The premise and design of Magic the Gathering™ is that each player is a planeswalker that can summon fantastical beasts and creatures to fight for them. In a magical world of Dragons, Goblins, and Zombies there’s just something about a frog that makes me chuckle. One player summons a large, fire breathing dragon that scorches the earth and gobbles up our forces. The other player summons a frog that belches out a deep “ribbit” before being splattered at the foot of an opponent’s charging Human Knight.
I was fully inclined to work on my Fantasy Football website today, but there was something about a recent discussion in the Facebook EDH Commander Group that had me take up arms with my keyboard this morning. The discussion was in regards to one of my biggest disappointments of all time, Omnibian. The Facebook poster had a valid rules question:
There was a slue of folks that were very helpful in trying to answer the question correctly. Some of them, like me a couple of months ago, answered the question after misreading the card. Their analysis of the situation pertained to getting the timing just right. They felt that if you use Omnibian‘s ability to turn Kaalia into a 3/3 frog BEFORE her combat step then her ability would not trigger. This same group also stated that if you would use the frog’s ability AFTER Kaalia was declared as an attacker, then her ability would trigger.
There is only one reason that I have Omnibian in my bulk rare binder. I bought him because I thought his ability was Turn to Frog on a stick. At one time, I too misinterpreted Omnibian’s tap ability. It wasn’t until I had it in play and tried to use it as a form of removal that I realized I misread the card. I remember wiping off my glasses and taking another look at Omnibian’s ability. You can imagine my dismay when I noticed the text “and loses all other abilities” was missing from the card.
So, in the Kaalia vs Omnibian example above, it didn’t matter if the infamous commander was turned into a 3/3 Frog before combat, after combat, or during the commercial break of a late night sitcom, she keeps all of her abilities (including flying) and only her power/toughness and creature types are affected. Yep, that’s right, Kaalia is a 3/3 Flying Frog that can still drop in a Master of Cruelties to wreck your face for trying to be cute with a crappy ability.
The Fighting Force of Frogs in EDH
So Omnibian sucks, but that did not deter me away from wanting to put some gosh damn frogs on the battlefield. EDH is not the first time I have played with the Toads of Magic. Back in the day I used to love Bloated Toad. In casual 60 card it was a protection from blue creature against my friend’s leviathan or, worst case scenario, I’d cycle it to draw a card. While the Bloated amphibian may not work well in Commander, I remember a handy little one drop from Prophecy that does work well; Spore Frog. This little guy can be sacrificed to save your ass in combat. If I’m not mistaken, he is actually a handy little pond-jumper in EDH. Coupled with Sun Titan or Mimic Vat, Spore Frog can give an opponent a serious case of the warts.
Our next helpful Kermit is part of a very niche deck archetype in EDH, Simic +1/+1 counters. Plaxcaster Frogling recently seen a reprint in Modern Masters 2015 as part of the Graft strategy in the set. Being able to tap two to give a creature shroud, or move some counters around with Graft has great synergy in decks like Experiment Kraj and Vorel of the Hull Clade.
Squishing the Frogs
Okay, so there is maybe two frogs in all of Magic that seem viable to be put into a Commander deck. I still want to see some gosh damn hippity-hoppers on the battlefield! Ah, here’s a thought. I’ll take up the role of the evil wizard and turn my opponents creatures into frogs; and then squish em! In a format that boasts the likes of unstoppable creatures via Indestructible and Hexproof we need to study the arts of polymorphism. Today we “turn to blue” and practice the wizardy of polymorph with three of my favorite blue removal spells.
Polymorphist’s Jest: If you can handle the double blue casting cost, then this card is an absolute must in the dedicated removal slot of your EDH deck. This is, by far, one of my favorite blue spells in the game. Casting a Polymorphist’s Jest when an opponent alpha strikes makes me feel like the mad genius of an EDH game. Indestructible? Hexproof? Unblockable? Flying? Trample? It doesn’t matter, they are all toads now. I have taken out infamous powerhouses such as Avacyn, Angel of Hope and Sigarda, Host of Herons with this little trick. Craterhoof Behemoth and company barreling down your lane? Poof! Harmless Frogs now. Let’s take the example from above. If Kaalia swings and drops an Angel, Demon or Dragon into play, cast Polymorphist’s Jest and squash them all!
Turn to Frog: While hexproof creatures can withstand the wizard’s eye on the casting of this spell, Turn to Frog can still ruin the day of Blightsteel Colossus or any other baddie wanting to trigger an ability or chop away at your life total. At instant speed a creature loses all abilities and becomes a 1/1 blue frog creature until end of turn. “Ribbit”. Squish.
Two of the most prominent drawbacks of Froggy Removal is that +1/+1 counters remain on any creature that has been turned into a frog thereby increasing their power and toughness in direct correlation with the number of counters. Along this line, anthem effects such as Mirari’s Wake will still increase the base power and toughness of the froggies. The other drawback is that after the spell is cast, removing the frogs from the battlefield requires you to have blockers or a way to spit out enough damage to finish the job.
Time for the Bonus Round. Turning monsters into frogs with no abilities will also negate a creature’s put into a graveyard from the battlefield or dies triggered abilities. Creatures like Child of Alara, Academy Rector and Kokusho, the Evening Star that go to the graveyard as frogs will not get the triggered ability when it dies.
Fairy Tale Ending – The End
So that’s all… Wait a minute. I said “three of my favorite blue spells”. I almost forgot Rapid Hybridization. While it doesn’t have the polymorph goodness of the previously mentioned, it does destroy a creature replacing it with a 3/3 Frog Lizard. At one blue mana, that is an efficient kill spell at instant speed.
As you can tell, I really dig froggies on the battlefield and hope that Wizards R&D team continue to explore the polymorph removal effect as part of the blue color pie. I am also holding on to the dream that they fix Omnibian and put Turn to Frog on a stick in the very near future.
What are your experiences with Polymorph as removal? Do you like turning monsters into frogs? Did I miss anything? Please comment below!