GP Brisbane Top 64 Merfolk Tournament Report


Heading into most GP’s the toughest decision is normally what deck to play, but lucky for me I’ve been playing merfolk since the dawn of modern. All that was left was to pick the 75 cards I would register for the main event – a decision that wasn’t made until the night before. After a lot of conversations with friends and ‘famous’ merfolk streamers I settled on the below list:

Drew's Merfolk

Creatures: (28)
Lord of Atlantis
Master of Pearl Trident
Silvergill Adept
Master of Waves
Harbinger of the Tides
Merrow Reejerey
Vendilion Clique

Spells: (12)
Spell Pierce
Vapor Snag
Aether Vial
Spreading Seas

Land: (20)
12 Island
Cavern of Souls
Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
Minamo, School at Water's Edge
Sideboard: (15)
Unified Will
Hurkyl's Recall
Relic of Progenitus
Tectonic Edge
Tidebinder Mage

There were a few decisions in particular that I felt gave me an edge throughout the tournament including the addition of Vendilion Clique over the more traditional Kira, Great Glass Spinner which gave me more game against the big mana, control or combo oriented decks (Ad Nauseum, Tron, UW Control). I also chose to run Unified Will over Negate or other counterspells as I was confident this lined up well with what I expected the GP meta to be on the day as well as to shore up some of Merfolk’s tougher matchups like GR Valakut, Ad Nauseum. Big shoutout to my friend Jono for convincing me to run the singleton Dispel!


In an effort to obtain my second bye I signed up to multiple last chance trials on Friday, starting with a single elimination event, and followed up with swiss events later. I was rewarded by being paired against Ensnaring Bridge.dec in multiple events, and took until 6pm to get my first win on the board. Feeling defeated I dropped from the event to recover for Saturday.


Round 1: BYE

Round 2: UB Fairies – WIN 2-0

Heading into round 2 I can definitely say I didn’t expect to face fairies, however I felt favoured in this matchup. I took game one after my opponent used a Fatal Push on an attacking Mutavault early in the game, which allowed me to safely resolve a Master of Waves and continue to apply pressure and close out the game.

Game two was a very tight race in which i narrowly came out ahead due to a timely Dispel for my opponents Cryptic Command who tried to fade combat damage for a turn, and crack back with lethal.

Key sideboard cards in this matchup were Dispel and relic as their best cards against you are cryptic command, and grinding value from flashing back spells – Unified Will is poor in this match due to the fairies player being able to flash in a number of creatures making it unlikely to be active when you need it. I had decided to take out both copies of Vapor Snag, and a single Harbinger of the Tides to make room for stronger cards in this matchup.

Record (2-0)

Round 3: Lantern Control – LOSS 0-2

I was able to apply pressure from early creatures, and back them up with a spell pierce for the turn three Ensnaring Bridge. Unfortunately for me my opponent found an academy ruins and was able to lock me out by returning the bridge to his hand.

I was able to counter the turn three Ensnaring Bridge in the second game but I didn’t have the same pressure as the first – I had thought I was in with a chance after my opponent cast Lantern of Insight revealing ensnaring bridge whilst mine showed Vendilion Clique; however my opponent played excellently, and was able to Academy Ruins the first bridge back on top of his library in response to the Vendilion Clique cast.
In this match the best cards to bring in are Hurkyl’s Recall, and Unified Will to deal with the Ensnaring Bridges from the lantern player. The weaker cards in this matchup are Vapor Snag as there are no good opportunities to utilize this card, and Master of Waves as this match is about being as fast as possible to get under an Ensnaring Bridge.

Record (2-1)

Round 4: Abzan – WIN 2-0

Lost the dice roll, and couldn’t keep up against the discard, Grim Flayers and Goyfs.

Game two I Vendilion Clique’d away a Damnation and used my lords and Spreading Seas to close out the game.

In the third game I pulled ahead with two lords and a Spreading Seas clearing the way for the beat downs.

Against Abzan; Tidebinder Mage and Relic do a lot of work against Tarmogoyf, and Tectonic Edge replaces Aether Vial. I also chose to take out all copies of Spell Pierce as this isn’t at it’s strongest in this matchup.

Record (3-1)

Round 5: Sun and Moon – WIN 2-1

Game two I was able to take care of an Anger of the Gods with Spell Pierce and closed the game out with creatures; fighting through multiple Nahiri’s deployed as a removal spell/time walk.

