This weekend, Magic players from all over the world are going to be cracking open their first packs of Khans of Tarkir, and playing with those brand-new cards for the first time! That’s right, boys and girls, it’s almost Prerelease Weekend! And that means that this week, the Rules Blog is going to be covering the mechanics of the set so you can go to your local (or not-so-local in my case!) prerelease armed with the deadliest weapon of all- knowledge.
The first mechanic we’ll be covering is probably the most weighty, and we’ll definitely be covering it some more once the set goes live- Morph. Morph originally debuted during the Onslaught block (as did returning favorites, the fetchlands) and saw a little bit of a comeback in the Time Spiral block a few years ago, but those sets were new 12 and 8 years ago, respectively, so a refresher course might be prudent. Morph is pretty simple at first glance- if you have a card with Morph in your hand, you can cast it as a face-down spell for 3 generic mana. If that spell resolves, you’ll have a face-down 2/2 creature. That’s it- it has no name, no color, no types, no abilities. Just a blank 2/2. The only part where it gets different from a Grey Ogre is that it can be turned face-up for a cost- the Morph cost on the front of the card!
There ARE some complications, though; for now, we’ll just cover some of the ones you’ll see with Khans sealed- we’ll leave the scarier interactions like Turn to Frog for afterwards. The card has to actually HAVE Morph- you can’t just turn topdecked Forests into 2/2 beaters, because they don’t have Morph. You can’t try to play 3 Card Monte with your face-down guys, either- you have to make it clear which one is which. Usually this just means making sure everyone knows the chronological order they were played in, but if your opponent somehow learns what one of your face-down creatures is (for example, via Smoke Teller!), you can’t shuffle them around to try and make him lose track. You’ve got to keep it clear!
The act of turning a face-down creature face-up cannot be responded to, either- it’s a special action, and it doesn’t use the stack. It immediately happens, with nobody getting a chance to respond to it. Many Morph creatures have a trigger that fires when they get turned face-up, though; the TRIGGER can be responded to, just not the actual act of turning it face-up. You’re permitted to look at your own face-down spells and permanents (in case you forget what’s what, or want to double-check a morph cost), but your opponent isn’t allowed to look at your stuff. You can lie through your teeth about what you’ve got face-down, too- you might only have a Sage-Eye Harrier, but you can bluff that you’ve really got a Woolly Loxodon. Very handy, since you can flip your Morph creatures during combat. You swing for 2, they don’t block- boom! Now they’re taking 4 or 5, or maybe more! It works on the defense, too- block with your 2/2 and flip it into a big baddie. It’s possible to dodge SOME removal, too- mostly burn. When you flip your creature, all that changes is what it looks like. It’s still the same creature! If I aim a “Destroy target black creature” spell at your face-down black creature, well that’s fine- he’s colorless right now. But if you flip it, now it’s an illegal target and it lives. If that face-down guy were blue, though, it wouldn’t work. It’s still the same creature, still the same target, and still legal. And finally, copying a Morph card is usually a terrible idea. Your Clone-type creature will be a 2/2 nameless, colorless, typeless creature… but it’s face-up! It can’t be turned face-up if it already is, so you’re probably overpaying for your blank 2/2 if you copy a Morph.
That just about covers the Prerelease Primer for Morph- like I said, there’s some more complicated stuff, but you don’t need to worry about that for the prerelease, we’ll cover it in our regular posts soon. The only habit I want you to get used to is- reveal your face-down stuff at the end of the game, and as it moves to hidden zones (your hand and library, mostly)! At Regular REL it’s not a HUGE deal if you forget, but it’ll rack up some ugly Game Losses at competitive events, so get into the habit early!
Today’s Rules Tip written by Trevor Nunez