You see, I was going to write about Merfolk.
Or at least, I was going to start with Merfolk, and then sort of just see where the brewing took me. If they're going to go to all of the trouble of making this set about four tribes, it seems only natural to see what decks built around those four tribes look like.
Admittedly, there haven't exactly been that many other Pirates; some, but not many. And they are the second-most-supported "tribe" among them.
Yeah, there are some, but most of the ones we had rotated out.
I guess they're a new tribe.
It's been a minute, but okay, let's see what we're working with here.
Not exactly the most inspiring tribal lord we've seen. I'm sure it's fine in the right decks, the right format, the right metagame. However, in terms of a starting point… eh.
Wait a minute…
Isn't this just a 2/1 flier with a drawback?
Okay, now we're starting to get into payoffs, I suppose. River Sneak seems to pretty loudly want you to be all-in, but it's still a pretty fragile threat. As part of a heavy Merfolk plan, however, it's at least something.
I guess this is another key "payoff." Tokens are pretty great, and hexproof is great…but there aren't exactly Merfolk lords, right?
Okay, buddy. You got it.
I don't know if I can handle how medium the blue Merfolk are, but I guess that's why we have green ones?
I mean, if we're really rewarded for Merfolk, it's not horrible to have a productive way to put our mana to use, but this is a pretty inefficient way to do so. I'm not impressed.
Okay, a Kird Ape we can work with.
Now this is a sweet card. It's not exactly an explicitly Merfolk-centric card, but I guess the +1/+1 counter synergizes with some stuff.
Generally speaking, though, we could do a lot worse than Merfolk Branchwalker. Assuming we don't know the top of our deck, we're typically looking at something like a 37% chance of being a Silvergil Adept and a 63% chance of being a 3/2 with scry 1 (and miscellaneous +1/+1 counter synergies). That's not necessarily busted, but it seems at least respectable.
Is this supposed to be the tribal lord? A 3/3 for three isn't the worst ever, but we do need something pretty decent going on, or else, why are we paying that third mana? Another way to put +1/+1 counters on for four is okay, but it's also kind of whatever. I guess we're supposed to be excited about spending three mana to draw a card… when we have a +1/+1 counter we can trade for the privilege.
Just what is this deck supposed to look like?
Are we talking something like the following?
Okay, so I guess Metallic Mimic as our tribal lord is sort of working with the +1/+1 counter theme… except, none of the +1/+1 counter cards are particularly exciting.
Well, sure, River Heralds' Boon seems kind of sweet, but I meant none of the +1/+1 counter rewards are very enticing. Where is our Winding Constrictor / Walking Ballista / Rishkar, Peema Renegade / Verdurous Gearhulk package?
It's hard to get too excited about Herald of Secret Streams when the majority of Merfolk are already of the evasion persuasion.
At a certain point, it's like, why are we even bothering? Rishkar, Peema Renegade and Verdurous Gearhulk could go anywhere, and Metallic Mimic certainly doesn't need the Merfolk like they need it. Besides, why aren't we just playing Rogue Refiner?
Why would we? It's not like the blue Merfolk are any good, and Unclaimed Territory doesn't cast sorceries or instants (or Deeproot Waters, for that matter). Of course, this doesn't mean our mana is good. The mana in this deck aspires to be mediocre.
I can see why you're not writing about Merfolk.
Okay, you want a Merfolk deck, here's a Merfolk deck:
Temur Energy is going to leave its filthy prints in a lot of indecent places, if you know what I mean.
Honestly, I have no idea what you mean.
Deeproot Champion is technically a Merfolk, making this technically a Merfolk deck.
That's not how that works.
You know, I'm going to be mildly disgusted if the best "Merfolk" deck turns out to be G/B Merfolk (because Winding Constrictor works well with basically every Merfolk).
While a lot of the best energy cards are creatures, this doesn't necessarily make Deeproot Champion a non-starter. After all, how many noncreature spells do you need to cast before you've gotten your money's worth? Two?
This might be pushing it too much, but it's confusing to me, because I'm not yet sure of how big of an impact Chart a Course will have for ensuring a steady flow to feed our Champion. Plus, if we wanted, we could look to Glimmer of Genius, Cathartic Reunion, Strategic Planning, or Opt for even more of this stuff.
