In essence, it's a fair blue tempo creature deck. You play threats, which are Merfolk, add lords that buff them, and turn them sideways. Lord of Atlantis and Master of the Pearl Trident also grant islandswalk, which basically translates into unblockability in the land of dual lands. Should the opponent not have Islands, you've got Tide Shaper, which can make sure that there is at least one on the other side of the table. Those creatures do have some utility in addition to raw damage output: Said Shaper can kill Urza's Saga. Merfolk Trickster can mess up combat. Silvergill Adept draws a card, and True-Name Nemesis is untouchable.
Dominaria United added another utility effect to the lineup. Vodalian Hexcatcher turns every Merfolk into a Cursecatcher. It's also another two-mana lord, bringing the total up to twelve. On top, it comes with flash, which interacts favorably with either of the other two abilities. You can catch your opponent and their noncreature spell off guard. Or you can really mess up their math when you cast this lord midcombat and use Aether Vial to bring in another.
Emperor Mihail II is not a Standard-legal card but was printed in the Dominaria United Commander set. It's the Merfolk version of Experimental Frenzy/Conspicuous Snoop/Mystic Forge. It's legit on rate as well so it can actually attack and block. The additional option to make more Merfolks is the icing on this already powerful and delicious cake. I so wish it were allowed in Modern.
There are other angles to the deck. The first, in addition to what the creatures do, is interaction, that is, Force of Will. It ensures that you do not fold to degenerate combo decks or other early shenanigans. It also allows you to tap out with impunity. Then there is a curious combo kill involving Thassa's Oracle and Thought Lash or Paradigm Shift. This forces the opponent to play around the creature onslaught, free countermagic, as well as a possible combo finish. Spicy tuna!
|Merfolk by Haneman, 12th at Legacy Challenge, September 3|
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