We are back with another article about another iconic MTG tribe in the game. This time, we are talking about the best Merfolk in Magic.
This creature type is one of the oldest in the game, as Merfolk were present in the very first MTG set, Alpha. It is also one of the first creature types with tribal synergies. So, of course, they are one of the first creature types to be built around in a tribal fashion.
Because of their extensive history and card pool, this article will not focus on a specific format. Nevertheless, most inclusions in this list are able to work perfectly in any format you decide to play them in. But because I really like Commander, at the end of the article there will be three specific cards that work exclusively as best Merfolk tribal commanders.
Let’s begin with some honorable mentions. These are good Merfolk card that didn’t quite make the Top 10 list.
The following three cards are really solid non-Merfolk support additions to any Merfolk Tribal deck. Wanderwine Hub is an excellent land in the sense that it is a dual mana land that has the high chance of entering the battlefield untapped.
Deeproot Waters is a great enchantment that gives you a Merfolk token, whenever you play a creature of this type.
Finally, Merrow Commerce is a great way to give all your Merfolk pseudo vigilance by untapping all Merfolk at the end of your turn.
The following five creatures add a bit of a control element to the tribe. They have abilities related to countering spells, tapping creatures, and overall making life difficult for your opponents.
Merfolk Trickster and Tempest Caller have similar abilities in general. Both creatures have the ability to tap other creatures. Merfolk Trickster does this at instant speed with flash and with a single target creature, and Tempest Caller taps all creatures target opponents controls when it enters the battlefield.
Kopala, Warden of Waves on the other hand, makes it harder for your opponents to deal with your Merfolks. It makes all spells and abilities that target a Merfolk you control cost 2 more. This makes it a bit safer for you to play with more tranquility and for your opponents to over use their resources to deal with you.
Lullmage Mentor is a unique creature in its abilities. It cares about you playing counterspells by creating 1/1 token every time you counter a spell. It also gives you the option to tap 7 Merfolks to counter a spell. This can be incredibly useful in certain situations.
Cursecatcher can be annoying for the opponent in the right scenario. It’s much better in 60-card formats, where your opponents are usually more limited with their mana, than in a format like Commander.
Here are some Merfolks with very specific abilities. Some are traditional amongst Merfolk and others are common useful abilities to include in tribal decks.
Deeproot Elite follows the +1/+1 counter theme amongst the Merfolks of Ixalan. This creature is a simple 1/1 for 2 mana. But the crazy part comes in its ability which makes him get a +1/+1 counter whenever another Merfolk enters the battlefield under your control.
Forerunner of the Heralds and Merrow Harbinger are pretty much the same cards. Forerunner is green and a 3/2 that tutors for a Merfolk. Its second ability is to gain +1/+1 counter whenever a Merfolk enters the battlefield. Merrow Harbinger tutors for a Merfolk, as well. It is blue and a ⅔ with Islandwalk. Pretty straight forward abilities for both.
Stonybrook Banneret is a simple Merfolk enabler. It reduces the cost of Merfolk and Wizard spells by 1. Judge of Currents is a 1/1 for 2 which gains you 1 life every time a Merfolk you control becomes tapped. This is excellent, taking into account tapping mechanics and attack strategies.
Wanderwine Prophets is one of the most combo prone Merfolk out there. The fact that there is a chance to gain an extra turn is insane. The fact that the only requirement is to deal combat damage with this creature and sacrifice a Merfolk is insane. The first ability to champion another Merfolk helps. If you have another Merfolk that has synergistic abilities, it can go back and forth with infinite cycle combo potential.
Merfolk Card Draw
One thing that your Merfolk deck needs are Merfolk that can draw you more cards. Here are some interesting options.
Silvergill Adept is a classic card that has been a part of Merfolk tribal decks for as long as it has been in existence. It has the ability to draw you a card when it comes into the battlefield. It only costs 2 mana, but it has the additional cost of either paying 3 more or revealing a Merfolk card from your hand. The fact that you are most likely to play that Merfolk you reveal on that same turn makes it great.
Seafloor Oracle is a simple card draw engine that triggers every time a Merfolk deals combat damage to a player.
Finally, there’s Cold-Eyed Selkie, which is a staple of Commander. You draw a card equal to the amount of damage dealt by it. So, this means that it has the potential to be a lot if you manage to stick counters on it. And in Merfolk tribal, that’s not that hard.
Now, after this long honorable mentions section, it’s time to get into the main course.
#10 Various Merfolk Lords
The fact of putting five creatures into the same spot is kinda cheap to be honest. But I feel like it is necessary. When it comes to tribal decks, one very common component is to have a lord creature. These are creatures that pump all Merfolk with at least a +1/+1 boost. Now, when it comes to Merfolk, there are a couple different creatures that are exactly that. With the difference of having extra abilities and extra boosts to give.
These 5 are the best at this exact thing. Lord of Atlantis and Master of the Pearl Trident are basically the same creature with two different names. Both pump and give Merfolks Islandwalk. Merfolk Sovereign pumps and gives one Merfolk Unblockable. Mistbender just pumps Merfolks and has a double color identity. Finally, Merrow Reejerey pumps Merfolks and taps or untaps target permanent whenever a Merfolk enters the battlefield.
#9 Thieving Skydiver
This Merfolk has a deviant theme from the common abilities associated with Merfolks. This creature is artifact based. It is a solid 2/1 with flying, which makes it a decent early attacker. It also has the potential to be a great mid-game or late-game play due to its kicker.
This kicker has the ability to gain control of the target artifact with the same or less cost of the kicker amount paid. If this artifact is an equipment, it has the extra ability of attaching this to Skydiver.
