Daily Dose of Ixalan – Separating the Color Pie – Volume 2 – Merfolk
Welcome all to the Daily Dose of Ixalan, where today I’ll be continuing my discussion on the separation of the colour pie when it comes to the four major creature types in Ixalan.
Yesterday I talked about the emergence of mono-white Vampires for the first time ever, and how opening the colour pie for a creature type allows you to open the design space on what you can create. It’s also used to make sure that a set is balanced in the creatures it comes with. Today, I’m switching my focus from Vampires to Merfolk, who are seeing a similar colour change in the new set.
In Ixalan, the four major creature types each take a chunk of the colour pie and have creatures in only certain colours. Here's a review of the breakdown of the four major creatures we'll be seeing this set, and which colours they are in.
Vampires – Black / White
Merfolk – Green / Blue
Dinosaur – Red / Green / White
Pirates – Red / Blue / Black
There have been a few Merfolk in recent years, like Jori En, Ruin Diver and Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper, but nothing even close to what we'll be seeing in Ixalan. Yesterday, I talked about how there had been multicolour Vampires with white in the mana cost, but never any mono-white Vampires before Ixalan.
Merfolk are in a similar boat, we've seen multicolour Merfolk before with green in the mana cost, like Prime Speaker Zegana, but there's never been a mono-green Merfolk. That is, until now. This is a great idea to open up the colour pie and not limit Merfolk to only being blue creatures. Since there have been nine multicolor Merfolk in the past with green in their cost, it seems logical for there to be some mono-green Merfolk. We've seen mono-white and mono-black Merfolk already, so the addition of mono-green will nearly complete the full colour circle.
The first card I want to talk about today is one that will take advantage of a new mechanic in Ixalan that I'll explore in more depth next week. Here's Herald of Secret Streams.
Making things unblockable seems like a very blue thing to do. Putting +1/+1 counters onto creatures is a very green thing to do. Therefore, this card can work well in the right deck build.
There will be a few mechanics in Standard come Ixalan that will be able to take advantage of this card. There's the Fabricate mechanic from Kaladesh, which allows you to put +1/+1 counters on creatures with Fabricate when they enter the battlefield. There's also a new mechanic called Explore. This gives you the chance to put +1/+1 counters on certain creatures with this mechanic. There aren’t many spells currently in Standard that put +1/+1 counters on creatures, so it is possible that there could be few targets for Herald of Secret Streams's ability.
Talk about a great way to use your mana late in a game when you have no spells to cast or have leftover mana. I think this would be a great card in Limited to prevent mana flooding in games. Just remember that you can choose to keep putting all your counters on the same land and turn it into one large creature. This way, you can make one creature that’s harder to kill and block, while preventing your lands from being wiped out with a sweeper removal spell. I do think that this card will be too slow and clunky to be played in Standard however, unless a controlling Merfolk deck gets built.
Lastly, I want to look at a legendary Merfolk that has the chance to take over a game, especially if you are locked in a stalemate with lots of creatures on both sides of the battlefield. Here is Tishana, Voice of Thunder.
This card design seems a little off to me due to the fact that you get rewarded most if you have a ton of creatures on the battlefield by getting a huge card advantage with it. But, chances are that you're already winning the game if you have that many creatures on the battlefield.
I guess you should start thinking about how many cards you'd need to draw to make this card worthwhile. I think the value of this card is in the number of cards that you will be drawing, and not what its final power and toughness will be, or that you won’t have a maximum hand size anymore. If you're drawing anything less than three cards with Tishana, Voice of Thunder, I would consider it a disappointment.
So, as you can see Wizards of the Coast has done a good job in making sure that there's a lot of synergy between most of the Merfolk in Ixalan. I’m interested to see if a Merfolk deck is possible in Standard, because now it seems more that will be mostly very powerful Limited cards. It will probably be dependant on if they print any one and two-casting cost creatures that will be able to fit in the mana curve for this possible deck.
Thanks again for reading the Daily Dose of Ixalan, and I look forward to you joining me tomorrow when I talk about a brand-new creature type in Magic - Dinosaurs!