Standard has been shifting every single day since the Pro Tour and it's tough to keep up with it. When I was at the cabin, as I mentioned in my previous article, I tried to find a way to think outside the box. It turned out I didn't find anything. After the PT and GP San Diego, it felt like Dromoka's Command was the card I wanted to play. I was never a fan of Abzan decks so I started thinking of other ways to play it.
So I did what I usually do when I'm out of inspiration: I unearthed my old decks. Remember the Super Morph deck I worked on a couple of months ago? Back then I felt it wasn't very competitive and was missing something. I never really planned to work on it again, knowing that Magic Origins was very unlikely to bring anything new to our strategy.
But the metagame shifted, and I felt I had unfinished business with the deck. First, let's go through the decklist that we're going to be talking about today:
The deck has a lot of things in common with my old Super Morph deck, but its strategy is a bit different.
All 20 creatures of the deck are Morphs with decent alternative costs. You'd usually not play them face up, but it's important to have the option.
4 Ainok Survivalist
In a format where enchantments and artifacts are a thing, Ainok Survivalist becomes one of these creatures that really gain in value. Having maindeck solutions to Ghostfire Blade and Sphinx's Tutelage is a plus in deck these days. The other main target is of course Courser of Kruphix.
4 Hidden Dragonslayer
The targets of choice for the Dragonslayer are usually Siege Rhino and Anafenza. You're not as happy to kill a Thunderbreak Regent, but it does the work just fine.
4 Deathmist Raptor
The main threat of the deck. With Magma Spray being one of the breakout cards at GP London, it might lose a bit in value but is still the incredible card.
4 Den Protector
Den Protector has been a powerhouse for quite a while now. In the previous version, it would only bring back other morphs and was a little too slow. We added some cheap spells to take as much advantage as possible of its effect (Dromoka's Command and Valorous Stance).
It's the only creature with evasion of the deck. With Ghostfire Blade and Trail of Mystery, it kills Elspeth even with blockers on the way. There aren't a lot of creatures that can block it when it's a 5/4.
4 Temur Charger
This slot has been changing non-stop since I unearthed the deck. For a long time, it used to be Watcher of the Roost. I wanted a creature that was free to unmorph to be able to bring back Raptor at any time and gain life for free when Mastery of the Unseen is in play. I liked the fact that Watcher of the Roost gained you life in a very unexpected manner, but overall the fact that it cost three to cast (no real alternative cost) and that you needed a white card made it worse. I had to run extra white cards such as Master of Pearls (which wasn't so bad, but far from optimal).
As a 3/1, it's a fine two-drop that's not that bad against heavy control decks (Esper / UB), to attack an early Ashiok for example, or even as a cheap blocker.
The ability to give trample is also often overlooked. Along with Raptors, you can easily sneak in a couple more damage especially with Ghostfire Blade and Mastery of the Unseen to back it up. It's also a pretty good way to Deal Damage to Planeswalkers.
I talked at length about the different tools of the deck, but even though they are the same cards they play different roles here.
This deck is not the slow grindy deck that ran three colors and four Secret Plans. Your goal is definitely to beat down and overpower your opponent while grinding them out with card advantage.
4 Obscuring Aether
The Elvish Mystic of the deck, or more like the "Morph Medallion." When the deck wasn't running Ghostfire Blade, they weren't as good. The 2/2 body provided when everything was gone wasn't relevant enough. Now that we have blades, the threat after a sweeper is real.
3 Ghostfire Blade
I took a closer look at that card after PT Vancouver. It worked great in the UR Ensoul Artifact deck, and there was no reason it wouldn't work well in the morph deck. The addition of the Blade in the deck makes it able to overpower your opponent's blockers. 5/4's are usually hard to match or they trade with Siege Rhinos. It gives Den Protectors the extra power to be mostly unblockable by anything.
The only problem with Ghostfire Blade is that sometimes it makes your creatures too big. Against Abzan, it becomes impossible to dodge Abzan Charm or Elsepth, but I guess that's the price you have to pay. Also, it doesn't work great against End Hostilities (I had to read the card again when my Blades got destroyed the first time).
2 Trail of Mystery
Unlike our three-color version, we don't really need Trail of Mystery to fix our mana, but making sure you don't miss a land drop after you play it is a nice safety net. While you take lands out of your deck to eventually only get active draws, the pump effect is really relevant. With Temur Charger, you get a surprise 5/3 blocker (hard to play around for your opponent), you can also save your creatures from Drown in Sorrow (unlikely from Languish).
It's a very good card in the deck but you don't want too many of them in your starting hand. While having multiple in play is good, it takes a turn to play them and you don't want to get stuck with no creature to cast.
1 Mastery of the Unseen
Just like Trail of Mystery, that's not a card you want in multiple against the wrong matchups. Along with Trail, it's three enchantments that you can drop on turn two if you don't want to play a random 2/1, or have Obscuring Aether. It's one way to sink your mana into in the late game against decks that manage to stabilize the board. It helps you find creatures to bring back your Raptors and get some life back against aggro decks. Against monored for example it might look a bit slow (it is indeed a bit slow), but it gets you out of range when (if) you manage to stabilize the board.
2 Valorous Stance
This is one of the cards I'm not sure about yet. These two slots should be awarded to a cheap instant that would take care of a Rhino or a Polukranos and do other stuff. For now, this is the card that fits the best. It needs to be cheap so we can buy it back with Den Protector and replay it right away.
