Forcing the Will: Merfolk

Welcome all to another edition of Forcing the Will! Today I will cover Legacy card prices, Legacy Daily Events, and different Merfolk deck variants along with videos of one these builds in action.

The Legacy Daily Events have been slowing down this past week, but with no surprise. This past week we not only had Nix Tix/Nix Pax events for ME-ME2-ME3, but we also had the MTGO 8 Year Anniversary which also included ½ off Premier Event entree fees along with Nix Tix/Nix Pax MVW and TSE draft queues. These draft queues ended up putting a huge dent in the Legacy card prices from these sets. All ten of the dual lands have dropped in price along with almost every other card in these sets; however, there are a few cards that dropped significantly in price. Natural Order went from being a 40 tix card to a 16 tix card, Wastelanddropped from 26 tix to 20 tix, and last of all the reigning Legacy staple champion Force of Will went from 105 tix to around the 70-80 tix zone. If you have debated about picking up any Legacy staples from these sets especially the last three I listed I would highly suggest getting them now while the system is saturated with eager sellers trying to pitch their extra copies. For those of you who would prefer to try to draft these cards you won’t be able to draft MVW and TSE for some time now, but we will have another week of Master Edition drafts soon. If you wish to try your luck at cracking a Force of Will or a dual land then take note of this date August 18 — 25. During this week we will have Nix Tix/Nix Pax queues for ME-ME2-ME3 followed by more Master Edition events towards the end of the year when we get Masters Edition 4.

Now let’s take a look at the Legacy Daily Events that have fired since we last looked at the online Legacy metagame.

Legacy Daily — 5/30/2010

(4-0) Zoo

(3-1) Zoo

(3-1) UBwg Landstill

(3-1) Merfolk (Black Splash)

(3-1) Dredge

(3-`) Reanimator

Legacy Daily — 5/31/2010

(4-0) Red Deck Wins (RDW)

(4-0) UBw Landstill

(3-1) Show and Tell

(3-1) Zoo

(3-1) Merfolk (Black Splash)

(3-1) Zoo

(3-1) UBwg Landstill

Legacy Daily — 6/3/2010

(4-0) Merfolk (Black Splash)

(3-1) UBwg Landstill

(3-1) Thopter/Counterbalance

(3-1) Merfolk

(3-1) Zoo

(3-1) UGr Thresh

Legacy Daily — 6/6/2010

(4-0) Belcher (No Lands)

(3-1) Affinity

(3-1) Zoo

(3-1) Red Deck Wins (RDW)

(3-1) Reanimator

Legacy Daily — 6/62010

(4-0) Reanimator

(3-1) Zoo

(3-1) Doomsday/Tendrils

(3-1) New Horizon

(3-1) Thopter/Counterbalance

(3-1) Red Deck Wins (RDW)

Legacy Daily — 6/7/2010

(4-0) UBg Landstill

(3-1) Ad Nauseam Storm (ANT)

(3-1) Ad Nauseam Storm (ANT)/Doomsday

(3-1) Zoo

(3-1) Merfolk

(3-1) Lands

(3-1) Goblins (Black Splash)

Now let’s break down this information and see which decks are performing well.

