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Recasting Merieke


Hello Folks!

I hope you are having a great day today! Today is the second of my 2nd Looks I am giving folks about their current commander deck. The basic concept is simple. Commander is awesome! But we all fall into deck-building traps at times. All of us.

So, one of the best ways out of that trap is to ask someone to proofread our deck. It's like proofreading each other's paper prior to turning it in. You will each catch mistakes the other made.

One of my long-time readers is Scott. And he sent me a deck built around Merieke Ri Berit that is too inconsistent at his kitchen table. He's had the deck for a while and would like for me to take a look at it and then help to primp it up a bit.

Now, before we begin, I do want to remind you that my edits to Scott's deck are to help Scott's deck. This is not Abe's Merieke Build, but Scott's. I don't want to make changes or edits that are more along my own path than any other's .

First, the context. Here are some of the things Scott had to say about his deck:

I was looking for combo/control. My meta varies widely from fast combo flash hulk to Zur control, so I was going for a 75% type of deck. I been collecting for a while so I have many of the expensive cards except Timetwister. I think my lands need a little work, tbh. But truly I would just LOVE to see what you could do with her I think all of us here on the base are anxious to see what you can do. I think I have enough card draw and I put Royal Assassin in for nostalgia reasons and Eldrazi Displacer to get rid of stuff that has pro colors and to remove counters from Animar.

Then later he played the deck again:

Hey, I got a chance to play the deck. I didn't win, although I came close. I was definitely the fun police.

I have some great context for Scott. But let's take a look at the deck, and see where I think he misses some shots.

Scott's MeriekeDeck -- Commander | Scott

And there is Scott's deck!

Now the deck certainly has some synergy is it. Scott's main three things the deck is trying to do are:

  1. Kill every opposing creature with Merieke
  2. Control the board with various control methods, and keep people from breaking the game
  3. Win with a combo

One of the things that I have noticed is that the deck invests heavily into a certain infrastructure, and then only Merieke (and to a lesser degree Royal Assassin) is the only creature that benefits. I feel like the result is a deck that isn't fleshed out enough to do stuff.

The deck is trying to do too many things, and its losing it's core as a result.

Here is how his deck works:

Control Merieke. Tap it and steal a dork. Then untap Merieke with an effect (such as enchanting it with Freed from the Real and spend a u). When you untap Merieke, the stolen dork heads off to the forgotten landscape in the sky. All dead. Now tap her again, and again, steal something.

So, your Merieke deck's goal is to kill every opposing creature, and then keep one good thing stolen.

And the deck also includes a little synergy with Merieke. For example, you could blink her with Eldrazi Displacer or kill her after she is tapped with Royal Assassin and then recast her. That's good stuff. But otherwise? I just don't see the rewards for investing in cards like Thousand-Year Elixir. This is a deck that has lots and lots of cards that untap a creature but not much to do with it.

There are also problems in targets at the kitchen table you want to answer. For example, other than stealing a single dork, what is your answer to an indestructible creature? My Vhati deck included -1/-1 stuff to kill indestructible things it set to 1 toughness, but what's the strategy here?

So here are the ways I want to flesh this deck out:

  1. Increase the reliability of the deck.
  2. Give the deck additional options for untapping tapped creatures beyond Merieke.
  3. Give answers to things like indestructible dorks, such as exiling removal.

Let's get started!

This color combination is the perfect color combination to answer, literally, anything someone might toss your way. You can destroy target creature (White, Black), planeswalker (Black), land (Black), artifact (White), or enchantment (White). You can exile most of those as well with various answers. You are the color of Utter End and Vindicate. Counter? Discard? Steal? Bounce? You've got it. You are the color of mass removal and mass bounce, and can destroy all lands, all artifacts, all enchantments, all creatures, and more. You can also exile them all or shuffle them back into the library.

You are the ultimate control machine. And I feel this deck is a little scattered at times. I want to lock down some of that control while also playing to the deck's strengths:

Lands and Mana

You can't win a game of Magic without lands and mana. This, admittedly boring, underpinning to your deck is vital.

You have 32 lands in your deck, 10 mana rocks, and such.

In City of Brass, Out Plains -- City of Brass is a good mana fixer for a deck that needs it.

In Arcane Sanctum, Out Island -- Taps for all three colors of mana.

In Path of Ancestry, Out Plains --Ditto Arcane Sanctum

In Bojuka Bog, Out Island -- See below for later questions on this pull.

