Merfolk has been around for a long time and a classic to the Legacy format, ever since the first Merfolk lords were printed. Over time more Merfolk cards were printed, and that continued to improve the deck to keep up with the format. With the additions of [[Aether Vial]], [[Force of Will]], and [[Chalice of the Void]], these decks got a way to disrupt combo decks and play at instant speed. Merfolk hasn’t been played much the past couple years, but with the recent printings of [[Vodalian Hexcatcher]] and [[Emperor Mihail II]], players are back trying the deck out. Whether or not Merfolk is here to stay is still to be determined, but until then we can expect to play against Merfolk and we should have a plan.

How does Merfolk matchup against TES?

[[Force of Will|]]
[[True-Name Nemesis|]]
[[Chalice of the Void|]]

[[Vodalian Hexcatcher]], [[Emperor Mihail II]] – Dominaria United has introduced two new Merfolk that could be quite good in the deck. [[Vodalian Hexcatche]] will certainly be good enough as it plays the role of a lord and counterspells. [[Emperor Mihail II]] is being tested, and we will have to see if it makes the deck or not, but it does give Merfolk another way to get card advantage. [[Vodalian Hexcatcher]] is the scarier card for TES.

[[Chalice of the Void]] – Most of the Merfolk are two or three mana, and they play very few one mana cost cards, so [[Chalice of the Void]] is an effective piece of disruption. [[Chalice of the Void]] doesn’t have to lock the opponent out, it just has to buy enough time for Merfolk to win by attacking. Merfolk doesn’t play any lands that produce two mana, so [[Chalice of the Void]] can’t be played on the first turn for one. That is one downside to relying on [[Chalice of the Void]] against combo decks, so TES pilots can expect a turn one [[Chalice of the Void]] for zero.

[[Force of Will]], [[Daze]] – Another form of disruption is counterspells. With a virtual mono-blue deck, [[Force of Will]] is an easy inclusion. [[Daze]] is only in some of the lists and we may see [[Vodalian Hexcatcher]] played in that slot.

Deck List

the epic Storm

Main Deck
  • 4 [[Burning Wish]]
  • 4 [[Wishclaw Talisman]]
  • 4 [[Brainstorm]]
  • 4 [[Mishra’s Bauble]]
  • 2 [[Galvanic Relay]]
  • 1 [[Tendrils of Agony]]
  • 1 [[Ad Nauseam]]
  • 1 [[Echo of Eons]]
  • 4 [[Veil of Summer]]
  • 4 [[Rite of Flame]]
  • 4 [[Dark Ritual]]
  • 4 [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]
  • 4 [[Lotus Petal]]
  • 4 [[Mox Opal]]
  • 3 [[Chrome Mox]]
  • 1 [[Verdant Catacombs]]
  • 4 [[Bloodstained Mire]]
  • 1 [[Scalding Tarn]]
  • 1 [[Misty Rainforest]]
  • 1 [[Badlands]]
  • 1 [[Underground Sea]]
  • 1 [[Volcanic Island]]
  • 1 [[Taiga]]
  • 1 [[Bayou]]
  • 3 [[Carpet of Flowers]]
  • 2 [[Galvanic Relay]]
  • 3 [[Abrupt Decay]]
  • 1 [[Chain of Vapor]]
  • 1 [[Thoughtseize]]
  • 1 [[Empty the Warrens]]
  • 1 [[Tendrils of Agony]]
  • 1 [[Echo of Eons]]
  • 1 [[Peer into the Abyss]]
  • 1 [[Pulverize]]

Ways to Win This Matchup

[[Mox Opal|]]
[[Burning Wish|]]
[[Dark Ritual|]]
Our Game Plan

There are three main angles that Merfolk is going to try and attack us from, disruptive permanents in [[Chalice of the Void]] and [[Vodalian Hexcatcher]], counterspells in the form of [[Force of Will]], and a fast clock with the many Merfolk lords. None of these angles are going to be good enough on their own, but the combination of two or three of them can certainly beat TES. In order for Merfolk to get multiple of these online, they’re going to need several turns, so trying to win before they can pressure our life total with these other disruptive spells is going to be the key to our success. One way to do this is by relying on combo enablers other than [[Ad Nauseam]] and leaning into [[Echo of Eons]] and [[Galvanic Relay]]. These two enablers are faster, require less resources, and don’t require a high life total. That’s a good recipe against Merfolk. Evaluating opening hands is similar. This is a favorable matchup for TES, so there’s no reason to keep a hand or go for a line that loses to [[Force of Will]] or is so slow we can’t win for numerous turns. Any reasonably balanced hand that has the potential of a combo by turn three should be good enough in most games against attacking Merfolk and some disruption.




