Our irregularly recurring Market Watch segment has returned! However, since the last segment, Andrew has ditched Star Wars: Destiny entirely to return to Magic: the Gathering. This time, based upon all currently available information, we are pressing BUY on a speculation (“spec”) for a possible Standard “Fish” centerpiece: Kopala, Warden of Waves.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF “FISH”
The Merfolk-heavy “Fish” deck archtype has been making waves ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) for years. The deck itself dates back to 1993 with Merfolk of the Pearl Trident and Lord of Atlantis. Its current forms remind me of the U/R “Fish” and U/W “Landstill” that I piloted in the mid 2000s: play cheap, small, evasive, and efficient creatures and then protect them. Here’s a sample (although maybe not optimal) mono blue Modern decklist recently posted on /r/FishMTG:
These two cards have led to the rise in popularity of the U/G “Tropical Fish” variant in Modern.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
If you haven’t seen it already, Silvergill Adept is being reprinted in the upcoming set: Rivals of Ixalan.
Hopefully, this is indicative that Rivals of Ixalan will continue the strong tribal themes of Ixalan and gives us some new or returning Merfolk. I feel as though we are just a couple Merfolk and a “Lord” effect away from a Merfolk tribal aggro deck in Standard.
Another Ixalan card, Siren Stormtamer, although not a Merfolk, may be a good fit for the Cursecatcher slot. In one of my earlier articles, “Magic: Four Reasons Why Former Players Should Come Out of Retirment for an Ixalan Prerelease Event,” I noted that Siren Stormtamer reminded me of Spiketail Hatchling, which was a “Fish” staple in the mid-2000s.
The main reason I think Kopala is a buy right now is because of his striking resemblance to Kira, Great Glass-Spinner. Kira and Kopala are both one-ofs in the Modern decklist already. Kira, not being Standard legal, means Kopala has to do Kira’s job in Standard. Sure, Kopala doesn’t counter the spell or ability, but three-mana Fatal Pushes or four-mana Abrades start to add up in your favor.
Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
One glaring weakness is the lack of removal and larger threats. You are banking on Flying creatures and/or getting enough +1/+1 counters on your small guys before your opponents play their 4/4s and 5/5s. Be sure to save your Negates for non-targeted removal like Fumigate, Settle the Wreckage, Bontu’s Last Reckoning, and/or Sweltering Suns.
If a Standard Merfolk deck does become popular, we expect the currently $1.00 Kopala to follow the trajectory of Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and “spike” up to around $3-$5. Buy two playsets at bulk rate or trade for him at throw-in value, save a playset for yourself, and then spin the other playset off once the deck hits the format.
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