Out Mox Opal, In Chromatic Lantern -- On a good draw, this change can slow the deck down a little, but makes it more reliable as well as helping to make a lot of u later on for some combos.

Out Orzhov Signet, In Basalt Monolith -- Wait, I am going to show you why later . . . 

Out Delay, In Ertai, Wizard Adept -- I don't like Delay here at all. It's not a strong answer to any non-situational card. I mean a Delay can essentially counter a Giant Growth our a counterspell, but it just . . .  well . . .  delays something like a Mulldrifter or Eternal Witness. Unless you are drawing an epic amount of cards, I just don't see the loss of card advantage, when there are many other cards available. The only deck I run Delay in is my Edric, Spymaster of Trest deck with a small land count and 1-drop evasive creatures you hit with. You are buried in an avalanche of card advantage. That's not this deck.

Ertai, on the other hand, is this deck. It likes to drink on a Thousand-Year Elixir, and I like it here. We also need creatures. Right now, over than Merieke, we have seven dorks, and one is getting pulled in a little bit. We need bodies to do stuff.

Out Gilded Drake; In Coffin Queen -- Coffin Queen is very good as a graveyard-oriented Merieke Ri Berit who would add another layer to the "tap and steal something" only in this case you'd reanimate something you just killed, to add to your forces, and your untap machine would exile it permanently if you wanted to use it as graveyard removal. You have lots of ways to steal something, so I don't see the Drake as the best creature here.

Out Azorius Signet; In Skullclamp -- I don't see the Signet of the Azorius as the most important for you moving forward. You have a ton of mana rocks already that are faster and more reliable, and I've shored up a little mana making with the lands and other places. Instead, how about drawing an epic amount of cards?

Skullclamp works thusly with Merieke:

  1. Tap Merieke and steal a dork
  2. Attach 'Clamp to the dork for a single mana (if it had 1 toughness and died, draw two cards)
  3. Untap Merieke. Kill the dork, draw two cards.

That means each iteration of Merieke will get you two cards for a single generic mana. Sounds like a plan to me!

Out Sensei's Divining Top, In Adarkar Valkyrie -- I feel like the lack of a Valkyrie in your deck is a heavily missed opportunity.

  1. Steal a dork with Merieke
  2. Tap the Valkyrie to target the stolen dork
  3. Untap Merieke. That creature dies
  4. That creature comes back into play under your control permanently.
  5. Tap Merieke to steal something else

Out Preordain, in Utter End -- Just adding in some additional removal. Nothing to see here.

Ditto . . . 

Out Wrath of God; in Final Judgment - With as much creature removal as you have baked in here, you don't need a four-mana Wrath, you need a six-mana ultimate answer. Exile the table away Scott, exile it away!

Out Enlightened Tutor; In Sphinx of the Final Word -- I like the Sphinx for you as a proactive answer to answer set of problems. You can't have your instants or sorceries countered, and it can't be targeted or countered itself. If you are running an environment so instant-focused that you have value in Dispel, then this is a good choice for you.

Out Arcane Denial, In Misdirection -- Speaking of which, Misdirection is an (arguably) cheaper answer. It also gives your deck a redirecting effect to play with.

Out Brainstorm, In Arcanis the Omnipotent -- Want to draw cards in a shell where you can tap and retap over and over again?

Out Paradox Engine, In The Immortal Sun -- The Engine is cute, but it doesn't too much because your critter base wasn't on point. Also. I pulled some mana rocks above. But The Immortal Sun is perfect for your deck. You aren't running any planeswalkers, so you aren't hurting yourself. You can draw more cards, drop the cost of your stuff, and make your small dorks bigger, thus increasing their impact on the board, all while actively hurting other players. It's a perfect card for you because it's both a "Play Fair Folks" card as well as great for you.

Let's talk combos for a minute:

Now, one of the things this deck tries to do is to win with combos. It has a few winning combos here, like Demonic Consultation and Laboratory Maniac. It also features Isochron Scepter and Orim's Chant. So there are some combos here.

Demonic Consultation
Laboratory Maniac

I'm not a super fan of the first. It does win you the game, true, and I like having a combo that you can push to if your table is getting all ornery and you just want to end it. That's fine. And it suits your deck. Sure.

But neither of those cards work well in a vacuum. When you don't have the Maniac out, or someone took it out, then are you going to try and cast Demonic Consultation as a Tutor, even knowing you have a chance to miss and kill yourself? Not really. And the Maniac doesn't have any additional synergies here, it's not working with the Commander or how Merieke was built in any meaningful way.