Cast Hurkyl’s recall to return his ensnaring bridge and swung for lethal.

I opted to bring in Hurkyl’s Recall and Unified Will to deal with Ensnaring Bridge, and took out all copies of Vapor Snag, and Spreading Seas as islandwalk is not required in this matchup.

Record (4-1)

Round 6: Lantern Control – WIN 2-0

Game one opponent played a late Ensnaring Bridge, but had multiple lands in hand and I was able to end the game in one big swing with Master of Waves.

In the second game, my opponent kept a one land hand and was overrun with creatures.

Record (5-1)

Round 7: Affinity LOSS-0-2

I kept a bad hand against affinity in the dark, and was promptly punished. I punted by choosing not to Spell Pierce a Cranial Plating – as it turned out, my opponent had another one so it would have been a rough game either way.

In the second game I had to mulligan down to 5 and was steam rolled.

The best cards for the affinity matchup out of the sideboard are Gut Shot and Hurkyls to attempt to control the tempo against affinity in order to win the race. Master of Waves and Spell Pierce make way in this match-up to combat the blistering pace of affinity’s better draws.

Record (5-2)

Round 8: Ad Nauseum – WIN 2-1

I was extremely nervous going into this round as I had just lost a win and in for Day 2 against my worst matchup Affinity and this was further compounded by losing game one to a top deck’d (either Phyrexian Unlife or Ad Nauseum), as they didn’t go off the turn before with plenty of mana available. The line of play that stuck out to me most was when I needed to decide what to Spreading Seas, i controlled an Island, a Mutavault and two Cavern of Souls naming merfolk – At the time I was very tempted to seas my own Mutavault for the second blue source to cast Vendilion Clique. It turns out i would have won the game with that decision as I would have been able to strip my opponent from the Ad Nauseum on the turn he won.

In the second game I kept a sketchy hand with no creatures, Aether Vial and counterspells – I drew creatures off the top, forcing my opponent to Slaughter Pact a lord to buy time. Opponent was unable to resolve an Ad Nauseum and I take the game.

Game three was played with some pressure with Curse Catchers and lords, forcing another Slaughter Pact to be cast to save life points. I was able to control the game keeping Unified Will and Spell Pierce live for the whole game.

The key sideboard cards in this match up are counterspells such as Unified Will and Dispel which aim to prevent your opponent from combo killing you with Ad Nauseum and Lightning Storm. Master of Waves and Vapor Snag are trimmed in this match-up to lower the curve, allowing the merfolk player to deploy threats and hold up countermagic to prevent losing the game.

Record (6-2)

Round 9: RG Tron – WIN 2-0

In the final match of day one I had been relieved of all pressure having already qualified for day two, and was looking to improve my record. Unfortunately for my opponent he had to mulligan down to 5 cards and after Spell Piercing his Chromatic Sphere, and following up with a spreading seas the game was over quickly.

The second game followed suit with my opponent mulliganed to six, which left Unified Will and Spreading Seas able to slow my opponent from assembling tron and allowing me to win the match.

Vapor Snag and Master of Waves are replaced with Unified Will and Tectonic Edge from the sideboard in this matchup to fight Tron assembling their ‘combo’ and the counterspells to prevent them from casting any of their big mana pay off spells.

Record (7-2)


Round 10: Naya Zoo – LOSS 1-2

Both players had very land heavy hands, where we were trading 5 life a turn – his with an exalted Loxodon Smiter, and mine spread across multiple merfolk – I thought I had broken the stalemate on 5 life when I drew and played a Master of Waves. However, my opponent had other ideas when he drew a Stormbreath Dragon and crashed in for the last 5 points of life I had left.

I managed to take the next game with multiple lords and Spreading Seas

In the final game my opponent took the points, but I had the moral victory when I was able to Gut Shot a Wild Nacatl that was played on turn 1 from a basic forest! My opponent commented after the game that he didn’t see the Gutshot coming at all. The final game of this match was another super close game, where both players were on a low life total trading blows where I’ve managed to stabilize using Aether Vial and Master of Waves. I pass turn feeling confident of locking up the game, when my opponent casts Naya Charm to tap my team, and swings for lethal – I think i re-read the card 5 times to make sure I read it correctly.

