly become my favorite card from Rivals of Ixalan simply because of its flexibility, being a great flying attacker when you need to push through the last few points of damage or being an amazing blocker turn after turn.

I also love that Hazoret the Fervent is only in your sideboard.  Your opponent might breathe a sigh of relief when they don’t see Hazoret at all in game one (and you could also casually drop the fact that there are zero copies in your main deck).  So when you sideboard her in for game two, it can become very difficult for that opponent to know what to exile.

Wrapping Up

That brings us to the end of another episode of Raise Your Standards.  Which of the decks above is your favorite?  Or are you playing something super spicy that you’d like to share?  Let me know by leaving a comment.  Or you can reply to me directly on Twitter (@mikelikesmtg), or email me directly at mikelikesmtg@gmail.com.  Also, don’t forget to like our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MTGDeckTechs/) to be sure to be notified when a new article is posted.

Be sure to join me back here next week for another installment of Raise Your Standards.  I’ll see you then!

Mike Likes


Mike Likes

Mike Likes

Mike started playing Magic back in 1994, but gave it up at the end of 1995. He came back to the game during the Lorwyn block and has been playing ever since. Around this time, he opened and ran his own comic & game store, while also raising his newborn daughter. After 8 years, he sold his business and moved to Wisconsin with his wife and daughter. With the debut of Kaladesh, his entire family became regular Magic players. He now has hopes of competing alongside his wife and daughter at a Grand Prix or similar event in the future. #MTGDad

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