A new set is out and, like I always do, I am answering your Magic rules questions. Remember, your questions do not have to be Standard questions only. We will answer whatever you need answering. Be sure to check out my last rules article, here.
So, let’s get to it.
Dalton asks: “Are ciphered cards, cards already attached to its creature, considered triggered abilities?”
Cipher is a keyword ability that was introduced during Gatecrash. It allows you to exile the spell with Cipher, as it is being cast, and encode it onto a creature you control. Then, it has an effect when the creature it is encoded on deals combat damage to a player. That part of the ciphered card specifically says “… Whenever this creature deals combat damage you …”
When we are trying to determine if something is a triggered ability, there three words we look for: When, Whenever, and At. In this case, the ability has the word “whenever.” Therefore, it is indeed a triggered ability.
Remember that ciphered cards are not “attached” to a creature, they’re encoded. There is a difference. Encoded cards exist in the exile zone while the creature they are encoded to exist on the battlefield. Cards attached to other cards exist on the battlefield.
Alex asks: “I control a Panharmonicon and a Scythe Leopard. I play a Dryad Arbor. Does Scythe Leopard become a 2/2 or a 3/3?”
Panharmonicon reads “If an artifact or creature entering the battlefield causes a triggered ability of a permanent you control to trigger, that ability triggers an additional time.” Scythe Leopard reads, “Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Scythe Leopard gets +1/+1 until the end of turn.”
Since Dryad Arbor is a Land Creature, it fits the bill of both abilities. It is a land so it will trigger the Leopard’s Landfall ability, and, since Dryad Arbor is a creature, it will cause Panharmonicon to trigger. So, when the dust settles on all the triggers, your Scythe Leopard is indeed a 3/3.
Aaron asks: “Let’s say I have Starfield of Nyx in play, o-ring in the yard, and Demonic Pact in play, with only the “you lose the game” option left. I stack my triggers such that starfield returns O-ring to exile pact before it resolves and kills me. Would that mean that the resolution of Pact fizzles since the card is exiled and thus the mode selection options are a null set? Or do you select the modes as the trigger goes on the stack, and it resolves as selected, regardless of the options set’s existence/state when the trigger checks? Generalized as: when do triggers select modes?”
So there is a whole lot going on in this question but the answer is pretty simple. Especially when we look at the last line of the question, “when do triggers select modes.”
A triggered ability is treated just like casting a spell. First, we announce the triggered ability and put it on the stack. When the ability goes on the stack, we select modes. So, in this case, you have the Demonic Pact trigger on the stack. It is at this time you must select which mode you are using. If the option to lose the game is the only one you have left, that’s the one you’re picking. You need to remember, triggers exist independently of their source. This means when all your all your shenanigans finally finish, you’re still going to lose the game. There is nothing on Demonic Pact that says it must be in play when the trigger resolves.
If you want to survive the Pact, you better do it before the trigger goes on the stack.
That’s it for this time friends. If you have a question, please shoot me a message and I will include it in the next installment. Until then, keep playing Magic!
Patrick Cossel is the Publisher of The Forge Herald. He is a writer, gamer, father, husband, and level 1 Magic Judge. Professionally he is the Operations Manager of a family-owned newspaper company. He can be reached at email@example.com
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