Starting day 2 of the GP with a decent record and then losing the first round of the day in such a tight fashion really put a damper on the good feelings at the start of the day, I had to pull everything together and shake it off to prepare for the next round.

I had sided in Gutshot to deal with an early Noble Hierarch, and Tidebinder Mage to deal with their creatures. I shaved copies of Curse Catcher and Harbinger of the Tides in favor of cards that had more value in this matchup.

Record (7-3)

Round 11: Naya Midrange – LOSS 0-2

Unfortunately not much to say about this match, in both games I was over run with first strikers and unprofitable blocks against Mirran Crusaders, new Thalia and Kessig Wolf Run.

Similar to the previous match I sided in Gutshot to deal with an early Noble Hierarch, and Tidebinder Mage to deal with their creatures. I shaved copies of Curse Catcher and Harbinger of the Tides.

Record (7-4)

Round 12: Jeskai Contro – WIN 2-1

With everything on the line, and no more losses to give (and a few pep talks from close friends) I entered round 12 ready to face anything that wasn’t affinity!

Game one my opponent had a removal heavy hand, and I ran out of gas quickly and died to Restoration Angel and Celestial Colonnade beat downs.

Games two and three I took with lords and beat downs, notable moments including Vendilion Clique on turn 4 to remove the Supreme Verdict from my opponent’s hand!

In this matchup I brought in Unified Will and Dispel to fight against my opponents Cryptic Commands and other impactful non-creature spells, Relic of Progenitus to lessen the impact of Snapcaster Mage and Tectonic Edge to punish a three color manabase, and destroy any creature lands. I trimmed Vapor Snag, Harbinger of the Tides and an island against Path to Exile decks which allows my draws to contain more gas.

Record (8-4)

Round 13: Abzan – WIN 2-1

This round was a series of tight games where I won the best of three by summoning back to back Master of Waves, and my opponent not being able to remove them before I crashed some elemental wave tokens into combat. Spreading Seas is vital in this matchup to cripple the three color manabase, and sneak past a potential blocking Tarmogoyf.

Record (9-4)

Round 14: Naya Burn – WIN 2-1

I lost the dice roll and managed to win game 1 with Harbinger of the Tides providing the tempo of bouncing Goblin Guides and then providing a blocker preventing major life loss whilst building a big board of blockers (which quickly turned into attackers).

Lose to double Goblin Guide and double Searing Blaze on my ‘hopeful’ blockers.

My opponent keeps a one land hand in game three which allows me to control the tempo of the game by utilizing Vapor Snag and Harbinger of the Tides to get the win.

Dispel and Tidebinder Mage are very good cards out of the sideboard for this match up as they both offer the merfolk player the time vital to establish a board presence and close the game. In this match Merrow Reejerey is too expensive and can be removed by a lot from my opponent.

Record (10-4)

Round 15: GB Tron – WIN 2-1

Approaching the table in which my final place in the tournament would be decided; the full weight of the weekend really started to hit home – more than 15 hours of magic over two days was all culminating into one 50 minute block (which ended up being my favourite game of the event).

Game one i’m able to Spreading Seas a tron land on turn 2, and follow it up with a Vendilion Clique which takes an unbeatable Oblivion Stone, leaving my opponent with a beatable Karn, and the ability to assemble tron – My opponent draws Ugin the Spirit Dragon from the clique trigger! Whoops.

I keep a hand with no interaction in game two and manage to draw spreading seas, and a well timed Tectonic Edge which was able to keep them behind on lands preventing them from blowing an Oblivion Stone to close out the game.

Game three was a very tight game where a Spreading Seas in the early turns keeps them from assembling Tron. I was able to counter a Nature’s Claim from my opponent with Unified Will which would have unlocked Tron and put me behind – My opponent played a turn 6 Wurmcoil Engine, and followed this up with a World Breaker on the following turn destroying my Spreading Seas – Fortunately for me my Merrow Reejerey triggers were able to tap down my opponent’s blockers and force through lethal.

Record (11-4)

Final Thoughts:

I can safely say that it hasn’t kicked in yet how much this means to me to get my first pro points, AND cash a GP AND ultimately come in at 45th place out of 981 players! I’ve achieved something that I will remember for the rest of my life, something that was previously a distant goal. It just goes to show that everybody has to start somewhere. I’m really grateful for the friends I’ve made in the magic community! Thank you for the support over the weekend.

I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to progress even further! See you all in Sydney.