Animar, Soul of Elements | Illustration by Filip Burburan
There’s a strong case to be made for Animar, Soul of Elements as the best morph commander. While it may look similar to Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer, Animar’s advantage comes in its ability to play multiple free morphs per turn rather than one like Kadena.
Access to red also brings an expanded list of morph creatures to choose from. How exactly does a morph Animar deck work? Let’s find out!
Command Tower | Illustration by Julian Kok Joon Wen
Akroma, Angel of Fury
Arashin War Beast
Ixidor, Reality Sculptor
Salt Road Ambushers
Temur War Shaman
Weaver of Lies
Yedora, Grave Gardener
Simic Growth Chamber
Temple of Abandon
Temple of Epiphany
Temple of Mystery
Morph is an inherently sneaky mechanic. Your foes don’t know what’s what underneath your cards, and you use that to your advantage through the game.
Declaring an attack with the entire board forces an opponent to guess at which face-down creature to block. You can usually sneak in a ton of damage from a Krosan Cloudscraper or Rockshard Elemental before they know what hit ‘em.
Even unflipped morphs can be dangerous. As colorless and nameless creatures without abilities, you can target those qualities with anthem effects to keep your board threatening before you have to reveal anything.
It should come as no surprise that the most popular morph-themed commander is Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer. Kadena’s once-per-turn free morph and built-in Secret Plans are designed specifically for the morph mechanic. But Kadena isn’t the best popularity aside, not by a long shot. Enter Animar, Soul of Elements.
Animar’s passive cost-reduction ability affects every face-down card you cast, not just the first. Each grows Animar with a +1/+1 counter since they’re all creature spells, making it easier and easier to cast morphs.
You can drop your entire hand onto the field in “face-down-defense-position” in no time at all. This repeatable cost reduction is what makes Animar shine compared to Kadena. The access to red also means that you get to run cards like Fortune Thief and the red Akroma.
A lot of morph creatures have powerful effects when flipped, or can drastically change the combat situation when revealed post-blockers. Their morph ability can run up that mana bill fast to compensate. Thankfully those big splashy effects become much easier to cast by skipping the initial 3-mana morph with Animar.
Akroma, Angel of Fury, Krosan Cloudscraper, and Rockshard Elemental are your typical big beater morph-ers that surprise opponents with a lot of damage. Root Elemental helps you sneak them into play right away.
You can’t run this deck without Primal Whisperer. This card really shows the difference between “+1/+1 for each…” and “+2/+2 for each…” effects. Most games you’ll sit the Whisperer around 6/6 and 8/8 depending on how and when you flip cards face-up.
This is where morphing gets fun. Your support creatures fill roles typically reserved for removal and counterspells. Keeping these effects on a morphing body synergizes with the rest of the deck and keeps the engine going (see “Gas” below).
While those plays can be proactive, you aren’t short on reactive responses with morphers, either. Kheru Spellsnatcher is an expensive Counterspell, but you can cement a victory by stealing something huge like Blasphemous Act.
One of the most important tricks this deck can pull is the Brine Elemental/Vesuvan Shapeshifter combo. Flip the Shapeshifter with the Elemental face-up on the field to copy it and activate its flip effect. Your opponents skip their untap steps and you repeat the whole process on your following upkeep.
This is an incredibly punishing lock-out. Your opponent will be hard pressed to catch up if they find themselves tapped out before your turn.
A good portion of your morphers are just intended as surprises for your opponent, useful in a variety of situations but not necessarily exceeding at any of them. Fortune Thief is the most valuable because it can snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat.
A heavy focus on creatures (39!) leaves this deck lacking some of the standard “go” cards. You can make use of Fate Reforged’s morph-adjacent manifest to help you dig through your deck.
Fierce Invocation, Formless Nurturing, Write Into Being, Cloudform, and Wildcall dig through your deck one card at a time to get you another morph for the field, occasionally with some +1/+1 counters to boot.
Whisperwood Elemental gets you a manifested card every turn starting when it comes down, and it makes a great response to any board wipe.
Temur War Shaman brings one into play alongside it.
Arashin War Beast rounds out this team of medium-large bodies that put face-down cards directly into play.
All creature-based decks should find the similarities between those creatures and exploit them. Fortunately morphs have very few attributes, and they share all of them!
They’re all nameless, so Guardian Project triggers off of each one despite being effectively the same creature every time they hit the field.
