Phage & Volrath's Shapeshifter

Discussion in 'Rules Questions' started by Killer Joe, Mar 13, 2014.

  1. Killer Joe Active Member

    Ok, I now know that if I have a Volrath's Shapeshifter in play and Phage is the top card in my graveyard the drawback of Phage doesn't work, I won't loose the game, I know also know that if I play Body Double and target Phage in anybody's graveyard Phage sees the Body Double as coming into play from my hand and no drawback, I won't lose the game.

    Is all of this the same for Phyrexian Dreadnaught?
  2. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    In the Body Double case, you're fine with Phage because the ability does trigger, but sees that the creature entered the battlefield by being cast from your hand. When you actually cast it, the card hadn't been Phage yet, but that's irrelevant. The ability only checks when it enters the battlefield and only checks that it was cast from your hand, not what its identity was at the time that it was cast. Similarly, Body Double copying Phyrexian Dreadnought would trigger the Dreadnought's ability, so you'd have to make the sacrifice.

    As for Volrath's Shapeshifter, it only triggers enters-the-battlefield abilities when it actually enters the battlefield. If you cast it and Phage is on top of your graveyard, you're fine because you cast it from your hand. If you cast it and Phyrexian Dreadnought is on top of your graveyard, you have to make the sacrifice. If either of those creatures later goes to the top of your graveyard, then you're fine because Volrath's Shapeshifter was already on the battlefield, so no EtB abilities are triggered. This was the basis for the Full English Breakfast deck, which was used in Extended tournaments in the early 00's. I covered that deck in my "Combo Breakfast" article here (Oversoul shamelessly plugging his own articles strikes again). To recap, the deck used Survival of the Fittest and could set up control engines, like Tradewind Rider, but could also win outright with Volrath's Shapeshifter by using Survival of the Fittest to get Flowstone Hellion on top of the graveyard, attacking with the Shapeshifter (it has haste because it's copying Flowstone Hellion), stacking 11 activations of the Hellion's +1/-1 ability, and finally discarding Phyrexian Dreadnought, resulting in a 23/1 trampler that probably kills the opponent. Later versions of this deck did use Phage the Untouchable.

    In 2004, when Type 1.5 was changed into what would be known as Legacy, there were three main attempts at using Survival of the Fittest in that format: Angry Tradewind Survival (a deck that bounced all your stuff with hasty Tradewind Riders and then beat you to death), Welder Survival (a "good stuff" deck that used stuff like Sundering Titan), and Full English Breakfast (a more combo-focused deck, which used Volrath's Shapeshifter). Unfortunately for Volrath's Shapeshifter, it was the least successful of the three archetypes. I think it still persisted stubbornly for a while just because some people really liked the concept. And then Tarmogoyf happened. And then Vengevine happened. Survival of the Fittest was banned in Legacy, which is good because green-heavy decks are so prevalent now what with green having the best new creatures like Delver of Secrets and True-Name Nemesis running rampant in the format. So now the Survival of the Fittest + Volrath's Shapeshifter shenanigans are a strictly historical consideration, that is, except when some intrepid casual player might bring them back...
  3. Killer Joe Active Member

    Thanks! In the league Moosie & I play in our B&R list bare minimum; no cards with the "ante" in its text, Vanguard cards, no silver bordered cards and no proxies. Minimum deck size 75 cards.
    It's a great league.

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