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Morph

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Morph
Last Used: Dragons of Tarkir
Introduced: Onslaught
Category for Morph

Morph is a keyword ability.

Details

The mechanic originated in the Onslaught block, and was reintroduced in Time Spiral. The mechanic was based on the card Illusionary Mask (create), which has a similar effect. It creates an alternate method of bringing the creature into play, either making it cheaper than normal or giving extra benefits.

Pre-Morph

A card with the Morph mechanic may be played any time you could play a sorcery for 3 generic mana. When played this way, it comes in face-down and is treated as a totally bland 2/2 creature. It has no type, no color, no converted mana cost, no name, absolutely no status other than being a creature with 2 power and 2 toughness.

Morphing the Card

While it is face-down, you may play the card's morph cost anytime you could play an instant to turn it immediately face-up. This action does not use the stack, so it may not be responded to. However, many morphing creatures have abilities that trigger when they turn face-up, and those abilities are put on the stack to be responded to. For example, Nantuko Vigilante (create)'s effect destroys an artifact or enchantment when it's turned face-up (similar to Naturalize from the same set). While there's nothing you can do about him turning face-up, you can respond to the triggered ability by somehow protecting the targeted card or countering the effect.
When turned face-up, the card is not treated as an entirely new card, so it is not affected by Summoning Sickness simply due to turning up.

Useful Tricks

The ability to conceal exactly what creature you're playing, reduce its cost, and/or have a "spell on a stick" has many very useful applications.

  • A creature which would otherwise be unable to attack can at least attack once if it attacked while face-down. Take Slipstream Serpent (create) for example. It normally can't attack the opponent unless he controls an Island, a restriction that usually means it won't be able to attack. However, if you attack while it's face-down and then morph it face-up during combat, it will still be attacking at its full force. This kind of tactic is typically more useful in Limited play, though.
  • Some creatures with Morph have triggered abilities that occur when they damage the opponent. You can choose to turn it up after your opponent has declared it to be unblocked and get that effect in there as a surprise, similar in nature to Ninjutsu. Naturally, this will usually work only once per creature at best.
  • Though it will take up multiple turns, you can get a strong creature out significantly earlier than you normally could and effectively give it Haste. Grinning Demon is a perfect example of this, because while the morph cost is identical to its regular mana cost, you can get it to hit on turn 4 via morphing.
  • In Limited play, morphing can help you focus your mana curve, even if you're not playing the card's color at all. It's entirely legal, though not exactly effective, to play an off-color morph card in your deck as a colorless Gray Ogre. It also means that if you are playing that card's color, but you haven't drawn the colors you need to play it naturally, morphing it will still let you have it as some kind of creature while you gather the right mana you need to flip it up.
  • Because morphing does not use the stack, you can respond to abilities with Split Second. An example of this is with a face down Willbender you can redirect the target of an Extirpate or Sudden Death (create).

Lingo

Be careful when using the word "flip" to describe the act of changing a morphed creature. It technically does not "flip," as that action is taken by the Kamigawa "hero" cards such as Nezumi Graverobber (create).

Comprehensive Rules

702.36. Morph

  • 702.36a Morph is a static ability that functions in any zone from which you could play the card it’s on, and the morph effect works any time the card is face down. “Morph [cost]” means “You may cast this card as a 2/2 face-down creature with no text, no name, no subtypes, and no mana cost by paying {3} rather than paying its mana cost.” (See rule 707, “Face-Down Spells and Permanents.”)
  • 702.36b Megamorph is a variant of the morph ability. “Megamorph [cost]” means “You may cast this card as a 2/2 face-down creature with no text, no name, no subtypes, and no mana cost by paying {3} rather than paying its mana cost” and “As this permanent is turned face up, put a +1/+1 counter on it if its megamorph cost was paid to turn it face up.” A megamorph cost is a morph cost.
  • 702.36c To cast a card using its morph ability, turn it face down. It becomes a 2/2 face-down creature card with no text, no name, no subtypes, and no mana cost. Any effects or prohibitions that would apply to casting a card with these characteristics (and not the face-up card’s characteristics) are applied to casting this card. These values are the copiable values of that object’s characteristics. (See rule 613, “Interaction of Continuous Effects,” and rule 706, “Copying Objects.”) Put it onto the stack (as a face-down spell with the same characteristics), and pay {3} rather than pay its mana cost. This follows the rules for paying alternative costs. You can use a morph ability to cast a card from any zone from which you could normally play it. When the spell resolves, it enters the battlefield with the same characteristics the spell had. The morph effect applies to the face-down object wherever it is, and it ends when the permanent is turned face up.
  • 702.36d You can’t cast a card face down if it doesn’t have a morph ability.
  • 702.36e Any time you have priority, you may turn a face-down permanent you control with a morph ability face up. This is a special action; it doesn’t use the stack (see rule 115). To do this, show all players what the permanent’s morph cost would be if it were face up, pay that cost, then turn the permanent face up. (If the permanent wouldn’t have a morph cost if it were face up, it can’t be turned face up this way.) The morph effect on it ends, and it regains its normal characteristics. Any abilities relating to the permanent entering the battlefield don’t trigger when it’s turned face up and don’t have any effect, because the permanent has already entered the battlefield.
  • 702.36f See rule 707, “Face-Down Spells and Permanents,” for more information on how to cast cards with a morph ability.

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