How to Avoid Game Losses with Morph

[EDIT – note that some of the policy in here is outdated. See here for more recent policy.]

Reveal your morphs.

OK, that probably wasn’t what you came here for, though it is the best answer (and one I announced over and over at the PT). But, looking at some other ways in which a player wouldn’t get a game loss highlights some interesting aspects of policy.

It’s important to remember why the morph upgrade exists in the first place. In a game of Magic, we have two players monitoring the game state. Two sets of eyes is always better than one. However, there exist a few situations where only one player can know/verify that a play is legal. Those situations, which include morph, are dangerous and need to be handled with special care due to the ease with which they can be abused.

Because it’s a question of verifying legality, judges shouldn’t hesitate to remind players to reveal morphs at the end of a game. Don’t think of it as keeping them from breaking a rule, but rather retroactively reminding them to verify they didn’t do so earlier. A little customer service here is a bonus.

So, the key here is verification. How might we do that without revealing morphs? Here’s a few ways!

  • No cards in hand. This is the cleanest. If the morph is bounced back into an empty hand, there’s no question which card it is.
  • Taking the cards out of sleeves. Using different colored sleeves also works. The idea here is to not destroy the ability to reveal the card, even if it has been mixed in with the other cards. Since the cards are still identifiable, legality can be verified.
  • Ashcloud Phoenix. The phoenix practically verifies itself. If it was ever face up, it’s easily tracked between the graveyard and the battlefield. Obviously, if it goes back to hand, that’s all reset.
  • Smoke Teller. This is our first case where a morph never gets turned over, but it’s OK. Remember, we’re dealing with situations where the opponent can’t know if the card is a morph or not, and Smoke Teller answers that question. This, by the way, is another reason to be thankful that the IPG doesn’t try to handle multiplayer games. Player A has a morph. Player B uses Smoke Teller on it. Player C remains unknowing…
  • Jeskai Charm. This one is particularly quirky, because not only is the legality never formally verified, the identity of the card is never known to the opponent.

    Jeskai Charm (and various similar cards) puts target creature card on top of a library. That card is subsequently drawn. Problem! But wait, the card existed in a place where the opponent had the opportunity to verify the legality and failed to do so. That’s the next sentence in the IPG and modifies the situation. As the opponent didn’t do that, it’s no longer eligible for the upgrade. (This is also the case for the empty hand situation once more cards are added to it)

  • Ixidron. It is possible, however unlikely, that Ixidron will turn a morph card face down. Hey, I ran this Commander deck at PT San Juan! In that situation, the identity of the morph was known before it became an issue, so it doesn’t matter. Just like Ixidron in Modern!

The best way to avoid those game losses remains being careful with your morphs, especially at the end of the game, but watch out for these situations!