Limited Lessons – Faeries and Merfolk in Morningtide Limited

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With one pack of Morningtide replacing the third pack of Lorwyn, all of the tribal archetypes take a hit. Some tribes get a boost, while some get a kick in the teeth. Today’s Limited Lessons sees Nick Eisel break down both the Faerie and Merfolk tribes, looking for that elusive edge in LLM draft.

Next week I’ll be doing my half of the Morningtide set review for Limited play. Tiago Chan will be doing his half later this week, so you can look forward to seeing that. For now, I want to continue with some updates on LLL archetypes now that Morningtide is around. In particular I want to talk about Faeries and Merfolk this week, since they were often intertwined in Lorwyn, and because a lot of aspects were similar until the release of Morningtide.


If you look back to my tribal strategy guides in LLL, you’ll remember that my main focus for Faeries is that you want to keep and Instant speed frame of mind when drafting them. The goal was to be passing the turn with mana up most of the time so that you could either Flash in a guy or counter a key spell, and your opponent would never know what you were up to. While a lot of this mentality remains the same, we now have the new Prowl mechanic which is the driving force in the Faerie archetype in LLM. The Faerie archetype will almost always be UB in the new environment if you want to get the most out of Morningtide.

Latchkey Faerie
It may not look like much on the surface, but this card is absolutely amazing. Prowling this in on turn 3 and drawing a card creates a quick and evasive offense (assuming the Rogue or Faerie that attacked likely had evasion as well) and doesn’t even cost you a card for your 3/1 flier. The key thing that people were missing back at the prerelease is that you can Prowl this in if you hit them with a Rogue or a Faerie. A lot of players thought you could only do it with Rogues since that is the case with a lot of the cards, but that is obviously not the case.

Morsel Theft
You may not realize it at first glance, but this card is built for an aggressive Faerie deck. Sure, it may also be good in Goblins who have their share of Rogues, but this is best in Faeries because you can turn on the Prowl much easier with all of the evasion. Again this gives you a free card if you Prowl and just helps to accelerate the damage you’re doing in general (while also gaining some life). If a race situation ever pops up that is going to be close, this will make sure that you win that race. I really can’t stress how good this card is in the archetype, so you’ll have to play with it to see for yourself. Multiples are a thing of beauty though and I can’t remember the last time I hard-cast this.

Noggin Whack
This is uncommon so it won’t come up as much as the previous two cards in Draft, but one thing I’ve noticed is that players aren’t picking it as high as it deserves. Whether you fire this off early with Prowl or wait until they have 3 cards left and hard-cast it, this is an effective discard spell that shouldn’t be swept under the rug.

These are the important non-rare Prowl cards, and I’m not going to spend time really going over all of the Rare ones since it should be pretty obvious whether they are amazing or poor. If you still have questions just wait for the set review, as Tiago and I will be going over every card and will clear up anything you are wondering about. One non-rare Prowl card I didn’t mention is Thieves Auction, which is a fine card but the Prowl cost is sort of negligible because it’s an Instant and plays well with the other Faerie elements from Lorwyn anyway. As far as looking for Rogues in Lorwyn to prepare for Morningtide, here is a list of key players that you might want to start picking a bit higher:

Boggart Loggers
Moonglove Winnower
Nightshade Stinger
Thieving Sprite
Warren Pilferers
Deeptread Merrow
Paperfin Rascal

Of all of these, the Faeries are already something you’d be taking so I’d say mainly to focus on picking Moonglove Winnower and Deeptread Merrow a bit higher in your Faerie builds. The Winnower is great anyway because it’s awesome ground defense and will usually get through to turn on your prowl anyway. The other day I had a deck with two Winnowers and Notorious Throng, which is a pretty powerful combo since nobody wants to block the Winnower. The Deeptread Merrow is a cheap Rogue as well, and Islandwalk will be huge in some matchups.

Now I want to take a look at the rest of the cards related to the archetype.

This probably isn’t as good as Whirlpool Whelm because you don’t have the Clash option, but it can also return non-creatures which could be an issue at times, with Planeswalkers or similar problems. One thing important to note about this card is that all tough picks involving Whirpool Whelm are now eliminated because you just take whatever the other card is and you will likely pick up a Disperse in Morningtide anyway. Having replacement cards in later sets always makes the first set version go down in value since you have more chances to get something similar later in the draft.

Fencer Clique
Wayward Soul is back and better than ever in this archetype. This guy hits hard and fast and is difficult to kill once he’s out for a turn. Sometimes in LLL the Faerie deck would have trouble killing someone as all of the creatures are 1/1s, but this is no longer the case with this card and Latchkey Faerie both sitting at commons. If anyone is wondering as well, I usually take Latchkey over except in special circumstances where I just don’t have a lot of Rogues.

Dewdrop Spy
Not a lot to say here except that this card plays well with the Instant-speed aspect of the old archetype and also can help you Clash more effectively by knowing your opponent’s top card. He’s also another cheap Rogue with evasion to turn on Prowl.

This card is fine I suppose, though I tend to prefer Faerie Trickery, Broken Ambitions, Familiar’s Ruse, and Scattering Stroke. It’s definitely a great sideboard card against someone with a lot of spells, or a bomb or Planeswalker, and I don’t mind playing one main. If there is a deck that really wants this card it’s probably this one, since you plan on keeping mana up whenever possible.

Violet Pall
Excellent removal, though this is better suited in a deck that has trouble dealing with fliers, as I said in my Initial Impressions article a couple weeks back. Regardless, it’s an Instant which I’m sure you’re tired of hearing by now, and it can also be searched up with Faerie Harbinger, which is pretty sick.

