I was making a commander deck around Morph. It’s a fun mechanic, adding a lot of mystery and mindgames to the table. There are some outright powerful effects, being able to mess with the best laid plans at the least opportune moment. It can counter, it can bounce and sometimes even turn opponents cards against them. And they never see it coming. I was hoping for some new Morph cards in the second Tarkir set, Fate Reforged, but instead it seems to bring something even better: Manifest.
With Morph, it’s reasonably clear what’s going on; There is almost always a creature underneath, and the only real question is which creature? Manifest takes it a bit further. The Manifested card could be anything. Maybe it’s just a land, or some other card or maybe even one of those powerful morph creatures. It’s enough to provoke some extra paranoia in your opponents.
Appearantly, Manifested cards mostly come from the top of your deck. There are some handy cards that make them. One of them is Whisperwood Elemental. I can see running this in my Morph deck. The commander I’m going to use is Animar, so there is a flavour connection there. And Animar will often make Whisperwood Elemental cheaper, too.
Even though ‘once per turn’ is a bit limiting in a multiplayer format like commander, where most of the time it’s someone elses’ turn, at least you’ll get to manifest early, at the end of your turn. And as a bonus, Manifest will also trigger Trail of Mystery. There is an engine right there, getting everything you’ll need while keeping your mana open to actually morph things.
Whistperwood’s second ability can sometimes help when you unmorphed a lot of cards, and a mass destruction spell rears it’s ugly head. It only counts face-up cards, but it can cause some nasty surprises with cards with cheap, or even morph costs, like those on Temur Charger. Because even though Manifest allows you to pay the mana cost to turn creatures face-up, cards with Morph still get to use their Morph cost, whichever is cheaper. Handy.
Ethereal Ambush is another Manifest card I’m excited about. seems like a lot to spend, but it’s an instant, so you can just wait until your turn is about to start. It’s a good deal get two new mystery guests on the table. And it’s within Animar colours, too, with two of the best colours for Morph. Soul Summons is less fortunate that way, but at least it’s cheap.
Appearantly, there will be three Enchantments in Fate Reforged that create a Manifestation, and then enchant it. I have my doubts about those cards, as they seem rather hit-or-miss.
A 2/2 double strike for seems okay, even with the potential to be so much more. You could just luck out and get a surprise double-striking Akroma, Angel of Fury, or a Sagu Mauler. Or it could be a Forest, and only ever be a little impressive when holding a Ghostfire Blade. I guess that’s part of the fun.
Anyway, there are a lot of tricks opening up. Skirk Alarmist gives some temporary benefits even with non-creature permanents, especially when you include Secret Plans, but it’s not the best use you’ll get out of a manifested non-creature. Bounce is where it’s at. Echo Tracer, Icefeather Aven and Thousand Winds gets you anything back. Crystal Shard and Erratic Portal supplements this well and keeps opponents guessing.
All in all, I’m pleasantly surprised by the new mechanic. It’s still te be seen just how much of it will be in Fate Reforged, but even if Whisperwood Elemental and Ethereal Ambush is the best on offer, these are fantastic supplements to a Morph-centered deck.
Edit: And there is another card known now that in fact Manifests from other places; It allows to Manifest itself, with another card in the mix to confuse opponents.
That’s somewhat interesting. I can’t say it’s actually good, but it’s potentially repeated Manifestation that isn’t overly expensive, even though you need to ‘unmorph’ it to reuse the ability. Since it exiles/manifests itself on a hit, it does work well with the Skirk Alarmist as long as your opponent guesses wrong and doesn’t block it (and since you’re not allowed to shuffle your Morphs/Manifests on the table, because that’s cheating they probably know it’s one of the two new cards on the table.)
All in all it’s not a great card, but it might allow for a small amount of card advantage in the right situation, and a potential reusable way to trigger Secret Plans.