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Morph

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Morph
Type: Static
Introduced: Onslaught
Last Used: Khans of Tarkir
Reminder Text: Morph (cost) (You may cast this face down as a 2/2 creature for Mana3.gif. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)
Megamorph (cost) (You may cast this card face down as a 2/2 creature for Mana3.gif. Turn it face up at any time for its megamorph cost and put a +1/+1 counter on it.)
Statistics: 120 cards
Manau.gif32% Manaw.gif16% Manab.gif15% Manag.gif15% Manar.gif15%
Artifacts 1%, Land 1%
Gatherer search for "Morph"
Gatherer search for "Megamorph"

Morph is a keyword ability on permanents that allows the player to pay Mana3.gif to play a card with the ability face down as a 2/2 colorless, typeless creature. The player can then turn that creature face-up at any time they could play an instant by paying a variable Morph cost printed on each card. Many permanents with morph have additional triggered abilities that trigger when they are turned face-up (see Bane of the Living), and some other permanents trigger when a different card is turned face up.

History[edit | edit source]

Morph came about because the rules team was trying to figure out a way to make Illusionary Mask and Camouflage work. The answer was to define face-down cards as creatures with a power and toughness. The rules team realized the solution led to a mechanic. Cards could be cast face-down and then, for a cost, could be later turned face-up. As all face-down creatures were the same, it would create a sense of mystery. The rules team pitched the idea to Mark Rosewater, who loved it.[1] The ability first appeared in Onslaught block [2][3][4][5][6] and was revisited in the Time Spiral block.[7][8] Most morph creatures in these sets had a visual cue in their art that represented the mysteriously uniform “morph shell” from which the morph creature emerges. It’s that spider-shaped creature shell that is represented in Onslaught’s expansion symbol (ONS symbol.png).[9]

Morph returned again in Khans of Tarkir.[10][11] The mechanic was now visually represented as a swirl of draconic magic, used as a disguise.[12][13] Fate Reforged, The second set of the Khans of Tarkir block featured manifest, the proto-morph from Tarkir's past. [14]

Megamorph[edit | edit source]

Dragons of Tarkir introduced megamorph, as an alternate evolution of Manifest. Megamorph creatures are basically morph creatures with one extra bonus. Turning them face-up by paying their megamorph cost puts a +1/+1 counter on the creature. [15] Often the cards have an additional benificial effect, that is only activated when the megamorph cost has been payed.

"Borph"[edit | edit source]

For a while, an alternate version of morph was considered for the design of Khans of Tarkir. This new mechanic was very similar but instead of three mana to cast the 2/2 face-down creature it cost two mana. R&D nicknamed that mechanic "borph" as in "bear morph" because Bears are slang for a vanilla 2/2. [16]

Rules[edit | edit source]

From the Comprehensive Rules (Magic Origins (July 17, 2015))

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.


Rulings[edit | edit source]

  • Morph lets you cast a card face down by paying 3, and lets you turn the face-down permanent face up any time you have priority by paying its morph cost.
  • The face-down spell has no mana cost and has a converted mana cost of 0. When you cast a face-down spell, put it on the stack face down so no other player knows what it is, and pay 3. This is an alternative cost.
  • When the spell resolves, it enters the battlefield as a 2/2 creature with no name, mana cost, creature types, or abilities. It’s colorless and has a converted mana cost of 0. Other effects that apply to the creature can still grant it any of these characteristics.
  • Any time you have priority, you may turn the face-down creature face up by revealing what its morph cost is and paying that cost. This is a special action. It doesn’t use the stack and can’t be responded to. Only a face-down permanent can be turned face up this way; a face-down spell cannot.
  • If a face-down creature loses its abilities, it can’t be turned face up by paying its morph cost because it no longer has morph or a morph cost.
  • Because the permanent is on the battlefield both before and after it’s turned face up, turning a permanent face up doesn’t cause any enters-the-battlefield abilities to trigger.
  • Because face-down creatures don’t have a name, they can’t have the same name as any other creature, even another face-down creature.
  • A permanent that turns face up or face down changes characteristics but is otherwise the same permanent. Spells and abilities that were targeting that permanent, as well as Auras and Equipment that were attached to the permanent, aren’t affected.
  • Turning a permanent face up or face down doesn’t change whether that permanent is tapped or untapped.
  • At any time, you can look at a face-down spell or permanent you control. You can’t look at face-down spells or permanents you don’t control unless an effect instructs you to do so.
  • If a face-down spell leaves the stack and goes to any zone other than the battlefield (if it was countered, for example), you must reveal it. Each graveyard is kept in a single face-up pile.
  • If a face-down permanent leaves the battlefield, you must reveal it. You must also reveal all face-down spells and permanents you control if you leave the game or if the game ends.
  • You must ensure that your face-down spells and permanents can easily be differentiated from each other. You’re not allowed to mix up the cards that represent them on the battlefield in order to confuse other players. The order they entered the battlefield should remain clear. Common methods for doing this include using markers or dice, or simply placing them in order on the battlefield.

