Matchup Mulligan: Merfolk

Final Death’s Shadow Hand Answer

Hand No. 10: (on the play)

[[Veil of Summer|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Carpet of Flowers|]] [[Carpet of Flowers|]] [[Chrome Mox|]] [[Echo of Eons|]] [[Ponder|]]


I’m not overly excited with this hand, but it’s secretly effective in the matchup. You’re immediately faced with a difficult decision of, “do you imprint [[Veil of Summer]] or [[Carpet of Flowers]]?” The answer ends up being [[Veil of Summer]] which may not be obvious, but one of the best thing you can do in the matchup is to develop mana on the board. There’s also the kicker of the opponent potentially discarding the [[Echo of Eons]] for us which would mean not having to find a copy of [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]. For these reasons, protecting your cards with [[Veil of Summer]] doesn’t make the most sense.

Assuming all goes according to plan, you can cast [[Ponder]] looking for [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] while deploying a second copy of [[Carpet of Flowers]].



Hand No. 1: (on the play)

[[Dark Ritual|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Mishra’s Bauble|]] [[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Badlands|]] [[Burning Wish|]]


The typical builds of Merfolk in Legacy do not play any copies of [[Force of Negation]], more often than not they’re simply a [[Wasteland]], [[Force of Will]], and [[Chalice of the Void]] deck. This means that they’re about 40% to have a copy of [[Force of Will]] in their initial hand. We take those odds! If you were at a casino, you would bet on this all day — so let’s push.

[[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] (to potentially bait out a [[Force of Will]]), [[Badlands]], [[Mishra’s Bauble]], [[Mox Opal]], [[Rite of Flame]], [[Dark Ritual]], and then [[Burning Wish]]. The plan now is up to you, you’re a single mana short of [[Peer into the Abyss]] so you can [[Galvanic Relay]], [[Empty the Warrens]], or [[Echo of Eons]]. I would personally put a horde of [[Goblin Token]]s onto the battlefield.

Hand No. 2: (on the draw)

[[Rite of Flame|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Burning Wish|]] [[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Mishra’s Bauble|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Burning Wish|]]


[[Mishra’s Bauble]] being a free cycle is not an excuse to keep bad hands. Even if we were fortunate enough to draw a land or one of our four copies of [[Mox Opal]] we can’t use the [[Veil of Summer]] unless we then get lucky again. There is a lot of built-in risk with hands like these when you can simply leverage the London Mulligan. oh, you know — the rule that made [[Preordain]] obsolete.

Hand No. 3: (on the play)

[[Veil of Summer|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Tendrils of Agony|]] [[Dark Ritual|]] [[Lotus Petal|]] [[Scalding Tarn|]] [[Misty Rainforest|]]


These hands are often common traps, they look good but what do they actually do? Our action spell here is [[Tendrils of Agony]] against a deck that doesn’t even use fetchlands, which means we’re very far away from actually casting it with Storm 10. You may be thinking, “we can sit and develop” against the deck with [[Chalice of the Void]]? They often aim to play it where is equal to one. This isn’t even giving them the benefit of being an aggressive creature deck with the recently printed [[Vodalian Hexcatcher]] to disrupt you.

I understand the allure of double [[Veil of Summer]], but sometimes its better to keep a hand that’s more well balanced.

Hand No. 4: (on the draw)

[[Burning Wish|]] [[Taiga|]] [[Bloodstained Mire|]] [[Wishclaw Talisman|]] [[Dark Ritual|]] [[Brainstorm|]] [[Mishra’s Bauble|]]


This hand is reasonable, not an all-star hand, but what an average seven cards should look like. We have access to [[Pulverize]] via [[Burning Wish]] which should go a long way, it’s worth noting that Merfolk doesn’t play any two-mana lands such as [[City of Traitors]] or [[Ancient Tomb]]. This is important information because it means that [[Chalice of the Void]] is often a turn two play for our fishy opponents.

