It's that time of the year again – time for the fish to rise up! Everyone knows Merfolk is my favorite deck, but that doesn't mean it gets a free pass on Mining Modern – it has to earn its spot like everything else by putting up a good finish.
Well, in the hands of Merfolk expert Nikachu, it's done just that – he's made the Top 8 of back-to-back Modern Challenge events, and went 7-0 during the swiss portion of the last one. Trust me, that's all the excuse I need to show off Mistcaller!
Mistcaller is the latest Cursecatcher replacement, and I think this one might stick. Cursecatcher has been a staple of Merfolk ever since Lorwyn block, but the truth is the tax effect just isn't what it used to be. From Abrupt Decay to Path to Exile to Fatal Push to Assassin's Trophy to big-mana combo decks that don't care about taxing an instant or sorcery, ol' Cursecatcher just isn't what it used to be, to my never-ending disappointment.
Is Mistcaller better? In all likelihood, yes. In a world of Collected Company and Chord of Calling and Dredge and Griselbrand and Aether Vial and Restoration Angel, the ability to keep creatures from entering the battlefield is a huge tempo swing from a one-mana card that also attacks and gets pumped by lords. Add in the fact it can be done at instant speed from our own Vials, and you end up with a Cursecatcher replacement that actually taxes them far more than one mana, and does so in a way that scales with the game.
The other spice in this list is cutting Harbinger of the Tides for a combination of Peek and Phantasmal Image. To be honest, I don't love it but I have to defer to Nikachu's success with it. The perfect information offered by Peek can be extremely valuable especially in a Modern world that's faster than ever, but losing all the interaction the deck had – we also only have two Merrow Reejerey – means that this list struggles to do anything about resolved threats. Is Peek better than Dismember? Probably not, but I'm willing to concede this may be meta-dependent.
Other than that, not much has changed with Merfolk. It's unfortunate that Humans and now Bant Spirits have both become better Aether Vial decks than the original harbingers of Vial shenanigans in the Merfolk tribe, but as Nikachu continues to show, the fish still have a place in Modern.
Thanks for reading,