Top winning Legacy Decks

Deck Wins Percentage of Wins

1. Zoo 8 22.22%

2. Landstill 5 13.89%

3. Merfolk 5 13.89%

4. Reanimator 3 8.34%

5. Red Deck Wins (RDW) 3 8.34%

6. Thopter/Counterbalance 2 5.56%

7. Ad Nauseam Storm 2 5.56%

8. Belcher 1 2.78%

9. Thresh 1 2.78%

10. New Horizon 1 2.78%

12. Lands 1 2.78%

13. Goblins 1 2.78%

14. Dredge 1 2.78%

15. Doomsday/Tendrils 1 2.78%

16. Affinity 1 2.78%

Total Decks: 36

The first thing I noticed from going through this list is that there isn’t one single Death and Taxes deck that won any tournaments, which is surprising since the deck has been in the top of the list for quite some time now. This isn’t a startling surprise since the deck can easily be beaten by a number of decks, but I was expecting to see at least one or two of them in the Legacy Daily Events. Looking at the Top 3 spots we see that Zoo has jumped up and taken the number one spot with an impressive 22.22% of wins in the Legacy tournaments. With Zoo winning the Legacy Philly event I expected to see a lot more Zoo decks running around online and that would be a prefect explanation as to why the deck has taken the number one spot. Moving along in the number 2 spot we see that Landstill is still holding on to its spot, and that there were only 2 versions played the UBg and UBwg versions. Landstill is one of the best decks online at the moment and I expect it to stay in the top of the winning decks until we get another metagame shift. Finally in the number 3 spot we have Merfolk which is the deck we will be focusing on the rest of the article, but before I do that I want to add a few suggestions. I would suggest playing any of the Top 3 decks, and to stay away from Goblins, Red Deck Wins, and Dredge. As mentioned in previous articles the hate for these decks is extremely great with the exception of Red Deck Wins. The reason I suggest not playing Red Deck Wins is that it is very easy to shut down the deck with Reanimator since there is no way to counter/remove Iona. With that in mind let’s move onto Merfolk!

Merfolk has been around for quite some time in Legacy and has been made a huge impact in the format. Merfolk tends to keep Combo and Reanimator decks in check, but isn’t immune to them. Last year there were Merfolk/Faerie variants in Classic that used Spellstutter Sprite in combination with Riptide Laboratory to create a way to continually counter opponents spells. Riptide Laboratory is also useful in combination with Silvergill Adept to help you dig deeper into your library, and the laboratory can even bounce other wizards such as Cursecatcher to save your creatures or to just continually block big creatures such as Tarmogoyf. I even found myself adding Crucible of Worlds to create an infinite Strip Mine and Wasteland loop, but that was Classic last year now lets look at the current Legacy format.

Merfolk has many various tools to deal with different metagames, and it’s up to the players to keep an eye on the trends of the meta to choose which version best fits that metagame. Merfolk is still missing Submerge online which helps Merfolk out against Zoo, but the deck is holding its own against Zoo just fine. Right now for MTGO the decks to beat are Aggro, Landstill, and Combo, all of which Merfolk can deal with. But which build is right for you to play? Let’s take a look at some different versions of Merfolk decks and discuss some of the cards in these decks.

Let’s kick things off with a Blue/Black version of Merfolk.

UB Legacy Merfolk Click the arrow to download the above deck in .txt format

(To load a .txt deck into Magic: Online’s Deck Editor, click “Load”, select “Local Text Deck”, find the location of the downloaded deck file and double-click the deck.)

After seeing this deck in action and taking the time to look through the list I found this version of the deck to be extremely versatile and effective against the current meta. The deck runs a maindeck Recoil which can be affective against any deck especially late game as a way to bounce an annoying permanent and have your opponent discard that card. Sygg, River Cutthroat is a way to start drawing additional cards to help fuel your army of merfolk as long as you can keep finding a way to deal 3 damage to your opponent. Last of all the deck runs 3 maindeck Umezawas Jitte to help battle off all the Zoo decks in the metagame. Let’s look at some of the Black sideboard cards as well as other useful Black cards that could be added to the deck.

Dread of Night — An effective answer to any White deck that runs critters especially Death and Taxes/Elspeth tokens, but seeing as how there were no winning D’n'T decks I wouldn’t suggest using this unless we see the deck being played more.

Engineered Plague — A useful tool against any tribal deck especially against Goblins and Elves. Don’t be a fool and board this in against another Merfolk deck as it harms your Merfolk as well.

Faerie Macabre — This card allows you to hold your graveyard hate in your hand long enough for your opponent to try to go off just to stumble when you discard this card and remove two cards from their graveyard. The part that makes card so versatile is that it can’t be named by [/card]Pithing Needle[/card], and that allows you to use it unless your opponent can discard it. Board this in against Dredge, Reanimator, Loam, and any other deck that abuses the graveyard.

Leyline of the Void — Another effective grave hate, but at a much higher cost. When playing this card you’ll want to have this card in your starting hand to delay an opponent’s graveyard nutrition from the get go. Also board this in against decks that abuse the graveyard.

Ravenous Trap — An instant that can clear a whole graveyard from the game, but has a nice alternate cost of FREE as long as 3 or more cards were put into the graveyard during a turn. Also board this in against decks that abuse the graveyard.

Yixlid Jailer — The last of the graveyard hate monsters. Jailer shuts down all cards abilities in the graveyard. This is good against Dredge, but looking at the current meta not the card I would be playing in my sideboard.

