Tuesday Night Takeover

Kopala, Warden of Waves Merfolk Brewed EDH

“Welcome to the deep end.”

Art:Kopala, Warden of Waves by Magali Villeneuve

Kopala, Warden of the Waves, is a very strong and very cool merfolk commander who has flown a little bit under the radar. Kopala only has one hundred decks on EDHREC, which is criminally low for one of the most popular creature types in the game. While Merfolk is certainly not as big as something as elves or goblins, they still have a ton of amazing cards and make up a very fun deck to play. Our deck does a lot of things that classic Merfolk decks do, including islandwalk and turning our opponent’s lands into islands, as well as general stat-buffing and being able to make our other creatures unblockable. Merfolk has been around for so long that we have an absolute ton of amazing support like Lord of Atlantis and Silvergill Douser, which are both very strong cards and make our opponents have trouble blocking and allow us to stop their big creatures as well. On top of all of that, our commander provides a ton of utility and allows us to keep the best of the best on the board; giving ward two for abilities targeting and spells targeting our creatures allows us to survive a lot of the removal in the format and generally just make us tough to deal with using single-target removal. This deck is just an absolute blast to pilot, and if you loved Merfolk in modern or any other format, I think you will feel right at home with this one. Without further adieu, let’s get it!

The Deck:

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Kopala, Warden of Waves Merfolk!

Commander (1)
Kopala, Warden of Waves

Creatures (32)
Reef Shaman
Cleric of Chill Depths
Coralhelm Commander
Gray Harbor Merfolk
Harbinger of the Tides
Ink Dissolver
Lord of Atlantis
Master of the Pearl Trident
Merfolk Trickster
River Sneak
Saprazzan Heir
Silvergill Adept
Silvergill Douser
Stonybrook Banneret
Vodalian Hexcatcher
Emperor Mihail II
Lullmage Mentor
Merfolk Sovereign
Merrow Reejerey
Svyelun of Sea and Sky
Thada Adel, Acquisitor
True-Name Nemesis
Master of Waves
Merrow Harbinger
Seafloor Oracle
Tempest Caller
Mist Dancer
Waterspout Weavers
Deepchannel Mentor
Wanderwine Prophets

Instants (14)
Cryptic Command
Cyclonic Rift
Essence Scatter
Rapid Hybridization
Reality Shift
Swan Song
Thassa’s Rebuff

Sorceries (7)
Aquitect’s Will
Arm with Aether
Crashing Tide
Distant Melody
Raise the Palisade

Artifacts (7)
Sol Ring
Sky Diamond
Thought Vessel
Heraldic Banner
Kefnet’s Monument
Door of Destinies
Vanquisher’s Banner

Enchantments (4)
Merrow Commerce
Spreading Seas
Deeproot Waters
Reconnaissance Mission
Lands (35)
Cavern of Souls
Halimar Depths
27 Island
Lonely Sandbar
Mystic Sanctuary
Path of Ancestry
Reliquary Tower
Unclaimed Territory

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Why Kopala, Warden of Waves?

Kopala is a very sweet commander; while there are some decks that don’t care about targeting or trying to remove our creatures, any decks that do struggle against us, especially in the early game. Kopala helps us keep the best of the best on our board and allows us to maintain a great board presence from the early game to the late game; combine that with a ton of damage buffs as well as ways to make our creatures more evasive and unblockable Kopala is super sweet and should be cast as soon as we possibly can!

Gameplan for the Deck:

The overall game plan for the deck is quite simple; for the most part, we like to keep hands that have one to three lands, as well as a couple of early-game creatures and at least one piece of interaction. Obviously, that is a perfect-world scenario, and pretty much any hand with castable cards/creatures is pretty effective. We like to cast our commander as soon as possible since the protection they provide is very strong for the deck; beyond that, just casting Merfolk and swinging hard, there is a lot of consideration within this deck about what to counter and when to counter, but in my opinion, establishing creatures early is almost always better than countering everything an opponent does.

Good and Bad Matchups for the Deck:

Since this is EDH, there are an absolute ton of things that can tip a game in your favor or out of it. While an archetype may seem favorable, there are absolutely good and bad commanders for our deck to go up against; I have included both these, which were all played among my testing groups using various decks, and I have included the sample size for clarity purposes. This is just meant to be a guide after testing a bunch of games with this deck!

Good Matchups for the Deck:

Aggressive Strategies.

We are pretty strong against aggressive strategies, we have an absolute ton of low-cost creatures in the deck that are decently good at blocking, and we typically don’t take a lot of early-game damage from these decks. This is not true for all aggressive decks, as we typically have trouble dealing with ones that deal a lot of non-combat damage like Purphoros, God of the Forge. Overall, against most aggressive decks in the format, I find our matchups to be decently favorable, especially since we can often negate any of their abilities or targeted removal as they are often operating at a mana disadvantage.

Aggressive commanders that we have a favorable matchup against: Krenko, Mob Boss, Alesha, Who Smiles at Death.

