MTG Keywords Explained: Morph

Card Kingdom Strategy

Modal double-faced cards have become incredibly popular in Magic due to their flexibility. But did you know that MDFC’s aren’t the first cards of this kind?

Before MDFC’s — and even before the “transform” cards from Innistrad — there was a mechanic that allowed you to play creature cards face-down and pay a cost to turn them face up. Meet morph!

What is Morph?

In many ways, creatures with the morph ability are like any other Magic cards. You can play them from your hand for their mana cost, and they have any stats printed on the card. Morph is an alternate way of casting these cards, and it allows you to take your opponents by surprise.

If a creature card has morph, you have the option of paying three mana of any color to put that card on the battlefield face-down. While that card is “morphed,” it will be a colorless 2/2 creature with no creature types or abilities. However, any time you have priority, you can pay the face-down card’s morph cost and turn it face-up. This is a special action that doesn’t use the stack, so your opponent can’t respond to it — though, if turning your creature face-up would trigger any abilities, those will go on the stack and resolve as normal.

A few additional notes on morph:

  • Turning a creature face-up won’t trigger any abilities that involve a creature entering the battlefield. The card was on the battlefield all along, just in a different form!
  • If a creature was tapped, enchanted, or equipped while face-down, that will still be the case when it turns face-up.
  • Some cards (such as Ixidron) have the ability to turn cards face-down that might not naturally have the morph ability. Unless specified otherwise, you cannot turn a face-down card face-up if it doesn’t have the morph ability. The card will remain a 2/2 colorless creature.
  • If a face-down card leaves the battlefield before it can be turned face-up (including when the game would end), you must reveal that card to your opponent. This is mostly a way of preventing cheating by allowing your opponent to verify that you had a creature with the morph ability.

Morph has been around for a long time, and it’s so beloved that it often reappears in new Magic sets. It was a centerpiece mechanic in Khans of Tarkir block, and it recently appeared in a Commander 2020 deck. Morph allows you the flexibility to play expensive creatures early in the game, and it’s a great way to keep your opponents on their toes. Try adding some creatures with morph to your decks!