-4 [[Rite of Flame]], -2 [[Chrome Mox]], -1 [[Ad Nauseam]] +3 [[Carpet of Flowers]], +3 [[Abrupt Decay]], +1 [[Galvanic Relay]]

Against a mono- blue deck that plays many islands, [[Carpet of Flowers]] is an easy inclusion. It’s going to be the best mana producer in most games. [[Rite of Flame]] and [[Chrome Mox]] are the two worst mana producers, so that is an easy substitution. The opponent can put on a pretty fast clock with so many lords in their deck, so I bring in [[Abrupt Decay]] to slow the opponent down or to remove a [[Vodalian Hexcatcher]] or a [[Chalice of the Void]]. Along those same lines of the opponent being able to do a lot of damage quickly, it makes [[Ad Nauseam]] not that reliable.


Game Play

To start the game off, I kept my opening hand on the play. It had two copies of [[Mishra’s Bauble]], two copies of [[Wishclaw Talisman]], a [[Brainstorm]], an [[Echo of Eons]] and a land. It could have turned into a slower hand, but it had the potential to be explosive and lots of card draw to find a [[Veil of Summer]]. I spent the first turn using the [[Mishra’s Bauble]] on my library and shuffled the top card away. My opponent spent their first turn playing a Merfolk, and it was back to me. The cards I drew off [[Mishra’s Bauble]] were not good, so I led with a [[Brainstorm]] to shuffle them away and look for a way to combo.

Matchup Battles Merfolk - Image 1

Having drawn [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] and [[Veil of Summer]] while already having an [[Echo of Eons]] in my hand, I decided to go that route of flashing it back with protection. It would have allowed me to get a few resources into play and then draw a new seven cards to net card advantage. I cast the [[Veil of Summer]] to test for any counterspells. Once that resolved my [[Echo of Eons]] was free to cast. Unfortunately, my seven cards didn’t have a way to continue comboing.

Matchup Battles Merfolk - Image 2

I played out the [[Wishclaw Talisman]] and the [[Mishra’s Bauble]] and passed the turn. My opponent just played their land, attacked, and then ended their turn. On their end step I activated my [[Mishra’s Bauble]]. On my turn I drew a [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]. That would give me enough mana to go for a combo here. I already used the [[Echo of Eons]] in my deck and I couldn’t get enough storm to just get [[Tendrils of Agony]], so the question was an [[Ad Nauseam]] or [[Galvanic Relay]] line.

Matchup Battles Merfolk - Image 3

I wasn’t sure which one I wanted to go for yet, but I knew I wanted to go for something this turn as taking more damage and letting my opponent build a board makes both [[Galvanic Relay]] and [[Ad Nauseam]] worse. I led with [[Rite of Flame]] and [[Chrome Mox]]. When I cast my [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], it was targeted with [[Force of Will]].

Matchup Battles Merfolk - Image 4

I used my [[Veil of Summer]] and hoped they didn’t have another [[Force of Will]]. They didn’t, but they flashed in a [[Vodalian Hexcatcher]] and immediately sacrificed it along with the other merfolk to make me pay an additional two mana. I did and the [[Veil of Summer]] and [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] resolved.

Matchup Battles Merfolk - Image 5

I drew a [[Dark Ritual]] off the [[Veil of Summer]] and that replaced the previous two mana I spent on [[Vodalian Hexcatcher]]. I decided to just go for [[Ad Nauseam]] here now that my opponent didn’t have any creatures in play in case I needed to pass the turn.

Matchup Battles Merfolk - Image 6

The [[Ad Nauseam]] was good enough to [[Tendrils of Agony]] with more than enough storm.

Matchup Battles Merfolk - Image 7

Merfolk is a classic Legacy deck that has been around for a long time, and I am glad they are getting more cards to test out to improve the deck. In my experience, this matchup is heavily in TES’s favor. Beating aggressive creatures or winning through one form of disruption is fairly easy to do, and we have the ability to win quickly before they can get their creatures going. While they do play a few different angles to disrupt us, it is usually just a tad too slow. One takeaway is in the several games I played against Merfolk, [[Vodalian Hexcatcher]] was more impactful than [[Daze]]. I hope you enjoyed this article, can take some of the lessons learned, and apply them to your own playtesting.