Tribal decks are an incredibly popular choice in Magic: The Gathering‘s Commander format. Built around the use of a specific creature type, these decks can be rewarding for veteran players interested in using synergistic creatures, as well as newcomers looking for a digestible yet powerful strategy that isn’t overly complex.
When it comes to blue-related tribes, few are as iconic as Merfolk. When building a Merfolk Commander deck, players have a myriad of potent options, many of which provide access to different color identities. So we’re going to examine the best Merfolk tribal commanders that Magic has to offer and see which may be right for you!
5/5 Kopala, Warden Of Waves
Far from the splashiest option on this list, Kopala, Warden of Waves is a Merfolk-tribal commander perfect for those looking to offer their creatures an extra layer of protection. A mono-blue Merfolk for three mana, this 2/2 prevents Merfolk you control from being targeted by spells or abilities controlled by your opponents.
While not as powerful as offering hexproof, this can make dealing with your Merfolk a huge headache for your opponents. It ensures that if one of your key creatures is going to be removed, you can take solace in knowing an opponent will at least be paying an arm and a leg to do so. Though not a weak option, Kopala is perhaps better suited within the 99 of a deck of another option on this list.
4/5 Sygg, River Guide
For those looking to build a Merfolk-tribal deck with access to white mana, Sygg, River Guide is a very potent Azorius (blue/white) commander option. For the incredibly low cost of two mana, Sygg’s two-mana activated ability can provide target Merfolk you control with protection from a color of your choice until the end of the turn.
This flexible ability can be used both offensively and defensively, as when on your turn, it can prevent attacking Merfolk from being blocked by creatures of a given color. It can also be used at instant speed in order to protect key creatures from your opponent’s targeted removal. Paired with the powerful removal options a Merfolk deck gains access to through white mana, there’s a strong case to be made in favor of Azorius Merfolk decks helmed by Sygg.
3/5 Emperor Mihail II
The most recently printed Merfolk-tribal commander, Emperor Mihail II was introduced in Dominaria United, serving as one of the strongest mono-blue Merfolk commanders available. Emperor Mihail II has a lot to offer for the low cost of three mana. It provides a significant card advantage and allows you to potentially cast spells, even when your hand is low on cards. This is because this creature lets you look at your library’s top card at any time and cast that spell — as long as it’s a Merfolk.
Furthermore, as long as you have mana to spare, Emperor Mihail II allows you to pay one extra mana whenever you cast a Merfolk, creating a 1/1 Merfolk token if you do. As Merfolk are a tribe known for their numerous lords, these tokens can easily function as notably larger creatures, even having access to evasion when paired with the likes of a Lord of Atlantis.
2/5 Svyelun Of Sea And Sky
The other contender for best mono-blue Merfolk Tribal, Svyelun of Sea and Sky is a Merfolk God for three mana, offering both card advantage and protection to your Merfolk in a manner comparable to Kopala. With a 3/4 body, as long as you control two or more other Merfolk this creature has indestructible, making it quite hard for your opponents to remove it from play.
Not only does this creature protect itself, but it provides each other Merfolk you control with Ward 1, making them also more difficult to remove. Lastly, as this often indestructible God causes you to draw a card whenever it attacks, you can reliably use it to draw an additional card on each of your turns without needing to worry about it dying in combat.
1/5 Kumena, Tyrant Of Orazca
Due to its access to the best mana ramp and card draw in the game, the Simic (blue/green) color identity is often regarded as one of the strongest color pairings in the Commander format. Not only does Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca serve as a commander that provides Merfolk access to the Simic color identity, but it’s a stellar and efficient option that can provide both card advantage and offensive benefits through the use of your Merfolk. A 2/4 for three mana, Kumena has access to three activated abilities that require you to tap different quantities of Merfolk.
If one other Merfolk is tapped, Kumena can’t be blocked that turn, allowing it to reliably deal commander damage. Alternatively, if three Merfolk are tapped, you can draw a card. This incentivizes using a sizable number of cheaper Merfolk to draw more cards per turn. Lastly, if five Merfolk are tapped, Kumena can put a +1/+1 counter on each Merfolk you control, bolstering your offensives and further incentivizing you to go wide.