Kumena And The Fishy Tale

Mark Nestico serves up his latest Commander creation, a Merfolk deck based on Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca! Oh, and there’s a mighty fine fish story where obscure British TV characters come to life and no fourth wall is safe.

My eyes could hardly adjust to the darkness before me. The ground beneath my hands felt cold and covered with dew, and with the wrong move I’d slip with only the stone below to break my fall.

“Where am I?” I thought to myself, rubbing the back of my head.

The last thing I could remember was fishing in Black Lake when something…someone…dragged me below the murky waters. Scales. Scales were all I could remember feeling against my skin. And seaweed. Lots of seaweed.

“You awake there?” A voice in the distance echoed.

It took me a moment to absorb my surroundings, but it appeared that I had been transported to a subterranean dwelling. Bits of discarded plastic decorated the walls along with various finger paintings. Boats, long since destroyed and sunk, were used to create rudimentary furniture. My heart began beating faster and faster the moment I realized I wasn’t alone, and that the voice ringing through the cave was speaking to…me.

“Hello?” I managed to choke out. “I’m lost. Where am I?”

“You gonna scream if I come out? Everyone screams. Curly Jefferson? He screamed.” The voice sounded as if it was getting closer. “Mr. Hopkins? He screamed. And don’t even get me started on Howard. Oh, Howard, my love, he screamed the loudest.”

Could its appearance be that hideous? If there was a way it could help me escape, I’d surely like to know about it.

“I promise I won’t scream,” I whispered. “I just want to get out of here. You see, my wife and son are at home and I’m sure they’re worried and…”

“You probably gonna scream,” it cut me off, “but that’s okay. Everyone screams.”

I tried to use the cave wall behind me to brace myself. Its footsteps began to get close and closer and closer until…


I could feel its hot breath on my cheek. I stifled my scream so I wouldn’t startle it. I…well…it’s probably better if I just show you.

“Did ya come here looking for The Funk? Howard took The Funk. Now The Funk is gone. I’m Funkless.”

My eyes darted back and forth. What the hell was it talking about?

“I, uh…no?”

“Good.” It sounded relieved. “I’m Old Gregg. I needed a friend and you was fishin’. So I kidnapped ya. Brought you to my lair. Now I got a friend. I’m Old Gregg.”

It was interesting the way the light played off his delicate features here in the moonlight that we stood in.

“I’d like to be your friend, Gregg. But I have to get back to my family.”

“Ya can’t leave, Mark. I know your name is Mark because I checked ya wallet. It was a nice wallet. I glued seashells to it. Now it’s a way better wallet. Ya welcome. I need someone to play Commander with me, Mark. And it’s gonna be you. You’re gonna play some Commander with Old Gregg.”

I was perplexed.

“How did you know that I play Magic?”

Old Gregg took a seat on a bench made of driftwood. He was careful when crossing his legs.

“Everyone plays Magic, Mark. Old Gregg loves Magic. Old Gregg loves Commander. I’ve been playing it a lot by myself lately.” He motions to a table with four decks spread out in various forms of development. “Problem is, I always know what I’m gonna do before I do it. Can’t get a good game in.”

“Well, Gregg, if I play a game of Commander with you, can I go afterwards?”

“You’d have to beat me first,” Gregg declared proudly. “And I’m undefeated. Last person that beat me was Curly Jefferson. You wanna see what happened to him?”

Gregg pointed upwards.

Oh man oh man oh man. My heart felt like it was going to explode through my chest. I had to think quick if I was going to escape.

“But Gregg, if you checked my bag you’d know I have one of the best Commander decks out there. It’s Merfolk, Gregg. The new one they just printed.”

Just printed?You playing games with Old Gregg?”

“No, no, no!” I said, waving my hands back and forth. “It just came out, Gregg. His name is Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca. It’s Merfolk tribal, Gregg. You know…Merfolk. Scaly-man-fish people. Just like you!”

He seemed confused, but very interested.

“Tell me about it, Mark. Regale me. Regale Old Gregg.”