Megamorph[edit | edit source]

  • Turning a face-down creature with megamorph face up and putting a +1/+1 counter on it is a special action. It doesn’t use the stack and can’t be responded to.

If a face-down creature with megamorph is turned face up some other way (for example, if you manifest a card with megamorph and then pay its mana cost to turn it face up), you won’t put a +1/+1 counter on it.

  • With the exception of putting a +1/+1 counter on the creature as it turns face up, megamorph functions the same way morph does.

Notes related to noncreature cards with morph[edit | edit source]

  • The first (and only) noncreature cards with morph are Lumithread Field (an enchantment), Whetwheel (an artifact) and Zoetic Cavern (a land).
  • As soon as a noncreature card with morph is turned face up, it stops being a creature. Any Equipment attached to it fall off. Any Auras that can't be attached to it fall off. Any counters that are on it will remain, though they may not have any effect.
  • If such a permanent is in combat when it's turned face up, it's removed from combat. Combat damage that it assigned will not be dealt. Combat damage assigned to it will not be dealt. This is because the permanent is removed from combat when it stops being a creature. As such, it is removed from all damage assignment orders. Blockers do not assign any damage if no attackers are assigned to it.
  • Three Onslaught block cards (Aphetto Runecaster, Aven Farseer, and Bonethorn Valesk) are printed with abilities that trigger whenever a creature is turned face up. These are erratad so they trigger whenever a permanent is turned face up.

Cards referring to Morph[edit | edit source]

Four older cards used to refer to a creature or a creature card "with morph." After the introduction of Megamorph this became "with a morph ability" on Backslide, Dermoplasm, Master of the Veil and Weaver of Lies

Examples[edit | edit source]

Khans of Tarkir morph overlay card.
  • Aphetto Alchemist - Mana1.gifManau.gif
    Creature — Wizard
    1/2
    Tap.gif: Untap target artifact or creature.
    Morph Manau.gif (You may cast this face down as a 2/2 creature for Mana3.gif. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)
  • Gathan Raiders - Mana3.gifManar.gifManar.gif
    Creature — Human Warrior
    3/3
    Hellbent — Gathan Raiders gets +2/+2 if you have no cards in your hand.
    Morph — Discard a card. (You may cast this face down as a 2/2 creature for Mana3.gif. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)
  • Shieldhide Dragon - Mana5.gifManaw.gif
    Creature — Dragon
    3/3
    Flying, Lifelink.
    Megamorph Mana5.gifManaw.gifManaw.gif (You may cast this card face down as a 2/2 creature for Mana3.gif. Turn it face up at any time for its megamorph cost and put a +1/+1 counter on it.) When Shieldhide Dragon is turned face up, put a +1/+1 counter on each other Dragon creature you control.

Overlay card[edit | edit source]

Khans of Tarkir introduced the Morph-overlay card which was available in booster packs an extra card with an advertisement on the back side. The overlay card may be used on face-down Morph cards to remind players of their power and toughness and that it can be turned face-up for its Morph or Megamorph cost.[12][17]

Cards that affect morph costs[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Mark Rosewater. (November 24, 2014.) "Top 8 and a Half Tales", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Mark Rosewater. (September 09, 2002.) "Wait, There's Morph", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Paul Barclay. (September 6, 2002.) "Morph: Onslaught’s New Ability", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Mark Rosewater. (January 6, 2003.) "Trigger Happy", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Aaron Forsythe. (January 8, 2003.) "Morph Trigger Rules Primer", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar. (February 13, 2003.) "Decks That Morph", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Magic Arcana. (March 05, 2007.) "Shaper Parasite", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Magic Arcana. (June 11, 2007.) "Remnant of a Morph Shell", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Magic Arcana. (October 24, 2006.) "Hidden “Morph Spiders”", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Mark Rosewater. (July 26, 2014.) "All The Goods From The Panel, Part 1", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  11. Sam Stoddard. (October 24, 2014.) "Hidden Information", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Matt Tabak. (August 31, 2014.) "Mechanics of Khans of Tarkir", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Blake Rasmussen. (November 6, 2014.) "Morphs on Tarkir", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Mark Rosewater. (February 9, 2015.) "Manifest Destiny", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Mark Rosewater. (March 2, 2015.) "Imagine Dragons, Part 1", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  16. Mark Rosewater. (May 11, 2015.) "Phooey", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  17. Blake Rasmussen. (September 10, 2014.) "Tokens of Tarkir", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.