Commander Deck Of The Week: Morophon Shadowborn Apostles

Rewrite the rules of your Commander game! Bennie Smith’s latest Deck of the Week runs 27 Shadowborn Apostles, with Morophon, the Boundless at the helm.

Shadowborn Apostle
Shadowborn Apostle, illustrated by Laynes

One of the coolest legendary reprints from Commander Masters is Morophon, the Boundless. Originally printed in Modern Horizons, this five-color identity (but colorless to cast) changeling has been an intriguing choice as a commander for deck brewers over the years. Unfortunately, for the past several years, the price to buy or trade for Morophon has pushed up north of $20 and even hit $30 before its upcoming printing.  If you’ve been curious about building around this weird and wacky card but have held off because of the cost, the coming weeks will be an excellent time to pick one up!

Morophon, the Boundless

Morophon’s Release Notes

Here are rules clarifications on Morophon from the Release Notes to keep in mind when brewing up a deck around it:

You must choose an existing creature type, such as Sliver or Warrior. Card types such as artifact, and supertypes such as legendary or snow, can’t be chosen.

Morophon’s effect reduces the total cost by up to one mana of each color. For example, if a spell of the chosen type costs {4}{R}{W}{W}, it will cost {4}{W} after applying Morophon’s effect.

If a spell has hybrid mana symbols in its mana cost, you choose which half you will be paying before determining the total cost. For example, if a spell of the chosen type costs {2}{(w/u)}{(w/u)}, you may choose for the cost to be {2}{W}{U} and then reduce it to {2}.

Cost reduction effects are applied after other cost modifiers, so Morophon can reduce additional costs or alternative costs of spells of the chosen type.

Because damage remains marked on a creature until the damage is removed as the turn ends, nonlethal damage dealt to other creatures you control of the chosen type may become lethal if Morophon leaves the battlefield during that turn.

How Changeling Works

Because Morophon has the changeling ability, it’s also useful to familiarize yourself with that ability.  From the Magic Comprehensive Rules:

702.73. Changeling

702.73a Changeling is a characteristic-defining ability. “Changeling” means “This object is every creature type.” This ability works everywhere, even outside the game. See rule 604.3.

So even while Morophon is in the command zone, it is every creature type, which means that, whenever you cast a creature spell with mana from Path of Ancestry in your Morophon deck, you’ll be able to scry, no matter what sort of creature it is. Thanks to Magic Twitter for helping to clarify this for me this week when I asked about it!

Enter the Apostles

When Morophon first came out, I had a mono-black Relentless Rats deck that I decided to retool as a Morophon deck to give me access to other colors to help power up the deck. Later on, when Modern Horizons 2 came out, I decided to update the Relentless Rats commander to Garth One-Eye because I’d been brewing up a new Shadowborn Apostle deck and wanted Morophon as the commander, with the idea that once Morophon hit the battlefield, since Shadowborn Apostle costs a single black mana to cast, I could cast any number of them for free. 

Shadowborn Apostle

I’d also picked up the Read the Fine Print Secret Lair from the October 2021 Superdrop, which both had amazing art and provided four cards that I definitely wanted to add to the deck (sorry, Griselbrand – you’re too busted for Commander!).

My original build had these three legal Demons alongside just a few other hard-hitting Demons… but then Warhammer 40,000 Commander came out last year with a bunch of new Demons, and this year’s The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth even brings several versions of the Balrog to consider. So, I thought now was the perfect time to share my Morophon Shadowborn Apostle deck!  Let’s dig in.

27 Copies of Shadowborn Apostle

Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle Shadowborn Apostle

The number of Shadowborn Apostles has fluctuated over time, but I like having roughly a quarter of the cards in the deck being Shadowborn Apostles. I’m not necessarily racing to get to six copies on the battlefield, but I do want to have a reasonable chance of firing off that ability in the mid-game to get just the right Demon for the situation at hand.

Notably, I usually pick “Human” as the creature type for Morophon when it enters the battlefield, since I have another Human in the deck in addition to the Apostles, though occasionally, if I’ve got a few multicolor Demons in my hand, I will sometimes call “Demon.”

Bring Back from the Graveyard

Gerrard's Hourglass Pendant Echoing Return No Rest for the Wicked Bloodbond March Thrilling Encore

One of the first cards I added to my Morophon Relentless Rats deck was Bloodbond March, a card that literally does nothing in most Commander decks but is absolutely bonkers when playing with the rule-breaking cards like Shadowborn Apostle. Similarly, Echoing Return is a cheap, one-shot way to bring back all your dead Apostles, and if Morophon is on the battlefield, you can redeploy them all for no mana.

Sometimes you may be holding off sacrificing your six Apostles to see what your opponents might do, and then boom!  Someone casts Wrath of God, which means whatever Demon you search up will just hit the graveyard with all the other creatures. For five mana, Gerrard’s Hourglass Pendant and Thrilling Encore can bring all of them back to the battlefield, which will be a huge blowout!  Especially if Thrilling Encore brings back creatures your opponents had that died.