#8 Jadelight Ranger
The “explore” ability introduced in the Ixalan block is one of my personal favorites of all time. It is the perfect combination of card selection, land dig, and creature pump. It fits in with the theme of the whole block, and it makes creatures way more interesting. And when it comes to creatures with this ability, there is none better than Jadelight Ranger. This card, when it was a part of Standard, was one of the Meta drivers. The fact that it triggers explore twice is what makes this card so good.
#7 Tishana, Voice of Thunder/ Jori En, Ruin Diver
Another multiple card addition to the list. This time it is because I am weak and I refuse to leave cards out of the list. These are two of the best card-draw based Commander cards out there. These two can be built incredibly differently. They can do it having multiple sub-themes and strategies in mind. But in the end, they both care about drawing cards.
Tishana is a great creature base Commander, in this sense. She is built to feed from cards in your hand. Her toughness and power depend on it. She also has the needed ability to allow you to have no maximum hand size. So you can go all crazy with the amount of cards you draw without worrying about anything else. Her last ability, though. That’s what’s cool. She is a 7 mana card, meaning that she is definitely a late-game play. This makes her second ability relevant by drawing cards equal to the amount of creatures you control. Which, by the time you play her, is hopefully a lot.
Jori En, on the other hand, is a bit of a more straightforward card. She draws a card whenever you cast your second spell each turn. This means that because of this ability, and her color identity, she is best played in a spell-based shell. Instants, most importantly. And anything that synergizes with them. It has potential to be explosive and combo prone. Simple but powerful card to play with, without a doubt.
#6 Vorel of the Hull Clade
Proliferate consists of putting any kind of counter on however many counters on a permanent if it already has some, at the end of the turn. However, Vorel does not have this ability. Its ability is, though, to put another counter on anything if it already has some on it. He does this by tapping for two. This has the potential of doing a bunch of shenanigans with counters. Combo off with artifacts, lands, or creatures. The only way this card could be better is if it could place counters on Planeswalkers and Players. But one can only wish.
#5 Tuvasa the Sunlit
Enchantments you say? Merfolk enchantments? What? Yes. There is a great Merfolk enchantment Commander out there. And it is Tuvasa. Her color identity consists of the three best colors for enchantments. Although this creature is solely based around enchantments, Merfolks can also be a part of this deck. Her first ability pumps her up, making her a better board presence. And her second ability provides card draw. Really solid in general.
#4 Kiora’s Follower
At first sight, any ability such as the one that Kiora’s Follower has might seem simple in nature. And, in fact, it really is. But what makes this creature super valuable is its potential when paired with other cards. This is one of the most combo prone abilities out there. The fact that it can untap any other permanent is extremely useful. In its most simple usage, it can give a creature the ability to block after an attack, give you an extra usage of land, an artifact, or any other tapping ability on a permanent. And in its best usage, it can be an essential part of a combo.
Hullbreacher is so good, that it had to be banned in Commander. Nevertheless, it’s still legal in Legacy and Vintage, and in your casual 60-card Magic as well.
It’s an incredibly powerful counter to your opponent drawing extra cards. Plus, it gives you treasures instead. So, not only does it put your opponents behind, but it also puts you ahead.
#2 Thassa’s Oracle
Staying with the theme of Commander, this card has taken over recently. It is also quite often used in Standard decks and in other formats where it is legal. Its functionality as a finisher is extremely efficient. It is also a quite efficient play that provides you essential card selection. As a base, by just entering the battlefield, this card guarantees you a look at the top two. And at its base, you play this at the end of a combo where there are no more cards left in your library, and you win the game.
#1 Thrasios, Triton Hero
If you ask anyone about iconic Commanders. Thrasios would definitely be included in the answer. Its abilities are superb in the format. They give you card selection, ramp, and card draw all in one ability. Yes, the price to do this is 4 mana, but you can do it multiple times per turn. Its colors are also super decent for both of these abilities. Its casting cost is cheap, and its stats are decent for a two drop. The best part about it is its ability to be partnered with other Commanders. This is what makes it a part of many dual Commander decks.
Best Merfolk Tribal Commanders
Here are three of the most iconic and used Merfolk Tribal Commanders out there. All of them are great options to be generals in this tribe.
Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca
Kumena is the most efficient and apparent Merfolk Commander out there. All its abilities revolve around this tribe. It has the two most common colors amongst modern Merfolk cards. Its first ability allows you to tap another Merfolk to make Kumena unblockable.
The second ability allows you to draw a card by tapping three Merfolk. And the last ability allows you to give all your Merfolk +1/+1 counters by tapping 5 Merfolk. The more Merfolk you have, the better. Then, from then, you can figure out the different lines of play you can take in order to win the game.
Sygg, River Guide
Sygg, River Guide is one of the classic Merfolks in the game. Its ability revolves around protecting other Merfolk by giving one protection from the color of your choice. This gives potential to many ways of playing with that ability. Its colors are somewhat of a handicap by being blue and white. Not such a common color combination for the tribe anymore. But that does not take away its iconic status.
Tatyova, Benthic Druid
Lastly, Tatyova is a superb value Commander overall. You don’t need to necessarily play her with tribal synergies in mind. But it can still be done. A commander that cares about lands, card draw, and life gain. What more do you want? It gives you the opening of playing it with Merfolks as well. So there is really no downside to this card. It is just highly efficient.
Best Merfolk – Conclusion
In conclusion, Merfolks are and will always be iconic tribal creatures in the game. They have developed into becoming one of the most famous creature types out there.
They have some of the best associated abilities out there. Card draw, +1/+1 counters, unblockable, tap abilities, and even some artifact synergies. Merfolks are everywhere. They are some of the most powerful and fun creatures out there.
As always, if you agree or disagree with the list, comment down below. Let us know what you would like to see explored in the future, and make sure to check our other articles:
Have fun, stay safe, and go for wins with your sea friends!