Back when Polymorph was in Standard, I was a huge fan of the deck. Or rather the card to be more specific. I was searching things out constantly, and there were even plenty of one mana Counterspells to protect your combo. We even had cards like Khalni Garden and Growth Spasm to provide creatures, free of charge!
Then Mass Polymorph was revealed and I created one of the most fun decks I had ever played.
While the deck had some holes, it definitely won enough. Iona, Shield of Emeria was able to lock the opponent out of their removal colors, Stormtide Leviathan was able to prevent them from attacking if they already had enough creatures on board to kill you. And Emrakul, the Aeons Torn was...well, Emrakul.
Polymorph as a card succeeds in a couple of ways: it rewards innovative deckbuilding, and it allows you to cheat huge monsters into play that you might never cast otherwise. This is why cards like Shape Anew are so exciting and it's so disappointing when they don't really pan out. Today's Modern version, however, is not really much different from its Standard counterpart.
I wasn't sure how viable this deck was when I first saw it. It managed a Top 16 in a Premier Event, so that was something. Then I saw it again. And this time it made Top 4. At that point I pretty much had to try it out. Let's see how that worked out for us.
Polymorph vs. Affinity
Polymorph vs. Merfolk
Polymorph vs. Scapeshift
Polymorph vs. Monoblue Tron
No matter how many times it happens, no matter how it happens, cheating an Emrakul into play on turn five or so is always a blast. I suppose the same is true with any huge monster, be it Progenitus or Griselbrand.
So we only managed a 2-2 finish, which is disappointing, but the deck was fun to play when it worked. If only we named Wurmcoil Engine against Tron. Always name the win conditions. My major complaint about the deck was that it had a lot of narrow cards, and since it has so many four-ofs, there actually aren't that many different cards in the deck, if you get what I mean. More specifically, other than lands, the deck only has about ten different cards, and one of those is Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. This becomes even narrower when we consider that Pact of Negation isn't that great against the aggro decks, and Damnation isn't that great against a lot of the control or combo decks. That means against any given match, we should have about eight different cards that we can use.
Of course this is a combo deck, so the deck is focused on two specific things: finding our combo, and surviving until we find our combo. This makes some of the parts more understandable, but I'm still not sure we need so many four-ofs in lieu or more variety.
One card we kept wishing we had access to was See Beyond. Telling Time was nice sometimes, but it actually reads:
"Look at the top three cards of your library. Put two of those cards into your hand and one on the bottom of your library. Skip your next draw step."
It doesn't sound that great when we put it like that, does it? Meanwhile, with the limitations on card choices we have, See Beyond seems like it could be much better. It allows us to shuffle redundant Emrakuls back into our deck (which are all of them) and it also allows us to shuffle cards like Damnation of Mana Leak back into the deck which could be dead in certain matchups. Mana Leak, for example, is a card that ends up being terrible against any sort of Scapeshift or Tron deck.
Another thing I would like to take a look at is including so many lands that enter the battlefield tapped. We have 11 that do right now, and that's not including the four Darkslick Shores that enter the battlefield tapped on any turn past three. There were certain times where we needed an untapped land to win the game with a Polymorph, but all we had were things like Boseiju, Who Shelters All and Creeping Tar Pit in our hand, so we ended up having to give our opponent another turn.
One question we kept asking ourselves was why is Isochron Scepter in the sideboard? Usually this card is reserved for decks that are somewhat built around it, with a ton of spells to imprint, like Lightning Helix, Path to Exile, Lightning Bolt, Mana Leak, etc. Our deck has...two cards, and one of them doesn't even really help us if we imprint it ( Telling Time). The only real target we have is Mana Leak, which as I said, can actually be pretty narrow against certain decks. Sure, we have two Negate in the sideboard, but that's it. I can't imagine this is anywhere near enough to include three Isochron Scepters. Seeing that our two losses were at the hands of Merfolk and Monoblue Tron, I would probably add something like another hard counter or a removal spell instead.
The deck was definitely fun to play when it worked, but I think it needs a little smoothing out. It has very few defenses aside from Counterspells and often you're only able to use two mana a turn before turn five because of all the lands coming into play tapped. This means that you have to either choose which is more important: countering your opponent's threat or using a Telling Time to try and do the one thing your deck is trying to do. Now we can't exactly go and include any creatures in the deck, because then we run the risk of hitting them with Polymorph, but we probably want some additional form of defense. I would even consider a couple copies Infest or something, to deal with the aggro decks. I also don't think we need the full eight copies of Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek in the maindeck, but that's just me. I could even see splashing a third color for additional options.
Anyway, I was glad to see Polymorph make an appearance in Modern. Whether it will last is unsure, but the card is definitely an inherently powerful one.Stream-a-thon!
Melissa and I will be streaming over on my TwitchTV page all this week to try and acquire the "power 9" on Magic Online through drafting and donations from viewers. Specifically, we will be streaming Monday through Thursday, from 7pm to 12am EST. I'll even be streaming on my birthday, June 25th!
While donations are not and have never been required on my stream, all received will be used solely to enter events and acquire cards in order to better the stream. Basically we thought it would be fun to have the cards to stream Legacy and Vintage decks (and perhaps make videos with them) for you guys, and I figure having a little stream-a-thon was a great way to try and make that happen. I hope you guys tune in and enjoy the content!
Thanks for reading and I'll catch you guys on Thursday with another article, or all this week over at TwitchTV.com/FrankLepore!
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV