Magic: the Gathering

Deck Guide

Upgrading Commander Precon - Explorers of the Deep (Hakbal of the Surging Soul)

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In this article, we'll show you a quick guide on how to upgrade the Lost Caverns of Ixalan precon deck, Explorers of the Deep - a Merfolk typal deck focused on +1/+1 counters!

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traducido por Joey Sticks

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revisado por Tabata Marques

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Ixalan isn't only Pirates, Dinosaurs and Vampires; we also have Merfolk! This iconic creature type also returns in Lost Caverns of Ixalanlink outside website.

We couldn't have anything different from the Simic Magic Symbol G Magic Symbol U color combination, with a +1/+1 counter theme and Explore, to help this mechanic.

Getting to Know the Deck

Merfolk are a classic type in Magic, basically becoming the creatures that represent Blue, and are as iconic as Goblins in Red or Elves in Green. By the way, they might be one of the main reasons we call typal creatures that buff other typal creatures "Lords"; it's possibly thanks to Lord of Atlantis.


Speaking of Lords, this list counts with several of them, besides many other new cards that buff Merfolk immensely and can guarantee you a fun, aggressive game style with +1/+1 counters.

Explorers of the Deep Decklist

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Big cards such as Emperor Mihail II, Herald of Secret Streams and Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca are already included in this deck, which makes our job much easier, somewhat. Other new cards such as Ripples of Potential also show up, giving this list a lot of potential and power.

The Upgrade and its Reasons

Lost Caverns of Ixalan commanders were very consistent when it comes to which typal creature they selected for each of their respective decks, so we only changed 9 cards.

We kept the commander, Hakbal of the Surging Soul. There are several possibilities in this deck, but, because of its versatility, we decided to keep the original commander.

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Cards Removed

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Starting with a possible alternative commander, we have Xolatoyac, the Smiling Flood. This charismatic fella was removed because his concept is great, but only in a deck that makes more sense with his ability, which means, with him as the commander. Merfolk Cave-Diver and Merfolk Skydiver are interesting cards, but they don't impact the game as much in short term, so they were removed.

The other cards were removed as there are better options available, and, obviously, because we need space to add other cards while we upgrade it. So, of all the cards that come in this deck, we selected the ones above and removed them.

Exploring and Protecting Creatures

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This deck already counts with Ripples of Potential and Inspiring Call, which are great ways to protect our creatures. So, as it is best to be safe than sorry, we also brought Heroic Intervention.

To interact with the Explore mechanic, we also added Path of Discovery and Twists and Turns. I'll highlight this last card, considering our commander and other cards Explore our deck, like so allowing us to choose our cards better due to Scry 1. Not to mention its other side - Mycoid Maze, which is an Azcanta, The Sunken Ruin for creatures.

Considering we use 39 creatures, Mycoid Maze can create significant value in this deck.

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New Merfolk and Other Interactions

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We'll start with those creatures that aren't exactly Merfolk - Deeproot Pilgrimage and Roaming Throne. This enchantment is very interesting, creating even more creatures and value to the game as it develops, even more so with creatures like Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca in this list.


As for Roaming Throne, it can allow your Merfolk to Explore again with Hakbal of the Surging Soul's first triggered ability, besides all the other possible triggered abilities that can create value alongside this card. Roaming Throne is definitely here to stay in most typal decks.

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Now we start discussing the Merfolk themselves; we added to this list two Merfolk tutors, which are Merrow Harbinger and Forerunner of the Heralds, which can search for any Merfolk that are important to you at that moment: Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca, Tishana, Voice of Thunder, Herald of Secret Streams or any other Merfolk that meets your needs at that particular game moment.

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Finally, we have Lords, who couldn't be missing from this list. After all, the more Lords the better.

Lord of Atlantis and Vodalian Hexcatcher give you evasion and answers, respectively. An important detail is that Lord of Atlantis buffs not only your own, but instead all Merfolk on the battlefield, so be careful when you use it in case any of your opponents is also playing Merfolk.

Vodalian Hexcatcher can catch your opponents off guard with its Flash and "counterspell" ability, being able to get rid of spells like Cyclonic Rift and several other spells that are as problematic as this one if your opponents tap all their lands when they play their spells.

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Explorers of the Deep Upgraded Decklist

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This is how our upgraded Explorers of the Deep list turned out. We didn't make many drastic changes, but they were relevant enough to really improve this deck's game style, and allowed us more resources than what this deck offers us originally. This is a list that is already quite fun to pilot, and now, with these upgrades, it can be even more fun!

Alternative List with Xolatoyac, the Smiling Flood

As said before, Xolatoyac, the Smiling Flood can be better in a list of his own, so, this is a decklist entirely focused on this charismatic fella, focused on counters without specifying a creature type.

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Final Words

I have seen this deck piloted in person, and it is quite fun. All creatures scale somewhat quickly, and that is worrying for your opponents. I believe that, with these changes, this deck's consistency can increase even more, considering this list already came with great Merfolk, and I only had to make a few changes so it could be even more interesting to pilot.

Would you use another commander? Do you prefer a different creature type? Is fish only acceptable as sushi? Share your thoughts below!