I have tested probably around fifteen games against Krenko and won eleven of them; Krenko is an extremely favorable matchup for us, while there are occasionally games where they can drop cards like Goblin Lackey and easily outvalue us, they lose a lot of value by not being able to hit our best creatures with cards like Outnumber. We can easily block their goblin tokens and typically will use our counterspells to counter either their Krenko or their big bomb goblins/spells. I like this matchup a lot and find we contend well against it.

I do have a little bit smaller sample size against Alesha, but overall, I still like the matchup a lot. I have tested against Alesha ten times and won eight of those games. Alesha is certainly a very strong deck that can get set up pretty early, but a lot of their value comes from their commander, and being able to counter her commander cheaply or just bounce them to our opponent’s hands can put us in a good position. The game plan is pretty simple for this matchup: counter the best of the best they have and swing and be aggressive as much as we can.

Aggressive commanders that we have a tough matchup against: Purphoros, God of the Forge, Isshin, Two Heavens as One

I don’t think its unfair to say that Purphoros is busted and is just overall very hard for a lot of decks to beat it. I have played fifteen games against Purphoros and won three of them. This is an extremely tough matchup for our deck and arguably one of the worst we have. We just can’t really prevent damage, and Purph doesn’t care about our commander’s ability at all. Countering their commander is basically our only recourse against them as it’s the best way to slow them down; we don’t often interact with them in combat and just take a ton of non-combat damage, so countering their commander is paramount to this matchup.

Isshin is another extremely heavy-value commander who relies on their commander; I have played against Isshin twelve times and won five of them. Once again, Isshin doesn’t really care about our commander ability and mostly focuses on snowballing, countering, or removing key cards like Adeline, Resplendent Cathar, or Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin are key to victory as we can help curb the huge snowball that they typically have. Not a great matchup for us but one that is certainly winnable if they fall behind even a little.

Bad Matchups for the Deck:

Big-Mana Strategies:

Big mana decks can be quite strong for us; while we are able to dominate the early-game in these games, they spend the early turns ramping like crazy, and when they start dropping huge creatures, it can be quite tough for us to stop. Big Mana has an absolute ton of commanders that don’t want to target anything, so they skip over our commander, and the mana production they have can just be very hard to stop. It is most certainly not all doom and gloom against all big-mana decks, as we do have some commanders that we wouldn’t mind seeing, and there are some that we don’t even want to start the game if we see.

Big-Mana commanders that we have a favorable matchup against: Jhoira of the Ghitu.

Jhoira of the Ghitu is a deck that I actually love playing against; I played twenty games against Jhoira and won 14 of them. On top of the huge bombs they try to drop early, they also bring a lot of single-target removal, which often doesn’t affect our creatures because of our commander, so we are decently well-positioned against a large portion of their deck. If you or the table can stop Jhoira from hitting the field, there really isn’t much they can do. Even if they suspend some early bombs, we do have a little bit of time before they can come down, and that’s a great opportunity to do some huge damage!

Big-Mana commanders that we have a tough matchup against: The Ur-Dragon, Zhulodok, Void Gorger

The Ur-Dragon is a very tough matchup. Many of their best dragons can come down shockingly early and do a ton of damage to us. Even if we have cards like Deepchannel Mentor, it can be very tough for us to out-damage them. This is a very hard matchup and one I never look forward to; in testing ten games, I won one of them.

Zhulodok is very similar to The Ur-Dragon but oh so much worse, with a ton of mana production from their mana rocks and all of their creatures being pretty nasty since a large majority of them have annihilator. This is just a dreadful matchup for the deck. In testing eight games I won two of them.

Deck Overview:

This section contains information about cards in the deck and how they function within the deck! I also highlighted some of my favorite cards in the deck!


We have so many cool creatures in our deck, so I am just going to highlight some of my favorites! Lord of Atlantis and Merfolk of the Pearl Trident are two absolutely classic merfolk and are just amazing, even with just a couple turns against an opponent who controls an island (or was given one) is an absolute ton of damage, it’s crazy how cheap these two are. Lullmage Mentor is another card I just love; while we don’t passively create a ton of merfolks from their ability with cards like Deeproot Waters, we can easily have enough to counter opponents spells. Merfolk Sovereign is a little more expensive than our other lord effects, but a buff and a consistent source of unblockable is just amazing. When we are playing against creature-heavy decks or aggressive strategies Silvergill Douser is a quick and easy way to shut down their best attackers, even on turn three when this can be activated, we usually have at least two merfolk out and being able to negate some of that early damage can help us a ton as we transition to the mid-late game. As if our commander wasn’t bad enough we have Svyelun of Sea and Sky, which gives our merfolk ward three, which makes touching us with any kind of removal pretty difficult to do, most of the decks that can pay all of that mana just don’t have that many removal spells, there are of course a few exceptions but overall this card is great, being able to get some additional supplemental card draw is very strong as well.