Duress — For one Black mana you can get rid of any non-creature/non-land card from an opponents hand. This can be used against any deck, but is most effective against Combo, Control, and Burn decks.

Thoughtseize — A beefed up version of Duress, but at the cost of 2 life. This can knock out any non-land card from an opponent’s hand. This card gives the extra option to deal with decks that run pesky creatures such as Tarmogoyf. It is also a good choice against Combo and Control as well, but be careful when using this again Burn as it can actually be a dud when an opponent is bluffing burn in their hand.

Inquisition of Kozilek — The new discard card in the format and what a card it is! It gives the ability to discard any non-land card as long as its converted mana cost is 3 or less, and in this format it hits a huge amount of cards. Board this in against any deck that can hinder your plans with cards CMC 3 or less.

Extirpate — Another form of graveyard hate, but with the ability to remove all of a single card from the entire deck without being countered. This card can single handedly win games against decks that only have 1 win condition, but can get rid of any annoying card you don’t want to see your opponents play. Be aware that this can be countered by a Counterbalance.

Diabolic Edict — An instant removal spell that can take out an opponents guy. This card tends to be more effective against deck that only have one big bad beater such as Reanimator and Natural Order decks.

Chainers Edict — Almost identical to Diabolic Edict, but at sorcery speed and the ability to cast it once more later on in the game via flashback.

Perish — A very situational card, but very effective against Zoo, Elves, and Progenitus. Board this in if an opponent is playing any of these.

Next I present a Blue/Green version of Merfolk.

UG Legacy Merfolk Click the arrow to download the above deck in .txt format

(To load a .txt deck into Magic: Online’s Deck Editor, click “Load”, select “Local Text Deck”, find the location of the downloaded deck file and double-click the deck.)

I used to run the Green/Blue version, but within the last few months I have found that my success with the deck has decreased. The deck is still good, but I find that the Blue/Black and Mono Blue versions of the deck are performing better with the online meta; however, with Zoo running around this deck can still hold its own. Tarmogoyf and Umezawas Jitte in the maindeck really help beat down those Zoo decks. Let’s take a look at some other useful Green cards.

Tarmogoyf — The main reason for splashing Green. This creature quickly became the biggest creature in Legacy, and it appears that’s where he is going to stay for the time being. This Goyf is a beast to deal with especially when it’s growing from all the graveyard candy. If you run this version of the deck there is almost never a reason to board this card out.

Krosan Grip — A way to get rid of an annoying artifact or enchantment without having an opponent countering your spell. Board this in against decks that abuse artifacts or enchantments that will keep you from winning such as Moat, Engineered Plague, Counterbalance, along with any other card that may come about. If you see an artifact or enchantment you know you need to deal with then defiantly board this card in.

Life from the Loam — A way to bring back your lands from the graveyard to gain an advantage. Use this to bring back Wastelands to take out an opponents mana sources, or just get a fetchland to thin out your library and get a free shuffle in the process.

Trygon Predator — A slower beater version of Naturalize. Once you drop this guy down swing in for some damage and destroy your opponent’s artifact or enchantment. This card is useful against all decks that run artifact and enchantments, but this card becomes rather useless against Humility.

Tranquility — A Wrath of God for enchantments. This card is most useful against Enchantress, but there is a lack of these deck at the moment so save them for another day.

Cold-Eyed Selkie — Viable in both Green/Blue and Mono Blue. This little islandwalker can quickly become a problem for opponents that have an Island in play. In combination with the Merfolk lords he can quickly refuel your hand, and help easy your way to victory!

Now let’s take a look at a Blue/White version of Merfolk.

UW Legacy Merfolk Click the arrow to download the above deck in .txt format

(To load a .txt deck into Magic: Online’s Deck Editor, click “Load”, select “Local Text Deck”, find the location of the downloaded deck file and double-click the deck.)

I have yet to try a Blue/White version of Merfolk as I never had a desire to try the version out, but let’s look at some of the strong reasons for playing White with your Merfolk. First we have Sejiri Merfolk which can be effective against Zoo decks as well as Burn decks. Having a Merfolk with first Strike and lifelink can become very devastation especially once the lords hit the Battlefield. White also enables us to use some of the best removal in the format Path to Exile and Swords to Plowshares. These two cards are a cheap and effective way to get rid of an opponent’s creature and keep them out of the rest of the game. Use this removal against any deck that runs creatures. Let’s take a look at some other White cards that can be used in this version.

