Merfolk is a creature type for a race of aquatic humanoids. The first card to appear with the creature type was Merfolk of the Pearl Trident in Alpha. Merfolk is the characteristic race for the color blue, though they have also shown up in white in Lorwyn, black in Shadowmoor and green in Ixalan.
Creative issues[edit | edit source]
The creative team of Magic has always had issues with sea-based creatures, as the game, flavorfully speaking, occurs on a battlefield. Summoning sea creatures never made much sense. Odyssey block removed several of the core races for a block to try and shake things up, and Merfolk went away and didn't return until years later. Many players had always liked Merfolk and were unhappy with their absence. In the end, R&D decided that in this case the overall happiness of having Merfolk in the game overrode the inconsistency of the flavor. The creative team also looked for ways for them to make sense; the merfolk of Zendikar block, for example, have finned legs rather than fish tails.
Storyline[edit | edit source]
Humans speculate that merfolk are Atlantean humans that adapted to the ocean; merfolk speculate that humans are merfolk that have adapted to live on land.
Dominaria[edit | edit source]
Gaea's Skyfolk[edit | edit source]
Gaea's Skyfolk were an indirect product of the Phyrexian Invasion. As the whole world mobilized its reserves, even ancient adversaries cooperated together, lending their diverse skills in the service of the common good. The Skyfolk were partially of merfolk and partially of elven origin, combining the unique features and skills of both races into one. The detailed description of their abilities is not available, but the major one was the ability to fly. The details of the creation of these prodigal creatures are, however, not known.
Merfolk of Lat-Nam[edit | edit source]
The Merfolk of Lat Nam are later portrayed as a speechless species that is highly aggressive toward humans and attacks merchant ships on their way through the area in order to pillage them.
Otarian Merfolk[edit | edit source]
Notable Otarian merfolk[edit | edit source]
Razorfin Merfolk[edit | edit source]
Razorfin Hunters are a bizarre crossbreed of goblins and merfolk found beneath the seas of Dominaria. Little is known about them, although it is likely they were the result of mutations caused by the Rathi Overlay.
Vodalian Merfolk[edit | edit source]
Vodalian Merfolk lived in the Voda Sea, being particularly prominent in the waters around Sarpadia. They once had an extensive empire, but following the climate changes that took place following the Sylex Blast, much of their territory was overrun by the Homarids. However, some vestiges of the Vodalian Empire, such as the colony of Etlan Shiis, survived the Homarid attacks and still existed at the time of the Phyrexian invasion.
The name of the empire is derived from Russian (and generally Slavic) word "voda", meaning "water". In accordance with this, the known Vodalian characters mostly have Russian-themed names.
Notable Vodalian merfolk[edit | edit source]
Ixalan[edit | edit source]
Merfolk are one of the major races on Ixalan. They used to rule much of the continent of Ixalan, but their empire was eclipsed by the Sun Empire of the humans. Nowadays, merfolk live a nomadic existence in the jungle, their shamans guiding the rivers and vegetation around them; the connection to the rivers in particular is so strong that tribal leaders shed their own names in favour of those of the rivers that chose them. The Merfolk believe that it is their duty to keep Orazca and the Immortal Sun hidden from trespassers.
The merfolk of Ixalan are visually striking. Their fins are colorful and bright like tropical freshwater fish, and they bear jade jewelry, weapons and armor. They are a freshwater species, distasting the sea's salt. Their meditation techniques are based on heart beat rather than breath, as they need to stay focus both above and under water.
The Merfolk race of Ixalan is separated into two sub-species. One are favoring the land, living in trees and focusing in the magic that controls vines and branches. Uniquely, several of these are mono-green. The other are more at home in the water, living in the waters of the Great River and the Inner Sea. While they prefer to dwell in shallow waters, they spend a fair amount of time on land as well.
Lorwyn and Shadowmoor[edit | edit source]
Merrows[edit | edit source]
In the dual plane of Lorwyn/Shadowmoor, merfolk are known as merrows. In Lorwyn they control commerce and trade routes, which takes places through the plane's extensive rivers. However, in Shadowmoor, they are murderous cutthroats and thieves who steal from the other races of Shadowmoor who live along the rivers, particularly the kithkin. It should also be noted that the merrow of Shadowmoor have abandoned shaping the tides, leaving some rivers to dry up and others to flood.
