It’s hard to come to a conclusion about the power level of even the most straightforward decks without some rigorous playtesting. Sure, you can make a guess based on the mean power level of the cards and the number of synergistic elements/means to access those elements, but there’s always going to be some guesswork at play.


So it’s with some surprise that I can report the stupid morph deck I wrote about last week, based off Animar, Soul of Elements, won both of the games I’ve played with it. Caveats apply; these were one-on-one games against a known opponent (good friend Clayton, notorious around these parts for his “shirtless men” series of posts), and my Animar deck played against an Esper deck and an Azorious deck, where hir ancillary protections actually played a significant role.

Confused Cosby

Of course, the other side of it is that Clayton was playing Wrath of God effects, and they kinda hosed the version I was running. I had crammed a few more (terrible) morphs in there when I played against him, but the wakeup call got me to add in Asceticism, Fecundity, Foster, and upgrade my land situation.


Now, regular readers will notice this deck has fewer basics than most of the other decks I run. I am a huge proponent of keeping it basic most of the time, but every now and then there’s a deck that needs a more aggressive manabase. For the morph deck to work, I need access to Animar. Without Animar, the deck is not amazing. With Animar, the deck is still… not amazing. But it’s a better sort of not-amazing! It has a combo kill and other weirdness, and won both games by stabilizing behind about five to eight morphs.

Confused Marky

Shockingly, Bident of Thassa and Edric, Spymaster of Trest proved to be backbreaking, to such a degree that I’m considering adding in Coastal Piracy as well. In the first game, I waited back behind a Bident, an Animar that was being pinned down by the Curse of Tapping My Shit, and two morphs. Clayton knocked me down to 20, before I seized an opportunity and made him swing all in. I soaked the damage, and dropped to nine life. Then I stole the momentum. I swung in with the morphs and Animar, scryed away some land with Unblinking Bleb, and then drew four cards off my Bident triggers. Since each one had morph, I recast them, and Clayton ended up desperately searching for a second Wrath effect. He didn’t find it, so I won.


The second game was much more straightforward. There, I just went on the offense fairly early, since Daxos of Meletis and Geist of Saint Traft are both terrible at blocking potentially worthless morphs. At one point, in fact, Clayton tagged one of my morphs as being important, based on the way I was holding it back, but the truth was that it was a mere Zoetic Cavern I had wanted to keep available for tight mana situations.

confused jlaw

Anyway, enough with the drumroll, let’s look at the deck!



Just kidding, I have one more thing to say. The most annoying thing about morph is figuring out where to put it on the curve. Casting cost seems wrong, since most of the time you’re not going to be hard-casting these ridiculous things, but the other options aren’t great either. If you count all the morphs as three drops, you lose any differentiation, and doing “morph cost plus three mana” also seemed clunky. In the end, I just separated all the morphs out based on their basic morph cost. I honestly don’t know if that’s helpful or not, but at least it gives you a better sense of my working curve.


Here it is:


“Zero Drops”—Dragon’s Eye Savants; Fathom Seer; Horde Ambusher; Skirk Volcanist; Temur Charger

“One Drops”—Ghostfire Blade; Sol Ring; Aphetto Alchemist; Voidmage Prodigy; Wall of Deceit

“Two Drops”—Rattleclaw Mystic; Mind Stone; Backslide; Vesuvan Shapeshifter; Willbender; Skirk Alarmist; Nantuko Vigilante; Trail of Mystery; Tribal Forcemage; Secret Plans; Fledgling Mawcor; Riptide Entrancer; Fortune Thief

“Three Drops”—Temur Banner; Echo Tracer; Master of the Veil; Shaper Parasite; Unblinking Bleb; Skirk Marauder; Jeering Instigator; Beastmaster Ascension; Fecundity; Patron of the Wild; Rites of Flourishing; Icefeather Aven; Edric, Spymaster of Trest; Riptide Survivor; Mischievous Quanar; Temur Ascendancy; Temur Charm