Final-Sting Faerie
This is fine because it’s a Faerie, but it’s obviously better in a deck with a bunch of Elf tokens or cheap Red burn spells. Nevertheless, it’s a 2/2 flier for four that will sometimes take down a bigger flier when you run your smaller men into it and play this post-combat.

Oona’s Blackguard
I’m trying not to mention too many uncommons in general as they come up less often, but this is one I simply cannot leave out. This is essentially the Faerie lord in the new set, and if you haven’t had the chance to play Marsh Flitter with this in play yet then you simply haven’t lived. The key thing to notice here (not as relevant in this archetype, but still) is that this makes anything with a +1/+1 counter into an Abyssal Specter, so it can have plenty of uses outside of a Rogue build. Simply amazing in the Faerie deck.

Prickly Boggart
A cheap Prowl enabler that nobody ever picks.

For the most part, the Faerie archetype still wants to be Instant speed. What changed with the release of Morningtide and the Prowl mechanic is that the archetype now wants to be aggressive instead of controlling. So instead of sitting back on your counterspells you need to now be focused on assembling a flying army quickly and countering anything that will stop your guys. Morsel Theft is a great card to have as a backbone of this type of strategy.

Nightshade Stinger
Prickly Boggart
Spellstutter Sprite
Amoeboid Changeling
Deeptread Merrow
Oona’s Blackguard
Skeletal Changeling
Scion of Oona
2 Pestermite
Dewdrop Spy
Eyeblight’s Ending
Latchkey Faerie
Marsh Flitter
Moonglove Winnower
Faerie Harbinger
Sentinels of Glen Elendra
2 Morsel Theft
Weed Strangle
Broken Ambitions
8 Island
9 Swamp

Of the Faerie decks I’ve drafted so far, this one was by far the most aggressive. I believe I posted a 2-1 with this deck which is reasonable, though I did have both Scion of Oona and Oona’s Blackguard. Probably slightly better than what you can expect on average, but not by much.


If Faeries gained so much in Morningtide, what happened to Merfolk?

Quite a bit actually, though I think they are probably worse off with a pack of Morningtide instead of a third pack of Lorwyn. The deck will almost always be UW now, though you can splash Black or Red for a piece or removal or two very easily. It seems Merfolk are now interested primarily in three things; tapping creatures, Wizards, and milling.

Stonybrook Schoolmaster
This is the creme de la creme of the new Merfolk cards, and you should be windmilling this all day if that’s what you’re drafting. It combos well with anything that allows you to tap creatures, and gets ridiculous very quickly with Drowner of Secrets.

Weight of Conscience
Removal that causes you to tap Merfolk? I doubt the Merfolk drafter could ask for anything better, as it allows you to turn on your Schoolmaster or Fallowsage for a turn while killing an annoying creature.

Mothdust Changeling
I mentioned this in my Initial Impressions article as well but I cannot stress how good this card is in the archetype. Judge of Currents has never been happier than to see this card enter the format. Pick and play multiples of this and you won’t be disappointed.

Ink Dissolver
It seems you can now assemble some type of milling deck reminiscent of the Dimir deck from a few blocks back. Nobody takes these Dissolvers as they are quite mediocre on their own, but if you get enough elements I think you can mill someone out pretty quickly while sitting behind your Silvergill Douser and Judge of Currents.

Inspired Sprite
While this is both an uncommon and a Faerie (and I didn’t mention it above), it triggers off Wizards so it is absolutely nuts in Merfolk. This can help you dig to whatever key component you are missing.

Sage of Fables
Absolute bomb as a good majority of Merfolk are Wizards and this is another way to dig for key players you haven’t drawn yet. This is one of the best cards you can open for the archetype.

Sage’s Dousing
This card has been nothing short of excellent for me in recent drafts and is also strong in the Faerie archetype. You should always be playing at least 1-2 counterspells in Merfolk in this format, and this is probably the best one available to you since it cantrips.

Stream of Unconsciousness
I’m not really sold on this card though it is still very playable. My problem is that Merfolk is a defensive archetype and so you’re going to need to assemble a gang block to make this card useful. Overall I would play it but not actively be looking for it in the packs like I am with Mothdust Changeling.

Waterspout Weavers
This is clunky and it attacks, which isn’t what Merfolk are really interested in. I think this card is best avoided, or taken as a 23rd playable.

Merfolk didn’t gain a ton from the new set, but they did get the Schoolmaster which is absolutely huge. Your main focus should be to get most of your good cards in the first couple packs and then shore up your deck with Mothdust Changelings, Sage’s Dousing, and Schoolmasters in the third pack. The archetype didn’t really lose too much momentum and gained some interesting new toys, but overall I’d say Morningtide wasn’t a great thing to happen to it.

3 Mothdust Changeling
Springleaf Drum
2 Judge of Currents
Silvergill Douser
Deeptread Merrow
Stonybrook Angler
Sage’s Dousing
Streambed Aquitects
Paperfin Rascal
Oblivion Ring
Moonglove Extract
Drowner of Secrets
2 Stonybrook Schoolmaster
Merrow Harbinger
Sentinels of Glen Elendra
Veteran of the Depths
2 Inkfathom Divers
9 Island
8 Plains

Wow, was this deck annoying to play against! This was a deck that my friend drafted and beat me with in the finals of an eight-man, and it truly had all of the pieces. He was the one who first turned me on to the power of Mothdust Changeling, and said in this draft he even third picked his first copy of it and then got lucky with two more copies late.

Hopefully these articles help you transition into the new environment, and I’ll see you next week with my half of the Limited set review.

Nick Eisel
Soooooo on MTGO
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