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By: Motu, Aaron Kahler
Apr 21 2010 2:50am
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Rise of Eldrazi is on the horizon.  Expensive creatures are in your future.  If you're like me, you've already begun pondering the implications of the Eldrazi behemoths.  But it's not as if this is something entirely new. Standard already boasts a few impressive large creatures...

Iona, Shield of EmeriaProgenitus

And just like the Eldrazi these imposing figures had folks wondering, "How can I get this into play on the cheap?"  The predominant answer to that question has been, since the release of M10, Polymorph.  The concept is quite similar to the decks that emerged in the wake of the last mana creature we had in standard, Darksteel Colossus.  Then, just as now people wanted to get the large threat onto the board for a discounted price - the solution then was Proteus Staff.

 

Decks like these sought to control the board until Proteus Staff could be activated either using your own Blinkmoth Nexus or a creature conveniently lent to you by your opponent via Vedalken Shackles.  With the only creature in the deck being Darksteel Colossus you would inevitably then get to put the indestructible 11/11 into play.  Another benefit of the staff was that it allowed you stack your deck after the activation - making it possible to kill your opponent with a Goblin Charbelcher activation in a deck still filled with Islands.

Goblin Charbelcher

Polymorph works quite similarly.  You target a token creature you control or one stolen from your opponent and then flip through your deck until you hit a card that actually reads, "Creature" and conveniently place an expensive monster into play.  For example take a look at this list by okgo:

 

The idea here is to create tokens via Khalni Garden, Wind Zendikon, or Garruk Wildspeaker and then upgrade your token into Iona, Progenitus, or Sphinx of the Steel Wind.  has become the default color combination as it gives you ways to find and create tokens as well as protect them cheaply with Flashfreeze, Negate, Dispel, and/or Vines of Vastwood.

The downside to Polymorph style decks is that a removal spell in response to your Polymorph ruins all of your plans - Lightning Bolt, Terminate, Path to Exile all pose potential hurdles to rushing your fatties into play.  You have to not only setup the situation for Polymorph but also protect it!  While Blue-White lists saw some play initially (in the lineage of Proteus Blue) current versions seem to be predominantly Blue-Green for access to a quicker combo (Khalni Garden) and one that's more defensible (Vines of Vastwood).

I decided to take the deck for a spin in the MTGO queues to see if it truly could compete in the current environment and whether it held any promise for the Eldrazi filled future.

VIDEO COMMENTARY

 

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

The deck is far better than I would have assumed.  I was impressed with its ability to find PolymorphHalimar Depths, Ponder, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor coupled with shuffle effects like Rampant Growth and Misty Rainforest provided a fair amount of library manipulation. Additionally the situation you create for your opponent is quite troublesome.  If they ever decide to tap out you can simply shut the door on them.  So by and large they are forced to play as if they are under a Sphere of Resistance.  Turn after turn they have to leave one, two, or three mana up in order to combat a potential Polymorph attempt.  This slows most every deck down considerably and allows you the time to sculpt a hand in which you are not only able to cast Polymorph but are also able to protect it from whatever removal your opponent can represent.

Iona, Shield of Emeria is clearly the best choice in the maindeck and I greatly prefer having only one potential creature you can put into play as it allows you to plan accordingly.  Iona is clearly the best choice against any mono-colored deck and shuts down all wrath effects from the Blue-White decks which typically only leaves Jace, the Mind Sculptor as an out.  Conveniently you can legend rule block that out as well.

I'm not sure Sphinx of the Steel Wind deserves a spot in the sideboard.  I presume the idea is to swap this for the Jund matchup in fear of Lightning Bolt and assorted creatures being able to race you.  However if your opponent brings in Deathmark the swap can look fairly foolish.  Iona seemed good enough and the two additional slots in the sideboard might be worth cutting the Sphinx of the Steel Wind entirely and sticking with Iona in the matchup.

