01/09/2011 Feature: "Dark Ascension Mechanics"

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This thread is for discussion of this weeks's Feature Article, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Undying is obvious enough, it's just Persist in reverse...which means that both of Shadowmoor's banner keywords have been "upgraded".  (Okay infect versus wither isn't quite a 100% improvement; one infect card is usually worse than one wither card, but a fairly small number of infect cards or the inclusion of proliferate fixes that fast).  Between that and the announcement by AarFors (his Random Card Comment on Safewright Quest) that we shouldn't expect to see hybrid anytime soon (and I believe the untap symbol was also panned, probably by MaRo, at one point for not being intuitive enough to new players), one gets the impression that they reaaaaly didn't like how Shadowmoor turned out and are doing their best to pave over it completely as if it never existed.

I was hoping DA was going to have an absolute slew of DFCs, but it looks like we just get 13, for a total of what, 35 or so in the two blocks?  (Avacyn Restored is probably not having DFCs, as the whole point of it being its own set was probably to cut the DFC experiment short in case it proved unpopular).  I love the DFC mechanic to death, but I'm strongly inclined to say that if this was all they were ever going to make, it wasn't really worth breaking that particular rule this time.  If you're going to make such a fundamental change, something that necessitates the crude solution of checklist cards and simply can't be accounted for in draft so it's just left public when all other draft info is concealed...yeah, this was just plain goofed.  They really should have killed this idea until they could do it right, as much as I hate to say it.  Civilized Scholar // Homicidal Brute is my favorite card in Innistrad and one of my favorite cards of all time, I love the new Chalice of Life and Death and a lot of the old DFCs, I'm intrigued by the names and colors on the new checklist card, there's a lot I love about them - but they just aren't being done enough to justify the hassle they create, and should have been saved until Wizards could figure out how to do them right.  (The ideal solution was probably the "token" idea that they originally floated, and presumably it would be extra work to get every Homicidal Brute "token" into the same booster pack as his corresponding normal-backed Civilized Scholar, but no matter what the effort required I think it should have been done rather than breaking the "all Magic cards have a Magic card back" rule.

I find Fateful Hour to be a somewhat ungainly name for an ability, similar to Annihilator and Living Weapon - both awesome mechanics, but their name sounds like someone couldn't find a thesaurus in time, and settled for a word knowing that it didn't roll off the tongue as well as it could.  I would have gone with something like "Desperate" or "Last Hope".  The ability is not anything terribly unusual, and it irritates me more than a little that it doesn't synch up with Avatar of Hope nor with the Zendikar vampires - you could practically make a little chart of all the things that suddenly start happening as your life total inches downward, instead of having an organic progression where the life losses seem integral to the state of the game.  These "threshold" mechanics just feel artificial and wrong to me; they're like flipping a switch and really take me out of the illusion that a fantasy battle is raging, creating something close to what TVTropes (warning: unsafe at any speed!) a "Big Lipped Alligator Moment", something so completely off the wall and out of place that it just leaves you gaping in shock (okay not quite that bad in a Magic game, but I still find it jarring and unnatural).

In other news, apparently Dark Ascension has Human tokens.  Innistrad didn't, and I really, really really, really, really liked that fact.  Not much is more insulting than telling a person that they don't matter in the grand scheme of things, that they're not important or special or unique; having every Human in the set be a card gave the Human Tribal cards in Innistrad a feel that I thought was just absolutely perfect.  Human Ally and I think Human Soldier tokens have existed in the past, but they aren't found in Innistrad and I think that has to have been deliberate; the change in Dark Ascension is probably due to there being different people on the team, and I find myself hoping that the sales figures for this set turn out to be a bit less impressive than Innistrad's, specifically so the person in question will be regarded as having made a mistake.

Curse of Thirst to me looks much stronger than any of the existing curses (save perhaps Bloody Tome in Limited decks or when enchanting yourself for graveyard tech), and vitally important to making Bitterheart Witch functional.  They ought to have printed the two in the same set.