Demon Bombs

Jetmir, Nexus of Revels Bloodthirster Kothophed, Soul Hoarder Demonlord Belzenlok Razaketh, the Foulblooded

Kothophed, Soul Hoarder isn’t a bad target to search up in response to a battlefield sweeper, since you’re bound to draw a fresh new hand at the cost of some life points. Demonlord Belzenlok is a solid choice when you just want to add one or two new cards to your hand. And of course, Razaketh, the Foulblooded is bonkers if you happen to have a few extra creatures on the battlefield. You can sacrifice, pay 2 life, and then tutor up whatever card you may need from your library… say, Bloodbond March?

Jetmir, Nexus of Revels isn’t necessarily the go-to target to sacrifice six Apostles to fetch up, but if you’ve got a way to flood the battlefield again with creatures, Jetmir is basically an Overrun in Demon form.

Bloodthirster can push through a ton of damage as a 6/6 flyer with trample and can potentially hit each of your opponents for a whopping six points of damage each turn, though I’ve found sometimes you just want to attack two opponents and then leave an untapped Bloodthirster back on blocking duty.

Utility Demons

Taborax, Hope's Demise Plague Drone Venomcrawler Sol'kanar the Swamp King Archfiend of Depravity Be'lakor, the Dark Master Lord of Change The Balrog, Durin's Bane Rune-Scarred Demon

Some of these Demons fulfill a particular need: is your opponent going off with a big turn where they’re going to gain a bunch of life?  Search up Plague Drone. Has an opponent flooded the battlefield with a bunch of creatures?  Search up Archfiend of Depravity. Already have a couple Demons on the battlefield?  Search up Be’lakor, the Dark Master and draw a few extra cards. Venomcrawler and Sol’kanar the Swamp King can help recoup life loss.

Taborax, Hope’s Demise is a Demon you hope to naturally draw and deploy before you have your big Apostle turn, letting you put six +1/+1 counters on Taborax (giving it lifelink) and drawing your six fresh cards (and losing six life).

Card Draw

Night's Whisper Sign in Blood Painful Truths Grim Haruspex Mask of Griselbrand Liliana's Contract Stinging Study Secret Salvage Blood for the Blood God!

Deploying every Apostle you draw leads to a rapidly dwindling hand, so I’m playing a bunch of ways to draw extra cards.  Secret Salvage is another card that’s normally useless in Commander but bonkers in this deck, letting you tutor up however many Apostles you may want right into your hand.

How insane is casting Blood for the Blood God! during your Apostle sacrifice turn for just three mana, and at instant speed?

I’ve included Mask of Griselbrand since the last Demon from Liliana’s Contract is banned in Commander, so it can effectively make any Demon a stand-in for the absent Griselbrand.


Anguished Unmaking Damnation

Having 27 copies of Shadowborn Apostle means there aren’t many flex slots for removal or other interaction. I’ve got these two for maximum flexibility, but thankfully a few of the Demons can function as creature removal.

Mana Ramp

Arcane Signet Chromatic Lantern Skyclave Relic

Just a few pieces of mana ramp that also double as color fixing. I’m mostly hoping to use card draw to make my land drops each turn and use Apostle activation to “ramp” out a big Demon.

Five-Color Mana Sources

Command Tower Path of Ancestry Grand Coliseum Crystal Grotto Survivors' Encampment Unknown Shores Opal Palace Exotic Orchard

When putting together my manabase, my rule of thumb was every mana source must be able to cast a Shadowborn Apostle or other black spell. These sources will supply black mana or any other color that’s needed.

Three-Color Mana Sources

Murmuring Bosk Indatha Triome Crumbling Necropolis Opulent Palace Sandsteppe Citadel Savage Lands Arcane Sanctum Nomad Outpost Zagoth Triome Xander's Lounge Raffine's Tower Ziatora's Proving Ground

I also tossed in all the lands that could tap for one of three colors so long as one of those colors was black. These come at a tempo loss, since they enter the battlefield tapped, but some can be cycled away if drawn late.

Black Utility Lands

Barad-dur Desert of the Glorified Barren Moor Polluted Mire Bojuka Bog

In addition to the Swamps, I’m running these black mana lands, including three that can also be cycled away to help avoid land flood. Barad-dûr is a recent addition that I’m not entirely sure about, but I figured I’d give it a shot, since it needs a creature dying to do its thing.

The Deck

Okay, here is the full decklist:

Here are the deck stats from our friends at Archidekt:

What must-have cards might I have missed including here?  Which of the reprinted legends from Commander Masters are you most excited to build around?

Talk to Me

Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter!  I run polls and start conversations about Commander all the time, so get in on the fun!  You can also find my LinkTree on my profile page there with links to all my content.

I’d also love it if you followed my Twitch channel TheCompleteCommander, where I do Commander, Brawl and sometimes other Magic-related streams when I can.  If you can’t join me live, the videos are available on demand for a few weeks on Twitch, but I also upload them to my YouTube channel.  You can also find the lists for my paper decks over on Archidekt if you want to dig into how I put together my own decks and brews. 

And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy. 

Visit my Decklist Database to see my decklists and the articles where they appeared!