“Four Drops”—Muraganda Petroglyphs; Primal Whisperer; Bident of Thassa; Voidmage Apprentice; Foster

“Five Drops”—Chromeshell Crab; Quicksilver Dragon; Weaver of Lies; Pine Walker; Ixidron; Ixidor, Reality Sculptor; Asceticism; Hooded Hydra; Thelonite Hermit; Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir

“Six Drops”—Kheru Spellsnatcher; Ashcloud Phoenix; Soul of the Harvest

“Seven Drops”—Brine Elemental; Thousand Winds

“Eight Drops”—Tidespout Tyrant


Colorless Lands—Alchemist’s Refuge; Contested Cliffs; Desolate Lighthouse; Opal Palace; Temple of the False God; Winding Canyons; Yavimaya Hollow; Zoetic Cavern

Mono Lands—3 Forest; 3 Island; 3 Mountain; Faerie Conclave; Ghitu Encampment; Treetop Village

Dual Lands—Rugged Highlands; Swiftwater Cliffs; Thornwood Falls; Gruul Guildgate; Izzet Guildgate; Simic Guildgate; Gruul Turf; Izzet Boilerworks; Simic Growth Chamber; Hinterland Harbor; Rootbound Crag; Sulfur Falls; Cascade Bluffs; Fire-Lit Thicket; Flooded Grove

Trip Lands—Command Tower; Frontier Bivouac; Reflecting Pool

Confused kanye

Obviously, I could have gone pricier on the manabase. City of Brass, Mana Confluence, the shocks, the original duals… these are all tools in my repertoire, and they’re all unnecessary for a deck like this. I don’t need perfect mana, I just need good enough mana. Plus, I’ve been finding it a pain in the ass to accurately inventory my lands when they’re spread out over Commander decks.


The curve is pretty sweet, but I had not anticipated how annoyingly overpriced morph would be. For every Fathom Seer that lets you Gush, there’s a Skirk Marauder making you pay three mana for a Shock. A lot of the cards ended the game face down, because a completely vanilla 2/2 turns out to be better in some cases than whatever printed stat and color they have on their face.

Confused don adams

That may have been the hardest thing to explain, though. Morph is ridiculous. For (3), I get to cast a creature spell without telling you what it is. It comes into play as a colorless 2/2, with no creature type, no casting cost, and no name. Most relevantly, it has no abilities. Except, really, it does have an ability. An ability that doesn’t use the stack, which is relevant the first time your opponent tries to kill one of the things at instant speed. I’m not saying that it comes up every game, but it comes up. When you use the ability and the card flips, suddenly you’ve got a card that apparently has an ability: morph. Clayton, having no real experience with the mechanic, thought that meant I could flip them back down. While reasonable, that was not the case. It’s a vestigial ability, because by the time you see it, it’s useless. Literally. Useless.

Confused lady

Clayton found that to be particularly confusing. And I don’t really blame him. It’s half the reason I was reticent about building this deck in the first place! Morph is weird. But, having said that… it was not unfun. It was a challenging, interesting deck to play, and it added an additional bluffing element to the game. In one on one, that’s fun for the person with more robust card knowledge; in multiplayer, the Hivemind does somewhat make up for that advantage. Maybe this deck will crash and burn when there are three people popping wraths and taking out my Commander, it is a distinct possibility! But I like to think that perhaps a little bit of the novelty of a Commander deck with morph will keep me playing my weird headgames, at least for as long as there’s novelty left in the archetype. Given the limited number of morph cards and enablers, though, I think long term this is going to be just one more solved deck on the pile.

Confused Mowgli

Tune in next week, as I start playing around with Narset, Enlightened Master. It’ll be slightly more exciting than Netflix disrupting the distribution window with a sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Slightly. That business decision is a pretty neat thing.


Jess Stirba is a fan of what Netflix is doing with its original programming.

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