Finally, boo and hiss on choosing a reprint as the marquee card for Flashback in this set.  We already knew the set has flashback; we already knew they were reprinting cards (like Ancient Grudge).  They really should have picked something new to preview here.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
First I'd like to say it's nice to see a life dependant ability that works with all formats by referencing a starting life total.
The "Undying" mechanic seems like it will be usefull against infect and begs to be utilized in a combo of some sort. I'm looking forward to seeing what players can do with it.
And Thraben Doomsayer...  wow. A cheap token producer that benefits from a well supported creature type in the block. If this is giving the humans less of a boost than the monsters, I can't wait to see what the monsters get.
Archdemon of Greed (transformed Ravenous Demon) and Thraben Doomsayer: manipulate Fateful Hour until you're at 5 or below, and then maintain the archdemon for an 11/11 flying trampler.

Also I feel one of Sorin's ability's will have something to do with this "Fateful Hour". Target Player's life total becomes 5, etc.  
Undying looks like a solid mechanic that would combo very well with the right cards.

Fateful Hour seems a bit like a gimic. You're so close to death... One wrong move and BAM, you're dead. The effects really need to outweigh the risk for the mechanic to become popular. It will combo with Phyrexian mana very well though.

I like that Morbid and Flashback  have returned, they're fun mechanics! 
"Ray of Revelation"? Why not "Modern Sympathy"?
Eh, I don't really like how undying interacts with +1/+1 counter-placing cards like Travel Preparations. These are cards you are supposed to feel glad about playing -- you want to put +1/+1 counters on your guys --, but if you play them you turn off the cool mechanic that lets them come back. This conflict just feels so awkward. Honestly, I think persist was better executed way to do this.

Also these keyword names are clunky as hell.
In other news, apparently Dark Ascension has Human tokens.  Innistrad didn't, and I really, really really, really, really liked that fact.  Not much is more insulting than telling a person that they don't matter in the grand scheme of things, that they're not important or special or unique; having every Human in the set be a card gave the Human Tribal cards in Innistrad a feel that I thought was just absolutely perfect.  Human Ally and I think Human Soldier tokens have existed in the past, but they aren't found in Innistrad and I think that has to have been deliberate; the change in Dark Ascension is probably due to there being different people on the team, and I find myself hoping that the sales figures for this set turn out to be a bit less impressive than Innistrad's, specifically so the person in question will be regarded as having made a mistake.



Actually there have never been token humans before. There have been Kor Soldier tokens and Kithkin Soldier tokens, but others were just Soldier tokens. Or indeed, Soldier Ally tokens. 

However, now that we have human tribal, people are wondering why Elspeth, Knight-Errant isn't powering Champion of the Parish. My guess is that in the future we'll see more Human tokens. 
Undying is obvious enough, it's just Persist in reverse...which means that both of Shadowmoor's banner keywords have been "upgraded".  (Okay infect versus wither isn't quite a 100% improvement; one infect card is usually worse than one wither card, but a fairly small number of infect cards or the inclusion of proliferate fixes that fast).  Between that and the announcement by AarFors (his Random Card Comment on Safewright Quest) that we shouldn't expect to see hybrid anytime soon (and I believe the untap symbol was also panned, probably by MaRo, at one point for not being intuitive enough to new players), one gets the impression that they reaaaaly didn't like how Shadowmoor turned out and are doing their best to pave over it completely as if it never existed.

I'd say that's unlikely.

Avacyn Restored is probably not having DFCs, as the whole point of it being its own set was probably to cut the DFC experiment short in case it proved unpopular.

According to Mark, the third set not having DFCs was because they didn't work with the way the block's plot works, not because they wanted to hedge their bets.

In other news, apparently Dark Ascension has Human tokens.  Innistrad didn't, and I really, really really, really, really liked that fact.  Not much is more insulting than telling a person that they don't matter in the grand scheme of things, that they're not important or special or unique[...]

Perhaps that's true. But if so, doesn't that actually mean that Dark Ascension is a perfect time to use Human tokens?