Etherswon Canonist — A perfect tool to use against any Combo deck. It can also become very hand in combination with Kira, Great Glass-spinner since your opponent’s will have to find a way to activate the ability twice in order to kill off your creatures with removal.

Meddling Mage — Have a card you need to keep your opponent from playing? Well here’s your answer. This little beauty allows you to stop an opponent from playing your card of choice. Board this in against any deck you wish and stop them from playing that game-winning card you dread.

Tempest of Light — White’s Tranquility; use this against Enchantress.

Disenchant — White’s Naturalize. Funny how White and Green have the same versions of so many cards huh? This is a less effective version of Krosan Grip, but serves the same purpose to remove that annoying artifact or enchantment.

Circle of Protection: Red — Red’s nightmare! Play this bad boy against Red Deck Wins, Goblins, and even some Zoo decks, and you’ll find yourself winning most games with ease.

Warmth — Another anti-Red card. Play this against the same deck mention with Circle of Protection: Red. This is more useful against Burn than any other Red deck. Gaining those extra points of life will help you stall your opponent long enough to win the game.

Kataki, Wars Wage — An Affinity players nightmare. Kataki can effectively shut down your artifact loving opponent by making them tap out it keep their permanents in play, or force them to sacrifice their beloved artifacts. Either way the real winner in this situation is you.

Last of all we have the version I have been playing the Mono Blue version.

Mono Blue Legacy Merfolk Click the arrow to download the above deck in .txt format

(To load a .txt deck into Magic: Online’s Deck Editor, click “Load”, select “Local Text Deck”, find the location of the downloaded deck file and double-click the deck.)

I won’t take time here to talk about the deck since I provide it in my video below, but let’s take a look at some other useful Blue cards. Don’t worry I’ll cover the main idea behind the Merfolk deck and the most common cards found in these decks.

Sower of Temptation — A excellent way to steal your opponents creature. Use this against deck that runs creatures especially those big monsters. Sower is even fun to play against the mirror match when you can steal their lord and pump up your Merfolk soldiers.

Mindbreak Trap — A way to counter a Storm copies, and a free counter against those huge counter wars once an opponent has cast 3 spells. Use this against Combo decks, and depending on the deck Control decks.

Echoing Truth — A nice way to bounce a non-land permanent back to hand. Echoing is useful since it allows you to bounce every card with the same name. All of a sudden those Dredge player’s Zombie tokens don’t seem as scary.

Wipe Away — The same concept as Echoing Truth, but with the ability to select a land as well. Where this card shines is that it has Split Second which makes it uncounterable just like Krosan Grip and Extirpate. Use this to bounce that cards that keep you from winning the game.

Chain of Vapor — Another way to bounce a non-land permanent to an opponent’s hand, but your opponent will have the ability to sacrifice a land and do the same to you. I prefer Echoing Truth over this in most cases.

Spell Pierce — A card that is great in the early game against deck trying to lay down non-creature cards. Depending on the meta you will want to play this over Dispel or Spell Snare.

Spell Snare — A truly amazing card. So many important spells are 2 mana spells, and this card denies every single one of them for 1 Blue mana. Take a look at the meta to decide which counter you will want to use in your maindeck or sideboard.

Stifle — A way to counter Storm copies as well as nullify any cards activated or triggered ability. The uses for this card are so great that there is simply not enough room to talk about the many scenarios this card can be used in.

Threads of Disloyalty — A great tool against Aggro decks. Use this card if you expect to see a lot of Aggro and you want a way to steal your opponent’s creatures.

Vendilion Clique — A nice little way to alter an opponents hand. This card doesn’t see much play in Merfolk as it once did, but it can still be useful to get a look at an opponents hand and alter it.

Hurkyl’s Recall — A Vintage staple since there are so many Mox running about, but here in Legacy we use this card against Affinity decks. Casting this card against an Affinity deck is almost a 100% guarantee win.

Well that’s enough of me rambling on let’s jump into my videos where you can actually hear me rambling about Merfolk!