Our instant package primarily focuses on counterspells, but we actually do have some single-target removal in Rapid Hybridization and Pongify, which are both great cards that opponents may not expect, that element of surprise is great and trading a huge or impactful creature for a simple 3/3 is pretty amazing as well. Another callback to the modern versions of this list: I really do love Cryptic Command in this deck; it does a lot for only four mana, and being able to tap down an opponent board and counter a spell is just amazing for us. No matter what an opponent casts, it’s pretty hard for them to pay for Thassa's Rebuff, especially in the mid-late game when we have a pretty strong board going. Aetherize is a great card against aggressive and token strategies and can totally disrupt their entire gameplan.


While many players regard Sleep as some old draft chaff, I love this card for the deck, against a creature heavy strategy this card does work, and if it is the late-game, it can easily allow us to finish off an opponent, this is a great effect especially if we can cast it more than once with cards like Mystic Sanctuary. Raise the Palisade is essentially a board wipe for our deck especially because we are pretty much all-in on merfolk, this can hurt a lot of opponents especially if they are on other creature-type focused decks, even if they are not this card still provides a lot of value and clears the way for our attackers. Once we have the way cleared, there may be some additional creatures still on the board; we have Arm with Aether, which is an amazing way to bounce the best of the best an opponent has, while we won’t always have the mass-bounce and then an additional bounce in combat these cards are very strong independently of each other!


We have a decently high density of card draw in the deck, which is why we are running cards like Thought Vessel and hey, casting a thought vessel after a turn one Sol Ring pretty much always feels amazing. Our mana rocks are a pretty small part of our artifact package as we tend to focus on discounts and buffs, which makes us much stronger in combat. Door of Destinies is a card we can usually drop one to two turns early and allows us to be amazing in combat, even with just a couple of counters on Door the buffs are super sweet. Kefnet's Monument is a card a lot of people don’t talk about in EDH, but in this deck specifically, it’s pretty crazy. Reducing the cost of pretty much every card in our deck is great, but being able to lock down an opponent’s creature when casting a blue spell allows us to guarantee combat damage even without our more evasive effects/creatures and can take the best attackers/blockers out of combat for our opponents.


I absolutely love Deeproot Waters. This card can get out of hand decently quickly, and with even just a couple of “lord” effects on the board, this can get out of hand; the creatures having hexproof is a great touch as well; this card is quite cheap and provides decently consistent creature production. Merrow Commerce is a pretty busted card for the deck, and being able to untap all of our merfolk can give us the ability to attack freely and not worry about not being able to block. Reconnaissance Mission is an amazing source of supplemental card draw for the deck and with all of the evasion we have from our creatures can be very consistent. If you played Merfolk in other formats, there is no doubt you will have love for Spreading Seas, which is efficient and can take out an amazing non-basic and turns on all of our islandwalk effects against that player, perfect for an opponent who is not playing blue!

Land Base:

Being in mono-blue lends us to having a pretty simple landbase mostly consisting of islands, luckily there are a ton of amazing non-basics within the deck that provides a ton of utility, like Cavern of Souls, which can be a great card to have when we need a creature to make it off the stack and works wonders against counter-heavy control strategies, counterspells are one of the weaknesses of the deck as our commander allows us to be pretty strong against removal once we stick them on the board. Rivendell is a great land as well; it almost always comes in untapped since we have our commander out by turn three in almost every game, and the scry can be a nice option to have, especially if we have a turn where we want to hold up a counterspell or just not cast that much. Mystic Sanctuary is a card that’s online pretty early into the game and is a great way to recur counterspells or pretty much anything we want. I like this landbase a lot and find it to be strong and effective for the deck.

Strengths of the Deck:

  • Our commander positions us very well against creatures that target our creatures and pretty much any form of single-target removal.
  • We can establish a pretty fearsome board early.
  • We have an absolute ton of buffs within the deck, allowing us to hit hard and fast.

Weaknesses of the Deck:

  • Weak-to-board wipes, while single-target removal isn’t a problem, a deck-heavy on-board wipes can pose problems for us.
  • While we can fill up the board in the early-game we cant usually counter much as we typically tap out to cast creatures.

Deck Stats:

Sample Hands:

Main Win Conditions:

There are no infinite combos or loops within the deck. We are a combat deck through and through; we are greatly aided by a ton of amazing “lord” effects within the deck, like Lord of Atlantis and Master of the Pearl Trident which help increase our damage and against decks running blue or pretty much any multi-color deck we are often unblockable, even if an opponent is not running blue we have quite a few strong ways to make our island walking creatures hit like Spreading Seas and Aquitect's Will which are also great sources of supplemental card draw as well. While many of our creatures are not the most impressive in combat, we have a lot of buffs and a bunch of ways to make them more evasive.


Kopala, Warden of Waves, is a criminally underrated commander who deserves a lot more love. Mono-blue can be a little tough in EDH, just like any mono-color deck, but overall, I think it is quite strong and just a blast to pilot. Merfolk is cool and is only getting better as more and more sets come out, so I can see this deck getting upticked a lot in the future. While there are a plethora of amazing Merfolk commanders out there, I think that Kopala is way too underplayed. If you have a Kopala list, I would love to check it out! Thanks for reading to the end and for all of your support!