The monsters are growing more powerful. The wards are failing. The people are losing hope. The walls of Thraben crumble. Time is running out even faster than you're afraid it is. The vampires will leave you a bloodless, withered husk. The zombies will eat your brains and bring your corpse back to their master so you can be raised as another of his puppets. The werewolves will tear you limb from limb and feast on your entrails while you're still barely alive. It's inevitable. Even now your fellows are looking at you sideways and wondering if throwing you to those abominations will buy them a few more precious seconds. Think you can make a difference? Think you can hold back the darkness? You?! You're not a priest. You're not a warrior. You're not even a card.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. The
Dark Ascension is here...

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.


They keep banging on about all that design space they have, yet all they ever do is release an alternative version of an existing mechanic, or turn a unique ability of an existing card into a keyword.
Website for my radio series: http://www.cyrusbalesfilms.co.uk/id2.html For the facebook group of my radio series, search for "Who will save us now?" Please join! Follow my regular articles on: http://www.manaleak.com/mtguk/
If that's all they need to create an interesting, fun set that people will enjoy, why should they need to stuff more in? Just because it's possible?

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.


Playing with undying is very similar to persist, so it doesn't create much fun, it's just about opening more of them in sealed that your opponent.
Website for my radio series: http://www.cyrusbalesfilms.co.uk/id2.html For the facebook group of my radio series, search for "Who will save us now?" Please join! Follow my regular articles on: http://www.manaleak.com/mtguk/
The Dark Ascension Mechanics page section on DFCs links to the OUT OF DATE rules page from Innistrad, which has incorrect information about drafting with DFCs (it says you can conceal them, but in fact you arent allowed to - they must sit on top of your pile until you get a chance to review your picks between packs).

Please can this be fixed before the pre-release?!

~ Tim
I am Blue/White Reached DCI Rating 1800 on 28/10/11. :D
Sig
56287226 wrote:
190106923 wrote:
Not bad. But what happens flavor wise when one kamahl kills the other one?
Zis iz a sign uf deep psychological troma, buried in zer subconscious mind. By keelink himzelf, Kamahl iz physically expressink hiz feelinks uf self-disgust ova hiz desire for hiz muzzer. [/GermanPsychologistVoice]
56957928 wrote:
57799958 wrote:
That makes no sense to me. If they spelled the ability out on the card in full then it would not be allowed in a mono-black Commander deck, but because they used a keyword to save space it is allowed? ~ Tim
Yup, just like you can have Birds of paradise in a mono green deck but not Noble Hierarch. YAY COLOR IDENTITY
56287226 wrote:
56888618 wrote:
Is algebra really that difficult?
Survey says yes.
56883218 wrote:
57799958 wrote:
You want to make a milky drink. You squeeze a cow.
I love this description. Like the cows are sponges filled with milk. I can see it all Nick Parks claymation-style with the cow's eyes bugging out momentarily as a giant farmer squeezes it like a squeaky dog toy, and milk shoots out of it.
56287226 wrote:
56735468 wrote:
And no judge will ever give you a game loss for playing snow covered lands.
I now have a new goal in life. ;)

Playing with undying is very similar to persist, so it doesn't create much fun, it's just about opening more of them in sealed that your opponent.



I'm not sure how Shadowmoor limited played, but this environment is full of tempo decks like WU ones with Silent Departure, Bonds of Faith, Claustrophobia, Feeling of Dread, Avacynian Priest and Grasp of Phantasms, so maybe it matters less. 

Also, this should make cards like Purify the Grave stronger so that'll be interesting.
So how does Undying work with Cauldron of Souls or other Persist/Undying combinations? Are you allowed to choose which of the two is used, do they both trigger but does one fizzle due to the card being back on the field (with the owner choosing which one goes first), do they both trigger and have their effects cancel eachother out?
So how does Undying work with Cauldron of Souls or other Persist/Undying combinations? Are you allowed to choose which of the two is used, do they both trigger but does one fizzle due to the card being back on the field (with the owner choosing which one goes first), do they both trigger and have their effects cancel eachother out?