The Lorwyn merrow society is divided into "schools", with each school performing a different type of service to the transport and commerce system. The known schools are:
These names are just the "land-walker" language closest imitations of the true names (e.g. Paperfin being Paupurfylln in Merrow). Each school is led by a "reejerey".
Notable Lorwyn merfolk[edit | edit source]
Selkies[edit | edit source]
Present only in Shadowmoor, selkies are unusual merfolk that are different from any others of their kind. Rather than fish, selkies' lower bodies resemble seals, giving them an appearance similar to centaurs. Selkies have six limbs: Two pairs of seal-like flippers on their lower bodies and two arms on their torso with flipper-like hands. Selkies' faces combine human and seal features; they have white eyes with no pupils and long, stringy black hair.
Selkies live in the network of rivers and ponds that stretch across Shadowmoor, but they feel as though they belong in more open waters like the oceans of other worlds, a feeling that gives them a wistful and tragic side. This makes some selkies cold and spiteful towards the land-dwellers who can travel as they please throughout the plane.
Mercadia[edit | edit source]
Saprazzan Merfolk[edit | edit source]
Saprazzan Merfolk were once native to Dominaria, but were taken to Mercadia by the dragon engine Ramos in order to ensure the species' survival during the Brothers' War. The refugees built a floating city called Saprazzo, from which they take their name. They were led by the Saprazzan Vizier and worshipped the Power Matrix as a holy relic, but relinquished it to the Weatherlight crew when they learned it was part of the Legacy. They then aided the crew and the Cho-Arrim in overthrowing the Kyren regime.
Rath[edit | edit source]
Rootwater Merfolk[edit | edit source]
Rootwater Merfolk lived in the rootwater that nourished the Skyshroud Forest. They had a hideous appearance that resembled an eel rather than a fish and were also extremely aggressive, attacking anyone they spotted travelling on the forest floor. They lived on Rath until the Rathi Overlay, when the rootwater planeshifted to Keld along with the rest of the Skyshroud. They would have all frozen to death in Keld's hostile climate, were it not for the intervention of Freyalise, who created a magical ward on the forest to keep it warm. Whether the rootwater merfolk survived the weakening of this ward during the events of Time Spiral is unknown.
Ravnica[edit | edit source]
For millennia, merfolk were thought extinct on Ravnica, as the ocean was covered by the sprawling city and eventually faded from memory. The merfolk themselves only preserved dim memories of the surface, aware that there was a city ruled by guilds above them, but knowing and caring little about it. Their disinterest was only ended when tree roots reached the oceans.
However, massive sinkholes enabled them to resurface, and many have joined the Simic Combine and risen to leadership positions. The new Combine has incorporated many parts of their philosophy, such as the Holdfast and the Upwelling Principles. The current highest-ranking speaker for the Combine, Zegana, is a merfolk.
Shandalar[edit | edit source]
The merfolk kingdom in the depths of Shandalar was conquered by Talrand, Sky Summoner. Not content with only one kingdom to rule, his ambitions drove him skyward where had power over the drakes. Nowadays, Merfolk are nearly hunted to extinction and the few survivors have retreated into the depths, determined to endure (Maritime Guard).
Theros[edit | edit source]
The two-legged tritons of Theros are partially amphibious. They can breathe air for several days at a time but must spend time in water to keep their gills soft. Tritons worship the sea god Thassa above all others and work to do her bidding.
Zendikar[edit | edit source]
Curious, thoughtful, and analytical, the merfolk of Zendikar are natural explorers. Although they are born in the water, their appearance is more human than fish. They have muted skin colors and brighter colored residual fins on the backs of their arms and calves. The merfolk's hair often has streaks of bright color as well. Zendikari merfolk have noses, but cannot sneeze. Although merfolk are a common sight in the settlements and trading posts of Zendikar, they are a race in decline. Spread wide and far across Zendikar, they are centered around the Enclave, the largest settlement of Merfolk built on a large island in the bay of the Umara River on Tazeem. Most Merfolk come here to give birth. The merfolk believe that the world is divided into three realms: Emeria, or the Wind Realm, which was once ruled by the angel Em and includes the sky, the wind, and the clouds; Ula's Realm, the underwater realm; and Cosi's Realm, which comprises everything else.