I was also never impressed with Explore in a 24 land deck.  It mostly seemed like a 2 mana draw one spell.  Not exactly inspiring.  I also found situations in which Acidic Slime or other land destruction could run me out of Islands.  I'd recommend playing a 4th Island and using the remaining two Explore slots for Everflowing Chalice which doesn't cantrip but always accelerates.

Here's my current list:

 

SIDEBOARDING

Progenitus comes in for Iona against Naya as Iona on white may stop their removal but it doesn't stop much else.  A larger body immune to removal is an upgrade.  You also want Fog to keep them from being able to race you.  I'd cut Negate and Everflowing Chalice for the 4th Flashfreeze, 2nd Vapor Snare, and 3 Fog.

Against Blue-White you want Negate and Dispel in order to fight their counters.  Out go the useless Flashfreezes.

I'd recommend cutting Everflowing Chalice against Jund for the 4th Flashfreeze and 2nd Vapor Snare.  Stealing a Sprouting Thrinax is rather good and Vapor Snare buying back Khalni Garden can buy you additional time.

For the RDW matchup Vapor Snare is useless and Everflowing Chalice can be jettisoned.  I'd also recommend cutting the Negates in favor of 3 Dragon's Claw, the 4th Flashfreeze, and 2 Fog.

Against Allies you can cut Negate and Everflowing Chalice for Flashfreeze and Fog.

7 Comments

You recommend cutting Chalice by Paul Leicht at Wed, 04/21/2010 - 03:16
Paul Leicht's picture

You recommend cutting Chalice alot. Is it really necessary if it goes out against many match ups? Don't get me wrong, I own 4 and love the card but it seems that if you are running it, you have it in there for a reason. Taking it out seems like a lazy decision.

What is the purpose of by Motu at Wed, 04/21/2010 - 09:41
Motu's picture

What is the purpose of sideboarding? The idea is that you are replacing cards in your main deck with cards that are better in the particular match-up from your sideboard. In a deck like Polymorph much of your main deck cannot be touched - you need to generate tokens, protect them, cast polymorph, have a giant creature to put into play, and have ways to put put all of these elements together.

10 token generators
8 protection
8 search
4 polymorph
2 fatties
21 non-garden lands
TOTAL: 53

Shaving the numbers on any of those puts you at risk of not being able to successfully cast Polymorph. That only leaves 7 cards to cut, essentially your acceleration (Rampant Growth, Everflowing Chalice) and Vapor Snare.

Everflowing Chalice is just the worst card in the deck. It can be cut and is inferior to Rampant Growth in the deck as it doesn't provide a shuffle effect to pair with Ponder and Jace.

The other cards that are cut in each matchup are dead cards (Flashfreeze against non-red/green) or straight upgrades (Flashfreeze coming in for Negate).

Yeah but my question is...if by Paul Leicht at Wed, 04/21/2010 - 19:09
Paul Leicht's picture

Yeah but my question is...if Everflowing Chalice doesn't fit when doing the sideboard why is it in there? It seems like IT is the sideboard card main decked.

Everflowing Chalice is useful by Motu at Wed, 04/21/2010 - 23:06
Motu's picture

Everflowing Chalice is useful against every deck. In the matchups it's swapped out it's not always swapped for the same cards.

You can make the argument that one of the Chalices should be the 4th Flashfreeze but then you have 4 absolutely dead cards against non-red/green decks and those are the ones in which Chalice is most beneficial. I'd rather run the 3/1 split.

why didnt you just kill the by hanabito at Wed, 04/21/2010 - 11:19
hanabito's picture

why didnt you just kill the jund player with vines on iona when he was at 11?

Far better to protect and by FierceTable at Wed, 04/21/2010 - 11:53
FierceTable's picture

Far better to protect and ensure the win than to get greedy and potentially lose.

edit: my mistake, I was thinking of a different situation where white mana was available

Because I was focusing on by Motu at Wed, 04/21/2010 - 23:08
Motu's picture

Because I was focusing on using vines as protection which led to me not even processing the kicker on Iona. Clearly misplayed.