Assuming the creature had neither a +1/+1 counter nor a -1/-1 counter, both will trigger, and the player who controlled the creature right before it died chooses the order in which they're put on the stack.  The top ability will resolve and put the creature onto the battlefield with its type of counter.  The bottom ability will do nothing on resolution since the creature card is no longer in the graveyard.
So how does Undying work with Cauldron of Souls or other Persist/Undying combinations? Are you allowed to choose which of the two is used, do they both trigger but does one fizzle due to the card being back on the field (with the owner choosing which one goes first), do they both trigger and have their effects cancel eachother out?

While I'm not 100% sure what would happen if a creature without a counter on it had both at once (You'd probably get to choose which one takes effect), I'm pretty sure you can chain them together to make an unkillable creature.

Simply give a creature with undying that already has a +1/+1 counter persist (with cauldron of souls), and it'll come back with a -1/-1 counter. Then when it dies, it'll have a +1/+1 counter again, rinse and repeat.
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The Story of My Love
79035425 wrote:
BURSTING WITH VIGOR!
Trolljuju wiped the sweat from his brow as he continued his slow trudge up the snowy mountain. The wind was strong and fiercely cold, but he pressed against it. Juju knew Beast Engine was somewhere at the peak, waiting for him. But this was not a matter of confronting the forces of nature themselves; that had been accomplished long before, and was now too easy to maintain the manly man's interest. Today, Beast Engine was here waiting for a friend. Trolljuju's mind drifted from his appointment to thoughts of Beast Engine's manliness. The only man in history to punch the fossilized remains of a dinosaur back to life just to punch it to death again. The man who deflected bullets with his pectoral muscles during his daily assassination attempts. The man who cured cancer with a serum made from pure crystalized virility. The man who burst with vigor. Not just a man but a Man- the manliest of all men. A god of masculinity in physical form. Trolljuju's heart fluttered at the memory of him and lightened his steps as he pressed on. Suddenly, he was shaken from his reverie by a deep, powerful rumble in the mountain that shook him to his core. Instinctively, he threw himself to the ground just before the slope ahead of him exploded in a fiery wall of light and heat. So great was the force that the entire upper section of the mountain was vaproized. It scorched Juju's coat, then rose on the air to drift far away, a plume of white-hot ash. When Trolljuju lifted his head to see what was left behind, he beheld a wide, perfectly flat stone plateau, and in the distance he could see a muscular figure, his foot still held up from the kick. There was no doubt it was Beast Engine. As soon as the ground beneath him cooled, Juju cast his heavy pack aside and ran. As the figure grew with closeness, he could see Beast Engine was nude, as was expected. The snow that fell near him turned to a thin wall of steam, looking to Trolljuju's eyes like a barrier. Engine was too strong, too manly to occupy the same space as the ordinary universe. He lived in a world all his own. But fortunately for Juju, it was only an illusion. He ran at full speed into Engine, who caught him with both arms and effortlessly twirled with him, resting with Juju dipped low to the ground in Engine's arms. "Beast Engine, my love," Trolljuju breathed, sturck with awe at Engine's masculine beauty despite the familiarity of his face. Engine just smiled, radiating from every inch of him with incredible strength, yet gentle warmth. "It's been so long, Juju. I've missed you." "Forgive me. I lost contact with you while you were boxing with Death to win back and consume the soul of Theodore Roosevelt. But now I'm here..." Juju lifted one tentative hand to Engine's face, but he pulled away. "You know I cannot give you what you seek. Were we to make love, your body would be destroyed by the force." "I know, of course I would," Juju responded, tears in his eyes. "May I have, at least, one kiss?" "Very well. For you, my friend." Slowly, gingerly, they came closer. But the moment their lips met, a flood of unbridled manliness rushed into Trolljuju, body and soul, and every cell in his body exploded. Beast Engine fell to his knees, and in his grief, he wept. The tears that fell from his face burned deep into the rock beneath him. But slowly, his sorrow turned to conviction. He beat the crap out of Death once. He could do it again.
While I'm not 100% sure what would happen if a creature without a counter on it had both at once (You'd probably get to choose which one takes effect), I'm pretty sure you can chain them together to make an unkillable creature.