[[Burning Wish]] alone for [[Pulverize]] isn’t enough to make a hand playable, there’s also the ability here to create card quality via [[Mishra’s Bauble]] paired with [[Bloodstained Mire]] as well as the [[Brainstorm]]. We already have another payoff with [[Wishclaw Talisman]] as well.

Hand No. 5: (on the play)

[[Galvanic Relay|]] [[Echo of Eons|]] [[Chrome Mox|]] [[Chrome Mox|]] [[Burning Wish|]] [[Lotus Petal|]] [[Rite of Flame|]]


Say it with me, “[[Chrome Mox]] is my friend.” While I joke with you here, many players have a guttural reaction to the card and immediately dismiss hands with multiples. What isn’t there to like about creating card advantage on the first turn while leaving behind a permanent mana source?

Cast [[Chrome Mox]] (Imprint: [[Burning Wish]]), play [[Rite of Flame]], [[Chrome Mox]] (Imprint: [[Echo of Eons]]), [[Lotus Petal]], and finally [[Galvanic Relay]] with Storm 5.


Recommended sideboarding:


[[Carpet of Flowers|]] [[Carpet of Flowers|]] [[Carpet of Flowers|]] [[Abrupt Decay|]] [[Abrupt Decay|]] [[Abrupt Decay|]] [[Galvanic Relay|]]


[[Rite of Flame|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Chrome Mox|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Ad Nauseam|]]

Hand No. 6: (on the draw)

[[Abrupt Decay|]] [[Abrupt Decay|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Carpet of Flowers|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Lotus Petal|]] [[Chrome Mox|]]


We’re on the draw which means a [[Chalice of the Void]] for zero would shut down our entire hand making [[Abrupt Decay]] essentially useless. Not to mention the fact that this hand doesn’t even do anything! There’s typically a risk/reward situation with most hands and here, the reward isn’t even very high. For these reasons, I would rather look at the next seven cards.

Hand No. 7: (on the play)

[[Mishra’s Bauble|]] [[Bloodstained Mire|]] [[Mishra’s Bauble|]] [[Abrupt Decay|]] [[Carpet of Flowers|]] [[Bloodstained Mire|]] [[Dark Ritual|]]


A more balanced hand with long-lasting mana sources as well as [[Abrupt Decay]] for [[Chalice of the Void]]. While we don’t have any action spells yet or even protection, we do have the ability to sculpt some draws between [[Mishra’s Bauble]] paired with [[Bloodstained Mire]].

Hand No. 8: (on the draw)

[[Galvanic Relay|]] [[Galvanic Relay|]] [[Wishclaw Talisman|]] [[Bloodstained Mire|]] [[Bloodstained Mire|]] [[Abrupt Decay|]] [[Mox Opal|]]


People are so hesitant to mulligan away hands with [[Galvanic Relay]] in them but you shouldn’t fall for this trap! What does this hand actually do? Assuming that you can even cast [[Galvanic Relay]] on the third turn, you would be lucky to cast it for Storm 4. While this may seem reasonable, Merfolk is still very much a tempo deck that is disrupting you while they lower your life total. For this hand to win, you would then need to make use of the second copy of [[Galvanic Relay]] which is wishful thinking against the deck with [[Wasteland]], [[Chalice of the Void]], and [[Vodalian Hexcatcher]].

Hand No. 9: (on the play)

[[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Lotus Petal|]] [[Verdant Catacombs|]] [[Wishclaw Talisman|]] [[Chrome Mox|]]


You don’t need [[Galvanic Relay]]! Recently, we’ve noticed people leaning too hard on our favorite red sorcery (Sorry [[Grapeshot]]). While it’s certainly an effective card, let’s remember that we still have good draws without it! With this hand we have a first turn [[Wishclaw Talisman]] plus [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] — two of the best cards in the deck. They’re even backed by [[Veil of Summer]], you would need to be very greedy to send this hand away.

Hand No. 10: (on the draw)

[[Veil of Summer|]] [[Lotus Petal|]] [[Lotus Petal|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Echo of Eons|]] [[Wishclaw Talisman|]] [[Burning Wish|]]

Stay tuned for the next article!

I’ll provide my answer in the next article.