M13 Exclusive Preview: Master of the Pearl Trident!

Feature Article from Frank Lepore
Frank Lepore
6/26/2012 8:00:00 AM
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So let's be honest, is it any surprise that my preview card today would be a Merfolk?

...wait, what?

That doesn't make any sense. Of course it would be a surprise if you were going by my reputation. I'm not exactly known for playing decks like Merfolk, which is filled with a bevy of synergistic, cheap, versatile creatures. You'd probably expect my preview card to be something more like, I dunno...a 6/6 for six that Warp Worlds when it comes into play or something...which would actually make his stats somewhat irrelevant since he's just going to get shuffled into the deck anyway...but I digress!

The point is that today's preview card is a merfolk: one of Magic's oldest and most well known creature types. And it bears a striking resemblance to one particular merfolk that we might have seen before...

 Lord of Atlantis
Store QTY Price  
Cthulhus Playhouse 1 $7.00
Comic Lair 1 $9.76
Mythic Realm Games 1 $10.00
Funertia 2 $10.11
DaPlanet 1 $10.50
card Stock Games 1 $10.50
HeyImmaWolf 1 $10.50
Graveyard Games 1 $10.65
Smokedragon 1 $11.00
A+ Comics 1 $11.37
Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Lord of Atlantis Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

Okay, so no, Lord of Atlantis is not my preview card. Could you imagine them reprinting Lord of Atlantis? That guy has to be a little overpowered; not overpowered in general, mind you, but overpowered for a blue creature. I mean a 2/2 for two is not often a card that is available to blue mages, unless it has some kind of drawback. I mean, look at Phantom Whelp: a 2/2 for two that returns to your hand at the end of combat where it attacks or blocks. Wormfang Newt Deprives you of a land until it leaves play! And blue 2/2's for two typically never have bonuses! Unless of course they're either sharing colors (ie. Guildmages) or...unless they're Merfolk!

Merfolk have traditionally been one of the few creature types in the history of the game to be able to get away with being blue 2/2's for two mana that not only don't have drawbacks, but have benefits! I mean just look at Coralhelm Commander or Grimoire Thief. I assume the reason these creature can get away with such stats is due to their somewhat-restrictive casting cost at UU, which as you might remember is exactly where the old Lord of Atlantis sits. Well, that being, the case, without further ado, may I present to you...

“But Frank,” you might say, “I thought you said your preview card wasn't Lord of Atlantis!”

Ah, but it isn't! ...sort of.

Okay, so clearly this is a functional reprint of Lord of Atlantis, but that is incredibly exciting! For one thing it means we get to, you know, play with Lord of At...er, Master of the Pearl Trident in Standard! This is something we haven't been able to do for ages! Since Seventh Edition! Er, wait, since Time Spiral Block! That's right. But that block had virtually no Merfolk and, come on, it was back in 2006!

My only concern in this day and age is the amount of Merfolk that will be present in Standard. My concerns were further validated when I did a quick search for Merfolk currently in standard and I found, er...three.


Yes. Three Merfolk currently in Standard. It gets even worse when you realize that only one card out of Coral Merfolk, Merfolk Looter, and Merfolk Mesmerist is actually playable. It gets even worse when you realize that Merfolk Looter has yet to be confirmed as a reprint in M13!

But all is not lost! With the M13 spoilers in full swing right now, we can see that we have at least three Merfolk to work with so far!

These guys all seem awesome to me, but to be fair, I was the guy that wanted to play Scroll Thief in Standard. I mean...he draws you a card, and if he's a 2/4 with Islandwalk? Get outta town! I was already planning on playing Augur of Bolas, since it plays much like Court Hussar or Sea Gate Oracle, only for one less mana! And Talrand, Sky Summoner? This guy is awesome! Can you imagine playing him on turn four, then immediately casting a Gut Shot or a Gitaxian Probe? Free 2/2 flier to go along with my 3/3 Islandwalker! And this doesn't even assume that Merfolk Looter is getting a reprint!

While I think we might have enough Merfolk to get some good value out of the old Master here in Standard, I think where he will really shine is in the older formats. Just think about it: from Modern to Legacy, Merfolk is a legitimate strategy, and these guys are most if not all of the reason why...

I mean, come on! Look at this line up! Lords for days! The Merfolk tribe literally has access to five potential lords right now, and three of them cost two mana. In fact many of the lists don't even use the Merfolk Sovereign, which just goes to show that unless you have a lord with a really sweet ability, like the Reejerey, three mana is a little too costly.

In fact, in a recent SCG Open in Indianapolis, Merfolk put two players into the Top 16 with nearly identical decks, and actual identical maindecks!

Merfolk by Scott Ruggiero
Finished 9th - 16th Place at 2012 StarCity Open Legacy - Indianapolis - 6/17
Main Deck
4 Coralhelm Commander
4 Cursecatcher
4 Lord of Atlantis
4 Merrow Reejerey
4 Phantasmal Image
4 Silvergill Adept
2 Spellstutter Sprite
Creatures [26]
4 Aether Vial
2 Daze
4 Force of Will
3 Spell Pierce
1 Umezawa's Jitte
Spells [14]
12 Island (233)
4 Mutavault
4 Wasteland
Lands [20]
Deck Total [60]

2 Blue Elemental Blast
2 Faerie Macabre
2 Sower of Temptation
1 Spell Pierce
4 Submerge
3 Tormod's Crypt
1 Umezawa's Jitte
Sideboard [15]

Click for full deck stats & notes!

The list seems very tight as it is, but I can't help feel that Phantasmal Image is simply in there to be Lord of Atlantis numbers five through eight...which we now have in the form of Master of the Pearl Trident! While Phantasmal Image is a little more versatile, the Master of the Pearl Trident is a little more resilient. I'm no Legacy expect, so I couldn't tell you what to cut, but as one of if not the best lord in the deck, I can't imagine not wanting eight copies of Lord of Atlantis when available. I also can't imagine not wanting Master of the Pearl Trident over Coralhelm Commander, as the Commander is simply more of a build-your-own-lord that takes time to reach his peak. A great card in his own right, no doubt, but the Master of the Pearl Trident comes fully loaded already, offering another opportunity for Islandwalking shenanigans!

No matter how you cut it, the Master of the Pearl Trident is sure to make a splash (uh, no pun intended?) in one format or another. I think one of the best parts of the card is simply the flavor; Lord of Atlantis was always a very iconic creature, leading one of Magic's oldest and most popular tribes. Master of the Pearl Trident takes it to the next level by harkening one of Magic's oldest lores: the Pearl Trident. I mean, come on: Merfolk of the Pearl Trident has been around since Alpha. It's like the Mons's Goblin Raiders of blue creatures, whoever or whatever “Mons's” is. Either way, I think Master of the Pearl Trident is a welcome functional reprint for a card that has been a huge part of Magic's legacy! I'm hoping that we get a few more Merfolk in the near future to make this card really shine, but I think the Master will find a home one way or another, regardless of format.

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you in a couple days for a brand new deck tech!

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Frank Lepore
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