EDH | Building Polymorph
Building a deck around
The basic idea is this: you run a deck where the only creatures are expensive and powerful. Then, you use cards that generate tokens or “animate” themselves to get a Polymorph target.
This way, you guarantee turning a cheap creature into an expensive one! This general strategy has appeared in Standard from time to time.
Bringing it to EDH
When I’m trying to bring a “combo” strategy to EDH, my number one priority is redundancy. You need to line up two effects, in this case a Polymorph spell and a “creature”. This can be difficult in a 100 card, singleton format.
In other decks, I often use the Commander as a reliable and repeatedable combo piece. In my Maro Speaker deck, I need two things: “hand-size matters” creatures + draw spells that check power. Together, they double my hand size! Given the larger number of
Okay, so what Commander can give us a reliable Polymorph? Why
Except no, she’s awful. Jalira has a ton of problems:
- She restricts you to mono blue
- Token options aren’t great in mono blue, so you have to work harder to get “creatures” to Polymorph
- She can never cheat in Legendary Creatures, which removes a lot of the best bombs
- She’s expensive. Polymorph effects costs between 4-6 mana, but she’s a minimum of 7 (to play and activate), and will only get more expensive
Zegana’s ETB effect, Jalira is not a guaranteed Polymorph. She needs to survive until the next turn. That or you give her Haste, but there’s only so many ways in mono blue, and now you have to spend 7+ mana all at once
We need to flip our assumption. Rather than using our Commander for a reliable Polymorph, what if instead it was a reliable target?
First we need to make sure we can reliable get a Polymorph effect out of the 99. As far as the straightforward “kill a creature, get a bigger creature” card, we have a decent array of Polymorph options just in Blue.
If we add Green, we gain access to a few “flip untip you hit a creature” spells, which are basically Polymorph with fewer steps!
Polymorph decks often get a few big guys stuck in their hand, so
Even Red has a few oddballs.
Divergent Transformations is really strong, but the others have serious downsides.
Shifting Shadow is hurt by waiting for upkeep, as well as killing your shiny new creature after a turn.
Indomitable Creativity would require building a deck without mana rocks, which is doable with Green, but a constraint nonetheless.
So where do we go from here?
The Traditional Route
My first EDH Polymorph deck (not counting the Melek combo mentioned above) did the most sensible thing: maximize Polymorph spells and maximize cheap targets. My solution?
Derevi gives us the colors for most of the Polymorph spells, as well as some really big threats. He’s gives us a reliable Polymorph target for only 4 mana at instant speed (even less if you untap a land). His passive ability can give our big creatures Vigilance by untapped them after combat. And if our Plan B is to go wide with tokens, he’s great for that too.
You can see the Polymorph cards mentioned above, as well draw, removal, tokens generators, and a few ways to get the big guys out of my hand.
The Single Target Route
What else is left to say? Well, last year, Polymorph was showing up in online competetive EDH with the commander Baral. The basic idea is that you play control, and then after you’ve cycled enough of your deck, end the game by Polymorphing your commander into the only creature in your deck: Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.
Baral is cheap, synergizes with the spell-heavy control strategy, and helps cycles your deck. You can read more about it on MTGGoldfish. Slimming your deck down to one creature makes the strategy very consistent, and serves as an interesting twist to the Combo/Control archetype by turning a 4 mana sorcery into a solid “combo” win condition.
I wanted to do a similar spin, but a bit more open ended. No grabbing a giant weapon like Emrakul. No, I want a card that will put me far enough ahead to win, but feel different everytime.
Also, the problem with Baral in multiplayer is that he becomes a huge target. If everyone knows they just have to kill Baral to keep me off my win-con, I can’t counterspell 3 kill spells in one turn. I needed a Commander my opponents couldn’t snipe.
Thus, a match made in heaven:
If you flash out Teferi during the end step before your turn, then untap and immediately Polymorph, your opponents will be unable to prevent it. The only possible answers are activated abilities like
Thus, if you are patient and wait until you have a Polymorph in hand and a safe board, you can guarantee cheating out a Jin-Gitaxias and refilling your hand with as little as 5 lands.
Added bonus for the competetive player: Teferi has a built in “one-card combo” with
Granted, your opponents can still cast their Commanders, and you can still lose to whatever’s on the table (note: this happened the first game I resolved the combo). But it’s a pretty strong lock, and a convenient “win-con” for a deck pre-disposed to draw a lot of cards.
My point to all this is that even if you have a simple strategy, like “Polymorph plus little guy equals big guy”, there are a lot of ways to approach it when building an EDH deck.
Until next time, happy brewing!