A New Classic in Rivals of Ixalan

Magic is 25 years old.  Over 100 sets and 17,000 unique cards make Magic one of the richest games today with a dozen officially recognized formats giving millions of players different ways to experience the game.  From the very first set Magic created a strong impression on players.  And while many of the cards from the first set were too powerful, and still others too weak, some have stood the test of time and can truly be considered classics.

One card from Alpha has always been a slam dunk for its elegance, power level and flavor: Lord of Atlantis.  Like many cards from Alpha, even the very name conjures up fantastic images of a mighty merfolk ruling over a mythical undersea realm.  Both merfolk and Atlantis can trace their stories all the way back to ancient Greece, so it’s no wonder many are enthralled by Lord of Atlantis just from the name alone.

Many words have been adopted over the years to describe certain types of cards in Magic: Bear, Bolt, Sweeper, Bounce, Counter, Drain, etc.  Lord refers to any creature that gives others that share its creature type a bonus (usually +1/+1 and some other ability).  Lords like Lord of Atlantis also immediately guide deckbuilding ideas and provide excitement at the prospect of building a deck filled to the brim with creatures of one type of fantasy creature.

Lord of Atlantis has proven its pedigree in high level tournament Magic through the years, with a Grand Prix finals appearance less than a year ago in Vancouver and a second place finish at the World Championships in 2001 at Toronto (maybe Atlantis is in Canada?).  While the surrounding cast of merfolk have gotten much stronger over 15 years, Lord of Atlantis has proven itself to be the bedrock of the merfolk tribe, allowing a quick rush of small blue creatures to overwhelm opponents.

Ixalan brought back the merfolk tribe for Standard, but without any significant payoff cards, the tribe has floundered.  Rivals of Ixalan looks to help merfolk make some waves in Standard with several new powerful cards.  The strongest of these is none other than a creature inspired by Lord of Atlantis:

I love cards like Merfolk Mistbinder.  Simple, powerful and brimming with possibility.  The implications in Standard are immediately obvious with Kumena’s Speaker, allowing a quick aggressive curve attacking with a 3 power creature on turn 2.  If there is to be a merfolk deck in Standard, it will rely on Merfolk Mistbinder enabling quick aggressive draws that allow your creatures to punch through your opponent’s defenses.  There are a few options for a future Merfolk deck, but one rough draft looks something like this:

This list is full of 1 drops as a way to apply immediate pressure to the opponent as well as the synergy cheap Merfolk have with both Kumena and Deeproot Elite.  There are currently no spells in this list, but I could easily see cheap interactive cards like Unsummon or Dive Down played in a shell like this as a way to provide a way to generate a significant tempo advantage over your opponent.  These kind of cards play quite well with Kumena as well, allowing you to maintain your board and card advantage engine by protecting Kumena and preventing your opponent from being to effectively race.

I would love to see a new tribal deck rise to prominence in Standard, and especially a quick aggressive one that breaks the mold of grindy midrange decks that have been dominating the format for some time now.  If there’s one card that can help push Merfolk to a top tier deck, I bet it’s going to be Merfolk Mistbinder, a lord certainly worthy of the title.

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