Pioneer has a very rich history with Transmogrify. In this format’s infancy, a deck was created by Team SunnyDaze (sick self plug, I know) that used Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast and token creatures created by Birth of Meletis and Omen of the Sun to put Agent of Treachery into play on turn five and six, and then blinking them all with a Yorion, the Sky Nomad. This deck put three copies into the top eight of a PTQ in May of 2020, and led to one of my many 2nd place PTQ finishes with this deck.
This first iteration of the archetype led to a lot of innovation, eventually to an understanding that not only was Lukka too slow compared to other existing cards such as Transmogrify and Indomitable Creativity, but that Agent of Treachery isn’t always the best card to cheat into play with this combo. Early versions of this deck used “bullet” creatures – such as Void Winnower to beat Inverter and Resolute Archangel to beat Burn – to hedge against matchups where Agent didn’t do enough to help you stabilize. People have found success cheating in Koma, Cosmos Serpent as a stand-alone theat, or using Indomitable Creativity to put both The Locus God and Sage of the Falls into play at the same time to combo-kill your opponent, but I think the time for change is now. The time for…. Ć̸͙o̴̮̕m̵̈ͅp̵͕̍l̶̨̑e̸̳̾ä̶͉t̵̳̒i̷̱̊o̶̲͗n̴̤͆.
“This deck really shines against a field of Heroic, Burn, Phoenix, and other spell-based midrange decks that reward you for regularly holding up interaction, which seems to be right about now.”
Building the Deck
Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant is one of those threats that not only taxes your opponent the turn it comes down, but basically tells your opponent “If you do not deal with me right now, you WILL die”. Depending on how early you are able to cast your Transmogrify, you should be able to seal away the game by untapping with him a single time. Copying your instant and sorcery spells means that you will never run out of gas before you take over the game with this powerful ability, and stopping your opponent from casting theirs means that Jin will almost never die. One of the main issues with this, is that Transmogrify/Creativity are only able to be cast on the fourth turn of the game, leading to Jin possibly not be good enough to stall the board, or it will give our opponent enough mana to cast two removal spells to kill Jin. If only there was a way to cast Transmogrify a turn earlier.
Thankfully, Kamigawa gave us another great tool to allow us to do just that! Careful Cultivation is just the boost this version of the deck needs, giving us both a creature to Transmogrify away, as well as a mana source to allow us to cast our payoff card a turn earlier. This deck has always been missing a way to go a little bit faster against the combo decks in this format, as well as something relevant to do on the second turn of the game, and this new piece is exactly what we have needed. All we have to do is re-work the deck a little bit to incorporate green into it, change a few numbers, and we have a beast on our hands.
Sadly, the era of Jeskai or 4 Color is over, long live Temur! Because you want to be casting instants and sorceries, you need to bring down the enchantment count. Normal Transmogrify lists play cards like Omen of the Sea, Omen of the Sun, Birth of Meletis, and other value enchantments that you are able to blink with Yorion. In this list, however, we are trying to be as fast and as lean as possible, so the grindy aspect of these styles of decks is not needed here.
We’re playing eight ramp pieces in Growth Spiral and Careful Cultivation, to just get ahead of our opponent and hopefully be able to successfully race decks like Heroic and Vehicles, while also providing the mana advantage that allows us to out-tempo the other control decks. Sadly, Jin doesn’t stop a Supreme Verdict, so that matchup might be a bit difficult, which is why we have a Koma in the sideboard to allow us to have a great stand-alone threat in the matchups where Jin doesn’t actually do a ton.
This deck really shines against a field of Heroic, Burn, Phoenix, and other spell-based midrange decks that reward you for regularly holding up interaction, which seems to be right about now. Although the deck got nothing new from Kamigawa, Heroic has been dominating due to its great matchup against Vehicles and Auras, the new and shiny decks that are drawing people to this format. It’s awesome that new players continue to explore this format, but that means that people are able to use this information to metagame against the ‘cool’ decks that usually gravitate newer players.
Going forward, this should be the default Transmogrify deck in the format. It’s possible Jin-Gitaxias is not the best threat; cards like Agent of Treachery, Koma, and Void Winnower are all extremely powerful and fill different roles that this deck might need to compete in different metagames. He is powerful, but not completely game-winning like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or Serra’s Emissary are in a format like Modern. He needs a few game pieces around him to generate the advantage, but once you’ve converted one or two spells, the game will almost always be over.
Although this article is written mostly around the application of Jin-Gitaxias, the real all-star of this new deck is Careful Cultivation, and you know I’ve already picked up my foil copies. Will you?