Simply give a creature with undying that already has a +1/+1 counter persist (with cauldron of souls), and it'll come back with a -1/-1 counter. Then when it dies, it'll have a +1/+1 counter again, rinse and repeat.



The "repeat" there would need to include some way to give it persist again (e.g. by untapping and reusing Cauldron of Souls).  An object that changes zones becomes an entirely new object, so if the creature dies and comes back, the new creature won't have persist.
Just a question but is the same Raben mentioned in the flavor text of "Ray of Revelation" the same Raben from "The Cursed Blade" post?
Am I the only person dissapointed by the fact that there's no card names Markov Chain? Seemed like such an obvious name.
For those wondering why Ray of Revelation had such a weird name, I'd like to point out it's a reprint.
Immature College Student (Also a Rules Advisor)

They keep banging on about all that design space they have, yet all they ever do is release an alternative version of an existing mechanic, or turn a unique ability of an existing card into a keyword.

Just what exatcly do you think design space entails?  When Einstein released General Relativity, he was just building on the works of Newton.  When Steven "The Man" Jobs released the Apple, he was just building on the works of HP, Intel, & others.  When Shakespeare wrote "A Midsummer Night's Dream", he borrowed heavily from the mythology & folklore of not only his native England, but also the ancient Greeks.  Need I go on to prove that innovation & design space isn't just about wild, new ideas, but also the evolution of preexisting ones as well?  That's the thing about wild, new ideas--they open up new design space that, after their progenitor, may feel like old hat to some.

  In other matters, would a creature with BOTH undying & persist be unkillable?  How would that work?

Also, doesn't Thraben Doomsayer's cloak look familiar somehow?  Like he'd rather be bowling?  Check again.  That's not Avacyn's Collar he's holding; "Hey!  There's a beverage here, man!"


ALL HAIL THRABEN DUDESAYER!
Am I the only person dissapointed by the fact that there's no card names Markov Chain? Seemed like such an obvious name.

+1 internets for you!
Also, doesn't Thraben Doomsayer's cloak look familiar somehow?  Like he'd rather be bowling?  Check again.  That's not Avacyn's Collar he's holding; "Hey!  There's a beverage here, man!"


ALL HAIL THRABEN DUDESAYER!

Avacynian Priest is Maud
In other matters, would a creature with BOTH undying & persist be unkillable?  How would that work?

It wouldn't be unkillable, but it would be quite hard to kill. It would have to have a +1/+1 counter and a -1/-1 counter on it at the time it died. About the only way to do that is for it to already have a +1/+1 counter on it and then give it enough -1/-1 counters to reduce its toughness to 0 all in one go.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

In other matters, would a creature with BOTH undying & persist be unkillable?  How would that work?

It wouldn't be unkillable, but it would be quite hard to kill. It would have to have a +1/+1 counter and a -1/-1 counter on it at the time it died. About the only way to do that is for it to already have a +1/+1 counter on it and then give it enough -1/-1 counters to reduce its toughness to 0 all in one go.



This is incorrect. There was a rules revision during Shadowmoor about how to handle creatures that get +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters at the same time.

The new rule was: if a +1/+1 counter and a -1/-1 counter are on a single creature at the same time, they both cease to exist, effectively cancelling each other out.
Thus, you simply cannot have a creature with both of these types of counters at the same time.
It will have one, the other, or neither.

You can probably make out how that would play out.

So yeah, if you can somehow manage to give both Persist and Undying to the same creature somehow, well, you've made it functionally unkillable. Though it's not like we haven't had to deal with that before.

This is incorrect.


No its not.

zammm, as usual, knows what he is talking about.

Read the article linked to in the OP (you know, the one we are supposed to be commenting about ;)):

There's a twist, though: If a creature with +1/+1 counters on it gets enough -1/-1 counters to kill it, it dies before the two counters have the chance to cancel out. For example, if your Strangleroot Geist with a +1/+1 counter on it got three -1/-1 counters from Skinrender's "enters the battlefield" ability, the Geist would die with one +1/+1 counter and three -1/-1 counters and wouldn't return to the battlefield.



