[Standard] Market Watch: Kopala, Warden of Waves and a U/G “Fish” decklist

 

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:

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Ixalan recently introduced two strong green Merfolk: Merfolk Branchwalker and Kumena’s Speaker.

These two cards have led to the rise in popularity of the U/G “Tropical Fish” variant in Modern.

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Credit: mtgtop8.com

Ixalan also reprinted Spell Pierce and gave us a Cavern of Souls-esque land in Unclaimed Territory.

 

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:

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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 FumigateSettle the Wreckage, Bontu’s Last Reckoning, and/or Sweltering Suns.

I can also see fitting Deeproot Champion in the deck with the amount of non-creature spells that we have or a couple Herald of the Secret Streams as the finisher.

 

CONCLUSION

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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