Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Khans of Tarkir: Morph

In case you somehow missed it, the returning mechanic for Khans of Tarkir is Morph. Morph was first introduced way back in Onslaught, and is certainly one of the stranger mechanics in Magic's history. The ability to essentially play a 2/2 token for 3 mana by putting the card face-down introduces a whole new element of hidden knowledge from your opponent, and the complexity is even higher given that you can flip a Morph card over at any time, assuming you have enough mana to pay the Morph cost. It is also worth pointing out here that the act of turning the card face-up doesn't use the stack, and thus cannot be responded to. In other words, if your opponent pays the Morph cost and goes to flip over her creature, you can't cast Shock to remove it as a 2/2 creature.

As I have been working on the set review for Standard Pauper for Khans of Tarkir, I have had some difficulty in evaluating just how good the Morph cards are in this set. Today, rather than looking at specific cards, I want to evaluate the mechanic as a whole.

Typically, Morph cards have three major advantages over other creatures:
  1. Your opponent doesn't know what creature you played. Since all Morph cards cost the same to play face-down, your opponent has no real information to go on. Unless he is playing Lens of Clarity, the only way your opponent learns what card you played either when you flip it over or when it leaves the battlefield or the game ends.
  2. You can always play the card as soon as you have three mana available. Playing them facedown doesn't require any specific colored mana. Additionally, most of the time this is cheaper than the actual casting cost of the creature, allowing you to get value out of the card much earlier than you otherwise could.
  3. You control when the creature is flipped over. This means that you can effectively surprise your opponent in combat, allowing you to block a creature you might not have been able to block or setup a favorable block that your opponent couldn't foresee.
These are pretty significant advantages. Honestly, given the complexity that this introduces, I am surprised Morph is being reprinted at Common. This also means that we should expect that the Morphs at Common will probably only be vanilla or french-vanilla creatures, since additional complexity would easily push the card into Uncommon or Rare.

For those of you who have played with Morph cards before, what do you think of them in general? Are you excited to get your hands on them in Khans of Tarkir? Let me know in the comments below.

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