Just like zammm said (unsurprisingly).

~ Tim

I am Blue/White Reached DCI Rating 1800 on 28/10/11. :D
Sig
56287226 wrote:
190106923 wrote:
Not bad. But what happens flavor wise when one kamahl kills the other one?
Zis iz a sign uf deep psychological troma, buried in zer subconscious mind. By keelink himzelf, Kamahl iz physically expressink hiz feelinks uf self-disgust ova hiz desire for hiz muzzer. [/GermanPsychologistVoice]
56957928 wrote:
57799958 wrote:
That makes no sense to me. If they spelled the ability out on the card in full then it would not be allowed in a mono-black Commander deck, but because they used a keyword to save space it is allowed? ~ Tim
Yup, just like you can have Birds of paradise in a mono green deck but not Noble Hierarch. YAY COLOR IDENTITY
56287226 wrote:
56888618 wrote:
Is algebra really that difficult?
Survey says yes.
56883218 wrote:
57799958 wrote:
You want to make a milky drink. You squeeze a cow.
I love this description. Like the cows are sponges filled with milk. I can see it all Nick Parks claymation-style with the cow's eyes bugging out momentarily as a giant farmer squeezes it like a squeaky dog toy, and milk shoots out of it.
56287226 wrote:
56735468 wrote:
And no judge will ever give you a game loss for playing snow covered lands.
I now have a new goal in life. ;)

This is incorrect.


No its not.

zammm, as usual, knows what he is talking about.

Read the article linked to in the OP (you know, the one we are supposed to be commenting about ;)):

There's a twist, though: If a creature with +1/+1 counters on it gets enough -1/-1 counters to kill it, it dies before the two counters have the chance to cancel out. For example, if your Strangleroot Geist with a +1/+1 counter on it got three -1/-1 counters from Skinrender's "enters the battlefield" ability, the Geist would die with one +1/+1 counter and three -1/-1 counters and wouldn't return to the battlefield.



Just like zammm said (unsurprisingly).

~ Tim


From the Comprehensive Rules (emphasis mine):

121.3. If a permanent has both a +1/+1 counter and a -1/-1 counter on it,
 N +1/+1 and N -1/-1 counters are removed from it as a state-based action,
where N is the smaller of the number of +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters on it.
See rule 704.

704.1. State-based actions are game actions that happen automatically whenever certain conditions (listed below) are met.
State-based actions don't use the stack.


I will actually go ahead and say that the writer of the article should check the rules again.
That "twist" could never actually happen since the counter inbalance should resolve before any abilities can check anything.

Granted, what is at odds here are two state-based effects: 0 Toughness and the counters balancing.
Since neither of them use the stack, they would effectively resolve together. So, in the scenario presented in the article, the creature would die with two -1/-1 counters.

I'll stick by this until a jugde rules otherwise.

EDIT: Seeing Zammm is a Judge, I'll put on record that if that were the ruling, I would dispute. My argument remains as stated from the Comprehensive Rules.
Theory: Elbrus, the binding blade could be Sorin's sword, I belive one of the articles mentiond there being something special about it (somthing to the effect of "why would a vampire need a sword? why indeed?"), also binding could imply demon binding, did Leliana ever find Griselbrand?

From the Comprehensive Rules (emphasis mine):

121.3. If a permanent has both a +1/+1 counter and a -1/-1 counter on it,
 N +1/+1 and N -1/-1 counters are removed from it as a state-based action,
where N is the smaller of the number of +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters on it.
See rule 704.

704.1. State-based actions are game actions that happen automatically whenever certain conditions (listed below) are met.
State-based actions don't use the stack.


I will actually go ahead and say that the writer of the article should check the rules again.
That "twist" could never actually happen since the counter inbalance should resolve before any abilities can check anything.

Granted, what is at odds here are two state-based effects: 0 Toughness and the counters balancing.
Since neither of them use the stack, they would effectively resolve together. So, in the scenario presented in the article, the creature would die with two -1/-1 counters.

