Into the Unknown

Posted in From the Lab on September 8, 2014

By Mike Cannon

Mike Cannon started writing From the Lab at the end of 2012 after two years with GatheringMagic. He is an ardent casual player and loves finding uses for bad cards.

Khans of Tarkir is fast approaching, and we're starting to get a glimpse of what the set is all about: five warring clans, five unique mechanics, and a reverence for five different aspects of the ancient dragons. However, not everything in this world is divided by clan. Some things exist that are beyond the lines in the sand drawn by greedy khans.

One of these things is morph.

Morph belongs to every clan, and to no clan. A face-down creature could be any color, and you never know what trap might be primed and ready to be sprung. If you enjoy keeping your creatures secret until the last moment, I have a card that may interest you.

This card simply makes morph cards better. The first ability is unlike anything we've ever seen before. Every time you play a face-down creature you get a land, giving you more mana for more face-down creatures. With this kind of land-searching power, you could run fewer lands in the deck than you normally would and still get one every turn. Let's take a look at a deck that takes advantage of that ability.

Facing Down Your Opponent

The first card I knew I wanted was Dream Chisel. Making all your morph guys two-mana 2/2s is pretty good, and with the lands you get from Trail of Mystery you'll be able to cast multiple creatures per turn. If you can put multiple copies on the board, things get even more crazy.

Of course, we can do far better than two-mana 2/2s. How about 4/4s instead? Muraganda Petroglyphs can make that happen. Although your face-down creatures have secret hidden abilities, Muraganda Petroglyphs can't see them, and thus will give all of your face-down creatures +2/+2.

Although not nearly as effective as the Petroglyphs, Ixidor, Reality Sculptor can also pump up your guys. He makes all face-down creatures a bit larger, and gives you a flat three-mana cost to flip up any morph creature.

Now, what morph creatures to include? My first instinct was that it didn't matter, since the deck plans on keeping them face down most of the time. However, playing blue for Ixidor means we also have access to a nice suite of morph guys that you can break in case of emergency.

Voidmage Apprentice and Voidmage Prodigy are both great ways to say "no" to a crucial spell if necessary. Disruptive Pitmage can also work, but only if your opponent has no extra mana left over. That means it specializes in countering the biggest and best spells. Even then, as long as it remains alive, your opponent will have to have one extra mana for every spell he or she casts, or risk it being countered by a simple tap ability.

If the creature that's going to kill you is already on the battlefield, Echo Tracer can solve that problem temporarily. Use it in combination with one of the Voidmage brothers and you can permanently deal with the threat.

Willbender is a classic morph creature that can wreak all kinds of havoc on your opponent. If he or she tries to kill one of your creatures, you can make that plan backfire spectacularly. It works even better if you're being hit with a massive Fireball.

I wanted some way to use all of those lands you'll be getting to end the game, and Biomass Mutation seemed like a great fit. Cards like Overrun wouldn't be particularly effective, as they would negate the +2/+2 bonus from Muraganda Petroglyphs by giving the creatures an ability. Biomass Mutation not only avoids this, but you can pump as much mana as you have into it, potentially making your creatures far larger than a spell like Overwhelm could do.

Muraganda Morph

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I Call Him Flipper

Now let's take a look at the second ability on Trail of Mystery. Whenever you turn a creature face up, it gets +2/+2. Not bad. That certainly makes morph creatures more useful as combat tricks. It's also a triggered ability that pumps up a creature, meaning there's probably some way to use it as the win condition of an infinite combo.

My first thought was Master of the Veil. For three mana it can turn face up, then flip right back down. However, a bit more research led me to Mischievous Quanar. Although significantly more expensive to turn face down, it does have an ability when it flips, and a rather good one at that.

The ability to copy an instant or sorcery spell means you just need to find one that produces eight mana. Then you can flip the Quanar back and forth indefinitely, copying the original spell each time while it's still on the stack. The easiest way to make eight mana with an instant or sorcery is probably Rude Awakening. It untaps all your lands, so as long as you have at least eight you can combo off. Early Harvest will also work, but it also means you can't have any nonbasic lands on the battlefield.

After all that turning face up, the Quanar will be pumped to absurd proportions by Trail of Mystery, at which point you can attack for an absurd amount of damage. Of course, if you have even one more land than the requisite eight, the combo also produces infinite mana. I've added in Helix Pinnacle as an additional win condition that's more difficult to disrupt, even if it might take a bit longer.

You'll need a way to get to eight lands safely. Sakura-Tribe Elder helps. It can block to save you some damage and then sacrifice itself to get an extra land. Trail of Mystery can also help a bit, even with only the Quanar to trigger it.

On the staying-alive front, counterspells are always a great way to do that, and the deck is already playing blue. Mana Leak is a cheap and easy way to counter most spells. Although it can be circumvented with enough mana, it only needs to delay your opponent long enough, not stop every threat completely. Voidslime is another great option for green-blue decks, since it can counter abilities in addition to spells.

Finally, Worldly Tutor can make sure you get the Quanar every game, since it's the only combo piece without a redundant effect.

Rude Mischief

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Challenge Time!

Now, as we look toward the release of Khans of Tarkir, I have a challenge for you all. Choose your favorite clan, and make a Johnny-tastic deck themed around that particular clan. You can use watermarked clan card from the set, or simply just make it match the three colors of your clan. You can even go a more creative route and try to make the deck match the philosophy of your clan rather than just its colors.

The challenge will be open for two weeks, starting today, and at some point in future weeks I'll highlight a few of my favorite submissions here in the column. Now, a few technical notes.

  • All decks should be sent in to mtgcannon@gmail.com.
  • Decks should be formatted with one card per line with just the numeric quantity and the name of the card. No "2x," etc. Do not separate cards by type.
  • Please include a name that I can use in the article if your submission is chosen, as well as a description of the deck.

With that out of the way, get crafting, my fellow deck scientists! I'm excited to see what you all can come up with for the various clans of Tarkir. See ya!

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