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Right off the bat at 1:39 I cast Daze on my opponents Thoughtseize with mana available to my opponent. My opponent got a huge advantage because not only did they get rid of 2 cards in my hand, but I also returned an Island to my hand slowing me down a land drop. At 9:40 I meant to grab Daze back from my graveyard, but I couldn’t seem to get it to work and it didn’t end up affecting the game. At 18:47 I should have used the Cursecatcher to counter the first Dark Ritual since my opponent didn’t end up playing a second land. This would have allowed us to stay in the game longer and hopefully draw a counter.


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I believe I played this match the best I could, but if you see any mistakes please let me know so I may correct them and point them out to my viewers.


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I believe I played this match the best I could, but if you see any mistakes please let me know so I may correct them and point them out to my viewers.


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At 9:42 I should have activated the Mutavault and got in some extra damage. At the time I think I was worried about our opponent having a Ghastly Demise and wasn’t thinking our opponent would have a second Pernicious Deed. This would have saved me two turns of attacking with my Mutavault later on in the game.

Thanks for taking the time to read my article and watch my videos. As always I hope the information I provided was useful and enjoyable. Please let me know if there are any questions, comments, or requests I can respond to. As always I encourage my viewers to leave me feedback both positive and negative to help me better myself as a writer/player. I am also still taking questions about the Legacy format for my Question of the Week section of my articles. I haven’t had a lot of responses to this, and if I don’t get any following this article I will abandon this idea till a later time. If you would like to ask a question/scenario about the Legacy format for the Question of the Week please e-mail me at Be sure to add MTGO Academy in the title of your e-mail.

And until next time may the Force of Will be with you!


  1. R1G3 you should have countered the dark ritual!, oh well, at least you got epic killed by an emrakul

  2. Why did u cut seasinger and threads of disloyality of the sb?
    Seasinger gives you the mirror as your second Llawan does but is useful in others matchups too. reanimator… stealing big guys… bouncing progenitus is good but it is too small nowadays ^^
    And threads puts tarmogoyf on your side (forever).

    Nice article!
    I’d like for next one baneslayer control deck, its quite new and of the spanish army in the bazaar of moxen too.

  3. @ Milkshake75: Commander has proven to be quite the handy Merfolk allowing players to utilize their spare mana to gain board positions.

    @Aznsilly: I know I realized this mistake after I had passed my chance to counter it, but I was trying to see if I could get him to empty his hand out and try to counter an Ad Nauseam. Oh well move on and learn from our mistakes, but I should have known better.

    @xecho: The reason don’t play Singer or Threads is that in my opinion they are way too slow for the Legacy format we have now. With Goblin Guide Zoo has become so much fast and being able to drop a turn 1 vial and fallow up on turn 2 by stealing one of their creatures to use as a beater or blocker can allow you enough time to gain control of the game. Singer isn’t a sideboard card I would play just because it’s too situational for me. There was a time when I used Threads, but Threads just doesn’t do the job it needs to right now. Also about the Baneslayer control deck I have seen such decks, but could you please send me a link and I will see what I can do with it :)

    Thanks for all the comments guys I appreciate it!

  4. I think merfolk is important in legacy as well as in classic, with your help i came in 4th in classic challenge this week, think you for recommending merfolk :)

  5. You took Kira out against Landstill in the last round and in your decktech you talk about how it’s good against Zoo and Landstill, but not red (and you do take it out against red as well).

    If it’s not good enough against Landstill, then it’s just good against Zoo. If you agree with that…then shouldn’t it be in the sideboard instead?
    You took them out every chance you got these 4 rounds, and with good reason. Aren’t they just too narrow for the meta? Or was it just the random opponents you had today?

    And in my personal opinion Spell Pierce > Dispel.

  6. @ G.O.: Congrats on the win bud glad that this article helped you out :)

    @ Zage: It’s true I said that Kira is good against Landstill, but it only really helps against Jace and Ghastly Demise. Seeing as How I didn’t see either of them the first game against Landstill so I decided that it would be safe to board them out and go for the quick win with more options to counter his spells. I was expecting to face a lot of Zoo since the previous Daily I did I faced Zoo 2 out of the 4 rounds, and since Death and Taxes was the most played deck at the time of this recording it would be optimal in mainboard. I do agree a lot of times Spell Pierce is better than Dispel, but Dispel can hold its own being that it just straight up counters instants which I was expecting to see lots of as well. Like I mentioned it all comes down to personal preference.

  7. @ Menace13 : I’ll cover that all in my next article and thanks for the decklist link I’ll look into it more when I get back home :D