I'll stick by this until a jugde rules otherwise.

EDIT: Seeing Zammm is a Judge, I'll put on record that if that were the ruling, I would dispute. My argument remains as stated from the Comprehensive Rules.



You are correct that the counters are removed. However, one of these three state-based effects also take place:
704.5f If a creature has toughness 0 or less, it’s put into its owner’s graveyard. Regeneration can’t replace this event.

 


704.5g If a creature has toughness greater than 0, and the total damage marked on it is greater than or equal to its toughness, that creature has been dealt lethal damage and is destroyed. Regeneration can replace this event.


 


704.5h If a creature has toughness greater than 0, and it’s been dealt damage by a source with deathtouch since the last time state-based actions were checked, that creature is destroyed. Regeneration can replace this event.



All state-based effects happen at the same time:
704.3. Whenever a player would get priority (see rule 116, “Timing and Priority”), the game checks for any of the listed conditions for state-based actions, then performs all applicable state-based actions simultaneously as a single event. If any state-based actions are performed as a result of a check, the check is repeated; otherwise all triggered abilities that are waiting to be put on the stack are put on the stack, then the check is repeated. Once no more state-based actions have been performed as the result of a check and no triggered abilities are waiting to be put on the stack, the appropriate player gets priority. This process also occurs during the cleanup step (see rule 514), except that if no state-based actions are performed as the result of the step’s first check and no triggered abilities are waiting to be put on the stack, then no player gets priority and the step ends.



Let's check the exact reminder text of Undying:
When this creature dies, if it had no +1/+1 counters on it, return it to the battlefield under its owner's control with a +1/+1 counter on it.



Step 1. Effect that adds the -1/-1 counters is put on the stack.
(priority is passed, effect resolves)
Step 2. Game sees +1/+1 counters and -1/-1 counters on the creature. The creature dies because of the -1/-1 counters. At the same time, the +1/+1 counters and -1/-1 counters are removed from what used to be the creature. As a creature is put into the graveyard, it ceases being a permanent (or more specifically, a creature) and instead becomes a card (a creature card in this case). By the time the game has finished removing the -1/-1 counters, the creature is no longer a creature but rather a creature card. That means the 'creature' never had the counters removed from it; the last moment it was still a creature, it still had both kinds of counters.
Step 3. State-based effects finish and the game checks the trigger condition: did the creature have +1/+1 counters on it? Did it have -1/-1 counters on it? It concludes they were definitely there last time it saw the creature, so the creature isn't returned to play.

EDIT: This does, however, raise the question as to how Persist works. According to the rules,
702.77a Persist is a triggered ability. “Persist” means “When this permanent is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, if it had no -1/-1 counters on it, return it to the battlefield under its owner’s control with a -1/-1 counter on it.”


The moment it hits the graveyard, it becomes a different object, right? Common sense aside, how can you return "it" to the battlefield when you lose reference to it due to it becoming a different object? "It" would refer to the permanent when it was still on the field; but rather than doing anything with that permanent, you return the card that just hit the graveyard to play (which then again becomes a different object from the "it" mentioned).
VDZx's explanation is correct. Since all applicable state-based actions happen simultaneously, the creature goes from being on the battlefield with the counters to no longer being on the battlefield without the counters. There's never a point where it's on the battlefield, but doesn't have counters. So when the game checks to see if the creature had any counters on it, it sees that the last time it was on the battlefield it did indeed have counters on it. Therefore, neither persist nor undying trigger.

EDIT: This does, however, raise the question as to how Persist works. According to the rules,
702.77a Persist is a triggered ability. “Persist” means “When this permanent is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, if it had no -1/-1 counters on it, return it to the battlefield under its owner’s control with a -1/-1 counter on it.”


The moment it hits the graveyard, it becomes a different object, right? Common sense aside, how can you return "it" to the battlefield when you lose reference to it due to it becoming a different object? "It" would refer to the permanent when it was still on the field; but rather than doing anything with that permanent, you return the card that just hit the graveyard to play (which then again becomes a different object from the "it" mentioned).

Here's how:
400.7d Abilities that trigger when an object moves from one zone to another (for example, "When Rancor is put into a graveyard from the battlefield") can find the new object that it became in the zone it moved to when the ability triggered, if that zone is a public zone.

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So no mention of "fight"?  They introduced a mechanic that is only used on two cards in the set??
So no mention of "fight"?  They introduced a mechanic that is only used on two cards in the set??



Fight is evergreen. It doesn't appear as a "returning" mechanic just as deathtouch, haste, etc. do not appear as "returning" mechanics.
"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
Since it was a topic of discussion earlier in this thread, the only card pre-Dark Ascension to create human tokens is Stangg.
It appears that we will get a cycle of legendary two-color tribal creatures in this block.  There are Geist of Saint Traft, Grimgrin, Corpse Born, Olivia Voldaren, and now Huntmaster of the Fells.  In Avacyn Restored, I expect a G/W legendary human.  What's more, each of the first three has made an effect on their respective formats, and I hope the other two do as well.
It appears that we will get a cycle of legendary two-color tribal creatures in this block.  There are Geist of Saint Traft, Grimgrin, Corpse Born, Olivia Voldaren, and now Huntmaster of the Fells.  In Avacyn Restored, I expect a G/W legendary human.  What's more, each of the first three has made an effect on their respective formats, and I hope the other two do as well.



While the RG Werewolf lord is assured for Dark Ascension, as it was confirmed way back in the Innistrad Preview season, Mikaeus, the Lunarch is the Human Legendary creature for the block, and thus there will be no perfect two-color cycle.

"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
@Monty, or one of the assorted WizOs / ORCs:
The DKA card image gallery is missing Chalice of Life / Chalice of Death from this article.
Figure you might want to add it to your gallery given you spoilt it on your own site, right? ;)
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Budget Duals and Fetches in Multiplayer
CadaverousBl00m's Guide To Multiplayer Artifice
Multiplayer Tribal Format

~ Latest Multiplayer Ramblings: Appearing on my blog when I feel like it ~
Kitchen Table Pricewatch: Rise of the Eldrazi Post-Rotation
Kitchen Table Pricewatch: Worldwake Post-Rotation
Kitchen Table Pricewatch: Zendikar Post-Rotation
Previous Multiplayer Concoctions
Elemental, My Dear Watson (Rainbow Elementals)
Watch The Little Birdies! (Bird Tribal with Proliferate)
Kavu Kavu Kavu Banana (Kavu Predator aggro)
Faerie Bleeder (The "Death By A Thousand Cuts" Faerie deck)
Braaiiins! (Mono-black Zombie control)
Verhexterring (Jinxed Ring / Grave Pact)
Flourishing Blowflies ( -1/-1 Counters)
Eh, I don't really like how undying interacts with +1/+1 counter-placing cards like Travel Preparations. These are cards you are supposed to feel glad about playing -- you want to put +1/+1 counters on your guys --, but if you play them you turn off the cool mechanic that lets them come back. This conflict just feels so awkward. Honestly, I think persist was better executed way to do this.


Wizards categorically refuses under any circumstances to let a Limited environment contain both +1/+1 counters and -1/-1 counters.  This was in fact specifically part of why Shadowmoor wasn't considered part of Lorwyn block.  The risk that a Limited player will see cards with pennies on them and not know whether they're big or small, because nobody could find nickels to use for the other counter type, is apparently a bigger disaster in Wizards's estimation than the idea that the vast majority of common cards are useless as soon as a Limited game ends because they are strictly worse than non-common cards in their same block, cards in other blocks which are also common and have strictly better stats, or both (I'm not sure if there's an example for both but it seems likely).  The idea of wasting money on pieces of cardboard that are 100% useless is not a problem, but the chance of being slightly confused during an actual game is, and so the awesome fun potential inherent in Limited games where the matter/antimatter counters rule applies gets thrown out entirely.  I might be a little bitter.
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As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
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