With the release of Khans of Tarkir, the morph ability has been brought back to Magic: The Gathering. The morph ability, in case you’re unaware, allows players to place a creature with the ability face down for three. When in this state, the creature is nothing more than a regular old 2/2. However, when you pay the morph cost, the creature is flipped over. This can allow you to fool an opponent into letting an attack go through, or even fool them into blocking what they think is just a 2/2. Morph cards also often have abilities when they flip. They have a lot of utility if you’re prepared to do the setup. If worse comes to worse, you can always hard cast them.
Wizards of the Coast was kind enough to send us a Fat Pack for Khans of Tarkir. As part of that, I got my hands on a number of morph creatures. Today, we’re going to talk about nine cards in the pack that either have morph or deal with creatures that do.
You can see what morph is all about with this card. A 5/3 for five mana isn’t the best by any means. If you were just looking to hard cast a bruiser, there are cheaper, more efficient options, even in black. However, the morph ability gives you some room to work with. For starters, the morph cost requires one less black mana than the hard cost. If you find yourself playing this card in a multi-color deck and can’t find two swamps, this gives you chance to play it. The real point of the card is to flip it over at the opportune moment and let that five damage take its toll. Either you can take down a big creature or deal a quarter of your opponent’s starting health in damage. It’s not a great card by any means, but it gives you a fun trick to use if you need it.
One of the things you’ll usually notice with morph cards is that the morph cost is cheaper than the hard cost. Paying five mana for a 1/5 flier is kind of silly. However, flipping this over for four isn’t too terrible of an idea. For starters, you can turn a 2/2 into a 1/5 flier. This flier can block another flier or go over an opponent’s defenses if you need to. Of course, if your plan is to play this card on turn four, then you’re going to spend turn three playing it for the morph cost. That’s two turns dedicated to a not so spectacular creature. Still, the versatility is nice.
One of the key aspects of Khans of Tarkir is the different three color combinations that make up the various clans. Efreet Weaponmaster is part of the Jeskai clan, in that he represents blue, red, and white. As a morph creature, his job is to buff your other creatures. If you play him straight out, you get a 4/3 with first strike, as well as the ability to give another creature +3 attack. However, if you lay him face down and then flip him later, you’ll be able to attack with him and your other creature. This can allow you to swing in with two powerful creatures than can clear blockers or drop your opponent’s life down by a substantial amount.
Now this is an interesting case. This morph creature is actually cheaper to play outright than it is to lay face down. It’s already a good card, allowing you to add one of three different colors to your mana pool. No one would blame you for hard casting this on turn two in order to ramp up your turn four. However, its morph ability is pretty useful. It basically allows you to pay two mana in order to get three. If you’re playing a Temur deck, and can’t find one of those three colors, this can help you get out a card you couldn’t otherwise play. Either way, you’re going to use this card to ramp up to something big. The option to save this for when you need it most just makes the card even better.
Without the morph ability, I am not a fan of this card. A 2/2 for two is decent enough, but not being able to block with it without losing life is a silly price to pay. However, the morph ability can be useful. Fro starters, all you have to do is reveal a red card from your hand. Though your opponent will know one of your cards, the payoff is not having to keep lands untapped to use this card’s effect. When you flip it up, you make a creature your opponent controls unable to block. This can be crucial in getting damage in later on, or you can use it to deal damage with a creature that gives you a bonus when it hits. You could even play this card and morph it on the same turn if you needed to.
Jeering Instigator is an interesting one to be sure. Its morph cost and ability are essentially like playing Act of Treason. You get to take control of an enemy creature until end of turn. You’re free to attack with it, use its activated ability, or simply sacrifice it to some ability if you so desire. It’s a useful trick. This card allows you to get that effect in your deck without setting aside room for the card itself. If you’re playing a rush deck, for example, you might you need a 2/1 goblin to attack more than you need a spell in hand. This is a fun ability that really shows you the kinds of neat tricks you can do with morph.
Most players won’t bother to put defenders in their deck. Spending mana on a card that can’t directly hurt your opponent just seems silly to them. For those people, this card might look pretty good. You can lay it down as a 2/2. While in that mode, the creature can attack, deal damage when it blocks, and make use of other cards. If it comes down to it though, you can pay one measly blue mana to flip it over and have a flying wall to protect you. This allows you to stay aggressive without leaving you completely unprotected. We’ve all been in situations where an opponent just destroys us with fliers. This card lets you sneak in some defense against that.
Lens of Clarity
This is the kind of card that makes no sense outside of a set with a lot of morph cards. Sure, an artifact that lets you look at the top card of your deck isn’t too bad, but it’s hardly worth the space in your deck. However, if you find yourself against a deck with morph in it (a likely scenario for drafts), this card can prove quite useful. Knowing what those face down cards are allows you to plan around them instead of hoping they don’t bite you in the butt later on. You don’t want to think you’re blocking a 2/2 only to be faced with a 4/4 with lifelink, after all. This certainly isn’t a card you need in your deck, but it could be worth dropping in the sideboard.
The last card we’re going to look at today is an interesting one to say the least. Much like the goblin we talked about earlier, this card is a morph creature that gives you a spell effect when you flip it. That spell would be Spelljack, which lets you counter a spell and play it for free. It’s certainly useful in control decks, provided you’re willing to keep six mana at the ready at all times. The difference here is that Kheru Spellsnatcher will leave you with a 3/3 on the field when everything is said and done. This can certainly be useful in control decks, but for more aggressive types it will be too slow. This card is certainly worth experimenting with though. Spelljack isn’t legal anymore in standard, so fans of the ability might use this as a fun substitute.
Well there you go. The morph ability is back and as quirky as ever. Whether you like the mechanic or not, there’s no denying some of the tricks you can pull are just nasty. It’ll be interesting to see what kinds of decks players come up with to take advantage of it.
Tags: Khans of Tarkir, Magic: The Gathering