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Those of the Sea and Sky

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Last week, I got to talk about the many ways Modern Horizons 2 has pushed my and many other Magic players' nostalgia to record highs. Garth, Timeless Dragon, Dakkon, Piru, and so many more really captured so much of old school Magic in style, lore, and feel. It's hard not to get wrapped up in it all and fall in love with all the classic throwbacks to yesteryear.

Svyelunite Priest
Svyelunite Temple

Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw Svyelun of Sea and Sky for the first time. It's almost too deep of a cut for most players to know who she is. In fact, I didn't exactly know she was a character directly, and came as a welcome surprise even following Mark Rosewater's teaser for the set listing a Merfolk God in the set. While I didn't know much of the goddess who created Dominaria's merfolk and made her home in the sky, I certainly recognized the term "Svyelunite" from my early years with the game.

The Vodalians of Vodalia in the watery depths of Dominaria showed up frequently in the game's early years. References to the fishy creatures could be seen through sets like Fallen Empires, Ice Age, and Mirage, with later references in the Invasion block and in Dominaria. While many of these cards aren't very playable by today's standards, seeing a name from my youth inspired me to toss together a deck around Svyelun. I love me some tribal decks, after all, and I couldn't help but go in on a merfolk deck here.

Check out the list:

Svyelun's Merfolk | Commander | Kendra Smith


Now this is a merfolk deck! I was worried as I was starting to put it together that there wasn't quite enough depth to a Mono-Blue merfolk list to make it work as good as I'd like. After all, merfolk - despite being such an iconic tribe - lack the same degree of variety in play that tribes like elves, goblins, zombies, and so on do. There's certainly some truth to that, as this deck often plays more like a hyper aggressive deck, something that feels almost strange in Blue. But there's ways we can make that work differently.

For example, merfolk decks have a tendency to rely on islandwalk kinds of effects to push damage through. To achieve this, we have to find ways to make our opponent's lands into islands. Sure, we might get a few people playing them naturally, but it's not always going to work out so neatly. Instead, we can make our cards do the job for us, with the help of cards like Aquitect's Will, Tide Shaper, and the far lesser known artifact Quicksilver Fountain.

Quicksilver Fountain
Lord of Atlantis
Saprazzan Bailiff

Even if we can't push through with islandwalk, that's fine. There're so many pump effects between the likes of Lord of Atlantis, Master of the Pearl Trident, Merrow Reejerey, Merfolk Sovereign, and the several tribal artifacts that your creatures should get massive. So massive, in fact, that you should be able to simply push through their forces with your own. And if you need even more firepower, you can clone many of these creatures using cards like Rite of Replication, Reflections of Littjara, and Helm of the Host.

Much like in your typical Constructed Merfolk lists, we're also running copies of Kira, Great Glass-Spinner and Kopala, Warden of Waves to help protect our army. Svyelun does some of this protection as well, but having the extra protection and redundancy is a big help. There're also some neat effects among our creatures. Empress Galina steals legends, Rootwater Thief can take problem cards out of our opponents' decks, and we can even win the game with Thassa's Oracle in the right setup without the unfairness usually attributed to the card. There's even Saprazzan Bailiff, a strange card from Mercadian Masques that seems extremely mediocre at first, but when you think about how much enchantment and artifact recursion exists, it's actually fine. If you can somehow bounce it with the ETB ability on the stack, you even get the Fiend Hunter/Oblivion Ring effect and exile the cards permanently!

Hullbreacher

For some, though, there's likely a glaring omission: Hullbreacher. In truth, I left this out of the deck because I find the card drastically unfun. Sure, it can accelerate your game plan, but at the expense of the rest of the table's enjoyment. If you feel like running it, go ahead, I won't stop you. However, it feels like with discussion surrounding effects like wheels (Windfall, Wheel of Fortune, Dark Deal, etc.) lately, Hullbreacher's been pretty strongly at the forefront of the discussion. The same goes for Narset, Parter of Veils, which I also saw in a number of lists when poking around online to search for some juicier additions to this list.

However you build your list, may your merfolk of the sea and skies pay the tribute Svyelun is due. It's great to see classic Magic characters and themes return to the game after so long, and especially when they work so cleanly with a well-established tribe. Give this deck a shot at your next Commander night and dive straight into your opponents' life totals.

Kendra Smith

Twitter: @TheMaverickGal

Twitch: twitch.tv/themaverickgirl

YouTube: Kendra Smith

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