Similarly, the Helm of Obedience and Rest in Peace combo only kills one person at a time, and the RIP isn't the best card to hose graveyards available to you, oh player of Black's Leyline of the Void.

Helm of Obedience
Rest in Peace

So, I am massaging your combos. I am pulling some, and then giving you another that is more reliable, with better pieces.

Out Helm of Obedience; In Helm of Possession - I wanted to add in two more indestructible removal options, and this works. What you can do is to steal an indestructible creature with Merieke, and then sacrifice it to the Helm of Possession, which will end its threat and steal something else permanently as well

Out Rest in Peace; In Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim -- Much like the Helm above, Ayli works to sacrifice stuff. She can hit the board early and her deathtouch can keep the pressure off. And she can sacrifice bodies for life early on, and then sacrifice them to exile things later as your life increases by using Ayli. Ayli suits Merieke. I'm pulling RIP to enable Coffin Queen and Adarkar Valkyrie plays.

Out Laboratory Maniac, In Avatar of Woe -- That's space for me to use here. The Avatar of Woe is being added solely as a backup Merieke. It's here in case someone answer's Merieke. You can also use it like Royal Assassin to kill Merieke, it's alternate casting cost is very reliable, and the card works here with some size attached to it. It gives your board some heft.

As will . . . 

Out Demonic Consultation; In Power Artifact -- Power Artifact is not normally a card that I would recommend here. It's expensive. It's not a card that I would normally run. But note that this is not Abe's Merieke deck, and it fits here much more beautifully. It's my review of Scott's deck, and I want to be true to his vision. This is a great card for Scott, given he owns lots of cards already. This can go on Grim Monolith or Basalt Monolith to make infinite mana. You can use that to fuel a big ol' Staff of Domination or other effects to win the game. By the way, you can also enchant Staff of Domination instead if your combo pieces aren't there, it really drops its various costs and allow it to break open the board. Power Artifact is a better class of card.

I really like untapping effects that can untap something besides Merieke. I like something that can untap lands or artifacts for various effects as well. As an example, compare:

Aphetto Alchemist

The Alchemist is good because of morphing and untapping a mana rock if you need, but the Fatestitcher is so much better. It can tap like an Icy Manipulator, untap a key land, or something else. So, I want more of these effects.

I also want to shore up some stuff. So, I am going to remove a few answers to make the deck more consistent. If you need that specific answer for your metagame, then you can sub it back in for others.

Vizier of Tumbling Sands

Out Solitary Confinement; In Vizier of Tumbling Sands -- The Vizier is perfect with cycling if you don't need it and untapping anything if you do. If you feel the Solitary Confinement is too good in your metagame to pull, and nothing else is there to recommend, I'd pull the Aphetto Alchemist for the Vizier, since it has a better untap ability, bigger butt, and I prefer cycling to morph.

Out Blind Obedience, In Walking Ballista -- I had originally pulled Blind Obedience for Mother of Runes. Mother protects your stuff. The Blind Obedience is certainly cute with effects like Royal Assassin, but there's not enough in here for me to hang my hat on. Mother won't disappoint.

But after sitting on the deck for a week, the Walking Ballista is so much better. It's another mana sink to win the game with Power Artifact mana and it's a strong card to enchant with the Power Artifact as well.

And that's it!

A few questions. Are the Aven Mindcensor or Nevermore doing clever work for you? I left them in, but if not, then I'd add in some more synergy with stuff like Visara the Dreadful or one of many other options. I also sort of like Memnarch here as another Steal Your Stuff entry coming from another angle. Also, great with a Power Artifact, by the by. Maybe Academy Ruins? You've got this!

Here's the final deck!

Merieke Take Two -- Commander | Abe Sargent

And there we go! Thanks Scott for submitting the deck for my perusal.

P.S. -- Oh, as a quick FYI, most readers out there know that I have published more than 1000 articles on MTG. That's a lot of articles! I began doing a Throwback Thursday post on my Facebook page where I link to an older article of mine that I still like, and then give you a quick paragraph of context about it. Check it out! Also, feel encouraged to add me as friend. Have you wept alongside me with my "And on that Day, Like any Other?" Have you rejoiced with me alongside my journey? If you have invested time in reading my articles then you are my friend already. So, add me!

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