Zendikari merfolk also tame and ride flying manta rays for quicker transportation.
Notable Zendikar merfolk[edit | edit source]
- Khalled — a trader at Graypelt, who provided Nissa with supplies for her travel to Akoum.
- Kiora — a Merfolk Planeswalker.
- Turi, her sister
- Jori En, a key player in the Battle for Zendikar.
- Noyan Dar, a roilmage and player in the Liberation of Sea Gate.
Tribal - Merfolk[edit | edit source]
- Lorwyn block featured three Tribal - Merfolk cards, which could be fetched by Merrow Harbinger:
- Stonybrook Banneret makes Merfolk spells cheaper to cast.
Merfolk tokens[edit | edit source]
|Merfolk||Blue||Creature — Merfolk||1/1|
|Blue||Creature — Merfolk||1/1||Hexproof|
|Merfolk Wizard||Blue||Creature — Merfolk Wizard||1/1|
Creature update[edit | edit source]
Gallery[edit | edit source]
Dominarian Merfolk[edit | edit source]
An Otarian Merfolk. Art by Jim Murray.
A Vodalian Merfolk. Art by Rebecca Guay.
A Razorfinn. Art by Jeff Eisley.
Gaea's Skyfolk. Art by Therese Nielsen.
Ixalan Merfolk[edit | edit source]
A member of the more aquatic merfolk on Ixalan. Art by Magali Villeneuve.
A member of the more arboreal merfolk on Ixalan. Art by Kieran Yanner.
Lorwyn-Shadowmoor Merfolk[edit | edit source]
A Lorwyn merrow. Art by Mark Tedin.
A Shadowmoor merrow. Art by Wayne England.
A Selkie. Art by Mark Tedin.
Other Merfolk[edit | edit source]
A Mercadian Merfolk. Art by Jeff Miracola.
A Rathi Merfolk. Art by Ron Spencer.
A Ravnican Merfolk. Art by Karl Kopinski.
A Shandalar Merfolk. Art by Allen Williams.
A Triton from Theros. Art by Josu Hernáez.
A Zendikari Merfolk. Art by Mark Tedin.
References[edit | edit source]
- Mark Rosewater. (June 23, 2008.) “A Merfolk's Tale”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Ben Bleiweiss. (February 6, 2002.) “Under the Sea”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (March 15, 2015.) "Characteristic and iconic creatures for each color?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater. (September 18, 2017.) “Just for Ix(alan), Part 3”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (February 04, 2018.) "What was the reason for merfolk being removed for a while?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
- Doug Beyer. (June 25, 2008.) “Merfolk Resurfaced”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (October 17, 2011.) “The Walking Undead”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Clayton Emery (1995). Magic: The Gathering - Final Sacrifice. Harper Prism.
- The Gathering Dark
- R&D Narrative Team. (September 27, 2017.) “The Shapers”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Blake Rasmussen and Alison Luhrs. (August 30, 2017.) “Magic Story Podcast: Ixalan”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Sam Stoddard. (September 12, 2017.) “Developing a Tribal Set”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Explore the Planes: Ixalan
- James Wyatt. (January 9, 2018.) “Plane Shift: Ixalan”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer. (October 31, 2007.) “Lorwyn Survival Guide”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer. (June 11, 2008.) “Allies in Conflict”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer. (July 30, 2008.) “Concepting Eventide, Part 2”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer. (July 9, 2008.) “Selkies and Subtypes”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- The Magic Creative Team. (January 9, 2013.) “The Fathom Edict”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Ken Troop. (October 21, 2015.) “Shaping an Army”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Creative Team. (December 2, 2009.) “A Planeswalker's Guide to Zendikar: Tazeem and Merfolk”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.