There are a handful of tribal-adjacent effects that specifically target face-down or morph creatures. Obscuring Aether is a turn 1 play (absent your Sol Ring), but it’s quickly outclassed by your Animar, Soul of Elements with three counters.
Getting one flip off your morph cards is all well and good, but you need to double down on those effects if you really want to pull ahead.
Don’t discount Flood of Tears. You can always re-cast your morphs face-down for free (or nearly free) once you return Animar, Soul of Elements to the field. It’s especially useful because you can rearrange your morphs on the field, resetting all “known information” your opponents have on your field.
While Trail of Mystery won’t ramp you it can effectively guarantee that you never miss a land drop.
With Unblinking Bleb you have a superior engine to dig through the top of your library.
If you can stick your Yedora, Grave Gardener on the field then you can swing with abandon, confident that any blocked morph can just be flipped (hopefully for a trade up) and returned to the battlefield ready for another flip.
3-color mana bases can be a bit tricky, especially in a deck that eschews the typical ramp artifacts to fit more creatures. Luckily Animar, Soul of Elements lets you drop your morphs face-down for free once it hits three +1/+1 counters, so you’re most focused on fixing your mana for it as soon as possible.
A single Rampant Growth might not look like enough, but remember that most of your creature spells will initially be free.
This isn’t necessarily a full-on Timmy deck, but you’re definitely looking for combat-based victories overall. Your early game is entirely focused on getting Animar, Soul of Elements into play and sticking it. 2-land hands are tempting, but you really need to make sure you have access to all three colors or a way to search them up in those first seven.
Animar’s built-in protection from white and black keeps it safe from some of the most popular targeted removal, but you should use Counterspell, Savage Summoning, and Slip Out the Back to save it from other removal.
Ideally you’ll have Animar out and safe by turn 3 or 4, then you can drop your entire hand for nearly free. Assuming an average of five mana you can cast your first morph for three colorless, your second for two, your third for one, and the remainder for zero as Animar grows in power.
The midgame for this deck requires some conservative plays. You want to wait until you have all available information before flipping your morphs for effects since they can be activated at instant speed. Bonus points if you can stick Vivien, Champion of the Wilds and cast your morphs on your opponent’s end step.
Your goal now should be to build a support system of anthems and control effects while hiding some huge threats like Akroma, Angel of Fury face-down. If you’re having trouble use Shared Summons to grab your Brine Elemental/Vesuvan Shapeshifter combo.
You usually end the game with Overwhelming Stampede or a surprise Timmy card like Krosan Cloudscraper. Alternatively you can just beat that Orzhov () player to death with an immense Animar, Soul of Elements.
Combos and Interactions
This deck runs one infinite combo, and it can be pretty brutal when executed well. Flipping Vesuvan Shapeshifter and copying Brine Elemental over and over locks out any players who tapped out on their previous turn and severely punishes the rest.
It’s a rather fragile combo since it relies on two vulnerable creatures and you only have a smattering of ways to defend them in the form of Counterspell and Slip Out the Back. Besides that it still needs each upkeep to activate, and you’ll eventually need that mana for something else.
The singles for this deck, all told, run about $115. That’s a pretty standard budget for an entry-level EDH deck, but you can play with that number.
If you’re not interested in investing over $100 on a gimmick, shave this deck down by dropping Guardian Project, Forsaken Monument, and Overwhelming Stampede. Replace them with Primordial Sage, Lifecrafter’s Bestiary, Overrun to save a cool $24 right off the bat.
Or you could commit to the bit and power this deck way up.
You can easily perfect the mana base by swapping Rampant Growth for Farseek and getting the shock lands in your colors. Seedborn Muse and Wilderness Reclamation can combine with Vedalken Orrery to cast and flip your creatures in the same turn.
This Ani-morph deck is looking to win via combat damage, either from a huge Animar, Soul of Elements or a wall of morphing creatures. Other decks can use those free morphs for more direct damage.
Forsaken Monument | Illustration by Pitor Dura
I’m confident saying that Animar, Soul of Elements is the best commander for a morph deck. Multiple free morphs per turn beats out Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer’s single free morph, especially considering cards like Secret Plans and Guardian Project can perform the same duty just as well.
What do you think? Is this Animar deck something to fear? Or is it easily stomped by a Kadena deck? How would you upgrade this deck? Let me know in the comments or over on Draftsim’s Twitter.
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