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Polymorphin' in Modern

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Polymorph has always been one of my favorite cards, or I guess "card ideas." I've played and written about more than a few Polymorph decks in my time, and there was a time when I really tried to make Mass Polymorph work in Standard. I would sacrifice my Khalni Garden Plant tokens and my Awakening Zone Eldrazi Spawn to try and summon things like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Iona, Shield of Emeria, and Stormtide Leviathan. If I was able to do all of this, it was unlikely the opponent would be able to get through it.

But that was a different time, and Mass Polymorph costs a whopping 6 mana. Meanwhile, Polymorph costs only four, and is perfect for the idea of Modern as a "turn four" format. Cards like Through the Breach cost five, and those are plenty playable in Modern, so why not Polymorph?

A friend I've mentioned before, Jake P, sent me over a Polymorph list to try. As the huge fan I already was, I was eager to take a gander. (Be sure to check out the bottom of this article for some videos with how the deck performed as well!) This was the list he sent over:


Polymorph
One of the great things about Polymorph decks is that they can basically act like tokens decks that sometimes just "oops" into a huge threat, in this case Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, which is as big as you can get.

The problem with the list Jake sent over, however, was that I didn't really see the need for a ton of changes. This is an awkward-but-sometimes-rewarding problem to have when someone sends me over a deck to critique. On the one hand, it doesn't require a ton of work for me to really get the deck in playable shape. On the other hand, viewers and supporters are donating to have their decks "worked on," so I want to make sure I really give them a thorough look over.

One of the first things I thought we should immediately change was the lack of Teferi, Time Raveler in the main deck. Jake had one in the sideboard, and this seemed like the perfect card to simply just have in the main deck. We don't have enough Blue cards in our deck for a card like Force of Negation and that mostly shines on the opponent's turn anyway. We want to ideally cast our Polymorph on turn four, which means Pact of Negation is going to be too slow. I wasn't even really sure what the Remands were meant to do other than buy us time or tempo, and we always wanted to be creating tokens on turns before four. This being the case, we didn't have a great way to protect our combo.

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
While an absolutely miserable card to play against in Standard, it turns out Teferi, Time Raveler does exactly what we want in the deck. Not only does it prevent our opponent from countering our Polymorph, it also prevents them from responding to Polymorph with a removal spell on the creature we're targeting. Furthermore, Teferi also lets us cast Polymorph at the end of the opponent's turn, so that Emrakul can avoid any form of interaction, like Oblivion Ring, or being removed by cards like Jace, the Mind Sculptor or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. The level of perfect Teferi, Time Raveler is in the deck is pretty shocking, especially when he comes down on turn three, exactly a turn before we Polymorph. I'm not sure if we want all four copies in the deck, but I'm definitely not opposed to it.

The only other change we really made was adding two copies of Windbrisk Heights. This was a nice touch, considering we didn't have any other lands that really acted as spells, and this deck doesn't have a terribly difficult time attacking with three creatures. If we're able to get an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn under there (or even a Polymorph, which is basically the same thing), the game should basically be over. The minimal cost of two lands in the deck entering the battlefield tapped seemed like a small price to pay.

Similarly, Celestial Colonnade is another land we could have played instead. While it doesn't let us cast a free spell, it is a great threat that can help us simply win in the air via damage: a strategy that the deck is already trying to employ, and successfully at that.

While we're on the subject of creature-lands, one land that traditional Polymorph decks often have is Mutavault, for the same reason that Faeries run the card: you have four-mana Blue spells that interact favorably with the land. In Faeries it's Mistbind Clique, and here it's Polymorph. Mutavault is a great land that can let us Polymorph on an empty board, but I wasn't sure if the awkwardness it causes with Spectral Procession was worth it in the end. Ultimately, I think any of these three lands are fine to include and it's really just a matter of preference.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor was another card I briefly considered adding, because being able to tuck an Emrakul that you've drawn is a great option to have. I mean, it's also Jace, the Mind Sculptor, so you don't need that many reasons to add him. Ultimately, I was worried about the two Blue in his casting cost so we left him out, but after our matches, I don't necessarily think that's a problem.

This was the final list we ended up with:


Teferi, Time Raveler
I replaced the Rest in Peace in the sideboard with Leyline of the Void. Despite not being able to cast the latter, I worry that Rest in Peace might be too slow right now, and I think a lot of other pros agree with this. It was tempting to add something like two Godless Shrine to the deck, just so we have the possibility of casting them, but this isn't the first time a deck couldn't actually cast the Leylines it was playing. We lost to an aggressive Goblins deck, so I added two Settle the Wreckage for such situations.

One thing I thought could be good against the more aggressive decks was something like Timely Reinforcements. A lot of people were suggesting Auriok Champion, which I thought was great, but you don't want any other creatures in the deck, which is a great deck-building restriction. The last thing you want to do is cast Polymorph, expecting an Emrakul, and hit an Auriok Champion. The card is good, but it's not that good.

Chalice of the Void is basically used against the decks that are planning on casting a ton of one-cost cards. One thing I realized when we lost to Tron was that we didn't have many answers for lands. Thankfully, Armageddon is legal in Modern, so we could try some of those out if we really need to. (Just kidding.) Realistically, we don't have a ton of options outside of Damping Sphere or Stony Silence, but both of those are great options that don't affect us very much.

You can see the deck in action below.

One thing I love doing, is showing off decks that are a nice change of pace for Modern. This deck feels a lot like a tokens deck, with a really powerful combo thrown in. It's nice that it doesn't need Polymorph to win games, but it sure doesn't hurt. If you guys have any ideas or suggestions, be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below! You can also use promo code FRANK5 to get 5% off your purchase. As always, thanks so much for reading, love you all, and I'll see ya next week!

Frank Lepore

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