4 Dromoka's Command
This is the reason I unearthed the deck. Dromoka's Command fixes a lot of the problems the deck had. It helps you deal with one of the deck's old nemeses (which is now kinda gone, which is a good thing): Goblin Rabblemaster.
It takes care of Ensoul Artifact, Courser of Kruphix, Eidolon of the Great Revel and Sphinx's Tutelage. It saves your creatures from Anger of the Gods (you really don't want your Raptors to be exiled) and it keeps monored from burning you out when you've stabilized.
The +1/+1 counter is yet another way to pump your Den Protectors so they can't get blocked.
4 Windswept Heath
4 Temple of Plenty
1 Radiant Fountain
After a lot of games, I found out that we actually needed that many lands. Even though your curve kinda stops at three mana, you don't mind having more lands to do more than one thing on the same turn. Having three lands on turn three is a necessity however. Stumbling on lands is a major reason you can't develop your game plan (like a lot of other decks, but this one in particular). While the ratio of white mana to green mana is fine here, I looked for another land I could use that didn't come into play tapped. Radiant Fountain is fine, probably better than another Forest of Plains, and definitely better than another tap land.
Temple of Plenty is a necessary evil, even though you want to curve out from turn one to three. So it's not that bad on turn one if you don't have Aether, or on turn four as your fourth land.
3 Unravel the AEther
Since UR Ensoul Artifact and UR Mill are a thing, we need more cheap ways to survive the first couple of turns. We've also found that it's the best card to deal with the pesky Hangarback Walker.
The other nemesis of the deck is Stormbreath Dragon. There's no real way in the maindeck to beat it except to race it. Once it's in play, unless you have it trade for one of your attackers, it will be there to stay. You can't target it with either of your removal (Dromoka's Command or Valorous Stance), so you kinda need a way to deal with him. Plummet is the best of them. It would also deal with Stormbreath's little brother, Thunderbreak Regent, and big sister, Dragonlord Atarka.
It's another cheap spell to retrieve with Den Protector as well.
1 Tormod's Crypt
I'm not gonna lie, Rally isn't a deck you want to face. They have too many chump blockers and you can't really get through without giving them too much time. I'm pretty sure one Tormod's Crypt isn't gonna be enough to turn this matchup around, so it might not even be worth it to play it.
2 Tragic Arrogance
You can take almost full advantage of this card as you may keep an artifact, an enchantment and a creature (Blade/Aether/Random dude) when you play Arrogance. I'm still not sure when to board this card in. Quite often, the games are kinda grindy and you are left with one creature against one, and you can't cast it. It really shines when you're playing against Abzan Aggro and you let them keep their smallest guy.
Another Matchup you don't want to face is Elves. Tragic Arrogance is not a great way to deal with that, but it might give you a way to sweep most of their creatures. Not great against Collective Company or Rally though…
2 Mastery of the Unseen
This card is great against very grindy matchups or matchups where you have to get some life back. Against monored it does take a turn to cast, but if you can get two to four life with it, you should be fine.
3 Hornet Nest
Probably the best card against monored and RG Midrange. Against monored they usually kill your first creatures. Playing your dorks as 2/1s is usually what you have to do so they kill them and don't deploy more creatures. Once the Nest is out, you will buy some time to stabilize and find Dromoka's Commands or Mastery of the Unseen to get out of Reach.
Against RG Midrange, it's a great way to deal with Goblin Rabblemaster (tokens have to attack). The 1/1 flying, deathtouch hornets are perfect to block Stormbreath Dragons. Add to that the fact that you run Dromoka's Command that would now deal with the pro white flyer. Have you Nest fight against any of your opponent's creatures to make Hornet Tokens that would now block and trade for the dragon.
1 Banishing Light
This card might be better than Tragic Arrogance against Abzan Decks. Sure you can't really get it back with Den Protector but it deals with Elspeth as well. You're not really scared of Dromoka's Command to destroy is as you have other less important enchantments to sacrifice (like Obscuring Aether).
As your other sideboard option, you have Glare of Heresy. Unlike Banishing Light, you can get it back with Den Protector and it deals with an early Fleecemane Lion, a Siege Rhino, or an Elspeth. It would also work better against Mardu or Jeskai to kill Soulfire Grand Master or Mantis Rider.
As for the deck itself, I cut to two colors for the sake of stability. There might be other options with a third color, such as blue for Stratus Dancers (I wasn't impressed with them the first time) or black for Grim Haruspex and removal like Murderous Cut. From what I've seen the GW option is the most reliable.
I have been playing with the deck online for the past few days and have been quite happy with the results. I've been asked a couple of times if I played it "just for fun," but no, I did play it to improve it and make it as competitive as possible. I didn't go to GP London last weekend, but I'm pretty sure that's what I would have played. The first WMCQ is taking place next week, and if I go, I'll probably play it. GP Prague is next after that, I already booked my ticket and it will be in standard...so we'll see about that one.
The deck is still a work in progress. I'm not sure about a couple of cards, especially the sideboard, but I have some more time to work on it. Also, the deck is out there now, and you may have some feedback I can work with.
With the rise of Hangarback Abzan, the deck Fabrizio Anteri used to win GP London, I'll also have to try against that deck to see if GW Morph is still a viable contender. Other than that, and except for Elves and Rally decks, there's no matchup I feel we're really behind.
Give it a try and let me know!