Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
What Are Merfolk Creatures in Magic?
In Magic, merfolk are a creature subtype generally seen in the blue and green factions, but they occasionally disperse into other colors. Merfolk are typically frail but inexpensive, letting you swarm them in the early stages of your match and stack their effects.
10 Best Merfolk Cards
Weak on their own, many merfolk boost each other to impressive heights, and in addition to their merfolk syngeries, several also bear the wizard, rogue, or scout subtypes. But with hundreds of ocean-dwellers to choose from, which aquatic monsters reign supreme? These are the ten best merfolk in Magic: The Gathering!
- Merrow Reejerey
- Sygg, River Cutthroat
- Merfolk Mistbinder
- Harbinger of the Tides
- Lullmage Mentor
- Jori En, Ruin Diver
- Stonybrook Banneret
- Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca
- Thrasios, Triton Hero
- Waterfront Bouncer
10. Merrow Reejerey
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 3
For a moderate cost of three mana, Merrow arrives a bit weak with just 2/2 power and toughness, and his secondary soldier subtype isn't generally as helpful as, say, wizard. However, Merrow's first ability grants your other merfolk creatures (including tokens) +1/+1, granting them an edge in battle.
Plus, whenever you cast a merfolk spell, Merrow lets you tap or untap any permanent, either resetting one of your lands for more mana or dulling an enemy unit and delaying their actions. A handy trait that activates with all kinds of merfolk spells, meaning tribal enchantments, sorceries, and the like trigger the effect just like merfolk creatures will.
9. Sygg, River Cutthroat
Sygg's legendary status and black/blue colors make him a great commander for merfolk EDH decks (especially if you're mixing them with zombies or vampires), and his blended mana symbols mean you can spend any combination of blue and black resources to cast him.
Sygg bears a solid 1/3 stats, the rogue subtype, and his effect lets you draw a card at the end of any turn where an opponent lost at least three life, keeping your hand stocked throughout the match.
8. Merfolk Mistbinder
Mistbinder is essentially a cheaper version of Merrow Reejerey, costing one less mana while maintaining the same 2/2 battle stats and ability to boost your other merfolk by +1/+1. You don't get the tap/untap effect, but that's a fair trade-off for Mistbinder's lowered price.
Of course, you'll need a green forest alongside a blue island to afford Mistbinder, so bear that in mind when choosing one over the other. I generally find Mistbinder's secondary shaman type more useful than Merrow's soldier, but they're both great cards—use them together to combine their effects!
7. Harbinger of the Tides
Because Harbinger requires both of his mana specifically be blue, he fits awkwardly into multicolor decks, but his mighty abilities reward players who devote to blue. A 2/2 for two mana is fair, and you can cast Harbinger as if he had flash (at instant speed in any phase) if you spend an extra two colorless mana, giving you some useful surprise tactics.
Whether you do or don't pay the extra fee, when Harbinger enters the battlefield, you can return a tapped creature an opponent controls to their hand, forcing them to waste both mana recasting it and time waiting for its summoning sickness to wear off (assuming it lacks haste). After that, Harbinger is simply a 2/2 beatstick whose merfolk and wizard types fuel the effects of two bountiful creature families.
6. Lullmage Mentor
Lullmage demonstrates just how effective swarming creatures can be. He's a bit weak for his price, offering just 2/2 stats, but whenever a spell or ability you control counters a spell, you create a 1/1 merfolk creature token.
Not only are those tokens good throwaway blockers, they also contribute to Lullmage's ultimate: you may tap seven untapped merfolk you control (which can include Lullmage and his tokens) to counter a spell! Not only does this let you essentially negate a card each turn, the counter itself will generate yet another merfolk token, further augmenting your army.
5. Jori En, Ruin Diver
Legendary Jori En offers a rare blend of red to merfolk's usual blue, making him a perfect commander for merfolk red/blue structures (possibly combined with goblins or such). But even outside commander, Jori's a handy warrior. He bears a respectable 2/3 stats, and whenever you cast your second spell during a turn, you get to draw a card. This can activate on both your and your opponent's turn, giving you plenty of options for replenishing your hand.
Just like Lullmage, Jori possesses both the merfolk and wizard types, a useful duo that you can further support with . . .
4. Stonybrook Banneret
Sure, Banneret is weak at 1/1, but she only costs two mana. Plus, her islandwalk trait renders her unblockable against opponents who control an island, punishing foes for mimicking your color.
Banneret also bears the helpful merfolk/wizard blend, and she supports both her families by reducing the CMC of merfolk and wizard spells you cast by one! Now, don't get too greedy, as this only reduces the price once even if a card bears both subtypes, but it's still a great way to field any spellcaster or merman sooner than usual.
3. Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca
Kumena's impressive 2/4 stats make him just sturdy enough to withstand the common red "Lightning Bolt" removal, and he serves as a nice commander for blue/green merfolk decks. Beyond his helpful color mix and stats, Kumena offers three abilities that activate by exhausting your merfolk, so be sure to swarm those tokens.
Tapping a different merfolk renders Kumena unblockable for the turn (useful for landing a commander damage win), tapping any three of your merfolk lets you draw a card, and tapping any five places a +1/+1 counter on all your merfolk, adeptly boosting your army even if Kumena later dies. A solid choice, but he's rivaled by another potent green/blue legend . . .
2. Thrasios, Triton Hero
Thrasios remains my favorite legendary merfolk, costing just one green and one blue mana while wielding a hearty 1/3 stats. His activated effect is a bit pricey at four mana, but it's helpful when you have leftover resources: You scry 1, then reveal the top card of your deck, putting it tapped onto the battlefield if a land and adding it to your hand otherwise.
More than that, Thrasios brandishes the ever-useful merfolk and wizard heritages, and he makes a superb commander since he carries both of the common merfolk colors as well as the rare partner ability. This lets you use Thrasios with another partner commander (choose "Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix" for another green/blue unit), letting you have two creatures available at all times throughout your EDH match!
1. Waterfront Bouncer
Waterfront Bouncer bears the secondary spellshaper subtype, not as useful as wizard but still helpful in certain situations. Despite his buff appearance, he's only a 1/1, but Bouncer costs just two mana. Better yet, by spending a blue mana, discarding a card, and tapping him, you get to return any creature back to its owner's hand!
Considering blue's proficiency with extra draws, you should have plenty of discard fodder, making Waterfront a reusable and affordable removal. He remains one of my favorite blue cards that I often blend into even non-merfolk blue decks; fortunately , he's available for less than a single dollar! For any merfolk theme, or even simply just a blue deck, I definitely recommend giving this bouncer a shot.
How to Support a Merfolk Deck in Magic
In addition to our list's supports, several other merfolk can boost your team:
- "Coralhelm Commander" and "Merfolk Mistbinder" increase the stats of merfolk.
- "Deeproot Elite" place +1/+1 counters when another merfolk enters.
- "Master of the Pearl Trident" grants other merfolk additional power and islandwalk.
- The enchantment "Merrow Commerce" untaps your merfolk at the end of your turn, ensuring you're never without blockers.
Combo merfolk with their common wizard allies or blue's vast assortment of powerful counterspells, and you're well on your path to victory. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of aquatic predators, vote for your favorite creature and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill