Duel Decks: Merfolk vs. Goblins Review

Once again, we sat down with Lauri and played some games with the decks as is. I found these much better than the last ones (Mind vs. Might), which just weren’t in any way interesting to play, but let’s look at them a little deeper before judging them.

So, why are they fighting exactly? I mean, Goblins live in the mountains and merfolk live in the sea. They might not really like each other, but I don’t think they have much of a reason to fight in general, because of their different habitats. The merfolk seem to be the aggressors here, because they have nine different ways to change lands into Islands. I guess they need more room for… some reason.

Not that the Merfolk could really use all those nine reasons that well. In fact, [scryfall]Aquitect’s Will[/scryfall] seems kind of bad here, because there just isn’t that many ways to use it. There’s one [scryfall]Master of the Pearl Trident[/scryfall], one [scryfall]Inkfathom Divers[/scryfall], one [scryfall]Cold-Eyed Selkie[/scryfall] and three [scryfall]Streambed Aquitects[/scryfall]. Now, if you are going to be stuck drawing more than one of one of these two types of cards, you would definitely want more of the latter than the former. You don’t want to draw enablers to cards you don’t have.

Anyhow, here are the lists:

[deck title=Merfolk]
2 Tidal Warrior
1 Merfolk Looter
1 Harbinger of the Tides
1 Master of the Pearl Trident
1 Tidebinder Mage
1 Merfolk Wayfinder
1 Merrow Reejerey
2 Rootwater Hunter
2 Scroll Thief
1 Wake Thrasher
1 Merfolk Sovereign
3 Streambed Aquitects
1 Cold-Eyed Selkie
1 Master of Waves
2 Tidal Courier
1 Inkfathom Divers
4 Aquitect’s Will
1 Concentrate
1 Mind Spring
1 Triton Tactics
2 Essence Scatter
1 Tidal Wave
1 Engulf the Shore
1 Misdirection
2 Claustrophobia
1 Blighted Cataract
2 Lonely Sandbar
21 Island

[deck title=Goblins]
2 Foundry Street Denizen
1 Goblin Glory Chaser
1 Goblin Diplomats
1 Goblin Tunneler
1 Ember Hauler
2 Goblin Wardriver
1 Warren Instigator
2 Boggart Brute
1 Gempalm Incinerator
1 Goblin Rabblemaster
1 Goblin Chieftain
1 Goblin Goon
2 Goblin Ringleader
1 Goblin Razerunners
1 Krenko, Mob Boss
1 Battle Squadron
1 Goblin Grenade
3 Krenko’s Command
1 Hordeling Outburst
1 Relentless Assault
1 Cleaver Riot
2 Brute Strength
3 Ghostfire
1 Brittle Effigy
1 Goblin Charbelcher
2 Tarfire
2 Blighted Gorge
2 Forgotten Cave
20 Mountain

The rares and mythics are:

Nothing particularly expensive, but definitely some cards that value, especially on the merfolk side.

Goblins have a lot lower curve. If they are on the play, it’s really hard for the merfolk to catch up. There are a couple of rares that do just that, but if you don’t draw them at the right moment, you are going to be in a very poor situation. The goblins have enough interaction to get rid of most blockers and the merfolk doesn’t really have answers to things like [scryfall]Goblin Chieftain[/scryfall]. Sure, there’s [scryfall]Claustrophobia[/scryfall] as removal, but that doesn’t really stop the static effect. Keeping [scryfall]Essence Scatter[/scryfall] open for it always seemed to backfire due to the token makers.

Merfolk also puts a lot of emphasis on card draw, which would be fine, but we often found ourselves in a situation where we would have preferred some action right then and there. The tempo loss of using a turn to draw cards was just way too much with the goblins amassing their forces quickly.

Merfolk seemed much more difficult to play, but I’m not sure there’s that much decisionmaking. Finding the right line wasn’t always intuitive and newer players might miss them quite easily. Ones I had to kill Krenko by pinging it thrice with [scryfall]Deepwater Hunter[/scryfall] in a turn by using [scryfall]Merrow Reejerey[/scryfall] and two merfolk spells. I would not have been able to do that, if I hadn’t known [scryfall]Aquitect’s Will[/scryfall] is a Merfolk card. How many newer players are going to notice that? Or would a new player have caught that they can push the final points of damage through by attacking with [scryfall]Streambed Aquitects[/scryfall] and untapping it with [scryfall]Triton Tactics[/scryfall] in order to give itself Islandwalk?

Playing goblins is much more straightforward. You have enough removal to get rid of any of the bigger threats on the other side. It would seem that there’s enough toughness on the merfolk side to block efficiently, but that never seemed to work.

This is the penultimate event deck, at least for now. They are dropping the concept. Apparently, they haven’t been that popular recently. I wonder how much that is about Mind vs. Might. This felt much better to me, although the balancing seemed a little bit off again. The merfolk would have needed a slightly lower curve and a little bit better card quality. Maybe swap those [scryfall]Aquitect’s Will[/scryfall]s to a couple of [scryfall]Triton Shoresthief[/scryfall]s and [scryfall]Spreading Seas[/scryfall] and the decks would have worked much better.

Our final record was 5-2 for the goblins and one of the merfolk wins was a pretty meaningless game with extreme flooding on both sides.

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