Thanks to Wizards of the Coast for this exclusive preview.
In 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, casting a spell costs a "spell slot," and no spell slot is more valuable than the 9th level spell slot.
The most powerful player characters have one (1) 9th-level slot, and to get it, they first have to master tricks like teleporting across the multiverse and raising the dead. Once a character has it, choosing what to do with their 9th level spell slot becomes the most important decision that character makes each day. Do they cast Gate and open a portal to the demonic Abyss? Do they cast Wish and twist the fabric of the universe to whims?
Or, do they cast True Polymorph and turn a thing into another thing?
Compared to other 9th level spells, True Polymorph looks a little underwhelming. It doesn't summon meteors, stop time, or reweave the threads of destiny. It just duplicates a lower-level spell (Polymorph) with fewer restrictions on what you can turn into what, and for how long.
What True Polymorph lacks in raw power, it makes up for in versatility and the potential for some really cool shenanigans. Tricks you can pull with True Polymorph include:
Depending on how lenient your DM is, you might also get away with things like:
While other spells solve one problem really well, True Polymorph can solve any problem… or at least make it easier to handle. And figuring out exactly how to deploy this Swiss Army knife of a spell is half the fun.
I'm thrilled to say that True Polymorph (the Magic card) captures not just the mechanical essence of the D&D spell, but its tremendous scope of possibilities.
Cards that copy other cards are as old as Magic itself, with Clone appearing in Alpha back in 1993. But they aren't usually this versatile, or castable at instant speed. You pay a premium for that versatility—a mana value of 6 means you can't really consider True Polymorph in fast formats like Modern and Legacy—but in return, you get a tool that can solve or mitigate almost any problem you have.
To unlock the full power of True Polymorph, you want to have an innocuous creature or artifact on the battlefield that you can either scale up into a threat, or target to scale down an opposing threat. Thankfully, Treasure tokens are plentiful in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. It won't be hard to ensure you have an unassuming artifact token in Limited, Standard, or Commander, the three formats where True Polymorph is most likely to see play.
Here are a few of the things you can do with True Polymorph:
There are many more uses for True Polymorph, but these are the first lines you should consider when you topdeck this spell.
While True Polymorph will be playable in Limited and Standard, I doubt it will reach its full potential in either format. For all its uses, True Polymorph is technically card disadvantage (you lose a card, the number of cards on the board stays the same). Players in Limited and Standard can rarely afford to spend six mana on a spell that doesn't outright win the game.
But Commander players can! Not only is six mana easier to stomach in the format of Gilded Lotus and Sol Ring, but Commander players value versatile spells that are useful no matter what the board state looks like when you draw them. Plus, more players means more targets to polymorph, and more targets worth copying.
Finally, True Polymorph has a highly relevant use in EDH: saving your commander from targeted removal. Normally, if you polymorph a Treasure token into a Legendary creature you already control, the legend rule will force you to send one of them to the graveyard. If your Commander is about to die to Hero's Downfall, though, you can respond by duplicating it and ditching the card that was going to die anyway.
All blue commanders might benefit from running True Polymorph in their 99, but many of the best options create their own creature or artifact tokens so True Polymorph always has suitable targets. My favorites include:
Unearth Etali, Primal Storm, then turn one of the creatures you just cast for free into a copy of Etali that will stay in play at the end of your turn.
On the off chance that an opponent cheats a creature or artifact into play that's even bigger than yours, True Polymorph corrects that imbalance.
Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer makes tokens, which is always a plus. But the coolest interaction is using True Polymorph to turn one of your Myr tokens into a monster like Wurmcoil Engine, and then using Brudiclad to make all your tokens into copies of Wurmcoil Engine.
No legend rule makes True Polymorph very happy.
MTG flavor law requires you to play True Polymorph in any Jalira, Master Polymorphist deck.
I refer you again to MTG flavor law.
Talrand, Sky Summoner and True Polymorph are a match made in the Seven Heavens of Mount Celestia. Talrand decks normally try to win the game by polymorphing their Drake tokens into beefier threats, and the way they lose is by letting Talrand die too many times. True Polymorph strengthens that win condition and mitigates that weakness, all while generating another Drake token.
I've likely overlooked half the things you can do with True Polymorph. This card is such a perfect translation of the D&D spell on every level, from its raw mechanics to its flavor to the way it challenges you to invent new uses. I can't wait to see it in action.
What do you think? Have I polymorphed you into a believer?