Insider: Under the Sea- Making Money with Merfolk

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After some recent debate on the forums about the merits of a Master of the Pearl Trident spec, I thought I'd take a look. Merfolk is an archetype with a lot of longevity in Legacy and with many pieces also available to Modern players, it sees play across both formats. With Wizards offering FNM support for the Modern Format, I'd expect more demand for Merfolk as the season kicks off.

Most of the comments on the forum talked about the potential for Master of the Pearl Trident to see standard play, or the likelihood of a tribal deck in the format.  While I see this as a distinct possibility, if for no reason other than the decks popularity across formats, others are less convinced. Looking at the standard pool right now, Augur of Bolas, Talrand and even Scroll Thief all look very playable. The deck is screaming for a one drop, but any decent Merfolk in Gatecrash is going to have people toying with the idea.

The real challenge for any deck right in Standard is its ability to deal with the meta and put up results. Thankfully, in Gatecrash the Merfolk are most likely coming out of Simic which opens up another home for Thragtusk at 5cc. People insisting any Merfolk deck needs another lord are forgetting Clone. Using that card to copy just a Master of the Pearl Trident is awful, but the ability to shut down other legendary creatures or gain life and deliver resilient beats is strong. A Standard Merfolk variant might also finally be a home for Cackling Counterpart.

Ultimately, who cares about viability. The question is, how do we make money with Merfolk? The easiest way to do that: Phantasmal Image. Recent rotation out of Standard has hurt pricing on this super cost efficient clone. Modern runs this as a 4-of and Legacy calls for 2 at least. This card is starting to turn up after bottoming around 4$, but was a 12$ card in its prime. Conservatively this card could easily reach 8$ very quickly come January.

Moving into Modern

With Master of the Pearl Trident also a 4-of in Modern decklists, the card could peak in value around 4$ come Modern season. If it sees no play in Standard that is still almost a 100% return on investment at today's prices. For me, the margins aren't quite there at $2, so I'm limiting myself to aggressively trading into the Master of the Pearl Trident rather than buying it outright. This guy should perform at least as well as Coralhelm Commander.

Like many decks that need to protect vulnerable targets, Merfolk decklists often run Spellskite in the sideboard.  Here we've a $2 card that might settle out around $4 over time. I don't expect this card to spike much even as it creeps into some deck's main, but its utility will likely raise the floor on prices as time passes.

Related Targets

At $16 Cavern of Souls is about 25% off its high water mark. Here we have a card that belongs in many decks today in Standard and will see play in almost any deck that runs Æther Vial. For me, $14 looks like a good entry point for a long term investment that can turn hot in standard in a flash.

4 thoughts on “Insider: Under the Sea- Making Money with Merfolk

  1. Thank you for the article! Really liked how you included the peripheral cards with quick justifications.

    Can we get an mtgo viewpoint? The dude is only a quarter online…

    1. i’d love one. but i won’t speak to mtgo specs. all i do there is draft. if i’m going to spec, i’ll play the mythic set redemption game, hoping some peripheral thing gets hot.

      mining the data shouldn’t be that hard. do they publish # of events, games and formats completed? if so you can actually get hard #s for demand.

    2. I have been picking these up for a couple of weeks, for between 0.12 to .23 tix. We’ve seen very high prices on reprinted core set mythics (Garruk) and record prices on core set rares (Thragtusk), so the potential for this card to increase to 1+ tix is there as it appears the current player base is large relative to the amount of M13 that was opened.

      This sort of reminds me of speculating on infect cards from SOM. Selling into the hype was usually better than waiting for a top deck to emerge. That’s the play I would make on these, buy now, but don’t overpay. Paying more than 0.25 tix is probably incorrect. If hype around merfolk kicks up, sell some of your position to recover your costs, and then hold the rest as an already paid for gamble.

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