This card looks really good to me. I mean, isn't this meaningfully better than Tormenting Voice, even in a deck that never attacks? Then, every time you can afford to attack first, you just get a free card? This just seems like such an incredibly efficient card.
Setting aside the horrendous manabase, U/R Prowess is an archetype that didn't lose all that much. Meanwhile, it gained both Chart a Course (which it can relatively easily "turn on") and Opt.
Opt is modest, but reasonable. It's not the strongest library manipulation, and I suspect it will be a little overrated at first, but it's okay.
Okay, now this is a good card.
What a bunch of weirdos.
With the rotation wreaking havoc on existing archetypes, where does Ramunap Red land? After all, that has to be about the most obvious place to look to use Lightning Strike, right?
- 4 Bomat Courier
- 4 Ahn-Crop Crasher
- 4 Earthshaker Khenra
- 4 Rigging Runner
- 4 Soul-Scar Mage
- 4 Hazoret the Fervent
While Ramunap Red lost a fair number of cards, they actually didn't do too badly, all things considered. For instance, they still have a critical mass of one-drops to work with, thanks to Rigging Runner.
Rigging Runner seems like a very respectable one-drop, particularly in a deck full of cheap haste creatures. Bomat Courier, Earthshaker Khenra, and Ahn-Crop Crasher are all great at ensuring Rigging Runner is a 2/2 with first strike most of the time.
Well, it's mostly a Hammer of Bogardan, but these are also tougher times, with bigger creatures running rampant. Besides, Hammer was great as a tool for when creatures were no longer working. Repeating Barrage needs at least something going well in order to make it better than Hungry Flames.
But then again, why worry when you can just burn your opponents to a crisp?
Yeah? We're just going to play six four-drops, five burn spells for three that only deal three to a creature, and a couple of Glorybringers? I'm sure that'll be fast enough. No problem!
Vance's Blasting Cannons is kind of a Siege Outpost that always starts in the Chandra mode, but then transforms into a pretty intense damage mode. Notably, you can cast Vance's Blasting Cannons as your second spell in a turn, cast a third spell, and flip the Cannons immediately.
This card seems excellent for grinding but has a very serious risk of not impacting the battlefield quickly enough if the format is anywhere close to as aggressive as it was. I'd think we're pretty likely to at least sideboard some, even though the card is competing with Hazoret the Fervent and Chandra, Torch of Defiance.
Another possible one-drop to consider is Inventor's Apprentice, though we will have to make some tweaks to really utilize it.
Okay, that's a bunch of solid options.
The Treasure provided by Captain Lannery Storm (and potentially Wily Goblin) is interesting not only as a source of artifacts but also a source of black mana for the usual Scrounging, Unlicensed Disintegration, and Fatal Pushing.
Is it crazy to not play Ramunap Ruins?
It's a fantastic card, but we do want our Dragonskull Summits to really enter the battlefield untapped, too.
I'll tell you what I'd really love to figure out: how to make the Five-Color Red manabase of my dreams. Between the Treasure cards, Aether Hub, Spire of Industry, and who knows what else, it really doesn't seem like it'd be that hard. We even get Inspiring Vantage and Spirebluff Canal on the cheap!
- 4 Scrapheap Scrounger
- 2 Glorybringer
- 4 Inventor's Apprentice
- 4 Toolcraft Exemplar
- 4 Captain Lannery Storm
Wait a minute.
What happened to the Wily Goblin five-color red manabase?
Well, of course, once you start down that path, you end up playing Toolcraft Exemplar, and even if you start out rationalizing it on the splash, Concealed Courtyard becomes too hard to pass up, what with Unlicensed Disintegration and all.
Next thing you know, you're playing basic Plains.
I can't say it enough: this card is something else. I don't see anyone maindecking it yet, but I'm not sure why not. This card always surprises people with how good it turns out to be once everyone is able to streamline their decks.
Okay, one more for the road...
There is just no question the manabases of the new format are going to have to be constructed with different assumptions. Temur Energy and Ramunap have it easy, and two-colored allied decks can have no problem if they're willing to not rely on one-drops. There are a bunch of five-color fixers out there, and a lot of two-color combinations where you might as well pick up the third color, since you're already mostly paying for it.
Particularly once everyone realizes how much they should be playing this card...