MTG Disguise Rules: How Does Updated Morph Work?

Disguise is a new MTG mechanic introduced with Murders at Karlov Manor. More enfranchised players might find lots of similarities to the morph mechanic. Anyway, even if you don’t know anything about morph, you’ll understand disguise after reading this article. You’ll find answers to questions such as:

  • What is MTG disguise?
  • How do you turn a disguised creature face up?
  • What are some things you need to pay attention to when playing paper Magic?
  • And more!

So, let’s waste no more time and uncover the mystery of disguise.

How Does Disguise Work?

Disguise is an ability that can appear on permanents (mostly on creatures). It allows you to play that permanent face down, as a 2/2 colorless creature with ward 2 by paying three mana. This creature has no name and creature types.

You can turn that creature face-up by paying its disguise cost, which varies from card to card..

This is a very quick synopsis of what this mechanic does. Rather than going into every detail here, we’ll rather further explain with some examples.

Examples

Here’s Bolrac-Clan Basher, one of the more simpler disguise cards.

Bolrac-Clan Basher

Each disguise card essentially offers two options on how to play it.

First, you could just ignore the whole disguise part and cast it for its regular mana cost. So, you pay six mana (two of which must be red), and you get a 3/2 with double strike and trample.

Another option is to pay three mana (without specific color requirements) and it comes into play as a 2/2 colorless creature with ward 2 being its only ability. This allows you to play it sooner, albeit as a weaker creature.

Then, at any time you have priority, you can turn it face up by paying its disguise cost. That is five mana (two of which must be red). This way, you can surprise your opponent in the middle of combat for example, as your 2/2 suddenly becomes a 3/2 with double strike and trample.

Bonus Effects for Turning Face Up

Here’s another example. Faerie Snoop does something that many disguise creatures do. Rewards you for turning it face up.

Faerie Snoop MTG Disguise Rules

While you can play it as a 1/4 flyer for three, you will get more value by playing it face down, and turning it face up. By doing the latter, you’ll get to pick one of the top two cards of your library and add it to your hand.

However, that is more expensive as just playing it for its regular mana cost. You’ll need to invest three mana to play it face down, then another three (two of which must be blue and/or black) to turn it face up. So, six mana total.

As you can see, disguise can present you with a lot of interesting decisions.

Non-Creature Disguise Cards

Disguise cards don’t necessarily need to be creatures. Non-creature disguise cards also appear, but they can be quite weird. That’s also our final example, which is a land.

Branch of Vitu-Ghazi MTG Disguise Rules

You can play it as a land that taps for colorless mana. That’s quite straightforward. However, you could also pay three mana and play it as a 2/2 creature with ward. The two options offer some versatility. It’s a land when you need it, or a creature if that’s what you prefer.

Now the interesting part comes when you turn it face up. You get two many of any one color, plus you can use the mana that the land provides. This makes it disguise cost essentially free. Plus, you are ramping, as you got to put an additional land in play.

If you turn it up in the middle of the combat, it will be removed from the combat. This allows you for all sort of neat tricks, such as chump blocking, and then turning it face up.

As you can see, Branch of Vitu-Ghazi is quite a complex card. While now you know the basics about disguise, it also enables plenty of complex interactions.

MTG Disguise – Interactions & Details

In this section, you’ll find some of those fascinating interactions.

Not Using Stack

Perhaps the weirdest part about disguise is that flipping a card by paying the disguise cost doesn’t use the stack. What does that mean?

Essentially, if you pay the disguise cost, your creature will be turned face up. You opponent can’t do anything about it. They can’t use Stifle, they can’t use Shock to kill your face-down creature – nothing.

That’s very important thing to keep in mind when playing with and against disguised creatures.

Playing With Disguise in Paper

Playing with disguise cards in paper is a bit tricky. There are a few additional rules you need to follow, as compared to the online clients.

First, you need to clearly display in which order you played your face-down cards. No mixing and shuffling them around. Why is that so?

Imagine a scenario, where your opponent didn’t want to trade one of their face-down creatures on turn 4. That probably means there’s a good creature underneath. A good player will remember that information and use it to its advantage. Since Magic is also a game of skill, this play patterns are encouraged. You don’t want players to constantly shuffle their face-down creatures around in order to hide information.

The other thing you need to do, is to reveal all face-down creatures at the end of each game. This rule makes sure that a cheater wouldn’t try to gain advantage by playing a card without disguise as a 2/2 creature.

Disguise in Commander

Do you like Commander and would like to try playing with face-down creatures? If so, you’re probably going to enjoy playing with Kaust, Eyes of the Glade.

Kaust, Eyes of the Glade Karlov Manor Commander Spoilers

This card plays nicely with all sorts of face-down creatures, including disguised ones. It provides you with some card advantage as well as an alternative way to turn creatures face up.

Kaust is the face commander of Deadly Disguise precon, one of the four Murders at Karlov Manor Commander decks.

Disguise in Draft

It’ll be exciting to see how this mechanic will play out in draft. Last time morph was around, with Khans of Tarkir, it was a very popular mechanic. You’ll always be able to play something on turn three, even when you can’t access all colors of your mana.

This makes it easy to splash something powerful, like this next mythic rare.

Aurelia's Vindicator

One last thing to remember is the 5 mana rule. If your opponent has lass than 5 mana available, they can’t eat a 2/2 creature just by flipping the morph. Either both creature will die, or neither.

You’ll be able to find out more about this mechanic in our Murders at Karlov Manor Draft Guide, which will be live in the next week.

MTG Disguise – FAQ

Here you can discover answers to some most commonly asked questions about the disguise mechanic.

What is a face-down disguise creature?

It is a 2/2 colorless creature with ward 2. It has no creature types and no name. It can be turned face up by paying its disguise cost.

What is ward 2?

Ward is a mechanic that somewhat protects your creatures from your opponent. If an opponent targets one of your creatures with ward 2 with a spell or ability, it will be countered unless that opponent plays 2 mana.
You can learn more about ward rules here.

Can I respond to my opponent turning a disguise creature face up?

No, you can’t as that action doesn’t use the stack. You can, however respond to a when-turned-face-up trigger, which might be beneficial in some scenarios. Keep in mind, that at that point the creature is already turned face up.

When you play a disguise creature for its regular cost, does it count as being turned face up?

No, it doesn’t. If you want to trigger the bonus for turning a creature face up, you’ll need to first play it face down, then turn it face up.

When you turn a disguised creature face up, is it summoning sick?

That depends whether the face-down creature was summoning sick. If it wasn’t the face-down creature also won’t be and vice versa. (Since it’s still considered the same game object.)

How is disguise different from morph?

There’s just one difference between these two mechanics. A morph creature doesn’t have any abilities, whereas a disguised creature comes with ward 2.

Didn’t find what you were looking for? Ask us your question about disguise rules in the comments below, and we’ll do our best to answer it quickly.

Conclusion

That’s all about MTG disguise. Hopefully, you’ll now be able to use this fascinating mechanic to its fullest.

You can also keep on learning, by reading an article about Murders at Karlov Manor mechanics. There you’ll find a quick description of each new mechanic, plus link to in-depth guides, such as this one.

Until next time, have fun, and may your disguised creatures keep your opponents guessing.

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