He sat before me criss-cross-applesauce, and after my eyes stopped bleeding I began to unfold the details of my latest Commander creation.

“Well, it relies a lot on Merfolk synergies, Gregg. Merfolk have a ton of tribal lords that all work together to make creatures of their type bigger and with multiple advantage. Merfolk have one of the highest densities of these lords in all of Magic.”

“And that’s not even counting other ones that work to make each other better, like Murkfiend Liege or Metallic Mimic. Merfolk also have great tribal synergies with creatures such as Master of Waves, Herald of Secret Streams, Stonybrook Banneret, Silvergill Adept, Deepchannel Mentor, Seafloor Oracle, or Kopala, Warden of Waves. They all work together to disrupt and beat your opponent down with really nice efficiency.”

I could tell that I had Old Gregg as a captive audience.

“Tell Old Gregg about the commander, Mark. That’s the best part. Be my fuzzy-little-man-peach and tell Gregg about Kumena.”

He’s right. I am fuzzy.

“Kumena is the whole reason I built the deck, Gregg. He’s super powerful, versatile, and a way better commander than all the other Merfolk we’ve seen. I was never a huge fan of Prime Speaker Zagana or Thrasios, Triton Hero when you’re trying to make an aggressive Merfolk deck, so Kumena does everything we want and he does it very well. Tapping one Merfolk will make him unblockable. No big deal, right? Tapping three will let you draw a card, and that’s very dangerous. Even better, when you tap five untapped Merfolk, Kumena will put a +1/+1 counter on each Merfolk you control. In a deck built with a natural curve in mind, your commander is a valuable asset to overwhelming opponents, but thankfully the deck can function just fine if they kill Kumena.”

In this moment, it appeared that Gregg was fascinated by a deck that represented him so adequately.

“I’m fascinated by a deck that represents me so adequately,” Gregg said, essentially breaking the fourth wall. “It’s like ya know me. And ya love me. And ya made this deck for Old Gregg. Can ya tell me what’s in it, Mark?”

“Only if you agree to let me go, Gregg.”

He pointed back up at Curly Jefferson.

“I would love to tell you what’s in the deck, Gregg. Perhaps I was a little hasty.”

Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca
Mark Nestico
Test deck on 02-06-2018
Magic Card Back

“Well, Gregg. You might not have The Funk anymore, but you have this awesome deck list.”

Greg sprang to his feet…flippers…whatever they are. He twirled, and his tutu exploded outwards.

“Do you wanna play a game with me?” Gregg asks.

“A game? What kind of game?”

“A game.” Gregg declares. “A love game.”

“You mean Magic?”

“Yes, of course I mean Magic. I’m Old Gregg and Gregg loves Magic.”

I have to think quickly, lest I be trapped here forever with the remains of Curly Jefferson.

“Or, Gregg, and hear me out on this…I could give you the Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca deck. It can be all yours! All you have to do is…you know…let me go.”

Gregg took a moment and seemed lost in thought. On one hand, he wanted that deck. It was everything he wanted when it came to a Commander deck. Best of all, it was led by a group of creatures that were just like him. The deck gave Gregg a sense of belonging. On the other hand, he wanted someone he could drink Bailey’s from a shoe with.

The sweat on my brow ran thick, and I was fearful that this place would become my watery tomb.

“Take the submarine. Leave the deck.”

He pointed to a submarine and I placed the deck on the ground, making a break for it.

“Goodbye, fuzzy-little-man-peach.”

I couldn’t leave that hellish cave fast enough. I kicked the submarine into overdrive and sped off as quickly as it would take me. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, I saw the moon shining through the murky depths as I inched closer and closer to the surface.

Free. I was finally free.


My Wife: “And that’s why you were late coming home for dinner?”

Me: “Yes.”

My Wife: “You were kidnapped by a made-up character from The Mighty Boosh?”

Me: “Yes.”

My Wife: “You were kidnapped by a character from a show that 90% of your readers have absolutely no idea exists?”

Me: “Yes.”

My Wife: “I’m really, really glad your readers don’t have to pay for this garbage.”

Me: “Yes.”